Within the colonial agenda

The Ottomans took advantage of “Andalusia”

The study of the Ottoman relationship with Andalusia constitutes an area of historical disagreement between the adherents of the Ottoman thesis and its opponents. Rarely do we stand on writings that devoted to objectivity and academic methodology in dealing with this relationship, which forces us to submit this historical problematic to the logic of analysis away from subjectivity, which could lose any research of its scientific value and historical integrity. 

The writings in harmony with the Turkish narrative are almost summed up in that the Ottoman sultans made repeated and serious attempts to save Andalusia from the fall and help the Muslims there to withstand the fierce Christian onslaught, which were attempts that continued even after the fall of Granada, the last stronghold of Banu Al-Ahmar. But success was not an ally for considerations that the owners of this opinion are summarized in the following points:

– The remoteness of Constantinople from Granada, which made it very difficult to reach and an adventure with insecure results.

– The preoccupation of the Ottomans in their wars against the Mamluks, the Safavid state, and some European powers.

– The lack of involvement of the Mamluks and the Hafsid state in the war effort launched by the Ottoman Empire to restore Andalusia and save its people.

Faced with this complex strategic environment, all Ottoman attempts, according to the thesis of the Ottoman defenders, failed to respond to the calls of Andalusians, and the Turks settled with saving and receiving some of them within the sultanate’s influence. Some extremist voices went even further and accused everyone who doubted the efforts of the Ottoman Empire to save Andalusians by fighting Islam and Muslims and doubting their faith. We find the author of the book “The Ottomans and Attempts to Save the Muslims of Andalusia,” Fathi Zaghrout says, “After the blackout comes the role of questioning the history of that state and its behavior with the people. The goal is clear. The goal is to question the religion of God as a doctrine, law and methodology rather than questioning the role of the sultans. 

Historians who support the Ottomans: Whoever suspects that the Ottomans supported Andalusia, his faith is unclear.

On the opposite side of the Turkish novel and the rest of those connected politically and ideologically with Ankara, we will try to present the opposite point of view, which empties the Ottoman thesis of its content. This will happen through relying on a set of historical data, which confirms that the Ottomans had no intention of recovering Andalusia and dealt with Andalusians with a pragmatic logic that serves the colonial discourse of the Ottoman Turks. 

In this regard, the historical writings dating back to the period of the fall of Andalusia reveal to us that the Ottomans dealt with the Andalusian calls for help with a degree of caution and a great deal of pragmatism despite the repeated piracy by the brothers Aruj and Khairuddin Barbaros, which was intended to continue their original activity. That activity is considered a major source of financing their colonial policy, far from the motives of jihad or the recovery of Muslim lands. Here, we find the American historian William Spencer in his book “Algiers in the Age of the Corsairs” who says, “The Ottomans, unlike their predecessors who were Arab Muslims and Berbers, who had stirred fights from the bases of that same land against the infidels, were not primarily interested in acquiring Christian lands on the shores opposite the Mediterranean”.

On the other hand, through our search of books and documents, we did not find any message from the Ottoman Sultans stating the intention of Constantinople to recover Andalusia, but the main purpose was to exhaust Spain and try to expand westward, taking advantage of the Arab countries, and finding a foothold for the Ottomans in North Africa. The Ottomans made very big efforts to subjugate the Maghreb. Those efforts could have been directed to recover Andalusia, and the historical data may have been different from what it is now.

Perhaps the historical shock that we faced is mainly reflected in the offer made by the Kingdom of France, the strategic ally of the Ottomans in that period, to help it reclaim Andalusia. It is the historical fact that the Algerian historian Mubarak El-Melli discussed in his book ” The ancient and modern history of Algeria”. He says, “In Algeria, during the war between Hassan Pasha and the Sultan of Morocco – the French ambassador offered to help Hassan Pasha with the French fleet, in case he intended to attack Oran or if he thought of organizing an attack against Andalusia, and it seems that Hassan Pasha refused this offer.” 

Perhaps the French support the proposal for the Ottomans to recover Andalusia find its justification in France’s attempt to weaken the Spanish, their main enemy in the region, given that the Ottomans’ attack on Andalusia would make Spain place the strategic pincers between the Ottoman forces and the French kingdom. However, the Turks thought that the attempt to regain Andalusia was a great risk that might have negative repercussions on their presence in the western Mediterranean region.

The Ottomans, being fearful of provoking the Spaniards, made them refuse to help the French in helping the Andalusians.

It can be said that the Ottomans were afraid that in the event of their success in the war for the recovery of Andalusia, the Arabs would demand their right to rule Andalusia, especially since these were seeking the help of the Turks in this war, provided that it would not replace them as the owners of historical and religious legitimacy in the rule of Andalusia. This sits on the grounds that the Arabs were looking at themselves as an extension to the Arab dynasties that ruled this region and would not accept the idea of changing the Spanish occupation with an Ottoman occupation.

The repeated attacks carried out by the Turks on the southern coast of Andalusia were intended to help their ally France, which was seeking to continue the pressure on Spain, in addition to their practice of piracy activity, which was famous for the pirates who ruled the region. This matter intersects with what the Algerian historian Mubarak al-Melli said in the same book referred to, “In this circumstance, Saleh Reyes’s fleet was organizing its attacks on the Spanish coasts, in implementation of the request of the King of France, Henry II, who wanted Saleh to worry the Spaniards based on the agreement concluded between the Ottomans. And the Kingdom of France”. 

The Ottomans in the Maghreb took advantage of the “Andalusian issue” to mobilize the Algerians and delude them that the liberation of Andalusia is a central issue in the “caliphate state” agenda. This made large crowds of Algerians join the ranks of the Ottomans during one period of time, especially during the reign of Qalj Ali, who announced the general mobilization to go towards Andalusia, as he recruited fourteen thousand Turks and sixty thousand Algerians for this purpose.

If the Turkish version considers that what Qalj Ali did was a serious and unsuccessful attempt to liberate Andalusia, then the reality of the matter is that the Turkish ruler exploited the willingness of Andalusians to carry out a comprehensive revolution at home to restore the rule there in order to direct his armies to liberate Andalusia to subjugate the city of Oran, which was Under Spanish rule. Although Qalj Ali was aware of all the details of the revolution, he allowed Andalusians to be slaughtered without fulfilling his promises to intervene to help them and in return preferred to continue his expansion projects in western Algeria.

It remains constant that the Ottomans had many aims in directing their attacks on the southern coasts of Spain, away from the desire to return it to Islamic rule. Among the most important of these goals was the demolition of the Spanish projects that intended to attack the heart of the Ottoman Empire. We have recorded that the Turks prepared for a group of attacks on the Spanish coast. The most important of these attacks was an attempt by Qalj Ali to march to Spain at the head of a huge force in implementation of the instructions of Sultan Salim II, who summoned him to Constantinople and provided him with important assistance to attack the Spanish shores. These attacks were intended to prompt and repel a large-scale attack that Christian forces were preparing to organize against the Ottoman Sultan.

It is clear that the recovery of Andalusia was never a priority in the Ottoman agendas, despite its interest in southern Spain as a strategic region that would serve its expansion projects. However, it was waiting for an internal movement from the Andalusian revolutionaries, and in the event of their success, the Turks would definitely take advantage of this revolution to extend their rule in Andalusia without having to declare a direct confrontation with Spain, which was at that time a great colonial power.

In The Diary of Khairuddin Barbarossa

On the Same Grounds ...

He Killed the Arabs and Pardoned the Traitors of Turks

The Ottoman navy was increased in strength by the efforts made by skilled sailors that get off on piracy. In the 15th century, Turkish pirates were carrying out their activities on the coast of northern Africa. While some of them were self-employed, the others were working for the benefit of the Ottomans in order to obtain spoils and plunder; among them was Khairuddin “Barbarossa”, one of the most prominent sea pirates, who played a part in the naval invasions in the Mediterranean Sea, attacked and terrorized European ships during the 16th century AD. Furthermore, he contributed in facilitating the arrival of Ottomans to occupy parts of North Africa such as Tunisia, Algeria and countries. After Suleiman the Magnificent appointed him as a commander-in-chief of the Ottoman Navy. 

“Barbarossa” left behind him a personal diary about that historical phase, which included real events along with incidents that involved strange, wondrous and exaggerations that are implausibility. By a quick look at this diary, there are many questions worth discussing and commenting arise to understand the reality of the situation in the piracy period of Ottomans.

The diary of “Khairuddin Barbarossa”:

A disagreement occurred among historians regarding the validity of the manuscript copies of Barbarossa’s personal diary; whether these copies are in the “Barbarossa’s”, himself, handwriting or they are in the handwriting of another one? Was he really the one who dictated it to someone else to write it to him? That person who was referred to by the diary as al-Mouradi? Was it in fact that Barbarossa’s purpose of that diary to indicate the incidents in which he participated by himself or he was ordered to do? Was the idea of that personal diary on the famous captain’s mind? Was he actually order to write it by Suleiman the Magnificent, by a Hamayuni order and why? What was the purpose for that? Therefore, was it an attempt to cover up and justify the failure of the Ottoman State to undertake the sweeping military action to support the people of Andalusia? Many questions shed a light on the nature of that personal diary or, to speak, the political diary for a purpose. 

His Turkish discrimination presumed that he would despise the Arabs by curses and insults.

The diary of “Barbarossa” was published for the first time in Arabic in the year of 2010 AD. It was translated from Turkish into Arabic by Mohamed Darag, in (its first edition, Al-Asala for Publishing and Distribution, Algeria). The copy that he adopted is one of the manuscript copies that are widespread in the libraries of Istanbul. Moreover, there is another copy in the Vatican that is the oldest. There are copies in Berlin, Paris, Madrid, London and Cairo in addition to those copies available in Algeria. However, the original copy is missing? 

Hence, the uncertainty surrounds the facts of this diary along with the absence of the original from the eyes of researchers and interested people. An Algerian researcher pointed out that there is a copy in the public library in Algiers the capital, which is under the title “News of the Arrival of Arouj to Algeria and His Brother Khairuddin”. It was translated from the Ottoman language into Arabic during the 18th century AD under an order of the Mufti of the city of Algeria at that time, Ibn Ali Muhammad al-Alj (died: 1755 AD), as it was considered to be written by an unknown author. However, upon matching it with the diary of “Barbarossa”, there is an agreement in the topic of the book but a great difference in the wording of the text. So the translation into Arabic in the 18th century AD is relatively the oldest one, including its differences in the texts.

In view of what we mentioned of the multiple copies that had been written for this diary and its translation in different European languages, will the originals manuscript or even the translated version, for what it is, be important to the historians and researchers? While its terminologies differentiated, it was added to or omitted from its texts and its wording and connotations were changed in transcription and translation. Further, this diary that was fundamentally not written by “Barbarossa”, which makes it lose its historical and scientific value, its information may be a cause for uncertainties. Furthermore, there are no determination or confirmation of the historical events and facts attributed to it. Not to mention that the diary was written in an interesting narrative and epic style.

From the depth of the diary:

Although the diary was personal, they had carried a clear official political nature. As this was as a response to the order of the Magnificent. Thus, the diary was of a purely Turkish orientation and it quoted what was intended to be mentioned by the Magnificent; on the other hand, it disregarded many other things. If we quickly reviewed it, we would find that “Barbarossa” elaborated in details about the capture of his brother “Baba Arouj” for a few years and about his escape after that, as well as the calling to his brother Arouj by the Mameluke Sultan of Egypt. He pointed out how their political loyalties were distributed among the sultan of Egypt, Tunisia, and the Ottoman Sultans. In addition to his statement by saying: “It has become necessary to establish a new State in our estrangement”. Here, it appears that the ambition and aspiration of the “Barbarossa” have gone beyond the domination to the seaside, but rather desired even to the land, to extend the power of the Turks over North Africa, under the pretext of saving the lives of Andalusians who were exterminated by the Spanish. 

“The Diary” ... Is a political propaganda for “the Magnificent” written under a Sultani order.

The Diaries revealed Barbarossa’s love for the Ottoman Sultan and his absolute loyalty; which was extreme. On the contrary, the Diaries revealed his evident despise for Arabs. In his dealings with the Algerians who revolted against him, he used words full of abhorrent racism, such as saying: “Son of a bitch, Bedouins, Desert Arabs” and other Descriptions, regardless of the motives and reasons that led him to do so, it is not appropriate for a man who was famous for being the mujahid and the great sailor (the pirate) to use such lowly words, or insult and detract from the Arabs as he describe them; saying: “Arabs, Berbers and Andalusians they did not know Martial arts like the Turks, “and I see that this is a victory for his Turkish racism, and his intensity over the Arabs was observed in many situations, and in one of the texts of the Diaries he says:” At the head of the revolutionaries who had been captured was the Sheikh of the city of Algeria, and I ordered his execution and his damned body to be cut into four pieces and each of them to be hung on each of the city’s gates to be an example to others.. ” Is such a saying and deed acceptable from those who are described as a great mujahid? Or is it the morals of pirates?!. He mentioned that he had consulted the great Algerian scholars about what he should do with the 185 Algerian prisoners he has in custody, so the scholars asked him to pardon that many of them who fought the Spaniards. However, he consulted the Turkish sailors, and they asked “for firmness to strike their necks so that they set an example to others.” Then he said, “I ordered the necks of the rebel leaders to be stroke.” 

On the other hand, we find him and personally pardoning the Turkish traitors as he calls them and those who stood with the son of the judge against him and rebelled against the Sultan, and the reason for that “among them are those who rendered invaluable services to us, and among them those who are credited with eliminating many of the Spaniards’ heads and seizing their ships.” In this regard, the double standards evidently appear in dealing with his people of the traitorous Turks, which are the same reasons that led him to execute 185 Algerians and the same reasons that made him refuse the request for amnesty presented by Algerian scholars as they were the first in fighting the Spaniards and did not consider their opinion and executed them, is the same reason that made him pardon the traitors Turks because of their precedence in fighting the Spaniards before.

These Diaries, despite the events and facts they contain, are not without transgressions and unacceptable behaviors by those who claim to have saved thousands of Muslims of Andalusia from the war waged by Spain against them, out of mercy and brotherhood in religion, or are they private interests that the personal Diaries did not disclose. As the saying goes: “We condemn you from your tongue,” rather from your Diaries we condemn you.

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In order to achieve economic prosperity and benefit from them

The "Ottoman Empire"

brought Andalusian Jews closer and alienated the Muslims

After the borders of the Ottomans expanded to their new capital, Bursa, a number of followers of different religions entered, including Judaism, which became among the religions sponsored by the Ottomans. The Ottomans allowed them to establish their temple, and when the capital was changed from Bursa to Edirne, the number of Jews within the state’s borders increased. 

It seems that the Jews were in harmony with the Ottomans, as large numbers of them immigrated to the areas of Ottoman rule from the surrounding areas close to their borders. This relationship strengthened after the conquest of Constantinople, and the Jews became an important part of the history of the Ottoman Empire. The arrival of the Jews was not restricted to be from the areas surrounding the Ottomans, but it was beyond that where they flooded from faraway countries to live under the Ottomans reign.

They overlooked the crimes of the Jews and punished the Muslims with suspicion and oppression.

The most prominent of the Jewish migrations to the Ottoman Empire was in the year (1492 AD). That was the year that Andalusia fell and the rule of the Muslims finally ended, and it passed to the Spanish. The second wave of Jewish immigrants came from Andalusia in the year (1496 AD) from Portugal, as the Jews suffered from the same thing that Muslims suffered, which was persecution and exposure to the Inquisition and burning. 

It should be noted here that the Jews who flocked to the borders of the Ottoman Empire after the fall of Andalusia did not come only as a result of Spanish persecution. There was another reason, which was that the Jews of European countries encouraged other Jews to immigrate to the Ottoman Empire, after seeing the Ottomans welcome the Jews without imposing any restrictions or conditions.

There is something striking that Sultan Bayezid II, who met the delegations of Andalusian Muslims with a cold heart and indifference, was the same who assigned (Kamal Rais) the year (1492 AD) to lead an Ottoman fleet dedicated to saving the Jews from the annihilation in Andalusia. It was indicated that the rescue was for the Jews and the Muslims, while the Jews alone benefited from this rescued fleet. It was not mentioned that this fleet tried to reach the shores, fighting to save the Muslims, as its role was nothing but transportation and deportation.

The Ottoman narrative depicts this fleet as a warrior fleet, while according to the relationship based on interest in Europe with the Ottomans, it cannot support the question of the Ottoman fleet fighting the Spanish. Indeed, it is certain that it was with the knowledge of the Spaniards, and through it the Jews and Muslims fleeing torture and Christianization were transported.

The Ottomans were keen on the Jews more than their concern for the Muslims, as they forced the Muslims of Andalusia who fled to the Maghreb to recycle their efforts to establish Ottoman rule in Andalusia, away from the dream of returning to the homeland and the Andalusian land. The Ottomans kept the Jews in their lands: Thessaloniki, Edirne and Izmir. This was because they had experiences in commerce, economics, knowledge and science, so they benefited from being close to them much more than from the cries of fleeing Muslims, whose concern was nothing but revenge and return to their land.

Whereas the Ottomans forced the Muslims of Andalusia into wars, liquidations, and political calculations, in return they granted privileges and higher positions to the Jews. That matter provoked the grudge of other Christians, including the Romans and Armenians. This is because they entered into a fierce competition with the Jews by approaching the Ottoman court.

The Ottomans were more tolerant and harmonious with the Jews. While they overlooked the transgressions and mistakes of the Jews, they were practicing the most severe forms of injustice and oppression with Arab Muslims and others. One of the things that confirms this is their disregard for the movement that the Jewish “Shabtai Zifi” made in the year 1648 CE. He claimed to be the Christ, and he announced his prophethood from Palestine, and the state understood him after he declared his conversion to Islam, then he converted from Islam and then declared his conversion to Islam again. At the same time, he established for the Jews of the Donme (meaning returnees). And from his movement, he became among the Turkish Muslims who belonged to the Jewish Donme sect with Islamic names and an Islamic identity, and through it they exercised all their activities and control over the Ottomans because of the high powers and positions they were giving them.

All the Donme Jews in the Ottoman Empire were from Andalusian Jews who were received by the Ottoman Empire. Comparing the Ottomans’ behavior towards Andalusia, we find that they brought the Jews closer because they achieved different interests, while neglecting the Andalusian Muslims and employed them in the service of their colonial interests in the Maghreb. This means that the Ottoman decisions favored the interest of the state over religion and everything that contradicted it, regardless of its religious belief.