1902 Encyclopedia > Arabia > Arabia - History - Ottoman Turkish Occupation

(Part 44)


(44) Arabia - History - Ottoman Turkish Occupation

At last, 1517 A.D., the Turkish sultan, Selim I., conquered Egypt, and obtained from the last real or supposed surviving Abbaside kinsmen of the prophet a formal investiture of the Mahometan caliphate, which thus definitely changed the character of the that office from national to politico-religious. On this occasion the shereef of Mecca presented the sultan with the keys of the city; and the Arab tribes in general, those of the east excepted, proffered their allegiance to the Ottoman governments. This subjection, real in Hejaz and Yemen, nominal elsewhere, the country continued for half a century, till the shereef Muttahir, impatient of a foreign yoke, attacked and routed the Turkish force of occupation, then commanded by Murad Pasha, and for a short time re-established Arab independence. Selim II. sent fresh troops, who at first gained some advantages over the Arabs; but in 1630 the Yemenite chief Khasim expelled the Turks from the whole of his native province, and restored a shadow of the old Himyarite throne at Sanaa.

Kingdom of Yemen

Here, 1761 A.D., the celebrated Danish traveller, Niebuhr, found the Imam, as he was styled, of Yemen, governing thirty provinces, six on the coast and twenty-four inland, besides several smaller states; and possessed on an income, chiefly derived from the custom-dues of Loheya, Mokha, and other seaports, equaling, it was thought, 1,000 ,000 pounds, sterling per annum. The standing army was reckoned at 5000 men, mostly infantry. Subsequently, Wahhabee encroachments on the north, the British occupation of Aden to the south, and Egyptian invasion under Mehemet Ali and successors, considerably weakened the power of the Imam of Sanaa, till in 1871 a Turkish army, sent from Syria, took the capital, and put an end to the Arab dynasty of Khasim. At the present date Yemen is a province of the Ottoman empire, though with every prospect of not long remaining so.


Between the Hejaz and the Ottoman government the yearly pilgrimage, with the accompanying largesses of the Ottoman sultans, formed a more enduring link; one interrupted, indeed, from time to time by occasional rebellions, but as often renewed by Arab neediness, till the province, with its sacred cities, was definitely annexed, though only for a time, by the great Egyptian usurper Mehemet Ali.

Other Provinces

But in the rest of the peninsula, in Nejd, Oman, Mahrah, Hadramaut, and the other adjoining districts, the Ottoman claims were from the beginning of the 17th century absolutely ignored, and no collision was possible, because no point of contact existed. This state of things was, however, at last modified by the Wahhabee movement, one of the most important in the history of Arabia, and the end of which we have not yet seen. Of this a brief account must now be given.

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