Arms Smuggling across Ottoman Borders in the Second Half of the 19th Century


JOURNAL OF BALKAN AND NEAR EASTERN STUDIES, vol.18, no.3, pp.297-312, 2016 (SSCI) identifier identifier


In the second half of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was weak and was struggling with the problem of arms smuggling across its borders. This was especially the case in the late 1890s and early 1900s when the Ottoman Empire was under considerable external and internal pressure in its Balkan, Arab and African territories. This paper critically examines the arms smuggling problems of the Ottoman Empire in this period, primarily using Ottoman archival documents. The paper will consider the internal and external motives behind arms smuggling and its impact on the Empire. It will also analyse how the Ottoman authorities dealt with the problem of local powers gaining arms to use against local enemies and to fight for independence from the Empire. Although Western governments prohibited arms smuggling, arms were being transported from Western countries to the Ottoman border. While one reason for the arms smuggling was that it was a lucrative business, another important reason for the illicit trade was the rise of nationalist movements that sought to cut their ties with the Empire.