6. The War Years, 1914–1918
The six turbulent years that followed the 1908 Revolution revealed to the Committee of Union and Progress that its role in the revolution did not confer upon it an indefinite moral and political influence. The fluctuations in the Committee’s political fortunes taught its leaders how to contend with different political factions. By 1913 the CUP grew confident enough to engineer a coup and take the reins of government. Within one year it went to elections in order to legitimize its grip on political power. The elections took place during the winter of 1913–14 and in some localities continued into the spring.
There was no organized opposition to the CUP during the elections. The campaign and balloting occurred against the background of the new emphasis on Islamic unity, reflected in publications such as İslam Mecmuası (Islamic Journal), founded by the CUP in February 1914. Intellectuals with pan-Turkist tendencies, such as Tekin Alp (alibi Moise Cohen) and Ziya Gökalp, now wrote for İslam Mecmuası. Islamism, an inclusionary ideology, implicitly legitimated single-party rule. Elections were meant to elicit further endorsement.
The Elections of 1914 and the Eclipse of the Reform Movement
From its position of strength, the CUP pursued a co-optive strategy vis-à-vis Arabs with leanings toward the Liberal camp. It compromised with the Arabist and decentralist trends, the two overlapping pro-Liberal platforms of the preceding years. In many districts it stood by to watch Unionists lose their bid for reelection. In Aleppo the head of the local CUP ran as a candidate but lost. In some districts the government withdrew its support from Unionists and manipulated the electoral process in favor of the Liberals. In Acre, for instance, the authorities detained secondary electors who were largely favorable to Shaykh As‘ad al-Shuqayri, a pro-Unionist deputy since 1908, in order to grant newcomer ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sa‘adi a victory. The CUP had apparently promised al-Shuqayri’s ouster to ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Zahrawi, who as religious scholar from the Prophet’s lineage, former Arabist journalist, president of the Arab Congress, and now senator (see page 176) embodied the compromise with the Arabists. In Nablus Amin ‘Abd al-Hadi and Tawfiq Hammad ousted incumbent Haydar Tuqan amid accusations of manipulation of electoral districts and obstruction of the vote in favor of the challengers, as Nablus sent two deputies to Parliament for the first time. In ‘Amara (Iraq) Unionist incumbent Munir’s candidacy was not supported—and in fact was sabotaged, according to the candidate—possibly as a concession to Sayyid Talib.
In Beirut the CUP created an Islamist organization to neutralize Arabist loyalties. Here and in Damascus the deputies-elect were compromise candidates, and all but one in each district were newcomers. Basra, another center of the reform movement, elected nearly twice the number of deputies it had in the previous two elections, all with decentralist leanings, though they did not belong to the Entente. In general, the CUP manipulated the electoral process to privilege candidates from the notable class, who commanded the esteem of the population, yet would be less inclined to engage in active opposition than the Arabist Liberals.
The increase in numerical and proportional representation of the Arab provinces in Parliament continued from the 1912 elections to the 1914 elections and was significantly larger than the increase between 1908 and 1912. With the loss of the Balkan provinces (which contained no Arab populations) since 1912, the proportion of Arab deputies to the total number predictably increased (from 24 percent to 32 percent). In absolute terms, too, the contingent from the Arab provinces registered an increase of sixteen (or 25 percent of its size in 1912). This proportional and numerical increase is particularly striking, however, given that the Arab contingent lost ten deputies because of the loss of Libya to Italy. The representation of the Arab provinces that remained within the empire increased by some 30 percent from 1912 to 1914. The number of Turks representing Arab provinces did not change significantly in this period in absolute terms, and diminished by about 5 percent in proportion to the total representation from the Arab provinces.
The dramatic increase in the size of Arab representation in the 1914 elections illustrated only one facet of the CUP’s policy of accommodation with the Arabs. Even prior to the elections, and apparently to strengthen the CUP position at the polls, several senators were selected for the Chamber of Notables from the Arab provinces: Yusuf Sursuq (a Greek Orthodox Christian from Beirut), ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Zahrawi (Hama), and Muhammad Bayhum (Beirut), all three former opponents of the CUP; and Ahmad al-Kakhia (Aleppo), ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Yusuf (emirülhac in 1908 and Unionist deputy after 1909), Muhi al-Din al-Kaylani (Baghdad), and Sulayman al-Baruni (Tripoli-Libya). Senate membership carried considerable symbolic, though little practical, weight. The appointments more than doubled the number of Arab senators to twelve, even though the number of new appointments fell short of the demands that the Arab Congress had expressed. His appointment subjected al-Zahrawi to the accusation of treason by “certain Arab circles,” presumably former associates in the reform movement.
The new Parliament elected as its deputy president the Damascene deputy Amir ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri, a newcomer. The cabinet included Sulayman al-Bustani as minister of commerce and agriculture. Two leading reformists, Shukri al-‘Asali and ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Inkilizi, were among the six new Arab appointees (out of a total of twenty-four) as provincial civil inspectors. Their appointment to Damascus was vetoed by the governor of Syria, and therefore al-Inkilizi was reassigned to Bursa and al-‘Asali to Aleppo, despite similar objections from the governor of Aleppo.
Al-Zahrawi, al-‘Asali, and al-Inkilizi were among the Arab leaders whom Cemal Pasha sent to the gallows in 1916. The executions made the three men later into heroes of Arab nationalism; and viewed as such, the motives and circumstances of their reconciliation with İstanbul in 1914 has posed a problem. Their acceptance of government jobs substantiates Ernest Dawn’s point that recognition and official position induced Arab leaders to an Ottomanist stance. But would these men or other reformists have accepted government positions earlier as readily? Al-‘Asali’s rejection of the governorship of Latakia in 1913 seems to suggest otherwise.
One explanation for their acceptance of official positions is their conviction that reforms promised by the government could only be achieved if the reformists accepted an active role in government. Samir Seikaly regards this as an apologetic explanation and writes, “It is probably [sic] that al-‘Asali’s return to government service was facilitated by the expectation of immediate economic relief and the receipt of a regular salary.” Rashid Khalidi’s appraisal of the decision as “temporary apostasy” and “momentary opportunism” sounds less charitable, but implies that the co-optation was an ephemeral one that did not derail these leaders from their Arabist convictions. Seikaly argues that al-‘Asali “was committed to the continuation of the empire of [sic] a political entity in which all races would be equal and in which Arabs and Turks, bound by the links of a re-created Ottomanism, would jointly cooperate in its government.” Ahmed Tarabein advances a similar argument for al-Zahrawi, whose “being an Arab nationalist was not incompatible with being committed to Ottomanism.” These authors represent the prevalent view that İstanbul’s commitment to an Ottomanist reconciliation, in which men like al-‘Asali and al-Zahrawi placed their sincere hopes, was illusory and deceptive.
While the Arabist agenda negotiated in Paris may not have been addressed in its entirety, İstanbul’s concessions to Arab demands, made within the logic of a new Turco-Arab fusion buttressed by an Islamist official outlook, deserve a closer look. The CUP adopted in 1914 a noticeably lenient attitude toward its former Arab opponents. Muhammad Kurd ‘Ali, the convicted Arabist editor of Al-muqtabas, received a pardon. The Ministry of the Interior solicited the müftüs of Damascus and Aleppo for positions in the office of the şeyhülislam in İstanbul. ‘Izzat Pasha, the infamous second secretary of Abdülhamid who had fled İstanbul in disgrace in 1908, was allowed to return in order to take care of matters related to his land interests in Damascus. In return, he made donations to government-sponsored Islamist organizations. There were also new official initiatives designed to reach agreements with those tribal leaders who maintained an adversarial posture.
The government proceeded with diverse reforms in the Arab provinces. Talat Bey, restored as the minister of the interior, showed particular concern to drumming up popular support by fulfilling some of the promises the CUP had made to the Arab Congress leaders, even though the publication that contained the minutes of the Congress (along with the text of congratulatory telegrams sent to it) was banned. Together with Cemal Pasha, Talat met with Arab leaders to discuss the demands for reform. As a result of these initiatives, the requirement that officials appointed to the Arab provinces have knowledge of Arabic was enforced. The functionaries had to take an Arabic language examination in İstanbul before they could proceed to their provincial posts. Furthermore, more and more provincial officials appointed from outside were replaced by locals. New regulations allowed documents to be drafted in Arabic (in addition to Ottoman and French) in Ottoman consulates, a measure aimed at assuaging the expatriate Arabists outside the empire. The application of the new policies was erratic. Particularly in the province of Aleppo, which contained mixed populations of Turks and Arabs, the clauses of the provincial law pertaining to local language caused confusion and even chaos.
By 1914 questions that pertained to ethnic differences became indiscernible in the public sphere as political activity tapered. From its position of power, the CUP had gone on to crush the Liberals with executions and deportations. The opposition gradually lost ground until the government’s emergency powers, assumed on grounds of wartime security during the Balkan Wars, silenced it altogether and forced its leadership into exile, where the Liberals lost contact with what had remained of their Arab proponents. As the political alliance of the Liberals with ethnic (including Arab) and religious groups foundered in the face of reprisals against the Liberals and the disappearance of party contestation, new manifestations of an “Arab opposition” were to emerge elsewhere.
Two secret Arab organizations, Al-jam‘iyya al-‘arabiyya al-fatat (The Young Arab Society) and Al-‘ahd (Covenant) included in their ranks members with revolutionary or separatist proclivities. Arab organizations and committees had existed since 1908, but they were primarily cultural organizations (not unlike the Turkist groups) that had only weak popular roots and vague political programs. Al-fatat was founded in Paris in 1909 and soon found adherents in Syria. While the organization remained secret, it maintained contacts with the reform movement and included Arabists such as ‘Abd al-Ghani al-‘Uraysi as members. Al-‘ahd was a successor of Al-fatat’s counterpart in the army, Al-qahtaniyya. Founded in October 1913 in İstanbul by ‘Aziz ‘Ali al-Misri, Al-‘ahd may have grown to include more than half of nearly 500 Arab officers in İstanbul. It also had branches in Baghdad and Musul.
The activation of Arabism among the officers of the Ottoman army had to do with a purge that Enver Pasha implemented upon being promoted to general and minister of war in the 1914 cabinet. No sooner had he taken office than he sent some 300 officers to retirement. Arab military officers benefited neither from the political compromise the CUP had struck earlier with the Arab political leadership or from Enver’s reorganization of the officer corps. In Damascus, for instance, ninety officers were retired. The positions of most were eliminated, while a few Arab officers were replaced by Turks. Enver’s reorganization was accompanied by measures that reflected the official Islamic reorientation and were aimed at curtailing dissidence, such as stricter enforcement of religious observance in the barracks.
In 1914 the government initiated a systematic policy to cultivate the Arab provincial press. The role that the press had played in politics had become evident in the preceding years. Several papers in the Syrian provinces received subsidies from İstanbul; some entered the government’s service. This, to some extent, reflected the rising Islamist-Ottomanist feeling among the Arab public. It also pointed to the malleability of an influential segment of the Arab intellectual elite. Already in January, the Beiruti papers Ray al-‘am, Ababil, and Al-balagh received subsidies from İstanbul, as the criticism of the government shifted to Arabist journals abroad.
In Basra Sayyid Talib’s posture offers a remarkable indication of how Arab leaders appraised changes in domestic and international political conditions and of the implications of these developments for local and personal interests. Talib was not only a local notable with extensive influence over town, country, and tribes but also a deputy in Parliament, elected to represent Basra for a third time in the 1914 elections. As the leader of the reform movement in Basra, however, he had been in strong opposition to the government in 1913 and had come to dominate the administration of Basra “condemn[ing] the official government authorities to an absolute and shameful inactivity.”
A new set of circumstances in 1914 induced Talib to come to an understanding with İstanbul. Despite his effective leadership and the propaganda campaign emanating from Cairo, the reform movement had failed to produce unity in Iraq, in part due to religious (sectarian) and tribal differences. Arab officers in the region who looked to the reformist agenda with favor were in contact with Talib. As part of Enver’s reform in the army, therefore, officers stationed in Basra and al-Hillah, to the south of Baghdad, were either replaced or brought under closer supervision, while the number of troops stationed in the region was increased. With the dissipation of the reform movement in Iraq, Talib sought to further his personal aspirations through different venues.
Prior to announcing his reconciliation with İstanbul, Talib sounded out British representatives in search of support for “the cause of Arab decentralization.” Describing him as a “slippery customer,” the Foreign Office denied assistance. In a printed declaration, Talib then pronounced his differences with İstanbul settled and pledged to promote Ottoman unity. İstanbul proceeded to consolidate its position in the region by replacing, in the spring of 1914, the acting governor and commander İzzeddin Pasha, held responsible for the deterioration of government authority in the province, with Sulayman Shafiq Pasha. The new governor immediately embarked upon elaborate urban projects characteristic of attempts to solidify the authority of the central government. Talib engaged in public manifestations of his support for the government. He conducted a campaign in Basra for donations to the Ottoman navy in addition to his personal generous contributions. He agreed to preside over a commission to bring about a settlement with Ibn Sa‘ud in al-Hasa district. However, he never submitted to central authority and asserted his local stature by periodically engaging in demonstrations of force to settle local strife.
In Arabia İstanbul favored improving relations with the other tribal notables in order to reduce Ibn Sa‘ud, suspected of seeking an alliance with Britain, to submission. Ibn Rashid was further reinforced against Ibn Sa‘ud, inducing the latter to seek to negotiate with the government through the mediation of Sayyid Talib. Especially after the outbreak of war in Europe, the government renewed its efforts to befriend Arab tribal shaykhs, in competition with Britain, which aspired to expand its sphere of influence beyond the eastern fringes of the Peninsula. When it appeared that Ibn Sa‘ud was entering into closer relations with İstanbul, Ambassador Mallet convinced London to seek “friendly relations” with Ibn Sa‘ud. Cognizant of the need for the military support of the Najdi tribes in any war effort, İstanbul attempted the reconciliation of Ibn Rashid with Ibn Sa‘ud and formed a commission to achieve this.
The French consul in Damascus remarked in March 1914 that the reentry of Enver’s troops into Edirne the previous year, the executions in İstanbul, and the promise of reforms established the prestige of the caliph, the authority of the CUP administration, and the loyalty of the separatists. Two months later the German ambassador reported to Berlin that the Arab movement had been dormant because of the concessions over the last year, adding that the leadership that could put it back in motion was missing. On the whole, with the consolidation of the CUP government after the elections, dissidence among Arabs was either resolved, shelved, or went underground or abroad. Against this background, in the Hijaz relations between Sharif Husayn and the central government took a new turn.
The Hijaz on the Eve of War
On 15 January 1914 İstanbul appointed Vehib Pasha to the dual post of governor and commander of the forces in the Hijaz. While the Unionists valued the services of Sharif Husayn in restoring relative order to the region and in furthering government influence in Arabia, the appointment of a high-ranking general to the combined post signified the intention of İstanbul to strengthen its direct authority in the Hijaz. This decision was motivated, on the one hand, by the revival of rumors of an alliance of Arabian tribal chiefs under an Arab caliph, and, on the other hand, by the intensifying competition between the Ottoman and British governments for the allegiance of local Arabian potentates.
The notion of an “Arab caliphate” had persisted not as a well-conceived program, which it never had become, but as an expression of defiance to the Ottoman government in view of its political instability and foreign complications. Rumors of a meeting of Arab leaders to discuss the issue of the Arab caliphate, that had circulated as early as the end of 1912, became rife at the beginning of 1914. The scheme, which never came to fruition, had to do with the activities of a secret organization called Al-jami‘a al-‘arabiyya (Arab League) established by Rashid Rida in Cairo with the aim of creating “a union between the Arabian Peninsula and the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire.” Rida corresponded with Ibn Sa‘ud and sent a representative, ‘Izzat al-Jundi, to Imam Yahya and Idrisi.
The idea of an Arab caliphate and a conference among Arab chiefs (none of whom would wish to be left out of such a scheme) may have been encouraged by the British, who, in view of the impending German presence in the Persian Gulf by way of the Baghdad Railway, had intensified their efforts to bring Arabian chiefs to the British fold. This British desire was best exemplified by the pressure that London exerted on the Ottoman government in 1913 to conclude an agreement that would extend British influence in Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain. There were also renewed contacts between Sharif ‘Abdullah and the British authorities in Egypt at the beginning of 1914. According to Tauber, Rashid Rida presented ‘Abdullah during the latter’s stay in Cairo with a “programme for a pact among the rulers of the Arabian Peninsula” and proposed Sharif Husayn as the president of the council of the pact at meetings to be held in Mecca.
In reference to Sharif Husayn’s alleged contacts with the principal chiefs of Arabia, the French consul ascribed the strain between İstanbul and the emirate to the sharif’s unsuccessful bid to have a third son, ‘Ali, elected deputy in the 1914 elections. Medina, where Sharif ‘Ali was alleged to have stood as candidate, was by 1914 under the irreversible direct control of İstanbul. The consul attributed the Ottoman government’s more energetic policy in the Hijaz to Husayn’s contacts with British agents in Egypt and suggested that a possible replacement of Husayn with Haydar was under consideration in İstanbul.
Having resolved the reformist agitation in the Fertile Crescent, İstanbul could now turn to Arabia. Escalating neoimperialist rivalries around the Peninsula and the logic of centralist and Islamist policies warranted the new attention to the holy cities and beyond. The intention was not to revamp the established power relations, but rather to preserve them. The government’s decision to appoint Vehib to his dual role was not meant to supersede the grand sharif’s power but to remind him of the limits of his authority, though Vehib himself took a different view of the situation in the province of the Hijaz.
Upon his arrival in Mecca in January, Vehib set out to address the irregularities in the government of the Hijaz. At the same time, the sharif demonstrated his local authority by inciting tribes to insubordination. One of Vehib’s first acts was to deprive the sharif’s personal Beduin guards of the arms previously given to them by the government, prompting Husayn to issue a diatribe against the new governor. Judging by Husayn’s communications with İstanbul, Vehib interfered in the illegal practice of slave owning by trying to draft black slaves to the army and censored postal communication between the Hijaz and the outside. Husayn argued that the governor would obliterate his own efforts to maintain the peace and security in the province. He enumerated his many services to the government. At the Ministry of the Interior Talat dismissed Husayn’s remarks as impressionistic, emotional, and devoid of any specific and concrete grievances. However, aware of the sharif’s son’s connections with the British, İstanbul wanted to preempt an agreement between Sharif Husayn and Britain.
In March 1914 Vehib, doubtless upon the urging of İstanbul, drafted with the sharif a joint letter recommending the continuation of the status quo in the Hijaz. Grand Vizier Sa‘id Halim’s reply affirmed the status quo: the Medina-Mecca railway idea was abandoned; there would be no conscription in the Hijaz; and religious law would be in full effect in the courts, except in cases involving foreigners. The British agent described the terms endorsed by the government as “compliance with all of Sharif Husayn’s requests except the recall of the vali.” While a formal official pledge on these matters was symbolically significant for the sharif, it had little practical value. İstanbul had been at best ambivalent about any extension of the railway; conscription had been attempted by Vehib but already abandoned in the face of Beduin resistance; and the concession to religious law in the holy places had a political rationale from local, imperial, and international viewpoints.
Indeed, to the governor, the understanding with the sharif was as much a formal delimitation of prerogatives as a concession. It was followed by Vehib’s unrelenting attack on misgovernment, arbitrary practices, and self-assumed privileges in the Hijaz. From April to August 1914 Vehib dispatched a string of reports to İstanbul to justify his conviction that the administration of the province should be revamped and the sharif be replaced. İstanbul closely monitored Vehib’s reports, but consistently urged conciliation and the maintenance of the status quo.
The governor persistently and eloquently related to İstanbul what he perceived as the deliberate attempts of the sharif to diminish state authority by arrogating privileges to himself, by assuming ceremonial trappings, and by dispensing with patronage and justice to the discredit of government authority. According to the governor, the grand sharif used the military police assigned to the emirate for his personal affairs. Always eager to exploit state authority for his personal benefit, he made these soldiers collect the taxes that went to his own account. The governor saw a more insidious motive beyond this practice: by employing uniformed men for the much feared and hated task of tax collection, the sharif ensured popular hatred of state authority while filling his own pocket. Vehib recommended that either these men be stripped of their uniforms or taken away from the sharif. He also pointed to Husayn’s practice of registering large tracts of state land in his own name and dispensing some of it to others, contrary to all established laws and practices.
Further, the governor attacked the sharif’s ceremonial suite of attendants, who received government salaries even though they provided no worthwhile services. Similarly, he regarded the emirate’s jails (upon which the sharif had independent jurisdiction) with their arbitrary practices and wretched conditions as serving no other purpose than embarrassing the government, and in particular called for the demolition of the prison in Taif. Vehib lamented the desolate condition of the tomb of Midhat Pasha in the same town and asked for the transfer of Midhat’s tomb to İstanbul alongside the graves of the heroes of the revolution.
The governor and the grand sharif disagreed over priorities and jurisdiction. Vehib took issue with the sharif’s demand to accord top priority in construction projects to those related to the pilgrimage. He wanted to reimpose the controversial sanitation tax, to which Husayn would consent only if the proceeds entered the emirate’s treasury. The governor accused Sharif Husayn of spreading slanderous rumors in order to have certain government officials removed in favor of his own men and of inciting rebellious acts against government forces.
İstanbul continued to respond to Vehib’s reports by urging conciliation, advising that on matters such as the sharif’s usurpation of state lands measures would be taken at the suitable time. The Ministry of the Interior prevented Vehib from provoking the sharif when, for instance, it denied Vehib permission to make an investigative tour up the coast and returning along the eastern route through tribal regions where Husayn’s authority was paramount. The governor, however, continued to argue against the government’s conciliatory policies, insisting that they would fail. Finally, in July 1914 he advised “for the sake of Ottomanism” that Sharif Husayn should be dismissed and replaced by his frail predecessor, ‘Ali, for Husayn desired the downfall of the state. Vehib urged that Husayn’s two sons serving in Parliament should not be allowed to leave the capital. Both Vehib and the authorities in İstanbul were certainly aware of Sharif ‘Abdullah’s contacts in Cairo, if not their precise nature. As İstanbul once again exhorted Vehib to get along with the sharif, Vehib concluded that either he should be transferred to another post or Sharif Husayn be dismissed, as friendly relations with the sharif were no longer possible. He added that he was convinced that Sharif Husayn would not forego the smallest opportunity to cooperate with the enemy should there be a hostile attack against the Red Sea coast.
The Arab Provinces and the Early Period of the War
Even though the Ottoman Empire did not formally enter the war until the beginning of November 1914, it had signed a secret treaty with Germany in August. This important decision was taken by a small group of Committee leaders and signified the beginning of the monopolization of political power by a narrow circle within the CUP. The CUP general assembly was dissolved following the outbreak of the war, enhancing the concentration of power in the hands of a small number of Committee leaders who constituted what amounted to a shadow cabinet. The actual cabinet, itself dominated by the Committee, endorsed decisions that originated in the CUP Central Committee, which replaced legislative acts normally deliberated upon in Parliament. One result of this decision-making process was the considerable narrowing of the scope for the exercise of political influence by Arabs who had been given positions in Parliament and other high offices.
The impending entry of the empire into the war triggered a number of developments. In October the British administration in Egypt sounded out Sharif ‘Abdullah about his father’s willingness to render support to the British, in case Turkey entered the war on the side of the Central Powers. Some Arab leaders once again turned to the British and the French authorities contemplating a separate peace. The Decentralization Party in Cairo resolved to initiate a revolt against the government and received French and British pledges for assistance. Between the outbreak of war in Europe and Ottoman entry into it, members of the Decentralization Party (including Iskandar ‘Ammun and ‘Abd al-Ghani al-‘Uraysi) received the promise of “20,000 rifles, three warships to cover the rebels, and French officers to direct the action” as other members, Rashid Rida and Rafiq al-‘Azm, negotiated conditions for cooperation with the British authorities and received 1,000 Egyptian pounds to send emissaries to the Ottoman Arab provinces to incite the revolt. Pro-British leaders in Beirut broached to the British consul their desire for the extension of Egyptian rule to Syria. They separately drafted a petition addressed to Khedive Abbas II urging him to take on the leadership of an Arab government as a British dependency.
Most Ottoman statesmen had desired a wartime alliance with the Western European powers. “Innumerable snubs” by Britain and France, however, forced the Ottoman government, which feared isolation, into an alliance with the Central Powers. With the conclusion of this alliance, geostrategic considerations left the Arab provinces most vulnerable to British naval incursions. Once Russia formally declared war on the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of November, Britain quickly proceeded to a two-pronged attack against Ottoman positions in the Arab districts to the north of the Red Sea and in the Persian Gulf.
In the tempest of the war, Britain was less interested in lasting political arrangements than in revolts that would tie down and undermine Ottoman military forces. Moreover, it intended to circumscribe rather than expand the role of the khedive. Thus, to the disappointment of the Decentralization Party, the British authorities refrained from a commitment to secure the independence of Arab areas outside of the Peninsula, and thus frustrated the initiative of the Decentralization Party.
Gerald Fitzmaurice, formerly dragoman at Britain’s İstanbul embassy, recommended reviving the Arab movement with British “prodding” from Kuwait or Baghdad, or with French provocation from coastal Syria. In Greater Syria support for Britain was uncertain. Baghdad, on the other hand, “since the majority Shia here have never been reconciled [to Ottoman rule],” offered opportunities. As for the Hijaz, on the eve of the Ottoman entry into the war, it seemed to British authorities in Cairo “almost certain that the Sharif of Mecca [had] now definitively thrown in his lot with Turkey [as] part of a general pan-Islamic movement.” Fitzmaurice, too, argued that the Hijaz should be left outside the sphere of British activity.
Thus, no sooner had the Ottoman Empire entered the war than did the British establish contacts with ‘Aziz ‘Ali al-Misri in the hopes of inciting a rebellion within the disaffected Arab nucleus of the Ottoman army in Mesopotamia. ‘Aziz ‘Ali, of Circassian ancestry and Egyptian background, had been a prominent officer in the Ottoman army until he fell out with Enver Pasha, with whom he had had a long-standing rivalry. Like Enver and Mustafa Kemal (another officer with whom Enver had personal rivalries), ‘Aziz ‘Ali had distinguished himself in the Libyan War. Known as an Ottomanist partial to a federal Turco-Arab arrangement, ‘Ali was a cultural Arab who, like Sa‘id Halim and Mahmud Shawkat, had non-Arab ancestry. Unlike these two, however, he involved himself with secret Arab societies while continuing to perform distinguished service in the Ottoman army. Even as a cofounder of Al-qahtaniyya in 1909 and founder of Al-‘ahd in 1913, ‘Aziz ‘Ali remained an Ottomanist, as Majid Khadduri’s revisionist study of his life and career demonstrates. Because of his differences with Enver and the Ottoman government, he left İstanbul for his native Cairo in the spring of 1914. In August 1914 he had an audience with a British official in Cairo, to whom he broached the idea of an Arab state under British tutelage. The British authorities, who did not entertain such a notion in August, would reestablish contact with ‘Aziz ‘Ali after the Ottomans entered the war. Torn between his conflicting loyalties and possessing an unrealistic view of his influence among Arab leaders, ‘Aziz ‘Ali was not prepared to be a pawn of the British and ultimately proved to be ill-suited for the role that the British expected him to play in inciting Arabs to a rebellion.
In Basra Sayyid Talib renewed his bid for cooperation with Britain when he perceived that the Ottoman government would enter the war on the side of Germany. He wished to be recognized as the local ruler (emir) of Basra under British protection, but he could obtain only evasive answers to his plea, having apparently turned down prior overtures for cooperation. After the British forces occupied Basra in November, London saw no need to come to an agreement with Talib, whose reliability had remained suspect.
Upon entering the war, the Ottoman government took two measures with significant implications for the Arab provinces. First, on 11 November the sultan-caliph declared a jihad against the Triple Entente. Second, as the British forces occupied Basra, Cemal Pasha was sent to Damascus as governor of Syria and commander of the Fourth Army while continuing to hold his portfolio as minister of the navy.
In order to secure allegiance to the state, the government continued to resort to religious propaganda on the one hand and time-honored tactics of enticement and alliances on the other. The call for jihad was the culmination of the Islamic propaganda carried out by the Ottoman government since 1913. In appraising the effectiveness of the jihad, later historians have subscribed to the Entente’s counterpropaganda aimed at invalidating it: the call could not have had legitimacy, when the sultan himself was in alliance with Christian powers. It has also been argued that the Muslim subjects of the Entente powers did not incur the obligation, or possess the ability, to engage in jihad by virtue of being in subjugation. It is clear, however, that the jihad was not meant to pit the Muslims of the world against the Christian European powers, but rather to achieve more limited aims consistent with and supported by the ideological and political circumstances preceding it. It was, first of all, designed to increase domestic support for the government’s war effort, and, second, to provide an obstacle to the Entente’s mobilization campaign. As later events proved, both of these goals were achieved to a large extent.
The holy places in the Hijaz became a center of propaganda by virtue of being reference points to which all Muslims could relate. Sharif Husayn’s blessing in Mecca for the holy war would have been significant for its success. Yet the officially sponsored Islamist campaign also impinged on the traditional functions of the grand sharif, from which accrued his power and prestige. Thus, Husayn found himself under pressure to endorse and promote the jihad from the moment it was declared, but he refused to commit himself.
The few contacts that Husayn had with the British, and the few positive signals that he had received regarding cooperation, did not persuade him to throw in his lot with Britain. In contrast, cooperation with İstanbul had been proven useful in fulfilling his personal ambitions in the Hijaz. The initiation of the hostilities coincided with the pilgrimage season and cut the number of pilgrims by half compared to the previous year. (The fact that Britain discouraged its Muslim subjects from traveling to Mecca was an important factor in this decline.) The region’s economy, so dependent on the pilgrimage, suffered. The possibility that an İstanbul-sponsored call for jihad might find fertile ground in Arabia under these circumstances and steal the show from Husayn, if he failed to endorse it, deepened his apprehension.
Nevertheless, Husayn’s adoption of the jihad would have presented equally problematic prospects. The call was intended to create trouble for Britain among the Muslim populations in the colonies. Ottoman entry into the war had rendered the Hijaz particularly vulnerable to British aggression. Britain blockaded the Red Sea ports, leading to food shortages. It then prepared to land supplies in those ports, posing to the populations as the saviors. The endorsement of the jihad would have ruled out any maneuvers to mitigate British reprisals against the Hijaz. Even worse for the sharif, the Red Sea coast was the most exposed region of imperial territories, while Ottoman commitment and ability to defend it was precarious. Finally, an alliance with the British might have offered new and enhanced opportunities to Husayn for aggrandizing his power in Arabia.
Thus, the declaration of jihad further complicated the careful balancing act that the sharif had been practicing all along in order to maintain his political position and power within the broader interests of the Ottoman state. While his energy was now primarily directed toward buying time, the sharif also tried to blunt the cutting edge of the new factor of jihad. He made a special effort to display to the faithful that İstanbul had no monopoly over commanding religious sensibilities. He declared a war on bid‘a (innovation), a concept frowned upon in orthodox Islam, even expressing disapproval of trappings of contemporary urban life, from European-style women’s shoes to the telephone and automobile, all the while resorting to delaying tactics that would enable him to sit on the fence and to use noncommitment to his advantage. In December 1914 he told a British agent that “because of his position in the world of Islam and present political situation in the Hidjaz he could not break with the Turks immediately and that he was awaiting a colorable pretext.” Even German envoys, who must have been cognizant of these contacts, concluded that the sharif appeared to have been won over by Britain. His signals to Britain, indeed his later negotiations, comprised only one side of the waiting game that he played.
Sharif Husayn continued to be in contact with İstanbul as well as with Cemal Pasha after the latter took office as commander of the Fourth Army in Damascus in December 1914 and prepared for the first of the two ill-fated expeditions against the Suez Canal. Cemal wanted to mobilize the army units in the Hijaz for the canal expedition and insisted on this despite Talat’s reservations. Any troop movements that would remove Vehib, governor as well as commander of forces in the Hijaz, from Mecca was welcome to Husayn. To encourage the participation of the Hijazi army units in the war, the sharif also expressed his own willingness to contribute a Beduin force to the expedition. Cemal actively sought the sharif’s participation in command of his Beduin forces. This would not only have given a shot in the arm to the Egyptian campaign, but also it would have been tantamount to Husayn’s endorsement of the jihad. Cemal had organized the expedition as a contrived manifestation of Ottoman-Islamic unity, with the participation of separate units of 200 to 300 troops each from the Druze (led by Shakib Arslan), the Kurds (led by senator ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Yusuf), the Circassians, Libyan resistance fighters, and Bulgarian Muslims in a military force named Halaskâr Mısır Ordu-yu İslamiyesi (The Savior Islamic Army of Egypt). The sharif subsequently bowed out, though he continued to uphold his pledge to dispatch units under the command of his son ‘Ali.
The denouement of the rift between the sharif and the government, we are told, followed from events during the joint movement of Vehib’s forces and ‘Ali’s contingent from Mecca to Medina. One of ‘Ali’s men reportedly discovered documents that spilled from a case belonging to a member of Vehib’s escort. The documents revealed plans between Vehib and İstanbul “to depose Husayn and his family and to end the special position of the Hijaz.” When the disclosure was communicated to Husayn, he lost all hope of conciliation with İstanbul and not only ordered ‘Ali to stay put in Medina but also charged his other son, Faysal, to travel to the capital, ostensibly in order to make representations about the revelations but in fact to contact nationalists in Syria. While in Syria, Faysal also served as the conduit between his father and Cemal. If this chance incident in fact occurred, it is unlikely that the documents obtained by ‘Ali’s men would have constituted such apocalyptical revelations, as the sharif no doubt knew full well the governor’s feelings about his emirate. If the cache containing communications with İstanbul provided unmistakable proof for such, it may also have well contained some evidence of the constant temperance and amicable relations that İstanbul had urged to Vehib.
Following Ottoman defeat in the Sinai, the Entente powers engaged in deliberations to determine the political future of the Ottoman territories after the expected collapse of the Ottoman state. The Constantinople Agreement concluded in April 1915, based on diplomatic correspondence by Russia, Britain, and France, called for the establishment of independent Arab rule in Arabia. This agreement provided the basis for the secret correspondence that took place between the British high commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon, and Sharif Husayn between July 1915 and January 1916. Deceptive and controversial as the terms offered to Sharif Husayn were, the McMahon-Husayn exchange resulted in an alliance of the sharif and Britain against the Ottoman government.
The Sharif Husayn–İstanbul Correspondence
It is customary to start the historical account of twentieth-century, or “contemporary,” Middle East with three seminal, yet out of the ordinary, covenants: the agreement between Sharif Husayn and McMahon, which pledged a large independent Arab entity to the Hashemite family; the Sykes-Picot Treaty of May 1916, which contravened the first pledge and partitioned the Arab Middle East between Britain and France; and the Balfour Declaration of November 1917, which promised a Jewish national homeland in Palestine and spawned the Arab-Zionist conflict. In the midst of the historical narratives that focus on these agreements and their consequences, and, indeed, even on their precedents, Ottoman history tends to vanish.
At least the first of these agreements came as a result of a drawn-out correspondence in the second half of 1915, the backdrop to which was an even more protracted exchange between Sharif Husayn and Ottoman authorities that has been overlooked. An analysis of the correspondence between Sharif Husayn and İstanbul will posit the Ottoman government as well as Sharif Husayn as actors who sought out their options and best interests, and not as merely passive victims of Great Power intrigue.
The underlying tenor of the contacts between the sharif and İstanbul was suspicion, as the two sides engaged in a standoff. The interchange of telegrams and letters, however, revealed more than hollow pleasantry, cautious standstill, or guile. Both sides explored options in the midst of which novel policy initiatives took shape.
During the critical month of February 1915—as Cemal moved to the Suez, hostilities started in Gallipoli, and emergency measures forced the adjournment of Parliament—Husayn assured Enver Pasha, now deputy commander-in-chief, that he would protect the rights of the caliphate in the holy places, as long as attacks on his position and person were not tolerated. At this juncture, the bulk of the Ottoman forces in the Hijaz had been moved to the Suez. More important, their commander, Vehib, was recalled, soon to take command of the Third Army on the Eastern front. Even as Cemal Pasha urged İstanbul for the appointment of a farsighted and strong new governor in the Hijaz, the implications of Vehib’s transfer did not escape either side.
Events during the spring of 1915 did little to alleviate the sharif’s dilemma about his stance vis-à-vis İstanbul. With Vehib and a large portion of the forces that had been under his command having left in different directions, Husayn was more exposed to the British presence in the Red Sea. Whether he chose to cooperate with the British or not, it made sense for him to augment his personal forces. He proceeded to order the levying of armed Beduin from designated tribes.
Meanwhile, the British confined their naval activity and attacks to the northern coast near Medina and al-Wejh. The muhafız of Medina sent a unit of soldiers mounted on camels against the British, pleading to İstanbul at the same time for timely payment of stipends and sufficient food for the men and the animals. Cemal Pasha decided to transfer by train up to ten carloads of food from Damascus to Medina in order to preclude dangerous shortages in the Hijaz, the links of the province via the sea having been cut. Considering that Syria was afflicted by similar food shortages (soon to become a full-fledged famine), the dispatch of food from Damascus pointed to the importance Cemal attached to keeping the enemy pressure off of the Hijaz and thus maintaining Sharif Husayn in the Ottoman camp.
At the end of May Sharif Faysal visited Cemal Pasha at the army headquarters before returning from Syria to the Hijaz. He declared his family’s readiness to shed its blood for the Ottoman caliphate and promised to come back with a force of Beduin fighters in two months. Six weeks later, on 10 July, Sharif Husayn gave similar assurances. In reference to the jihad, he stated that he had not attempted to relieve himself of service to the holy war, but urged that his actions in the Hijaz demanded caution and prudence. He requested arms and money from the government. At exactly the same time, on 14 July, he commenced the infamous correspondence with McMahon.
Enver thanked Sharif Husayn for his determination to achieve unity of purpose and wrote, “So long as all Muslims act as one body against the enemy, divine victory will always be with us.” He added that 5,000 liras had been dispatched and the requested arms were being prepared. A few days later Enver Pasha wrote a letter to Sharif Husayn on the matter of organizing an Islamic society (Cemiyet-i İslamiye), presumably to advance Islamic propaganda in Arabia. Sharif Husayn’s response to this letter reveals more than a passing interest in the initiative. Cautious because of his relations with the British, he proposed the formation of either a highly secret committee of six or the use of the cover provided by a benevolent society that would operate under the name of Cemiyet-i Umumiye (Public Society). Enver asked Husayn to proceed with the second option, as long as the true objective of the society would remain secret.
Syria under Cemal Pasha’s Governorship
Cemal Pasha’s appointment to Syria came with full powers in military and civilian affairs. A provisional law granted him emergency powers in May 1915, such that all cabinet decrees that pertained to Syria became subject to his approval. His draconian rule following the defeat in February 1915 at the Suez Canal, coupled with the wartime exigencies and natural disasters that afflicted the region during these years, alienated the population from the Ottoman government.
In the spring of 1915, Cemal instituted a reign of terror in Syria against Arab opponents. After the severance of relations with France, Ottoman authorities had occupied the French consulates in Beirut and Damascus and confiscated documents that revealed evidence about subversive activities of these opponents. Cemal’s clampdown was based on information deriving from these documents as well as from others belonging to the Decentralization Party, which had been turned over to the Ottoman authorities by a former member, Muhammad al-Shanti. Historians such as George Antonius and Sulayman Mousa have argued that the crackdown on the Arabists was motivated by Cemal’s humiliation in the Egyptian campaign. “Failing in his attempt,” Mousa writes, “he returned to Damascus and began to seek a pretext for his failure. It dawned upon him that his best chance lay in levelling accusations against Arab political and cultural leaders.” The public hanging of a Francophile Maronite priest for treason was followed by trials at the military court in ‘Aleyh (Âliye Divan-ı Harb-i Örfisi). Eleven Beiruti leaders, ten of them Muslims, were executed on 21 August 1915 in the town square.
The massive reign of terror was consistent with the measures Cemal had taken in his previous emergency posts in Baghdad and İstanbul. Cemal applied himself to reprisals against local leaders and former opponents as soon as he arrived in Syria by utilizing incriminating evidence that had been obtained from the French records and the papers of the Decentralization Party. Though most of the evidence pertained to activities prior to the reconciliation with the Arab leaders, the reprisals had little to do with the humiliation at Suez. Before the Egyptian expedition, and a few weeks after he arrived in Damascus, Cemal reported to the Ministry of the Interior that the vice-president of the council of inspectors, ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Inkilizi, had been determined to be a member of a society aiming at the establishment of an Arab state. Cemal asked that al-Inkilizi should be sent to Syria for trial and denied contact with anyone. At the same time, he had Shukri al-‘Asali, inspector in Aleppo, arrested and sent to Damascus. Both men were executed in a second round of hangings in May 1916.
A second component of the terror involved deportations. Under Cemal’s orders numerous Syrian families (5,000, according to one contemporary account) were deported to Anatolia. One of the earlier and better-known deportees was Nakhla Mutran, whose brother, Rashid Mutran, had created much commotion with the autonomist manifesto disseminated from Paris in 1909. The confiscated documents revealed that he had approached the French authorities in 1913 with a plan for the territorial expansion of the mutasarrıflık of Mount Lebanon under French auspices. While being deported, he was killed under suspicious circumstances. Most deportees had not been politically active or influential. Many had done no more than sign pro-French petitions during the reform movement.
Cemal’s was more than an overreaction to sensational revelations, most of them now obsolete and not of a nature to justify retroactive legal action. The reprisals constituted yet another phase of his persecution of the CUP’s opponents. But the revelations also convinced Cemal that a nationalist movement in Syria was a real, if not an imminent, threat, notwithstanding his characterization of the matter as “one of treachery, not nationality.” He did his utmost to destroy it by eliminating potential supporters, thereby leaving the movement without direction and causing such dislocations in Syrian society as to eliminate the chance for success of any future movement.
Cemal’s actions in Syria were comparable in nature, if not in extent, to those policies pursued with respect to the Armenians in Eastern Anatolia. Both emanated from a fear that a nationalist uprising would come into being with encouragement from enemy powers. The threat was more perceived than real. The relocation of Arabs, only a fraction compared to that of Armenians, took place in relatively more humane circumstances. But the dislocation of a large group of well-to-do Syrians put an added strain on social and economic life in wartime Syria. The psychological effect of these deportations was perhaps more significant, giving reason to the Syrians to believe that they might share a fate similar to that of the Armenians. As the Armenians were resettled among them, their own people were forced out of their country.
Cemal implemented measures contrary to the promises made to the Arabs about the local employment of Arab civilian and military personnel and about giving wider scope to the Arabic language. He removed Arab troops to distant theaters of war. In the spring of 1916 Cemal proceeded to enforce widespread use of Turkish in public life as an extrapolation of a new law promulgated in March 1916 that required all companies to use Turkish in their correspondence and documents. Turkish came back as the language of instruction in the Damascus sultaniye (high school), suggesting that Arabic had been made the language of instruction in this school earlier. As the Austrian envoy in Beirut enumerated the practical and psychological problems associated with the imposition of Turkish in new spheres, the German consul urged Cemal Pasha to adopt a more constructive policy with respect to the Arabs, the ultimate purpose being the creation of a Kulturstaat on the Austro-Hungarian model.
Cemal’s independent attitude in Syria triggered a flurry of diplomatic exchanges between the Entente countries toward the end of 1915. This pertained to rumors about a possible coup by Cemal against the İstanbul government, with an eye to establishing himself as the ruler of Anatolia and Syria. The correspondence was about whether, how, and under what conditions this alleged scheme should be abetted, but the matter was dropped at the beginning of 1916.
If one subscribes to the often held view that real political power rested in the CUP in the hands of a “triumvirate” composed of Talat, Enver, and Cemal, one will find it easier to ascribe individual conspiratorial designs to them. It seems, however, that during the war years the policies that the three men pursued in their ministerial capacity were to a large extent determined by the collective will of several Unionist strongmen, many of them behind the scenes. There were factions within the broader CUP leadership, as there were differences between Talat, Enver, and Cemal. If a certain faction or individual vied for greater power, the others imposed checks such that there was hardly ever a basis for independent action, even with outside assistance. Therefore, it is doubtful that Cemal Pasha actually considered a coup as a realistic option, even though it may have appeared as a possibility to the Entente and its sympathizers.
Against the background of the energetic diplomatic exchange in the Entente camp regarding the idea of cooperation with him, Cemal undertook, together with Enver and the müftüs of some of the chief Arab towns, a much-celebrated trip to Medina. By all accounts, the visit to Prophet Muhammad’s tomb was a cathartic spiritual experience for the two men, especially Enver, who was overwhelmed by emotion and burst into tears by the grave. First and foremost, however, it was part of a broader effort to strengthen the government’s position in the Arab districts. Dismayed by the drastic decrease in the number of pilgrims since the beginning of the war, and attempting to keep the war outside their territory, the tribes of northern Hijaz had obstructed the passage of fresh troops and the new governor, Galib Pasha, south of Medina. In Beirut the execution of the eleven leaders in August 1915 had caused panic and animosity toward the government. In the Damascus province problems associated with the food supply were causing serious shortages and demonstrations.
The two leaders’ trip to Medina was followed by attempts to strengthen the government’s position through military reinforcements and propaganda. The Arabic language newspaper Al-sharq was initiated as the mouthpiece of government propaganda. On 6 May 1916 Cemal Pasha decided to employ further terror to enhance government authority, and the second group of Arab leaders, including well-known personalities of the Reform Movement who had later made their peace with the government and had accepted positions in İstanbul and elsewhere, was tried in the spring of 1916. In addition to al-Inkilizi and al-‘Asali, the twenty-one leaders sentenced to death in May also included ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Zahrawi, Shafiq al-Mu’ayyad, and ‘Abd al-Ghani al-‘Uraysi. The executions signified in the eyes of the Syrians the government’s resolve to revoke whatever concessions that it had agreed to give to the Arabs. Cemal’s actions may have expedited the revolt in the Hijaz.
The Arab Uprising and İstanbul’s Response
In early June 1916 Sharif Husayn and his sons rose in arms and attacked Ottoman positions in Mecca. Husayn issued a justificatory declaration on 27 June 1916, in which he cited his past services to the government, including campaigns against other Arab chiefs; condemned secular legal reforms; decried the CUP’s curtailment of the sultan’s rights; and denounced the executions in Syria. The reaction of the Ottoman government to the events in the Hijaz was guarded and low-key. No mention of the revolt was allowed to appear in the press until a whole month after the uprising. Whether or not İstanbul knew about the exact scope of the alliance between Sharif Husayn and Britain, the government continued to harbor the hope of undermining Husayn’s position and containing the uprising with minimum damage.
In view of the sharif’s repeated military successes, however, İstanbul engaged in an intensive propaganda effort in the Arab districts to discredit him. Sharif Haydar, whom the government proclaimed the new and legitimate emir, took office in Medina in August and issued his first counterproclamation that denounced Sharif Husayn.
The outbreak of Husayn’s revolt had serious implications both from the domestic point of view and for the progress of the war. The İstanbul government’s reaction was to concentrate its propaganda effort in the Arab districts while elsewhere depicting the revolt as just another Beduin uprising. Alarm about the revolt would have been detrimental to morale on the war fronts. The Ottoman government also failed to provide its allies with full information about the progress of events, even though prior to the revolt there had been an initiative to establish a propaganda center in Arabia by the Germans. Germany was able to help little, if at all, in the military operations in this sacred terrain. The active involvement of a Christian power on the side of the government in the Hijaz would have done more harm than good. Sharif Haydar’s proclamations reinvoked the call for jihad. They asserted that Husayn acted out of disloyalty and found the courage to challenge the caliph only because he had made common cause with Britain, a strong European power which, unlike Germany, wanted to grab the holy places, as it had Egypt and Zanzibar. Haydar’s manifestos were meant for the broader Arab and Muslim public.
The government authorities in Damascus called the leading ulema to a meeting and enjoined them to pass judgment on Sharif Husayn’s actions in the form of a formal religious decree ( fetva), which posed the question, “What befits a person who has been heaped with the goodwill of the Caliph and who has been elevated to the highest of honors, when that person betrays the Caliph by joining the latter’s enemy?” The answer was, “Deposition and death.” Thus was the death sentence passed upon Husayn by the Arab ulema. At the end of September the müftüs of the Syrian and Palestinian towns jointly signed another fetva urging opposition to Sharif Husayn. Most Arabs outside of the Hijaz remained ambivalent, if not hostile, to the revolt. Cemal’s violence shortly before and after the outbreak of the revolt deterred Syrians sympathetic to the sharif from rising against the government. When in Tripoli (Syria) a faction emerged in open support of Husayn’s revolt, several of its members were executed, as the local CUP delegate procured a decree from the local ulema in justification of Husayn’s execution.
The systematic campaign in Damascus to counteract the Hijaz uprising contrasted with the silence in İstanbul, where the sultan’s opening speech to the reconvened Parliament in November 1916 and the customary reply of the deputies condemned Husayn’s disloyalty with merely a few words. In Damascus any sympathies for the uprising had to be defused. The German consul reported during the early stages of the Hijaz revolt that, even though Husayn was viewed as a traitor by the local population, many seemed to be happy that a representative of the Arabs was challenging Turkish authority. The town was also the main meeting place of pilgrims before their journey to the Hijaz. Damascus rather than İstanbul was, therefore, made the center for press propaganda and the government’s organ Al-sharq was printed there.
While the motives of Sharif Husayn were to strengthen his power in the Hijaz and aggrandize it at the expense of other potentates in the Peninsula, his rhetoric was anti-Turkish and increasingly stressed Arab unity and independence. In November Husayn declared himself “King of the Arab countries.” Regardless of whether independence was a political goal shared by most Arabs, it did not escape the Ottoman government that the expression of these goals could become subversive, particularly in conjunction with British war propaganda. Britain, though, was the first to take issue with the new title because of its commitments to France and, as it became painfully clear to the Arabs after the war, its political designs in the region.
Cemal’s execution of Arab leaders (both those who had entered into a compromise with the government and those who remained defiant of the regime) radicalized the Arab officers in the Ottoman army, who emerged as the main group seeking to further nationalist objectives. Many defected to Sharif Husayn’s side and offered important assistance to the Anglo-sharifian effort. Yet, not only did Arab officers remain divided into progovernment and pro-independence groups but also some of those who did side with Sharif Husayn, including ‘Aziz ‘Ali, were not willing to exert their efforts for an eventual separation from the Ottoman state. ‘Aziz ‘Ali joined Husayn’s camp briefly, but defected when faced with the prospect of attacking Ottoman positions in Medina.
Government propaganda was aimed at preventing the revolt from spreading beyond the Peninsula, but the news of Husayn’s victories won him supporters to the north. Three prominent Arab leaders residing in Egypt (and previously condemned to death by the ‘Aleyh court), ‘Izzat Pasha al-‘Abid, Rafiq al-‘Azm, and Rashid Rida, went to the Hijaz to perform the pilgrimage and to show solidarity with Husayn. Some pro-British decentralist opponents of the CUP who had been forced to leave the empire to settle in Europe also declared their support for Sharif Husayn. French authorities in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia sent delegations of Arab notables to Mecca.
Following Husayn’s assumption of the title of king of the Hijaz in the fall of 1916, the court martial in Damascus brought to trial Syrian leaders suspected of collusion with Husayn. Charges were also brought against the sons of Husayn, the Nasib and Fawzi al-Bakri brothers (who had hosted Sharif Faysal during his stay in Damascus but left the town at the outbreak of the revolt), Tawfiq Halabi (editor of the Damascus paper Al-ra’y), Faris Khury (the Christian deputy from Damascus, a lawyer and formerly dragoman of the British Consulate), and two Arab brigadier generals previously pensioned off, Shukri Pasha al-Ayyubi and ‘Abd al-Hamid Pasha (al-Qaltaqji). The preacher of the Umayyad Mosque, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir Kiwan, was also implicated. Kiwan and Shukri Pasha al-Ayyubi were sentenced to death. The same verdict was passed in absen tia on many of the others, including Faysal, ‘Abdullah, and the Bakri brothers.
After the outbreak of the revolt there was a renewed interest in conciliation with the Arabs both in İstanbul and also in Damascus. The continuation of hostilities in the Hijaz gave the Syrians a respite from the iron rule of Cemal. But hardship continued in Syria, particularly in the provisioning of food. The harvest was poor, the war further disrupted production, the army requisitioned some of the crop, and, most important, Britain and France blockaded the Syrian coast to prevent imports. Cemal’s attempts to control the food production met with failure. Arab notables, who were given concessions to buy the harvest for the government using devalued banknotes, confronted resistance and failed in their endeavor. Food products remained out of the reach of most people due to transportation problems arising from the requisitioning or ruination of draft animals and the shortage of coal. The shortages and ensuing starvation were not so much the result of confiscation and government requisitioning of available crops as of speculation, transportation difficulties, and lack of organizational skills and infrastructural resources necessary for distribution. Similar problems afflicted other regions of the empire. According to French reports, in İzmir and environs, which were situated in perhaps the richest plain of the Asiatic Ottoman lands, some 200 persons lost their lives daily. Between 1913 and 1919 close to 90 percent of all oxen in the country perished. Human loss and suffering was heaviest in Syria because of the unrelenting blockade of the coast by the Entente.
In Damascus the expenditures that Cemal devoted to public works, urban improvements, and preservation of historical works contrasted with the prevalent famine and squandered matériel, money, and expertise that could have been used in the war effort. These measures may be seen as part of the government’s broader attempt to assert Ottoman central authority and to improve the infrastructure and public institutions in the Arab cities. Cemal had imposing avenues built in Jaffa and Damascus. He had pursued similar schemes during his governorship in Baghdad in 1912, when he had commissioned a team of German engineers to implement construction projects including the widening and paving of streets. But there was, of course, an element of self-aggrandizement in these projects. Particularly in Syria, Cemal cultivated the sycophancy of his entourage and had compiled laudatory poetry.
In the spring of 1917 the new Ottoman government under Talat adopted an unmistakable policy of rapprochement and conciliation toward the Arabs. The regime was convinced, reported the German Embassy to Berlin, that the retention of the Arab territories was imperative if the Ottoman Empire was to remain a “great power,” but whether Cemal could be entrusted with such a policy in Syria was doubtful. Rumors were rife that Cemal was preparing to leave the governorship of Syria. In December he tendered his resignation and returned to his ministry.
War, Politics, and Ideology
A cabinet change occurred in İstanbul during the second month of 1917. Sa‘id Halim, who had already relinquished his foreign ministry portfolio in October 1915, resigned his post as grand vizier. He was replaced by Talat Pasha, the first Turkish Unionist insider to occupy the office of the grand vizier.
Sa‘id Halim, a Unionist since the days preceding the 1908 Revolution, had been the Committee’s choice for the grand vizierate in 1913, not only because his princely background would impart weight and credibility to the Young Turk regime at home and abroad, but also because he embodied what had come to be the predominant ideological direction of the Ottoman state on the eve of the war. A political outcast from the khedivial family, he represented the opposition to imperial designs in Muslim territories. He had been born in Egypt and brought up and educated in Cairo and İstanbul, and thus was a Young Turk eminently suited to lead the Turco-Arab state that the Ottoman Empire had come to be. Finally, as a strong adherent of Islamic traditions and values in a modernist framework, he represented the greater emphasis placed on Islam in the political ideology of the Ottoman state. Sa‘id Halim has been viewed as merely a puppet of the Committee of Union and Progress. That he could be manipulated by the Committee is not inaccurate. It is more appropriate, however, to compare him to personalities such as Said Pasha and Mahmud Shawkat Pasha, who were brought to power to achieve certain goals that the Committee could not attain by relying on its mainstream cadres. Sa‘id Halim Pasha was an influential thinker and author of Islamic modernist ideas. He was maintained in office, allegedly according to Talat, “in deference to public opinion.”
As the war progressed Sa‘id Halim’s influence waned. He was believed to have given Sharif Husayn the benefit of the doubt for too long for the sake of Islamic unity and thus of jeopardizing this unity. The spread of the Arab Revolt diminished his usefulness as a leader. Indeed, his resignation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as early as the end of 1915 had cut him off from decisions determining the conduct of war and reduced his power.
Talat’s grand vizierate did not signify a break with the policies that had taken shape after the Balkan Wars. It is possible to view his appointment as the culmination of the CUP’s consolidation of power. However, his tenure belied the widespread view that the further reinforcement of the CUP’s position would be synonymous with greater Turkish domination of the body politic, an enhanced dependence on Germany, and an increased authoritarianism. Talat emerged as a compromise candidate, but not necessarily a second-rate one, from a group of strong political personalities, including Enver and Cemal. In his capacity as the minister of the interior, Talat had been most influential in the conduct of policy and had been described in 1914 by the German consul in Haifa as the “most pro-Arab of a multiheaded Young Turk hierarchy.”
The choice of Talat represented a strengthening of that faction within the CUP that favored a certain independence from Germany. Consideration for the grand vizierate had also been given to Halil [Menteşe], who had taken over the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from Sa‘id Halim Pasha. He was known for his pro-German views and was supported by the German embassy. In the new cabinet Halil, Enver, and Midhat Şükrü were strongly pro-German, while Cavid, Ahmed Nesimi, and Talat were more moderate in their views. As the United States ambassador Elkus reported, however, “apparent divergence of views [did] not prevent these two parties from working harmoniously in the same cabinet under the orders of the [CUP].” One of Talat’s early pronouncements emphasizing the constitutional rights of all Ottomans was interpreted by Elkus as “a prelude to disavowing some of the responsibility for the treatment of Armenians, Arabs, etc.” Cavid accepted the position of finance minister in the new cabinet on condition that changes were to be effected in “the policy hitherto followed with respect to the non-Turkish races.”
The reshuffling in İstanbul and international developments accompanied a more favorable phase in İstanbul’s relations with the Arab provinces in the last year and a half of the war, in spite of the weakening of the Islamist agenda after the replacement of Sa‘id Halim. The withdrawal of Russia from the war and the conclusion of peace on the eastern front raised the hopes of Ottomanists, both Arab and Turkish. The Ottoman government made fresh overtures to Sharif Husayn as Russian revelations of the terms of the Sykes-Picot Treaty offered new possibilities. Even as the British and sharifian armies pushed north and Ottoman positions in and near major Arab towns fell like dominoes, Sharif Faysal negotiated with Cemal Pasha and Mustafa Kemal, the victorious commander of Ottoman forces in Gallipoli, now serving as commander of the Seventh Army in Syria.
The End of the Empire and Turkish-Arab Relations
With the occupation of Damascus and the rest of Syria by the Anglo-Arab forces in October 1918 and the Ottoman surrender at the Mudros cease-fire at the end of that month, it became clear that the İstanbul government had lost its hold on the Arab provinces. What was less certain was the future of the Arab regions. Ottoman armies withdrew, exposing differences among former allied powers, among the various Arab factions, as well as between the Arabs and Britain and France.
In İstanbul the Talat Pasha government resigned on 8 October. The new cabinet under Ahmed İzzet Pasha pledged to settle the question of the Arab provinces in accordance with the “national will” of the Arabs. The proposal to maintain these provinces within the empire by granting internal autonomy was received by the Arab deputies with cheers. Turkish and Arab deputies referred to the religious bonds that united the two groups. British proposals for a cease-fire in October 1918 suggested the establishment of autonomous Arab governments under the sultan’s sovereignty.
Awareness of the difficulties that hindered the realization of Arab sovereignty was conducive in Syria to a predisposition in favor of an alliance with the Turks against European ambitions. Ottoman subjects in Europe considered initiatives for Turco-Arab cooperation. Ottomanist Arabs like Shakib Arslan pointed to the need for political unity under the Ottoman dynasty in view of the foreign menace and urged all parties to forget past differences and to seek a reunion with wide autonomy for Arabs and Kurds in line with Wilsonian principles.
In May 1919 the Greeks landed troops in Anatolia, triggering an active defense movement to the Allied occupation organized by Mustafa Kemal. In the early stages of this resistance the territorial objectives of the Kemalist movement were not clearly defined, and the general goal was to free as much of the former Ottoman possessions as possible from foreign occupation. Any active resistance in Syria against the French was seen as an asset to the struggle in Anatolia.
In the fall of 1919 there were preparations for a joint Arab-Turkish resistance against the French in northern Syria as a result of the coalescing of various irregular troops throughout the region. Resentment over the withdrawal of British forces to make way for a French takeover strengthened in both Damascus and Aleppo the inclination toward an alliance with the Anatolian resistance. The Nationalist government set up in Damascus during the peace talks established links with the Turkish resistance movement. Negotiations between Anatolians and Syrians took place for joint action and the setting up of a binational state, even though Faysal remained ambivalent about this initiative. The American consul in Beirut reported that the British authorities fear “that the Arabs may consider the British and Americans have failed them, and not being willing to accept French sphere of influence, may consequently decide to accept preferred support of Mustafa Kamel [sic], which might bring about a serious pan-Islam movement.”
While the idea of cooperating with the Anatolian resistance found more and more proponents in Damascus and Aleppo because of fear of French occupation, the impending carving up of Greater Syria and the granting of a “national home” to the Zionists produced the same kind of response in Palestine. The Supreme Committee of Palestinian Assemblies wrote to the American representative in Jerusalem:
Turkey which was supposed to be the greatest enemy working for the dismemberment of the Arab nation, a weak people, did not prove to be so tyrannical as to sentence us to this slow death. How then could our friends the Allies who acknowledge that the Arabs contributed to their victory in the Near East allow such a sentence to be passed on us?
If we rose up against Turkey it was only for asserting our rights and had we only foreseen that our alliance was to lead to this partition of our country and to this colonization thereof we would not have declared our animosity to the Turks.
At the end of 1919 the Anatolian resistance to Allied occupation had not crystallized as a Turkish nationalist movement, even though the two congresses held by resistance groups in eastern Anatolia had prepared the groundwork of the National Pact (Misak-ı Milli). The National Pact has come to be recognized as the manifesto of the Turkish nationalist movement since its formal adoption by the Ottoman Parliament in February 1920 (and thus triggering its dissolution the next month) and by the newly established Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 1921. The first clause of the Pact as enunciated in Parliament referred to the right of self-determination of Arabs of Ottoman territories under foreign occupation. It did not posit a clear articulation of a Turkish homeland, thus leaving the door open for the expression of the Arab will in favor of cooperation with the Anatolian movement. It was hardly a coincidence that Celal Nuri’s İttihad-ı İslam, that had been published in 1913 to urge Turco-Arab unity against European imperialism, was translated into Arabic in 1920, under the title of Ittihad al-muslimin (Unity of Muslims). Particularly after the French occupation of Syria, the Iraqi nationalists, too, became favorably disposed toward collaboration with the Anatolians.
Cooperation with Arabs was consistent with the anti-imperialist objectives of the Anatolian movement. Yet in view of an increasingly bitter conflict about the fate of Syria and Iraq in international forums, embroiling European, Arab, and Zionist delegations in a host of conflicting claims, the Kemalists extricated themselves from these controversies over Arab-populated territories. Instead, they devoted their energies to Anatolia, laying the foundations of a Turkish nation-state. As late as the end of 1922 some Palestinian Arab leaders appealed to the Kemalists to seek a Turkish mandate under which they could achieve self-determination. The frustration of Arab expectations of independence led to feelings of nostalgia for the empire or hopes for a more active cooperation with the Turks against imperialism. However, the emergent nationalist leadership in the Turkish regions heeded Realpolitik and devoted its attention to delivering Anatolia. It prepared to renounce irredentist ambitions and to work out the necessary arrangements with the imperialist powers to achieve the limited aim.
The Arab Revolt had an impact on İstanbul in two opposing ways. On the one hand, it led to the belief that it was futile to struggle to preserve the multinational empire. On the other, it prompted the adoption of modern propaganda methods consistent with traditional religious values to prevent the revolt from spreading. The attacks and counterattacks between the sharif and the government were intended to appeal to the religious sensibilities of the Ottomans and all other Muslims. While the defeats in the war and the Arab Revolt may have strengthened the Turkist position, the government, even after the cabinet change of 1917, sought to reverse the disintegrationist trends by stressing an Islamist-Ottomanist outlook in public life. It is significant, for instance, that Yusuf Akçura, the prominent ideologue of the Turkist movement, lost his job during the university reform of 1916. If Turkish irredentism had its appeal to Committee leaders such as Enver, others, like Talat, were ambivalent. Still others, such as Cavid, opposed it and believed that efforts should be made to retain the Arab provinces rather than dissipate energy in Turkic Russia. Yet, the ultimate defeat in the war and the severe terms of the armistice sealed the fate of the Ottoman Empire and of Ottomanism.
1. Arai, Turkish Nationalism, 70, 83–85. [BACK]
2. HHS. PA 38/362. Dandini to Berchtold (Aleppo, 12 March 1914). [BACK]
3. As‘ad served during the war as the müftü of the Fourth Army in Syria and as an advisor to Cemal Pasha. T. E. Lawrence describes him as a “notorious pro-Turk pimp” (Seven Pillars of Wisdom [New York: Doubleday, 1938], 432). As‘ad was the father of Ahmad al-Shuqayri, the first chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964. [BACK]
4. AA. Türkei 177/Bd. 11. Loytved-Hardegg to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 49 (Haifa, 30 March 1914). [BACK]
5. Khalidi describes deputies-elect from Syrian provinces, among them Amin ‘Abd al-Hadi, as “nonentities whose main distinction was that they were of the same families as prominent Arab nationalists.” Amin, related to one of the leaders of the Decentralization League, Salim ‘Abd al-Hadi, was a graduate of the Mülkiye and a prominent functionary. Khalidi, “Arab Nationalism in Syria,” 232. [BACK]
6. BBA. DH-SYS 122/5–1 (2 April 1914). [BACK]
7. AA. Türkei 177/Bd. 11, no. 49 (see note 4). [BACK]
8. BBA. DH-SYS 122/2 (5 January 1914). [BACK]
9. “Désireux de faire échec à l’ “Union arabe,” le Comité Union et Progrès de Beyrouth avait provoqué la création d’une société rivale destinée, sous le nom de “fraternité musulmane,” à amener une entente entre Turcs et Arabes.” MAE. Turquie, N.S. 124. Boppe to MAE, no. 91 (Pera, 8 February 1914). [BACK]
10. US 867.00/603. Richarz (?) to Secretary of State (Baghdad, 11 January 1914). [BACK]
11. The Austrian consul in Aleppo reported the lack of interest of leading Arab notables in the elections was expected to result in the election of only Unionist candidates. But in Aleppo, too, half of the newly elected deputies were newcomers more accurately identified as independents. See HHS. PA 38/362. Dandini to Berchtold (24 January 1914). [BACK]
12. See Ahmad and Rustow (p. 247) and Prätor (pp. 28–29) for the basis of these calculations. [BACK]
13. The royal decree was issued on 4 January 1914. See As‘ad Daghir, Thawrat al-‘arab (Cairo, 1916), 46; Burru, 548. [BACK]
14. Daghir sees Zahrawi as the only decentralist, yet Bayhum, Sursuq, and possibly the Aleppine senator had been in the same camp. See PRO. FO 195/2457/316. Cumberbatch to Mallet, no. 3 (Beirut, 16 January 1914); AA. Türkei 177/Bd. 11, no. 49 (see note 4). Baruni was one of the leaders of the Libyan resistance against Italy and stayed in Libya despite his new appointment. See Orhan Koloğlu, Mustafa Kemal’in Yanında İki Libyalı Lider (Ankara: Libya Arap Halk Sosyalist Cemahiriyesi Ankara Halk Bürosu Kültür Merkezi Yayınları, 1981). Sursuq, too, probably stayed in Beirut. According to Cumberbatch, he was too old to undertake the trip. Sursuq donated his Senate salary to the Donanma Cemiyeti (Naval Defense Fund). [BACK]
15. Prätor, 220. [BACK]
16. Khalidi, “Arab Nationalism in Syria,” 231. [BACK]
17. MAE. Turquie, N.S. 9. Boppe to MAE, no. 22 (Pera, 16 January 1914). [BACK]
18. He was reelected in November 1915. Prätor, 62. [BACK]
19. MAE. Turquie, N.S. 9. Boppe to MAE, no. 115 (17 February 1914). [BACK]
20. HHS. PA 38/363. Ranzi to Berchtold (Damascus, 11 February 1914). Al-Inkilizi was later employed in the central inspectoral agency in İstanbul. [BACK]
21. The reassignment was not due to the Syrian governor’s objections, İstanbul explained, but due to the fact that al-‘Asali was a native of the province of Syria. Aleppo governor Celal threatened to resign, saying that al-‘Asali “will poison this province that has so far managed to stay outside of insidious currents.” For this correspondence (28 and 29 January 1914) and the regulations governing the new inspectorships (19 November 1913), see BBA. DH-KMS 5/28. [BACK]
22. Seikaly, 91. [BACK]
23. Khalidi, “Arab Nationalism in Syria,” 232. [BACK]
24. Seikaly, 91. [BACK]
25. The author is careful not to compromise al-Zahrawi’s Arabist credentials when he writes, “In the end, al-Zahrawi probably accepted membership of the Senate because it did not imply a post in the government; it was, rather, a control on the government, not a service.” Tarabein, 107, 114. [BACK]
26. AA. Türkei 177/Bd. 11, no. 49 (see note 4). [BACK]
27. BBA. DH-KMS 18/19 (24 March 1914). [BACK]
28. BBA. DH-KMS 17/24 (19 March 1914). [BACK]
29. MAE. Turquie, N.S. 9. Bureau des Communications. “Le Grand Chérif Hossein Pacha et la situation en Arabie” (9 February 1914). He is reported to have contributed to Jawish’s undertakings and to the Donanma Cemiyeti. [BACK]
30. BBA. DH-KMS 17/4 (5 March 1914). This is the aforementioned Al-mu’tamar al-‘arabi al-awwal. [BACK]
31. Cemal reports in his memoirs of such a meeting with al-Zahrawi and ‘Abd al-Karim al-Khalil (a Beiruti reformist leader) in the home of ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Jawish. Cemal Paşa, Hatıralar, ed. Behçet Cemal (İstanbul: Çağdaş, 1977), 75–76. [BACK]
32. HHS. PA 38/363. Ranzi to Berchtold (Damascus, 17 January 1914). [BACK]
33. AA. Türkei 177/Bd. 10. Rößler to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 8 (Aleppo, 21 January 1914). [BACK]
34. In the early months of the war, when on exile in Europe, the Liberal leader Sabahaddin “considered his Party strong in the Smyrna garrison, numerous in Constantinople and popular among the masses of the Turkish people.…[But h]e had no communication either with the Arabs in Syria or the Armenians in Zeitun or Eastern Armenia.” PRO. FO 371/2486/34982. Mark Sykes to Major General C. E. Callwell, Director of Military Operations, no. 4 (Athens, 12 June 1915). [BACK]
35. The most comprehensive sources on Arab societies are Eliezer Tauber’s previously cited The Emergence of the Arab Movements and its companion volume on the war years, The Arab Movements in World War I (London: Frank Cass, 1993). See Emergence, 90–97, for Al-fatat and 198–236 for Al-‘ahd and Arab Movements, 57–78, for the joint activities of the two societies after 1914. [BACK]
36. Tauber, Emergence, 220; Mousa, Al-haraka, 33–34. Dawn is skeptical about the membership figures for the two secret organizations first cited by nationalist-minded Arab authors like Antonius and Amin Sa‘id. See his “Origins”, 13. [BACK]
37. For the imperial decree on Enver’s promotion and appointment as minister, see BBA. DUIT 4/14–6 (3 January 1914). [BACK]
38. US 867.00/600. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Morgenthau to the Secretary of State (İstanbul, 17 January 1914). [BACK]
39. HHS. PA 38/363. Ranzi to Berchtold (Damascus, 11 February 1914). [BACK]
40. PRO. FO 195/2456/66. Mallet (?) to Grey, no. 46 ([İstanbul], 25 January 1914). [BACK]
41. The owner of Al-iqbal (Beirut) requested a similar subsidy. BBA. DH-KMS 14/17 (31 January 1914). [BACK]
42. US 867.00/608. Baghdad Consulate to the Secretary of State and Ambassador (25 February 1914). [BACK]
43. Fourth Army, Âliye Divan-ı Harb-i Örfisinde Tedkik Olunan Mesele-i Siyasiye Hakkında İzahat (İstanbul, 1332 ), 19. [BACK]
44. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 36. Hesse to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 290/A.3 (Baghdad, 19 March 1914). [BACK]
45. PRO. FO 195/2457/350. Crow to Mallet, no. 9 (Basra, 4 February 1914). [BACK]
46. These efforts elicited the sarcastic comment from the British consul that Shafiq was bringing electric tramways to “a town whose drinking water is drawn from a filthy creek.” PRO. FO 195/2457/350. Acting Consul R. W. Bullard to Mallet, no. 40 (Basra, 25 July 1914). [BACK]
47. PRO. FO 195/2457/350. Crow to Mallet, no. 26 (Basra, 2 May 1914). [BACK]
48. PRO. FO 195/2457/350. Acting consul Bullard to Mallet, no. 38 (Basra, 20 June 1914). [BACK]
49. PRO. FO 195/2457/350. Mallet to [F.O.], no. 205 (draft) ([İstanbul], 25 March ). [BACK]
50. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 36. Wangenheim to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 100 (Pera, 22 March 1914). [BACK]
51. PRO. FO 371/2140/46261. Major S. G. Knox to the Foreign Secretary to the Government of India, no. 97 (55364) (Bushire, 8 August 1914). [BACK]
52. PRO. FO 371/2140/51468. Cheetham to [F.O.], no. 167 (Cairo, 21 September 1914). [BACK]
53. PRO. FO 371/2140/46261, no. 899 (Constantinople, 30 September 1914). [BACK]
54. HHS. PA 38/366. Ranzi to Burian (Damascus, 6 February and 5 June 1915). [BACK]
55. MAE. Turquie, N.S. 9. Consul General [Ottawi] to Doumerque, no. 26 (Damascus, 20 March 1914). [BACK]
56. AA 165/Bd. 36. Wangenheim to Bethmann-Hollweg (22 May 1914). The only possible candidate for the leadership role, according to Wangenheim, was ‘Aziz al-Misri, now in Cairo. [BACK]
57. BBA. BEO 319014 (305428). The Grand Vizierate to the Ministries of the Interior and War (15 January 1914). Vehib had taken command of the forces at the end of 1913. [BACK]
58. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 36. (?) to Bethmann-Hollweg, fol. K196357 (Berlin, 25 January 1914); Wangenheim to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 87 (Pera, 9 March 1914). See chapter 4 on similar rumors during the Balkan Wars. [BACK]
59. Tauber, Emergence, 114. [BACK]
60. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 36. Miquel to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 47 (Cairo, 19 April 1914); PRO. FO 371/2140/46261. Cheetham [to F.O.], no. 149 (7 September 1914). [BACK]
61. Ahmad, “International Status of Kuwait,” 184. [BACK]
62. Zeine, Arab Nationalism, 106. [BACK]
63. Tauber, Emergence, 115. [BACK]
64. MAE. Turquie, N.S. 9. Bureau des Communications. “Le Grand Chérif Hossein Pacha et la situation en Arabie,” no. 15 (Jidda, 9 February 1914). [BACK]
65. BBA. BEO 319171. Husayn to Grand Vizierate (3 February 1914). [BACK]
66. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 36. Miquel (?) to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 32 (Cairo, 11 March 1914). [BACK]
67. BBA. BEO 319362. Husayn to the Grand Vizierate (12 February 1914). [BACK]
68. BBA. BEO 319823 (319564). Husayn to the Grand Vizierate (25 February 1914). [BACK]
69. BBA. BEO 319823 (319564). Talat Pasha to [the Grand Vizierate] (3 March 1914). [BACK]
70. MAE. Turquie, N.S. 9. Boppe to [MAE], no. 95 (Pera, 9 February 1914). [BACK]
71. PRO. FO 195/2457/350. Acting Consul Abdurrahman to Mallet, no. 17 (Jidda, 19 March 1914). According to Stoddard, Vehib Bey was “ordered to make peace with [Sharif Husayn] in the interests of pan-Islamic harmony.” Stoddard, 139. [BACK]
72. PRO. FO 195/2457/350. Devey to [F.O.] (Damascus, 7 May 1914). [BACK]
73. BBA. DH-KMS 21/54. Vehib to the Ministry of the Interior, no. 58 (6 April 1914). [BACK]
74. Ibid., no. 66 (9 May 1914). [BACK]
75. Ibid., no. 51 (5 May 1914). [BACK]
76. Ibid., no. 65 (9 May 1914). [BACK]
77. Ibid., no. 71 (11 May 1914). [BACK]
78. Ibid., no. 70 (11 May 1914). [BACK]
79. Ibid., no. 138 (18 June 1914). [BACK]
80. Ibid., no. 72 (13 May 1914). [BACK]
81. Ibid., no. 181 (10 August 1914). [BACK]
82. Ibid. (1 June 1914). [BACK]
83. BBA. DH-KMS 24–1/8 (16 June 1914). [BACK]
84. BBA. DH-KMS 21/54 (12 July, 9 and 10 August 1914). [BACK]
85. Most recently, in April ‘Abdullah had asked the British for machine guns. See Dawn, Ottomanism, 20. [BACK]
86. BBA. DH-KMS 21/54, no. 32 (5 August 1914). [BACK]
87. Ibid., no. 181 (10 August 1914). [BACK]
88. Ibid. (17 August 1914). [BACK]
89. A. Emin Yalman, Turkey in the World War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1930), 102. [BACK]
90. Dawn, Ottomanism, 26. [BACK]
91. Tauber, World War I, 15–16. [BACK]
92. PRO. FO 195/2446. Cumberbatch to Lowther (Beirut, 14 November 1914). [BACK]
93. Ahmad, Young Turks, 157. [BACK]
94. Tauber, World War I, 19. [BACK]
95. PRO. FO 371/2140, no. 604 (57234) (Therapia, 22 September 1914). [BACK]
96. PRO. FO 371/2140/46261. Cheetham to [F.O.], no. 149 (Cairo, 7 September 1914). [BACK]
97. PRO. FO 371/2140/46261. Cheetham to Grey, no. 177 (Cairo, 15 November 1914); PRO. FO 371/2140/46261. Secretary of State [for India] to Viceroy, no. 75460 (19 November 1914). [BACK]
98. Majid Khadduri, “ ‘Aziz ‘Ali Misri and the Arab Nationalist Movement,” in ed. Hourani, Middle Eastern Affairs, no. 4 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1965), 140–163. [BACK]
99. Tauber, World War I, 83–86. [BACK]
100. Briton Cooper Busch, Britain, India, and the Arabs, 1914–1921 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1971), 11; PRO. FO 371/2140/46261. Mallet to Grey, no. 942 (57074) (İstanbul, 7 October 1914); Viceroy to India Office, no. 64904 (28 October 1914); Viceroy to India Office, no. 77724 (Bombay [?], 30 November 1914). [BACK]
101. Danişmend, İzahlı, 419. [BACK]
102. Ulrich Trumpener, Germany and the Ottoman Empire, 1914–1918 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1968), 119. [BACK]
103. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 37. Wangenheim to [Auswärtiges Amt], no. 1605 (Pera, 13 December 1914). [BACK]
104. Ibid. [BACK]
105. Ibid. The latter of these measures no doubt offered certain political advantages by restricting communications. [BACK]
106. PRO. FO 371/2139/44923. Cheetham to [F.O.], no. 310 (81133) (Cairo, 10 December 1914). [BACK]
107. Ali Fuat Erden, Paris’ten Tih Sahrasına (Ankara: Ulus, 1949), 53–56. On the Kurdish roots of the al-Yusuf family, see Khoury, 35–40. [BACK]
108. Amin Sa‘id, Al-thawra al-‘arabiya al-kubra (Cairo, 1934 [?]), 1:105–6, quoted in Dawn, Ottomanism, 28. [BACK]
109. Antonius, 150; Dawn, Ottomanism, 27; Zeine, Arab Nationalism, 108. [BACK]
110. For the main stipulations of the treaty, see George Lenczowski, The Middle East in World Affairs (London: Cornell University Press, 1980), 75. [BACK]
111. BBA. DUIT 5/1–3–10 (28 February 1915). [BACK]
112. ATASE. World War I, 553/ -2150 (8 February 1915). [BACK]
113. Ibid. Cemal to Deputy Commander-in-Chief [Enver] (20 February 1915). [BACK]
114. Ibid. Deputy Commander Ahmed to Enver (13 March 1915). [BACK]
115. BBA. DH-İ.Um. 4–1/2. Muhafız Basri to the Ministry of the Interior (30 March 1915); ATASE. World War I, 165/159–725. Commander [Ahmed] to Enver (18 May 1915). [BACK]
116. ATASE. World War I, 165/159–725. Cemal to Enver, no. 5 (29 May 1915). [BACK]
117. Ibid., no. 5–1 (31 May 1915). [BACK]
118. ATASE. World War I, 1832/7–21. Sharif Husayn to Enver (10 July 1915). [BACK]
119. See, for instance, Tauber, World War I, and Antonius, 164. [BACK]
120. ATASE. World War I, 1832/7–21, no. 1–1 (3 August 1915). [BACK]
121. Ibid. (15 August 1915). [BACK]
122. Ibid. (28 August 1915). [BACK]
123. US 867.4016/290. Philip to Secretary of State, no. 1186 (İstanbul, 1 July 1916); US 867.00/777. Hollis to Morgenthau (Beirut, 26 July 1915). [BACK]
124. See Erden, Paris’ten, for a vivid account of the Canal campaign. [BACK]
125. Tauber provides a detailed account of how the Ottoman authorities obtained the incriminating documents. Cemal Pasha did not make public the documents that were found in the first roundup of the consulates at the end of 1914 and that incriminated those sentenced in 1915. A second raid of the French consulate at the end of 1915 revealed more evidence and led to the executions of 1916. See Tauber, World War I, 39–56. İzahat, the book published by Cemal Pasha’s Fourth Army in 1916, elaborates on the activities of the executed and attempts to justify ex post facto the decisions of the military court. [BACK]
126. Suleiman Mousa, T. E. Lawrence: An Arab View, trans. Albert Butros (London: Oxford University Press, 1966), 14. [BACK]
127. Tauber, World War I, 54; Antonius, 186–87. [BACK]
128. BBA. DH-KMS 36/22 (10 January 1915). [BACK]
129. US 867.4016/283. Philip to Secretary of State (İstanbul [via Copen hagen], 21 May 1916). [BACK]
130. Tauber, World War I, 45. [BACK]
131. HHS. PA 38/369. Nedwed to Burian (Beirut, 15 April 1916). [BACK]
132. Fourth Army, İzahat, 6. [BACK]
133. “Many are known to have been comfortably transported at Government expense as far as Angora, being given to understand that land will be allotted to them equal in extent to that left behind, etc.” US 867.4016/283 (see note 129). [BACK]
134. HHS. PA 38/369 (see note 131). [BACK]
135. The purpose of the law was to abolish the use of European languages in the conduct of business so that employment opportunities would open up for Muslim elements in public (primarily, utility) and private companies. Zafer Toprak, Türkiye’de “Milli İktisat,” 1908–1918 (Ankara: Yurt, 1982), 79–80. Yalman, 114. [BACK]
136. HHS. PA 38/369. Ranzi to Burian (Damascus, 30 March 1916). [BACK]
137. AA. Türkei 177/Bd. 12. Loytved-Hardegg to Embassy (Damascus, 4 April 1916). Enclosed in Metternich to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 154 (Pera, 7 April 1916). [BACK]
138. The American ambassador Morgenthau described to the secretary of state Lansing the balance of power within the Committee of Union and Progress party as an “intensely interesting” phenomenon that, in his opinion, differed distinctly “from the Boss Rule in the United States.” According to Morgenthau, there were some forty members of the Committee who were influential in the government of the empire. A core of nine was particularly powerful. It included, in addition to Talat, Enver, and Cemal, Central Committee Chairman Dr. Nazım, Foreign Minister Halil, President of the General Assembly Hacı Adil, Eyüp Sabri, and Bahattin Şakir. US 867.00/797. Morgenthau to Lansing (İstanbul, 4 November 1915). See also Trumpener, 71. [BACK]
139. Feridun Kandemir, Peygamberimizin Gölgesinde Son Türkler (İstanbul, 1974), 23; Falih Rıfkı Atay, Zeytindağı (İstanbul, 1938), 63; Erden, Paris’ten, 22. [BACK]
140. PRO. FO 371/2486/34982. Statement of Husayn’s messenger Mohammed Ibn Arif Oreifan [to the High Commissioner] (Alexandria, 18 August 1915). [BACK]
141. HHS. PA 38/366. Ranzi to Burian (Damascus, 15 December 1915). Linda Schatkowski Schilcher, “The Famine of 1915–1918 in Greater Syria,” in Problems of the Modern Middle East in Historical Perspective: Essays in Honor of Albert Hou rani, ed. John P. Spagnolo (Reading: Ithaca Press, 1992), 229–58. [BACK]
142. See Tauber, World War I, 54–55; HHS. PA 38/369 (see note 136); and for Zahrawi, in particular, US 867.4016/283 (see note 129). [BACK]
143. For the text of the declaration, see André Mandelstam, Le Sort de l’empire ottomane (Lausanne: Librairie Payot, 1917), 360–62; F. De Jong, “The Proclamations of al-Husayn b. ‘Ali and ‘Ali Haydar,” Der Islam 57 (1980): 281–87; Selahaddin, 93–94. [BACK]
144. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 39. Metternich to [Auswärtiges Amt], no. 423 (Therapia, 26 July 1916). [BACK]
145. De Jong, 285. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 39. Loytved-Hardegg to [Embassy], no. 118 (Damascus, 5 August 1916). Enclosed in Metternich to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 455 (Therapia, 6 August 1916). [BACK]
146. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 41. Loytved-Hardegg to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 26 (Damascus, 5 January 1917). [BACK]
147. Konrad Morsey, T. E. Lawrence und der arabische Aufstand, 1916/18 (Osnabrück: Biblio Verlag, 1976), 84–86. For Max Freiherr von Oppenheim’s activities to establish a news center for propaganda in Syria and Arabia, see Gottfried Hagen, Die Türkei im Ersten Weltkrieg (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 1990), 35–44. [BACK]
148. HHS. PA 38/369. Ranzi to Burian (Damascus, 28 August 1916). [BACK]
149. HHS. PA 38/369. Ranzi to Burian (Damascus, 29 September 1916). [BACK]
150. Nicholas Z. Ajay, Jr., “Political Intrigue and Suppression in Lebanon during World War I,” IJMES 5 (1974): 158. [BACK]
151. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 40. Mutius to Metternich quoting Hoffmann (vice-consul in Tripoli), no. 2076 (Beirut, 12 October 1916). [BACK]
152. Bayur, 3 (pt. 4): 320–21. [BACK]
153. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 38 (Damascus, 1 July 1916). Enclosed in Metternich to [the Minister of Foreign Affairs] ([İstanbul], 2 July 1916). [BACK]
154. AA. Türkei 167/Bd. 11. M. Hartmann to [Auswärtiges Amt ?], no. 4143/444 (Berlin, 17 July 1916). [BACK]
155. Dawn, Ottomanism, 49. [BACK]
156. Khadduri, 153–54. On al-Misri’s unwillingness to subordinate himself to Sharif Husayn’s orders, his continued faith in a federal Turco-Arab empire, and his defection, see Tauber, World War I, 91–100. [BACK]
157. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 40. Romberg to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 2259 (Bern, 10 October 1916). [BACK]
158. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 41. Loytved-Hardegg to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 26 (Damascus, 5 January 1917). [BACK]
159. HHS. PA 38/369. Ranzi to Burian (Damascus, 20 December 1916); HHS. PA 38/370. Same to Ottokar Czernin von Chudenitz (Damascus, 10 April 1917). Ranzi mistakenly refers to ‘Abdullah as Ahmad. [BACK]
160. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 39. Loytved-Hardegg to Wolff-Metternich, no. 826 (Damascus, 6 August 1916). [BACK]
161. Schilcher, 234. [BACK]
162. MAE. Guerre 1679. “La Situation en Syrie” (9 July 1916); Atay, 88. [BACK]
163. AA. Türkei 177/Bd. 3. Dr. Ruppin to Abram I. Elkus (13 October 1916). [BACK]
164. HHS. PA 38/369. Nedwed to Burian (26 October and 13 December 1916). [BACK]
165. MAE. Guerre 1680. Bulletin de Renseignements. Ministère de la Guerre, no. 4498–9/11 (14 June 1917). [BACK]
166. A. D. Novichev, Ekonomika Turtsii v period mirovoi voin, 18–19. Cited in Ahmad, “Agrarian Policy,” 285. [BACK]
167. AA. Türkei 134/Bd. 37. Kühlmann (?) to Bethmann-Hollweg (Pera, 4 April 1917). [BACK]
168. Ali Fuat Erden, Birinci Dünya Harbinde Suriye Hatıraları (İstanbul, 1954), 91–92. [BACK]
169. On the new financial, educational, and health institutions in Aleppo, see HHS. PA 38/370. Dandini to Czernin (Aleppo, 16 February 1917). [BACK]
170. Revue du Monde Musulman 18 (1912): 224. [BACK]
171. AA. Türkei 165/Bd. 41. Kühlmann to Auswärtiges Amt, no. 269 (Konstantinopel, 20 February 1917). [BACK]
172. Trumpener, 57, quotes Talat’s remark to Austrian Ambassador Pallavicini. [BACK]
173. See, for instance, Danişmend, İzahlı, 434. [BACK]
174. AA. Türkei 177/Bd. 11. Loytved-Hardegg to Bethmann-Hollweg, no. 49 (Haifa, 30 March 1914). [BACK]
175. US 867.00/804½. Elkus to Robert Lansing (İstanbul, 2 March 1917). Also, Bayur, 3 (pt. 4): 326–27. [BACK]
176. US 867.00/796. Sharp to Secretary of State quoting report from Ambassador Elkus (Paris, 10 June 1917). [BACK]
177. On 5 February 1917 Talat, in his opening speech of Parliament, announced his cabinet’s intention to provide “every Osmanli” with all the rights which “the Constitution grants to him and thus to secure the rule of law in the country.” Trumpener, 246. [BACK]
178. US 867.00/804½ (see note 175). Until the entry of the United States into the war, the American Embassy had contacts with Turkish politicians and a good insight into the political situation in the Ottoman Empire. Elkus requested the secretary of state at the end of his report to “consider the present as strictly confidential and to give nothing of this to the press.” He added, “If any of the statements of the Ministers or others should be made public they may get into very serious trouble and my position here will be made very difficult.” [BACK]
179. In 1917 Parliament debated the role of Islam in Ottoman institutions, and a new and more secular civil code was passed. Noteworthy in these debates was the argument of a Turkish deputy (Şemseddin Bey representing Ertuğrul [Bilecik]) that the knowledge of Arabic was important for all Ottomans: “There is no need to dwell at length on the necessity to teach Arabic in our schools. Since the noble Arab millet (community or nation) constitutes half of our country (vatan) and of our millet, we by all means need to know their language.” Ergin, 4:1373. [BACK]
180. Holt, 276; T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom (New York: Doubleday, 1938), 554–55. [BACK]
181. Celal Bayar, Ben de Yazdım (İstanbul: Baha, 1965), 1:25. [BACK]
182. Bayar, 42, quotes C. V. F. Townshend, Irak Seferi, 474–88. [BACK]
183. US 867.00/866. Stowell to the Secretary of State, no. 6582 (Berne, 4 April 1919). [BACK]
184. US 867.00/948. Grey to Secretary of State via Paris, no. 1475 (4 October 1919). [BACK]
185. Khayriyya Qasimiyya, Al-hukumat al-‘arabiyya fi dimashq (Cairo: Dar al-Ma‘arif, 1971), 80–81. [BACK]
186. Laurence Evans, United States Policy and the Partition of Turkey, 1914–1924 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1965), 246–47. Also, Zeine N. Zeine, The Struggle for Arab Independence (New York: Caravan, 1977), 134–35. [BACK]
187. US 867.00/968. Knabenshue to Secretary of State via Paris, no. 29 (19 October 1919). [BACK]
188. US 867.00/1094. The Supreme Commission of the Palestine Assemblies to the “Great Government of the United States, Care of the Respected American Representative in Jerusalem” (Haifa, 27 November 1919). [BACK]
189. Shaw and Shaw, 344–50. [BACK]
190. An article that appeared in the Morning Post noted, crediting Enver with the Anatolian resistance, “If Enver has now got the ear of a section of the Arab people it is owing to the mistakes of our diplomacy.” Morning Post, 20 December 1919. Quoted in Hollis to Secretary of State (23 December 1919). [BACK]
191. The book was translated by Hamza Tahir and ‘Abd al-Wahhab ‘Azzam. See Landau, Pan-Islam, 80. [BACK]
192. Zeine, Struggle, 136. [BACK]
193. Y. Porath, The Emergence of the Palestinian-Arab National Movement, 1918–1929 (London: Frank Cass, 1974), 160–65. [BACK]
194. Bayur, 3 (pt. 4): 360. [BACK]