The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies convened the Fourth Annual Conference of Historical Studies in Beirut. The 2017 Conference brings together thinkers and critics under the theme “Marj Dabiq to Sykes-Picot: The Arabs from Sultanates to Nation States.” The conference takes place on Friday and Saturday April 21 and 22, 2017.
Professor Sakr Abu Fakher opened the conference with a welcoming address. Speaking to the assembled panelists and attendees, Abu Fakhr declared the aim of the conference was to create a common field for Arab researchers to interact, exchange ideas, and discuss the many issues brewing in Arab thought today.
Opening the two-day series of talks was a keynote address from Dr. Khaled Ziyadeh, director of ACRPS Beirut branch. Dr. Ziyadeh spoke about an Ottoman-European dichotomy that he said had been in place since the beginning of the 16th century as political diversity around the Mediterranean waned. This was the era of Suleiman the Magnificent, who completed a complex set of administrative, legal, and military structures deriving legal code from the Saljuk tradition. This reformulation of Byzantine heritage crafted the Sultan into a politico-religious symbol taken up in Europe. When Europe had its Renaissance, he continued, it also enjoyed an unparalleled unity of high culture in urban centers, creating a European high culture that the emergence of national languages did not cause dissipate. The proximity of these two changing worlds set Islam in direct confrontation with Europe’s modernity, Ziyadeh concluded, proclaiming that it was for this conference to re-examine the dichotomous relationship in order to find a way out of the impasse that set Arabs in an adversarial position with Europe.
A second lecture, delivered by ACRPS’ director of publications Dr. Wajih Kawtharani, addressed “The Problem of Attributing the Caliphate to an Ottoman Sultanate: Between History and Myth.” Kawtharani spoke about how the Caliphate transformed into a tyrannical monarchy (mulk udoud), a fact averred by even the jurisprudents from the time of the early Omayyad and Abbasid caliphs, and which the caliphs justified on grounds of necessity and realism. In time, however, with the rise of the soldier-princes and the Buyid dynasty in the tenth century, and the Seljuks then the Zengids, the Ayyoubids, and the Mamelukes in the Mashreq, Kawtharani explained that the caliphate became powerless, especially after the devastation of al-Musta’sim at the hands of Hulagu. Kawtharani examined the case of the last Abbasid caliph’s renunciation of his right to the caliphate in favor of Sultan Selim; suggesting it did not stand up to historical scrutiny. No supposedly contemporaneous historical sources mention the event, Kawtharani explained, offering the alternative explanation that when Mustafa Kamal made a distinction between the caliphate and the sultanate, he said that the Sultanate (that is government) was in his and the National Assembly’s hands, and the “caliph-sultan” had renounced his role in government.
Dr. Noureddine Theniou then presented the final keynote on “The Demise of the Caliphate and the beginning of the ‘National’ versus ‘Islamic’ Dilemma.” He began by explaining that the fall of the caliphate derived its force from the international context following the Great War, which had seen the resounding defeat of the Ottoman Empire. The empire did not escape the drive of modern history, which demanded the transition from imperial rule to the rule of the nation state, and in Thanyu’s opinion the fall of the Islamic caliphate expressed the end of the model of religious rule, and a hurdle to building the modern Arab republic.
Following the keynotes the conference proceeded with sessions on two parallel themes:, “Ottoman History and Local Histories,” and “Reform and Tanzimat.” Both themes were explored through three panels.
In the first panel of “Ottoman History,” Dr. Abderrahim Benhadda chaired presentations from Dr. Naçir Eddine Saidouni (Ottoman Algeria in Historical Memory: The Problematic of Algerian Sovereignty in the Ottoman Era); Dr. Lotfi Ben Milad The Islamic West” and its Position on the Rise of the Ottoman Empire: A New Reading in the Origins of Communications and the Positions of the Government and Elites); Dr. Abdelhay AlKhaili (Crisis of the Ottoman Center and Prelude to the Founding of Independent Maghreb States in the 17th - 19th Centuries); and Dr. Mohammed al-Mariami (Tunisia and the Transitional Period 1574 - 1637 AD).
On Algerian nationalism, Dr. Saidouni said that the focus on sovereignty prior to the French occupation could be ascribed to three factors: hostility to colonial policy, the creation of a national consciousness for the elites, and the nationalist movement. He went on to say that the debate over sovereignty was between those was thought that Algeria was under the control of the Turkish state and ruled by a Turkish minority, and those who thought that Algeria was an independent state whose ties with the Ottoman state were formal and went no further than mutual interest and a spiritual link. Those who accepted Algeria’s independence did not deny ties with the Sublime Porte.
Dr. Ben Milad suggested that relations between the Ottomans and the Moroccans from a late period should not be characterized by hostility, but understood in perspective of the end of Ottoman rule over Asia Minor, Thrace, and the conquest of Constantinople. He explained that the “Venetian-Ottoman wars did not help us follow the course of Hafsid-Ottoman relations,” but said this continued with the Circassian Mamelukes, citing delegations sent to “resolve the border dispute between them.”
In his talk, AlKhaili explained the features of the crisis of central authority in the Ottoman era became clear with the beginning of the decline in the relationship between the Sublime Porte and the Maghreb provinces in the 17th to 19th centuries. This relationship existed “in name but not in substance,” he said, and revealed the beginning of the tendency towards independence from Ottoman power.
Finally, al-Mariami addressed historical Tunisia, noting that some scholars have reduced the transitional period in Tunisia to the conflict between the Turks and the Spanish in North Africa; a conflict that took on a tyrannical religious form, while other scholars see it as the period of the Ottomanization of North Africa or as the period of the reversal of Ottomanization in the region. In his view, all the actions of the Sherifs go back to political authority; Hafsid authority. This transitional idea requires the authority idea. The session ended with a discussion.
In the first of the “Reform and Tanzimat” sessions was chaired by Dr. Antoine Seif and included three papers. The first, “Ottoman Reform in Arab Countries through Tanzimat Literature: The Regulations of Abdul Rahman Ben Elias al-Madani” was delivered by Muhannad Mubaidin, who took the position that the Ottoman reforms did not begin with the Edict of Gülhane. Instead, he suggested, they were preceded by efforts of reformists and statesmen who tried to implement ideas to restore the cohesion and lost grandeur of the Ottoman sultanate following the Treaty of Karlowitz, under which the state had ceded part of its territories.
In the second paper, Yahya Bou Lahya spoke about “The Implications of both the Ottoman Tanzimat and Mohammed Ali Experience on Western Maghreb prior to the French Mandate,” explaining that academic missions to Europe were the main pillar of development gambled upon in Mohammed Ali’s effort to rebuff Western encroachment. However, the educational missions to Egypt did not achieve their desired aims, and the Makhzen realized its previous mistake and decided to send its students to western states like Britain, France, and Germany.
In the final paper, Naglaa Mekawy spoke about “The Political Use of Religion and Law in Muhammad Ali’s Project,” and stated that Mohammed Ali Pasha did have a modernization project, and we think of the modernity of that experiment through the study of the role of religion and law: the function of law; how religion was used; the nature and aims of the project and the conceptions of its author; and its historical context. She asked: Was it an Ottoman reform project with imperial aims that became westernized modernization at the expense of Islamic law, or was it the private project of the ruler of Egypt that was of mixed Islamic-modernist nature? The session ended with a discussion between the panel and the audience.
The conference resumed after lunch. Dr. Abdelhamid Hénia chaired the second sitting of the “Ottoman History” stream, welcoming three new panelists to the floor. The session began with the work of Dr. Jamil Moussa al-Najjar on “The Iraqi National State of 1921: Roots of Ottoman Foundation.” Dr. al-Najjar showed how the geography of the Ottoman province of Mosul was formed when it became subject to Ottoman rule as a part of the central region and a smaller part from the mountainous region, or Persian Iraq. The Ottoman unification of these provinces shows, he said, that they realized the importance of their possessions in those geographical regions and the need to combine them into a buffer zone with Iran.
In the second paper, Dr. Nahar Mohammed Nuri spoke about “The Iraqi Tendencies and their Significance in the long 19th Century: Refuting the Assumption of an Artificial State.” Nuri said that a key feature of the emerging identity that accompanied the period of Ottoman administration in the provinces of Iraq was the declaration of a unified central Iraqi administration under the command of Baghdad province simultaneously with the socioeconomic assimilation of the provinces.
In the final paper Dr. Anisse Elkaissi spoke about “Political Relations between the Ottoman State and Morocco under the Saadian Dynasty: Study in the Problematic of Neighborhood-Dependence and Independence (1550-1603 AD),” noting that “The Ottoman state did not intend to annex Morocco, but tried to make it a vassal or establish an alliance that ensured allegiance to the sultan. The Ottoman-Saadian clash was an outcome of the proximity that formed a challenge to these two Islamic powers.” The session concluded with a discussion.
Dr. Issam Khalifeh chaired the second parallel session, under the subheading: “Avenues of Western infiltration.”
In the first presentation, Dr. Mohammed Moraqtan spoke about ‘Spies in the Holy Land: Western Travelers, Archeological Discoveries, and Paving the Way for the Zionist Project (1800-1914).” He said that from the beginning of the 19th century Palestine became a destination for European and American exploration with a religious aim. The spiritual relationship between Europe and Palestine had remained unbroken since the Crusades, with pilgrims, evangelical missions, travelers, and Biblical scholars all heading to Palestine. He spoke about how the books of Western travelers and the reports of archeological expeditions in the Arab Mashreq form an important source for studying the history of Palestine in the 19th century.
Next, Dr. Laith Majid Hussain addressed the “Berlin-Baghdad Railway: The Economic and Scientific Ambitions of Imperial Germany in Iraq.” He showed that the railway line from Berlin to Baghdad was one of most complex challenges that faced European colonialism in its confrontation with the German policy of “push to the East” and to maintain the French and British concessions in the Ottoman state. In his view, the Berlin-Baghdad-Basra railway project was an indirect factor for the outbreak of World War I, since it sowed doubt between the parties about the new European colonialism.
In the final paper, Dr. Amjad Al Zoubi addressed “The German Infiltration of the Ottoman State through Orientalism: A Study in the Functions and Roles in the Last Quarter of the 19th Century,” and addressed the relationship of colonial infiltration with orientalism as dialectical. He said this was based on the arrogant civilizing mission of the German nation and its understanding of a natural right to build a nation state and lead the world. The West was under the illusion of its civilizing mission at the expense of the sleeping Orient, he said. The Germans believed they were the inheritors of Hellenistic civilization that would be reborn through the young German nation, and the slow Ottoman awakening pushed historians to coin the term “the Oriental question.” The session concluded with questions from the audience.
After a short break, the third and final sessions of the first day began in the third panel exploring “The fraught relationship between independence and Ottoman Westernization,” as part of the “Reform and Tanzimat” theme. Dr. Najla Makawi welcomed the participation of Dr. Fadwa Abdel-Rahman Ali Taha to start off the session speaking about “British Policy in Sudan (1821-1914): Methods to Contain and Eliminate the Ottoman Presence and the Egyptian Influence in Sudan.”
In her paper Dr. Ali Taha discussed the period after the Ottoman state took control of Egypt, saying it did not try and exert real control over Sudan, but was content with a nominal sovereignty, and failed to consolidate its rule there. At the same time, she explained, “Britain found the way prepared for it to impose its control over Sudan since it was the most powerful colonial empire with skilled diplomacy.”
The second paper came from Qaisar Musa El Zein on “Transformations from Cultural Arabization and Ottoman Turkization in a Changing Political Context in the ‘Peripheries’ of the Arab World: The Case of Sudan (1504-1885).”In al-Zein’s view cultural Turkification was limited in Sudan, and the Turkish presence was superficial and governed by the desire to exploit Sudan economically and to avoid conflict with the population, whether out of arrogance or fear. He said that Islamization and Arabization were intensified in Sudan as a result of this Turkification.
Dr. Amal Ghazal delivered the final paper of the session, “From Tripoli War to World War I: North Africa Between Independence and Ottoman Union and the Case of Wadi Mizab.” She took the position that it was necessary to create a single narrative linking the Italian occupation of Western Tripolitania (1911) and the course of World War I in North Africa. The Italian occupation, she explained, solidified the coming together of Moroccan political activists around the Ottoman federation as a means of survival. This was because they were afraid that the occupation of Tripolitania would end the Ottoman presence in North Africa and end the hope for Ottoman support to restore sovereignty from the European occupation.
In the final session on “Ottoman History and Local History” Dr. Nasser Al Saadi delivered a paper on “The Emergence of a State in Oman in 1624 AD: A Study of the Political and Social Transformations during the Ottoman Era.” He began by stating that Oman was the first state in the Arab Mashreq to confront the first colonial wave in the form of the Portuguese who ruled the Omani coast for around 100 years. The efforts of the ulema to restore Oman to its ulemas did not succeed however, he explained, and resulted in them being pushed out of the picture while the tribes took over politics. This remained the case until the creation of the Sultanate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates post 1970 on the territory formerly known as Oman. The session concluded with a comprehensive discussion.
The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies convened the second day of its Fourth Annual Conference of Historical Studies in Beirut on 22 April. The 2017 Conference brings together thinkers and critics under the theme “Marj Dabiq to Sykes-Picot: The Arabs from Sultanates to Nation States.”
The second day of proceedings was opened with a public lecture chaired by Dr. Fahima Charafeddine, hosting Dr. Sayyar al-Jamil and Dr. Mohammed Jamal Barout, who spoke about How do we Read Modern History (1516-1916): Reconsidering Dimensions of Formation,” and “From Sykes-Picot to the Treaty of Lausanne: A decade of Great Transformations and the Structural Implications on State Formation in the Arab Mashreq” respectively.
In the first talk, al-Jamil focused on the question of the Arabs, and how they were created as one of the largest political bodies under the Ottomans in large part as a result of the Conference of Versailles (1919). The Arabs had not been in charge of what happened on their territory and their seas for the previous 400 years, “because the Ottomans were the ones really in charge of our history by means of coexistence with other communities (milla) under the umbrella of the sultanate.” The effects of Ottoman rule changed in the 18th century, however. No longer was rule manifest through subordination to Ottoman centralism, but through forms of local government that they created in the Arab environments, represented by local dynastic families such as Al al-Azm in Damascus and Al al-Jalili in Mosul, or by the rule of Mameluke pashas in Baghdad and beks in Egypt, or both such as the Maanis and Shihabis in Lebanon, military oligarchies such as Dahir al-Umr in Palestine, the beys of Tunis or deys of Algiers, or the Karamanlis in Tripolitania.
The second lecture looked at a different agreement, and its effect on the Arab polis. Barout said that the period between the signing of the Sykes-Picot agreements and the Treaties of Sèvres and Lausanne was decisive for the transformation of the system of empires into the system of European nation states. Within this period was when the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and Tsarist Russian Empires fell, a collapse heralding this as the end of the Middle Ages and the birth of a new era based on the nation state. He continued, “All of those empires were the seats of a universal religious apostolic imperium: the Hapsburg Empire was the successor to the universal sovereignty of the Apostolic Catholic Church; the empire of the Romanovs in Russia and Al Othman were inheritors of the old Eastern Greco-Roman empire in terms of Tsarist Russia belonging to the Byzantine Church in Constantinople, while the Ottoman Empire inherited the central position in the Islamic world.” What Sykes-Picot did, he concluded, was nothing more than to consolidate zones of influence that had been included in Ottoman-European agreements prior to the War, which transferred the German zone of influence to France and Britain.
The following two sessions saw parallel tracks hosted across the conference location. In the first track Dr. Ahmad Mefleh hosted a panel on “Ottoman Sultanate and Issues from Arab Civil Society.” Dr. Fadel Bayat presented the first paper, on “Local leaderships and the Ottoman State: A New Perspective from the Archives.” He addressed what he called an ignorance of Ottoman documents and sources, which has occluded the history of the local leadership in Arab countries and the relationship between them of the Ottoman. Bayat spoke about some examples, where Arab leaders had enjoyed autonomy. Some of these leaders were overthrown, he explained, but some fought for survival by bowing to the state when it was strong or rebelling against it when it was weak. He also explained the diversity of leadership, some with a religious-political character that the Ottoman state had to work with, or tribal-Bedouin leaderships, some of which insisted on remaining nomadic, while others were forced to settle down in areas defined by the state.
Dr Fatima Zahra Kachi delivered second paper on “The Ottoman Authority, Tribal, and Urban Leaders in Algerian Eyelet (16th -19th Century).” She spoke about the relationship between the Algerian leadership and the Ottoman Empire, explaining how Algerians did not request separation from the Ottoman sultanate, but rejected the way the governors dealt with them. Within this context, the emirs of the coastal cities sought help from the Barbarossa brothers to defend Islam against the Spanish. However, local leaders refused to concede their influence and authority to the new delegations. The confrontation was violent going as far as murder. The Ottomans were unable to found a modern state in Algeria that absorbed the local tribal and religious leaderships, making a unified project impossible.
In his project, Dr. Joseph Abu Nahra addressed another aspect of the questions through his papers titled “The Christians of the Mashreq, from Marj Dabeq to Sykes-Picot: From Confessional with Protection from the Sultan to Privilege and Protection from Europe.” He saw Marj Dabiq as a turning point for the Christians of the Mashreq. Before this point, he argued, Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror had recognized three confessions as having dhimmi status: Byzantine Christians (al-rum), Armenians, and Jews. After Marj Dabiq, however, the number of recognized Christian denominations rose to 16. By the 19th century, restrictions Christians suffered did not cause confrontation with the governing authority, sectarian conflicts with non-Christians, or even conflict between Constantinople and Rome. In fact, he said, after this turning point the proportion of Christians in the Fertile Crescent grew from 7% in 1517 to 26.4% in 1914.
The final paper of the panel was presented by Dr. Ali Darwich, addressing “The Ottoman-Safavid Conflict and its Impact on Shiites in Countries Governed by Ottomans.” The paper argued that the Ottomans and Safavids got along at the beginning of the establishment of their two states, and both emerged from the womb of Sufi movements that revered the household of the Prophet and took Ali ibn Abi Talib as a model for asceticism. Things changed, however, when the Safavids created their state and adopted Twelver Shiism as the official creed, and the Ottomans adopted the Hanafite creed. The conflict between the empires took on a sectarian character putting Sunni against Shia, a split that has continued to cause frequent conflict in Islamic history. The session ended with a discussion.
The parallel panel “New Implications of Post-Ottomanism” was chaired by Dr. Issam Nassar, and opened with the work of Dr. Yasser Djazaerly on “Lawrence and Brémond and the Sykes-Picot Strategy.” Djazaerly positioned the Sykes-Picot agreement as one that represents a colonialist strategy, and not just an agreement. He suggested it be placed in the context of the policies followed by the colonial states since the beginning of their control over parts of the Arab world, and read as the product of orientalist discourse developed in the 19th century. When we study the course of history and politics that led to Sykes-Picot in this way, he suggested, we must study the discourse that arose from these policies and made them possible. Sykes-Picot, he concluded, is the extension of European discourse after the weakness of the Ottoman Empire became clear following Napoleon’s campaign against Egypt and the entrance of Mohammed Ali’s army into Syria.
The second paper, written by Dr, Bilal Shalash and read by Dr. Nasser addressed the Sykes-Picot from another angle: “Between Draft and Reality: Implications of Sykes-Picot and the Balfour Declaration as Seen by Palestine’s Elites (1918-1948).” The paper claimed that Sykes-Picot went further than a draft agreement for British colonial projects in Palestine in favor of a new colonial project based on the Balfour Declaration. The Balfour Declaration was present in the writings and positions of the elites of Palestine as a continuation of the presence of Sykes-Picot and as a model example of betrayal, oppression, and hostility. That promise, the paper found, was the entryway for writings in protest against the colonial authorities and incitement against them, and was used to affirm the centrality of British colonialism to the origins of the ordeal, in the context of the attempt to link the question of Palestine with Zionism alone.
Dr. Mounia Aït Kabboura presented the final paper, on “Identity and Utopia: Post Sykes-Picot Islamist and Nationalist Projects,” which explored how nationalist thought and political Islam made the moment of the Sykes-Picot agreement a moment of conspiracy and betrayal and a reference point for the interpretation of defeats and political and social imbalances. She offered a rereading of this foundational moment as a historical and epistemological moment saying such a shift was necessary to understand the current Arab political reality without interference from pragmatic ideological debates. She connected this position to the current thinking of Arab nationalists, who consider the time after the Arab Spring as a second moment for Sykes-Picot and a new western conspiracy to re-fragment the Arab region by means of ISIL, which is uprooting Arab nationalism. The session ended with a wide-ranging discussion.
Following a short break in the program for lunch, the second set of parallel panels began, the first of which examined the broad topic of “Political and Cultural Relations” in the period demarcated by the conference topic, chaired by Dr Hussain Alomari.
Kicking off the session was Dr. Mohamed Ahmian, who looked at exchange in his paper titled “Piracy on the Countryside Coast and its Impact on Western Maghreb Economic Conditions and Foreign Relations during the 19th Century.” In his talk Ahmain spoke about how the “axes of trade shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic after the geographical discoveries, and the economic center of gravity shifted towards the Atlantic.” After the digging of the Suez Canal, he continued, life returned to the Mediterranean, despite the threat of piracy off the African coast to European ships. The Conference of Vienna (1814-1815) criminalized piracy and allowed for the pursuit of pirate vessels, however the tribes of the Rif continued to engage in piracy as a form of popular struggle against European ambitions, seeing this type of encounter continue.
The second paper in the panel was presented by Dr. Ahmed Saadaoui on “Official Architecture in Ottoman Maghreb Eyalats: A study of the Relation between Center and Periphery.” The paper examined how Moroccan architectural works of the Ottoman period remained closely tied to the local medieval tradition in its African, Moroccan, and Andalusian aspects. It went on to explore how the Ottomans influence was restricted to some details or partial elements found in official or religious buildings specific to the Ottoman rulers. He showed how European influence exceeded Ottoman influence in the use and carving of marble, which was imported from Europe, particularly Italy. The various settler ethnicities in the Maghreb provinces—locals, Turks, Arabs from the east, Andalusians, Europeans, and Sephardic Jews—contributed to the production of distinctive Maghreb arts open to neighboring regions.
The final paper was delivered by Dr. Sher Ali Khan on “Translation from Arabic and other Languages into Turkish and Vice Versa in the First (Prosperity) and Second (Decadence) Eras,” which looked at the mingling of Arabs and Turks. In this period, he found, the Turkish language began to be influenced by Arabic, which left a strong impression. The Turks began to translate their cultural tradition into Arabic and translated Islamic religious rites, books of exegesis, and all the literary and Islamic arts into Turkish. In the Ottoman age, he showed, translation had two important roles: translation from Arabic into Turkish, and translation from Romance language, Persian, and Turkish into Arabic, and translation from Turkish into them.
Dr. Ahmad Dallal chaired the final of the parallel sessions, where papers explored “The Caliphate Issue” in broad terms. Opening up the panel was Dr. Ahmed Abo Shok, who spoke on “The Ottoman Caliphate in its Last Half Century (1874-1924): The Power-Conflict and the Debate over Terminology.” The paper explored what Abu Shouk called, “The political challenge to the Ottoman caliphate,” which “began with the revolt of the Mehdi in Sudan who called for the establishment of a greater Mehdian caliphate in place of the Ottoman caliphate,” and continued through the Arab Revolt in the Hijaz. In his view, the influence of the Kamalists in Turkey grew and they made bold plans regarding the separation of the sultanate from the caliphate, which gave birth to a broad jurisprudential debate between opponents and advocates of the separation. Leading the opponents was Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Rida, he said, who opposed the thesis of Sheikh Ali Abdel-Raziq and described his book “Islam and the origins of government” as a demolition of the rule of Islam and its law.
Investigating “The Positions of Muslims in India on the Pan-Islamic Movement and its Impact on the Caliphate Movement in India: A Historical Study based on the Indian Sources and British Archives,” was Dr Saheb Alam al-Nadwi, who looked at the political and religious struggle over the caliphate as one that caused broad debate in scholarly circles. Since critics wrote that it was political incitement against foundational principles of the Islamic state, he said, they were not interested in the cause of Indian independence. He concluded, “The caliphate movement failed in its religious and political fronts in India, but it was able to spread political awareness among Muslims and form their political leadership. It left a specific from on political theories which Indian Muslims tried to follow both before and after Indian independence.”
In the final paper of the parallel sessions Dr Abderrazzak Essaidi spoke about “The Ottoman impact on relations with the Western Maghreb: A Study on the Dialectic of the Religious and the Political Dimensions in the Modern History of the Western Maghreb.” In his paper, he spoke about how the Ottoman and Saadian powers competed for Moroccan, Mediterranean, and global economic resources despite the inequality between them. This competition, he said, was an expression of the difference in the authorities for the political model: where the Ottoman model rested on the state of jihad and the concept of the umma, the Moroccan and Maghrebian model rested on traditional local concepts. The session ended with a discussion.
Dr. Nasreddine Saidouni chaired the final Plenary Session, which saw four speakers address diverse issues of leadership, state building, and governance. Opening up the plenary, Dr. Saleh Alouani addressed “The Maghreb Countries between 1518 and 1920: A Unique Opportunity for Mashreq-Maghreb and North-South Intersections, and the Social Implications.” He began by noting that “The Maghrebian states were formed at the end of the 16th century out of the conflicts with the northern shore of the Mediterranean, without overlooking the presence of the action of the Ottoman sultanate and its effect on the formation of the modern history of the provinces of Tunisia and Algeria, while Morocco remained outside of Ottoman influence.” In his view, the ‘eastern question’ did not impinge on North Africa, but it made clear how the regime in Istanbul had become unable to defend itself. He concluded that, since the time of the French occupation of Algeria, the term North Africa emerged to replace Islamic Morocco or the Moroccan lands.
Examining questions of relations from a different angle was Dr. Masoud Deilami, who addressed “The Formation of the Nation-State and the Territorial State in the Arab Levant in the aftermath of World War I.” The paper suggested that Mustafa Kamal’s resistance founded the Turkish republic as a national state according to the principles of secularism and nationalism and abolished the Islamic caliphate. The Turks, he said, were thus able to form a Turkish nation state on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. By contrast, he said, the Arabs found themselves with the option of the territorial state with borders defined by Sykes-Picot.
On the question of economics, Dr Mohamed Lazhar Gharbi presented on “Kheireddine Ettounsi and the Economic Issue,” and spoke about how Khayreddine al-Tunsi stood out from other Mamelukes for his role theorizing the reforms he thought necessary to improve the condition of the Islamic nation.
Then, in the final paper, Dr Simon Badran spoke about “’The Ottoman Constitutional Kingdom’ and its Influence on the Pioneers of Arab Constitutional Thought.” In his presentation, he urged historians to plunge into the study of the Ottoman tanzimat before scrutinizing the Ottoman constitution of 1876. The vanguard of Ottoman constitutional thought, he said, emerged with the move of the new Ottomans during the later period of the tanzimat period, when they established a “constitutional culture for Islam.” The Committee of Union and Progress considered this consolidation of the constitutional method the corner stone for strong and effective government, but their amendments ended up supporting the powers of parliament and the Supreme Porte, rather than curtailing the powers of the palace.
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