chapter  27
14 Pages

The old regime and the Ottoman Middle East: Ariel Salzmann

Few centuries in Ottoman history hold greater import for understanding the emer-gence of the modern Middle East than the long eighteenth century. A political chronology might trace the outset of this ‘century’ to the reforms of the Köprülü vezirs (–), launched after decades of provincial uprisings and economic turbulence. The ‘century’ would draw to a close with the regimes of Selim III (–) and Mahmud II (–). Their policies of military and fiscal consolidation triggered civil wars and revolts from Greece to Kurdistan. However, often forgotten is the fact that, between these temporal brackets, the empire’s many Middle Eastern and North African provinces remained largely intact. Despite violations and incursions along the Azeri and Iraqi frontiers, the Ottoman-Safavid treaty of Kasr-i Şirin of  remained the primary point of reference until , when the treaty of Erzurum with tsarist Russia delimited the Caucasus. In North Africa, the regencies of Algiers, Tunis and Tripoli continued to respect the terms of the sultan’s suzerainty, albeit with considerable latitude in the conduct of their diplomacy and trade. Only in Yemen did the  Zaydi rejection of sultanic rule prove decisive.