In 1914 the ottoman Empire regulated 2.4 million sq kilometres of territory, including all of modern-day Turkey and most that the middle East. The empire was dominated by the Turks but likewise included Arabs, Kurds, Greeks, Armenians and other ethnic minorities. Official the Ottoman empire was an Islamic Caliphate ruled by a Sultan, Mehmed V, return it likewise contained Christians, Jews and also other spiritual minorities. Because that nearly all of the empire’s 600-year existence these non-Muslim subjects endured systematic distinguish and, in ~ times, bald persecution.
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In the decade prior to 1914 the empire experienced a series of political upheavals. The Sultan’s position was reduced to that of a figurehead and strength was seized by the so-called ‘Young Turks’– a team of well-educated Turkish military officers intent on revitalising the empire by introducing modernist reforms. About theory these consisted of ending main discrimination versus non-Muslims, encouraging the education and also emancipation the women, and also increasing the jurisdiction of secular legislation courts at the cost of Islamic ones. But this process had combined results and also broke under under the pressures of war, an initial in Libya and the Balkans (1911–13) and then against the Allies (1914–18).
Galata Bridge, 1800s
Despite the ambitious agenda that its leaders, in 1914 the footrest Empire– which at its height had actually surpassed its european rivals in wealth and also power– currently lagged behind all the an excellent European strength in economic, technological and army capacity. Revolutionary was likewise undermined by emerging Turkish nationalism. The Young Turks championed not just the idea of Turkish nationalism in ~ the Ottoman empire but likewise ‘pan-Turkic’ ideals– the ‘reunification’ the the country or culturally connected ‘Turkic′ populations of the Caucasus and main Asia under ottoman rule. This stance– and also its explicit key of Turkish identity over all others– was at odds through the realities of a multinational empire and also served just to inflame age-old country and religious tensions in between the assorted Ottoman subject peoples.
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The quest of pan-Turkic aims all but guaranteedwar with the Russian Empire, i beg your pardon now regulated most of main Asia and the Caucasus. Far from shying away from this prospect, pan-Turkic advocates such together Enver Pasha, the Minister because that War, actively sought out avenues for the Ottoman realm to communicate in together a dispute on favourable terms. Throughout the preceding three century the Ottoman and Russian realms had fought more than a dozen separate wars against each other,with the Ottomans ultimately losinga substantialamount ofterritory. Russia’s entry into the very first World battle on the side of the Allies aided to convince crucial Turkish leaders such as Enver Pasha to throw in their lot v the central Powers.