This Week in History: November 30 – December 6

Key events that shaped our social, political and cultural history

By Arfa Shahid 

December 3, 1912: First Balkan War Ends
The Balkan League, a military coalition between Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro, signed an armistice agreement with the Ottoman Empire on this day in history, with Greece refusing to sign the truce agreement despite being part of the league, while Bulgaria represented both Serbia and Montenegro. Despite the arrangement, the First Balkan War, which started on October 1912, did not end, and the peace negotiations in London were interrupted in January 1913, when Enver Pasha led a successful coup d’état (known as the Young Turks Revolution) overthrowing the government of Kamil Pasha. The armistice agreement expired in February 1913, and hostilities recommenced. The Balkan War was significant for the Middle East as it deprived the Ottoman Empire of almost all of its remaining territory in Europe. The Balkan League was formed under Russian auspices in the spring of 1912 to take Macedonia away from the Ottomans, who were already involved in a war with Italy. The league was able to field a combined force of 750,000 men. Montenegro opened hostilities by declaring war on the Ottoman Empire on October 8, 1912, and the other members of the league followed. All territory was taken away from the Ottoman Empire, except for Constantinople (now Istanbul). In the joint Serbian-Montenegrin operation, the Montenegrin army besieged and captured the Shkodra, ending 500 years of Ottoman presence in Europe. The war ended officially with the Treaty of London, signed in May 1913.

December 5, 1978: USSR and Afghanistan Sign “Friendship Treaty”
The Soviet Union signed a treaty with the Afghan government to provide economic and military assistance, in an effort to set up a pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan. The move pushed the Soviets further into the disastrous involvement in the Afghan civil war ,which began in 1979, between Muslim rebels, also known as Mujahideen, and the Soviet-backed communist government. The Soviets had always considered neighboring Afghanistan of interest on matters of national security, and since the 1950s, provided economic aid and military assistance to establish stronger ties with Kabul. In the 1970s, matters took a dramatic turn in Afghanistan when members of the Afghan Communist Party overthrew and murdered President Sardar Mohammed Daoud. The head of the Communist Party, Nur Mohammed Taraki, took over and declared one-party rule in the country. The regime was extremely unpopular with many Afghans so the Soviets sought to bolster it with the December 1978 treaty. In September 1979 Taraki was overthrown and killed by members of the Afghan Communist Party who were dissatisfied with his rule. By December the same year, Soviet troops moved into Afghanistan and established a regime more amenable to Soviets, culminating in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
December 6, 1929: Turkey Introduces Female Suffrage
Turkey’s founding father, the secular Mustafa Kemal Ataturk led a cultural and legal transformation in the country, which supported women’s rights including their right to vote and hold office. Women’s suffrage in Turkey was achieved for parliamentary elections on December 5, 1934 through a constitutional amendment. Turkish women participated for the first time in parliamentary elections on February 8, 1935, obtaining 18 seats. However, in 1940s when multi-party elections began, the share of women in the legislature fell and the 4 percent of parliamentary seats for women gained in 1935 was not reached again until 1999. Nevertheless, Turkish women gained the right to vote nearly a decade before women in Western European countries such as France, Italy, and Belgium.

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