Diffusion of Power in Ottoman Iraq: Shebāna Regiments as a State Instrument in Politics of Centralization
Istanbul Technical University, Department of Modern Turkish History
Keywords: Ottoman Empire, Iraq, Shebāna Regiments, Centralization, Arab Tribes, Ottoman Military Organization, Village Guard System, Hamidiye Cavalry
With the advent of the Tanzimat reforms, the theme of centralization put its mark on the domestic policies of the Ottoman Empire in which the state apparatus of the Empire had reconsolidated its power within the provinces. Considering the struggle between centre and periphery, this article particularly aims to focus on Shebāna Regiments which were an important instrument of establishing central authority in Ottoman Iraq. On the basis that the Shebāna Regiments, as paramilitary forces, were founded on a basis of obedience to state apparatus, this article suggests that the Shebāna Regiments were the earliest version of the village guard system, rather than the Hamidiye Cavalries as claimed in earlier literature. In these terms, by emphasizing the structure, variable functions, and the socio-economic transition the Shebāna Regiments created in the region, this article aims to contribute in shedding light both on the centreperiphery relation in the early Ottoman period, and on the origins of the village guard system of the present.