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Historical Research Paper: Humanitarian Crisis in The Post-Ottoman World

7 pages
1760 words
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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The Ottoman world was founded in the 13th century and comprised of Middle East countries, south-eastern Europe and North Africa. This political entity entailed various communities from diverse religious, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds who coexisted peacefully for close to 500 years. Military conquest primarily formed the Ottoman world and was broad in scope beyond ottoman empire. However, the Ottoman world became disintegrated during the first world war due to massive military defeats at the hands of Russian and Habsburg Empires. Ultimately, they faced enormous humanitarian crisis characterized by displacements, health and safety problems.

The Ottoman world was started after the conquest of the Balkans and subsequently ended the Byzantine Empire in the 14th century. By the 17th century, they had a robust force and was multinational with the multilingual empire. In late 18th and 19th century, the downfall of Ottoman world started after an extended peaceful period. The Balkans terrorized their territory until they re-organized and became more powerful under the comprehensive process of Tanzimat. They later joined World War 1 under Central Powers but immediately struggled with internal disagreement mainly from Arab Revolt while violently engaging Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians (Penix, 2013).

As a result of this disagreement, Ottoman world experienced a humbling defeat by the Allied Powers. The failure led to their partitioning and loss of Middle Eastern areas although Turkey re-organized and defeated Allies during Turkish War of Independence. Ottoman coalition was abolished and that marked the beginning of the humanitarian crisis in the post-Ottoman world. The collapse of Ottoman government made Allies come up with a plan that aimed at encouraging displacement and suffering of the people. The scheme involved dismembering Ottoman territories to make their forces weak and easily be attacked (Rodogno, 2011).

This plan named The Treaty of Servres successfully reduced Ottoman army to just less than 3 million Turkish, Kurdish, and Arab forces. The forces became outpowered at Gallipoli causing substantial economic and physical losses. Many soldiers died, properties destroyed, civilians killed and territories taken hence causing displacement of population. Turkey specifically experienced devastating losses since they experienced the death of over 900, 000 non-combatants citizens. Additionally, hundreds of thousands of soldiers were either killed or captured by British, Palestine and Persian forces thus making them vulnerable to attacks (Gilley, 2015).

Many countries not only lost their soldiers but also land territories. Hungary lost over two-thirds of their area and half of their population which was more loss than any other country. The Hungarian territories were taken by Yugoslavia, Romania, and Czechoslovakia and only left with only about 90 square km. The results of the recapture of territories were stranding of more than 3 million civilians outside their original home and being left with a mere 31,000 soldiers (Penix, 2013). They were also sanctioned by being denied to have an air force, classy weapons, and tanks thus leaving them vulnerable to future attacks. This explains why they experienced frequent assaults due to inability to defend themselves.

Population transfers and massacres hit the Ottoman world just after fall of their Empire. Men were mainly targeted, and every adult male in each household was sought after by the soldiers. Thousands of them were captured and mercilessly massacred as a result of aiding the Turkish war. Women and children, on the other hand, received similar tragedies and harassment by soldiers. Women and young girls were repeatedly raped by Allied forces, and the majority of them died as a result of the tortures (Rodogno, 2011). Children were isolated from their parents at the battlefields and ultimately died due to famine and other factors.

Persistent conflicts involving countries that had previously formed the Ottoman world. These disputes led to major Turkey-Greek war and Armenian war between 1920 and 1921. The Greek-Turkish war started when the Greek forces who had the support of Bursa, Smyrna, and Supreme Allied War Council invaded Anatolia. The Turkish troops were forced to resist their advancement and started a 20-day war that resulted in a decisive defeat and deaths of Greek army (Chatty, 2013). Additionally, the survivors were forcefully displaced and brutalized until the Allies led by British joined in mess evacuation using Allies ships (Gilley, 2015). This war resulted in disastrous damage of property and fatalities that troubled the Greek for many years.

The other fight involved Turkish-Armenian war that arose due to the signing of Treaty of Serves. The Turkish forces have resisted the occupation of Armenians in eastern Turkey and engaged them while advancing into Kars, Alexandropol, and Yerevan. During this war, the Turkish troops outpowered the Armenians and civilians suffered the most. Many people became executed, women raped, and a large number of men were massacred. This created a vast humanitarian crisis that forced other countries to call for a cease-fire by giving the Turks ultimatum to sign the Treaty of Alexandropol. However, the Armenians were not satisfied with the Treaty and decided to advance the war because they have encountered severe loss of many lives, but the war came to an end through the Treaty of Kars (Tusan, 2014).

The Armenian population who managed to survive were forced to flee their territories for fear of their lives. People moved beyond the Horn of Africa, Europe, and entire Asia to avoid further conquering and massacre. Ottoman Armenians became the greatest affected group after the death of over 1 million of their people. The Armenian Genocide that was carried out with impunity led to the eviction of Armenians from areas of Konya, Sivas, Biltis and other territories with the Ottoman Empire. The Young Turks executed mass deportation after removing Abdul-Hamid from power. This among further large-scale displacement remained one of the devastating events still affecting the Turkish and Armenian population and is still a significant debate globally today (Penix, 2013).

The Armenian people living in eastern Anatolia experienced long-term suffering due to severe persecution and continuous discrimination. Many have accused Ottoman authorities of facilitating deliberate genocide against Armenians mainly because of sympathizers who become allies with the Russian army. The authorities forcefully deported the entire Armenian people while forcibly converting some to Islam, torturing them, sexually exploiting women and deliberately starving children. In some instances, the Ottoman government committed other atrocities against Armenians that amount to crimes against humanity (Rodogno, 2011). However, Turkish government vehemently denied committing these killings and attributed them to wartime conditions and unintentional neglect by their leaders.

Lebanon is another Ottoman-allied country that was adversely affected by the first world war. The war brought much more problems to the Lebanese after being abolished by their Turkish counterparts. The Turkish forces brutalized the Lebanese soldiers and civilians because of various anti-Turkish activities. The torture progressed into mass killings of the civilians which is still remembered up to today in Martys Square in Beirut (Gilley, 2015). Similarly, a great famine hit Mount Lebanon right after the war due to blockage of international trade routes by the Entente Powers. This blockage significantly affected their silks trade which was a primary source of income. Also, the transportation of relief food from Syria and Bekaa Valley was affected thus exposing the Lebanese to acute food shortages that lasted for an extended period.

The humanitarian aid later hit the Republic of Ireland. A large number of Ireland people lacked lands because over 10,000 British landlords owned large pieces of land. With little property left to them, the country faced one of the worst famines that were named as Potato Famine because of available potatoes being poisoned by a microscopic fungus. The nation suffered a crop loss of over 80% and resulted in food shortage throughout the country (Chatty, 2013). As a result, over 1 million people died of hunger and other 2 million migrating to other nations such as the United States. Although the problem subsided years later, the migrants never returned to Lebanon.

Almost all the nations that formed the Ottoman world experienced the great depression that hit Europe, Asia among other continents in the late 1920s. This great depression lasted for over a decade and was characterized by fall of international trade, increase in unemployment rates, failing economies, and declining agricultural production. The effects on trade were devastating since the breakdown of international trade led to food shortages in import-depending countries. The famine that resulted from food shortages threatened the lives of many civilians who could not access relief food (Tusan, 2014). As a result, the great depression led to high mortality rates due to hunger and spread of diseases within affected countries.

The aftermath of first world war is also characterized by the outbreak of diseases that affected survivors. In many places, the fall of Ottoman world exposed the population to dangerous environmental conditions that facilitated the spread of infections. For example, the first outcome of the war was the flu pandemic that mainly affected the Central Powers than the Allies. Since influenza is an airborne disease and can quickly be spread through contaminated surface and body contact, many people became infected with the illness. The virus was named Spanish flu following misunderstanding about its origin because Spain who was neutral reported its spread among Allies and Central Powers (Penix, 2013).

The disease resulted in significant mortality rates because of several factors. Firstly, the health care facilities had been severely damaged, and the population could not access medical attention. Although handful medical centers were operating after the war, ordinary people could not access them due to control by Allied forces who secured them for treatment of their injured soldiers. Secondly, populated evacuation centers designed for survivors enhanced their spread. Majority of people died within a short period because of lack of treatment and access to hospitals. Lastly, the disease was not immediately controlled due to an unfavorable environment where skilled health personnel feared being victimized by Allied soldiers (Rodogno, 2011).

Other than influenza, other diseases emerged in the post-Ottoman world. These included typhoid, trench fever, diabetes, cholera, and malaria. The exposure to wet and damp conditions by the population and soldiers caused the spread of trench foot disease which takes up to 6 months to heal. As a result, people suffered chronic headaches, leg pains, and backaches which also affected the operations of soldiers. Typhoid is another disease were caused by bad hygiene and flies hence making survivors unable to take food or water. Malaria, on the other hand, claimed the lives of over 25,000 soldiers due to lack of medicine (Gilley, 2015). Similarly, diabetes affected the population, and due to limited healthcare, a considerable number of the people succumbed to the disease. Ultimately, disease outbreaks became one of the major catastrophes that affected people in many countries and led to deaths of over 2 million people.

Social trauma is another humanitarian aspect that became apparent for the post-Ottoman world. The participating countries experie...

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