An Important Episode in the History of the Ottoman Red Crescent Socienty: The Italo - Turkish War of Tripoli (1911- 1912)
Oya Dağlar Macar
Keywords: Ottoman Empire, Italo - Turkish War, Ottoman Red Crescent Socienty, North Africa
The War of Tripoli resulted in the Ottoman Empire losing its last territorial possession in North Africa and therefore also its sovereignty in this part of the world. At the same time, the war led to a number of "fi rsts" in the history of the Ottoman Red Crescent as an institution. With this war, the Red Crescent Society transformed from a temporary into a permanent institution and also began to use the crescent as a permanent symbol. The institution's international "immunity" was used as a cover by a number of volunteering patriotic offi cers in order to reach the battlefront in secret, and since this was a clear wartime violation, the Ottoman Red Crescent received much criticism. Moreover, the institutional image of the Ottoman Red Crescent Society began to take shape among Muslims both domestically and internationally, thanks to its activities during the War of Tripoli. At the end of the war, according to Italian claims, the crescent was no longer merely a symbol among Muslim Arab tribes, but it stood for the "unity of Islam"; the society was also quite eff ective when it came to supporting the Turkish offi cers. Furthermore, the Red Crescent was very eff ective in its eff orts to address the public and draw the world's attention to this war, to which the Ottoman government did not actively sent any troops. As a result of these activities, aid was sent from Muslims around the world-from India, Great Britain, Egypt, Bosnia, South Africa, and so on-as well as from various Western countries, in cash and in kind: medical supplies and medicine arrived, together with volunteer doctors, surgeons, and healthcare staff . During the War of Tripoli, the Red Crescent Society also gained its fi rst experiences in working together with foreign Red Cross and Red Crescent committees. This collaboration helped not only with acquiring signifi cant experience with dispensing medical care on the battlefront, but also with recognizing shortcomings in an international context and accepting them.