The "Zırvata" Event and the Occupation of Tunisia
Keywords: Tunisia, North Africa, Mediterranean, Ottoman Empire, Occupation, France
Ottoman domination of Tunisia, which began in the years 1569-1574 as a result of a struggle with the Spanish, ended in 1881 after having lasted 307 years, with Tunisia's occupation by the French. With the pretext of ensuring the safety of the border, after the killing of one of its soldiers near the Tunisian-Algerian frontier, the French army penetrated into Tunisia. The Tunisian governor requested Ottoman assistance. The Ottoman authorities responded first by giving advice, and later let it be known that they would send two military vessels to Tunisia. As French forces advanced rapidly, the delay in Ottoman help made the Governor of Tunisia despair. He requested British help, but did not receive an adequate response. Due to malicious misinformation by the French, he did not trust his own commanders, so he did not follow their advice concerning possible resistance. On the 12th May 1881, the French surrounded the governor's Palace of Bardu and obliged the governor to sign a treaty that became known as the Bardu Treaty. As a consequence the Magistrate of Tunisia accepted French protection. In the meantime the Ottoman government had finally decided to send aid and ordered three battleships stationed in the Isle of Crete to set sail for Tunisia. While they were on their way, news of the signing of the Bardu treaty between France and Tunisia reached them and they turned back. The Tunisians did not accept French protection and began a war of resistance, but unfortunately Tunisia did not have a leader like ATATÜRK. The lack of a leader capable of organizing a war of independence condemned the people of Tunisia to long years of French domination.