Alt WWI and the Ottoman Empire

I know this has to be one of the most talked about PODs, but I've read through alot and not found any on my specific speculation.

Assuming a failed assassination attempt on FF in Bosnia, like the bomb is thrown and missed but Gavrilo is unable to take his shot, it still seems to me that conflict is likely to break out within a few years.

If war is avoided in 1914, Irish Home rule proceedings begin, distracting Britain a tiny bit, there remain flashpoints in the Balkans, and it seems to me that Russia was itching for a war with the Ottomans.

With the Armenian Reform Package being implemented, I'm proposing that religious unrest may develop and Russia may use "protecting the Christians" as a reason to attack the Ottomans, with possibly Bulgaria and Greece as allies?

In this scenario, I could actually see all the other major powers (except maybe A-H) piling in to a war to divide up the Ottoman empire a la Treaty of Sevres?

I know many of you on here have a fantastic wealth of knowledge on this time period. Am I close? Not even a little? Thoughts?
 

NoMommsen

Kicked
Donor
... interesting idea ... though maybe a wee bit 'sketchy' (but ... the discussions on this of Home Rule Crisis may develop without war or british participation are as ... inconclusive at best).

However, given the 'powder keg' Europe was we could still see a "Great War" similar to our OTL.
Bulgary and Greece together ... even if 'only' against the OE ... where will Serbia stand there ? I personally can't see it standing aside seeing it contestants for Balkan Power becoming more powerfull.
BTW : how should Bulgary and Greece come together and solve their problems with each other and their territorial demands on each other ?

With the OE attacked from Russia + Bulgary + Greece ... Germany will take ... 'position' ... together with all the fears against Russia that lead to its DoW against Russia IOTL. ... what very likely will bring A-H as well 'on board' ... not to speak about its schemes and fears about Serbia as well.
What will bring France as THE russian partner into the game.
What might try to bring Britain - at some point - into the game as well.

Where stands Romania in this - now - changed - game ? May it allow Germany to 'support' - if only by weapon-deliveries - its 'patner' the OE ? Might its attitude cause Russia to ... have an eye on Romania ? ... what again also might bring in A-H as its ally by - for the time being valid - treaty ?


Oh, and some other question :
Could you elaborate what the "Armenian Reform Package" was ?​
(Thx in advance)​
 
Hey, thanks for the reply. I only see Home Rule as minorly delaying British entry if the war was to go hot, they want a piece of the Ottomans as much as anyone else.

The Armenian Reform Package involved the eastern half of OTL Turkey being designated as 'Armenia' and having two appointed "Inspectors", one by the Russians in the northeast and one by the Germans in the Southeast. Their job was to protect Christians in the Ottoman Empire and also to serve as informants and liaisons to the powers.

I think this creates animosity in the area, and that Russia may use this to provoke the Ottomans.

Bulgaria and Greece do have issues with each other, and if they were to fight together they'd have to be promised parts of Turkey. This could also make Romania a target.

Serbia will want to be involved, but there best bet for territorial gain is from an invasion with Albania (or Bulgaria) which would draw them into conflict with Austria, which I believe Pasic was trying to avoid?

In the end, I'm suggesting tensions in Armenia lead to Russia provoking the Ottomans, Russia and Germany use the inspectors to cry foul, and then Italy, France and Britain join them, thinking it will be a quick romp to victory and they'll all be able to add to their empires. The only reason I dont have A-H involved is they may be dealing with secession and direct involvement against the Ottomans is more difficult - unless Romania sides with Ottomans, or Albania is attacked.

I admit it's all sketchy at this point - I havent seriously delved into this time period since high school. My HS teacher told us that WWI was caused by, honest to god, one word, "Belgium".

I'm continuing to look into the personalities, though, to get a better understanding. I think the longer after 1914 the less likely war between Germany and Russia is? Does anyone know how much of the Arab revolt in 1916 was due to the circumstances of the War and how likely it is to occur in the absence of or delayed start of a major war?
 

Germaniac

Donor
I figured I'd just jump in with a bit of info for the Armenian reform package.

  1. The porte would choose the inspectors from a list of candidate nominated by the great powers, the inspectors would come from second class powers
  2. A special gendarmerie would be organized 50/50 split between christian and muslim
  3. The council's of the three vilayets half muslim half christian and an additional four would be based on census proportions
  4. Taxes would be divided proportionally amounts the communities
  5. The inspectors would have extensive powers that would allow them to undertake the necessary reforms.
  6. Commissions would be set up in each inspectorate to regulate agrarian issues and provide compensation for lands seized from Armenians.
  7. The inspectors would supervise civil, judicial, and gendarmerie administrations and have the power to call in army units when the gendarmerie was insufficient.
  8. These reforms are based on the recognition of the absolute integrity of asiatic turkey.
The Russians were actually quite supportive of these measures and at least for the time being preferred territorial status quo in eastern Anatolia (Preferring to settle the question alone along with the straights).

Any division of the Ottoman state would need to be decided after a continental conflict where one side or the other came out victorious. The only thing the great powers could agree on in regards to the Ottomans was it was better intact than in the hands of anyone else.
 
I figured I'd just jump in with a bit of info for the Armenian reform package.

  1. The porte would choose the inspectors from a list of candidate nominated by the great powers, the inspectors would come from second class powers
  2. A special gendarmerie would be organized 50/50 split between christian and muslim
  3. The council's of the three vilayets half muslim half christian and an additional four would be based on census proportions
  4. Taxes would be divided proportionally amounts the communities
  5. The inspectors would have extensive powers that would allow them to undertake the necessary reforms.
  6. Commissions would be set up in each inspectorate to regulate agrarian issues and provide compensation for lands seized from Armenians.
  7. The inspectors would supervise civil, judicial, and gendarmerie administrations and have the power to call in army units when the gendarmerie was insufficient.
  8. These reforms are based on the recognition of the absolute integrity of asiatic turkey.
The Russians were actually quite supportive of these measures and at least for the time being preferred territorial status quo in eastern Anatolia (Preferring to settle the question alone along with the straights).

Any division of the Ottoman state would need to be decided after a continental conflict where one side or the other came out victorious. The only thing the great powers could agree on in regards
It was my understanding that the Armenian Reform Package was Russia's idea. They also had designs on Constantinople. The Treaty of Sevres had the powers dividing up Turkey proper into "spheres of influence" for Italy, France, Germany and Russia, with the German and Russian spheres corresponding to the Armenia areas.

It seems to me that Russia was going to make a play for Constantinople sooner or later?
 
It was my understanding that the Armenian Reform Package was Russia's idea. They also had designs on Constantinople. The Treaty of Sevres had the powers dividing up Turkey proper into "spheres of influence" for Italy, France, Germany and Russia, with the German and Russian spheres corresponding to the Armenia areas.

It seems to me that Russia was going to make a play for Constantinople sooner or later?
Well, as far as a "flashpoint", I don't know about Armenia. Now, the Russians had still wound up with a good bit after the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, but expansion at the expense of thy neighbors had always been the raison d'etre of the Russian Empire. The Russians were always eager to "stir the pot" in the OE's eastern provinces, which of course exacerbated the misery of the Armenians once the Turks and Kurds retaliated (which they always did). Western Europe could always be counted on to do a lot of hand-wringing over Armenia, but much to their discredit could never be counted on to DO anything about it... The ARP may have changed things if it had actually been put into effect, or it may have just created frictions between the parties involved, but not to the extent of outright conflict.

Now, if the Russians had used one of these "frictions" as their cause to make a grab for the Straits, that would've provoked everyone. The Germans of course would be interested in protecting Berlin-to-Baghdad and their other commercial interests, the British had always wanted to maintain Ottoman territorial integrity (not to mention Cyprus and Suez)... The French would've sided with the Russians in the hopes of furthering their own rather nebulous interests, same with the Italians having already snatched Libya and the Dodecanese. Presumably Bulgaria and Greece would've joined in the fray to attempt to take whatever they could. Not sure about the other Balkan states. So yes, it IS plausible, but there's a lot of details that would need to be filled in.
 
Well, as far as a "flashpoint", I don't know about Armenia. Now, the Russians had still wound up with a good bit after the Treaty of Berlin in 1878, but expansion at the expense of thy neighbors had always been the raison d'etre of the Russian Empire. The Russians were always eager to "stir the pot" in the OE's eastern provinces, which of course exacerbated the misery of the Armenians once the Turks and Kurds retaliated (which they always did). Western Europe could always be counted on to do a lot of hand-wringing over Armenia, but much to their discredit could never be counted on to DO anything about it... The ARP may have changed things if it had actually been put into effect, or it may have just created frictions between the parties involved, but not to the extent of outright conflict.

Now, if the Russians had used one of these "frictions" as their cause to make a grab for the Straits, that would've provoked everyone. The Germans of course would be interested in protecting Berlin-to-Baghdad and their other commercial interests, the British had always wanted to maintain Ottoman territorial integrity (not to mention Cyprus and Suez)... The French would've sided with the Russians in the hopes of furthering their own rather nebulous interests, same with the Italians having already snatched Libya and the Dodecanese. Presumably Bulgaria and Greece would've joined in the fray to attempt to take whatever they could. Not sure about the other Balkan states. So yes, it IS plausible, but there's a lot of details that would need to be filled in.
Fair enough. The more I read, the less I'm sure. I'm also beginning to think that even an attempt on FF in 1914 could've provoked the war. Assuming the Great War IS avoided over the attempt, how would you see the next few years playing out? Like I said I've ready many threads but, unlike other PoDs where most people have a strong opinion, this one seems to leave everyone scratching their head?
 
Fair enough. The more I read, the less I'm sure. I'm also beginning to think that even an attempt on FF in 1914 could've provoked the war. Assuming the Great War IS avoided over the attempt, how would you see the next few years playing out? Like I said I've ready many threads but, unlike other PoDs where most people have a strong opinion, this one seems to leave everyone scratching their head?
Hmmmm... I don't think just an attempt on FF would've triggered it. The Serbs could've weaseled their way out of it far too easily.

The "protect the Christians in the OE" was a theme that both Russia (repeatedly, going all the way back to Catherine the Great) and France (under Napoleon III) had used in the 19th Century... the Crimean War had its origins in competing claims over that exact "right", claimed at the time by both Russia and France.

It's possible to develop any number of scenarios which could create a conflict - all the great powers (with the possible exception of the UK), were sort of on a hair trigger at that time.
Germany, or at least the high-ranking officers and Bethmann-Hollweg, reasoned that if a war DID break out, and it involved Russia, that sooner was better than later, since if it occurred later than 1917 that would give Russia time to complete a massive modernization and infrastructure programme, which had mainly been funded by French loans.
 

Germaniac

Donor
France is not going to be a backer of Russian attempts to dismantle the Ottomans until a collapse is inevitable. France since 1881 has been the piggy bank for the Turks and generally speaking backed the British line of territorial integrity (but were unwilling to involve themselves in it). If Russia moves against the Turks it will be alone.

If a war is averted there will likely be another was between the Greeks and Turks within five years (I suspect even sooner). The Turkish government, specifically the military establishment, were looking to retake lands in the Balkans. They were already projecting power in Albania and taking aim at western Thrace. With the arrival of the Dreadnoughts the Turks will achieve a short period of naval dominance over the Greeks and and they will move quickly to capitalize. The Turks (especially the CUP leadership who were based in Salonika) really wanted Salonika and the Aegean Islands back.
 
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One intriguing thing about this scenario is the position of Austria-Hungary... after all, the assassination of FF wasn't a random act of senseless terrorism - the Serbian military intelligence organization wanted him dead for a very specific reason. It wasn't that FF hated or was a persecutor of Serbs or Slavs - quite the contrary, he disliked Hungarians intensely, and wanted to weaken their shared hegemony in the Dual Monarchy by raising the Slavs to a position of equality with the Germans and Hungarians (his wife Sophie was a Czech from the lesser nobility, after all). Had he not been killed off and succeeded to the throne in 1916, he may have been able to push through his "United States of Greater Austria"-style reforms, which might have quelled a lot of the unrest among the non-German-or-Hungarian elements of the empire. The LAST thing that the Serbian government wanted was happy (or at least contented) Serbs inside Austria-Hungary - there goes any claims they would have against the Empire for a Greater Serbia.

So, in your scenario, possibly A-H and Serbia might've sat this one out, neither having a dog in the fight. But I doubt that the Serbs would've accepted the status quo for long, despite whatever efforts a still-living FF might have made in the direction of A-H's Slavic citizenry after 1916.
 
One intriguing thing about this scenario is the position of Austria-Hungary... after all, the assassination of FF wasn't a random act of senseless terrorism - the Serbian military intelligence organization wanted him dead for a very specific reason. It wasn't that FF hated or was a persecutor of Serbs or Slavs - quite the contrary, he disliked Hungarians intensely, and wanted to weaken their shared hegemony in the Dual Monarchy by raising the Slavs to a position of equality with the Germans and Hungarians (his wife Sophie was a Czech from the lesser nobility, after all). Had he not been killed off and succeeded to the throne in 1916, he may have been able to push through his "United States of Greater Austria"-style reforms, which might have quelled a lot of the unrest among the non-German-or-Hungarian elements of the empire. The LAST thing that the Serbian government wanted was happy (or at least contented) Serbs inside Austria-Hungary - there goes any claims they would have against the Empire for a Greater Serbia.

So, in your scenario, possibly A-H and Serbia might've sat this one out, neither having a dog in the fight. But I doubt that the Serbs would've accepted the status quo for long, despite whatever efforts a still-living FF might have made in the direction of A-H's Slavic citizenry after 1916.
Absolutely. The most interesting aspect of this scenario to me is actually the living Franz...who they say was quite dovish but that was before the attempt(s) on his life. Nevertheless, I'm assuming with him alive the pursue a policy of either the Trial Kingdom or a Federation...although both risk upsetting the Hungarians (which he might be okay with but would cause problems), and as you mention they already have issues with Serbia which have to be dealt with - one interesting thing about the Federation is it carves a large block of Romanian speaking territory off Hungary, in a new state that would border Romania...so Franz reform attempts might just stoke nationalism.
 
Absolutely. The most interesting aspect of this scenario to me is actually the living Franz...who they say was quite dovish but that was before the attempt(s) on his life. Nevertheless, I'm assuming with him alive the pursue a policy of either the Trial Kingdom or a Federation...although both risk upsetting the Hungarians (which he might be okay with but would cause problems), and as you mention they already have issues with Serbia which have to be dealt with - one interesting thing about the Federation is it carves a large block of Romanian speaking territory off Hungary, in a new state that would border Romania...so Franz reform attempts might just stoke nationalism.
Well, same for the Ruthenians/Ukrainians, some of whom were committed Russophiles. And also the Italians, although there were a good many Italians who stayed loyal to the Empire throughout, being a sort-of "favored" minority. Interesting that Franz's ideologue was an ethnic Romanian, Aurel Popovici...
 
The Ottomans would need a short sharp naval war against the Greeks to restore their flagging status. Once they have the 2 new Dreadnoughts and a neutrality pact with Bugaria then they could probably achieve this. They will have both in early 1915 and before Greece has it's new ship from Germany.

The Greeks know they can't win which is why they are looking to negotiate. The Serbs are sensitive because they have a 50 year agreement with Greece for port access at Salonika. They don't need a war in the Aegean, neither do the Russians with their goods passing through the Straits nor the British with that trade in British hulls.

All the foreign ambassadors were advising the Turks to not engage in wars nor side in an alliance.

  • The Brits, French and Germans control the Ottoman's debt and had blocked Russia joining because the Russians just wanted to use it as a lever on the Ottomans.
  • The British want an independent Ottoman Empire because they can't fight it without upsetting Indian Muslim subjects.
  • The French have the largest slice of Ottoman debt. They have leverage, a war will just lose it.
  • The Germans have secured important concessions in regards to the Berlin-Bagdad railway. They need peace in the region as they are the least likely to gain a piece in war.
  • The Russians are not ready for war and want the Turks to hold the straits rather than let it fall to the hands of any 3rd power. They realised they needed the capability to take the straits but that opportunity would only come in conjunction with a General European war.

The Brits had written off the Turks as being able to hold the Russians so were looking at the Greeks as an effective naval partner in the Eastern Med.

None of the major powers really want a war over the Ottoman Empire in 1914 or till 1920.
 
None of the major powers really want a war over Serbia in 1914 ...
Yes I'm definitely not convinced war was inevitable, but in hindsight it seems likely. If war is avoided in 1914, Russia continues to build strength but also unrest and striking likely intensifies. The winter of 1915-1916 was also very harsh and may cause food shortages even without a war. Obviously WWI created a very specific set of conditions that allowed (I believe) the Bolsheviks to take power, but by spring 1916 things are going to be pretty tense. Trotsky may be right when he said that the war delayed the revolution, but he may have forgot to mention that it also allowed the revolution to succeed?
 
The Brits had written off the Turks as being able to hold the Russians so were looking at the Greeks as an effective naval partner in the Eastern Med.

None of the major powers really want a war over the Ottoman Empire in 1914 or till 1920.
If war is avoided in the next few years, and Russia surpasses Germany in military strength around 1916 as the Kaiser feared, wouldn't this change Britain's focus to one of Russian containment, rather than German?
 
Unfortunately I no longer have access to Albertini, but one thing I am sure I read about was the Germans looking to develop an understanding with and between the Greeks and the Ottomans. I would need to reread it all to make sense of my memory.

What I do know is that the NEXT flashpoint is Albania. Italian and Austrian interests clash, whilst Montenegro was forced to abandon its plans to get its hands on Scutari, and Serbia still looks Westwards towards the sea. The King is German, but was facing internal collapse by the Summer of 1914. Greece has territorial ambitions in the South.

A division of Albania could be seen between Montenegro (who were closely linked by marriage to both Russia and Italy), Italy, and Greece. What such a crisis would probably do is separate the Italians from the Triple Alliance. Austria would furiously resist the establishment of greater Russian or Italian influence on the East coast of the Adriatic, and Germany could be expected to support them diplomatically, whilst Wilhelm II would see the expulsion of a German prince-cum-king of Albania and the eradication of his kingdom as a threat to Germany's dignity.

The powers could try to fudge it, the standing committee of the London Conference that ended the Balkan Wars is still in session. But it is difficult to see what the fudge would be?
 
Absolutely. The most interesting aspect of this scenario to me is actually the living Franz...who they say was quite dovish but that was before the attempt(s) on his life. Nevertheless, I'm assuming with him alive the pursue a policy of either the Trial Kingdom or a Federation...although both risk upsetting the Hungarians (which he might be okay with but would cause problems), and as you mention they already have issues with Serbia which have to be dealt with - one interesting thing about the Federation is it carves a large block of Romanian speaking territory off Hungary, in a new state that would border Romania...so Franz reform attempts might just stoke nationalism.
The Ausgleich is up for renewal in, I think, 1917. Plus, absent the strain of the war, Franz Josef might still be alive at that time, though the stress of renewing the thing might kill him anyway
 
What I do know is that the NEXT flashpoint is Albania.
Wow. I just educated myself a tiny bit and found out that in the months leading up to WWI, the German prince accepted the throne under Austrian pressure, was receiving funding from Austria, the Greeks were funding a separatist movement in the south, which there army had occupied(!), and the PM had taken money from Italy to start a revolt against the German prince, failed, was due to be executed but was exiled to Italy under pressure from the Italian government.

So Albania seems like a pretty likely flashpoint.
 
Regarding the OP, sorry I diverged a bit to answer other questions. I have a few comments on the OP

1) I don't see what is in it for Bulgaria to ally with Russia against the Ottomans? It has lost territory to Serbia (especially if we count San Stefano and where that territory it had to retrocede eventually ended up), Greece (especially in seeing Greece gain Salonika before they could get there) and Romania (the Southern Dobruja). While obviously they have their sights on Constantinople or parts of Eastern Thrace, they aren't going to get any of that if Russia is leading their alliance, because Russia will keep it all for themselves. I also cannot see either of Serbia or Romania ending up AGAINST Russia in this scenario, so Bulgaria can't go looking for compensation there.

2) Germany certainly wants the Ottoman Empire to survive - it has invested heavily in the railways, not just to Baghdad, but in feeder lines thereafter opening Persia up to German commerce. It has a degree of control over the Ottoman army, as well. AFAIK Germany's view was that IF the Ottoman Empire DID collapse then the successor state controlling the Straits would need to be German or pro-German. Russia certainly believed in the possibility that this meant that Germany would either seek to take it for themselves, or for the Habsburgs, or erect a puppet there.

3) I actually DO like the idea of an Armenian cassus belli. I just think it would play out differently and how it does would need to be seen in the light of other considerations and crises likely to be happening around the same time
 
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