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    December 10, 1906

    “Critical Situation at Constantinople” The Signs of the Times, 21, 49, 601, 602.

    ATJ

    PREVIOUS studies in these columns on the Eastern Question have made it very plain that Constantinople is the chief centre of interest on the earth and in the affairs of the world, and it is one purpose of this paper to keep the people informed with reference to the progress of the great question of which Constantinople is the centre.SITI December 10, 1906, page 601.1

    Correspondence of the Chicago Tribune in recent issues reveals a situation in Constantinople that is full of meaning even in the very least that may come of it; and that is fraught with possibilities that would easily and quickly end Turkish possession of Constantinople, and Turkish rule in Europe. The letter says:—SITI December 10, 1906, page 601.2

    “Although the Sultan has recovered sufficiently from his serious illness to enable him to drive once more in state to public prayers at the mosque on Fridays and to grant audience to some of the foreign ambassadors, yet he is in an alarming condition of health, being afflicted with a complication of incurable ailments—one of which is of a venal character—and which are likely to bring about his death at an early date, suddenly and without much warning. To such an extent is this fact known and appreciated abroad that the principal naval powers are holding their Mediterranean squadrons in readiness to sail for Constantinople at a moment’s notice, in order to be hand to protect foreign life and property during the popular disturbances which are certain to break out in the Turkish capital as soon as ever Abdul Hamid breathes his last.SITI December 10, 1906, page 601.3

    “Protection of the foreign residents of Stamboul is the plea on which the foreign warships will sail through the straits to the Bosporus, regardless of the prohibitory pro visions of the Dardanelles treaty. But a still more important object of this move will be the anxiety by each one of the foreign powers concerned to prevent the others from gaining any advantage by the landing of armed forces or the seizure of strategical points from which it would be difficult subsequently to dislodge them.SITI December 10, 1906, page 601.4

    “That disturbances will ensue on the death of the Sultan is inevitable, in view of the complications that are certain to arise in connection with the succession to his throne. It is no secret that he is bent upon bequeathing his sceptre to his favourite son, Prince Burhaneddin, and there is every reason to believe the stories current to the effect that he has secured the support of the Sheikh-ul-Islam—the principal ecclesiastical and judicial dignitary of the Ottoman Empire—and of a number of the leading Turkish statesmen to the project. That the latter can be executed without bloodshed is well-nigh impossible. For Burhaneddin’s accession would entail the exclusion from the succession of no less than twelve other princes, some of them his own elder brothers, and all of whose rights are prior to his own.SITI December 10, 1906, page 601.5

    “According to Koranic requirements and to Ottoman law the heir apparent is the eldest surviving son or grand-son of any one sultan—that is to say, not necessarily the offspring of the reigning padishah—and thus it happens that the heir apparent is usually the latter’s younger brother or his nephew. Thanks to this rule, the prince who now stanch next in the line of succession is Reschad Effendi, a younger brother of the present Sultan, and who is stated to have lately resigned his rights to the throne in consequence of his suffering from acute diabetes. Next to Reschad comes young Prince Ahmed Youssouf, son of the late Abdul Assiz, and therefore a first cousin of the present ruler. Then comes another younger brother of the present sultan, namely, Suliman Effendi, then two other sons of the late Sultan Abdul Assiz, then a couple of sons of the late Sultan Murad, and several elder sons of the present Sultan.”SITI December 10, 1906, page 601.6

    When the situation becomes so critical that, openly against treaty provisions of the concerted Powers, the warships of these same Powers pass the Dardanelles and anchor in front of Constantinople, then that will be the most startling development that could arise short of the fall of Constantinople itself. And it is difficult to conceive how such a movement could end without the passing of Constantinople from Turkish dominion.SITI December 10, 1906, page 602.1

    If this should occur while the Russian government is held powerless in the vortex of her internal troubles, it could easily come about that Constantinople would fall to some other power than Russia. And if that should occur, the general war that is certain to come would only be so much the more hastened, because of the sense of injury that would be felt by Russia in what she could hardly consider as anything else than a betrayal of her interests in the taking advantage of her helplessness. This would inevitably stir Russia to the depths of bitterness against all the other Powers, and to fierce determination to be revenged.SITI December 10, 1906, page 602.2

    But whatever may come, the present situation, revealed in the correspondence here quoted, further illustrates the interminable tangle in which Constantinople and the Eastern Question are involved; and shows how ready Constantinople is to her inevitable passing from the Turkish power.SITI December 10, 1906, page 602.3

    A. T. JONES.

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