This is Episode 08 of Payitaht Abdul Hameed. In March 1878, the Russians and the Ottomans marked a Treaty at San Stefano, a little town situated on the edges of Istanbul. By its terms, the Ottomans surrendered the regions of Kars, Ardahan and Batum in the east to Russia. The Straits would be available to Russian delivery. The freedom of Rumania, Montenegro, Serbia and Bulgaria was recognized. Montenegro and Serbia were extended to incorporate enormous segments of Bosnia and Albania. Bulgaria was compensated with all of eastern Rumelia and northern Thrace and its regions developed in excess of three overlay to stretch out from the Danube River to the Aegean Sea. The fantasy of the Czars to make a Balkan political scene commanded by Russia was satisfied. The Ottomans consented to pay a war repayment of 24 billion kurush to the Czar over a time of 100 years. Summarily, the terms were downright give up by the Ottomans.
The Treaty of San Stefano was unsuitable to the next European forces. England and France were against a Russian overwhelmed Bulgaria stretching out to the Aegean Sea. Austria questioned Russian impact over Serbia and Montenegro. Bismarck of Germany, aligned with Austria and Russia in the League of the Three Emperors, understood that except if fast advances were taken to defuse the circumstance, war may emit between his two partners. Thusly, he consented to assemble a gathering of the chief powers in Berlin, wherein every one of the provisions of the Treaty of San Stefano would be renegotiated. The Treaty of Berlin, which finished up in July 1878, partitioned Bulgaria into three sections. The northern part would be self-sufficient under Russian direction however would pay a yearly tribute to the Sultan. The subsequent part, east Rumelia, would be under Ottoman control yet with a blended Muslim-Christian organization regulated by the forces. The southern part, comprising of Thrace and southern Rumelia were come back to coordinate Ottoman organization. Bosnia-Herzegovina was put under Austrian control. The freedom of Montenegro and Serbia was avowed. As a "safety measure" against further Russian military weight against the Porte, Britain involved Cyprus on the appearance that it could quickly react to any future dangers by the Czar. Footrest war repayments to Russia were diminished to 350,000 kurush every year for a long time. The Conference of Berlin along these lines fixed the destiny of the Ottoman Empire in Europe with just a rear end swath of region left to interface Istanbul with Albania. Toward the east, the Ottomans lost a few areas in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Maybe, as fundamentally, the expense of the war depleted them monetarily. The war reimbursements to Russia added to the officially devastating obligation installments to European investors.
The Russian attack of 1877-1878 and its result profoundly affected the youthful Sultan. Abdul Hamid understood the pointlessness of clutching European regions where the Christians were a dominant part. His Christian vassals had revolted and had supported the Russians, regardless of the changes established under the tanzeemat and in spite of the portrayal given to them in the new Ottoman parliament. He was profoundly baffled with the chief forces which had let down the Ottomans notwithstanding their settlement commitments. It wound up clear that the chief forces wanted nothing not exactly add up to evisceration of the Ottoman Empire. These feelings of trepidation were before long affirmed by French proceeds onward North Africa and British proceeds onward Egypt. The war had brought a huge number of Muslim outcasts into Istanbul, escaping the mass butcher that pursued the Russian development. Having lost everything in their flight, these displaced people were amazingly severe towards their Christian neighbors. These components made the Sultan walk out on Europe and reorient his concentration towards the Muslim Middle East.
The inquiry before the Sultan was this: How could the Caliph separate from Christian Europe without mortification so the Muslim center of the Empire was safeguarded and given a core to future Islamic political recharging? This was a change in perspective for the Ottomans who had cut out their European realm (1350-1453) well before their push into Syria, Egypt and Arabia (1517).
The Sultan’s tilt towards the Islamic Middle East contrasted with the main thrust of the tanzeemat towards multi-religious Ottomanism and introduced an element of tension in the Ottoman governing circles which persisted well into the 20th century. Ottomanism was also challenged by the rising tide of nationalism in the Balkans. This introduced a second element of tension in the empire. A third element of tension was traditionalism versus modernism. There were those in the empire, the ulema and the kadis, who desired a slow evolution of society and its institutions from its Islamic past. And there were those among the more secular men of the tanzeemat and the non-Muslim millets, who desired a more secular approach. These tensions were exacerbated by the continuing imperial ambitions of the European powers.
To save what was left of the empire, the Sultan desired a faster modernization of the empire using a centralized approach. The men of the tanzeemat, too, desired reforms, but despite the experience of the war and the letdown by the Christians in the Balkans, they persisted in the belief that constitutionalism was the best way to bring about change. The two approaches were bound to clash, and they did. And in its aftermath, the empire first moved towards autocracy and pan-Islamism and then swung back towards parliamentary rule and secularism.
The stipulations of the Berlin Treaty and the intentions of the principal powers to respect Ottoman sovereignty were soon tested in Tunisia. The North African territories around Tunis were long under the control of local beys. The Ottomans had maintained nominal control over the beys through a provincial governor and a military garrison. The French, after consolidating their hold on Algeria (1830), extended their ambitions to Tunisia. The first moves were made on the economic and financial fronts. The free spending beys borrowed heavily from the French bankers and soon found themselves in so much debt that they could not make payments on the interest and principal. To extract the debt payments, the European powers established the Tunisian Debt Commission in 1869 and assumed control of its public services as well as raw materials. In 1881, the British offered Tunisia to the French to buy their acquiescence to British occupation of Cyprus. Realizing that a refusal would mean Tunisia would be offered to the Italians, the French army moved into Tunis and declared it a French “protectorate”. Sultan Abdul Hamid protested under terms of the Berlin Treaty, but in realpolitik only the voice of the powerful speaks. The European powers turned a deaf ear to the Sultan’s pleas.
More serious was the British occupation of Egypt, the jewel of the Ottoman Empire. By 1878, the focus of global history had shifted from the Mediterranean to Asia. The interests of Great Britain were now focused on its Indian Empire. British interests lay in controlling the sea-lanes to India. That meant control of Egypt, which was still nominally an Ottoman province. Egypt was the cultural center of the empire and was, until its occupation by Sultan Selim I, the seat of the Caliphate. It was the most populous of the Ottoman provinces and the gateway to Africa.