In 1914 the ottoman Empire controlled 2.4 million sq kilometres of territory, including every one of modern-day Turkey and most that the middle East. The realm was overcame by the Turks but additionally included Arabs, Kurds, Greeks, Armenians and also other ethnic minorities. Official the Ottoman realm was an Islamic Caliphate ruled by a Sultan, Mehmed V, back it additionally contained Christians, Jews and other spiritual minorities. Because that nearly all of the empire’s 600-year visibility these non-Muslim subjects sustained systematic discrimination and, at times, bald persecution.

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OttomanSipahi cavalryman

In the decade prior to 1914 the empire experienced a collection of political upheavals. The Sultan’s position was lessened to the of a figurehead and strength was seized by the so-called ‘Young Turks’– a group of well-educated Turkish army officers will on revitalising the empire by presenting modernist reforms. Theoretically these included ending main discrimination versus non-Muslims, encouraging the education and also emancipation the women, and increasing the jurisdiction that secular law courts in ~ the cost of Islamic ones. Yet this process had mixed results and broke down under the pressures of war, very first in Libya and the Balkans (1911–13) and also then against the Allies (1914–18).


Galata Bridge, 1800s

Despite the ambitious agenda of its leaders, in 1914 the footrest Empire– which at its height had actually surpassed its europe rivals in wealth and also power– now lagged behind every the great European powers in economic, technical and armed forces capacity. Reform was additionally undermined by emerging Turkish nationalism. The Young Turks championed not only the idea of Turkish nationalism within the Ottoman realm but also ‘pan-Turkic’ ideals– the ‘reunification’ of the country or culturally associated ‘Turkic′ populations of the Caucasus and main Asia under ottoman rule. This stance– and also its explicit key of Turkish identity over all others– to be at odds v the realities the a multinational empire and served only to inflame age-old country and religious tensions between the miscellaneous Ottoman subject peoples.

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Ertuğrul mounties Regiment

The pursuit of pan-Turkic aims all yet guaranteedwar with the Russian Empire, i m sorry now regulated most of main Asia and also the Caucasus. Much from shying far from this prospect, pan-Turkic advocates such together Enver Pasha, the Minister because that War, actively sought out avenues for the Ottoman empire to connect in such a dispute on favourable terms. During the coming before three century the Ottoman and Russian realms had fought much more than a dozen different wars against each other,with the Ottomans eventually losinga substantialamount ofterritory. Russia’s entry into the first World battle on the side of the Allies aided to convince crucial Turkish leaders such together Enver Pasha to litter in their lot through the main Powers.