The young Turks and the Ottoman Nationalities Armenians, greeks, Albanians, Jews, and Arabs, 1908-1918 By Feroz Ahmad (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2014. 192 pages.)
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This volume, short and rich in primary source material, focuses on the relationship
between the Ottoman central government (Istanbul) and the empire’s
various nationalities during the fateful 1908-18 period. Istanbul’s struggle to
address enormous political and military challenges, European involvement,
and the rise of nationalism and ethnic/religious resentments are duly covered.
The book is well organized with a dedicated section for each nationality. Except
for the Greek and Armenian struggles through WWI, which is covered
in a single chapter, each nation’s history is covered in two periods: 1908-14
and 1914-18 (except the Albanians). Ahmad impartially re-constructs these
nationalities’ history in order to detail all aspects of the challenges that they
faced and posed to Ottoman governance.
In the chapter on the Armenians, Ahmad discusses the political interactions
of such Armenian organizations as Dashnak with the Committee of
Union and Progress (CUP) and their coalitions with various political groups.
The Kurdish-Armenian “land question” tensions, which dated from the Sultan
Abdulhamid period, continued to rise. Ahmad’s portrayal also gives us a
glimpse of British and French involvement in the Armenian community’s issues.
Russia’s policy would change in 1912 from one of keeping good relations
with the CUP to supporting the Armenians and Greeks against Istanbul.
The Balkan Wars and the Ottoman defeats revealed its vulnerabilities as well
as the weakness of the CUP’s centralization policies.
Istanbul was aware of the problems in Anatolia, especially between the
Kurds and the Armenians, and understood the necessity of resolving the ...