Committee of Union and Progress
The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) began as a secret society established as the "Committee of Ottoman Union" in 1889 by the medical students İbrahim Temo, Abdullah Cevdet
Abdullah Cevdet
Abdullah Cevdet ) was an Ottoman intellectual and a medical doctor by profession of Kurdish descent...

, İshak Sükuti and Ali Hüseyinzade
Ali bey Huseynzade
Ali bey Huseyn oğlu Huseynzade was an Azerbaijani writer, thinker, philosopher, artist and doctor.-Early years:Ali bey Huseynzade was born in 1864 to a family of Muslim religious cleric in Salyan, in the present-day Azerbaijan. His grand father Akhund Ahmed Salyani was the Sheikh ul-Islam of the...

. It was transformed into a political organization by Bahaeddin Sakir aligning itself with the Young Turks
Young Turks
The Young Turks , from French: Les Jeunes Turcs) were a coalition of various groups favouring reformation of the administration of the Ottoman Empire. The movement was against the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Sultan and favoured a re-installation of the short-lived Kanûn-ı Esâsî constitution...

 in 1906, during the period of the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...


At the end of World War I most of its members were court-martial
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

led by the sultan Mehmed VI
Mehmed VI
Mehmet VI was the 36th and last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, reigning from 1918 to 1922...

 and imprisoned. A few of the members of the organization were executed in Turkey after trial for the attempted assassination of Atatürk in 1926. Members who survived continued their political careers in Turkey as members of the Republican People's Party
Republican People's Party (Turkey)
The Republican People's Party is a centre-left Kemalist political party in Turkey. It is the oldest political party of Turkey and is currently Main Opposition in the Grand National Assembly. The Republican People's Party describes itself as "a modern social-democratic party, which is faithful to...

  and in other political parties as well.

Revolutionary Era: 1906–1908

The Committee of Union and Progress was an umbrella name for different underground factions, some of which were generally referred to as the "Young Turks
Young Turks
The Young Turks , from French: Les Jeunes Turcs) were a coalition of various groups favouring reformation of the administration of the Ottoman Empire. The movement was against the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Sultan and favoured a re-installation of the short-lived Kanûn-ı Esâsî constitution...

". The name was officially sanctioned to a specific group in 1906 by Bahaeddin Sakir. The organization was based upon the revolutionary Italian Carbonari
The Carbonari were groups of secret revolutionary societies founded in early 19th-century Italy. The Italian Carbonari may have further influenced other revolutionary groups in Spain, France, Portugal and possibly Russia. Although their goals often had a patriotic and liberal focus, they lacked a...

. The CUP had built an extensive organization, having a presence in towns, in the capital, and throughout Europe. Under this umbrella name one could find ethnic Albanians
Albanians are a nation and ethnic group native to Albania and neighbouring countries. They speak the Albanian language. More than half of all Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo...

, Bulgarians
The Bulgarians are a South Slavic nation and ethnic group native to Bulgaria and neighbouring regions. Emigration has resulted in immigrant communities in a number of other countries.-History and ethnogenesis:...

, Arabs, Serbians
Serbians may refer to people who are identified with the country of Serbia, or people of the Serb ethnic group.However it could also be used as the translation of Serbian word "Србијанци" , especially when distinction is made between the two...

, Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

, Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

, Turks
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

, Kurds and Armenians
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

 united by the common goal of changing the régime. After the 1908 revolution
Young Turk Revolution
The Young Turk Revolution of 1908 reversed the suspension of the Ottoman parliament by Sultan Abdul Hamid II, marking the onset of the Second Constitutional Era...

, in the absence of this goal the revolution began to fracture and different allegiances began to emerge. The evolution of CUP was interestingly also supported by the French government. Abdul Hamid II
Abdul Hamid II
His Imperial Majesty, The Sultan Abdülhamid II, Emperor of the Ottomans, Caliph of the Faithful was the 34th sultan of the Ottoman Empire...

 was quite successful in suppressing the CUP, and even approached the French and German governments to assist in the suppression of this political movement.

The Young Turk Revolution played a significant role in the evolution of Committee of Union and Progress from a revolutionary organization to a political party.

Change through revolution

The revolution and CUP's work had a great impact on Muslims in other countries. The Persian
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 community in Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 founded the Iranian Union and Progress Committee. Indian Muslims imitated the CUP oath administered to recruits of the organization. The leaders of the Young Bukhara movement
Yeni Bukharlylar
Young Bukharians was a jadid secret society founded in Bukhara in 1909.They took their name from the Young Turks, mixing their ideology with a violently revolutionary emphasis. In March 1918 they tried to seize power in Bukhara, with help from the Tashkent Soviet, and the Young Bukharians had to...

 were deeply influenced by the Young Turk Revolution, and saw it as an example to emulate.

The Chinese Revolution
Xinhai Revolution
The Xinhai Revolution or Hsinhai Revolution, also known as Revolution of 1911 or the Chinese Revolution, was a revolution that overthrew China's last imperial dynasty, the Qing , and established the Republic of China...

 of 1911 and the Russian Revolution of 1917
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

 diverted the attention of world revolutionaries from the Young Turk Revolution.

Second Constitutional Era: 1908–1912

The first election to the Ottoman Parliament after the Young Turk Revolution netted the Committee of Union and Progress only 60 of the 275 seats, despite its leading role in the revolution. Other parties represented in Parliament at this time included the Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

n nationalist Dashnak and Hunchak parties (four and two members respectively) and the main opposition, the Liberty and Entente party, sometimes referred to by Ottoman historians as the "Liberal Union
Liberal Union (Ottoman Empire)
Liberal Union was the second biggest party in the Ottoman parliament of 1909. It had managed to organize covering most of the provinces of the Ottoman Empire...


As a result of the "Law of Associations", which shut down ethnically based organizations and clubs, by the time of the second general election in 1912, the smaller ethnic parties had coalesced with the Liberal Union. At this election, a total of 67% or 184 seats were won by the CUP. In most republics this is the margin required for wholesale transformation of the constitution
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is...

, but of course the Ottoman Empire was technically a constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy
Constitutional monarchy is a form of government in which a monarch acts as head of state within the parameters of a constitution, whether it be a written, uncodified or blended constitution...

, although it is unlikely Sultan Mehmed V
Mehmed V
Mehmed V Reshad was the 35th Ottoman Sultan. He was the son of Sultan Abdülmecid I. He was succeeded by his half-brother Mehmed VI.-Birth:...

 could have prevented the revision of the constitution. This Parliamentary session was very short due to the outbreak of the First Balkan War
First Balkan War
The First Balkan War, which lasted from October 1912 to May 1913, pitted the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success...

; sensing the danger, the government won passage of a bill conscripting dhimmis into the army. This proved too little and too late to salvage the Ottoman toehold in southeast Europe; the Ottomans lost Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

, Macedonia
Macedonia (region)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, as...

 and western Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...


On 5 August 1912, the government shuttered Parliament. Just prior to that it had succeeded in passing the "Law for the Prevention of Brigandage and Sedition", a measure ostensibly intended to prevent insurgency
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents...

 against the central government which assigned that duty to newly created paramilitary formations. These later came under the control of the Teşkilat-i Mahsusa
Teşkîlât-ı Mahsûsa
The Special Organization was an Ottoman imperial government special forces unit under the War Department allegedly progenitor of the National Security Service , which was used to suppress Arab separatism and Western imperialism under Ottoman Empire. The main aim of the Special Organization was to...


Coup and Aftermath: 1913–1918

In spite of parliamentary elections, non-partisan figures from the pre-revolutionary period known as the "Old Turks" still dominated the Ottoman cabinet, known as the Sublime Porte. The Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier
Grand Vizier, in Turkish Vezir-i Azam or Sadr-ı Azam , deriving from the Arabic word vizier , was the greatest minister of the Sultan, with absolute power of attorney and, in principle, dismissable only by the Sultan himself...

 Mehmed Kamil Pasha and his minister of war Nazim Pasha became targets of the CUP, which overthrew them in a military coup d'état on 23 January 1913.

The emerging government could hardly be called constitutional. Indeed, 1913 was a period of government by assassination as Nazim and then his successor Mahmud Sevket Pasha
Mahmud Sevket Pasha
Mahmud Shevket Pasha was an Ottoman general and statesman of Arab and Georgian descent. Some sources also note Chechen or Circassian ancestry. He was born in Baghdad where he finished his primary education before going on to the Military Academy in Constantinople. He joined the army in 1882 as...

 were both slain, Nazim at the very instant the CUP seized power. The following year, new legislation made the CUP the Empire's only legal political party; all provincial and local officials reported to "Responsible Secretaries" chosen by the party for each vilayet.

Absent the wartime atmosphere, the CUP did not purge minority religions from political life; at least 23 Christians joined it and were elected to the third Parliament. This is one possible motivation for the entry into the war, another being the "pan-Turkic" ideology of the party which emphasized the Empire's manifest destiny of ruling over the Muslims of Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 once Russia was driven out of that region. Notably, two principal leaders from this time, Enver Pasha and Ahmed Djemal
Ahmed Djemal
Djemal Pasha or Ahmed Djemal , was a Young Turk and member of the Three Pashas. Ahmed Djemal was also Mayor of Istanbul.- Biography :...

, would in fact die in the Soviet Union leading Muslim anti-Communist movements years after the Russian Revolution
Russian Revolution of 1917
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917...

 and the Ottoman defeat in World War I.

The CUP especially distrusted the Armenians population, and began plotting their extermination almost immediately. Indeed, the first major offensive the Turks undertook in World War I was an unsuccessful attempt to drive the Russians from the portion of partially classic Armenia which they had taken over in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877. After the predictable failure of this expedition, the CUP was involved in the genocide of between 1 and 1.5 million Armenians between 1915–1916. As explained in the key indictment at the trial (in absentia) of the Three Pashas
Three Pashas
"The Three Pashas", also known as the "dictatorial triumvirate", of the Ottoman Empire included the Ottoman minister of the interior, Mehmed Talaat , the minister of war, Ismail Enver, and the minister of the Navy, Ahmed Djemal,...

 (Enver, Cemal, and Talaat); the Armenian Genocide
Armenian Genocide
The Armenian Genocide—also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Crime—refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I...

 massacres were spearheaded by the Teşkilat-i Mahsusa under its leader, the Turkish physician Behaeddin Shakir
Behaeddin Shakir
Behaeddin Shakir or Bahaeddin Shakir was a founding member of the Committee of Union and Progress . At the end of World War I, he was detained with other members of the CUP, first by the local court martial and then by the British government...



The dissolution of the CUP was achieved through military trials.

As the military position of the Central Powers disintegrated in October 1918, the government resigned. A new Grand Vizier, Ahmed Izzet Pasha
Ahmed Izzet Pasha
Ahmed Izzet Pasha was an Ottoman general in World War I. He was also one of the last grand viziers of the Ottoman Empire, and its last minister of Foreign Affairs.He was born in Bitola Macedonia into an Albanian family. His father was prominent civil servant of the area...

, negotiated the Armistice of Mudros
Armistice of Mudros
The Armistice of Moudros , concluded on 30 October 1918, ended the hostilities in the Middle Eastern theatre between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies of World War I...

 at the end of the month. The position of the CUP was now untenable, and its top leaders fled three days later.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 forces occupied various points throughout the Empire, and through their High Commissioner
High Commissioner
High Commissioner is the title of various high-ranking, special executive positions held by a commission of appointment.The English term is also used to render various equivalent titles in other languages.-Bilateral diplomacy:...

 Somerset Calthorpe demanded that those members of the leadership who had not fled be put on trial, a policy also demanded by Part VII of the Treaty of Sèvres
Treaty of Sèvres
The Treaty of Sèvres was the peace treaty between the Ottoman Empire and Allies at the end of World War I. The Treaty of Versailles was signed with Germany before this treaty to annul the German concessions including the economic rights and enterprises. Also, France, Great Britain and Italy...

 formally ending hostilities between the Allies and the Empire. The British carried off 60 Turks thought to be responsible for atrocities to Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

, where trials were planned. The new government obligingly arrested over 100 party and military officials by April 1919 and began a series of trials. These were initially promising, with one district governor, Mehmed Kemal, being hanged on April 10.

Any possibility of a general effort at truth, reconciliation, or democratization was, however, lost when Greece, which had sought to remain neutral through most of World War I, was invited by France, Britain, and the United States to occupy western Anatolia in May 1919. Nationalist leader Mustafa Kemal
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was an Ottoman and Turkish army officer, revolutionary statesman, writer, and the first President of Turkey. He is credited with being the founder of the Republic of Turkey....

 (with obvious relation to the CUP official, see the 31 March Incident
31 March Incident
The 31 March Incident was a 1909 rebellion of reactionaries in İstanbul against the restoration of constitutional monarchy that had taken place in 1908. It took place on 13 April 1909...

) rallied the Turkish people to resist. Two additional organizers of the genocide were hanged, but while a few others were convicted, none completed their prison terms. The CUP and other Turkish prisoners held on Malta were eventually traded for almost 30 British prisoners held by Nationalist forces, obliging the British to give up their plans for international trials.


The CUP has at times been identified with the two opposition parties attempted to be introduced the Progressive Republican Party and the Liberal Republican Party
Liberal Republican Party (Turkey)
The Liberal Republican Party was a political party founded by Ali Fethi Okyar in the early years of the Turkish Republic....

 into Turkish politics during the life of Kemal. While neither of these parties was primarily made up of persons indicted for genocidal activities, they were eventually taken over (or at least exploited) by persons who wished to restore the caliphate
The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

. Consequently, both parties had to be outlawed, although Kazim Karabekir
Kazim Karabekir
Musa Kâzım Karabekir was a Turkish general and politician. He was commander of the Eastern Army in the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I and served as Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey before his death.-Early years:Karabekir was born in 1882 as the son of an Ottoman General,...

, founder of the PRP, was eventually rehabilitated after the death of Kemal and even served as speaker of the Grand National Assembly.

It was also Karabekir who crystallized the modern Turkish position on the Armenian Genocide, telling Soviet peace commissioners that the return of any Armenians to territory controlled by Turks was out of the question, as the Armenians had perished in a rebellion of their own making. Historian Taner Akçam
Taner Akçam
Altuğ Taner Akçam is a Turkish historian and sociologist. He is one of the first Turkish academics to acknowledge and openly discuss the Armenian Genocide, and is recognized as a "leading international authority" on the subject....

 has identified four definitions of Turkey which have been handed down by Kemal's generation to modern Turks, of which the second is "Turkey is a society without ethnic minorities or cultures." While the postwar reconstruction of Eastern Europe was generally dominated by Wilsonian
Wilsonianism or Wilsonian are words used to describe a certain type of ideological perspectives on foreign policy. The term comes from the ideology of United States President Woodrow Wilson and his famous Fourteen Points that he believed would help create world peace if implemented.Common...

 ideas of national self-determination, Turkey probably came closer than most of the new countries to ethnic homogeneity due to the subsequent population exchanges with neighboring countries. Similarly with countries which came under Soviet domination following World War II, it has not become truly multi-ethnic like the immigrant havens of Western Europe or the United States, rather serving as a net exporter of people. This is probably the main reason Karabekir's approach has continued to be viable.

Kemal was particularly eager that political Islam be marginalized; this made possible the eventual normalization of relations with Western countries, though the denial of admission to the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 indicates there are still strong negative feelings among some political leaders. This remains the most difficult aspect of the Turkish national movement.

The CUP's effects have arguably been more profound in Turkey's former Arab provinces. These nations' independence would have been considerably delayed had the Ottoman Empire not joined the Central Powers
Central Powers
The Central Powers were one of the two warring factions in World War I , composed of the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Bulgaria...

 in World War I. No combatant seems likely to have attacked the Empire absent its decision to join the war.

Antisemitic conspiracy theories

Between 1910 and 1916, antisemitic Judeo-Masonic conspiracy theories regarding the party were fuelled within the British government through diplomatic correspondence from Gerard Lowther
Sir Gerard Lowther, 1st Baronet
Sir Gerard Augustus Lowther, 1st Baronet PC KCMG CB was a British diplomat.Lowther was the second son of William Lowther and his wife Charlotte Alice, daughter of James Parke, 1st Baron Wensleydale. James Lowther, 1st Viscount Ullswater, was his elder brother and Sir Cecil Lowther his younger...

 (British Ambassador to Constantinople) and Gilbert Clayton
Gilbert Clayton
Brigadier-General Sir Gilbert Falkingham Clayton, KCMG, KBE, CB , was a British army intelligence officer and colonial administrator, who worked in several countries in the Middle East in the early 20th century. In Egypt, during World War I as an intelligence officer, he supervised those who worked...

 (Chief of British intelligence in Egypt)

In popular Culture

  • In Behemoth
    Behemoth (Westerfeld novel)
    Behemoth is a novel written by Scott Westerfeld.The book is the second installment in the Leviathan series. It picks up where Leviathan ends. It was published on October 5, 2010.As with Leviathan, the audiobook is read by Alan Cumming....

    their revolution in 1908 failed, igniting a new revolution at the start of World War I.

External links

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