Defeat and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire
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The period of defeat and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire (1908–1922) began with the Second Constitutional Era with the Young Turk Revolution. It restored the Ottoman constitution of 1876 and brought in multi-party politics with a two stage electoral system (electoral law) under the Ottoman parliament. The constitution offered hope by freeing the empire’s citizens to modernize the state’s institutions and dissolve inter-communal tensions.
Instead, this period became the story of the twilight struggle of the Empire. Ottoman military reforms resulted in the Ottoman Army engaging in the Italo-Turkish War (1911), the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), and the continuous unrest caused by the Counter coup, which preceded the 31 March Incident (Restoration) and 1912 Ottoman coup d'état (Saviours) and the 1913 Ottoman coup d'état) in the Empire up to World War I. The Ottoman entry into World War I in the Middle Eastern theatre ended with the partition of the Ottoman Empire under the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres. This treaty, as designed in the conference of London, gave a nominal land and permitted the title Ottoman Caliphate (compared with Vatican; a sacerdotal-monarchical state ruled by the Catholic Pope), not to be a further threat but just powerful enough to protect Britain from the Khilafat Movement.
The occupation of Constantinople along with the occupation of Smyrna mobilized the Turkish national movement which ultimately won the Turkish War of Independence. The formal abolition of the Ottoman Sultanate was performed by Grand National Assembly of Turkey on 1 November 1922. The Sultan was declared persona non grata from the lands that the Ottoman Dynasty ruled since 1299.
- 1 Topics
- 2 The Second Constitutional Era 1908-1920
- 2.1 Election, parliament, dissatisfaction, 1908
- 2.2 Cession of Bulgaria, Bosnia and Crete, 1908
- 2.3 Political situation, 1909
- 2.4 1909–1918 Mehmed V
- 2.4.1 Political situation, 1908-1914
- 2.4.2 Italian War, 1911
- 2.4.3 Elections, 1912
- 2.4.4 Balkan Wars, 1912–1913
- 2.4.5 Cession of Kuwait and Albania, 1913
- 2.4.6 World War I
- 2.5 1918–1922 Mehmet VI
- 3 Partitioning
- 4 End of the Ottoman Empire
- 5 See also
- 6 Bibliography
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 Image gallery
- 10 References
The 19th century saw the rise of nationalism in the Balkans which resulted in the establishment of an independent Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria. Most of the local Muslims in these countries suffered; many died during the conflicts and massacres while others fled. During the century many Muslim refugees called Muhacir, mainly from the Balkans but also from the Caucasus, settled in what later was to become the Republic of Turkey after the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire.
With the rise of nationalism in Europe it became dominated by nation states. The Ottoman Empire differed in that its ruling class made no attempt to integrate conquered peoples culturally. The Porte had no official policy of converting the non-Muslims of the Balkans or Anatolia into Islam (their policy was to rule through the Millet system which formed a confessional community for each religion.[a]) or converting them into a single nation. Phanariots, who were members of the prominent Greek families came to traditionally occupy major positions in the Empire.
The Empire never integrated its conquests economically and therefore never established a binding link with its subjects. During its decline the Empire tried to catch up with the industrialization and a rapidly emerging world market by reforming their own state and society. Ottomanism surged as a concept its proponents believed could solve the Empire's social issues. Ottomanism was strongly influenced by thinkers such as Montesquieu and Rousseau and the French Revolution, promoted equality among the millets and stated that its subjects were equal before the law. The idea originated among the Young Ottomans as an acceptance of all separate ethnicities and religions as Ottomans.
Major changes were introduced into the structure of the Empire. The essence of the Millet system was not dismantled, but secular organizations and policies were applied with the Tanzimat reforms. Primary education and Ottoman conscription were to be applied to non-Muslims and Muslims alike.
Capitulations and public debt
When the Capitulations were first established it was supposed that foreign assistance could benefit the Empire. The capitulations stipulated that the privileges were based on religion. Ottoman officials, representing different jurisdictions, sought bribes at every opportunity and withheld the proceeds of a vicious and discriminatory tax system, which ruined every struggling industry by graft, and fought against every show of independence on the part of Empire's many subject peoples. On 10 September 1915, the Minister of Interior Talat Pasha abolished the "Capitulations", while the capitulation holders refused to recognize his action.
The 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 have been of the 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 the Ottoman Public Debt Administration and its power was extended to the Imperial Ottoman Bank (or Central bank). The Ottoman 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 livestock in the districts.
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 Colmar Freiherr von der Goltz. The German Military Mission become the most important among these three. The history of German-Ottoman military relations went back to the 1880s. The Grand Vizier Said Halim Pasha (12 June 1913 – 4 February 1917) and Ottoman Minister of War Ahmet Izzet Pasha (11 June 1913 – 3 January 1914) were instrumental in developing the initial relations. Kaiser Wilhelm II ordered General 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 (who became a member of the Three Pashas). 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 the Russian Empire. Russia, 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 and was based on the arrangements nominally made in the Treaty of Berlin (1878) and the Treaty of San Stefano.. 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.[b]
The Second Constitutional Era 1908-1920
Sultan Abdul Hamid in 1876 established the constitutional monarchy during what is known as the First Constitutional Era, only to last for two years before suspended. In July 1908, the Young Turk Revolution changed the political structure of the Empire. The Young Turks rebelled against the absolute rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II to establish the Second Constitutional Era ushering a multi-party democracy. On 24 July 1908, Sultan Abdul Hamid II capitulated from his post and restored the Ottoman constitution of 1876.
Once underground, the Young Turk movement declared its parties. Among them "Committee of Union and Progress" (CUP), and "Freedom and Accord Party" also known as the Liberal Union or Liberal Entente (LU) were major parties. There were smaller parties such as Ottoman Socialist Party. On the other end of the spectrum were ethnic parties which included; People's Federative Party (Bulgarian Section), Bulgarian Constitutional Clubs, Jewish Social Democratic Labour Party in Palestine (Poale Zion), Al-Fatat (also known as the Young Arab Society; Jam’iyat al-’Arabiya al-Fatat), Ottoman Party for Administrative Decentralization, and Armenians were organized under the Armenakan, Hunchakian and Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF).
At the onset; there was a unification theme, and the groups which fought against each other wished to salvage a common country. The heads of the Macedonian bands (IMRO) fraternized with the members of the "CUP"; Greeks and Bulgarians embraced one another under the second biggest party, the "LU". The Bulgarian federalist wing welcomed the revolution, and they later joined mainstream political life as the People's Federative Party (Bulgarian Section). The former centralist of the IMRO formed the Bulgarian Constitutional Clubs, and, like the PFP, they participated in Ottoman general election, 1908. The system became multiple headed old and new living together, (until CUP became sole controller in 1913), under the chaos of change, the power was exercised with no accountability.
Election, parliament, dissatisfaction, 1908
In Summer of 1908 a variety of political proposals were put forward by the CUP. The CUP’s desire for modernization of the state by reforming finance and education and promoting public works and agriculture, and the principles of equality and justice revealed during this time. These were in CUP's election manifesto. Regarding nationalism, (Armenian, Kurd Turkic..) CUP identified the Turks as the properly "dominant nation" around which the empire should be organized, and not [unlike] the position of Germans in Austria-Hungary.’ According to Reynolds, only a small minority in the Empire occupied themselves with Pan-Turkism. Ottoman general election, 1908, parliamentary elections, held in October and November 1908. CUP-sponsored candidates were opposed by the LU. The latter became a center for those hostile to the CUP. Sabaheddin Bey, who returned from his long exile presented his view that in non-homogeneous provinces a decentralized government was best. LU was poorly organized in the provinces, and failed to convince many minority candidates that they should contest the election under LU banner; it also failed to tap into the continuing support for the old regime in less developed areas.
During September 1908 the Hejaz Railway opened, which the construction started in 1900. This was an big achievement. Ottoman rule firmly reestablished in the Hejaz and Yemen after the railroad from Damascus to Medina. Historically Arabia’s interior was mostly shaped by playing one tribal group off against another. As the railroad finished, Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalists reasserted themselves under the political leadership of Abdul al-Aziz Ibn Saud. The remaining Christian communities of Balkans did not feel that the CUP any longer represented their aspirations. They heard the CUP's arguments before under the Tanzimat reforms. The fact was put as
Those in the vanguard of reform had appropriated the notion of Ottomanism, but the contradictions implicit in the practical realization of this ideology — in persuading Muslims and non-Muslims alike that the achievement of true equality between them entailed the acceptance by both of obligations as well as rights — posed CUP a problem. October 1908 saw the new regime suffer a significant blow with the loss of three territories (Bulgarian, Bosnian and Cretan) over which the empire still exercised nominal sovereignty.
Cession of Bulgaria, Bosnia and Crete, 1908
The de jure Bulgarian Declaration of Independence on 5 October [O.S. 22 September] 1908 from the Empire was proclaimed in the old capital of Tarnovo by Prince Ferdinand of Bulgaria, who afterwards took the title "Tsar".
The Bosnian crisis on 6 October 1908, erupted when Austria-Hungary announced the annexation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, territories formally within the sovereignty of the Empire. This unilateral action—timed to coincide with Bulgaria's declaration of independence (5 October) from the Empire. The Ottoman Empire protested Bulgaria with more vigor than the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which it had no practical prospects of governing. A boycott of Austro-Hungarian goods and shops did occur, inflicting commercial losses of over 100,000,000 kronen on Austria-Hungary. Austria-Hungary agreed to pay the Ottomans ₤2.2 million for the public land in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bulgarian independence could not be reversed.
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. The 1908 left the issue unsolved between the Empire and the Cretans. In 1909, after the parliament elected the governing structure (first cabinet), majority CUP, decided that if order was maintained and the rights of Muslims were respected, the issue would be solved with negotiations.
Political situation, 1909
The Senate of the Ottoman Empire was opened by the Sultan on 17 December 1908. The new year began with the results of 1908 elections. Chamber of Deputies gathered on 30 January 1909. The task of stopping the collapse of the Empire became the majority seat holder CUP's burden. CUP required to have a strategy to the ends [which they lacked before the takeover] for the young ideals envisaged. The truth was different. Ottoman government was a big bureaucracy. They may be late to arrive in this stage to have an impact, as there was only four years to the destruction of the Great War and in between time constant conflicts.
In 1909, public order laws and police was not a match to the ideals represented. Protesters were prepared to risk reprisals on the part of police and soldiers in order to express their grievances. In the three months following the new regime there were more than a 100 strikes: Mainly in Capitol and Thessalonica. Estimated that three-quarters of the labor force of the Empire went on strike. CUP had little time with ‘we the people’. An interesting point was; the strikes and revolts happened before and Sultan remained above criticism (Anatolian tax revolts in 1905-7) and bureaucrats and administrators deemed corrupt. This time CUP was not immune and took the blame. In the parliament LU accused the CUP of authoritarianism. Abdul Hamid’s Grand Viziers Said and Kâmil Pasha and his Foreign Minister Tevfik Pasha continued in the office. They were now independent of the Sultan and were taking measures to strengthen the Porte against the encroachments of both the Palace and the CUP. Said and Kâmil were nevertheless men of the old regime.
After nine months into the new government, discontent found expression in a fundamentalist movement which attempted to dismantle Constitution and revert it with a monarchy. The Ottoman countercoup of 1909 gained traction when Sultan promised to restore the Caliphate, eliminate secular policies, and restore the rule of Islamic law, as the mutinous troops claimed. CUP also eliminated the time for religious observance. Unfortunately for the advocates of representative parliamentary government, mutinous demonstrations by disenfranchised regimental officers broke out on April 13, 1909, which led to the collapse of the government. On 27 April 1909 countercoup put down by "31 March Incident" using the 11th Salonika Reserve Infantry Division of the Third Army. Some of the leaders of Bulgarian federalist wing like Sandanski and Chernopeev participated in the march on Capital to depose the "attempt to dismantle constitution". Abdul Hamid II was removed from the throne, and Mehmed V became the Sultan.
The Albanians of Tirana and Elbassan, where the Albanian National Awakening spread, were among the first groups to join the constitutional movement. Hoping that it would gain their people autonomy within the empire. 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. Under the new regime the Ottoman ban on Albanian-language schools and on writing the Albanian language lifted. The new regime 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 campaign to "Ottomanize" them by force. As a consequence, Albanian intellectuals meeting, the Congress of Manastir on November 22, 1908, chose the Latin alphabet as a standard script.
1909–1918 Mehmed V
On 5 August 1909, the revised constitution was granted by the new Sultan Mehmed V. This revised constitution, as the one before, 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 Company", and "Narquileh tobacco".
The interstate system at the beginning of the twentieth century was a multipolar one, with no single or two states preeminent. Mukipolarity traditionally had afforded the Ottomans the ability to play off one power against the other, which they did at times with consummate skill. Initially — CUP and LU — turned to Britain. Germany had supported the Abdul Hamid II regime and acquired a strong foothold. By encouraging Britain to compete against Germany and France, Empire hoped to break France and Germany’s hold and acquire greater autonomy for the Porte. Hostility to Germany increased when her ally Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. The pro-Unionist Tanin went so far as to suggest that Vienna's motive in carrying out this act was to strike a blow against the constitutional regime and assist reaction in order to bring about its fall. Two prominent Unionists, Ahmed Riza Pasha and Dr. Nazim Pasha, were sent to London to discuss options of cooperation with Sir Edward Grey and Sir Charles Hardinge.
Our habit was to keep our hands free, though we made ententes and friendships. It was true that we had an alliance with Japan, but it was limited to certain distant questions in the Far East.[c]
They [Ottoman delegate] replied that Empire was the Japan of the Near East (prompting to Meiji Restoration period which spanned from 1868 to 1912), and that we already had the Cyprus Convention which was still in force.
I said that they had our entire sympathy in the good work they were doing in the Empire; we wished them well, and we would help them in their internal affairs by lending them men to organize customs, police, and so forth, if they wished them.
Political situation, 1908-1914
Foreign Minister Tevfik's successor, Mehmed Rifat Pasha was a career diplomat from a merchant family. The CUP, who were predominantly civilian, resented the intrusion of the army into government.
One way to challenge and undermine the army’s position was by attacking Germany in the press and supporting friendship with Germany’s rival, Great Britain. But neither Britain nor France responded to CUP's advance of friendship. In fact France resented the government's (Porte) desire to acquire financial autonomy.
At the turn of 1913, the Ottoman Modern Army failed at counterinsurgencies in the periphery of the empire, Libya was lost to Italy, and Balkan war erupted in the fall of 1912. LU flexed its muscles with the forced dissolution of the parliament in 1912. The signs of humiliation of the Balkan wars worked to the advantage of the CUP The cumulative defeats of 1912 enabled the CUP to seize control of the government.
The Liberal Union Party presented the peace proposal to the Ottoman government as a collective démarche, which was almost immediately accepted by both the Ottoman cabinet and by an overwhelming majority of the parliament on January 22, 1913. The 1913 Ottoman coup d'état (23 January), was carried out in the by a number of CUP members led by Ismail Enver Bey and Mehmed Talaat Bey, in which the group made a surprise raid on the central Ottoman government buildings, the Sublime Porte (Turkish: Bâb-ı Âlî). During the coup, the Minister of the Navy Nazım Pasha was assassinated and the Grand Vizier, Kâmil Pasha, was forced to resign. The CUP established tighter control over the faltering Ottoman state. Mahmud Sevket Pasha was assassinated just in 5 months after the coup in June 1913. LU supporters had been involved in the assassination; their crush followed. Cemal Pasha was responsible for executing revenge. The execution of former officials had been an exception since the Tanzimat (1840s) period; the punishment was the exile. The public life could not be far more brutish 75 years after the Tanzimat. The Foreign Ministry was always occupied by someone from the inner circle of the CUP except for the interim appointment of Muhtar Bey. Said Halim Pasha who was already Foreign Minister, became Grand Vizier in June 1913 and remained in office until October 1915. He was succeeded in the Ministry by Halil[who?].
The CUP, who seized power from LU in January 1913, was more convinced than ever that only an alliance with Britain and the Entente could guarantee the survival of what remained of the Empire. In June, therefore, the subject of an Anglo-Turkish alliance was reopened by Tevfik Pasha, who simply restated his proposal of October 1911. Once again the offer was turned down.
In May 1913 German military mission assigned Otto Liman von Sanders to help train and reorganize the Ottoman army. Otto Liman von Sanders was assigned to reorganize the First Army, his model to be replicated to other units; as an advisor [he took the command of this army in November 1914] and began working on its operational area which was the straits. This became a scandal and intolerable for St. Petersburg. The Russian Empire developed a plan for invading and occupying the Black Sea port of Trabzon or the Eastern Anatolian town of Bayezid in retaliation. To solve this issue Germany de-ranked Otto Liman von Sanders to a point that he can barely control an army corps. If there was no solution through Naval occupation of Istanbul, the next Russian idea was to improve the Russian Caucasus Army.
Sir Louis Mallet, who became Britain’s Ambassador to the Porte in 1914, noted that
Turkey’s way of assuring her independence is by an alliance with us or by an undertaking with the Triple Entente. A less risky method [he thought] would be by a treaty or Declaration binding all the Powers to respect the independence and integrity of the present Turkish dominion, which might go as far as neutralization, and participation by all the Great Powers in financial control and the application of reform.— Sir Louis du Pan Mallet
The CUP could not possibly accept such proposals. They felt betrayed by what they considered was Europe's bias during the Balkan Wars, and therefore they had no faith in Great Power declarations regarding the Empire's independence and integrity; the termination of European financial control and administrative supervision was one of the principal aims of CUP's policies. Sir Louis Mallet, Ambassador, seemed totally oblivious to that. The response was not based on an ignorance. Though these imperial powers had experienced relatively few major conflicts between them over the previous hundred years, an underlying rivalry, otherwise known as "the Great Game", had exacerbated the situation to such an extent that resolution was sought. Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 brought shaky British-Russian relations to the forefront by solidifying boundaries that identified their respective control in Persia, Afghanistan. Overall, the Convention represented a carefully calculated move on each power's part in which they chose to value a powerful alliance over potential sole control over various parts of Central Asia. Ottoman Empire lied on the crossroads to Central Asia. The Convention served as the catalyst for creating a "Triple Entente", which was the basis of the alliance of countries opposing the Central Powers. Ottoman Empire's path in Ottoman entry into World War I was set with that agreement, which was part of the Great Game.
The Empire lost territory in the Balkans, where many of its Christian voters were based before the 1914 elections. The CUP made efforts to win support in the Arab provinces by making conciliatory gestures to Arab leaders. Weakened Arab support for the LU and enabled the CUP to call elections with unionists holding the upper hand. After 1914 elections, the democratic structure had a better representation in the parliament; the parliament that emerged from the elections in 1914 reflected better ethnic composition of the Ottoman population There were more Arab deputies, which were underrepresented in previous parliaments. The CUP had a majority government. The Ottoman imperial government was established in January 1914. Ismail Enver became a Pasha and was assigned as the Minister of War; Ahmet Cemal who was the military governor of Istanbul became Minister for the Navy; and once a postal official Talaat became the Minister of the Interior. These Three Pashas would maintain de facto control of the Empire as a military regime and almost as a personal dictatorship under Enver Pasha during the World War I. Until the Ottoman general election, 1919, any other input into the political process was restricted with the outbreak of the World War One. The 1914 Burdur earthquake occurred at on 4 October 1914.
The Hauran Druze Rebellion was a violent Druze uprising in the Syrian province, which erupted in 1909. The rebellion was led by the al-Atrash family, in an aim to gain independence. The conflict A business dispute between Druze chief Yahia bey Atrash in the village of Basr al-Harir escalated into a clash of arms between the Druze and Ottoman-backed local villagers. Though it is the financial change during second constitutional area; the spread of taxation, elections and conscription, to areas already undergoing economic change caused by the construction of new railroads, provoked large revolts, particularly among the Druzes and the Hauran. Sami Pasha al-Farouqi arrived in Damascus in August 1910, leading an Ottoman expeditionary force of some 35 battalions. The resistance collapsed.
In 1911, Muslim intellectuals and politicians formed "The Young Arab Society", a small Arab nationalist club, in Paris. Its stated aim was "raising the level of the Arab nation to the level of modern nations." In the first few years of its existence, al-Fatat called for greater autonomy within a unified Ottoman state rather than Arab independence from the empire. Al-Fatat hosted the Arab Congress of 1913 in Paris, the purpose of which was to discuss desired reforms with other dissenting individuals from the Arab world. They also requested that Arab conscripts to the Ottoman army not be required to serve in non-Arab regions except in time of war. However, as the Ottoman authorities cracked down on the organization's activities and members, al-Fatat went underground and demanded the complete independence and unity of the Arab provinces.
Nationalist movement become prominent during this Ottoman period, but it has to be mentionas that this was among Arab nobles and common Arabs considered themselves loyal subjects of the Caliph. Instead of Ottoman Caliph, the British, for their part, incited the Sharif of Mecca to launch the Arab Revolt during the First World War.
In 1908, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) or Dashnak Party embraced a public position endorsing participation and reconciliation in the Imperial Government of the Ottoman Empire and the abandonment of the idea of an independent Armenia. Stepan Zorian and Simon Zavarian managed the political campaign for the 1908 Ottoman Elections. ARF field workers were dispatched to the provinces containing significant Armenian populations; for example, Drastamat Kanayan (Dro), went to Diyarbakir as a political organizer. The Committee of Union and Progress could only able to bring 10 Armenian representatives to the 288 seats in the Ottoman general election, 1908. The other 4 Armenians were representing parties with no ethnic affiliation. The ARF was aware that the elections were shaky ground and maintained its political direction and self-defense mechanism intact and continued to smuggle arms and ammunition.
In April 13, 1909, while Istanbul was dealing with the consequences of Ottoman countercoup of 1909 an outbreak of violence, known today as the Adana Massacre shook in April the ARF-CUP relations to the core. In April 24 the 31 March Incident and suppression of the Adana violence followed each other. The Ottoman authorities in Adana brought in military forces and ruthlessly stamped out both real opponents, while at the same time massacring thousands of innocent people. In July 1909, the CUP government announced the trials of various local government and military officials, for "being implicated in the Armenian massacres.".
On January 15, 1912, the Ottoman parliament dissolved and political campaigns began almost immediately. Andranik Ozanian participated in the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 alongside general Garegin Nzhdeh as a commander of Armenian auxiliary troops. Andranik met revolutionist Boris Sarafov and the two pledged to work jointly for the oppressed peoples of Armenia and Macedonia. Andranik participated in the First Balkan War alongside Garegin Nzhdeh as a Chief Commander of 12th Battalion of Lozengrad Third Brigade of the Macedonian-Adrianopolitan militia under the command of Colonel Aleksandar Protogerov. His detachment consisted of 273 Armenian volunteers. On May 5, 1912, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation officially severed the relations with the Ottoman government; a public declaration of the Western Bureau printed in the official announcement was directed to "Ottoman Citizens." The June issue of Droshak ran an editorial about it. Shortly after the war started, rumors surfaced that Armenians fighting together with the Bulgarians near Kavala had massacred Muslims. There were overwhelming numbers of Armenians who served the Empire units with distinction during Balkan wars. The ARF quickly disproved 273 Armenian volunteers of Macedonian-Adrianopolitan militia from killing Muslims by pointing out that there were no Armenian names in the list of those accused and published telegrams and testimonials from the Armenians in the Ottoman units.
In October 1912, George V of Armenia engaged in negotiations with General Illarion Ivanovich Vorontsov-Dashkov to discuss Armenian reforms inside the Russian Empire. In December 1912, Kevork V formed the Armenian National Delegation and appointed Boghos Nubar. The delegation established itself in Paris. Another member appointed to the delegation was James Malcolm who resided in London and became the delegation’s point man in its dealings with the British. In early 1913, Armenian diplomacy shaped as Boghos Nubar was to be responsible for external negotiations with the European governments, while the Political Council "seconded by the Constantinople and Tblisi Commissions" were to negotiate the reform question internally with the Ottoman and Russian governments. The Armenian reform package was established in February 1914 based on the arrangements nominally made in the Treaty of Berlin (1878) and the Treaty of San Stefano.
During the Spring of 1913, the provinces faced increasingly worse relations between Kurds and Armenians that created an urgent need for the ARF to revive its self-defense capability. In 1913, the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party (followed by other Ottoman political parties) changed its policy and stopped cooperating with the Committee of Union and Progress, moving out of the concept of Ottomanism and developing its own kind of nationalism.
The plan called for the unification of the Six Vilayets and the nomination of a Christian governor and religiously balanced council over the unified provinces, the establishment of a second Gendarmerie over Ottoman Gendarmerie commanded by European officers, the legalization of the Armenian language and schools, and the establishment of a special commission to examine land confiscations empowered to expel Muslim refugees. The most important clause was obligating the European powers to enforce the reforms, by overriding the regional governments.[d]
From the end of July to August 2, 1914, the Armenian congress at Erzurum happened. There was a meeting between the Committee of Progress and Union and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. Armenian liaisons Arshak Vramian, Stepan Zorian and Khatchatour Maloumian and Ottoman liaisons Dr. Behaeddin Shakir, Omer Naji, and Hilmi Bey were accompanied by an international entourage of peoples from the Caucasus. The CUP requested to incite a rebellion of Russian Armenians against the Tsarist regime in Russian Armenia, in order to facilitate the conquest of Transcaucasia in the event of the opening up of the Caucasus Campaign. Around the same time, a representative meeting of Russian Armenians assembled in Tiflis, Russian Armenia. The Tsar asked Armenian's loyalty and support for Russia in the conflict. The proposal was agreed upon and nearly 20,000 Armenians who responded to the call of forming Armenian volunteer units inside the Russian Caucasus Army), of which only 7,000 were given arms. On November 2, the first engagement of the Caucasus Campaign began (the Bergmann Offensive), and on December 16, 1914, the Ottoman Empire officially dismantled the Armenian reform package.
The ARF was very effective at this junction but the Social Democrat Hunchakian Party had a problem. The Ottoman intelligence service had an agent operating under Hunchakian Party from as early as 1913. The Imperial Government knew about an alleged attempted assassination plan against Interior Minister Talaat Pasha; the Ottoman government captured the central Hunchakian operatives in a single operation in July 1914 using the comprehensive account of the decisions adopted by the Hunchakian Congress (1913) along the list of the participants. The trials took a year and the participants, named the 20 Hunchakian gallows were executed on 15 June 1915.
The first Kurds to challenge the authority of the Ottoman Empire did so primarily as Ottoman subjects, rather than national Kurds. They worked with other Ottoman subjects who were in opposition to the policies of Sultan Abdul Hamid and in 1889 formed the CUP. Abdul Hamid responded with a policy of repression, but also of integration, co-opting prominent Kurdish opponents into the Ottoman power structure with prestigious positions in his government. This strategy appears successful given the loyalty displayed by the Kurdish Hamidiye.
In 1908, after the overthrow of Sultan, the Hamidiye was disbanded as an organized force, but as they were "tribal forces" before official recognition (Hamidiye (cavalry) trained and organized Kurdish force by the Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1892), they stayed as "tribal forces" after dismemberment. The Hamidiye Cavalry is described as a military disappointment and a failure because of its contribution to tribal feuds.
Shaykh Abd al Qadir in 1910 appealed to the CUP for an autonomous Kurdish state in the east. Operating within the autonomist framework. That same year, Said Nursi traveled through the Diyarbakir region and urged Kurds to unite and forget their differences, while still carefully claiming loyalty to the CUP. Other Kurdish Shaykhs in the region began leaning towards regional autonomy. During this time, the Badr Khans had been in contact with discontented Shaykhs and chieftains in the far east of Anatolia ranging to the Iranian border, more in the framework of secession, however. Shaykh Abd al Razzaq Badr Khan eventually formed an alliance with Shaykh Taha and Shaykh Abd al Salam Barzani, another powerful family.
In 1914, because of this possible Kurdish threat as well as the alliance's dealings with Russia, Ottoman troops moved against this alliance. Two brief and minor rebellions, the rebellions of Barzan and Bitlis, were quickly suppressed.
In 1914, General Muhammad Sharif Pasha offered his services to the British in Mesopotamia. Elsewhere, members of the Badr Khan family held close relations with Russian officials and discussed their intentions to form an independent Kurdistan.
Yemen Vilayet was a first-level administrative division of the Empire. In the late 19th century, the Zaidis rebelled against the Empire, and Imam Mohammed ibn Yahya laid the foundation of a hereditary dynasty. When he died in 1904, his successor Imam Yahya ibn Mohammed led the revolt against the Empire in 1904-1905, and forced them to grant important concessions to the Zaidis. The Ottoman agreed to withdraw the civil code and restore sharia in Yemen. In 1906, the Idrisi leaders of Asir rebelled against the Ottomans. By 1910 they controlled most of Asir, but they were ultimately defeated by Ottoman Modern Army and Hejazi forces. Ahmed Izzet Pasha concluded a treaty with Imam Yahya in October 1911, by which he was recognized as temporal and spiritual head of the Zaidis, was given the right to appoint officials over them, and collect taxes from them. The Ottomans maintained their system of government in the Sunni-majority parts of Yemen.
Italian War, 1911
Italy declared war, Italo-Turkish 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.
Ottomans were losing their last directly ruled African territory. The Italians also sent weapons to Montenegro, encouraged Albanian dissidents, seized Rhodes and the other. 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.
On October 18, 1912, Italy and the Empire signed a treaty in Ouchy near Lausanne. Often called Treaty of Ouchy, but also named as the First Treaty of Lausanne.
The Liberal Union was in power sharing when the First Balkan War broke out in October. The Committee of Union and Progress won landslide the Ottoman general election, 1912. In this election CUP proved/developed into a real political party. Decentralization (the Liberal Union's position) was rejected and all effort was directed toward streamline of the government, streamlining the administration (bureaucracy), and strengthening the armed forces. The CUP, which got the public mandate from the electrode, did not compromise with minority parties like their predecessors (that is being Sultan Abdul Hamid) had been. The first three years of relations between the new regime and the Great Powers were demoralizing and frustrating. The Powers refused to make any concessions over the Capitulations and loosen their grip over the Empire's internal affairs.
When the Italian War and the counterinsurgency operations in Albania and Yemen began to fail, a number of high-ranking military officers, who were unhappy with the counterproductive political involvement in these wars, formed a political committee in the capital. Calling itself the Group of Liberating Officers or Savior Officers, its members were committed to reducing the autocratic control wielded by the CUP over military operations. Supported by the Liberal Union in parliament, these officers threatened violent action unless their demands were met. Said Pasha resigned as Grand Vizier on July 17, 1912, and the government collapsed. A new government, so called the "Great government", was formed by Ahmet Muhtar Pasha. The members of the government were prestigious statesmen, technocrat government, and they easily received the vote of confidence. This CUP excluded from cabinet posts.
The 1912 Mürefte earthquake occurred causing 216 casualties on 9 August 1912. The Ottoman Aviation Squadrons established by largely under French guidance in 1912 . Squadrons were established in a short time as Louis Blériot and the Belgian pilot Baron Pierre de Caters performed the first flight demonstration in the Empire on 2 December 1909.
Balkan Wars, 1912–1913
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 Empire during the nineteenth century set the stage for the Balkan Wars. On 10 October 1912 the collective note of the powers was handed. CUP responded to demands of European powers on reforms in Macedonia on 14 October. 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. 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 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.
It is not possible to understand CUP policy and behavior after 1913 without realizing what a traumatic effect the Balkan Wars had. Empire had lost the very lands that had provided the life-blood for centuries. 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. Loss of 83 percent of their European territory and almost 70 percent of their European population.
Inter-communal conflicts, 1911–1913
Balkan Wars did not only happen as a regular warfare. In the two-year period between September 1911 and September 1913 ethnic cleansing sent hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees, or as known as muhacir, streaming into the Empire, adding yet another economic burden and straining the social fabric. During the wars, food shortages and hundreds of thousands of refugees haunted the empire. After the war there was an violent expel of the Muslim peasants of eastern Thrace.
Cession of Kuwait and Albania, 1913
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.
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. 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. Albania's neighbors still cast covetous eyes on this new and largely Islamic state. The young state, however, collapsed within weeks of the outbreak of World War I.
World War I
There is a separate article for the years 1914-1918, under the name History of the Ottoman Empire during World War I
The History of the Ottoman Empire during World War I began with the Ottoman's entry to conflicts with Russia at the Bergmann Offensive of Caucasus Campaign on November 2, 1915. The Middle Eastern theatre had five main campaigns: the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, the Mesopotamian Campaign, the Caucasus Campaign, the Persian Campaign, and the Gallipoli Campaign. There were also several minor campaigns: the North African Campaign, the Arab Campaign and the South Arabia Campaign. There were several important Ottoman victories in the early years of the war, such as the Battle of Gallipoli and the Siege of Kut. The Armistice of Mudros was signed on 31 October 1918, ending the Ottoman participation in World War I.
1918–1922 Mehmet VI
Just before the end of WWI, Sultan Mehmet V died and Mehmet VI became the new Sultan.
The Occupation of Constantinople took place in accordance with the Armistice of Mudros, ending the Ottoman participation in World War I. The occupation had two stages: the initial occupation took place from 13 November 1918 to 16 March 1920; from 16 March 1920 - Treaty of Sevres. 1918 saw the first time Constantinople had changed hands since the Ottoman Turks conquered the Byzantine capital in 1453. An Allied military administration was set up early in December 1918. Haghia Sophia was converted back into a cathedral by the Allied administration, and the building was returned temporarily to the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch.
The CUP members were court-martialled during the Turkish Courts-Martial of 1919-20 with charges of subversion of the constitution, wartime profiteering, and the massacres of both Greeks and Armenians. The courts-martial became a stage for political battles. The trials helped the LU root out the CUP from the political arena. The fall of the CUP allowed the Palace to regain the initiative once again, though only for less than a year. The British also rounded up a number of members of the Imperial Government and interned them in Malta, only for them to be exchanged in the future for British POWs without further trial. Sir Gough-Calthorpe included only members of the Government of Tevfik Pasha and the military/political personalities.
Discredited members of the Ottoman regime were resurrected in order to form ephemeral governments and conduct personal diplomacy. Thus, Ahmed Tevfik Pasha formed two ministries between November 1918 and March 1919, to be followed by Abdul Hamids brother-in-law Damad Ferid Pasha who led three cabinets in seven months. Damad Ferid, having served in diplomatic missions throughout Europe during the Hamidian era, and having been acquainted with European statesmen during his tenure as a Liberal politician, was considered an asset in the negotiations for the very survival of the Ottoman state and dynasty.
In the end, military losses destroyed the empire. The end came just as Ottoman reforms were having their greatest success. The Young Turk revolution of 1908 had taken real power out of the hands of the Sultan (although the sultanate remained) and put it in the hands of the Committee of Union and Progress.
After the war, the doctrine of Ottomanism lost its credibility. As parts of the Empire was integrated into the world economy, certain of its regions (the Balkans, Egypt, Iraq, and Hijaz) established closer economic links with Paris and London, even with British India, than with Istanbul.
The partitioning of the Ottoman Empire began with the Treaty of London (1915) and continued with mostly bilateral multiple agreements among the Allies. 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 (not ratified) and the Allied administration. The result of the Peace Settlement was that every indigenous group of the Empire would acquire its own state.
The text of the Treaty of Sevres was not made public to the Ottomans until May 1920. The Allies decided that the Empire would be left only a small area in Northern and Central Anatolia in which to live. Contrary to general expectations, the Sultanate along the Caliphate was not terminated, and it was allowed to retain capitol and a small strip of territory around the city, but not the straits. 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 to be offered to Greece, and East Anatolia was to be offered to Armenia. The Mediterranean coast, although still a part of the 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, would retain Ottoman sovereignty.
The World Zionist Organization was established in Istanbul; Theodor Herzl had tried to set up debt relief for Sultan Abdul Hamid II in exchange of Palestinian lands. Until the First World War its activities focused on cultural matters, although political aims were never absent. Before the First Word War, Herzl's attempts to reach a political agreement with the Ottoman rulers of Palestine were unsuccessful. But on 11 April 1909, Tel Aviv was founded on the outskirts of the ancient port city of Jaffa. The World Zionist Organization supported small-scale settlement in Palestine and focused on strengthening Jewish feeling and consciousness and on building a worldwide federation. At the start of World War I most Jews (and Zionists) supported the German Empire in its war against the Russian Empire. The Balfour Declaration (dated 2 November 1917) and Henry McMahon had exchanged letters with Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca in 1915, a shift to another concept (Jewish national home vs. Jewish state) which is explained under Homeland for the Jewish people
In 1918, Kurdish Tribal leader Sharif Pasha pressed the British to adopt a policy supporting autonomous Kurdish state. He suggested that British officials be charged with administering the region. During the Paris Peace Conference, a Kurdo-Armenian peace accord was reached between Sharif Pasha and Armenian representatives at the conference in 1919. The British thought that this agreement would increase the likelihood of independent Kurdish and Armenian states and therefore create a buffer between British Mesopotamia and the Turks.
The Arab forces were promised a state that included much of the Arabian Peninsula and the Fertile Crescent; however, the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between Britain and France provided for the territorial division of much of that region between the two imperial powers.
End of the Ottoman Empire
The Allies dictated the terms of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire with the Treaty of Sèvres. The Turkish nationalist Ottoman Parliament rejected these terms, as they did not conform to Parliament's own conditions for partition, the Misak-ı Millî (English: National Pact, published in early 1920. No Ottoman assent was possible while Parliament remained intransigent.
Following the Conference of London on 4 March 1920, the Allies decided to actively suppress Turkish nationalist opposition to the Treaty. On 14 March 1920, Allied troops moved to occupy key buildings and arrest nationalists in Constantinople. Parliament met a final time on 18 March 1920 before being dissolved by Sultan Mehmed VI on 11 April 1920. The nationalists relocated to Ankara and formed a new government.
The Allies were freed to deal with the Sultan directly. Mehmed VI signed the Treaty on 10 August 1920. The Imperial Government in Constantinople attempted and failed to convene the Senate to ratify the treaty; its legitimacy was fatally undermined by the Turk nationalists' refusal to cooperate. The resulting Turkish War of Independence and the subsequent nationalist victory permanently prevented the Treaty from being ratified.
The Turkish War of Independence ended with the Turkish nationalists in control of much of Anatolia. On 1 November 1922 the Turkish provisional government formally declared the Ottoman Sultanate and, with it, the Ottoman Empire to be abolished. Mehmed VI departed Constantinople and into exile on 17 November 1922. The Allies and Turks met in Lausanne, Switzerland to discus a replacement for the unratified Treaty of Sèvres. The resulting Treaty of Lausanne secured international recognition for the new Turkish state and its borders. The Treaty was signed on 24 July 1923 and ratified in Turkey on 23 August 1923. The Republic of Turkey was formally declared on 29 October 1923.
- Reform in the Ottoman Empire
- The Ottomans: Europe's Muslim Emperors
- Eastern Question
- British Occupation in 1882
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- From the 15th century ordinary functions of government were left out of the Empire's control and each Millet began to run their own schools, to collect taxes to support welfare for its own group, to organize and police its own neighborhoods and to punish transgressors according to its own laws in its own courts. Under this system, different religious and ethnic groups enjoyed a wide range of religious and cultural freedoms and considerable administrative, fiscal and legal autonomy.
- The Russian cable informing the coming agreement: "Thus the Act of January 22nd 1914 signifies without doubt the opening of a new and happier era in the history of the Armenian people. In political significance: it is comparable with the Firman of 1870 in which the Bulgarian Exarchate was founded and the Bulgars were freed from Greek guardianship. The Armenians must feel that the first step has been taken towards releasing them from the Turkish yoke. The agreement of January 26th 1914 has at the same time great significance for the international status of Russia. It has been signed personally by the Grand Vizier and Russia's representative and pledges the Turks to hand to the Powers a note the contents of which have been precisely set forth. The outstanding role of Russia in the Armenian question is thus officially emphasized and Art 16 of the Treaty of San Stefano to some extent ratified.
M Gulkievitch the Charge d Affaires of the Russian Embassy
- Regarding the alliance's provisions for mutual defense, it was aimed for Japan to enter the First World War on the British side.
- List of religions under the inspectorates were Muslim, Orthodox Christian, Apostolic Christian, Catholic Christian, Evangelical Christian, Syriac Orthodox Christian, and Jews. Kurds who were fighting for autonomy in the same region of the inspectorates were classified as Muslim. In 1908, the Ottoman parliament had 288 seats and 14 were occupied by Armenians.
- Said Nursî, appealed to ethnicity, rather than religious compatriot, in 1910 at Diyarbakir, "Kudistan belong to the Kurds and Armenians, not to the Turks." He continued "... Union (Union and Progress) is the great task of our time, that non-Muslims may be convinced that our union is an offensive against the ills of our time."
- About First Republic of Armenia.
"In the summer of 1918, the Armenian national councils reluctantly transferred from Tiflis to Yerevan to take over the leadership of the republic from the popular dictator Aram Manukian and the renowned military commander Drastamat Kanayan. It then began the daunting process of establishing a national administrative machinery in an isolated and landlocked misery. This was not the autonomy or independence which Armenian intellectuals had dreamed of and for which a generation of youth had been sacrificed. Yet, as it happened, it was here that the Armenian people were destined to continue [their] national existence."— R.G. Hovannisian
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