Q6. How did the European concept of Nationalism contribute in the breakup of Ottoman Empire? Trace the historical stages in the breakup of Ottoman Empire and the birth of ‘Nationalities’ based countries in the Middle East
European nationalism was based on dominance of ethnic basis and prescribed that the ethnic minorities of the Ottoman Empire should have their own leadership.
Common people in realms of Ottoman Empire had religious freedom and were in general satisfied with cultural and societal freedom. European powers needed to weaken the Ottoman Empire to increase their areas of influence and thus actively encouraged nationalities within the Ottoman empire to revolt throughout the 1800s. For example, the Greek revolution of 1821-1832: Orthodox Patriarch openly denounced the rebels in favor of unity with the Ottomans. However, the Greek revolutionaries were heavily aided by the British, French and Germans to battle Ottomans on behalf of the Greeks. With the political and economic strains that the Ottomans were already facing at that time, they were unable to defeat this intervention by Europe and Greece was proclaimed independent of the Ottoman Empire.
With the successful nationalistic revolt of the Greeks, other minorities within the empire were encouraged to revolt. The Serbians continued armed revolt against the Ottomans throughout the 1800s, and were strongly supported by the Russians. Armenians throughout Anatolia also revolted and were also supported by the Russians. Even fellow Muslims, the Bosniaks began to fight for independence, both because of nationalistic ideas and as protest against the un-Islamic reforms in the Tanzimat.
Turks and Arabs had been intimately linked within the Ottoman Empire in terms of histories, culture as role within the administration. However, the rising tide of European nationalism affected them as well. Turks began to promote themselves throughout government, and exclude others. This policy was promoted by the same group (the Young Turks) that promoted secularism and a movement away from Islam throughout the 1800s. As a counter reaction to this Arab thinkers and political leaders began to formulate ideas of Arab nationalism. In their view, the Ottoman Turks had hampered the progress of the Arab world and held them back.
At the time of beginning of World War I Ottoman Empire was weakened in terms of economy and politiy. Its former lands in Europe under European control. Ottomans sided with the Germans and Austrians in World War I. Due to Turkish nationalism, the army was almost entirely made up of Turks and excluded Arabs. British saw this as an opportunity and with British encouragement, both monetary as well in terms of support in weaponry, different groups of Arabs revolted against the Turks. The British were able to easily conquer Iraq, Palestine, and Syria from the Ottoman Empire.
After the war Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 divided up the Ottoman Empire among the British and the French.
The Ottoman Empire essentially ceased to exist by the time the war was over in 1918. An ultra-nationalist Turkish leader, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, took power in Turkey. Other nationalities were not welcomed in this new nation. In fact, huge population transfers occured between Greece and Turkey, with each expelling the other ethnic group from within its borders.
British and French negotiated and divided up the Arab world. Arbitrary lines were drawn on the map to divide up the Arab world into new states called Transjordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. Jews were encouraged to settle in Palestine, creating a new Jewish state – Israel. Egypt continued under British domination to become its own nation, separate from the rest of the Arab world. Ottoman Empire was replaced by numerous nationalistic states.