Middle East politics
Situated in the country currently known as Turkey, the Ottoman Empire comprised of combined states that were located in the Middle Eastern part of the world. The Ottoman Empire was one of the most powerful empires in the 18th century. The leaders of the empire were intent on expending its territories so as to make it the most successful empire during this period. The Ottomans thus made it priority to strengthen their alliance taking any opportunity that they had. The Empire was structured differently from the other empires such as the Roman Empire. At the top of the list was the Sultan who was the absolute leader in that all the decisions he made were final and thus could not be challenged. The Ottoman Empire was defined by prosperity, success and hard work. These were qualities that were instilled in all the newly formed states. Despite this, the empire experienced some upheavals that led to its decline. The fall of the empire led to the rise of independently run states that proved to be successful on their own. This was brought about by various factors that to date have played a big role in the growth and development of these states (Mitchell, p. 237).
This research paper looks at the rise and fall of the Ottoman Empire. It focuses on the existing Arab states that were part of the empire during the 18th century. It later analyses the factors that prevented the states from merging into a concrete union that would have proved advantageous in the long run.
The 18th century was a pivotal time in the history. Most of the countries were scrambling for new territories so that they could expand on their empire. The expansion of territories, though difficult was very important for the strategic position of the countries. The Ottoman Empire was one of the countries that took advantage of the weaker territories. These territories were forced to take on some of the policies, cultural aspects and lifestyle of the empire. These empires were assigned new leaders that brought about different ideas that proved to be a threat to the survival of the empire. Apart from this, there were other factors that led to the decline of the empire and the birth of new Arab states (Blanning, p. 129).
One of the most important factors to note concerning the decline of the Ottoman Empire was that the empire begun to lose its grip periodically. This shows that the decline of the empire was expected lasting up to more than three centuries. It was difficult to manage the activities of all the states due to the wide landscape the territories. One of the reasons that led to the deterioration of the empire was the fact that it was surrounded European states. These states did not only have a different political structure, they also varied in areas of social standing and religion. The European countries were more advanced in regard to the rate of growth and development they were experiencing. Some of these features led to the rulers of the ottoman states to question the way in which they were ruled. This later triggered the need to separate the states so as to strengthen the power at the grassroots. The aggressive expansion of the Europeans was so effective to the point that some of the sultans choose to adopt their system of governance (Carter, p. 287).
The Arab states later formed their own form of identity in that they broke away from the principle authority and formed their own alliances. This led to differentiation within the states. Despite this the states managed to maintain some similarities that reflected on the Ottoman Empire. The location of the empire enabled the states to trade with the Europeans who were intent of expanding their territories. These goods were of a higher quality and cheaper prices than the goods that were created in the states. This eliminated the need for trade amongst the states further exposing and making themselves vulnerable to the Europeans. The influence of outside countries such as the USSR threatened the survival of the empire. The Russian army was intent on driving away some of the states from the capital of Istanbul. Istanbul was repeatedly threatened by the outside forces to the extent that they had to seek refuge outside the empire. This situation was not ideal for the success of the empire in that the breakage signalized a weakness in the empire (Mitchell, p. 234).
The first countries to be separated from the empire were Romania and Bulgaria; these countries were taken over by powerful Russia. The Russian authorities did not waste time taking over the political, economic and social structure of the states. With a new system of government, the two territories grew into their own and thus formed their own identity. The formation of their own structure made the countries strangers to the empire to the point that they were unable to unite when they got their own freedom. This forced the countries to adapt to their newly acquired lifestyle shunning the traditional norms that their forefathers were accustomed (Findley, p. 161).
The next countries to deflect from the empire were Cyprus and Egypt. These two countries are presently located next to Greece and Libya respectively. When Britain took control of these two states, it ensured that they adopted the system of all the other British colonies. This meant that both countries were adopted a democratic style of governance that were defined by the introduction of the three executive wings of power. The Egyptians were predominantly a Muslim state at this period in time. This may have been influenced by their previous colonialist who was Islamists in nature. The British however did not place emphasis on the need to convert the Egyptians. In the case of Cyprus which is part of current Greece, the island was divided into the north and the south that were Muslim and Christian respectively. The fact that the island consisted of differ nationalities led the country to integrate and form its own culture which was influenced by the strong presence of their new masters. The factors played a big role in the continued separation of the two states. Both Egypt and Cyprus managed to get their independence from England at different points in their history. They were then forced to develop further on their own and form newly independent countries that were in charge of their own sovereignty (Findley, p. 162).
Austria also played a big role in the separation of the Ottoman Empire. Located near Russia, the country had defined itself as an authority in this part of the world. This was proved when they took control of Bosnia which was originally integrated into the empire. Austria went on to rule the new state for a long period which once again influenced the country to adapt to the formation of its own system of governance that was relative to their colonial masters. The exit of Austria from Bosnia, gave the country the freedom to govern itself using their own representatives. The remaining states were left at the mercy of both France and Britain who agreed to divide the countries into equal territories (Carter, p. 287).
The division of the remaining parts of the empire led to the complete disintegration of the once powerful states causing the empire to collapse. The empire was however not removed from the geographic map in that the Turks survived the wrath of the Europeans. Like most of the states of the Ottoman Empire, Turkey consisted of both Christians and Muslims. The country went on to develop their own system of governance maintaining some of the laws that were upheld by the sultans. Turkey grew to become one of the westernized Middle Eastern states in the present day. This may have been brought about by the fact that part of the country was located in Europe.
The separation of the empire was that of a gradual kind in that it occurred during different phases. The separation thus reflected the formation which was also done periodically. This factor might have been the reason for the lack of integration between the states of the Ottoman Empire. The fact that the empire was dissolved by different countries was the main cause for the information of different countries which later adopted new ideologies. These conflicting ideologies made it impossible for the unification of the former states once they acquired their freedom (Blanning, p. 127).
The colonization of a state involves changing the political, economic and social-cultural structure to resemble the one of the colonial masters. Once a country is taken over, it is force to change all aspects of their lives to reflect their current rulers. The Ottoman Empire occupied a large area that made it difficult for the rulers to maintain some form of organization. This encouraged the provincial leaders to disintegrate from the central government forcing the empire to become weak. The weakening of the empire led to the colonization of most of the states by the power hungry Europeans who enforced their cultures on the new territories. This played a big role in the creation of newly formed countries that had their own identity. The formation of independent states made them form their own influential governments that were capable of managing their own affairs. This meant that there was no need for the former member of the empire to integrate into a concrete union (Blanning, p. 126).
In conclusion, the Ottoman Empire was one of the most powerful and influential empires that were created in the 18th century. This had its own advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages was that the central government could not prevent the split of the states when attacked by the Europeans. The colonization led to the formation of independent states that adopted new ideologies making the states have their own identity. The lack of the same political, social-cultural and economic structures led to the development of new successful countries that could not compromise on their sovereignty by reuniting to form a concrete union.
Mitchell, Stephen. A History of the Later Ottoman Empire, AD 284-641: The Transformation of the Ancient World. Oxford University Press. 2006.
Blanning, T. (2003). The culture of power and the power of culture: Old regime Europe 1660-1789. Oxford University Press. 2003.
Carter, Charles. The Soviet Union and the PLO since the war in Lebanon. The Middle East Journal 40(2) 285-305.
Findley, Carter. A monetary history of the Ottoman Empire .Journal of inter-disciplinary history, 33 (1)161-163.2009.