Today in Cold War 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 Cold War history: the Taksim Square massacre (1977)

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

I guess if I'm going to write about the beginning of the Ottoman Empire, I ought to at least mention the end of it, right? But the removal of Mehmed VI Vahideddin (d. 1926) as sultan is among history's greatest anti-climaxes. The Ottomans had (obviously) lost World War I, which resulted in the dismantling of … Continue reading Today in Turkish history: the last Ottoman Sultan is deposed (1922)

Today (sort of) in Middle Eastern/European history: the Ottomans get started (1299, or 1302)

If you've read The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire--and, you know, who hasn't--then you may know that Edward Gibbon marks July 27, 1299, as the date of the founding of the Ottoman Empire. It was on this date, according to Gibbon, that Osman I (d. 1326), the Ottomans' founder and … Continue reading Today (sort of) in Middle Eastern/European history: the Ottomans get started (1299, or 1302)