The Middle Eastern Experience with Imperialism Egypt The once wealthy and great Ottoman Empire was rocked in 1798 by Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt. The French were met by tens of thousands of cavalry bent on defending the Mamluk regime under their leader Murad. Egypt Murad, when told of Napoleon’s invasion, dismissed the invader as a “donkey boy” whom he would soon drive from his lands. Egypt Murad’s contempt for Napoleon and the French was symptomatic of the profound ignorance of events in Europe that was typical of the Islamic world at the time. This ignorance led to a series of crushing defeats to the French, the most famous was fought in the shadows of the great pyramids. The Mamluks were clad in medieval armor and used spears against French artillery, rifles, and disciplined French legions. Napoleon’s victory at the Battle of the Pyramids, July 1798. Egypt The defeat of the Mamluks was traumatic for the Ottoman world because they were considered fighters of great prowess. It also showed how vulnerable the Muslim world was to European aggression, and how far they had fallen behind Europe in their capacity to wage war. Egypt When the French were forced out by the British in 1801, an Ottoman military officer (of Albanian origin) named Muhammad Ali (r. 1805-1848) seized control as an independent ruler. Even though he remained nominally subordinate to the Ottoman sultan, by 1820 he ruled the most powerful land in the Muslim world. Egypt He even invaded Syria and Anatolia (Turkey), threatening to capture Istanbul and topple the Ottoman state. The Ottomans survived only because the British intervened out of fear that an Ottoman collapse would result in Russian expansion. The Ottoman Empire never did regain control of Egypt. Muhammad Ali Ali, known as the “father of modern Egypt,” was the first non-Western leader in the Middle East to try to modernize his society in Western terms. Muhammad Ali Ali never visited the West (like Peter the Great) but he admired Western achievements and realized he must modernize in order to stay independent of Europe. Muhammad Ali Impressed by the discipline and weapons of the French army, Ali began building an upto-date European style military force. He introduced Western-style conscription among the Egyptian peasants, hired French officers to train his troops, and imported Western armaments. Ali does what every other country does as it modernizes—it first focuses on the military. Muhammad Ali Ali launched a program of industrialization in cotton textiles and armaments, but he was unable to create a European styled industrial society. So Ali concentrated on developing an export market for Egyptian cotton (considered by many to be the world’s finest), hemp, and indigo. Muhammad Ali Ali had many Western science and technology books translated into Arabic, he hired Western teachers, and he sent Egyptian students to study abroad. French became an unofficial second language next to Arabic. Muhammad Ali Unfortunately, few in Egypt were actually educated beyond the children of the most powerful families. Egyptian society, for the most part, wasn’t transformed. Egypt Ali was unable to break the limitations imposed by Western dominance of the world economy. Egypt became increasingly dependent on the Western market for cotton (meaning it had to compete on the world market with India and the southern United States). Egypt Export earnings were most often insufficient to pay for machines or military equipment so Egypt often went into debt to Western banks. Egyptians paid a whopping 12% interest on loans for improvements while Europeans paid less than 5%. Egypt Here was the tragic irony that happened in Egypt, the Middle East, and many other places in the 19th and 20th centuries: Governments want to modernize their countries, they want to buy new armaments and modernize their militaries, they want industrial machinery, to build public buildings, roads, etc. but these cost a lot of money at a time when their economies were often sluggish. Egypt Oftentimes, in situations like this, nations are tempted to borrow money from foreign banks. This gives the foreigners an interest in protecting their loans. If a borrower defaulted on the loan, the Western bank would usually ask for military assistance. The Suez Canal The Crimean War had shown the major powers that the Mediterranean was of pivotal/strategic importance to the Eurocentric system. So the Europeans invested in building railroads throughout Egypt. The Suez Canal Napoleon III of France took a major interest in building the Suez Canal (18591869), which would connect the Mediterranean with the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, dramatically shortening the travel time between Europe, Eastern Africa, and Asia. The Suez Canal The Suez Canal Egypt was now one of the most strategic places on earth. When the French completed the 102 mile Canal in 1869, Europeans developed a craze for everything Egyptian…architecture, furniture, textiles, art. The Suez Canal By the 1850’s, steamships (and correspondence) took four months to make the round trip between London and (Mumbai) Bombay. After the opening of the Suez Canal, steamships (3/4ths were British) traveled from Britain to India in less than two weeks. The Suez Canal By the 1870’s the Egyptians were so deep in debt, they were forced to sell their shares (44%) of the Suez Canal…and Britain scooped them up immediately for the current equivalent of 90 million pounds. Controlling the Canal became a key objective of the imperial powers (especially Britain). The Suez Canal Muhammad Ali and other Egyptian rulers wanted to modernize their army, strengthen their economy, and further distance themselves from Ottoman authority, but by the 1870’s crushing debt forced Egyptian officials to impose high taxes which caused popular unrest and a military rebellion. In 1882, it was Egypt’s heavy indebtedness to British banks that caused the British army to occupy Egypt to protect British financial interests and ensure the safety of the Suez Canal. The Suez Canal Britain then established a protectorate over the Egyptian government. The British said they were merely protecting their investment. Egypt Even though Egypt was not formally colonized, the British controlled Egyptian finances and foreign affairs, and British troops ensured British directives were followed. The British forced the reshaping of the Egyptian economy from the production of several crops (which maintained selfsufficiency) to the production of only a few crops that were useful to European manufacturing (cotton, tobacco, silk, wheat, rice). Egypt This made the British a lot of money but the population of Egypt barely eked out an existence. While the British controlled Egypt, the French took control of nearby Tunisia and Algeria. Britain, France and Germany flooded Egypt and Asia Minor (today’s Middle East) with cheap manufactured goods, driving artisans from their trades and into low paying work (building railroads or processing tobacco). Egypt Instead of basing wages on gender (like in Europe), the Europeans used ethnicity and religion…Muslims were paid less than Christians, and Arabs less than other ethnic groups. This, a hatred for the occupiers, plus a growing sense of nationalism created the seeds for anticolonial movements. Egypt and Sudan As Egypt fell under British control, they were drawn into conflicts with Egypt’s southern neighbor, Sudan. Egypt had tried to control Sudan since the 1820’s, and the Sudanese resisted fiercely. Sudan By the late 1870’s, Egyptian oppression and British intervention had aroused deep resentment and hostility in Sudan. A Sudanese leader arose, known as the Mahdi, who claimed to be a descendant of the Muhammad (he even had a mole on his right cheek and a cleft between his teeth). Sudan The Mahdi called for jihad as he promised to rid the land of the Egyptian heretics and the British infidels. Sudan He led his followers on violent assaults (usually using guerrilla tactics) on the Egyptians and British. Within a few years, his forces controlled most of Sudan. But at the peak of his power, he caught typhus (a parasitic bacteria found in lice and fleas/rats) and died (1885). Sudan But rather than collapse after his death, his followers continued to build a strong Islamic state. They outlawed smoking, alcoholic drink, dancing, prostitution, theft and adultery. Islamic religious and ritual practices were strictly enforced. Sudan In late 1896, the British, tired of this activity (a British general had been killed in 1895), sent an expeditionary force into Sudan to do battle with the Mahdis and end the most serious threat to European domination of Africa. In September 1898 in central Sudan, near the junction of the White and Blue Nile rivers, one of the most famous battles in British history took place. Sudan At the Battle of Omdurman, the spears and magic garments of the Mahdis were no match for the modern artillery and forty Maxim guns of the British. Sudan More than 11,000 Sudanese Mahdis were killed, 16,000 more were wounded and 5,000 captured compared to less than 50 British soldiers killed. Sudan A British journalist wrote that “it wasn’t a battle…it was an execution.” The English left the wounded enemy to die on the plain and later, after triumphantly entering Khartoum, they looted the city and murdered many of the Khalifa’s leading followers. They also had the Mahdi’s bones exhumed and thrown into the Nile (rumor had it that the commanding general had the Mahdi’s skull made into a drinking cup). Sudan Within a year, the Mahdist state collapsed, and British power advanced into the interior of Africa and sealed British control of the Nile. The Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire Suleyman died in the late 16th century, the Ottoman Empire began a slow and prolonged death rattle. A long succession of weak or inept sultans caused destructive power struggles within various factions, all vying for power. After The Ottoman Empire No longer able to afford the enormous expense of maintaining a far-flung empire, and consistent losers in battle, several surrounding states began chipping away at the edges of territory controlled by the Ottomans. The Ottoman Empire the early 18th century, the Austrians and the Russians had removed the Ottomans from control of the northern Black Sea region, from Hungary, and from the northern Balkans. By the early 19th century, revolts in Serbia (eventually put down) and Greece (gained independence 1830) showed an empire in collapse. By The Ottoman Empire For the empire to survive, reform initiatives had to be performed from within the government. Unfortunately, many initiatives were met with resistance from those factions that stood to lose power or prestige from their implementation. The Ottoman Empire For example, Sultan Selim III (r. 1789-1807) understood the need to make his government more efficient and to build a new army and navy. The Ottoman Empire The powerful Janissary corps felt threatened by this and staged a revolt, killing the new troops and locking up the sultan. The Ottoman Empire Selim’s successor tried to revive the new military force, rampaging Janissaries killed all male members of the dynasty except one, Selim’s cousin Mahmud II, who became sultan (r. 18081839). When The Ottoman Empire Mahmud II secretly built a small, elite, private army with European help. In 1826, he incited the Janissaries to mutiny, then had them slaughtered by his private army. Mahmud II now felt able to enact reforms. The Ottoman Empire While religious leaders and traditionalists wanted a return to past models, Mahmud II pushed for Western styled reforms. European military advisors were hired to modernize and Westernize the army and navy (armaments and training). The Ottoman Empire Mahmud II also established a Western styled diplomatic corps and exchanged ambassadors with the European powers. But Mahmud’s modest reforms were not enough to strengthen the Ottoman military to the point where it could repel the European powers. The Ottoman Empire Britain, France, Germany, and Italy snatched Northern Africa from the Ottomans who were so weak by the middle of the 19th century, the once great empire was known as the “sick man of Europe.” The Ottoman Empire The European powers could have taken whatever they wanted from the Ottomans but these powers could not decide who got what, so they left the center of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey-Asia Minor) intact. The Middle East remained socially and politically independent as they were not directly occupied or ruled by the Europeans. But they lost their economic independence as they were drawn into the European dominated world economy. The Ottoman Empire “Be my ally, or I’ll give you the worst thrashing you ever had in your life.” The Ottoman Empire The Crimean War (1853-56) was an example of Ottoman weakness. The Russians pressed against Ottoman territory and had it not been for the aid of the British and French, the Russians might have been successful in dismembering the empire. The British didn’t want the Russians controlling the eastern Mediterranean. The Ottoman Empire After the Crimean War, the Ottoman Empire continued to lose territory as Russia pushed down from the north and eventually took all lands to the north and east of the Black Sea. By 1912, Eastern European Christian governments (Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia—the Balkans) had driven the remaining Ottoman Turks out. The Ottoman Empire Starting after the reign of Mahmud II, Western influence became even more pronounced in what became known as the Tanzimat reforms (1839-1876). Tanzimat means reorganization or reform in Turkish. The Ottoman Empire Reforms tried to encourage Ottomanism among the many ethnic groups that lived in the Ottoman Empire and to prevent the slow decline of the empire. The reforms attempted, but failed, to integrate non-Muslims and non-Turks more thoroughly into the Ottoman society through civil liberties and regulations. The Ottoman Empire The initial Tanzimat reforms included: Western styled university educations; Training in European sciences and mathematics; Establishing a state-run postal service and telegraph service; Railroad construction (1860s); Establishing newspapers in major cities and extensive legal reforms. The Ottoman Empire In 1856, the Ottoman government under sultan Abdulmecid I (r. 1849-1861), issued the Hatt-i Humayun, the most far-reaching reform of the century. It abolished the civil authority of religious leaders. Equality before the law was guaranteed. Open eligibility for public office without regard of one’s religion. The army was opened to Muslims and Christians. Newspapers were founded. The ideas of Montesquieu and Rousseau were translated. The Ottoman Empire Sultan Abdul Mecid I sent 52 volumes of Ottoman literature, mathematics, poetry, history, and logic to the new School of Oriental Languages in Boston. The first sultan to travel to Europe, Abdul Aziz (r. 1861-1876), visited Vienna, London, and Paris in 1867. The Ottoman Empire But the reforms also lifted trade barriers which hurt the artisans, whose position was weakened now that they were unprotected against the competition of the West. Reforms concerning women (education, ending seclusion and the veil, and polygamy) were debated, but few, if any, were actually enacted. The Ottoman Empire In 1876 the new sultan, Abdul Hamid II (r.18761909), declared the Empire would promote personal liberty, freedom of education, freedom of the press, and a parliamentary government. But within two years, he threw out the constitution and dissolved the parliament. The Ottoman Empire Abdul Hamid II became increasingly fearful of anything Western. For example, new chemistry books for the university were considered seditious because their chemical symbols were thought to be secret codes. The Ottoman Empire However, Abdul Hamid continued to push for westernizing his military (he hired German military advisors). He also extended telegraph/communication lines between cities and railway lines (including the Orient Express and the Berlin to Baghdad line). The Ottoman Empire Financial mismanagement and incompetence, along with national revolts in the Balkans and eastern Anatolia, the French occupation of Algeria and Tunisia, the takeover by the British in Egypt and the Italians in Libya, threatened to end the very existence of the Empire, let alone its reforms. The Ottoman Empire Europe valued innovation, industry, and technological progress. These things were spurned by the Ottomans. The economy of the Ottoman Turks declined with the trade shift to the Eurocentric system. The economic decline was hastened by the flood of cheaper, machine (factory) made goods which virtually destroyed Ottoman industry. The Ottoman Empire As it grew poorer and poorer, the Ottoman Empire borrowed money from Europe to make ends meet. When it could not even pay on the interest (in 1879 the Empire declared bankruptcy) European banks took control of Ottoman finances to make sure it paid on its debt. The Empire now had no control over its economic life…it was controlled by Europe. The Ottoman Empire European diplomacy focused on the socalled “Eastern Question” of how to dispose of the “Sick Man's” territories without upsetting the European balance of power. As it grew poorer, frustration with nonTurkish subjects increased. As nationalism increased among the Bulgars, Macedonians, Armenians, and others, the Ottomans dealt with them very harshly. The Ottoman Empire The Ottomans massacred Bulgarian peasants in 1876 and Armenians in 1894. Europeans were shocked by this violence and wanted to find ways to dissolve the Empire. The Ottoman Empire Abdul Hamid’s despotism caused several intellectuals and political opponents to move to Paris. There, they formed the Ottoman Society for Union and Progress (1889), more commonly known as the Young Turks. The Young Turks wanted to restore the 1876 constitution and continue the reforms they felt necessary for the empire to survive. The Young Turks In 1908, a revolution (coup d’etat) led by the Young Turks put military officers in charge of the government and forced Abdul Hamit to restore the parliament and constitution. The Young Turks They restored freedoms of the press. Educational reforms and reforms for women were promised. The sultan was not killed, but he was reduced to merely being a political figurehead and the religious leader of Islam. The Young Turks Rapid modernization continued during the Young Turk era (1908-18), with particular attention given to urbanization, agriculture, industry, communications, secularization of the state and the emancipation of women. The Young Turks But the Young Turks didn’t fare much better than the sultans, as they lost wars in the Balkans (1912) and they lost Libya (their last possession in North Africa) to Italy. Only by playing the European powers against each other did the Ottoman Empire survive (but barely). The Ottoman Empire The empire was involved in World War I and took sides with Germany and Austria-Hungary. The defeat of the Central Powers led to the breakup, foreign occupation, and final demise of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire This was how the Ottoman Empire reacted to European economic imperialism: Ottoman rulers tried to modernize and Westernize. Like Peter the Great’s reforms in Russia, the reform of the Ottomans was severe. Western hair styles and clothes were adopted. Western teachers and textbooks were imported. Western style schools replaced religious schools. Western military officers designed tactics and trained soldiers. The Sharia (the Koran’s code of laws) was abandoned and replaced with Swiss and Belgian legal codes.