Ottoman Empire

The Ottoman Empire decline started early to mid 19th century, but World War One and its aftermath saw its complete dissolution. The empire began to consolidate power under Osman Bey in 1300. Bey was Kahn of a tribe between the declining Byzantine Empire and the disorganized Muslims to the east. Muslim fighters joined Ottoman forces as the Mongols exerted pressure on their tribal leaders. Modern Turkey south of the Black Sea were the roots of Bey’s empire, but war against the falling Byzantines led to rapid expansion to the west.

By the 1500’s Suleiman, a Kurd, led the empire now with ties to 16th-century Europe, while Suleiman led Ottoman armies in conquests as far west as Hungary before being stopped at the Siege of Vienna in 1529. While independent of other Muslim tribes and philosophy, the Ottoman Empire had become intolerant of anything but the Muslim religion, especially apt to conquer un-organized and Christian lands.

Suleiman consolidated Ottoman areas covering the Middle East, North Africa,  and east to Pakistan. Suleiman imposed new societal views on education, taxation, and criminal law. He also saw over a great renaissance of art, writing, architecture, mathematics and science. Suleiman married Roxelana, a Christian girl from his harem, who became known as Hürrem Sultan.

By 1830, liberal reforms aimed at including wider cross sections of cultural and ethnic peoples in the Ottoman brand were enacted during the Tanzimat period. Ruling powers included many bureaucrats of the elite classes educated in Europe. Some positive influences included the Napoleonic Code of French Law but negative influences that undermined cultural traditions and the Muslim religion.

One of the Tanzimat reforms undermined the dhimmi status, attempting to make equal under the law Muslims and non-Muslims. While the dhimma were not afforded certain political participation and were sometimes taxed for their status, they also enjoyed other allowances like the freedom to consume alcohol and pork.

The end of World War One saw pressure on the Ottoman Empire from the Russian Caucasus Army from the north, the Arab Revolt to the south. The Turkish War of Independence that ended in 1922 with the establishment of an independent and self determining Turkish state removed the core from the dwindling Ottoman Empire, which by 1922 had had its territories subdivided and allocated by European treaties.

While the Ottoman Empire was ready for collapse under its own decline, the new subdivisions and authorities resulting from a diverse set of European proclamations and treaties that established kingdoms still troubled, have their roots in the collapse of the Ottomans, as well as the chaos of western imperialism.

The period following World War One is punctuated with the dram of Lawrence of Arabia, and weighty decisions leading to Transjordan (now Jordan), Palestinian Territories, the roots of Israel, Syrian independence, Iraq and Lebanon. Throughout the millenia, this region is held by Egypt and Iran (Persia) as bookends, two cultural / political centers that have endured despite surrounding turmoil.