Ottoman Control of MesopotamiaComments
parentForeign Conquest
siblingsBritain invades MesopotamiaBritish Mandate of Mesopotamiaاحمد شفیق مدحت پاشا Ahmed Şefik Midhat Pasha

Ottoman Control of Mesopotamia

Conquest, 1514
1514The Ottoman conquest of العراق Iraq began as an outgrowth of a religious war between the Sunni Ottoman sultan and the shi'a Safavid shah. The territory making up most of contemporary العراق Iraq came under permanent Ottoman rule. Mesopotamia was split into three provinces based on the towns of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra. The Ottoman Empire was at the peak of its power when it conquered العراق Iraq, and was able to give العراق Iraq stable government and a uniform administration.
Recension17th CentThe Ottoman Empire lost direct control over the Iraqi provinces. Tension between the Sunni Ottomans and Shi'i Safavid shahs of Persia led to fragmentation and diminished control from the central Ottoman government in Istanbul. Initiative and power lay with those who could command forces.

Re-Conquest, early 19th century

Ottoman Re-ConquestEarly 19th CentDirect Ottoman rule was reimposed, and reforms were instated, spearheaded by Midhat Pasha. Under the rule of Sultan Mahmud II (1808-39) the central Ottoman government began to implement the Nizam-i Cedid (New Order) which reclaimed power from semi-autonomous provincial governors into the hands of the sultan Taking Baghdad1831Da'ud Pasha, the mamluk governor of Baghdad, refused to comply with the New Order and relinquish his office. An Ottoman army led by 'Ali Rida Pasha, governor of Aleppo, invaded Baghdad. Da'ud Pasha was captured along with his city, ending mamluk rule in Baghdad..Taking Basra'Ali Rida Pasha went on to occupy Basra and end mamluk rule in that city.Taking Mosul1834Central Ottoman rule was restored in Mosul, ending the hold of the Jalili family on the governorship. The three provinces were now under direct rule from Istanbul.Tanzimat ReformsSultan Abdulmecid implemented the Tanzimat Reforms, which transformed landholding, administration, conscription, law and public education. However, these reforms were implemented at different rates, depending on the initiative, energy and tenure of the Ottoman governors appointed by authorities in Istanbul. However, the norms and methods of the mamluk era endured; furthermore, Ottoman power over major cities did not necessarily increase hegemony over semi-autonomous tribes and tribal confederations of the countryside. Ottoman reforms nonetheless brought a new way of politics to Mesopotamia, one largely built on the European model.Land Law of 18581858

The Land Law of 1858 sought to formalize land tenure, creating security of tenure (whilst reasserting state ownership) in hopes of encouraging productive and settled agriculture, attracting investment and generating tax revenues. The land reform involved the granting of title deeds (tapu sanad) to anyone who possessed or occupied land. The land remained state property, but the registered owner of the title deed had nearly complete rights of ownership.

Collective ownership of land was expressly prohibited and registration could only be in the name of an individual. Thus, areas of tribal cultivation were registered under the powerful shaikh. Due to ignorance, superstition and/or misplaced trust in the shaikh, tribal cultivators failed to register and thus become tenant farmers. On lands belonging to the sultant (saniyya lands), tax-farming continued and tax-farming rights were periodically auctioned, thus denying the inhabitants a long enough tenancy to apply for title deeds.

The Land Law of 1858 brought about conflicts. Namely, cultivators were oft stripped of their land rights. Registered owners were sometimes wholly unconnected with the cultivators, instead gathering title deeds via influence or capital. Gaining rights to land did not only confer power over the newly-privatized land, but also conferred power over those who cultivated it. This restructured social power, as agricultural land was now private property.

Vilayet Law of 18641864The Vilayet Law of 1864 mapped the boundaries of Iraq's three provinces a new structure of administration from the provincial to the village levels. The Vilayet Law sought to bring the central administration systematically down to people hitherto outside the state apparatus. More radically, the Vilayet Law intended to involve even previously uninvolved Muslims and non-Muslims from the general population into various administrative councils alongside Ottoman officials.مدحت پاشا Midhat Pasha1869-1872مدحت پاشا Midhat Pasha attained the Baghdad governorship and made concerted efforts to build for the future. مدحت پاشا MIdhat Pasha energetically and forcefully implement the Land Law and Vilayet Law. The Vilayet Law was relatively easy, as Istanbul was eager to assert its centralized authority and the populace was receptive. The Land Law was not fully implemented by the time Midhat Pasha was recalled to Istanbul in 1872.Young Turk Revolution1908The Young Turk revolution occurs in Istanbul.Abdulhamid II Deposed1909Sultan Abdulhamid II is deposed.British Occupy BasraNovember 1914British occupation of Basra.British Occupy BaghdadMarch 1917British occupation of Baghdad.British Occupy MosulNovember 1918British occupation of Mosul.


Tripp, Charles. A History of Iraq: New Edition.

Marr, Phoebe. The Modern History of Iraq, 2nd Edition. 2004. Westview Press. Boulder, Colorado.