Ottomanism at its Final Gasp: Memoirs of the Ottomans on Duty in Arab Provinces during World War I

Can Eyup Cekic
Content Type
Journal Article
Turkish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Issue Number
Publication Date
Sakarya University (SAU)
This study aims to expose the ways in which leading officials of the Committee of Union and Progress (the CUP) interpreted, internalized, and questioned the conditions of their mission in Arab lands during World War I (WWI). It builds on the memoirs of Falih Rıfkı, aide-de-camp of Commander-in-Chief Cemal Pasha, and Halide Edip, an ardent supporter of the social and educational reforms of the CUP government. Both written after the war, these memoirs reflect not only nostalgia and regret but also the complicated relationship between Turkish officials and Arabs on the eve of their breakup from one another as citizens of the Ottoman State. The study also questions the orthodox argument that the Turkist and anti-Arabic ideology of the CUP government in general and Cemal Pasha’s wartime crusade against Arab nationalists in particular triggered the emergence of Arab nationalism. By contemplating the memoirs of CUP members in Arab lands, this study argues that Falih Rıfkı, Cemal Pasha, and Halide Edip tried to understand the region and its people in order to create a mutual future for Turks and Arabs within the Ottoman Empire.
Nationalism, War, Citizenship, World War I
Political Geography
Europe, Turkey, Asia, Ottoman Empire