The Ottoman History and the Paradigmatic Principles of History -xıx-
To see how productive multidirectional assessment of the important events in the history’s orbit holistically with a dialectic view and opposite thesis could be in reaching paradigmatic principles, I would like to do this by discussing an exemplary event that I thought was of great historical importance: Nizip Battle.
Nizip Battle is a battle that occurred in 1839 in Nizip between Egypt and the Ottoman with a wide-ranging scope and results, though it was not a very big combat in itself. Though this battle did not constitute the first stage of the incident between the parties that faced each other in the form of rebellion and repression, it is very instructive in the context of the dialectic of the center-periphery relations between an empire state and a major autonomous “state” that is a part of it as khediviate. But it is instructive above all else with respect to showing up where the results of the relationship balance deteriorating against the center could lead to.
The Ottomans suffered a serious defeat in three hours in the battle fought in the Nizip plain between the Egyptian army commanded by Ibrahim Pasha, the son of the Mehmet Ali Pasha of Kavala who was the Khedive of Egypt, and the Ottoman army commanded by Hafiz Pasha. The United Kingdom and Austria, which did not want the disintegration of the Ottoman State at that time and were still uncomfortable with the Sultan’s Pier Treaty that had been signed with Russia in 1933 six years before the war and covered the issue of military assistance, sent their naval forces to the region between Egypt and Syria to intervene in the situation and to cut off the sea supply route of Ibrahim Pasha. When Ibrahim Pasha was forced to return to Egypt after the intervention, The Ottoman Empire was back from the brink of disintegration in a way.
This event is significant with respect to showing that the State was incompetent enough in the 19th century to rule over its provincial governor and it also is the antithesis of a religious dimension in terms of its purpose and content to the 2nd Siege of Vienna that started the decline of the Ottomans in the Christian Europe. Because, the Ottomans had began to be pushed back by another Muslim country in the Muslim land of Middle East. The event is also remarkable with respect to showing the holistic character of such matters as it became an international issue while it was the Ottoman’s internal problem.
Another aspect of the incident is the actual participation in the battle by Staff Captain Helmuth von Moltke, as well as his staff, who had been sent by the Kingdom of Prussia to serve as an advisor to Hafiz Pasha on the war and who would later be the longest-serving German Chief of Staff and Field Marshal. The fact that the report that had been delivered to the Palace by Moltke, who had difficulties in reaching Istanbul after the battle, caused some generals who fought the battle to be executed due to treason also shows the confidence that Mahmut II had in the Prussian military staff.
Furthermore, the title of pasha conferred by Abdulmecit, who had replaced Mahmut II who had died at that time, on Bedirhan Bey, the chief and the commander of the Kurdish Bedirhan tribe due to the successful fight he put up in the war on the side of the Ottoman army reveals the importance of the solidarity between the Turkish and Kurdish communities, which is another side of the issue, as it was something that happened for the first time in the Ottoman history.
Moltke is the commander who would create, together with Bismarck and Roon, the constituent military triumvirate that played the lead role in the establishment of the German Empire in 1871 by the military forces of Prussian origin.
However, he is well ahead of others because of his intellectuality.
In terms of intellectuality, Moltke is a multi-faceted personality who came to the fore in the history by drawing attention to himself as he had the personality of a painter, a writer, and a statesman , as well as his interest in music, poetry, art, archeology, and theater. The fact that he was able to speak Turkish as well along with such Indo-European languages as German, Danish, English, French, Italian and Spanish shows that He really had universal qualifications. His public promotion in Berlin with a fez on his head of his memoirs, translated into Turkish by the name “Letters of Turkey, which told about the events that he had experienced during the time that passed from his arrival in Turkey in 1834 to his return in 1840 must be an expression of his personality. On the other hand, we should, however, point out by the way that he was also a German conservative despite his Danish origin and background. This case describes the breadth and depth of Moltke‘s career scope. This holism of breadth and depth must have provided Him an exceptionally successful military and statesmanship career.
As my aim in this article is, besides those I stated, to emphasize to the extent possible the matter that the issues should be viewed in a dialectical and holistic manner, I would like to draw attention, as an example providing such an approach, to the long-term consistency and depth of the determinations of holistic approach that intellectual Moltke made about the country during his staff service in the Ottoman.
Therefore, I finally quote, in this context, some of these general observations contained in a report that Moltke had sent to Germany in 1934 while he was a young staff officer that spoke about the state of the Ottoman like the prophecies of amazing consistency:
“Economical situation has plummeted because of the lack of land ownership and the low production. The of new army of seventy thousand is old in terms of its commanders and has to reach every corner of the huge empire. Provinces and sanjaks have been independent thoroughly and have strengthened against the State. The deployment of the Russian army of one hundred and fifty thousand people that came to protect the Capital City was allowed on the Anatolian side. This situation has created great discontent in the country. The Ottoman Empire is a stack of principalities, duchies, and governorships from now on. This case is like telling that the empire will soon end! “
Mustafa Özcan (April 2016)
(*) To be continued.