Today in European history: the Taksim Square massacre (1977)

You probably don’t need me to tell you that today is May Day, since I’m betting your ability to keep track of which day it is exceeds mine. May Day’s origins go back to pre-Christian European cultures, but nowadays for much of the world it’s also International Workers’ Day and, in some countries, Labor Day. Ironically, for … Continue reading Today in European history: the Taksim Square massacre (1977)

The History of Turkey’s Diyanet

Kristin Fabbe and Kimberly Guiler, at The Washington Post's "Monkey Cage" blog, looked at the proliferation of conspiracy theories surrounding last week's attempted coup in Turkey. In their piece, they made a point about a Turkish institution that probably deserves more explanation than they were able to give it, the Diyanet: Turkey’s self-avowed secularists also … Continue reading The History of Turkey’s Diyanet

Today in Middle Eastern history: the Turkish War of Independence begins (1919)

There’s a kind of symmetry in the fact that the Turkish War of Independence began around three years to the date after Britain and France signed the Sykes-Picot agreement on how to divide up the Arab world. Sykes-Picot, for better or worse, has become the symbol for all of the plans the Allies had for … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern history: the Turkish War of Independence begins (1919)

Today in World War I history: the Gallipoli campaign ends (1916), and the Battle of Rafa (1917)

There are a pair of World War I battles that have anniversaries today. Of the two, Gallipoli is far and away the larger and more famous. It's also probably the more meaningful, although considering that the side that won Gallipoli wound up losing the war, that case isn't totally cut and dried. This is actually … Continue reading Today in World War I history: the Gallipoli campaign ends (1916), and the Battle of Rafa (1917)

Today in Middle Eastern/European history: the last Ottoman Sultan is deposed (1922)

The removal of the last Ottoman sultan, Mehmed VI Vahideddin (d. 1926), is among history's greatest anti-climaxes. The Ottomans had (obviously) lost World War I, which resulted in the dismantling of their empire under the terms of the 1918 armistice and the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres. Sèvres not only put the empire's Arab dominions under … Continue reading Today in Middle Eastern/European history: the last Ottoman Sultan is deposed (1922)