In the 1800's, the rulers of Middle Eastern countries began various reforms meant to strengthen their countries in the face of a new political and economic challenge from several European countries. These reforms started out with the Military but eventually spread to other areas of government and life. What were the major areas of reform? How did western influence manifest itself in the region? Why was reform in Iran different from that Egypt and the Ottoman Empire?.
The reforms that took place in the Ottoman Empire and Egypt happened during the sixty year period from Sultan Selim III's rise to power to Muhammad Ali's death. Selim's attempts of reform started out with the military. After a war with Austria and Russia ended in 1792, Selim learned that unless improvements were made to the military, the Ottoman state could not survive. This led him to start on a series of reforms meant to reorganize the armed forces along European lines. This included European advisers who introduced new tactics and methods of training. Selim's biggest attempt at military reform came in the form of his new infantry corps fully equipped and trained according to the latest European Standards. This new unit was called the nizam-i jedid, which stood.
for the new order. It was formed in 1797 and differed from the janissaries in that it recruited peasants from Anatolia instead of training soldiers from birth. The nezam-i jedid was officered and trained by Europeans and outfitted with modern weapons and French style uniforms. Selim's second wave of reforms included his decision to establish Ottoman embassies in European capitals such as London, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna. Before this, Ottoman rulers relied on European merchants or representatives for information about conditions in Europe. This all came to an end however, when the janissaries started to oppose Selim's military reforms. In a rebellion led by the Janissaries, Selim was removed from power and within a year the embassies in Europe were closed, and the nizam-i jedid was disbanded.