How long could've the Ottoman Empire last had it not entered WWI?

So this is scenario where the Ottoman Empire remains neutral in WWI. What is the realistic period of how long could've the empire lasted? And how would it have ended?
 
I think in 1960's Ottoman Empire becomes A-H like federation between Turks and Arabs. Border between two states probably would be OTL Misak-i Milli borders. "Arab State" gradually becomes defacto independent. Eventually it becomes commonwealth. Only shares common symbolic head of state. Without WWI, there is no reason for abolishment of Sultanate and Caliphate. Since 1909, Sultan was already a figurehead like British monarchs.
No Ottoman involment in WWI is certainly Entente victory in 1916/17. If Russian revolution still happens, Ottomans could have seized Transcaucasia.
 
It is quiet possible that OE would survive to nowadays if it just can keep some control over Arabs. But it is probably quiet easy when there probably is not rise of Arab nationalism and many tribes would are loyal to Constantinople.
 
It is quiet possible that OE would survive to nowadays if it just can keep some control over Arabs. But it is probably quiet easy when there probably is not rise of Arab nationalism and many tribes would are loyal to Constantinople.
Wouldn't there be some kind growing Arab nationalist movements that would bring challenge to the empire? What about government? Would it be democratic or authoritarian? If it ends up being authoritarian, then you could see some kind of Arab Spring happen and the country plunging into civil war like in Syria.
 
Wouldn't there be some kind growing Arab nationalist movements that would bring challenge to the empire?

The so-called Arabist movement began to make headway amongst the educated classes of the Levant in the late 19th century, but it was predominantly focused on making the Arabs equal partners in governing the empire. At the First Arab Congress held in Paris in 1913, the delegates sought decentralization, provincial autonomy and equal civil rights, Arab participation in all levels of government and the establishment of Arabic as an official language. Thus, their political aspirations were, as one of the founders of the Young Arab Society (also known as al-Fatat) put it, “... to have the Empire composed of two great nationalities, Turk and Arab.” The CUP did make certain concessions to the Arabists following the Paris congress and seemed to have successfully coopted the movement by the time WW1 began. Then Jamal Pasha’s draconian wartime governorship of the Levantine provinces managed to evaporate that rapport, even though the vast majority of the Arab populace by and large remained loyal to the Ottoman state, or at least adopted a benevolent neutral attitude towards it.

If the CUP stays out of the war, then the Ottomans might very well have continued the trajectory of cooperation with the Arab elites under some kind of confederation.
 
In truth, the Ottoman Empire in 1914 was where the Austro-Hungarian Empire would be in 1918.

It was already exhausted and bankrupted by wars - the recent conflicts with Italy and in the Balkans had seen to that. The Empire could, put simply, not afford to be neutral - they needed the economic and military support joining one of the European Alliances would provide.

While it didn't really matter whether the Ottomans sided with the Entente or the Central Powers, we can argue victory for the Entente would undoubtedly have strengthened the hand of the Slavs in the Balkans and the Russians in the Black Sea making them a direct threat to Constantinople. The British and French also had a strong presence in the eastern Mediterranean.

That ruled out an alliance with the Entente leaving the Central Powers as the only alternative.

I suspect the Pashas hoped a quick victory for the Central Powers would bring German money and expertise pouring in as the price of victory and that would re-vitalise and re-invigorate the Empire.

A stronger Empire could have stayed out of WW1 but the events of 1911-13 had left the Empire so weak it could not afford neutrality.
 
A stable OE in the middle east butterflies so many things, like Saudi Arabia, Israel, ISIS, No Wahhabism = No Islamic terrorism, No 9/11

World would be a better place.
 

Grey Wolf

Gone Fishin'
Maybe Spain is a good analogy. The country avoids the disasters of war, but its own internal politics begin to break down. I don't think this will be Turk v Arab, so much as traditional v modernist. I don't mean that a traditional Turkish government cannot adopt modern methods, I mean that the opposition would embrace social democracy and all that that brings with it. Spain swung through various ways to avoid a final conflict before ending up in the civil war. In 1914 the idea of a Spanish Civil War on those lines would have seemed highly unlikely. Twenty years later it was seeming inevitable. Just as I don't believe in an inevitable fall, I also don't believe in an inevitable survival.
 
In truth, the Ottoman Empire in 1914 was where the Austro-Hungarian Empire would be in 1918.

It was already exhausted and bankrupted by wars - the recent conflicts with Italy and in the Balkans had seen to that. The Empire could, put simply, not afford to be neutral - they needed the economic and military support joining one of the European Alliances would provide.

While it didn't really matter whether the Ottomans sided with the Entente or the Central Powers, we can argue victory for the Entente would undoubtedly have strengthened the hand of the Slavs in the Balkans and the Russians in the Black Sea making them a direct threat to Constantinople. The British and French also had a strong presence in the eastern Mediterranean.

That ruled out an alliance with the Entente leaving the Central Powers as the only alternative.

I suspect the Pashas hoped a quick victory for the Central Powers would bring German money and expertise pouring in as the price of victory and that would re-vitalise and re-invigorate the Empire.

A stronger Empire could have stayed out of WW1 but the events of 1911-13 had left the Empire so weak it could not afford neutrality.
I'm not so sure about that... seems to me that in the condition the OE was in after the Balkan Wars and the Italo-Turkish War, it could've afforded to stay neutral far easier than it afforded to jump straight into another war... especially one that no one in The Porte other than Enver Pasha wanted to jump into.
 
A stable OE in the middle east butterflies so many things, like Saudi Arabia, Israel, ISIS, No Wahhabism = No Islamic terrorism, No 9/11

World would be a better place.
As much as I would've liked for at least four of those to be butterflied away... a hundred years is a long time, and some concepts have ways of rearing their ugly heads long after they should've been thoroughly discredited and forgotten about.
For example, Saudi Arabia/Wahhabism - if memory serves me correctly, the Saudis had effectively wrested control of the Hasa away from Ottoman oversight by 1913, before WWI. If they were able to hang onto it until oil was discovered in the late 1930's, I guarantee you it wouldn't have made a shit to the British (assuming that they still effectively control the Gulf) just how fanatical an interpretation of Islam the Saudis followed - business is business, after all...
 
Maybe Spain is a good analogy. The country avoids the disasters of war, but its own internal politics begin to break down. I don't think this will be Turk v Arab, so much as traditional v modernist. I don't mean that a traditional Turkish government cannot adopt modern methods, I mean that the opposition would embrace social democracy and all that that brings with it. Spain swung through various ways to avoid a final conflict before ending up in the civil war. In 1914 the idea of a Spanish Civil War on those lines would have seemed highly unlikely. Twenty years later it was seeming inevitable. Just as I don't believe in an inevitable fall, I also don't believe in an inevitable survival.
Yeah, but there's still a Spain :) a constitutional-monarchy-Spain on top of that, and one that seems to be doing quite well by most measures.
I don't see the OE surviving indefinitely in its 1914 borders though, even with no WWI. Even without British, French, Russian meddling (and no way that would last for 100 years!) I think there would be... centrifugal forces from the Arab lands demanding something more than just greater autonomy - especially once oil started being discovered in more places than Kirkuk.
But some survival within ethnically Turkish (or Turkish-Kurdish-Armenian-Greek, since WWI doesn't happen) lands of a modernized, truly constitutional Ottoman Empire? Could happen...
 
“Wikipedia” said:
A major factor in Unionist thinking was the "devaluation of life", the belief that eastern peoples like the Japanese and the Turks attached no value to human life including their own, and unlike the westerners who allegedly clung pathetically to their lives when confronted with danger, easterners supposedly died willingly and happily for the cause.[66] The Unionists intended to emulate the Japanese example by creating a militaristic educational system designed to make every man a soldier and every woman into essentially a soldier-making machine; the concept of jihad would play the same role in motivating the Turkish soldier to fight and die for the caliph (regarded as Allah's representative on the Earth) as bushido did for the Japanese soldier to die for his emperor (regarded by the Japanese as a living god).[66] Ultimately for the Unionists, war was a test of wills, and the side that had the stronger will and hence lesser fear of death would always prevail
Maybe the Ottomans become an Imperial Japan equivalent, with its own colonial ambitions in Turkestan and elsewhere, and goes to war with Britain and gets occupied?
 
Maybe the Ottomans become an Imperial Japan equivalent, with its own colonial ambitions in Turkestan and elsewhere, and goes to war with Britain and gets occupied?
That would be one NASTY conflict... and, left to the devices of the CUP, Enver, Talaat - war with (at least) one of the great powers (probably the UK or Russia) would've been practically inevitable. And would have possibly turned out even worse for the OE than the OTL WWI and subsequent conflicts did.
 

Germaniac

Donor
Here's my post from a week or so ago on the
same topic

The Ottoman decision to join the Great War was based on a mistaken feeling that the war would be over quickly and that the Ottomans needed a European benefactor to protect it from expansion by it's neighbors. If they join the war I firmly believe that no matter the outcome the Ottoman Empire will collapse for the following reasons (though not a complete list).

  • The Entente won't accept an alliance with the Turks; The French spent much of the prior decade if not supporting then tacitly agreeing with Italian and Russian designs on the Empire, while the British were very much opposed to the Young Turks (NOT the same as the CUP which is a whole other conversation)
  • By joining the war the Ottomans became so indebted to the Germans that it is unlikely they could have held off Germany's dominance over them, destroying the CUP's whole image of removing European dominance over the Empire. They will lose the support of even its supporters across the Empire
  • Once Russia crosses into Eastern Anatolia it will be impossible to stop the retaliation and murder of the Armenian populations of the Empire. The Turks saw them as a 5th column and as supporters of Russian intervention (though this is highly debatable) and once the war in the East turned against the Turks, which is almost unavoidable, they Turks will look for someone to blame regardless of the facts on the ground. These tactics will bite the Turks back and sap the moral and concrete support of western powers, specifically Germany (and considering the eminent position Germany will be in the Government will be forced to acquiesce to their demands further deteriorating the CUP's position) .
  • The Manpower shortage throughout the Empire due to the mass conscription the war brought ruining whatever progress the Empire made and led to starvation and economic collapse across the Empire by late war. This would not be solved by winning the war and the CUP will have again lost the faith of the population and civil unrest will be unavoidable.
  • While the success of the Arab revolts are greatly exaggerated, it will leave a significant lost cause mentality among many of the Arab communities, especially if the Turks react post-war similarly as they did with the Armenians. losing the support of the Arab territories in the future will be likely.
  • The military reforms since 1908 proved themselves effective by the First World War (and arguably in the Balkan War, though again that's a story for another time). This can be seen in the early parts of the war (save for the disaster of Sarikamish, more to due with Enver's complete incompetence) However, the war would see the ruin of many of those gains. The officer corp, painstakingly developed over the prior decades, was decimated and the trained forces were wiped out. The intelligentsia of the Ottomans was unique in that it was primarily located among the officer corp and civil servants (all of whom were trained in military schools) and with them wiped out reform would be difficult.
  • Lastly, the Three Pasha's were the worst the CUP had to offer. The war allowed them to consolidate power and set the nation back decades.
However, if the Ottomans avoid entering the war they will find themselves in an enviable situation.

  • Firstly and most importantly, the Three Pasha's will have only a shaky power over the Empire. The real key here though is avoiding the assassination of Mahmud Shevket Pasha, whose preeminence will restrict the "Three Pashas" from wielding unrestricted power. Even without this the Pasha's will not be able to hold dictatorial power for long (something Shevket Pasha realized after the the 1909 counter revolution) and will need to hand power back to the assembly, which would be similar in composition to the 1912 CUP assembly.
  • With Europe embroiled in the war, the Ottomans will be in a unique position of abrogate the capitulations which held the country back from real reform. In OTL this was done on the 1st of October 1914, about a month prior to joining the war. At this time the Turks were still hesitant to join the war with many loud voices (including Djemal Pasha who was vehemently against joining the Central Powers) calling for the Empire to remain neutral in the conflict. If the choose to not join the war they will still go ahead with getting rid of the capitulations and while the European powers will loudly complain and refuse to recognize this, there will be no unified response and by the time the war is over the abrogation will be a fait accompli.
  • When Serbia falls to the Bulgarians and Austrians the Ottomans will be in a fantastic position to feed the central powers. The British will likely engage in a 'quarantine' of militarily important resources to the empire, but they will be unable to stop internal transactions. Food production, without mass conscription, will continue the pre-Balkan War growth and along with the agricultural reforms enacted the Empire will quickly become a net food exporter and will benefit greatly from the ever increasing cost of grain.
    • This will also provide the impetus that the Turkish landlords needed (as they saw little need prior to the war due to the lower cost to import food than to expand production) to expand food production and modernize agriculture practices.
  • With the abrogation of capitulations the Turks will also be able to increase tariffs without the interference of the European powers. This was done during the war and it quickly helped the burgeoning industry of the Empire. The creation of investment banks, owned and operated by the government, will provide capital to start these ventures and the financial and inheritance reforms of 1914 and 1915 will greatly help provide the stability needed to entice entrepreneurship. This would be a very similar situation, though likely even more successful without 20 years of constant warfare and destruction, to Mustafa Kemal's reforms of the 20's.
  • Without access to French and German money markets the Ottomans will turn to the United States for its financial needs. In return the American bankers will likely demand an American be placed on the Council of the Public Debt Administration (I'll get on this further below). This would actually be a greatly beneficial thing for the OPDA and the Empire in general. Allowing American penetration into the Ottoman markets and investment opportunities (which were widely blocked by European interests, now too busy with fighting to obstruct them) will be a perfect balance to the European powers after the War ends, whoever wins out. American investment, especially in railroad and oil sector, will also bring significant expertise without the political baggage the British/French/German interest would bring.
  • The OPDA... The OPDA is probably the most misunderstood aspect of the late Ottoman Empire. While it was a symbol of European dominance over the Empire it was actually the single most important institution to the reform of the Empire. Unlike other foreign financial commissions in Greece, Egypt, Venezuela and others the OPDA was not directed under the influence of the European governments. The board of the OPDA was appointed and run by the bondholder of the debt and not appointees of the respective governments those bondholders lived in. This led to a very unique situation where the OPDA was actually looking to improve the economic prosperity of the Empire, often at the detriment the Western Powers. They invested in infrastructure projects throughout the empire, increased agricultural production among the ceded revenues, worked out an agreement with the Porte to provide 75% of all surplus funds to the Porte's budget, and invested heavily into the modernization and reform of the Gendarmarie. Without the war the OPDA will continue its work and continue to see its profits (and likewise the profits handed to the government) increase, especially as exports greatly increase to the belligerent powers in Europe, while at the same time continuing the be a moderating influence on the more extreme positions taken by some CUP government officials.
With that said here is how I see the future panning out for the Empire following its neutrality in the Great War

During the war the Ottomans will have begun to develop it's own young Industrial centers, with textile factories and tobacco production being the primary movers based in Bursa, Adana, and central Anatolia primarily. While small, this serves as a solid foundation to build on. Due to the centralization focus of the CUP these factories will mostly be run through government monopolies which will feed the profits directly into new projects and investments (much as Kemals program would a decade later). With American investment and economic penetration growing American Oil and Railway companies will come to replace many of the German and British companies now unable to provide the investments needed. Oil production is still a ways away but considering the strength of the Ottoman position compared to the weak new Arab governments they will be able to secure (especially with involvement of the OPDA) ownership stakes as well as royalties.

The Entente is still likely to win the conflict, especially without the need to expend troops in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, and Palestine. While the Entente will not be happy about the Ottoman actions during the war, their populations will be totally unwilling to do anything about it. Any attack on the Ottomans will take far more than anyone is willing to go and British and French financial markets no longer have the leverage they had prior to the war. The British in particular will begin to see the Turks as an exceptionally useful partner in it's new global initiative to isolate and surround Revolutionary Russia along with Japan. It would not be out of the realm of possibility to see a British-Japanese-Ottoman Alliance develop to contain Soviet Russia (which I would argue would still happen regardless of the Marmara being open to Russian traffic).

The Unionist government would continue it's reform and centralization projects, while facing particular unrest in Yemen and the Hejaz. The Armenians, especially with American interference and economic penetration in Eastern Anatolia, will not face the same persecution without the war and the CUP and the ARF will likely reconcile its differences (prior to 1912 the ARF was supportive of the Young Turks and with further reforms, especially the eradication of the Hamidye irregular forces and it's replacement with Armenian majority gendarmarie forces being the most important reform. The 20's will see the Army, having fully embraced the CUP after 1912, taking an active roll in suppressing anti-government unrest. Kurdistan, Yemen, and Hejaz will be the primary hotspots, but there could be others. By the end of the decade the infrastructure development and the growth of the Gendarmarie will have brought even the most distant fringes of the Empire under Centralized government control.

Oil Production will also ramp up considerably by the late 20's. With the demand for production being driven by the OPDA development will move at a greater pace, though this will have the side effect of oil prices continuing to drop even further than OTL, this will greatly impact Mexico's economy in particular with lower oil prices slowing its recovery. The early returns on oil export will be funneled into debt repayment and further investment in agricultural modernization (forced modernization will likely take place, with reluctant landowners being 'relieved' of their holdings and handed over to government monopolies) and large scale irrigation projects (OTL planned) in Cilicia and Mosul, with hydroelectric energy produced fueling industrial growth in Central Anatolia, Syria, northern Iraq, and the Cilician plain.

By the early 30's the Ottomans will be well on their way to developing a balanced economy and not entirely focused on Oil development. Not all things will be rosy, as centralization will engender growing friction among the more conservative elements in the Empire, while religious tensions will continue to be an issue (as it was prior to WW1). I won't speculate further than that because I'm already tired of typing but I understand this is painting a much rosier perspective than many here would agree with... but for those of you out there... I know I am glossing over a lot of the issues they will face and the messier aspects of them, but even with those happening I think in the grand scale what I laid out is pretty realistic based on the CUP and Young Turks development plans as well as what happened in OTL under Mustafa Kemals Republic of Turkey.
 

Germaniac

Donor
I think in 1960's Ottoman Empire becomes A-H like federation between Turks and Arabs. Border between two states probably would be OTL Misak-i Milli borders. "Arab State" gradually becomes defacto independent. Eventually it becomes commonwealth. Only shares common symbolic head of state. Without WWI, there is no reason for abolishment of Sultanate and Caliphate. Since 1909, Sultan was already a figurehead like British monarchs.
No Ottoman involment in WWI is certainly Entente victory in 1916/17. If Russian revolution still happens, Ottomans could have seized Transcaucasia.

I disagree with the idea that the Arab areas of the Empire would break away. A surviving empire will have been very integrated by that point and indepence would probably cause more issues than interdependence. A federal system more like the US or Germany than the AH.
 

Germaniac

Donor
In truth, the Ottoman Empire in 1914 was where the Austro-Hungarian Empire would be in 1918.

It was already exhausted and bankrupted by wars - the recent conflicts with Italy and in the Balkans had seen to that. The Empire could, put simply, not afford to be neutral - they needed the economic and military support joining one of the European Alliances would provide.

While it didn't really matter whether the Ottomans sided with the Entente or the Central Powers, we can argue victory for the Entente would undoubtedly have strengthened the hand of the Slavs in the Balkans and the Russians in the Black Sea making them a direct threat to Constantinople. The British and French also had a strong presence in the eastern Mediterranean.

That ruled out an alliance with the Entente leaving the Central Powers as the only alternative.

I suspect the Pashas hoped a quick victory for the Central Powers would bring German money and expertise pouring in as the price of victory and that would re-vitalise and re-invigorate the Empire.

A stronger Empire could have stayed out of WW1 but the events of 1911-13 had left the Empire so weak it could not afford neutrality.

While not entirely wrong, you are over exaggerating the financial difficulties. The Empire could have absolutely weathered the storm with American loans, which would have been forthcoming without European intervention. The reason they felt they needed an alliance was because they wanted someone to protect their sovereignty, which was threatened by the British and Russian Reval agreement.

If you read the German Ottoman Alliance there is absolutely nothing in it requiring them to join the war... it was intentional.
 

Germaniac

Donor
Maybe Spain is a good analogy. The country avoids the disasters of war, but its own internal politics begin to break down. I don't think this will be Turk v Arab, so much as traditional v modernist. I don't mean that a traditional Turkish government cannot adopt modern methods, I mean that the opposition would embrace social democracy and all that that brings with it. Spain swung through various ways to avoid a final conflict before ending up in the civil war. In 1914 the idea of a Spanish Civil War on those lines would have seemed highly unlikely. Twenty years later it was seeming inevitable. Just as I don't believe in an inevitable fall, I also don't believe in an inevitable survival.

I think the subsequent Kemalist regime in Turkey shows that social democracy was not a significant factor, as the Kemalist ideology was an extention of the statist policies of the CUP. Had social democracy been more popular the Liberal entete would have veen more successful at the ballot box.

I think heading into the late 20s Mexico is a better parallel.
 
With no WWI and the accompanying horrors that went along with it (especially with regard to the Empire's minority peoples), the CUP might could've reformed itself - but only if its leadership were decapitated. In the literal sense would've been ok by me :)
 

NoMommsen

Donor
While not entirely wrong, you are over exaggerating the financial difficulties. The Empire could have absolutely weathered the storm with American loans, which would have been forthcoming without European intervention.
...
Do you have any sources indicating such interests by US of A financiers ?
For OTL I haven't seen any so far. ... unfortunatly for the OE, the goverment of the "three Pashas" not as well what might (but only very "eventually") have renderd them it possible to not join the war and searching for a ... "protecting mentor".
...
The reason they felt they needed an alliance was because they wanted someone to protect their sovereignty, which was threatened by the British and Russian Reval agreement.
...
... as I said : the only european power willing to offer some protection of the OE's sovereignity in its actual borders (at least) actually was only the German Realm (its interests in the OE being mainly economical but even these were far behind the french and british ... interests existing in 1914).
However; you might add to in Ottoman assets (territories or "zones of interest" aka control) "interested" nations even before WW 1 IOTL also Greece, Bulgaria, Italy and not at least France.


IMHO if the OE stayed neutral it would have been disassembled and reduced to an anatolian remnant (maybe still "holding" Dardanelles and Bosporus but without having any own say in their administration aka traffic control) and by foreign powers controled Armeia, Kurdistan, some arab states on the arabian penisula (eventually unified under maybe also the Wahabites), some form of Lebanon and Palastine state, possibly a unified state embracing Syria and Jordania of today and some forme of british controlled Mesopotamian state (todays Iraque).
This pathwork would possibly emerge in ... the late twenties/early thirties.
After an Entente victory.
With a Central Powers victory the OE would IMHO in a much better position to continue in its existence for at least another 2-3 decades despite having 'betrayed' the germans at least in mind as the latters might perceive it despite the wording of their alliance as you've pointed at. But the rather cooperative economical exploitation by the germans as begun before WW1 IOTL would continue. Nevertheless very likely the members of the Central powers might have some ... "overweight" but alraeyd before the war the Ottomans very quite able in "counterweighting" different interests (as they started to counterweight the french and british exploitations by engaging with german banks and enterprises). In such a scenario IMHO the chances of turning the OE into some kind of ... turko-arab-armenian-kurd "confederation" as a reemerging "ottomanism" aimed at with the survival of the overall contruct of an "Ottoman Empire" are much better than with an Entente victory.
It could still - if things go bad - break apart due to its internal differences and conflicts perhaps bad handeled perhaps intrumentalized by foreign powers. But this would happen rather about 2 decades later that the split-up after an Entente victory.

What would happen then ... would be to quite some extent a question of the global post-war order of possible 'cold'- or even 'hot-strawmen'-wars between whatever powers or powergroups that might emerge after a by whom ever won World War 1.
 
I disagree with the idea that the Arab areas of the Empire would break away. A surviving empire will have been very integrated by that point and indepence would probably cause more issues than interdependence. A federal system more like the US or Germany than the AH.
I think centralized-unitary Ottoman Empire could have kept Arab territories without issues until 50's. IOTL French kept Syria until 1946 despite excluding Arabs from governing. However with producing high quantitive oils and increasing educated people, some Arabs could have demanded autonomy. Ausgleich type federalism(Common currency, customs, head of state, military, foreing policy) would have sated both sides imho. Only danger is Arabian part might have wanted full independence like Scotland or Catalonia. However without external threat, I think Ottomans prevent that threat.
Germany and US are culturally homogeneus, so I don't think it would work within Ottoman Empire properly.
Also, I think there is one way dealing with Arabs too. IOTL Saudi Arabia and UAE have combined 20m emigrant people. Maybe Ottomans might have made a immigration agreement with Arabia( ITTL we would have seen "Rashidi Arabia" i think) and UAE. Similar to OTL Turkish immigration to Germany, maybe we could have seen Arab immigration to those states. This reduces ratio of Arabs in Ottoman Empire significantly.
 
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