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Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Flag
Flag of the Sublime Ottoman State
Full Name دولت عليه عثمانیه

(The Sublime Ottoman State)

Common Name The Ottomans, The Ottoman Empire
Motto "دولت ابد مدت"

("The Eternal State")

Anthem عبد المجيد اول

(March of Abdülmecid II)

Official Languages Turkish, Arab (in Arab Vilayets)
Capital Istanbul

(Konstantiniyye, Constantinople)

Government Structure Unitary Constitutional Monarchy
Head of State Abdülmecid II (1922 - )
Head of Government Mustafa Kemal Pasha (1926 - 1931) (1935 - )
Currency Ottoman lira
Established 1299
Area (core territory) Around 2,280,000 km²
Population (core territory) Around 29 million

The Ottoman Empire, officially the Sublime Ottoman State is a Middle Eastern country with holdings in both Europe and Africa. It borders Bulgaria to the northwest, Georgia to the northeast, Persia to the east, Jabal Shammar and it's puppet Yemen to the south, and the German Suez Canal Zone to the southwest, along with Egypt. Through its puppet Yemen, it also borders Nejd and Muscat, its puppet the Emirate of Cyrenaica, and through it’s Libyan Vilayet - it borders the French Republic. In the East, through the semi-autonomous state of Armenia, it borders Azerbaijan.

The Ottoman Empire, once one of the greatest empires in history - spanning three continents and ruling over a multi-ethnic multi-religious populace in the hundreds of thousands - saw its decline commence in the late 18th century, developing to the point of being known as the 'sick man of Europe' by the early 20th century. An inability to effectively industrialise, constant foreign meddling in its affairs, and a troubling hold on a lot of its provinces meant that the Ottoman Sultanate had fallen back well behind the European powers by 1876. Nonetheless, the Ottomans reformed, and despite the issues these posed on a local level - where tribal issues and a corrupt bureaucracy reigned supreme - light could be seen. Prompted by Mahmud III in the early 19th century and further pursued by the Young Ottomans, radical changes were introduced in the Empire. Land ownership was restructured, the Janissaries eradicated, central rule reestablished in regions such as Mosul and Al-Hasa, and a constitution promulgated. The focus of these reformers was based on the idea of Ottomanism, and attempted to foster a common identity for all its inhabitants besides their local one. It would not be enough. With Abdulhamid II‘s rise to power in 1876, a change would come once more.

Under the pretext of the Russo-Turkish war, the constitution was abolished and parliament sent packing. This period, later to be known as the Hamidian era, saw a radical centralisation of power under the figure of the Sultan-Caliph. With a constant threat by Christian powers, the Sultan turned towards Pan-Islamism based on the prestige of the Caliphate. Despite enjoying great success from the Muslim population, this would only hasten the departure of the territories without these. Furthermore, his absolute rule fostered great discontent amongst a population which increasingly became familiar with Western ideas.

This resistance would consolidate itself in the shape of the “CUP”, or “Committee of Union and Progress”. A coup d'état in 1908 made Ottoman politics, long suppressed by the Sultan, burst into the open. Dozens upon dozens of parties would attempt to find a seat within the newly restored parliament as it seemed that Ottoman decline was finally at its end. The united democratic forces would, however, not last - and quickly saw a split between the decentralists and the centralists. Through a tumultuous 5 years, these two sides would battle for control as the ideals of democracy and freedom of thought they once held so dearly were slowly moved to the sidelines. In 1913, with the Raid on the Sublime Porte, the game was up. The centralist CUP, with as significant public figures the Three Pashas (Enver, Djemal and Talaat), would eradicate all remaining power of the decentralists and shape the nation in their image. Under great threat by Russians, British and Frenchmen, they ultimately strengthened ties with Germany, which Abdulhamid II had created.

When the Weltkrieg began in Europe, the Ottomans signed a treaty with the Germans, and soon after joined the war against the Entente powers. Despite some promising initial advances, Ottoman forces had begun to collapse by 1918 under British pressure and were pushed into Anatolia. However, renewed offensives in western Europe by the Germans, regime change, and a decisive albeit Pyrrhic victory at Maraş under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha, stopped the British advance. Finally, with the fall of France and the subsequent Treaty of Copenhagen in 1919, the turning point had arrived.

As British forces retreated, the Turkish army annihilated the remaining Hejazi resistance. The peace would come at a cost however, as the Armenian genocide and horrors of Mount Lebanon shocked the world. Despite being on the losing side of the war, the British Empire was able to dictate some terms on the ruined Ottomans. Combining the declarations of Talaat Pasha and Balfour to encourage a national home for the Jews in Palestine, an international zone was set up from the Allenby line to the Sinai peninsula. Despite furious protesting from the Ottoman people, most notably the Palestinians themselves, there was little that could be done. A second humiliation was to follow shortly in Iraq, when the Assyrian people, devastated by their own genocide, were taken under the wing of the British Empire and resettled in Southern Iraq. The Vilayet of Basra in its entirety would furthermore remain in the British sphere. When final peace came in 1921, the Ottoman Empire had regained land in the Aegean Islands, the Kars and Ardahan Oblasts, and the territory of the shortlived Armenian nation. Tripolitania was furthermore liberated from Italian occupation, and turned into a puppet state. The biggest victory however came in the shape of the dreaded Capitulations, which were officially abolished in 1919. The Empire had been saved from the brink of disaster.

History

During the Weltkrieg

While the Ottoman Empire officially entered the Weltkrieg on October 29, 1914, with the arrival of Wilhelm Souchon with the Goeben and Breslau and the commencement of the shelling of Odessa under the Ottoman Flag, it had secretly pursued and attained the signature and affirmation of the Ottoman-German Alliance on August 2nd, 1914. The Ottomans won several significant victories in the early years of the war, such as the Battle of Gallipoli and the Siege of Kut; but there were setbacks as well, such as the disastrous Caucasus Campaign against the Russians.

Disaster continued in 1916 with the start of the Arab Revolt by the Hashemites, combined with a new British Offensive under the command of General Edmund Allenby. Ottoman Forces were left under a great deal of pressure in Mesopotamia and Syria. Coming to a head in 1918, devastating defeats in Palestine led to a mass retreat of Ottoman forces. Jerusalem, Damascus and Aleppo fell in quick succession as only the controversial decision by the commander of the Sixth Army to withdraw into the mountains of Anatolia was able to stop the chain reaction. A valiant defeat at Antep and a Pyrrhic victory near Maraş ultimately stopped Allenby in his tracks. The war would once more become one of attrition.

At that point, the atmosphere of the Empire was rapidly changing, as the Ottoman government realised that even a victory would come at a cost. Furthermore, a change had happened in the palace as well. The CUP puppet Mehmet V had passed away, and in his wake followed the far more assertive Vahdettin, or “Mehmed VI“. Seeing the collapse of his empire on almost all fronts, and with the CUP government held responsible for the disaster, he would lash out and attempt to shift power to his allies in the FAP. With the ground heating up under their feet, Talaat Pasha would then, at the instigation of Djemal Pasha - recently returned from Syria - attempt to shut down the Sultan. Harsh famine in Istanbul due to a refusal by German forces to supply it with Ukrainian grain, betrayal in the Caucasus by its allies, the attempted silencing of the Sultan, and rumours that the commander of the Sixth Army was in open conflict with the ministry of war, would finally tip the bucket over. In a massive wave of anti-German and pacifist fervour, the cabinet of Talaat Pasha was forced to resign and concede to the Sultan.

Ahmet Tefvik Pasha was appointed Grand Vizier and tasked with the creation of a government of national unity, in an attempt to connect both the FAP, which enjoyed the preference of the Sultan, and the powerful CUP, which governed all institutes bar the palace. Under pressure from the CUP, whose unwillingness to lift their grasp on power made the negotiations collapse, Ahmet Tefvik Pasha resigned and was replaced by Ahmed Izzet Pasha. Creating a government consisting of Cavit Bey, Fethi Pasha and Rauf Pasha, it became quickly clear that the CUP was far from defeated. Nonetheless a small crack started to form, due to pressure by Mustafa Kemal Pasha, Ahmed Izzet Pasha was forced to give up the war ministry.

The Fall of Greece and the growing risk of revolution in the British Protectorate of Egypt caused Allenby to revise his strategy, and withdraw part of his forces - returning to the defensive position the British held before the Megiddo offensive. As France collapsed in late 1919, the War entered its closing stages. In contrast with the Western Front, however, where Austrian forces pushed into Italy and Germans into France and Belgium, the Ottomans at this vital moment had lost over half their Empire - either actually occupied, or readily vulnerable to a concerted British attack - and were held up by a British force unlikely to stand down. Sultan Vahdettin opened negotiations with the British in an attempt to salvage what remained of his empire, whilst Britain reconsidered its attitude in the Middle East. With the Treaty of Copenhagen ceasefire later that year, demanding immediate withdrawal of all remaining Entente forces from the territory of the Central Powers, a rapid solution for the Eastern Question was necessary. Further trouble for the British in Egypt, Afghanistan and occupied Iraq ultimately forced their hand, and the order was given to withdraw. Only Palestine and the Vilayet of Basra would remain under occupation at the insistence of Jan Smuts and Leo Amery until an acceptable treaty was reached surrounding the 'rights of its minorities', masking their intentions of an Indian base in Iraq and a fortified position near the Suez. With uncertainty in the political climate of the Ottoman Empire, and punishment for the perpetrators of the Armenian massacres far from likely, international opinion (even from its allies) shifted away from the Empire, losing much of it’s support from theCentral Powers. An accord was reached in the summer of 1920, wherein two autonomous regions were established, to great anger of both Turks and Arabs who saw this as nothing less than a betrayal. The Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem (M.O.J.) was be created in Palestine, stretching from the Allenby line to the Red Sea. This de jure part of the Ottoman Empire was to be governed by an International Council consisting of the German Empire, British Empire, Austrian Empire, United States of America and the Ottomans themselves. Forbidding the entry of Ottoman troops into the region, an international gendarmerie force would maintain the peace within Palestine. In the Vilayet of Basra a new home was to be created for the Assyrian people whose exodus from the plains of Nineveh and Lake Urmia had left them refugees in an Iran openly hostile to their ambitions. Both of these political bodies were later to be revoked in 1925, after the British Revolution left all Allied or neutral participants in the accord without the ability to exercise any leverage to enforce the conditions.

Peace...but at what cost? (1920-1925)

As formal peace finally arrived in 1921, the borders of the Ottoman Empire had largely remained the same. The oblasts of Kars and Ardahan were recovered with the addition of Yerevan whilst in the Aegean the Italians were pushed out of the Dodecanese. The damage had been immense however as through the actions of the CUP, especially Djemal Pasha, tensions between Turks and Arabs had burst into the open whilst in Eastern Anatolia and Mount Lebanon whole populations were eradicated either through forced deportation or starvation. The Armenian population was reduced to a small base in Yerevan, whilst most of the Greeks of Asia Minor had left the empire en-masse during the early years of the war. Losses on the Turkish side had been colossal as well, leading to underpopulation and a sharp decline in agricultural output - the Empire's main source of income. Its doctors, entrepreneurs, engineers and other intellectuals were drastically reduced, leading to an overall collapse of the economy.

Although the Arab revolt had been a colossal failure, in large part due to the efforts of Fakhri Pasha, the need for reform was recognized. Answering to the calls of the First Arab Congress in 1913, the Arabic language was recognized as the second language of the Empire, and the official language of the greater Mashriq.

Post Weltkrieg (1920-1936)

Increasing factionalism within the CUP and the meteoric rise of many military figures tore away at the internal stability of the party. The betrayal by its German allies in Palestine, gave rise to a substantial anti-German faction. The party nonetheless remained a united front to prevent ceding power to the FAP. As public opinion of the party declined even further, the CUP changed its name to Teceddüt and openly ousted some of the dictatorial figures within. Djemal Pasha went packing, whilst Talaats influence was greatly reduced.

Working from his position as minister of war, Mustafa Kemal Pasha ousted the German military mission and commenced an ambitious military restructuring in tandem with his ally Fevzi Pasha. Receiving great public acclaim for this action, Kemal continued laying the foundations for his later rise in power. Fearing another Enver Pasha, the upper committee of the party pushed Cavit Bey forwards as its new leader. Incapable of challenging Mustafa Kemal in public speaking, this proved detrimental to the party when in 1925, Kemal made a succesful bid for power. The party changed name a second time to the “Ottoman Peoples Party”, or “OPP”. Discontent with the style of its new leadership, a substantial amount of members left and created their own parties.

The 1926 elections ended in a victory for the OPP, but many were quick to remark that this was less due to the party itself, and more due to fragmentation of the opposition - where more than a dozen parties, mostly local, fought for any given seat. The newly appointed Grand Vizier did not hide his large ambitions, and in a flurry of reforms he pushed the nation towards his ideals. Massive strides were undertaken in the areas of education, economic recovery, and the fight against the religious establishment. The authoritarian style of the Grand Vizier, however, lead to a further splintering of the party - when his former ally and friend Kazim Karabekir Pasha broke with the party and created his “ODF”, or “Ottoman Defence Party”.

Under threat by the rapid centralisation of the government apparatus and with many conservatives afraid that the OPP may be attempting to break with tradition, the 1931 elections ended in the first electoral defeat for the OPP. The Ottoman Party for Administrative Decentralisation under its leader Haqqi al-Azm became the grand winner of the elections, and formed a coalition with the FAP and the ODF to provide a united front against the growing centralist threat. The coalition, however, was under constant attack, as the various parties that played part in it had conflicting opinions on a non-OPP policy. Tensions reached a breaking point in late 1932, when the government of Haqqi al-Azm collapsed due to disagreement with the FAP and ODF. A new government was created under FAP leadership, but as a minority government failed in achieving its goals of decentralisation and liberalisation.

The continued failures by this coalition still go a long way in repairing the reputation of the OPP, which received a solid majority in the 1935 elections. As Grand Vizier Mustafa Kemal Pasha begins his second term in office, signs have started to appear that he may be looking for an alternative to the constant obstruction by the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies and interference from the conservative lobby - though the Caliph.

Politics

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Conscription Law: Limited Conscription
Economic Law: Civilian Economy
Trade Law: Export Focus
Head of Government: Mustafa Kemal Paşa
Foreign Minister: Ismet Paşa
Economy Minister: Mahmut Celâl Paşa
Security Minister: Ali Fuad Paşa
Intelligence Minister: -


Military

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Army

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Navy

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Air Force

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Foreign Relations

The Ottoman Empire has

  • Puppet relations with Yemen, Armenia and Tripolitania
  • Cordial relations with Bulgaria, Greece and Romania

Colonies and Dependencies

Cyrenaica, Yemen and Armenia

Economy

When the dust settled in 1920 and there finally came an end to almost a decade of non-stop war, the economy of the Ottoman Empire lay in tatters. The manufacturing industry which had seen a slow but steady growth in the CUP-era was knocked down as the effects of the Armenian genocide took their toll on the educated middle class. Doctors, engineers, entrepeneurs, etc all became critical jobs as a continued exodus by Greek-Ottoman citizens in Asia Minor showed how devastating the 'National Economy' plan of Gökalp really was to the ravaged nation. In a similar way the agriculture was ruined as the real effects of the war started to sink in. The loss of the Anatolian Turkish population was mind boggling as almost 25% of the pre-war population was gone, leaving behind an abundance of land with no one to tend to it.

Nonetheless the Sublime Porte did not sit idle and plans for a swift recovery were quickly drafted as the first real post-war cabinet made it their top priority. Railroads, left behind by nations no longer existing, were nationalised. The dreaded OPDA was completely shut down and all its monopolies transferred to the state. The 'National Economy' project became the centerpiece of Ottoman economic policy as the horrors of the war and the reliance on an untrustworthy non-Turkish population left deep scars amongst the ruling elite. A muslim bourgeoisie had to be groomed to challenge the traditional Christian dominance, the people had to be educated and the empire finally launched into the 20th century.

As the years ticked by and the economy recovered, the pre-war state was achieved by the late 20s. The next step was the development of 4-year plans and an even larger grip of the government on the economy. In 1931 however, the tale of the nationalists hit an abrupt bump as they were soundly defeated in the elections and were forced to make way to the liberal opposition. Some sectors were carefully opened up to the free market and some of the more drastic etatist measures abolished. Riding on the seemingly never-ending wave of German prosperity and with import costs for machinery and building materials at an all time low, the industrial sector leaped forth year after year. By the middle of the 30s, the Turkish economy had never seen better days as a feeling of euphoria and progress could be felt by urban populations from Beirut to Smyrna. Nonetheless many have pointed out the warning signs on the horizon as increasing instability on the continent and the stagnation of the German economy will likely bring issues to the Grand Orient as well. A short, unexpected dip just before the 1935 elections scared observers who believe that the caution of the OPP is more than justified if we wish to avoid another catastrophe like the OPDA.

Culture

The Ottoman Empire's government and military are dominated by Turks, but the country is still full of minorities of different nationalities, including Greeks, Kurds, Arabs, and Armenians. Arabs have seen a rise in political importance, especially in Iraq, where Turkish policy makers have put extra focus ever since the discovery of oil. Islam , and with it the figure of the Sultan-Caliph, serves as the main glue keeping the Kurds, Turks and Arabs together - but cracks have started to appear in this unity as both Kurds and Arabs have been opened up to the ideas of nationalism.

See also

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