Omer Vrioni was a Tosk Albanian from the village of Vrioni near Berat (hence his name), with a distinguished record in the battles in Egypt against Napoleon. When Ali Pasha revolted against the Sublime Porte, Omer was his treasurer. He initially commanded the army tasked with defending the eastern approaches to Ioannina, but entered into an agreement with Ismail Pasha, the then commander-in-chief of the Sultan's forces, disbanding his army in exchange for the pashalik of Berat.
After the death of Ali Pasha Omer was among the commanders who were sent by Hurşid Ahmed Pasha, the new commander-in-chief, to suppress the Greek Revolution which had broken out in March 1821. On April 24, 1821, he defeated the Greeks at the Battle of Alamana and had their commander, Athanasios Diakos, impaled. Vrioni's advance was temporarily halted by Odysseas Androutsos who, with a handful of men, inflicted heavy casualties upon him at the Battle of the inn of Gravia on May 8, 1821.
Siege of Missolonghi
In late 1822, he and Mehmed Reshid Pasha joined forces to besiege the town of Missolonghi. The town was completely surrounded on October 25, and might have fallen, had the Ottomans attempted an immediate assault. As it was, Vrioni preferred to take the strategically important town intact, and resorted to negotiations, against the opinion of Mehmed Reshid and Yussuf Pasha. The besieged Greeks took advantage of the negotiations, dragging them out until November 8, when they were reinforced by sea, at which point they refused to negotiate further. The siege began in earnest, and the two pashas scheduled their main assault for Christmas night, December 24, calculating that the Greeks would be caught by surprise. The plan was leaked to the defenders, and the attack failed. Six days later, the siege was lifted.
As a result of this failure, the antagonism between Omer Vrioni and Mehmed Reshid escalated, resulting in his recall by the Porte in 1824, when he was assigned a command in Macedonia. During the later Russo-Turkish War of 1828, he led a 20,000 strong army in an unsuccessful attempt to relieve the Siege of Varna.
- The Monthly critical gazette. 1825. p. 408.
- Finlay, p. 89.
- Finlay, pp. 95-96.