Ottoman countercoup of 1909
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The Ottoman countercoup of 1909 (13 April 1909) was an attempt to dismantle the Second Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire and replace it with an autocracy under Sultan/Caliph Abdul Hamid II. Unfortunately for the advocates of representative parliamentary government, mutinous demonstrations by disenfranchised regimental officers broke out which led to the collapse of the Ottoman government. Characterized as a counterrevolution, chaos reigned briefly and several people were killed in the confusion. It was instigated by some parts of the Ottoman Army in a large part by a certain Cypriot Islamic extremist Dervish Vahdeti reigned supreme in Istanbul for 11 days. The Countercoup was put down in the 31 March Incident, on 24 April 1909 by the Army of Action (Hareket Ordusu) which was the 11th Salonika Reserve Infantry Division of to the Third Army (Ottoman Empire) commanded by Mahmud Shevket Pasha.
The coup was an attempt to undermine the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, which was a coup, so it became known as the countercoup of 1909.
The Young Turk Revolution, which began in the Balkan provinces, spread quickly throughout the empire and resulted in the Sultan Abdulhamid II announcing the restoration of the Ottoman constitution of 1876 on 3 July 1908. The Ottoman general election, 1908 took place during November and December 1908. The Senate of the Ottoman Empire reconvened for the first time in over 30 years on December 17, 1908 with the surviving members from the first constitutional area. The Chamber of Deputies' first session was on 30 January 1909.
The Sultan maintained his symbolic position and in March 1909 attempted to seize power once more by stirring up populist sentiment throughout the Empire. The Sultan's bid for a return to power gained traction when he promised to restore the caliphate, eliminate secular policies, and restore the sharia-based legal system. The 1908 parliament lacked coherence, most of all on the nature and unity of the organization of the Empire. While the Young Turk Revolution had promised organizational improvement, once instituted, the government at first proved itself rather disorganized and ineffectual.
On 13 April 1909 Army units revolted, joined by masses of theological students and turbaned clerics shouting, "We want Sharia", and moving to restore the Sultan's absolute power. The Sultan in turn promised to bring about the rule of religion, were he to be returned to power. Characterized as a counterrevolution, chaos reigned briefly and several people were killed in the confusion. The leader Dervish Vahdeti reigned supreme in Istanbul for 11 days.
Some writers have accused the British, led by Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice (1865–1939), Chief Dragoman of the British Embassy, of being the hidden hand behind this reactionary religious uprising. The British government had already supported actions against constitutionalists in an attempt to mute the effect of increasing German sympathizers in the Ottoman Empire since the 1880s. Also, according to these sources, this counter-coup was directed specifically against the Committee of Union and Progress's Salonica branch, which had outmatched the British-sympathizing Bitola Branch.
One of the causes of the counter-coup were that several different groups were disenchanted with the changes that had come about. These included those who enjoyed patronage jobs under Abdul Hamid and had been discharged, army officers who had risen from the ranks and were no longer being favored over officers who had been to military school, and the religious scholars (ulema) who felt threatened by the more secular atmosphere and new constitution that gave equal rights to all citizens irrespective of religion.
The events culminated in the 31 March Incident in which the countercoup was put down by the Hareket Ordusu ("Army of Action"), which was formed from the 11th Salonika Reserve Infantry Division of the Third Army commanded by Mahmud Shevket Pasha on April 24, 1909. The consequences was the restoration of the constitution (for the third time; 1876, 1908 and 1909) and the deposition of Abdul Hamid II in favor of his younger brother Mehmed V.
- Muammer Kaylan. The Kemalists: Islamic Revival and the Fate of Secular Turkey. Prometheus Books, Publishers. p. 74. ISBN 978-1-61592-897-2.
- G R Berridge,"Gerald Fitzmaurice (1865-1939) Chief Dragoman of the British Embassy in Turkey" Published by Martinus Nijhoff
- Erik J. Zurcher (2003). Turkey: A Modern History. I.B. Tauris & Co.. pp. 102-103.