Ottoman Empire, Egypt and Iran before 1914


OttomanEmpire, Egypt and Iran before 1914

Beforethe beginning of the First World War, the Ottoman Empire wasundergoing a rapid transition and disintegration. In the medievalperiod through to the modern era, the Ottoman Empire was the superpower in the world. Its influence extended from central Europe toPersian Gulf, the modern holy lands, Egypt and the northern parts ofAfrica. In the 18thand 19thcentury, the empire was faced with numerous challenges mainly due toinept leadership by some of the sultans which limited its expansionsin the 17thcentury and the beginning of degradation in the 19thcentury. Throughout the 19thcentury, Ottomans made numerous attempts to retail influence on theempire with limited success. By the second half of the 19thcentury, the empire was referred to as the “sick man of Europe”.The attempts to revive the empire were crippled by growingnationalisms and emergence of regional groups that were determined tosecure their independence. Additionally, the formidable military thatprotected the supremacy of the empire declined significantlyresulting into unsuccessful wars. The decline of the empire in theearly 20thcentury was an important concern among emerging European powers.Britain and Germany hoped that if the Ottoman Empire would holdtogether, it would be an important buffer zone against theAustria-Hungary and the Russian territorial ambitions. As a result,Western Europe powers sought to preserve and form alliances with theOttoman Empire in the early 20thcentury123.

Althoughthe British were one of the western powers that attempted to preservethe Ottoman Empire, it was determined to protect Egypt. Egypt becamepart of the British Empire in 1882, although it was not declared anofficial colony. The original plan was to withdraw the British troopsfrom Egypt as soon as Khedive authority was restored. However, toprotect Egypt, withdrawal was not an option. This is because themilitary intervention by the European power had weakened theauthority of Khedive Tawfiq while protecting his from beingoverthrown. Thus, to protect its interests, it was necessary toreform and protect Egypt through continued military presence.However, this was viewed as a change in the British policy becauseit’s had expressed its interests in preserving the Ottoman Empire.Egypt was an important territory in the Ottoman Empire and wascritical in reforming the empire. However, it is important to notethat the Ottoman Empire sultan had declined to intervene and protectthe Khedival government as requested by the British. Additionally,while the influence of the German in the Ottoman Empire was rising,British influence was declining. To preserve its interests,especially the access to Suez Canal, reforming and strengthening itsinfluence in Egypt was necessary. A series of event led to thedeclaration of Egypt as a British protectorate in 19144.

Throughout19thcentury, Russia and Britain has struggled over the influence of Iran.By the late 19thcentury, the British controlled the southern part of Iran which theRussians controlled the northern part. The two European powersformalized the division of Iran in 1907, where the country wasdivided into three zone, British zone, Russian zone and buffer zone.Both powers did not support the traditional absolute monarchgovernment in Iran. Both European powers sought to extend theirimperial power and benefit from their presence in Iran rather thatreforming and preserving the country. Following the emergence of theFirst World War, Iran became a battleground which made its situationworse5.


Egypt,From Occupational to Normal Independence, 1882-1923.

Iran,The Quajars, 1795-1925., 1800-1900,, 1900–1921,, Ataturkand the Turkish Nation,

1 The, 1800-1900,

2 The,1900–1921,

3 The, Ataturk and the Turkish Nation,

4 Egypt, From Occupational to Normal Independence, 1882-1923.

5 Iran, The Quajars, 1795-1925.