Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire

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Western Borders in 1801
Western Borders in 1856
San Stefano (1878)
Treaty of Berlin (1878)

The dissolution of the Ottoman Empire (9 January 1792 – 24 July 1918) is the period that followed the decline of the Ottoman Empire. This period began in the late 18th century with the modernization of the Ottoman military under Selim III, and his subsequent deposition by Mustafa IV. During which the various ethnic groups began revolting, marked by the Treaty of Jassy and Treaty of Lausanne. These revolts, together with four wars against Russia and severe economic problems, caused a general disintegration. The reforms to modernize the empire or Tanzimat were not enough to catch up to the western world. The Empire joined the Central Powers in the First World War, and at the end of the war it was partitioned by the Allies, which gave rise to Turkish War of Independence. In 1923, the six centuries-old Empire was replaced by the modern Republic of Turkey.

Mustafa IV (1807–1808)[edit]

After the rebellion of Kabakçı Mustafa, the reformist sultan Selim III was dethroned in 1807. The new sultan, Mustafa IV, opposed all reform projects. Mustafa's reign was however short. The reformist Alemdar Mustafa Pasha dethroned him with the intension of re-enthroning Selim III. However, Selim was killed by Mustafa IV and Mahmut II was enthroned in his stead.

Mahmud II (1808–1839)[edit]

After Mahmud II was enthroned he had to deal with multiple issues because of the clouds that hung over his reign, inherited from generations past. These included the Eastern Question with Russia, England, and France, and military problems arising from mutinous Janissaries and factious Ulemas. He also faced numerous internal conflicts with Egyptians, Wahabbis, Serbians, Albanians, Greeks and Syrians, and had administrative problems from rebellious pashas, who would fain have founded new kingdoms on the ruins of the House of Osman.

Administration[edit]

See also: Tanzimat

Mahmud understood the growing problems of the state and the approaching overthrow of the monarchy, and began to deal with the problems he saw. For example, he closed the Court of Confiscations, and took away much of the power of the pashas. He personally set an example of reform by regularly attending the Divan, or state council. The practice of the sultan's avoiding the Divan had been introduced in the reign of Suleiman I, and was considered to be one of the causes of the decline of the Empire by a Turkish historian nearly two centuries before Mahmud II's time. Mahmud II also addressed some of the worst abuses connected with the Vakifs, by placing their revenues under state administration. However, he did not venture to apply this vast mass of property to the general purposes of the government.

Economy[edit]

In his time the financial situation of the Empire was dire, and certain social classes had long been oppressed by burdensome taxes. In dealing with the complicated questions that arose, Mahmud II is considered to have demonstrated the best spirit of the best of the Köprülüs. A Firman of 22 February 1834 abolished the vexatious charges which public functionaries, when traversing the provinces, had long been accustomed to take from the inhabitants. By the same edict all collection of money, except for the two regular half-yearly periods, was denounced as an abuse. "No one is ignorant," said Sultan Mahmud II in this document, "that I am bound to afford support to all my subjects against vexatious proceedings; to endeavour unceasingly to lighten, instead of increasing their burdens, and to ensure peace and tranquility. Therefore, those acts of oppression are at once contrary to the will of God, and to my imperial orders."

The haraç, or capitation tax, though moderate and exempting those who paid it from military service, had long been made an engine of gross tyranny through the insolence and misconduct of government collectors. The Firman of 1834 abolished the old mode of levying it, and ordained that it should be raised by a commission composed of the Kadı, the Muslim governors, and the Ayans, or municipal chiefs of Rayas in each district. Many other financial improvements were effected. By another important series of measures, the administrative government was simplified and strengthened, and a large number of sinecure offices were abolished. Sultan Mahmud II gave a valuable personal example of good sense and economy, organised the imperial household, suppressed all titles without duties and eliminated all the positions of salaried officials without functions.

Military[edit]

Mahmud II's most notable achievements include the abolition of the Janissary corps in 1826, the establishment of a modern Ottoman army, and the preparation of the Tanzimat reforms in 1839. These marked the beginning of the modernization of Turkey and had immediate effects such as introducing European-style clothing, architecture, legislation, institutional organization and land reform.

Later in his reign, Mahmud became involved in disputes with the Wāli of Egypt and Sudan, Muhammad Ali, who was technically Mahmud's vassal. The Sultan had asked for Muhammad Ali's help in suppressing a rebellion in Greece, but had not paid the promised price for his services. In 1831, Muhammad Ali declared war and managed to take control of Syria and Arabia by the war's end in 1833. In 1839, Mahmud resumed the war, hoping to recover his losses, but he died at the time news was on its way to Constantinople that the Empire's army had been signally defeated at Nezib by an Egyptian army led by Muhammad Ali's son, Ibrahim Pasha.

Society[edit]

The spread of the Western notion of nationalism stimulated the rise of nationalism under the Ottoman Empire and eventually caused the breakdown of the Ottoman millet concept. Unquestionably, the concept of nationhood prevalent in the Ottoman Empire was different from the current one as it was centered on religion.

Abdülmecit I (1839–1861)[edit]

In 1839, the Hatt-i Sharif proclamation launched the Tanzimat (reform and reorganization) period. Previous to the first of the firmans, the property of all persons banished or condemned to death was forfeited to the crown, which kept a sordid motive for acts of cruelty in perpetual operation, besides encouraging a host of vile Delators. The second firman removed the ancient rights of Turkish governors to condemn men to instant death at will; the Paşas, the Ağas, and other officers were enjoined that "they should not presume to inflict, themselves, the punishment of death on any man, whether Raya or Turk, unless authorized by a legal sentence pronounced by the Kadi, and regularly signed by the judge."

Crimean War, 1853–1856[edit]

The Crimean War was fought between the Russian Empire on one side and an alliance of France, the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Sardinia (which would be absorbed into Italy in 1861), and the Ottoman Empire on the other. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining Ottoman Empire. Most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula, with additional action occurring in western Turkey and the Baltic Sea region.

Abdülaziz (1861–1876)[edit]

Abdülaziz continued the Tanzimat and Islahat reforms. New administrative districts (vilayets) were set up in 1864 and a Council of State was established in 1868. Public education was organized on the French model and Istanbul University was reorganized as a modern institution in 1861. Abdülaziz was also the first sultan who traveled outside his empire. His 1867 trip included a visit to the United Kingdom.

Bulgaria, 1870s[edit]

The rise of national awakening of Bulgaria led to the Bulgarian revival movement. Unlike Greece and Serbia, the nationalist movement in Bulgaria did not concentrate initially on armed resistance against the Ottoman Empire. After the establishment of the Bulgarian Exarchate on 28 February 1870 a large-scale armed struggle started to develop as late as the beginning of the 1870s with the establishment of the Internal Revolutionary Organisation and the Bulgarian Revolutionary Central Committee, as well as the active involvement of Vasil Levski in both organisations. The struggle reached its peak with the April Uprising of 1876 in several Bulgarian districts in Moesia, Thrace and Macedonia. The suppression of the uprising and the atrocities committed by Ottoman soldiers (around 15,000 civilians were murdered)[1] against the civilian population increased the Bulgarian desire for independence.

Murat V (1876)[edit]

After Abdülaziz's dethronement Murat was enthroned. It was hoped that he would sign the constitution. However due to health problems Murat was also dethroned after 93 days; he was the shortest reigning sultan of the Empire.

Abdul Hamid II (1876–1909)[edit]

First Constitutional Era, 1876–1878[edit]

The First Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire was the period of constitutional monarchy from the promulgation of the Kanûn-ı Esâsî (meaning "Basic Law" in Ottoman Turkish), written by members of the Young Ottomans, on 23 November 1876 until 13 February 1878. The era ended with the suspension of the Ottoman parliament by Abdülhamid II.

Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878)[edit]

The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878 had its origins in a rise in nationalism in the Balkans as well as in the Russian goal of recovering territorial losses it had suffered during the Crimean War, reestablishing itself in the Black Sea and following the political movement attempting to free Balkan nations from the Ottoman Empire. As a result of the war, the principalities of Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, each of which had de facto sovereignty for some time, formally proclaimed independence from the Ottoman Empire. After almost half a millennium of Ottoman domination (1396–1878), the Bulgarian state was reestablished as the Principality of Bulgaria, covering the land between the Danube River and the Balkan Mountains (except Northern Dobrudja which was given to Romania) and the region of Sofia, which became the new state's capital. The Congress of Berlin also allowed Austria-Hungary to occupy Bosnia and Herzegovina and Great Britain to take over Cyprus, while the Russian Empire annexed Southern Bessarabia and the Kars region.

Establishment of the Second Constitutional Era, 24 July 1908[edit]

Public demonstration during Young Turk Revolution in the Sultanahmet district of Constantinople, 1908

In July 1908, the Young Turk Revolution changed the political structure of the Empire.

Abdul Hamid's regime, which lasted more than 35 years, and the former autocratic system developed under his control were destroyed. There was a unification theme, and the groups which fought against each other wished to salvage a common country. The heads of ther Macedonian bands (IMRO) fraternized with the members of the "Committee of Union and Progress"; Greeks and Bulgarians embraced one another under the second biggest party, the "Liberal Union". The Bulgarian federalist wing welcomed the revolution, and they later joined mainstream political life as the People's Federative Party (Bulgarian Section). Some of its leaders like Sandanski and Chernopeev participated in the march on Constantinople[2][3] to depose the "attempt to dismantle constitution". The former centralists of the IMRO formed the Bulgarian Constitutional Clubs, and, like the PFP, they participated in Ottoman elections. Armenians, which formed Armenakan, Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (Hunchakian) and Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnak or Tashnag), begin to work openly as there was no more of Abdul Hamid's pressure on them.

Dissatisfaction with constitutional regime[edit]

Once the first enthusiasm had passed with little progress, dissatisfaction with the new regime became evident as early as 1909. The theme of unification did not last long. The newly established political system assumed that the citizens of the Empire could unite under one flag representing Ottomanism. The process of replacing the monarchic institutions with constitutional institutions and electoral policies was neither as simple nor as bloodless as the regime change itself. The periphery of the Empire continued to splinter under the pressures of local revolutions.

Due to Abdul Hamid's policies, equilibrium between Muslims and Christians was impossible to reach. Overburdened with religious and ethnic strife, the new government had little ability to solve the problems of the empire.

Cretan union with Greece, 1908[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Cretan State.

Just after the revolution (1908), the Cretan deputies declared union with Greece by taking advantage of revolution as well as the timing of Zaimis's vacation away from the island.[4] The 1908 left the issue unsolved between the Empire and the Cretans. In 1909, after the parliament elected the governing structure, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) decided that if order was maintained and the rights of Muslims were respected, the issue would be solved with negotiations.

Albanians and Latin alphabet, 1909[edit]

The Albanians of Tirana and Elbassan were among the first groups to join the constitutional movement. However, due to shifting national borders in the Balkans, the Albanians had been marginalized as a nationless people. The most significant factor uniting the Albanians, their spoken language, lacked a standard literary form and even a standard alphabet. Each of the three available choices, the Latin, Cyrillic, and Arabic scripts, implied different political and religious orientations opposed by one or another element of the population. In July 1908, a month after a Young Turk rebellion in Macedonia supported by an Albanian uprising in Kosovo and Macedonia escalated into widespread insurrection and mutiny within the imperial army, Sultan Abdül Hamid II agreed to demands by the Young Turks to restore constitutional rule. Many Albanians participated in the Young Turks uprising, hoping that it would gain their people autonomy within the empire. The Young Turks lifted the Ottoman ban on Albanian-language schools and on writing the Albanian language. As a consequence, Albanian intellectuals meeting in Manastir in 1908 chose the Latin alphabet as a standard script.

The new government also appealed for Islamic solidarity to break the Albanians' unity and used the Muslim clergy to try to impose the Arabic alphabet. The Albanians refused to submit to the Young Turks' campaign to "Ottomanize" them by force.

Mehmet V (1909–1918)[edit]

Attempt to dismantle constitution, 1909[edit]

Hristo Chernopeev's band (in 1903), which will be part of march to Constantinople in deposing the Countercoup (1909)

After nine months into the new government, discontent found expression in a fundamentalist movement which attempted to dismantle the Second Constitutional Era and revert it with a monarchy under Sultan Abdul Hamid II. The Sultan's countercoup gained traction when he promised to restore the Caliphate, eliminate secular policies, and restore the rule of Islamic law.

The countercoup culminated in "31 March Incident". However, it failed, and on 27 April 1909, Abdul Hamid II was finally removed from the throne, and Mehmed V became the Sultan. The constitution granted by the Sultan Mehmed V, 5 August 1909, proclaimed the equality of all subjects in the matter of taxes, military service (allowing Christians into the military for the first time), and political rights. The new constitution was perceived as a big step for the establishment of a common law for all subjects. The position of Sultan was greatly reduced to a figurehead, while still retaining some constitutional powers, such as the ability to declare war.

The new constitution, aimed to bring more sovereignty to the public, could not address certain public services, such as the Ottoman public debt, the Ottoman Bank or Ottoman Public Debt Administration because of their international character. The same held true of most of the companies which were formed to execute public works such as Baghdad Railway, tobacco and cigarette trades of two French companies the "Regie Compagnie interessee des tabacs de l'empire Ottoman", and "Narquileh tobacco".

Italian War, 1911[edit]

Main article: Italo-Turkish War
Italian forces in Tripoli

Italy declared war on the Empire on 29 September 1911, demanding the turnover of Tripoli and Cyrenaica. The empire's response was weak so Italian forces took those areas on 5 November of that year (this act was confirmed by an act of the Italian Parliament on 25 February 1912). Although minor, the war was an important precursor of World War I as it sparked nationalism in the Balkan states. Seeing how easily the Italians had defeated the disorganized Ottomans, the members of the Balkan League attacked the Empire before the war with Italy had ended.

Balkan Wars, 1912–1913[edit]

Main article: Balkan Wars
Ethnic exchanges & expulsions during Balkan wars Ottomans (190,000–200,000) Greeks (150,000–160,000) Bulgarians (200,000)

The three new Balkan states formed at the end of the 19th century and Montenegro, sought additional territories from the Albania, Macedonia, and Thrace regions, behind their nationalistic arguments. The incomplete emergence of these nation-states on the fringes of the Ottoman Empire during the nineteenth century set the stage for the Balkan Wars. On 10 October 1912 the collective note of the powers was handed in at Constantinople. CUP responded to demands of European powers on reforms in Macedonia on 14 October.[5] But before further action could be taken war broke out. While Powers were asking Empire to reform Macedonia, under the encouragement of Russia, a series of agreements were concluded: between Serbia and Bulgaria in March 1912, between Greece and Bulgaria in May 1912, and Montenegro subsequently concluded agreements between Serbia and Bulgaria respectively in October 1912. The Serbian-Bulgarian agreement specifically called for the partition of Macedonia which resulted in the First Balkan War. In 1913 a nationalist uprising broke out in Albania, and on 8 October, the Balkan League, consisting of Serbia, Montenegro, Greece and Bulgaria, mounted a joint attack on the Ottoman Empire, starting the First Balkan War. The strong march of the Bulgarian forces in Thrace pushed the Ottoman armies to the gates of Istanbul. The Second Balkan War soon followed. Albania declared independence on 28 November, Empire agreed to a ceasefire on 2 December, and its territory losses were finalized in 1913 in the treaties of London and Bucharest. Albania became independent, and the Empire lost almost all of its European territory (Kosovo, Sanjak of Novi Pazar, Macedonia and western Thrace) to the four allies.

Cession of Kuwait, 1913[edit]

The Anglo-Ottoman Convention of 1913 was a short-lived agreement signed in July 1913 between the Ottoman sultan Mehmed V and the British over several issues. However the status of Kuwait that came to be the only lasting result, as its outcome was formal independence for Kuwait.

During World War I, the Ottoman Empire was financially crippled and the invading British forces invalidated the Anglo-Ottoman Convention, declaring Kuwait to be an "independent sheikdom under British protectorate."

Cession of Albania, 1913[edit]

Albania had been under Ottoman rule in about 1478. When Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece laid claim to Albanian-populated lands during Balkan Wars, the Albanians declared independence.[6]

The European Great Powers endorsed an independent Albania in 1913, after the Second Balkan War leaving outside the Albanian border more than half of the Albanian population and their lands, that were partitioned between Montenegro,Serbia and Greece. They were assisted by Aubrey Herbert, a British MP who passionately advocated their cause in London. As a result, Herbert was offered the crown of Albania, but was dissuaded by the British prime minister, H. H. Asquith, from accepting. Instead the offer went to William of Wied, a German prince who accepted and became sovereign of the new Principality of Albania.

The young state, however, collapsed within weeks of the outbreak of World War I.[6]

Before World War I[edit]

In early 1914 the Ottoman Government was concerned with three main goals. The first was improving relations with Bulgaria; the second was to encourage support from the Germans, and the third was to settle negotiations with Europe about the Armenian reform.

With regard to the first, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria showed sympathy to one another because they suffered as a result of the territories lost with the Balkan Wars (1912–1913). They also had bitter relations with Greece. It was natural and beneficial for them to work for the development of policies that enabled them to gain better positions in the region.

With regard to the second, there were three military missions active at the turn of 1914. These were the British Naval Mission led by Admiral Limpus, the French Gendarme Mission led by General Moujen, and the German Military Mission led by Goltz. The German Military Mission become the most important among these three. The history of German-Ottoman military relations went back to the 1880s. Grand Vizier the Sait Halim Pasha and Minister of War Ahmet Izzet Pasha were instrumental in developing the initial relations. Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz to establish the first German mission. General Goltz served two periods within two years. In the early 1914, the Ottoman Minister of War was a former military attaché to Berlin, Enver Pasha. About the same time, General Otto Liman von Sanders, was nominated to the command of the German 1st Army. It was the biggest located in the European side. General Liman von Sanders and Enver Pasha practically shared the commander-in-chief position.

With regard to the third, an Armenian reform package was negotiated with Russia. Russia, the protector of Armenians and acting on behalf of the Great Powers, played a crucial role introducing reforms for the Armenian citizens of the empire. The Armenian reform package, which was solidified in February 1914, was based on the arrangements nominally made in 1878. According to this arrangement the inspectors general, whose powers and duties constituted the key to the question, were to be named for a period of ten years, and their engagement was not to be revocable during that period.

Capitulations and public debt[edit]

Ottoman Loan certificate 1933

When the Capitulations were first established it was supposed that foreign assistance could benefit the Empire. Capitulations stipulated that the privileges were based on religion. The intercourse of the Christian world with the Muslim world was founded upon different principles. Foreigners had secured many privileges or "capitulations" that they could not be brought under local jurisdiction, but were subject only to the codes of justice of their own countries, administered through their own consular courts. As a result, almost all the business of the country was in the hands of non-Muslim people – Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Italians, French, Germans, and English, which were under non-Ottoman (local) jurisdiction. Wherever mines have been developed, railroads or irrigation works constructed, foreign capital and foreign brains have been chiefly responsible. This system produced an environment in which the Muslim's of the Empire stayed poor, and the standard of education for this group never increased. And so it would, if it were not that foreigners occupy a privileged position in the country. In fact, citizens of the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, and Austria-Hungary were in many respects in a separate class from Muslim citizens, whether Turks, Greeks, Armenians, or Jews. The Empire also perceived the capitulations as a reason for corruption. Officials, representing different jurisdictions, sought bribes at every opportunity, withheld the proceeds of a vicious and discriminatory tax system, ruined every struggling industry by graft, and fought against every show of independence on the part of Empire's many subject peoples. A citizen of any of the great powers was practically exempt from the payment of income taxes and several other kinds of taxes to which the Turk was subject. He was immune from search, could secure passports from his own consul, and could be tried in courts of his own nationality. All these special privileges together constituted a body of privileges known as "Capitulations." On 10 September 1915, Talat Pasha abolished the "Capitulations", which the capitulation holders refused to recognize his action.

Ottoman public debt was part of a larger schemes of political control, through which the commercial interests of the world had seek to gain advantages that may not be to Empire's interest. The total pre-war debt of Empire was $716,000,000. France had 60 percent of the total, Germany was 20 percent, and the United Kingdom was 15 percent. The debt was administered by an Ottoman Public Debt Administration and its power was extended to the Imperial Ottoman Bank (Central bank). Debt Administration controlled many of the important revenues of the empire. The Council had power every financial affairs. Its control even extended to determine the tax on live stock in districts. Siding with Germany, with the minimum debt holder put the Empire in the position to pay its dept or even pay a war indemnity.

World War I, 1914–1918[edit]

German light cruiser Breslau after the Pursuit of Goeben and Breslau bombarded the Black Sea port of Theodosia

At the outbreak of the war Ottoman government declared neutrality with the "Notification of Neutrality" on 18 August 1914.[7] On 10 September Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha annulled the Capitulations, which ended the special privileges they granted to foreign nationals.

On 28 September the Turkish Straits were closed to naval traffic. The Straits were vital for Russian commerce and for communications between the Western Allies and Russia. On 19 October, after the Pursuit of German battle cruiser Goeben and German light cruiser Breslau, the ships were donated by Germany to the Ottoman Navy. Along with an agreement with the German military mission, the Committee of Union and Progress did not discharge the crews of these ships. On 21 October, six hundred more German officers reported to arrive at the military mission. Then, on 29 October, the Breslau bombarded the Black Sea port of Theodosia. On 2 November the Grand Vizier expressed regret to Allies for the operations of the Navy. The Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Sazonov declared that it was too late and that Russia considered this raid an act of war. The Ottoman Cabinet explained in vain that hostilities were begun without its sanction by German officers serving in the Navy. The Allies insisted on reparations to Russia, the dismissal of German officers from the Goeben and Breslau, and the internment of the German ships until the end of the war. But on 5 November, before the Ottoman Government responded, the United Kingdom and France also declared war on the Ottoman Empire. The official Declaration of War by the Committee of Union and Progress followed on 14 November.[8]

Also on 29 October, the Allies presented a note to Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha that they had an agreement with Egypt and that any hostility towards Egypt would be treated as a declaration of war.

There were objective reasons for the Ottoman government's choice. Initially the government, especially Minister of State Talaat Pasha, had advocated choosing the British side. But Britain had not maintained an isolated position in Europe. Russia was the pivotal point. When Britain was drawn into the Triple Entente and began to cultivate relations with Russia, the Porte became distrustful. The Porte had gradually drifted, with opposition from the parliament, into close political relations with Germany. The relationship between the United Kingdom and France had encouraged Italy to seize Tripoli. Russian designs on the Straits (for open access to the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean from its Black Sea ports) were well known. These conditions put the United Kingdom, France, and Russia against Germany. The Porte's policy would naturally be inclined toward dependence on Berlin. The Ottoman-German Alliance promised to isolate Russia. An Ottoman-German alliance was negotiated. In exchange for money and future control over Russian territory, the Ottoman Government abandoned a neutral position and sided with Germany.

The Empire fell into disorder with the declaration of war along with Germany. On 11 November a conspiracy was discovered in Constantinople against Germans and the Committee, in which some of the Committee leaders were shot. This followed the 12 November revolt in Adrianople against the German military mission. On 13 November a bomb exploded in Enver Pasha's palace, which killed five German officers but missed the Enver Pasha. These events were followed on 18 November with more anti-German plots. Committees formed around the country to rid the country of those siding with Germany. Army and navy officers protested against the assumption of authority by Germans. On 4 December widespread riots took place throughout the country. On 13 December there was an anti-war demonstration by women in Konak and Erzurum. Throughout December the CUP dealt with mutiny among soldiers in barracks and among naval crews. The head of the German Military Mission Field Marshal von der Goltz had a conspiracy against his life.

War with Russia[edit]

Top: Destruction in the city of Erzurum; Left Upper: Russian forces; Left Lower: Wounded Muslim refugees; Right Upper:Ottoman forces; Right Lower: Armenian refuges

Ottoman's entrance into the war greatly increased the Triple Entente's military burdens. Russia had to fight on the Caucasus Campaign alone and in the Persian Campaign along with the United Kingdom.

İsmail Enver Pasha set off for the Battle of Sarıkamış with the intention of recapturing Batum and Kars, overrunning Georgia and occupying north-western Persia and the oil fields. Fighting the Russians in the Caucasus, however, the Ottomans lost ground, and over 100,000 soldiers, in a series of battles.

The 1917 Russian revolution gave the Ottomans a new chance. On 5 December 1917, the armistice of Erzincan (Erzincan Cease-fire Agreement) signed between the Russians and Ottomans in Erzincan that ended the armed conflicts between Russia and Ottoman Empire.[9] On 3 March, the Grand vizier Talat Pasha signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Russian SFSR. It stipulated that Bolshevik Russia cede Batum, Kars, and Ardahan. These lands had been captured by Russia during the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878). In addition to these provisions, a secret clause was inserted which obligated the Russians to demobilize Armenian national forces.[10]

Between 14 March – April 1918 the Trabzon peace conference held among the Ottoman Empire and the delegation of the Transcaucasian Diet. Enver Pasha offered to surrender all ambitions in the Caucasus in return for recognition of the Ottoman reacquisition of the east Anatolian provinces at Brest-Litovsk at the end of the negotiations.[11] On 5 April, the head of the Transcaucasian delegation Akaki Chkhenkeli accepted the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk as a basis for more negotiations and wired the governing bodies urging them to accept this position.[12] The mood prevailing in Tiflis was very different. Tiflis acknowledge the existence of a state of war between themselves and the Ottoman Empire.[12]

In April 1918, the Ottoman 3rd Army finally went on the offensive. In early May 1918, the Ottoman army faced with the newly declared Democratic Republic of Armenia. The conflict led to the Battle of Sardarapat, the Battle of Kara Killisse (1918), and the Battle of Bash Abaran. Although the Armenians managed to inflict a defeat on the Ottomans at the Battle of Sardarapat, the Ottoman army won the later battle and scattered the Armenian army[citation needed]. On 28 May 1918, the Dashnaks of Armenian national liberation movement declared the Democratic Republic of Armenia. The new Republic of Armenia was forced to sign the Treaty of Batum.

in June 1918, Armenians in the mountainous Karabag region, under the leadership of Andranik Ozanian, established the Republic of Mountainous Armenia and resisted the Ottoman 3rd army.[13] In July, Ottomans faced with the Centrocaspian Dictatorship at the Battle of Baku, with the goal of taking Baku on the Caspian Sea.

War with Britain and France[edit]

February–April 1915, The Battle of Gallipoli

There were three British campaigns directed to the Ottoman Empire; Dardanelles, (with France), Mesopotamia and Sinai-Palestine-Syria. The first of these campaigns was a naval and land campaign and the other two were land campaigns.

The aim of the Dardanelles campaign was to support Russia. The United Kingdom was obliged to defend India and the southern Persian oil territory by undertaking the Mesopotamian campaign. Britain also had to protect Egypt in the Sinai-Palestine-Syria Campaign. These campaigns strained Allied resources and relieved Germany.

Initially Ahmed Djemal Pasha was ordered to gather an army in Palestine to threaten the Suez Canal. In response, the Allies—including the newly formed Australian and New Zealand Army Corps ("ANZACs")—opened another front with the Battle of Gallipoli.

The Ottomans were eventually defeated due to key attacks by the British general Edmund Allenby.

Empire in home front[edit]

Sharif Hussein ibn Ali rebelled against the Ottoman rule during the Arab Revolt of 1916. An exchange of letters with British High Commissioner Henry McMahon convinced him that his assistance on the side of the Triple Entente would be rewarded by an Arab empire encompassing the entire span between Egypt and Persia, with the exception of imperial possessions and interests in Kuwait, Aden, and the Syrian coast. Hussein was the official leader of the Arab Revolt against the Ottomans.

During World War I, the Ottoman government also faced difficulties on the home front, including isolated Armenian rebellions in eastern Anatolia that led to an order for the Tehcir Law of 1 June 1915 to 8 February 1916 (deportation) of Armenians from the region. Most academics define the deportations as the Armenian Genocide.[14] This view is disputed by the Turkish Government, which maintains that most of the Armenian mortalities were the result of conditions that had effect on World War I casualties, and the civil war within the historical roots of the region, which pushed Armenian and Muslim populations, back-and-forth within the war zone. Turkish authorities also claim that deportations (Tehcir Law) were not the main contribution to total Armenian mortality during World War I and the claims for an organized crime against the Armenians, by Teskilati Mahsusa or the special organization were also in dispute, even if the very bad conditions of the Armenians (also some Muslims) were not.

Mehmet VI (1918–1922)[edit]

Armistice of Mudros, 30 October 1918[edit]

Main article: Armistice of Mudros
1918 was marked with a serious food shortage and famine, which occupied the Empire

Just before the end of the war, Sultan Mehmet V died and the new sultan Mehmet VI became the sultan of the almost-disintegrated country.The WW I years were a disaster for Ottoman Empire. The land loss was enormous, human loss was bigger, of which Ottoman Muslim casualties were only one part of the story. The former Breslau was sunk by a mine at the entrance to the Dardanelles on 20 January 1918 and the battle cruiser Goeben was beached by British warships on the same day. In the summer of 1918,

The armed conflicts were ended with the Armistice of Mudros.

Partitioning of the Empire[edit]

The initial peace agreement with the Ottoman Empire was the Armistice of Mudros. This was followed by the Occupation of Constantinople. The partitioning of the Ottoman Empire brought international conflicts which were discussed during the Paris Peace Conference, 1919. The peace agreement, the Treaty of Sèvres, was eventually signed by the Ottoman Empire and Allies.

The Treaty of Sèvres presented one of the thorniest problems before the Paris Peace Conference, 1919. The text of the treaty were not made public with the Ottomans until May 1920. Contrary to general expectations, the Sultanate was not terminated, and it was allowed to retain Constantinople and a small strip of territory around the city. The shores of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles were planned to be internationalized, so that the gates of the Black Sea would be kept open. West Anatolia was offered to Greece, and East Anatolia was offered to Armenia. The Mediterranean coast, although still a part of the Ottoman Empire, was partitioned between two zones of influence for France and Italy. The interior of Anatolia, the first seat of Ottoman power six centuries ago, continued to be under Turkish sovereignty.

Question of the CUP[edit]

The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) was the ruling party during this period. There were Courts-Martial in 1919–1920 in which the leadership of the CUP and selected former officials were court-martialled with/including the charges of subversion of the constitution, wartime profiteering, and the massacres of both Greeks and Armenians.[15] The courts-martial became a stage for political battles. The trials helped the Liberal Union root out the CUP from the political arena.

Question of the Sultanate[edit]

1922, Departure of Mehmed VI who was the last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire

The Treaty of Sèvres was destined never to be ratified. Elections were held throughout Anatolia and with the participation of some parliamentarians, who had escaped from Constantinople, a new government was formed in Ankara. The rest of the story is the Turkish War of Independence.The Treaty of Lausanne made the new Turkish State internationally recognized. This new state gave the 'coup de grâce' to the Ottoman state, in 1922, with the overthrow of Sultan Mehmet VI Vahdettin by the new republican assembly of Turkey.

Question of the Caliphate[edit]

Besides the control of the physical lands, another question of importance was originated from the Ottoman Caliphate. The Ottoman Caliphs never claimed to be religious descendant of the Prophet but they were nonetheless an important authority figure within the Ottoman Empire. Muslims of India and of Anatolia supported and recognized the Ottoman caliphate for instance. As Sultans of the Empire, the Ottoman rulers had a very strong position, but the Sultan of Morocco, the Mahdists of the Egyptian Sudan, the Senussi in the Libyan Desert, the Wahabis in central Arabia, never acknowledged the title of Caliph as being higher than the Sultans' as the leader of state. Such recognition was also not given by the Arabs of the Hedjaz, Palestine, and Syria, which contain the holy places of Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem.

The last official remnant of the empire—the title of caliphate—was constitutionally abolished on 3 March 1924. With the abolishment of the Ottoman Caliphate by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, throughout the country from Makkah to Aleppo and from Sarejevo to Dhaka, the Ottoman Caliph's name was replaced in the Friday liturgy by that of Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, the hereditary guardian of the holy cities of the Hedjaz, who briefly assumed the title of caliph.

Further reading[edit]

  • Lewis, Bernard (30 August 2001). The Emergence of Modern Turkey (3 ed.). Oxford University Press, USA. p. 568. ISBN 0-19-513460-5. 

See also[edit]

Image gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Turkish Atrocities in Bulgaria, Letters of the Special Commissioner of the Daily News, J.A. MacGahan Esq. With an Introduction and Mr. Schuyler's Preliminary Report (London, 1876.)
  2. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol.7, Edited by Hugh Chisholm, (1911), 3; Constantinople, the capital of the Turkish Empire...
  3. ^ Britannica, Istanbul:When the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, the capital was moved to Ankara, and Constantinople was officially renamed Istanbul in 1930.
  4. ^ Ion, Theodore P., "The Cretan Question", The American Journal of International Law, April 1910, pp. 276–284
  5. ^ Archives Diplomatiques, third series, vol. 126, p. 127.
  6. ^ a b Raymond Zickel and Walter R. Iwaskiw (1994). ""National Awakening and the Birth of Albania, 1876–1918", Albania: A Country Study". countrystudies.us. Retrieved 9 April 2008. 
  7. ^ Notification of Neutrality
  8. ^ CUP Declaration of War, November 14
  9. ^ Tadeusz Swietochowski, Russian Azerbaijan 1905–1920, page 119.
  10. ^ Hovannisian. "Armenia's Road to Independence", pp. 288–289. ISBN 1-4039-6422-X.
  11. ^ Ezel Kural Shaw History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Page 326
  12. ^ a b Richard Hovannisian "The Armenian people from ancient to modern times" Pages 292–293
  13. ^ Mark Malkasian, Gha-Ra-Bagh": the emergence of the national democratic movement in Armenia page 22
  14. ^ Josh Belzman (23 April 2006). "PBS effort to bridge controversy creates more". MSNBC. Retrieved 5 October 2006. 
  15. ^ Armenien und der Völkermord: Die Istanbuler Prozesse und die Türkische Nationalbewegung. Hamburg: Hamburger Edition. 1996.  p. 185.