In April 1909, however, an army mutiny in Istanbul (known because of the Julian calendar as the "31st March Incident") exposed the weakness of the CUP and at the same time gave it a new opportunity. A force from Macedonia (the Action Army), led by Mahmud Sevket Pasa, marched on Istanbul and occupied the city on April 24. Abdülhamid was deposed and replaced by Sultan Mehmed V (ruled 1909-18), son of Abdülmecid. The constitution was amended to transfer real power to the Parliament. The army, and particularly Sevket Pasa, became the real arbiters of Ottoman politics.
Abdul Hamid was dethroned in 1909, beginning the last act in the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. Italy invaded Tripoli, in Libya, and 12 Mediterranean islands. The Ottomans withdrew and left the islands to Italy. Assaults by the Balkan territories resulted in defeat for the Ottomans and a treaty signed on May 30th, 1913 in London drew up boundary lines for Turkey and the Balkan States along the Midie-Enez line.
The basic ideologies of the state remained Ottomanism and Islam, but a new sense of Turkish identity began to develop. This new concept was fostered by educational work of the Turkish Society (formed 1908) and the Turkish Hearth (formed 1912).
The foreign relations of the Ottoman Empire under the Young Turks led to disaster. The 1908 revolution provided an opportunity for several powers to press their designs upon the empire. In October 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Bulgaria proclaimed its independence. Italy seized Tripoli (Libya) and occupied the Dodecanese, a group of Aegean islands; by the Treaty of Lausanne (Oct. 18, 1912) Italy retained the former but agreed to evacuate the Dodecanese. In fact, however, it continued to occupy them.
The two Balkan Wars (1912-13) almost completed the destruction of the Ottoman Empire in Europe. The Ottoman entry into World War I resulted from an overly hasty calculation of likely advantage. German influence was strong but not decisive; Germany's trade with the Ottomans still lagged behind that of Britain, France, and Austria, and its investments, which included the Baghdad railway, were smaller than those of France. A mission to Turkey led by the German military officer Otto Liman von Sanders in 1913 was only one of a series of German military missions, and Liman's authority to control the Ottoman army was much more limited than contemporaries supposed. Except for the interest of Russia in Istanbul and the Straits, no European power had genuinely vital interests in the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans might have remained neutral, as a majority of the cabinet wished, at least until the situation became clearer. But the opportunism of the minister of war Enver Pasa, early German victories, friction with the Triple Entente (France, Russia, and Great Britain) arising out of the shelter given by the Ottomans to German warships, and long-standing hostility to Russia combined to produce an Ottoman bombardment of the Russian Black Sea ports (Oct. 29, 1914) and a declaration of war by the Entente against the Ottoman Empire.
During the war the Young Turks also took the opportunity to attack certain internal problems--the Capitulations were abolished unilaterally (September 1914), the autonomous status of Lebanon was ended, a number of Arab nationalists were executed in Damascus (August 1915 and May 1916), and the Armenian community in eastern Asia Minor and Cilicia was massacred or deported to eliminate any domestic support for the pro-Christian tsarist enemy on the Eastern Front. Possibly 600,000 Armenians were killed, principally by Kurdish irregulars. (see also Index: Armenian massacres).
After 1916, army desertions took place on a massive scale, and economic pressures became acute. The surrender of Bulgaria (Sept. 28, 1918), which severed direct links with Germany, was the final blow. The CUP cabinet resigned on October 7, and a new government was formed under Ahmed Izzet Pasa on October 9. On October 30 the Ottomans signed the Armistice of Mudros.
Mahomed the Fifth had died and Prince Mahomed Vahiduddin had been made Sultan in his place. Following the Armistice the Russian powers withdrew from Turkey and soldiers of the victorious nations entered Istanbul. Kars was occupied by the Armenians, Ardahan by the Georgians, Anatolia by the Italians, Izmir by the Greeks and Ourfa, Anteppo, Marash and Adana by the French.
A new system of administration was established in Anatolia. . In the Fundamental Law of Jan. 20, 1921, the assembly declared that sovereignty belonged to the nation and that the assembly was the "true and only representative of the nation." The name of the state was declared to be Turkey (Türkiye), and executive power was entrusted to an executive council, headed by Mustafa Kemal, who could now concentrate on the war.
The Kemalists had already begun to gain European recognition. On March 16, 1921, the Soviet-Turkish Treaty gave Turkey a favourable settlement of its eastern frontier by restoring Kars and Ardahan. Domestic problems induced Italy to begin withdrawal from the territory it occupied; and, by the Treaty of Ankara (Franklin-Bouillon Agreement, Oct. 20, 1921), France agreed to evacuate Cilicia. Finally, by the Armistice of Mudanya, the Allies agreed to Turkish reoccupation of Istanbul and eastern Thrace.
On Oct. 29, 1923, the assembly declared Turkey to be a republic and elected Mustafa Kemal as first president. The caliphate was abolished on March 3, 1924, and all members of the Ottoman dynasty were expelled from Turkey. A full republican constitution was adopted on April 20, 1924; it retained Islam as the state religion, but in April 1928 this clause was removed and Turkey became a purely secular republic.
There was little opposition to Mustafa Kemal--the small Progressive Republican Party (November 1924-June 1925) had only 29 members and was suppressed because Kemal feared that its leading members, who included some of his most notable associates in the war of independence, might have too much influence in the army; the similarly short-lived Liberal Republican Party (August-December 1930) was an abortive attempt by Kemal to organize a moderate opposition to his own party. Otherwise, Kemal ruled quite autocratically. A plot against his life in 1926 gave him the chance to deal with his rivals, who were tried by a special court. Many of them were sentenced to death, imprisonment, or exile. Opposition outside the assembly, of which the most dangerous were the Kurdish revolts of 1925, 1930, and 1937, was suppressed vigorously.
Kemal's six fundamental principles were republicanism (the creation of the republic), nationalism, populism, statism, secularism, and revolution.