Imperialism in the Middle East


Muhammed Ali seizes power in Egypt

Approx. 1801

Ali arrived in Egypt as a Junior Commander in the Albanian Forces. Two years later, he was able to become a leader due to the country slipping into anarchy. Muhammad Ali defeated the Mamluks, and from then on, he was the sole ruler of Egypt. He wished to detach Egypt from the Ottoman Empire. To do so, the economy and military had to be strong. Ali was responsible for the industrial development in Egypt.

Reign of Ottoman reformer Mahmud II

Approx. 1808 - Approx. 1839

Mahmud II was the 30th sultan of the Ottoman Empire. He identified the basic element to internal reform to be the reconstruction of the army. During his time as sultan, many wars with Russia broke out. There were also riots in Egypt. With the help of European Powers excluding France, Syria was recovered. Mahmud II killed the Janissaries. The Janissaries assassinated the previous sultan. This action led to the Tanzimat Era. By the time of his death, the empire was much stronger than when he started; however, the Ottoman Empire was still subject to European pressures.

Greek revolt against Ottoman Empire

Approx. 1821

Also known as the Greek War of Independence. The Greeks were the first to separate from the Ottoman Empire. The revolt was not a sudden event; there were numerous failed attempts towards independence. Greece gained the aid of Russia, France, and the United Kingdom. Independence was confirmed through the Treaty of Constantinople in 1832.

British expansion into Ottoman economy


British expansion accelerated after the Anglo-Turkish Commercial Convention of 1838 (Treaty of Balta Liman). This was an agreement that allowed the expansion of Britain's trade rights. Following up on that, British merchamts were able to purchase goods anywhere in the empire without paying taxes other than import and export duty. This led to the destruction of the textile industry.

Ottoman Tanzimat reform period

Approx. 1839 - Approx. 1876

The intention was to preserve the weak Ottoman Empire and to reform the empire under the guidance of Westernization. The Tanzimat reform period shows the first step towards secularism. Military establishment was the first order of business. At the time, the weakness of the military contrasted with the strength in European armies. One of the multiple edicts focused on equality between the classes. An effort was made to distribute power from the sultan to the newly formed government led by Parliament. This was a form of modernization.

Crimean War

Approx. 1854 - Approx. 1856

Britain, France, and The Ottoman Empire had an alliance and fought against Russia. Russia was expanding into the Danube region, which belonged to the Ottomans, therefore causing a war in 1853. Britain and France became involved out of fear. They feared Russia would expand into British India through Afghanistan.

Britain gained control of canal company

Approx. 1870

This led to British troops being sent to Egypt to guard the canal. From then until 1922, Egypt was under British control. Britain wanted control over the canal for quick access to their territory.

Reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II

Approx. 1876 - Approx. 1909

During Abdülhamid II's time, there was a growth in: communication, education, construction, and economic development. Excluding Rumelia, no territories were lost until 1908. The Ottomans continued expanding into Arabia. In 1908, he announced the restoration of the constitution to suppress rebellions.

First Ottoman constitutional revolution


The constitution was introduced during the Tanzimat Reform period. It represented the first modern constitution outside of Europe and the Americas. The primary reason for the constitution was to ward off foreign intervention. The constitution did little to limit the sultan's power. Some reactions to the constitution were negative. Many believed it violated Shari'a law. The Europeans were completely against it. Britain defined it as Reckless. It was seen as a last attempt to save the empire to some. Only two nations liked it due to the fact that they disliked the Russians.