They got the people of Algeria into the trap
“The Barbarossa brothers” They betrayed the Arabs in the Ottoman style
The Ottomans let the Muslims of Andalusia down and let them face their fate against the Spaniards and the Portuguese to be a weak prey. They were not satisfied with that, but they coveted the spoils obtained by the Spaniards after they moved from Andalusia by striking the coasts of the Maghreb in North Africa and trying to place garrisons on the borders.
In order for the Turks to win the round in seizing spoils by occupying a new Arab geographical area, they knew that the Muslim Arabs were forced to seek help from them on the basis of the common religion, although the minds at the time had not forgotten what the Ottomans had done in Egypt after they overthrew the Mamluks in the second decade of the sixteenth century. Their entry into Cairo was no less criminal than what their cousins, the Mongols, did when they overthrew Baghdad, as they openly committed sins, desecrated honor and money, enslaved people, and plundered resources and goods.
Those who let Andalusia down were able to oppress the Maghreb with criminality, tyranny and ignorance.
The Algerians were like the ones who jumped out of the frying pan of the Spaniards into the fire of the Ottoman Turks who entered the waters of the Mediterranean at this critical period in the history of the Islamic world and the Arab region in particular. In the beginning, their entry was not, as some historians claim, to support the Andalusians as much as it was a transfer process and a contribution to the displacement of Arabs from Andalusia to the Arab shores of North Africa in agreement with the Spaniards from the Iberian shores.
The Spaniards were well aware that the collapse of Andalusia for the Muslims and its Arab population would not pass merely by subjection to the Inquisition and organized displacement with the help of the Ottomans, who threw the Arabs on the beaches while transporting the Jews of Spain to the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul with affection and love.
Therefore, the Spaniards wanted to transfer the battlefield with the Arabs of Andalusia and the Muslims supporting them to the Arab regions in the Maghreb. They did this in order to make them busy preserving their land instead of demanding their return to Andalusia, especially since the Arabs who came to the Maghreb believed in their return and the liberation of their land, but with the scenario imposed by the Spaniards, the Andalusians became in another situation trying to keep the new land away from repeating the Spanish tragedies.
Scenarios occurred in history that portrayed the presence of the Ottomans in the Maghreb as the protectors of religion and land, while the historical reality was telling an organized crime that began with the arrival of two pirates belonging to the Ottoman Turkish culture. The details of the scenario began following what the Spaniards put along the northern coast of Africa, starting from Tripoli in the West to the Far Maghreb, from military stations that the Spaniards made as benefits for them. That matter posed a threat to the Arab-Islamic presence in North Africa, and this explains the Spanish strategy in protecting their gains in Iberia by transferring the geography of the conflict.
In light of this turbulent conditions in the countries of the Arab Maghreb, the story of the pirates of the Ottoman Empire, Aruj Rais, known as (Baba Aruj) and Khidr Rais, known as (Khair Al-Din Barbarossa) began. The word “Rais” in Arabic referred to the masters of Ottoman ships, and the title changed later in the seventeenth century to “Captain”.
The brothers, Aruj and Khidr, are of Greek origin, specifically the Island of Lesbos (Greek: Λέσβος). Their father, Jacob, was taken in 1462 from a Genoese family that inhabited the island during the days of Mehmed II. His two sons, “Barbarossa”, had their naval activity in the eastern Mediterranean, especially in the operations that served the Ottomans against the Knights of Rhodes island. After that, their activity moved to the western Mediterranean, as the island of Djerba – between Tripoli and Tunisia – became, since 1510, the center of their operations, and then their maritime activity moved to the port of La Goulette in Tunisia.
When the people of Algeria were affected by the Spanish attacks, the military stations and garrisons that threaten them, they resorted to the Barbarossa brothers, thinking that the Ottomans and their pirates would be a protective shield for them from the Spaniards. Therefore, they made it easy for the Barbarossa brothers to reach the city of Algiers and the Spaniards tried to get them out of Algeria by sea, but they failed in that. Aruj remained in Algeria and the Spaniards were besieging him. He was severely injured in the siege confrontations, as a result of which he died in 1518.
With the death of Aruj, Khidr Rais, who was known by the nickname Barbarossa, meaning the one with the red beard, took his place. Realizing that he could not face the Spanish challenge in the Maghreb region alone, he worked to contact the Ottoman capital, Istanbul, and announced in 1520 that Algeria had become occupied by the Ottomans under the name of an Ottoman state. The Ottoman Sultan Selim I sent a firman to Barbarossa assigning him to rule Algeria. He also sent some warships and two or three thousand soldiers. He allowed volunteers to be sent from Anatolia to Barbarossa and granted these volunteers the privileges of the Janissaries.
The Ottoman Navy was not powerful enough to compete with the European naval force, especially after the successes achieved by the European alliances in the eastern Mediterranean, so the Ottomans chose Barbarossa to be the right man to save their navy from dangers. Therefore, the Ottoman Sultan appointed him as a general Prince “kurcu başı or beylerbeyi” and made him the supervisor of all the Ottoman naval arsenals.
Barbarossa made an attempt to turn the Mediterranean into an Ottoman Lake, as he seized Tunisia in 1534, but this strike provoked the Tunisian local powers, which couldn’t defend their land in the face of the pirates, as the Spaniards occupied the city in 1535. The battles continued in the eastern Mediterranean basin through hit-and-run tactics.
Although the war was going on between the local powers and the Spaniards, and then the Turkish pirates later intervened, Aruj and Barbarossa did not want to miss the opportunity when they were allowed to show the Ottoman racism and to exaggerate the humiliation and torture of the Arabs through their dictatorial nationalism, to convince the Arabs that they are a lower class than them.
- Mubarak El-Mili, Ancient and Modern History of Algeria (Algeria: The National Book Foundation).
- Hassan Kachroud, Salaries of Soldiers and Employees and Their Social and Economic Conditions in Ottoman Algeria, Mentouri University (2007).
- Walid Fekri, The Ottoman Crime (Cairo: Al-Rewaq Publishing and Distribution, 2021).
- Memoirs of Khair Al-Din Barbarossa, translated by: Mohamed Darrag (Algeria: Al-Asala Company, 2010).
- Saleh Abbad, Algeria during the Turkish rule 1514-1830 (Algeria: Editions Houma, 2012).
- Abdelkader Al-MilQ, The Impact of the Andalusian Moriscos Revolutions on the Algerian-Spanish Relations, Master Thesis, University of Ghardaia (2012).
The Sultan of Algeria Was Killed and Algeria was handed over to Ottoman Occupation by
Aruj and Barbarossa brothers... They have Treacherously Raised the Flag of the Pirates on the Map of Maghreb Region
The fall of Al- Andalus in (1492) had an impact on The Arab coast of North Africa, especially those cities near Spanish shores. The Towns of Algerian coast were more affected. Many years before the fall, Andalusians sent delegations followed by delegations to Ottoman Sultans in Istanbul inciting the Islamic intense interest among them. However, this was in vain with regard to the two Sultans, Mohammed Al- Fatih and Bayezid II, who deemed the matter from an ethnic point of view against Andalusian Arabs, in addition, taking into consideration political, and economic interests with Europeans. Al- Andalus, after all, is an Arab competitor of Ottomans in Europe and Turks did not want to come into conflict with Europeans for their sake.
Al- Andalus has fallen along with the last Arab stronghold in Europe. Arab cities of North Africa seemed exposed to greedy European invaders. In addition, the door was widely open before thieves and pirates to go on an adventure and seize the opportunity.
The efforts of Ottomans should have been focused to restore Al- Andalus, and to support its people who were displaced and dislodged in North Africa, but they, instead, seized the opportunity to occupy Algeria in (1516), few years after Al- Andalus fall. After the fall of Al- Andalus and the fall of Mamluk state in Egypt, Turks found the gates of the Arab world wide open for them to fall upon, driven by its greediness and dominance, the Arab lands in order to occupy and enslave them.
Ottoman Empire was not satisfied after all this, it has opened its doors for Jews of Al- Andalus, inhabited them, and gave them safe refuges in Turkey first, then in Palestine. As for Arabs, they were left for their inevitable fate.
The situation of Algerians in which they sought the help of Ottomans was deemed by Ottomans as an opportunity to occupy the Countries of Maghreb Region and to practice their policy of despising Arabs.
On the other hand, everything was completely left for Europeans after Al- Andalus fall. Such fall was a Spanish- Ottoman congruity to control the Mediterranean Sea. However, this did not prevent Spaniards from harassing the Afro- Arab coast. Thus, local population was prompted to ask for the assistance of Ottomans once more when they forgot how its rulers failed their Andalusian neighbors only few years ago.
This time Ottomans had another point of view. They found that it was an opportunity to occupy Algeria instead of confronting Spaniards. After their occupation of Egypt, land routes became open before them. Ottomans were supposed to support Algerians to stand up to Spanish hostility. Nevertheless, “Ottoman wolf” entered Algerian territory and refused to leave except after more than 300 years. Algerians trusted those who used Islam as a cover, and stole the caliphate; then, when they arrived in their lands thanks to their lies, they colonized them, and made them a second class within their ethnic Sultanate.
The Sultan of Algeria at that time, Salem Al- Toumi, sought the help of Aruj and Khairuddin Barbarossa brothers. These two sailors were famous for being experienced sea robbers who had a small fleet that aimed at cutting off the road and plundering the merchant ships in the Mediterranean Sea seizing their weapons, money, and supplies; and enslaving their sailors.
Algerian historian Mubarak Helal El- Mili mentioned in his book The History of Algeria that when Aruj, the pirate, entered Algeria, he was greeted by Sheikh Salem Al- Toumi and the city residents as liberators. Aruj quickly emplaced a number of cannons towards a small island dominated by Spaniards. He sent to the commander of the Spanish garrison an order of surrender but the Spanish commander rejected. Therefore, Aruj fired his cannonballs at the Spanish stronghold but his cannon was too weak to enable him of achieving the expected victory.
El- Mili also added that the prestige of Turks have fallen in the eyes of Algeria people. In addition, the people of Algeria port started to be fed up with the Turks actions who rudely treated Algerians as they showed the first signs of rebellion. Nevertheless, Aruj, the pirate, went himself to the house of Sultan Salem Al- Toumi and killed him with his own hands in the bathroom where he had found him. Then, he went out to his soldiers and declared himself the Sultan of Algeria.
This has never happened in history except by Ottomans. This how a pirate became a ruler as he infiltrated his country under the pretext of supporting him, then he failed him and dominated his people. After that, he assassinated him and declared himself a ruler instead of him using his soldiers and mercenaries whom he has brought there.
In the city of Tlemcen, Aruj Pasha has repeated his action as he got rid of its legitimate Algerian ruler, Abo Zayan, then he turned to the people imposing levies, fees, and taxes upon them according to a systematic policy to eliminate the ruling house and administrative jobs replacing them with Turkish element.
Algerian researcher, Muhammad bin Maddour, said: “That Ottomans have demolished many mosques and small mosques. Is it conceivable that they demolish mosques and small mosques and build other ones then give one of the mosques they have built the name of an animal as Ketchaoua mosque means the goat. After that, they faced some revolutions that rejected their rule of the country because they humiliated the people and imposed taxes upon them”.
Some historical resources also mention that the original name of Khairuddin Barbarossa was “Khosrif or Khosrow” which is originally a Byzantine- Greek name. This affirms that he was just a pirate used by Ottoman Empire in order to achieve its interests and to humiliate Algerians. Thus, it enabled him to seize it.
The historical resources also confirm that once the two pirates, Aruj and his brother Barbarossa, arrived in Algeria after the unfortunate invitation of its people, Aruj has emplaced his cannons towards the fortress where Spaniards centered but he failed. Thus, it is confirmed that his cannons were not army cannons, they were rather weapons held by pirates for looting and plundering. Although his shelling lasted for more than twenty days, he was weak and did not affect the fortress at all. This aroused suspicion among the people, as well as the immoral treatment of sailors with local population. This has prompted Algerians to demand the actual ruler, Salem Al- Toumi, to expel and drive them out of the country after they have turned into a curse.
When Aruj, the pirate, became aware of the people’s demand and felt its danger to him and his ambitions of becoming a ruler after he had been a pirate, he killed Salem Al- Toumi with his own hands. Thus, Aruj have become the holder of the absolute authority so he declared himself to be its Sultan. He raised his flag over its walls and castles, then, he quickly coined money with his logo.
Egyptian researcher, Walid Feckry, said in a research of the relationship of Aruj and his brother Barbarossa: “Khairuddin has decided to be in the train of Ottomans as they were considered the new masters. Therefore, he corresponded Selim I in 1519 and his letter implied pleas to connect Algeria issue with Ottomans. His requests from judges, jurists, notables and various groups that were told to the Sultan asking to put Algeria at his disposal came to the point that they described themselves as “The Slaves of Ottoman Empire”. (This was a letter which they wrote by order of Khairuddin, not on their own initiative). He concluded his letter saying that he would have headed personally to Istanbul to stand before the Sultan, unless it was for the entreaties of Algerians to him- Khairuddin- to remain among them to protect their country.
Selim I did not hesitate to seize the opportunity, as from nowhere he found that a large sector of the Mediterranean ports were opening its gates before him at no cost. Thus, he sent to Khairuddin appointing him to the position of ruling Algeria and sent a farman to give him the title of “Baklerbek”- which was the highest title of an Ottoman ruler- and also sent him two thousands Janissary soldiers to help him.
So it was a win- win deal for both parties, as Khairuddin was no longer a pirate or a travelling warrior, he rather became an Ottoman ruler and leader. As for Ottomans, they have won a land at an insignificant price. Rather, they went further as they appointed Khairuddin as a leader of their fleet so that they would exploit his talents and skills although the people demanded Ottomans to leave him positioned in North Africa but Ottoman- as usual- gave priority to his interest over the Empire’s interest.
Before the arrival of Ottomans, the life of Algerians was a mixture of freedom and confronting Spanish dangers. Nevertheless, after Ottoman occupation, they turned to an occupied people that was under the dominance oppression of Turkish soldiers and employees. Algerians have realized this early, but it was too late, as Turkish pirates seized the small parts connecting the country under the pretext of supporting and backing them against Spaniards.
Ottomans, as always, permanently aimed at Turkifying any land they occupied, as Ottomans connected their lives to eastern Anatolian civilization and transferred its features to Algeria. They also refused to integrate with the Arab element wherever they found it, as was the case in Algeria as well. This was represented in transferring the Turkish administrative and military systems, as well as their economic and social treatments and imposing them on Andalusian, Kargali, and urban elements; as well as the Algerian groups of various social, cultural and financial categories in spite of the linguistic difference.
The Ottoman era in the Regency of Algiers was known from the seventeenth century to the first quarter of the nineteenth century of cultural stagnation compared to the scientific and industrial renaissance that Europe witnessed. This is not strange as the whole Arab world that was subject to Turkish occupation faced that civilizational ordeal as Ottomans deliberately made them stay behind and kept them civilly and culturally isolated so that it would be easier to rule them.
- Mubarak El- Mili, The History of Alegeria in Ancient and Modern Times (Algeria: National Book Foundation, n.d.).
- Hassan Kachroud, Salaries of Soldiers and General Employees, As Well As Their Social and Economic Conditions in Ottoman Algeria (Rawatib Al- Jund Wa Awdahom Al- Egtim’ia Wa Al- Iktisadya Bilgaza’r Al- Othmania), Master’s Thesis, Mentouri University (2007).
- Walid Feckry, The Ottoman Crime (Al- Jarima Al- Othmania) (Cairo: Al Rewaq Publishing and Distribution, 2021).
- Memoirs of Hayreddin Barbarossa, translated by: Mohammed Darag (Algeria: Al- Asala Company, 2010).
- Saleh Abbad, Algeria during the Turkish rule (Al- Jaza’r Khilal Al- Hokm Al- Turkey)1514- 1830 (Algeria: Dar Houma, 2012).
- Abdelkader Al- Milek, The Impact of the Moorish Andalusian Revolutions on the Algerian- Spanish Relations (Ta’thir Thawrat Al- Morskeen Al- Andaluseen Al’ Al- Elakat Al- Gazairya Al- Espanya), Master’s Thesis, University of Ghardaia (2012).
They justified their colonization through their mercenaries
The pragmatic occupation of Algeria by the Ottoman Turks was achieved by pirates
The Turks’ occupation of Algeria, with its current name, is an event that requires a lot of historical detail and methodological rooting, given the consideration that there has been a systematic blackout policy on this period of the region’s history, that some are trying to write off from North African history as if the Turks were mere birds, that passed by and didn’t leave a trace.
Historical evidence reveals that the Turkish Pirates, when they, first, entered Algeria, entered it for personal goals, that had nothing to do political or expansionary agenda. Later, having seen their success, their ego grew, and they aimed their focus on founding their own state within the Islamic Morocco, exploiting the people’s appeal to save them from the Spanish attacks.
In this context, the subjugation of Algeria came for the Ottoman Sultan within special context. That is, the Sublime Porte did not interfere in its management or direction, but rather- as is the case with the Ottomans- they rode on the situation and took advantage of the need of the pirates, Oruç Reis and Hayreddin, for the legal and political cover in order to lay hands on Algeria, even within the framework of territorial decentralization that imposes the minimum aspects of Ottoman sovereignty over Morocco.
Referring to the memoirs of Hayreddin Barbarossa, it reveals that the connection between the Ottomans and the pirates began after they entered Algeria, and that it was never directed by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Here we find Hayreddin, confirming this point, saying: “During my contact with Sultan Suleiman Khan bin Selim Khan, he replied with a Sultanic Decree, saying: How did you and your brother, Oruç Reis, get out of Lesbos? And how did you enter Algeria? What are the forays that you have made on land and at sea so far? Write all these events in a book, and when you are finished send me a copy to keep in my safe.”
The memoirs of Hayreddin Barbarossa revealed the ignorance of the Ottoman sultans of what was happening in Algeria before its occupation.
In an answer to this Sultanic Decree, Hayreddin wrote the following: “My dad was a brave man, to whom my mother bore four children: Isaac, who was the eldest of my brothers, then my brother Oruç Reis, then me, and then Ilyas, may God extend the life of everyone and grant them victory.”
Perhaps reviewing the testimony of the pirate, Hayreddin, one concludes that the relationship between the Turkish pirates and the Ottoman sultans was that of a master with his subjects, a ruler with his subjects, and a leader with his soldiers, adding to it a spiritual sense that Hayreddin describes: “whoever wins the sultan’s blessing, shall prosper, and whoever doesn’t, shall perish ”
Monitoring and documenting the relationship between the Barbaros brothers and the Ottoman empire is a very important process in view of the legal, moral and religious responsibility that the Ottoman state bears as a result of the actions of these two pirates, especially that some bloody events took place before the inauguration of Hayreddin Barbarossa as governor on Algeria.
By adopting a systematic documentation approach, it becomes clear that the ambitions of Turks, in the region, had nothing to do with religious goals, but it was based on worldly- goals. To explain, the pirates’ goal of establishing a state for them, even under the Ottoman sovereignty, have met with the Ottomans’ goal of expanding their empire, which they wanted it to reach the Atlantic Ocean. This fact Hayreddin confirms, by saying: “It has become necessary for us to establish, for ourselves, a new state, instead of this alienation.”
On the other hand, reading the writings that chronicled the activity of the Turkish pirates, one concludes that they did not conquer an inch in the area that some call “the country of war,” despite the piracy operations carried out by Oruç Reis and Hayreddin, whose purpose was to seize ships, some spoils, prisoners and return to the headquarters in Jijel, eastern Algeria. This shows that they were not, primarily, interested in conquering lands on the shores opposite the Mediterranean.”
It can be said that the people of Algeria dealt, with good intentions, with the Barbarossa brothers, believing in their goodness because they were Muslims, unlike the Moroccans and Tunisians, who dealt, cautiously, with the ambitions of the Turkish invaders in the region.
From the foregoing, it seems obvious that the Turkish occupation over Algeria happened because of pragmatic considerations linked to piracy in the western Mediterranean, the Barbarossa brothers’ desire to establish a state for them with the blessing of the Sublime Porte, and the personal motive linked to Oruç Reis’ desire to revenge on the Christians, who had captured him during the beginning of his activities in piracy. William Spencer, American writer, writes, in this context, that Oruç Reis was full of revenge against the Christians, so he carried such feelings with him to the Spanish and Italian waters.
- Mubarak El-Mili, History of Algeria in Ancient and Modern History (Algeria: The National Book Foundation, d.T).
- Walid Fikri, The Ottoman Crime (Cairo: Al-Rawaq Publishing and Distribution, 2021).
- Memoirs of Hayreddin Barbarossa, translated by: Mohamed Darrag (Algeria: Al-Asala Company, 2010).
- Saleh Abbad, Algeria during the Turkish rule 1514-1830 (Algeria: Dar Homa, 2012).
- Abdelkader Al-Malek, The Impact of the Moorish Andalusian Revolutions on the Algerian-Spanish Relations, Master Thesis, University of Ghardaia (2012).
- William Spencer, Algeria in the era of Reyes El BahrTranslated by: Abdelkader Zabada (Algeria: Kasbah Publishing House, 2007).