Sultan Abdul Hamid II ...

and the Migration Season towards the South

The character of Sultan Abdul Hamid II forms a disturbed behavioral structure and an “anxious personality” in the history of the characters that were addressed in the books of history and biographies. So we find that there are those who considered him as a great sultan who was wronged by the followers and abused by historians, and there are some others who saw him as an example of absolute rule that maneuvered to rule the Ottoman Sultanate with an iron hand. Further, there are some people who described the new Ottoman agendas as an objective continuation for the strategy of this Ottoman Sultan. 

Although there are few “objective” writings that addressed this character and doubts about the diary of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, which we can hardly find two identical copies of it. In addition to the period of its recording that was said that it did not exceed one month (March – April 1917 AD). “White Ink” website tried to be opened to most of the writings that dealt with this character in an attempt to put together the boxes of the complete image according to the understanding of the Turkish ethnic doctrine. And to reveal the reality of its objectives in the light of Turkish movements in the Arab region. That are trying to revive the colonial history of the Sultanate, despite changing tools and means that were used to achieve the supreme political objective of Turkish politicians.

In this context, Abdul Hamid II, who is the 34th Sultan of the Ottoman State, took over rule in (1876 AD) in the aftermath of the removal and suicide or “murdering” of his uncle, Sultan Abdul Aziz. Then Sultan Murad V was deposed after only three months of his assuming the reign under the claim of insanity, which was agreed by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Furthermore, he even went so far as to accuse him of belonging to the Masonic Lodge as well as he charged him with outrageous recriminations. As he entitled one of the paragraphs in his diary under this title: “They deemed Murad that is a masonic as a hero”. He said also under this heading: “They were aiming at portraying Sultan Murad to the people in an image of the staunch, patriotic scholar and poet, so that they could make the people love him. However, he, may Allah have mercy on him, was lacking knowledge and perfection, not to mention his insufficiency in composition and dictation”.

At the level of the internal strategic environment, the Ottoman State suffered from a very slow economic growth that led the Ottoman Sultans and successive governments to reduce expenditures, while they were continuing in weighting on Turkish-ruled peoples with fees and taxes. Moreover, the production was subjected to strict government control, and in some cases, they were forfeiting the wealth of some of the rich. This process of tax exhaustion that was suffered by Ottoman-ruled peoples may have motivated them to raise the demand for independence in what was historically known as the “Balkan Question”. In addition to the subsequent disintegration of the Ottoman State, which would then lead the European powers to attempt to share the bequest of the sick man through opening the file of: “The Eastern Question”.

The fact that we have seen many writings about the character of Sultan Abdul Hamid II makes us find two key approaches that controlled his political conduct internally and externally. However, the defeat of the Turks by Tsarist Russia (1876-1878 AD) formed the real birth of these two political approaches, which were among the most important features for behavioral conduct of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.

In this respect, the outbreak of the Russo-Ottoman War provided a historic opportunity to Sultan Abdul Hamid II to rearrange the internal house, while the political process was complicated. There were also signs of the coup by the Janissary armies, which were an important military center of weight and owed absolute loyalty to the Ottoman sultans. And that was threatening the head of state and the continuation of the rule of the Ottoman family. Faced by this weakness in the tools of command and control in the military concept, Sultan Abdul Hamid II maneuvered timidly to appear as if he was refusing to go to war against Russia in order to send the Janissary forces in this war that ended in a humiliating defeat for the Turks. As this led to the independence for a group of the Balkan republics.

At the geostrategic level, the gaining of independence by the Balkan states was, only, a matter of time, given the impossibility of continuing the expansion projects and preservation of the Ottoman provinces, whose military, political and financial costs were enormous. Especially after a series of European understandings were concluded to liquidate the bequest of the Turkish colonialism. This new strategic reality was recognized by Sultan Abdul Hamid II. further, it led him to anticipate the results of the Ottoman-Russian War and invest them internally to concentrate all authorities in his hand as well as to declare the beginning of absolute individual rule over the remaining territories under the Ottoman Sultanate.

Based on that, Abdul Hamid II waited for the right time to aim the coup de grace at the political class internally. As the year 1879 AD was the appropriate historical moment in which the Ottoman Sultan announced the suspension of the constitution, the dissolution of the Ottoman parliament and the restoration of all legislative and executive power. That was what he expressed by saying: “It turned out to me that I was wrong when I attempted to serve my nation through following the course of my father, Sultan Abdul Majid, and establishing democratic institutions. Now; however, I would follow the course of my grandfather, Sultan Mahmoud, because I have now come to believe that the course of power is the only way through which I could serve the nation that Allah has entrusted me to lead and preserve it “.

Sultan Abdul Hamid II would rule the Ottoman State for three decades with an iron hand. As he solely had an absolute power after the elimination of all elected institutions. This was asserted by the Turkish historian Suleiman Jouka Bash, when he said: “With these words, Sultan Abdul Hamid has found his perfect approach in the method for the new administration, which he would establish in a well and clearly-defined manner after his suspension for the Constitution. This method of administration was represented by the fact that the state and the ruling family were both as a trust in the hand of power and strength. For sure, the Sultan would do everything in order to protect and maintain the State. Indeed, this approach, to which we stick, would be the so-called the administration of central authority or so-called the absolute tyranny”. (End of his words)

At the level of foreign policy, the defeat of the Ottoman State by Tsarist Russia was a historic opportunity for the Ottoman ruler, who was convinced of the need to revive the concepts of “Islamic unity” and to resort to the projects of “caliphate” as preludes for the legitimacy of subjecting the rest of the countries that were, even figuratively, ruled by the power of the Ottomans. This new challenge imposed, logically, the approach towards the south in an attempt to tighten the military grip on the Arabian Peninsula and the holy places. Especially the Two Holy Mosques and Al-Quds Al-Sharif, given the strong religious symbolism that distinguishes them as the centers of gravity for the Islamic world. This was reflected through the Hejaz Railway Project, which was established in response to merely military coercions, despite the exploitation of the noble Islamic religion in the process of mobilization and financing. Where the Turkish or neutral evidence were unanimously that Muslims financed the project entirely. While they resorted to the “forced labour system” during the construction of this mega project. As this led to the death of hundreds of people who were working in circumstances that lacked the most basic conditions and elements of human safety and dignity of those people.

In monitoring this intersect between political goals and religious tools, the journalist Mamoun Khalaf said in an article that he published under this title: “The story of Sultan Abdul Hamid as it would not be narrated to you by the Islamists or secularists”, as follows: “The aim through it was to achieve the political unity for the remaining countries that still living under the rule of the Ottoman State by giving them a sense of political and social identity based on the religious factor”. In addition, it can be argued that Sultan Abdul Hamid II found that the adoption of the Islamic Unity idea as a strategic tool and mean to encounter national ideas, on the one hand, and also to encounter liberal ideas that had begun to be adopted by the political class of Anatolia. This view is assured by the diary of Sultan Abdul Hamid II, in which he stated that: “The Ottoman State includes a plethora races, including Turks, Arabs, Albanians, Bulgarians, Greeks, blacks, and other elements. In spite of this, the unity of Islam makes us as members of one family”.

The aim of recounting some of historical facts is to study the aspects of the historical course in order to anticipate future accumulations and apply them to the reality of the Arab and Islamic region. These “historical” determinants have some justification in analyzing the current behavioral type of the new Ottomans, who failed to find a foothold within the European Union institutions. So they directed their colonial compass towards the Arab countries by re-mobilizing and crowding for the projects of the “Ottoman Caliphate”. Where they are exploiting some partisan organizations to carry out the Turkish agendas. These are the same agendas that were encountered by the Arab popular will a century ago. There is no doubt that they are on their way to be defeated as well, in light of the indications that intersect with the desire of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to open a new page with the countries of the region. This is the petition that is being studied in depth and much patience by the Arab decision-maker, in accordance with the meaning of the noble hadith: “A believer is not stung twice (by something) out of one and the same hole”.