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By Rifa'at Abou-El-Haj

Rifa'at 'Ali Abou-El-Haj reevaluates the tested historic view of the Ottoman Empire as an japanese despotic countryside in decline and in its place analyzes it as a latest country resembling modern states in Europe and Asia.

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Example text

Stamping the military’s seal on Osman Gazi’s principality I. The military,1 itself a political institution, has always constituted the vital component in the conventional, spontaneous, living traditions influencing the development of Turkish political structures and their functions. From this standpoint, the most important historical aspect of civil-military relations in, say, the Turkish Republic is the extent to which the management of force and violence has been analogous to the process of its institutionalization on the creation of this state out of the ruins of its predecessor, the Ottoman Empire.

For his supposed weakness reinforced disaffection among some Anatolians, including the semi-nomadic, Turkish, tribal groups who were opposed to the centralizing tendencies of the government, not least because of its systematic taxation policies. Their revolts, starting in about 1500, appeared under the banner of the heterodox religious belief of the Kızılbas ( (Red Heads),87 as they came to be known, who were hostile to uncompromising Sunni orthodoxy – the unifying force of the Ottoman re´ gime.

What I have in mind is to use the heuristic method. For this, I do not approach the military element from a fixed system of conceptual references in order to find the extent to which the Empire can be related to it; by so doing I could only find in my object what I already had within my own perspective. Rather, the political aspects of Ottoman civil-military relations must be derived from those relations themselves. In this way, by first identifying the autonomous concepts applicable to the case and then using them in the reconstitution of history, it comes about that both what is being related and what it is being related to attain greater clarity and become more understandable.

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