European Interests and Imperialism
This chapter explains rapid survey of Middle Eastern interests and policies of the major European powers. It looks at the Middle East policies of the most important European countries of the nineteenth-century—the Great Powers: Russia, Austria, Britain, and France. The Ottomans were closest to the new powers, viewed themselves as ghazis lighting for Islam, and stood to lose the most if the Europeans partitioned their lands. Some members of the ruling class milked the Ottoman system to enrich themselves while failing to perform their duties. One of the secrets of Ottoman longevity was that the system went on producing capable sultans and viziers who saw the corruption and introduced reforms. Many Russian officials preferred upholding Ottoman integrity and friendly ties with the other European powers over unity with Orthodox Christians or their Slavic cousins. France claimed to have the first Capitulations, and French merchants and investors usually led the Europeans doing business in the Ottoman Empire.