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How World War I influenced the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire

What could have happened to end an empire that had stood so strong for over 600 years? The effect of World War I was evidently so devastating, that even an empire as formidable as that of the Ottoman Turks fell to ruins and has not recovered since. An empire less referred to than the Roman or Babylonian Empire, the Turkish-ruled Ottoman Empire ruled the majority of Southeaster Europe, and Western Asia.

Ruled by Sultans and run by Islamic elders, the Ottoman Empire had a reign that was doubtlessly envied by western rulers. However, western democratic ideas were becoming more and more popular (and successful) as time progressed. Attempts by the Ottoman Empire to adapt to more popular forms of governing often failed because of those in power refusing to relinquish their control to the people. Though they tried to make their subjects feel like they were making sufficient provincial decisions, the only effects of their system were heightening crime statistics, and economic decline.

Though World War I was the culminating factor in the dissolving of the Empire, its demise may have been predicted from prior events. The intolerance of Ottoman Muslims in numerous countries as well as the genocide-driven killing of millions of them, contributed to the weakening of this once great empire. Leaders’ indecision as to whether parliament should be a form of government or not, also added to the confusion and disorder that became more and more prevalent towards the end of the nineteenth century.

The Ottoman Empire’s ultimate fall came after their misguided decision to join the Central Powers during the First World War. Their battles in the Middle East were often plagued by rebellion and ethnic massacres. Ottoman Turks who were deported after major defeats, numbered in the millions. The war played a large part in nudging the people of Turkey to do away with the sultanate system that had oppressed them for so long. Turkey officially became a democracy in 1923—less than a year after the last sultan, Mehmed IV, fled the country.

Though the First World War was a devastating one in many ways, it paved the way for democracy to be infiltrated into Eastern Europe and West Asian countries. This reformation has evolved over the last century and is still in place today.

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