Algeria and the Ottoman expansion by adopting and legalizing piracy

In his book “Ancient and Modern History of Algeria”, Mubarak Muhammad Al-Hilali El-Mili says: “The prestige of the Turks among the inhabitants of Algeria collapsed, in addition to the fact that the people of the port of Algiers began to tire of the actions of the Turks, who were treating the Algerians rudely. Signs of rebellion started to appear, but Aruj himself went to the house of Sultan Selim Al-Toumi and killed him in the bathroom. He went out to his soldiers and declared himself sultan over Algeria”. Whatever its justifications, that incident was not the end of an event, but the beginnings of bloody events.

The Ottoman presence was in Tunisia and Tripoli in the west since 958 AH / 1551 AD, during which Tripoli was occupied. In 976 AH / 1569 AD, Tunisia was occupied by the Ottomans, and in 981 AH / 1573 AD Tunisia was finally subjected to the Ottoman administration, after which it lived a period described by its contemporaries as “the Black period” for four centuries of Ottoman occupation. As a result of that period, poverty, ignorance and disease descended upon the country and the people until the situation deteriorated completely and all social classes in it led revolutions and organized currents of opposition. Historians recorded the atrocities of the Turks as an accusation document that exposes their black colonial history, according to what the historical sources say about the Ottoman era in Tunisia and Tripoli in the West. They were separated independently, and a general prince was appointed for each, who was linked directly to Istanbul. As for their pride, a Turkish writer, Aziz Samih İlter mentioned this in his book “The Ottoman Turks in North Africa”.

Among the examples of these events was the appointment of Haider Pasha as a general prince of Tunisia, and Hassan Pasha as a general prince of Tripoli in the West in 985 AH / 1577 AD. Their appointment caused unfortunate events and conflicts.

For example, the maritime piracy movement was active in the coasts of North Africa, and the Spanish and French danger was a constant threat to the military units “ocak” in the Maghreb. Hence, the Ottomans did not like piracy, as described by the author of the book. This was not out of fear for the interests of the country and its people, but rather because these attacks were considered an infringement on countries that had agreements, treaties and privileges with it, such as France and England, which in turn submitted a complaint to the Ottoman Sublime Porte. On the other hand, the pirates of Tunisia and Tripoli in the west did not abide by the orders issued by the Sultanate, as they were better able to protect themselves and take care of their interests. As usual, serious incidents and political disputes occurred, including what happened between 995-997 AH / 1586-1588 AD, when Ahmed Pasha was appointed and went out himself for piracy and attacked the Spanish coasts. This violated the agreements of the Ottoman Empire with Spain. When the Sultan ordered that they should return and stop their aggression, he declared a rebellion movement against the orders of the Ottoman Sultan. A decision was issued to execute them, but the princes of the three military units “ocak” proceeded to release them. The anger of the Sultan and his feeling of humiliation increased.

On the other hand, the people of Tunisia and Tripoli in the West suffered from the oppression and terror that the prince of the Janissaries practiced upon them, and they could no longer bear it. Rebellions occurred as a reaction to the Ottoman practices and the exploitation of revolutions within North Africa to cause reprisals, but they were shocked by fierce reactions from within the three units and the agreements between the appointed pashas and the military leaders.

After political events in 1017 AH / 1608 AD, a group of Janissaries returned to ask for their salaries, which they did not receive, and Mustafa Pasha had been dismissed, as the Ottoman authority always did. Fearing that he would go with what he had obtained, they rushed against him to loot his money and what he had as a reaction against his insufficiency. Radwan Pasha, the pasha appointed as a substitute, guaranteed them to receive a portion from him, and that Mustafa Pasha would pay the rest. Here, we can ascertain the extent to which the Pashas were concerned with their self-interests and to seize what can be acquired before they leave position. The chaos returned again, and the people paid to cover the looted money from their agricultural efforts and their crops in the form of taxes that burdened everyone to cover the Janissary salaries.  

We continue to reveal the unfortunate facts…