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What if the Ottoman Empire had never collapsed?


Riadach

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I understand that in historiography counterfactuals are of limited use and I'm also aware that as a medievalist I'm far from the perfect person to be writing this op, but I thought this might still be an interesting question to put forward.

Had the Ottoman Empire not entered the war in 1914 (and I understand this would have been detrimental to their co-operation treaty with the German Empire), the situation in Palestine could have been radically different, due to the lack of the need for a LoN Mandate and no one to enforce the demand for a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. True, there was Zionist settlement in Palestine prior to this and of course British areas of influence within the Empire, but it would have been unlikely to gain as much traction, given the Ottomans would have given priority to any Arab/Muslim majority.

Of course, technically the Ottoman Empire was a caliphate, the Kaysar i Rum had caliphal authority meaning all Sunni Muslims owed it deference. Rather than being a radicalising force, it could be a moderating one. The Caliph issued many binding edicts which attempted to moderate Islam such as attempting to outlaw slavery or no longer making apostasy a capital offence. Some of this had quite limited effect, but the unifying element of the Caliphate could have be considered preferable to the modern state of affairs where every scholar with a tv show can proffer his own version of Islam.

This is one of the reasons why the the Ottoman Empire as a bulwark of traditional would have stalled the growth of radical Salafism. The other more significant reason was because the Ottoman Empire, and its Mameluke clients had frequently battled the Wahabbis of Nejd. It is highly unlikely that the Ottoman Empire would have brooked the growth of Ibn Saud in the Arabian Peninsula and even less likely they would have allowed the sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina, or even Hejaz as a whole, to fall under the control of the Wahhabist-backed Saudi Dynasty. Of course, it could be argued that given its failure to suppress the Hashemite rebellion, it would have had similar difficulty suppressing the one from Nejd, but one has to consider the impact of WWI on its ability to respond.

I certainly don't wish to paint the Ottoman Empire as some sort of utopia. It had strong tendencies towards massacre and we must not forget the Armenian Genocide, which cannot be attributed solely to WWII. The millet system still placed many minorities at the whim of the Sultan, though many were able to exploit it to their own benefit. The ideas of Ottomanism could have overcome these difficulties, but it's very difficult to speculate given the strength of the strongly Nationalistic "Young Turks". However, the Arab dictatorships and absolute monarchies that succeeded certainly didn't provide more security to minorities.

So, would anyone with a bit more knowledge on the subject wish to contribute? What did we lose and what did we gain through the collapse of the Ottoman Empire?
 

Tea Party Patriot

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Personally I am of the opinion that the Ottoman Empire crumbled from within over a long period of time prior to WWI. One of the telling statistics is the tiny number of books published within it in comparison to the West in the 18th century.
 

Riadach

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Personally I am of the opinion that the Ottoman Empire crumbled from within over a long period of time prior to WWI. One of the telling statistics is the tiny number of books published within it in comparison to the West in the 18th century.
That would have more to do with the ban on printing than anything else. Many Ottoman Emperors had embraced modernising reforms since.
 

jmcc

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At a guess, the Balkans could have been somewhat more stable but not a lot. The signficance of oil and an Ottoman Empire that had a lot of oil resources would be high as it could have affected the industrial development of the West.

Regards...jmcc
 

Tea Party Patriot

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That would have more to do with the ban on printing than anything else. Many Ottoman Emperors had embraced modernising reforms since.
I believe another reason was the difficulty with Arabic punctuation and getting a typeface that worked well with this. An interesting read is Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam, by Andrew Wheatcroft, it concentrates a lot of the Ottoman Empire and presents some very good arguments as to how it fell behind the west on a military and scientific footing.
 

Riadach

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At a guess, the Balkans could have been somewhat more stable but not a lot. The signficance of oil and an Ottoman Empire that had a lot of oil resources would be high as it could have affected the industrial development of the West.

Regards...jmcc
We probably, for convenience, should take the starting point of 1914, when most of the Balkans were independent from the Ottomans.
 

GDPR

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Without question I'd have to say by now we'd have had Ottowoman, and by all accounts, no harm at all.
 

Riadach

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I believe another reason was the difficulty with Arabic punctuation and getting a typeface that worked well with this. An interesting read is Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam, by Andrew Wheatcroft, it concentrates a lot of the Ottoman Empire and presents some very good arguments as to how it fell behind the west on a military and scientific footing.
But it is quite possible to fall behind culturally and scientifically yet still maintain political integrity. After WWI, the idea of conquest through military force fell out of favour somewhat, there was a reduced existential threat through conquest, especially if it wasn't a participant.
 

Tea Party Patriot

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We probably, for convenience, should take the starting point of 1914, when most of the Balkans were independent from the Ottomans.
The Balkans where part of the Ottoman empire for a long time, I think that taking an arbitrary point of 1914 is not as simple as you might think as the empire had reduced significantly over the 200 years prior to this. WWI might be seen as the final decline that may have been inevitable, of course such things are impossible to say for certain.
 

Riadach

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The Balkans where part of the Ottoman empire for a long time, I think that taking an arbitrary point of 1914 is not as simple as you might think as the empire had reduced significantly over the 200 years prior to this. WWI might be seen as the final decline that may have been inevitable, of course such things are impossible to say for certain.
But 1914 was the irretrievable instant of its collapse. The 200 years prior weren't. It could indeed have reformed and survived as a politcal entity, even if its form of government radically changed.
 

Tea Party Patriot

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But it is quite possible to fall behind culturally and scientifically yet still maintain political integrity. After WWI, the idea of conquest through military force fell out of favour somewhat, there was a reduced existential threat through conquest, especially if it wasn't a participant.
Perhaps conquest by military force fell out of favour for a short time, but then we got the likes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini, not to mention Japan.

Falling behind scientifically in modern industrial warfare is not an option if you wish to maintain an empire.
 

TommyO'Brien

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I think both the Ottoman Empire and Austria were in terminal decline and were destined to collapse. That said, I think history would have been better had they both survived. Both would have offered moderating influences and would have counterbalanced the rampant nationalisms that swept across the Europe and the Middle East. I remember my history lecture speculating that if the transnational Austrian empire had survived, for example, there would have been no World War II because Hitler would not have gotten hold of Germany the way he did and Austria would have been a counterbalancing force rather than a weak mini-state. He also reckoned the Ottoman Empire would have been a stabilising force in the Middle East.

But, as I say, I think by the early 20th century both empires were effectively doomed. That whole region without them was in the next couple of decades highly destabilised.
 

Riadach

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Perhaps conquest by military force fell out of favour for a short time, but then we got the likes of Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini, not to mention Japan.

Falling behind scientifically in modern industrial warfare is not an option if you wish to maintain an empire.

Tell that to the Russians, through they lost their leadership, but they kept their Empire.
 

Edo

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We probably, for convenience, should take the starting point of 1914, when most of the Balkans were independent from the Ottomans.
I don't know Riadach.......by 1914 - the Ottoman Empire was effectively over - the nationalism disease was too well established within even the truncated Empire by this stage.......it was a turkish national state in all but name - the elements that comprised the Young Turks rebellion of 1908 had already splintered along nationalist lines.........by 1914 Palestine was effectively a sort of Western protectorate with a lot of American,Russian,French and British influence there already.....the Ottoman empire was just a figure head...........likewise Lebanon which was a french protectorate in all but name and semi-independent..........and the ottomans never really had anything bar a tenuous hold over the hejaz let alone the rest of the Arabian pensinsula.....all they really had were a few forts along the Hejaz railway line south of Damascus........

the Ottoman empire had been in retreat since 1688.............the loss of the Balkans effectively killed it off and by 1914 was to all ends an embryonic Turkish National state with a few pieces of empire elsewhere...........the gangrene of nationalism killed it off limb by limb

BTW - would highly recommend Misha glenny's history of the Balkans and Montifiores Jerusalem for some supplementary reading on the subject

Nite
 

APettigrew92

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We probably, for convenience, should take the starting point of 1914, when most of the Balkans were independent from the Ottomans.
The Ottoman Empire was in terminal decline long, long before WW1.

And many of today's "Dictatorships" in the Middle East are in reality creations of Western Powers.

When WW1 ended, the Ottoman Empire didn't "Collapse" in such uncertain terms. Arabia and Egypt were forgone conclusions, but Palestine, Syria and Iraq were largely still in existence.

They were divided up into French and British "Mandates." Syria is an artificial creation, one which has African-styled country boundaries that incorporate several minorities with little regard for Wilson's "Self-Determination."

British Mandate of Palestine? Remember what happened to that in 1947?

That and Britain installed a puppet Government in Iraq in 1941 so to satisfy their oil interests.

And the British/CIA overthrew the democratically elected Iranian State due to the same reasons by and large.

And half of Western Turkey was given to the Greeks, who went on a killing spree in cities such as Izmir which they wanted to "Greekify."

The current state of the Middle East is a Western Creation.

And in my opinion was far worse off after WW1 than the German Empire was.

Imagine better still if WW1 had never happened.
 
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Riadach

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Well, this is a counterfactual, so perhaps we should suspend the use of words like "terminal" and "inevitable" just for the time being.
 

Edo

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Well, this is a counterfactual, so perhaps we should suspend the use of words like "terminal" and "inevitable" just for the time being.
Its hard to do a counterfactual on this subject Riadach - counterfactuals normally go on the premise that a couple of key events and decisions could have made all the difference..............ie Hitler letting the Werhmacht finish off the Brits at Dunkirk, giving luftwaffe a couple more days to finish off the RAF - not invading the USSR etc etc..................but there is no simple clear-cut moment in the Ottoman Empire when you could say - ah that was the moment when it all fell to sh^t..........if there is any moment - it would be in the 16th and 17th centuries - what if the ottomans had won the battle of Vienna in 1529/1688 opening up the rest of Europe or the battle of Lepanto in 1571 which would have left them masters of the Med.................its hard to do a counterfactual over what was plainly a dead parrot ( with apologies to M. Python)
 

Riadach

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Its hard to do a counterfactual on this subject Riadach - counterfactuals normally go on the premise that a couple of key events and decisions could have made all the difference..............ie Hitler letting the Werhmacht finish off the Brits at Dunkirk, giving luftwaffe a couple more days to finish off the RAF - not invading the USSR etc etc..................but there is no simple clear-cut moment in the Ottoman Empire when you could say - ah that was the moment when it all fell to sh^t..........if there is any moment - it would be in the 16th and 17th centuries - what if the ottomans had won the battle of Vienna in 1529/1688 opening up the rest of Europe or the battle of Lepanto in 1571 which would have left them masters of the Med.................its hard to do a counterfactual over what was plainly a dead parrot ( with apologies to M. Python)
Well, it is a stretch, but we could imagine that avoiding wwI could have allowed it to limp on into a period where wars of conquest were no longer the done thing.
 

GDPR

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Weren't there economic reasons for the gradual fall of the Ottoman Empire?
 
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