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Challenge to the Ottoman Empire

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1) What were some of the common grievances shared by citizens across various states during the Arab Uprisings?

The Arab Spring was started by the rise of a young generation and unions that were dissatisfied with the ways in which the local government ruled. Arab Spring was started by the rise of a young generation that fought against the oppressive rule and corruption in order to secure a more democratic political system and for a promising future. Some of the common grievances shared by citizens across various states during the Arab Uprisings were abuse of human rights, political corruption among government officials, economic decline, high unemployment and poverty rates.

2) Identify and explain the “six arrows” of Kemalism.

  1. Republicanism: the creation of the Republic by replacing the absolute monarchy with a constitutional Republic.
  2. Nationalism: Created a purely Turkish identity separate from the multi-religious identity of the Ottoman territory. This was done by creating a shared language that limited the number of foreign origin words and rewriting history to focus on the glorious Turkish past.
  3. Populism: Kemal wanted to develop a classless society and a national society that focused on work and unity rather than religion and class. He still wanted people to study religion just through schools and not through madrasa’s.
  4. Statism: focus on creating a state-led economy not a private-led one. This meant that the state would run the country’s economic activities and invest in areas in which private companies did not want to.
  5. Secularism: Kemal reduced the power of religion in the state by reforming laws such as abolished religious schools and courts, legalized alcohol, adopted the Greogrian calendar.
  6. Reformism: completely and radically replaced the traditional social, political, and economic systems of the Ottoman Empire with the modern reforms of Kemalism.

Section 2: Essay (60 points)

Write an essay (500-750 words max.) on one of the following topics. Be sure to draw from the entirety of our course, and to take time to organize your thoughts and outline your main points before you begin to write. This essay should be written in your own words and include your own thoughts and conclusions. It should demonstrate your understanding and interpretation of the course materials. Therefore, it should not include direct quotes, or paraphrases that require citations or a works cited page. The best essays will combine clear, original arguments with effective use of historical detail. You should aim to have an introduction that includes a thesis statement; three content paragraphs that refer to specific examples and counterpoints; and a conclusion that does not merely re-hash the preceding content, but instead reflects upon its implications.

  1. How can we explain the collapse of the Ottoman Empire? Identify at least three possible explanations in your response.

The Ottoman Empire is one of the world’s largest and most enduring empires in history and, at its height, even surpassed the wealth and power of its European rivals. Even though the Ottoman Empire formally ended in 1923 with the creation of the modern republic of Turkey, it suffered under a long period of stagnation and decline leading up to its demise. European intervention, decentralization, and sectarian unrest among the Ottoman’s diverse population are three possible explanations for the end of the Ottoman Empire.

As the Ottoman Empire expanded, reaching its peak in the mid seventeenth century, it’s political administration became increasingly decentralized. As a hereditary monarchy, the Ottomans gave key supporters of the throne valuable leadership positions in the provinces they ruled as patronage. However, since these rulers were given so much power over tax collection, local militaries, and infrastructural development instead of pledging allegiance to Istanbul, they were loyal to no one but themselves. As a result of this, the Ottoman Empire slowly lost their hold over territory and people within their empire. One example of such a ruler is Muhammad Ali. Muhammad Ali was appointed ruler of Egypt after declaring victory over a fierce struggle with various Ottoman officers and tribal leaders in the province. Consolidating power for himself, Muhammad Ali then became strong enough to challenge the Ottoman’s directly while still remaining semi-loyal to the empire. Because of this, the Ottoman Empire essentially became a loose coalition of strong little states that were loyal to the empire when it best suited them but remained otherwise independent.

Another explanation for the fall of the Ottoman Empire is European intervention. The Ottomon Empire, lacking a reliable resource base because of the insufficiency of waqfs to fund a large empire, forced the Sultanate to turn to European powers in order to fund its administrative functions and military base. This, coupled with the seemingly-endless amount of fighting involving other European powers drained what little financial resources the Ottoman Empire had left, caused debt to accumulate rapidly until it began to account for nearly half of the Ottoman Empire’s yearly income. The eventually forced the new Sultan to officially declare bankruptcy in 1873 when the Vienna Stock Market Crashed. This stock market crash in turn helped provoke a brief and disastrous war with Russia and by the time it ended in 1878, it had eroded nearly half of the Ottoman Empire’s remaining territory. European powers, frustrated with the inability of the Ottoman Empire to repay debts, established the Public Debt Commission in Istanbul to oversee the repayment. The taxes placed by the Commission crippled the empire by further reducing the Sultanate’s revenue base and driving up prices on all goods and services.

Lastly, another cause that contributed to the decline of the Ottoman Empire were the warring ideologies that existed within the Ottoman Empire. These three ideologies — Islamic, Ottoman, and Turkish all had differing opinions regarding the ‘ideal Ottoman society’ as well as their idea of national identity. Islam, as one of the main foundations for authority and identity within the Ottoman Empire, dwindled in power after the 1919 Turkish war of independence. This war of independence, led by Kemal, fought for a secular Turkish state separate from Ottoman culture and Islamic law and customs.

The collapse of the Ottoman Empire can be attributed to both internal and external factors that influenced the hold the Empire held over its territories, subjects, and officials.

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