Decentralization Party

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Political party of the Ottoman Empire from 1912 to 1916.

The Ottoman Administrative Decentralization Party was founded in Egypt in December 1912 by Muslim and non-Muslim Syrian émigré intellectuals. Party leaders included Rafiq al-Azm (president), Iskandar Ammun (vice-president), Rashid Rida, and Muhibb al-Din al-Khatib. The party espoused a program of decentralization for the multiethnic and multireligious empire. But it formed branches only in Arab areas and lacked official status. Along with the empirewide Ottoman Liberty and Entente Party, it sought wider powers for provincial councils in education, financial affairs, religious foundations, and public works. It advocated local military service and two official languages in each region, Turkish and the local language. The party maintained close links with the reform societies that emerged in Arab cities in 1912 and 1913. Despite dissension in its ranks after the Arab Congress (June 1913), the party survived until World War I as the coordinator of Arab autonomist movements. The dominant Committee for Union and Progress implied that party members advocated separatism and pro-Western treason. Cemal Paşa sentenced prominent members to death in 1915 and 1916.

See also Cemal Paşa; Committee for Union and Progress; Rida, Rashid.


Duri, A. A. The Historical Formation of the Arab Nation: A Study in Identity and Consciousness, translated by Lawrence I. Conrad. London and New York: Croom Helm, 1987.

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