The Ottoman Decentralization Party
Hizb al-lamarkaziya al-Idariya al-'Uthmani
From The Arab Awakening, George Antonius, G P Putnam's Sons, 1946.
An important public society, founded in Cairo towards the end of 1912, the objectives of the Hizb al-lamarkaziya al-Idariya al-'Uthmani were twofold: to impress upon the rulers of Turkey the need for decentralizing the administration of the empire; and to mobilize Arab opinion in support of decentralization. Its founders were for the most part men of experience and good standing who had made their mark in public life. The statutes of the society provided for an elaborate party machine. The control was vested in a powerful committee of twenty members based in Egypt and a smaller executive body composed of six of these committee members. Branches were established in every town of Syria and smaller agencies in a number of other localities. The closest contact was maintained between its branches and other Arab political associations in Syria and Iraq, and of course with al-Muntada al-Adabi in Constantinople. In about a year the committee of the Decentralization Party had become the best organized and most authoritative spokesman of Arab aspirations.
Among the membership were Rafiq al-Azm (Muslim from Damascus), Rashid Rida (Muslim from Tripoli), Iskandar 'Ammun (Christian from Mt Lebanon), Fuad al Khatib (Muslim from Mt Lebanon), Salim Abdul Hadi (Muslim from Jenin), Hafez al-Said (Muslim from Jaffa), Naif Tellu (Muslim from Damascus), Ali Nashashibi (Muslim from Jerusalem).
The last four were hanged by the Turks during World War I on a charge of treasonable nationalistic activities.
The importance of this society in the history of the Arab movement was that it provided its first venture into the science of organized effort. The battle with the Committee of Union and Progress with their policy of unification at the center and the Arabs' demanding home rule had gone on for three years in the intermittent dispersed way which is characteristic of Arab warfare; and the foundation of the society was an attempt at coordinating the efforts into one concerted and continuous pressure.