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Thread: What if the Ottoman Empire had never collapsed?

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    Default What if the Ottoman Empire had never collapsed?

    I understand that in historiography counterfactuals are of limited use and I'm also aware that as a medievalist I'm far from the perfect person to be writing this op, but I thought this might still be an interesting question to put forward.

    Had the Ottoman Empire not entered the war in 1914 (and I understand this would have been detrimental to their co-operation treaty with the German Empire), the situation in Palestine could have been radically different, due to the lack of the need for a LoN Mandate and no one to enforce the demand for a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. True, there was Zionist settlement in Palestine prior to this and of course British areas of influence within the Empire, but it would have been unlikely to gain as much traction, given the Ottomans would have given priority to any Arab/Muslim majority.

    Of course, technically the Ottoman Empire was a caliphate, the Kaysar i Rum had caliphal authority meaning all Sunni Muslims owed it deference. Rather than being a radicalising force, it could be a moderating one. The Caliph issued many binding edicts which attempted to moderate Islam such as attempting to outlaw slavery or no longer making apostasy a capital offence. Some of this had quite limited effect, but the unifying element of the Caliphate could have be considered preferable to the modern state of affairs where every scholar with a tv show can proffer his own version of Islam.

    This is one of the reasons why the the Ottoman Empire as a bulwark of traditional would have stalled the growth of radical Salafism. The other more significant reason was because the Ottoman Empire, and its Mameluke clients had frequently battled the Wahabbis of Nejd. It is highly unlikely that the Ottoman Empire would have brooked the growth of Ibn Saud in the Arabian Peninsula and even less likely they would have allowed the sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina, or even Hejaz as a whole, to fall under the control of the Wahhabist-backed Saudi Dynasty. Of course, it could be argued that given its failure to suppress the Hashemite rebellion, it would have had similar difficulty suppressing the one from Nejd, but one has to consider the impact of WWI on its ability to respond.

    I certainly don't wish to paint the Ottoman Empire as some sort of utopia. It had strong tendencies towards massacre and we must not forget the Armenian Genocide, which cannot be attributed solely to WWII. The millet system still placed many minorities at the whim of the Sultan, though many were able to exploit it to their own benefit. The ideas of Ottomanism could have overcome these difficulties, but it's very difficult to speculate given the strength of the strongly Nationalistic "Young Turks". However, the Arab dictatorships and absolute monarchies that succeeded certainly didn't provide more security to minorities.

    So, would anyone with a bit more knowledge on the subject wish to contribute? What did we lose and what did we gain through the collapse of the Ottoman Empire?
    "Only by applying the most rigorous standards do we pay writing in Irish the supreme compliment of taking it seriously." - Breandán Ó Doibhlín.

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    Personally I am of the opinion that the Ottoman Empire crumbled from within over a long period of time prior to WWI. One of the telling statistics is the tiny number of books published within it in comparison to the West in the 18th century.
    "If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy." - Thomas Jefferson

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tea Party Patriot View Post
    Personally I am of the opinion that the Ottoman Empire crumbled from within over a long period of time prior to WWI. One of the telling statistics is the tiny number of books published within it in comparison to the West in the 18th century.
    That would have more to do with the ban on printing than anything else. Many Ottoman Emperors had embraced modernising reforms since.
    "Only by applying the most rigorous standards do we pay writing in Irish the supreme compliment of taking it seriously." - Breandán Ó Doibhlín.

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    At a guess, the Balkans could have been somewhat more stable but not a lot. The signficance of oil and an Ottoman Empire that had a lot of oil resources would be high as it could have affected the industrial development of the West.

    Regards...jmcc

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    Quote Originally Posted by Riadach View Post
    That would have more to do with the ban on printing than anything else. Many Ottoman Emperors had embraced modernising reforms since.
    I believe another reason was the difficulty with Arabic punctuation and getting a typeface that worked well with this. An interesting read is Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam, by Andrew Wheatcroft, it concentrates a lot of the Ottoman Empire and presents some very good arguments as to how it fell behind the west on a military and scientific footing.
    "If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy." - Thomas Jefferson

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmcc View Post
    At a guess, the Balkans could have been somewhat more stable but not a lot. The signficance of oil and an Ottoman Empire that had a lot of oil resources would be high as it could have affected the industrial development of the West.

    Regards...jmcc
    We probably, for convenience, should take the starting point of 1914, when most of the Balkans were independent from the Ottomans.
    "Only by applying the most rigorous standards do we pay writing in Irish the supreme compliment of taking it seriously." - Breandán Ó Doibhlín.

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    Without question I'd have to say by now we'd have had Ottowoman, and by all accounts, no harm at all.

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    Politics.ie Member milestogo's Avatar
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    No Israel...it had to be dismembered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tea Party Patriot View Post
    I believe another reason was the difficulty with Arabic punctuation and getting a typeface that worked well with this. An interesting read is Infidels: A History of the Conflict Between Christendom and Islam, by Andrew Wheatcroft, it concentrates a lot of the Ottoman Empire and presents some very good arguments as to how it fell behind the west on a military and scientific footing.
    But it is quite possible to fall behind culturally and scientifically yet still maintain political integrity. After WWI, the idea of conquest through military force fell out of favour somewhat, there was a reduced existential threat through conquest, especially if it wasn't a participant.
    "Only by applying the most rigorous standards do we pay writing in Irish the supreme compliment of taking it seriously." - Breandán Ó Doibhlín.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Riadach View Post
    We probably, for convenience, should take the starting point of 1914, when most of the Balkans were independent from the Ottomans.
    The Balkans where part of the Ottoman empire for a long time, I think that taking an arbitrary point of 1914 is not as simple as you might think as the empire had reduced significantly over the 200 years prior to this. WWI might be seen as the final decline that may have been inevitable, of course such things are impossible to say for certain.
    "If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy." - Thomas Jefferson

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