The British-Ottoman War and the Sanussiyya Invasion of Egypt by Dr John Slight (Open University)

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The British-Ottoman War and the Sanussiyya Invasion of Egypt by Dr John Slight (Open University)

A Joint Online Lecture with the British Institute at Ankara 

This talk will provide a background to the final act of Ottoman relations with Libya during the First World War, and the establishment of Idris as-Senussi as Emir of Cyrenaica. Ottoman defeat during the Libya War of 1911-1912 did not sever the long-standing links between Istanbul and the Sanussiyya Sufi order which was a dominant force in the area. From late 1914, Ottoman officers and officials worked assiduously to enfold the Sanussiyya within their wider policy of jihad against the Entente powers. This led to Ahmad as-Senussi’s declaration of jihad against the British and the Sufi order’s attacks on Egypt in 1915-16. Sanussiyya military success was short-lived, but caused significant alarm among British military and colonial officials. The talk will explore British perceptions of the connections between the Sanussiyya and the Ottomans, comparing these with the motivations of the Sanussiyya leadership in allying with the Ottomans, and Ottoman objectives in Libya. The events of 1914-1916 were a crucial turning point in Turkish-Libyan relations and in the long road to Libyan independence.

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About the Speaker


Dr. John Slight, FRHistS, FRAS, took his BA, MPhil and PhD degrees in History at the University of Cambridge, where he was formerly a Fellow of St. John’s College. He is a Lecturer in Imperial and Global History at The Open University, UK, and Director of the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies. He is the author of The British Empire and the Hajj, 1865-1956 (Harvard University Press, 2015) which was awarded the Institute of Commonwealth Studies’ triennial Trevor Reese Memorial Prize for the most innovative, wide-ranging and scholarly work of imperial history published in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

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