The Auckland Star: WITH WHICH ARE INCORPORATED The Evening News, Morning News and The Echo.
TUESDAY, APRIL 13, 1909. TROUBLE IN TURKEY.
For the cause that Zacfcs assistance. For the wrong that needs resistance, For the future in the distance, . And the good that we can do.
It is possible that the unexpected success of the Young Turkish party in achieving a practically bloodless revolution and overthrowing the tyranny which has so long crushed the Sultan's subjects to the earth, has induced most people to take altogether too optimistic a view of the immediate outlook in the Balkans. No doubt the Young Turks have displayed an altogether remarkable degree of moderation and self-control, and have shown that they possess an unusual amount of administrative ability. But the fact remains that the reform of Turkey in any comprehensive sense of the term is so difficult a task that up to last year it has been often declared impossible by the practically unanimous opinion of all competent judges. The religious doctrines and racial traditions of the Mohammedans are so radically inconsistent with any reasonable toleration for Christians that in spite of the apparent reconciliation between the warring creeds since the revolution began, it is almost incredible that this amicable settlement of differences can last long. Moreover, the mere diversity of races and languages comprised within the boundaries of the Sultan's dominions renders any attempt to centralise and organise the administration of the Empire a task of extreme difficulty and danger. And though the Young Turks as a body are doubtless inspired by the best of motives, it is still doubtful if they have the capacity to achieve their great purpose. "The Young Turk party," said Sir Charles Eliot, only last year, "has bepn at all times ineffectual in both social and political reform"; and in spite of the apparent success that the reformers have gained it must not be forgotten that its reality has still to be i tested by the shbek of untoward circumstances and the course of time.
One important but almost incalculable factor in the situation is the Sultan himself. Abdul Hamid has never enjoyed a good reputation for honesty and sincerity, and it is hard to believe that after thirty years of absolute despotism, anything less than compulsion would convert him into a constitutional monarch with a prejudice in favour of popular liberties. Since the Revolution became an accomplished fact, the Sultan has acquiesced in the new situation, and has pledg?d himself solemniy to support the new regime. No other event of his long and varied
career produces so strong an impression of the amazing versatility and adaptability of this extraordinary man whom keen observers have often described as the j subtlest diplomatist of the age. But within the past three months there have been certain indications that Abdul-Ha- j mid, in spite of all his protestations, •may be only biding his time. He has evidently decided that he cannot safely resist the commands of the Young Turkish party; and he has even reluctantly consented to the disbanding «and dispersal of his faithful Albanian body-guard. But no .one knows better than the Sultan that he can still depend upon the personal loyalty of his more fanatical Moslem subjects. And he knows, too, that the course which circumstances are now compelling the reformed government to adopt is calculated in every way to injure their prestige and to shake -the confidence of the people in them. The Young Turks, abandoned by England, Russia and France, have been forced to admit Austria's right to annex Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is a painful blow to Turkish patriotism and national pride, and the fighting that is now reported from Albania indicates, not only that the control of the reformers upon the outlying provinces is weakening, but that if the Sultan will wait quietly he may yet find a practicable opportunity for undoing the work of the Revolution and recovering some portion of his lost ascendancy.
But probably if Abdul Hamid has any definite intentions of the sort, he hopes more from the disunion and lack of coherence that always pervades a revolutionary government. The chief danger .that the Young Turks' have to face is not simply the enormous difficulty, of rousing the whole heterogeneous population of the Turkish Empire to a proper sense of its rights and duties. "The Young lurks/? writes Sir Francis Yourighusbaud, "may be -very able, very patriotic, very high-principled, and very well instructed in all the principles of modern European civilisation; but how are they ever "to raise and change the great mass and bulk of the people who are totally ignorant of European ideas, who believe that the Sultan is ruler all oyer the world, and who have for all Christendom a brutal and unreasoning contempt?" This is indeed a hard question to answer; 4>ut there is. a 'harder problem for the Young Turks to solve in the rivalries -and jealousies; the differences in theory •and purpose Shaft - divide t__is ojiti
councils.: , Foi- the moment, while the members of the parjy lyere united by.a common sense of danger, these ieuds and controversies were not allowed to* interfere with the business in hand. Moreover, happily -for -the reformers they found in the : Grand Vizier Kiamil Pasha a man whose age, experience, reputation, and personal.iherits enabled him to command obedience from every .section of the revolutionists. Three months ago Kiamil Pasha, in spiteVof the burden .of his * ninety years, achieved a signal triumph by carrying the Chamber of Deputies with -him in -support of his comprehensive scheme for reorganising the national finances, creating a. new administrative system,' reconstructing army and navy, and "revising the Constitution. But since then Kiamil Pasha has been forced to resign by the pressure of the extreme members of the Young Turkish party, who were dissatisfied with his cautious and tentative policy. Just as in Russia, so in' Turkey, the revolutionaries are torn asunder by internecine strife between the extreme and moderate sections. Too many of the Young Turks are eager to attain success at a single stride, and they will hear nothing of hesitation or .delay. It is this internal anarchy in the party that constitutes Turkey's worst peril to-day, and if the reformers cannot be prevailed upon to drop disputing and subordinate their personal prejudices to the general welfare, it is possible that Abdul Hamid and the reactionaries may not have to wait long to recover their lost ground.