Inkiar Skelessi, Treaty of


Inkiar Skelessi, Treaty of
(1833)
   Also spelled Hunkar-Iskelesi and Unkiar-Skelessi, this defensive alliance between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire was signed on July 8, 1833. The Ottomans had been forced to turn to the Russians for aid when earlier appeals to the French and British for assistance against the Sultan’s own overly ambitious vassal, Mehmet Ali, the governor of Egypt, were rebuffed. Egyptian troops led by Mehmet Ali’s son, Ibrahim, had conducted an extraordinarily successful campaign against Ottoman forces in the province of Syria during 1832, inflicted a defeat on a numerically superior Ottoman army in Konia in Anatolia, and were on the verge of occupying Constantinople itself by late January 1833. The Ottoman sultan, Mahmud II, turned to his traditional foe, Tsar Nicholas I of Russia for aid.
   The Russians, on the premise that a weak and beholden Ottoman Empire as a neighbor was preferable to a newly invigorated Egyptian Empire under Mehmet Ali or a great power scramble for territory should the Ottoman Empire dissolve, sent naval forces through the Bosporus in February 1833 to shield the city. The forces were soon reinforced by troops sent ashore in Constantinople itself. Faced with Russian intervention, Mehmet Ali accepted the Peace of Kutahia, which gave him the governorship of an additional four Ottoman provinces in Syria in addition to Egypt, and in return he regained the status of nominally loyal vassal, and Ibrahim withdrew the Egyptian forces south of the Taurus Mountains. To cement their newfound position with the Ottoman Empire, the Russians negotiated the Treaty of Inkiar Skelessi. Officially both the Ottomans and Russians agreed to guarantee the territorial integrity of one another’s domains, but in an attached secret clause, the Russians relieved the Ottomans of any obligation to render them military aid in return for an agreement to close the Dardanelles to the warships of any other nations. The treaty had a term of eight years, at which time it was subject to renegotiation.
   The secret clause of the treaty was interpreted by the British and French, who soon got wind of it, as granting the Russians a virtual protectorate of the Ottoman Empire. The Russians, on the other hand, claimed that the treaty violated no existing agreements with regard to the straits and simply reaffirmed the “ancient custom” that the straits were to be closed to the warships of all foreign powers in time of peace. During the eight years it was in force, the Treaty of Inkiar Skelessi was a point of major concern within the context of the Eastern Question, and ultimately it was another crisis involving Mehmet Ali and the Ottoman Empire that began in 1839, which brought about the treaty’s replacement. That occurred when the treaty was superseded by the terms of the London Straits Convention of 1840.
   See also <>; <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Anderson, M. S. The Eastern Question 1774–1923 . London: Macmillan, 1966;
    Hale, William. Turkish Foreign Policy 1774–2000 . London: Frank Cass, 2000;
    Hurewitz, C., ed. The Diplomacy of the Near and Middle East, A Documentary Record: 1535–1914 . Vol. 1. Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand and Co., 1956;
    Jelavich, Barbara. A Century of Russian Foreign Policy 1814–1914 . Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1964;
    Karsh, Efraim, and Inari Karsh. Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East 1789–1923 . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999;
    MacKenzie, David. Imperial Dreams, Harsh Realities: Tsarist Russian Foreign Policy, 1815–1917 . Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1994.
   ROBERT DAVIS

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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  • London Straits Convention — (1841)    An international agreement signed by Austria, France, Great Britain, the Ottoman Empire, Prussia, and Russia, which reaffirmed the principle that the Ottoman Straits the Bosporus and Dardanelles were to be closed to all warships of… …   Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914

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