Committee of Union and Progress

The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) (Ottoman Turkish: إتحاد و ترقى جمعيتی, romanized: İttihad ve Terakki Cemiyeti), later the Union and Progress Party (Ottoman Turkish: إتحاد و ترقى فرقه‌ سی, romanized: İttihad ve Terakki Fırkası), was a secret revolutionary organization and political party active between 1889 and 1926 in the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey. The foremost faction within the Young Turk movement, it instigated the 1908 Young Turk Revolution which ended absolute monarchy, and from 1913 to 1918 it ruled the empire as a one-party state. The CUP conducted the Armenian Genocide and other ethnic cleansing campaigns during one party rule. The CUP was frequently conflated with the wider Young Turk movement and its members were referred to as Young Turks, even though rival groups within the movement formed separate political parties. Within the Ottoman Empire its members were known as İttihadçılar ('unionists') or Komiteciler ('committeemen').[28]

Union and Progress Party
إتحاد و ترقى فرقه‌ سی
İttihad ve Terakki Fırkası
Abbreviationİ-T or İTC or İTF (in Turkish)
CUP (in English)
LeaderTalaat Pasha
ChairpersonAhmed Rıza (1908–1911)
Secretary-GeneralMithat Şükrü Bleda[1][2][3] (1911–1917)
FoundersIbrahim Temo[4]
Ahmet Rıza[5]
Founded6 February 1889
(as an organisation)
22 September 1909
(as a political party)
Dissolved1 November 1918
Succeeded by  Renewal Party[8]
  Ottoman Liberal People's Party[9][10]
  Republican People's Party[11][12][13]
HeadquartersPembe Konak, Nuriosmaniye,
Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
NewspaperŞûra-yı Ümmet
Meşveret
Mechveret Supplément Français
Tanin[14]
Rumeli
İstikbal
Paramilitary wingSpecial Organization[15]
Membership850,000 (c. 1909)
Ideologyİttihadism[16]
  Secularism[17]
  Ottomanism[18]
  Progressivism[19][17]
  Pan-Turkism/Turanism
  Pan-Islamism[20][21]
  Turkish nationalism[22]
  Authoritarianism[23][24]
  Millî İktisat[25][26][27]
SloganHürriyet, Müsavat, Adalet
("Liberty, Equality, Justice")
Seats in the
Chamber of
Deputies
(1914)
275 / 275

Beginning as a liberal reform movement, the organization was persecuted and forced into exile by Abdul Hamid II's autocratic government because of its calls for democratisation, secularisation and reform in the empire. Inspired by revolutionary groups such as the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, by 1906 the CUP had developed into a clandestine paramilitary group, infiltrating Ottoman army contingents based in Rumelia which were fighting ethnic insurgents in the Macedonian Struggle. In 1908, the Unionists forced Abdul Hamid to reinstate the constitution of 1876 in the Young Turk Revolution, ushering in the empire's Second Constitutional Era and an era of political plurality. After the revolution, the CUP transformed itself into a political party following a Turkish nationalist ideology known as İttihadism. The CUP's main rival was the Freedom and Accord Party, another Young Turk party which called for the federalization and decentralization of the empire, in opposition to the CUP's desire for a centralized and unitary Turkish-dominated state.

The CUP consolidated its power at the expense of the Freedom and Accord Party in the 1912 "Election of Clubs" and the 1913 Raid on the Sublime Porte, while also growing increasingly splintered, radical and nationalistic due to the Balkan Wars. After Grand Vizier Mahmud Şevket Pasha's assassination, the CUP established a one-party state, with major decisions ultimately being decided by the party's Central Committee. The Three Pashas, CUP leader Talat Pasha, Enver Pasha and Cemal Pasha, sided with Germany in World War I. With the help of their paramilitary, the Special Organization, the Committee regime enacted policies resulting in the destruction and expulsion of the empire's Armenian, Greek Orthodox, and Syriac Christian citizens in order to Turkify Anatolia.

Following Ottoman defeat in WWI, its leaders escaped into exile in Europe, where many were assassinated in Operation Nemesis in revenge for their genocidal policies, including both Talat and Cemal Pasha. Many CUP members were court-martialled and imprisoned in war-crimes trials by a rehabilitated Freedom and Accord Party with support from the Sultan Mehmed VI and the Allied powers. However, most former unionists were able to join the burgeoning Turkish nationalist movement led by Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), ultimately continuing their political careers in Turkey as members of Kemal's Republican People's Party, which continued one party rule in Turkey until 1950.[13][29]