Caliphate Demise Reshaped the World Map, Brought Anguish to Palestine Featured

By Hassan Al-Qabbani March 10, 2024 239

In an interview with “Al-Mujtama,” Dr. Khairy Omar, former professor of Political Science at Sakarya University in Turkey and an expert in Middle Eastern affairs, affirmed that the fall of the Ottoman Empire reshaped the world map and harmed Palestine under the ambitions of Western colonial powers and the desire for American dominance.

He emphasized that the demise of the Ottoman Empire was primarily due to internal reasons, alongside the Western colonial powers' alignment against it. Regarding the possibility of reclaiming this historical experience, he clarified that a return to an empire or unity is the result of several countries converging to assert their position in the world and the international system.


The Sèvres Treaty marked the final stage in determining the fate of the Ottoman Caliphate

  • Do you agree with those who believe that the outcomes of World War I were the final nail in the coffin of the Ottoman Caliphate?
  •  Certainly, the Ottoman Caliphate emerged from World War I in a state of disintegration. Its alliance with Germany and Austria contributed to the final stage of the eastern division of its territories into independent states according to the Sèvres Treaty on August 10, 1920. This agreement dealt a severe blow to the Ottoman state, as its provinces became sitting ducks to the ambitions of European occupying powers. Historically, this treaty marks the beginning of the end for the Ottoman state, as these powers preyed on what they used to call “the heritage of the sick man.” Turkey succumbed under British, Greek, Italian, and French occupation until the signing of the “Lausanne” Treaty in Switzerland in 1923 between Turkey, the successor to the Ottoman state, and the Allies.Top of Form


  • How did the fall of the Caliphate impact the shaping of the new world system?
  • The Western world sowed contradictions within the territories of the Caliphate, working to prevent the emergence of an alternative imperial entity to the Ottoman Caliphate, as had been customary in the Islamic world from the Umayyad Caliphate to the Ottoman Empire. This contributed to the rise of Arab and Turkish nationalist movements and aspirations for rebellion and independence from the Ottoman state.


The World War I ruined what remained of the Islamic Empire

Soon after the defeat in World War I, the official abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate took place on March 3, 1924, following the removal of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed VI. Subsequently, Western colonial powers hastened to tighten their grip on the world to prevent the emergence of an alternative to the Ottoman state.

On the background of the “Great Arab Revolt,” the conflict between the Ottoman state and its subordinate provinces escalated, especially regarding participation in the war alongside Britain. This coincided with the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916, which defined the division of the Middle East. The outcome was the British occupation of Palestine, placing it under mandate, paving the way for the establishment of the Zionist state, along with the French mandate on Lebanon and Syria. The “Balfour Declaration” was rapidly announced on November 2, 1917, promising a homeland for Jews in Palestine, marking a decisive turn.

In tandem with these developments, Western recognition of nationalist governments and the strengthening of independence nationalistic tendencies made the emergence of a large international dominant empire, such as the United States, seem very easy. This appeared as if it were an inheritance for the world after the overthrow of the largest empire, the Islamic Empire.


The failure to find an alternative to the Ottomans contributed to the rise of American dominance

  •   Was the influence of Western powers the sole reason for the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate, or were there internal, self-inflicted reasons as well?
  • The collapse of major empires begins from within, and later external factors intervene. In the case of the Ottoman Caliphate in its final years, signs of weakness appeared, and continuous rebellion attempts increased. It failed to possess the appropriate and various sources of strength amid economic crises and mounting debts. This contributed to enhancing the chances of success for Western colonial powers in eliminating the Caliphate. It is crucial to pay close attention to this because a powerful empire or state cannot fall unless it first disintegrates internally.


  • Did Sultan Abdulhamid II's rejection of Jewish migration to Palestine hasten the downfall of the Caliphate, making Palestine bear the consequences to this day?
  • Sultan Abdulhamid II's rejection can be considered a moral resistance and a historical stance that, to some extent, contributed to reinforcing the view of the Caliphate as an obstacle and a barrier against Western colonial powers. However, the factors leading to the fall of the Caliphate were many, involving both internal weaknesses and external conspiracies, not only based on this rejection.
  • If the Caliphate had persisted, corrected its course, and restored its strength, it could have been a strong supporter of Palestine. However, with the ongoing Zionist aggression on Gaza and the West Bank, particularly after the “Al-Aqsa Flood” battle, it can be said that Palestine has regained a small part of the supportive presence, especially on a broad popular level.


“Sikes-Picot” and the “Balfour Declaration” shaped the Arab region and swallowed Palestine


  • Does the new world accept any form of unity for the Islamic Ummah, whether under the name of the Caliphate, the Islamic states' union, or any other label?
  • Empires create themselves, set their own conditions, and don't seek anyone’s permission. When the Islamic Ummah possesses a strong revival coming from the accumulation of comprehensive power and the establishment of vast economic and productive foundations, no one can dictate to it whether it declares its unity or not. Everyone yields to the powerful. What is happening now is that the conflict persists among the dominant powers, whether it's the United States, China, or Russia, the successor of the Soviet Union, in an attempt to assert dominance over one another, making it a priority for these major nations.


The fall of great empires begins from within, followed by the impact of external factors  

  •  Some argue that, after accusing “ISIS” of distorting the concept of the Caliphate, the Ummah needs to coin a new term similar to the European Union. What is your perspective on this?
  •  This is a complex issue that intertwines politics, jurisprudence, and reality. There are different jurisprudential rulings regarding the concept of the Caliphate, and what I find a relief is that it's a speculative matter that can be reinforced by the catalyst of unity under any appropriate form or title. I believe that the extremists of “ISIS” did not obliterate the vision of unity, and there is a more important problem: Islamic activist organizations have not presented a clear vision of the concept of the Caliphate. Therefore, there is a severe deficiency that can be compensated for by correcting the course of existing organizations in the Islamic world to possess comprehensive sources of power.


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