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Kâmil Pasha

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Kâmil Pasha

Mehmed Kâmil
Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
In office
25 September 1885 – 4 September 1891
Monarch Abdul Hamid II
Preceded by Mehmed Said Pasha
Succeeded by Ahmed Cevad Pasha
In office
2 October 1895 – 7 November 1895
Monarch Abdul Hamid II
Preceded by Mehmed Said Pasha
Succeeded by Halil Rifat Pasha
In office
5 August 1908 – 14 February 1909
Monarch Abdul Hamid II
Preceded by Mehmed Said Pasha
Succeeded by Hüseyin Hilmi Pasha
In office
29 October 1912 – 23 January 1913
Monarch Mehmed V
Preceded by Ahmed Muhtar Pasha
Succeeded by Mahmud Shevket Pasha
Personal details
Born 1833
Nicosia, Cyprus Eyalet, Ottoman Empire
Died 14 November 1913
Nicosia, Protectorate of Cyprus, United Kingdom
Nationality Ottoman
Political party Freedom and Accord Party
Religion Islam

Mehmed Kâmil Pasha (Ottoman Turkish: محمد كامل پاشا‎; Turkish: Kıbrıslı Mehmed Kamil Paşa, "Mehmed Kamil Pasha the Cypriot"), also spelled as Kiamil Pasha (1833 – 14 November 1913), was an Ottoman statesman of Turkish Cypriot origin in the late 19th century and early 20th century, who became, as aside regional or international posts within the Ottoman state structure, grand vizier of the Empire during four different periods.[1]

He was born in Nicosia in 1833, son of Captain Salih Ağa from the village of Gaziler, in Cyprus. His first post was in the household of the Khedive of Egypt who at that time was only nominally dependent to the central Ottoman power in Constantinople. In the course of this appointment he visited London for the Great Exhibition of 1851 in charge of one of the Khedive's sons. Kiamil's sojourn in England left in him a lifelong admiration for Britain and during his career within the Ottoman state, he was always known to be an Anglophile.

Having full command of English, thenceforth to the close of his career he zealously sought the friendship of England for Turkey.

After remaining in Egypt for ten years, Mehmed Kamil exchanged the service of Abbas I for that of the Ottoman Government as of 1860 and for the ensuing nineteen years – that is to say until he first entered the Cabinet – he filled very numerous administrative appointments in every part of the Empire. He governed, or helped to govern provinces such as Eastern Rumelia, Hercegovina, Kosovo, and his native Cyprus.

Early Proponent of Armenian Genocide Kiamil's unequivocal qualities of leadership can perhaps best be understood by his nascent, charismatic, and influential role as one of the earliest proponents of the Armenian Genocide. Before even the development and formation of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, which is among the modern Turkish government's justification of its massacres of 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, Kiamil was a proponent of the ethnic cleansing of the Armenians from the Ottoman Empire:

". . . If we nurtured snakes in our midst in Europe, we should not repeat the same folly in Asiatic Turkey.

. . . Thus, we must eliminate, leave behind no traces of, that Armenian nation, And to accomplish this task, we are lacking in nothing; we have all the means we need – governors, judges, tax-collectors, police, in short everything. We can declare a religious war, an easy war – waged against a ‘nation’ that has no arms, no army, no leadership.

. . . And if that Armenian ‘nation’ is destroyed and if Christian Europe should look for a co-religionist and does not find it in Asiatic Turkey, it will leave us alone. Then we can begin to concern ourselves with internal affairs and reform."[2]

These fateful words, penned in 1879, culminated in the massacres of 300,000 Armenians and the burning of 3000 villages[3] between 1894 and 1896 at Sassun, Van, Zeitun, and Dyarbikir, in what became known as the Hamidian Massacres, which preceded the Adana massacre of 1909 and the start of the Genocide in 1915.

His forward-thinking xenophobia lauded in the Ottoman Empire, between 1885 and 1913, Kiamil filled the office of Grand Vizier four times. His periods of office were;

  • from 25 September 1885 to 4 September 1891, under Abdülhamid II's reign,
  • from 2 October 1895 to 7 November 1895, under Abdülhamid II's reign,
  • from 5 August 1908 to 14 February 1909, under Abdülhamid II's reign and during the Second Constitutional Era in the Ottoman Empire,
  • and from 29 October 1912 to 23 January 1913, under Mehmed V Reşad's reign and during the Second Constitutional Era of the Ottoman Empire.

In May 1913, he returned to his native Cyprus which he had not seen since he had ceased to govern it as far back as 1864.

The reason was no happy one. After the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, Kamil initially had tried to compromise with the new men in power. But soon he decided to oppose the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) and became a figurehead of the more liberal and pro-decentralization opposition group of Young Turks, known as the Freedom and Accord Party (also Liberal Union or Entente). After the overthrow of the CUP regime in summer 1912 by the Savior Officers, he became Grand Vizier of the new Freedom and Accord Party government. He was appointed Grand Vizier for his friendly relations with the British (he was often known as İngiliz Kamil, or "English Kamil", for his Anglophilia[4]), in the hopes that he would be able to get favorable terms for the end of the ongoing, disastrous First Balkan War (since the victorious Bulgaria's foreign interests were represented by the British). In January 1913, Kamil's government decided to accept severe peace conditions including massive territorial losses.

The CUP in the military forces used this pretext for their second coup d'état on 23 January 1913. That day, Enver Bey, one of the CUP's military leaders, burst with some of his associates into the Sublime Porte while the Cabinet was in session. By most accounts, one of Enver's officers, Yakup Cemil, shot the Minister of War Nazım Pasha and the group pressed Kamil Pasha to resign immediately at gunpoint.

Kamil was put under house arrest and surveillance. The ex-Grand Vizier (who probably was in danger of life) was invited by his British friend Lord Kitchener to stay with him in Cairo. After three months in Egypt, Mehmed Kamil Pasha decided to wait a favourable turn of fortune in his native Cyprus.

Five weeks after his return to Cyprus, the assassination of his CUP successor to the premiership, Mahmud Shevket Pasha, occurred in June 1913, by a relative of Nazım Pasha to avenge his death. The CUP regime reacted with persecution of well-known opposition politicians. Djemal Pasha, then the CUP prefect of the capital Constantinople, indicated to Kamil's family that he had to leave the Ottoman Empire or he too would be arrested. His family joined his exile.

On 14 November 1913, while full of plans for revisiting England in 1914, Kamil Pasha suddenly died of syncope and was buried in the court of Arab Ahmed Pasha Mosque.

Sir Ronald Storrs, British Governor of Cyprus from 1926 to 1932, caused a memorial to be raised over Kamil Pasha's grave. He also composed the English inscription, carved on the headstone below a Turkish one in old lettering. It runs as follows:

His Highness Kiamil Pasha
Son of Captain Salih Agha of Pyroi
Born in Nicosia in 1833
Treasury Clerk
Commissioner of Larnaca
Director of Evqaf
Four times Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
A Great Turk and
A Great Man.

See also


  • Cyprus by Sir Harry Luke for a short biography of Kamil Pasha and a moving account of his funeral
  1. ^ İsmail Hâmi Danişmend, Osmanlı Devlet Erkânı, Türkiye Yayınevi, İstanbul, 1971 (Turkish)
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
Preceded by
Küçük Mehmed Said Pasha
Grand Vizier
Succeeded by
Ahmed Cevad Pasha
Preceded by
Küçük Mehmed Said Pasha
Grand Vizier
Succeeded by
Halil Rifat Pasha
Preceded by
Küçük Mehmed Said Pasha
Grand Vizier
Succeeded by
Hüseyin Hilmi Pasha
Preceded by
Gazi Ahmed Muhtar Pasha
Grand Vizier
Succeeded by
Mahmud Şevket Pasha

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