Parallel to his efforts to check or eliminate the regional intermediaries preventing the penetration of the state into the Syrian realm and his struggle against foreign influence, Cemal promoted policies aimed at producing ideal citizens for the Ottoman Empire. In particular, his cultural and educational activities, which sometimes worked to protect and maintain the Arab cultural and intellectual legacy, may urge academics who repeatedly write about the Turkification policies of the CUP to reconsider their arguments.1

As will be clarified below, Cemal concentrated primarily on increasing the loyalties of the Syrians and on instilling in them an Ottoman consciousness. As a result of Cemal’s cultural and educational enterprises, as well as conscription, the behaviors of the Syrians would be Ottomanized in a way that would enable the Ottoman state to “shape, coordinate, control, and guide” their conduct. In the same context, he made important adjustments to the urban space to create visibly modern cities that would facilitate the state’s surveillance capabilities following the removal of social intermediaries. On the other hand, in Cemal’s viewpoint, a modernized city would show the Syrians that their state was as developed as those in the West and would serve to make them more devoted to the ideal of imperial unity. To be more specific, the Syrians were introduced to the state through their

responsibilities toward it and through their civil rights regarding it. The first encounter of the Syrians with the duties of citizenship was the further extension of the compulsory military service to Muslim and non-Muslim Arabs and Jews at the outbreak of the war. This was to become one of the most burdensome processes of the period for the Arab citizens. At the same time, a project aimed at the Ottomanization of Syrian consciousness through cultural and educational activities was initiated. Almost all foreign educational institutions were either confiscated or closed as part of this plan. It is worth mentioning, however, that from the beginning of Ottoman modernization, which can be dated back to the reign of Mahmud II, there were educational institutions intended to create a sense of Ottomanness among the subjects of the empire. What made this period special was the absence of any foreign competition. Finally, some construction projects were undertaken to make Syrian cities more “penetrable”2 for the state.