How's the Start?


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Prologue
  • Osman Reborn: The Survival of Ottoman Democracy

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    Chapter 1: Preparations for War?

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    “The Legacy of the Italo-Ottoman War is one of incredulity in Italy, and one that of pride in the Ottoman Empire, and not without reason. The war did a lot to restore the pride of its citizens in the Ottoman Empire, and the people were once again proud to be called ‘Ottoman’ again. Ethnic boundaries like Turk, Greek, Albanian, Bulgarian, and Arab took a backseat in the war, and again for good reason.

    Italy’s claim to Tripolitania and Cyrenaica was not exactly a new thing or new development. They dated as far back as the Ottoman Empire’s defeat to the Russians in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and the subsequent discussions between the Great Powers during the Congress of Berlin, in which France were given Tunisia and Cyprus respectively. Italy had managed to weasel through a claim in the region, even though the Congress did not allow Italy to take the region in 1878. In 1887, the government of the Italian government exchanged a bunch of secret notes with the government of Great Britain in which the Italian government provided support to eh British occupation of Egypt, in exchange for British support of an Italian Libya sometime in the future. In 1902, the Italian and French governments set aside their historical rivalry by signing a secret treaty between Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Prinetti and French Ambassador Camille Barrere. The secret treaty signed by Italy and France most significantly allowed Italy to have full freedom of intervention in Tripolitania and Cyrenaica.

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    Prinetti, the architect of the 1902 secret Franco-Italian agreement.

    In 1909, Tsar Nicholas II and King Victor Emmanuel III signed the Racconigi Bargain in which the Russian government acknowledged the Italian claims to the North African region.

    Despite these developments however, the Italian government made no real move against the Ottoman Empire other than creating a Libyan section in the Italian Colonial Office in 1908. However the Agadir Crisis in April 1911 saw the French use military action in Morocco turning the historical state into a French protectorate. At this point, the Italian nationalists were baying for Italian expansionism and popular papers like L’Idea Nazionale accompanied by nationalists like Enrico Corradini lobbied hard for the idea of an expanded Italian Colonial Empire. By this point, the Italian leadership decided that it could safely accede to public demands to a colonial project. The Triple Entente were highly supportive. British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey assured the Italian government that British assistance to the Ottoman government would not be in the cards, and thus by extension, Egyptian assistance to the Ottoman Empire was also out of the cards. The French government secretly contacted the Italian government, stating that they would not interfere in an Italian colonial project in Libya, and the Russian government meanwhile urged Italy to act ‘prompt and resolute manner’.

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    Enrico Corradini, an outspoken Italian ultranationalist.

    Giolitti and Italian Foreign Minister Antonino Paterno Castello agreed on 14th September, 1911 to launch a military campaign before the German and Austrian governments were aware of the fact. At that time the German government was locked in a diplomatic conflict with the British government to gain diplomatic influence in the Ottoman Empire, and was trying to thus mediate between Rome and Constantinople whilst the Austrian government wished to keep the Eastern Question down, noting their own large Slavic population within the Dual Monarchy. Austrian Foreign Minister Alois Lexa von Aehrenthal also warned the Italian government that any intervention in Libya would upset the fragile European Balance of Power.

    Meanwhile within the Ottoman Empire, the restoration of Ottoman Democracy in 1908 following the 1908 Macedonian Uprising and the infamous IMRO involvement had been a tenuous affair. Democracy was restored in the nation and the monarchy was made into a Prussian-constitutionalist style constitutional monarchy, wherein the monarch still had a lot of soft influence, however was no longer an absolute monarchy. However Ottoman Democracy was trying for the nation. In 1909 a counter coup almost restored absolutist rule in the nation and in the aftermath of the countercoup Abdul Hamid II was dethroned and his relative, ascended to the Osman throne as Sultan and caliph Mehmed V of the Ottoman Empire. Mehmed V by contrast to his relative, was relatively fine with remaining a constitutional monarch and supported the Chamber of Deputies and the Ottoman Parliament.

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    Sultan Mehmed V of the Ottoman Empire.

    However within the polities of the Ottoman Empire itself, there was discontent. The Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) often clashed with the Ottoman Democratic Party led by Ibrahim Temo and the Liberal Union led by Prince Sabbahadin. The Liberal Union had been temporarily disbanded in 1909 following the 1909 coup attempt, however they were brought back in by successive Grand Viziers.

    The two years under democratic rule, no matter how tenuous it had been, was also fruitful for the empire. Railroads were being laid down, literacy had gone up, and the economy of the nation was starting to recover at a first rate as well, and the country was truly leaving behind the vestiges of feudalism and turning into a modern Empire-state. The economy grew by 7.1% in 1909 and 8.2% in 1910 showing astounding progress, and the OPDA or the Ottoman Public Debt Administration showed a lowering in Ottoman debt by 13% in the two years, showing remarkable economic progress.

    When the Libyan Question started to rise, the Ottoman Empire’s government was led by Grand Vizier Ibrahim Hakki Pasha. Hakki Pasha was a mediocre Grand Vizier all things considered, however one of his major contributions to the Empire was in the fact that on September 15, 1911 he opened the Chamber of Deputies asking the Chamber for authorization for military supplies and 4 divisions to be shipped over to Libya in case of a ‘state of conflict and intervention’ between the ‘Ottoman Empire’ and ‘Italian Kingdom’. [1]

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    Grand Vizier Ibrahim Hakki Pasha.

    The Chamber of Deputies was bitterly divided over this issue. The CUP was reluctant to do the following measures given by Hakki Pasha, and the Liberal Party and Democratic Party agitated for the government to take measures to defend Libya. It was in the end the votes of the Libyan deputies in the Chamber (14 out of the 60 Arab seats in the Chamber) that turned the vote in favor of preparations to take place. The Chamber voted 154-130 in favor of shipping 4 divisions to Libya by September 27th, and readying the Ottoman Armed Forces in the region, as well as the Libyan irregulars in the area.

    That evening, the first troops started to board transport ships in Izmir, Constantinople and Mersin.

    On September 24th, the Italian government still unaware of the fact that the Ottoman government was starting to recognize the danger that Italy posed to Libya, contacted the Austrian government to mediate negotiations with the Ottoman government. The Austrian government complied. The Italian delegation demanded Ottoman Libya to be given to Italy. The Ottoman government, still unsure whether it wanted a confrontation with Italy, nonetheless, sought a compromise and put out a proposal that would share sovereignty in Libya between the Ottoman Empire and Italy, much like Bosnia in Austria-Hungary and Cyprus with Britain. The Italian government rejected this offer, and on September 29, 1911 the Italian Kingdom declared War on the Ottoman Empire.”

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    A nationalistic propaganda poster after the declaration of war showing the Italian lady as more dignified and better dressed than the Turkish one

    Prologue of The War of Sands: A History of Ottoman Libya by Sir Douglass Howe, published in The University of London in 1988.

    ***
    Footnotes:-

    [1] – this motion was raised in the Chamber otl, however political bickering got in the way of the proposal. This of course does not happen ittl.

    ***
     
    Chapter 1: The Battle for Tripoli and the Naval Detachment.
  • Chapter 1: The Battle for Tripoli and the Naval Detachment.

    ***

    “The Kingdom of Italy, seeking to conquer Libya from the Ottoman Empire, declared War on the Ottoman Empire on 29th September, 1911 starting the Italo-Ottoman War. After the declaration of war, an Italian naval squadron under Admiral Luigi Faravelli was sent to patrol the Libyan coast, especially the waters of Tripoli, as the government of Italy wished to bombard the coastal forts of Tripoli, which may have become a huge impediment to any Italian amphibious attack on the city. However Faravelli refrained from doing this, as he feared that it would spark retaliation against the European population of the city by the local Arabs. Faravelli offered to take foreign citizens aboard his ships, however the consuls of the neutral countries gave replies stating that they felt protected and secured enough by the Ottoman authorities, therefore only Italian citizens were evacuated from the city aboard Faravelli’s ships.


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    Admiral Faravelli.

    Within the city itself, Neshat Bey, the commander-in-chief of the city had around 3000 of the garrison troops that were placed within the city at all times, however the situation was less than optimal for him, as he did not exactly have huge stores of weapons. The ships Derna and Smyrna had restocked the coastal fortresses of the city however, and most of the reinforcements sent by the Ottoman government were mainly sent to Derna, Tobruk and Benghazi which were closer to the Ottoman Empire and easier to supply. His 3,000 troops were also ill-trained and not exactly professionals. They were well-equipped however and Neshat Bey would use that to his advantage, in the best manner that he could.


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    one of the smaller guns at Fort Hamidiye.

    On the 2nd of October 1911, the Italian squadron was deployed in front of Tripoli Harbor in anticipation of the arrival of an expeditionary force from Italy that would land in Libya, the ships were also tasked with the stoppage of any and all reinforcements from the rest of the Ottoman Empire. Faravelli then demanded the surrender of the Ottoman garrison and in case of a refusal, to commence hostilities immediately. The admiral also complained to the army that the forts guarding the city, Fort Sultaniye and Fort Hamidiye were not only fully stocked, they were also training their guns at the enemy fleet, opposite to what Italian intelligence had told him, meaning that his ships were in danger. He stated that the Italian marines and troops aboard his ships would be insufficient to take the city and protect his squadron, however Rome sent a telegraph urging him to take swift and fast action.


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    one of the big naval fort guns of Fort Sultaniye.

    Faravelli then invited the Turkish Defterdar, or accountant-general of the city, Ahmed Bessim Bey aboard his flagship, and he commanded Bessim Bey to surrender the city. Bessim Bey refused to do so and instead sought to buy time. He had been under command from Constantinople to garner as much time as possible for the Forts in Tripoli to become fully functional, and he deflected Italian questions, instead claiming that he was unable to contact Constantinople and ask for instructions. During this encounter, Colonel Neshat Bey ordered all but the 1000 troops commanding Fort Hamidiye and Fort Sultaniye (500 for each fort) to retreat from the city and into the barracks at Aziziya about ten kilometers to the south.

    With negotiations between Faravelli and Bessim Bey failing, the Italian battleship, Emauele Filiberto followed by the armored cruisers Giuseppe Garibaldi and Carlo Alberto opened fire at the forts and the port at around 15:30 pm on the 3rd of October. However the day that Bessim Bey had managed to buy for the forts were precious and had been used to their full effect and the moment the guns of the ships opened fire, the forts opened fire as well, firing their shells at the Italian squadrons. The only Ottoman warship present in the harbor of Tripoli, the Seyyad also aided the forts by opening fire at the Italian ships before being struck by a shell sent by the Carlo Alberto and sinking in harbor killing several sailors aboard. However the covering fire sent by the Seyyad gained another round of precious time for the forts, and the fort batteries managed to concentrate their fire at Giuseppe Garibaldi and at 16:45 pm, the ship was hit by a barrage of shells from the coastal batteries, and with the sheer volume of the fire, the ship started to tip over sinking beneath the waves. The ship sank slowly, so the majority of the crewmen and marines aboard the ship managed to escape, however the loss of one of their iconic armored cruisers was a blow to the Italian morale.


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    The Garibaldi an hour before it was sunk.

    However by 17:15 the forts were running out of ammunition, and Neshat Bey ordered that all of the remaining shells were to be transferred to Azizya, where they would use the shells with their artillery guns. By the evening of the 3rd, most of the fort’s weapons had been stripped to be transported to Azizya, and the forts were then allowed to keep a paltry 20% of their original stocks to delay the Italians.

    The following day, 4th of October, the Italian squadron bombarded the Ottoman forts again, however with their stocks stripped, the forts only managed to return a small amount of fire, and were unable to stop a small Italian patrol from landing next to Fort Hamidiye. The small garrison left out at the fort surrendered, and the German consul present in the fort, Adrian Tilger, informed the patrol that the majority of the Ottoman troops had abandoned the city and asked them to occupy the city in order to prevent anarchy and looting.

    The next day on the 5th of October, the Italian command took the decision to land two regiments of forces into the city under Captain Umberto Cagni. The landing began on 7:30 aided by the battleship Sicilia and by 10 am, the landings were more or less successful as the sapper units quickly took command of the forts Hamidiye and Sultaniye. And by 11 the marketplace of Tripoli was occupied by the Italians and the majority of the city soon fell quickly thereafter. Captain Cagni immediately organized a defensive line in order to safeguard the city. His situation was precarious, and the Italian troops that were his reinforcements were still launching about in Naples Harbor and Palermo Harbor and would not join their brethren in North Africa for another few days.


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    Captain Umberto Cagni.

    His situation deteriorated however. Neshat Bey ordered an artillery bombardment of the Italian positions to begin and 500 Libyan cavalrymen aided by 1000 Ottoman soldiers of the 6th Infantry Division were sent forward by Neshat Bey to capture Bu Meliana and the wells around the region which supplied the city of Tripoli with water. Tripoli had enough water to feed its civilians, however if the wells around Bu Meliana were captured, then the Italian troops would be sucked out without water and would be caught between the decisions of having no water or looting civilian wells and water stores. The 11th Bersaglieri Regiment was sent forward by Captain Cagni to secure the wells, however the 1500 Ottoman troops got there first and the fighting around the wells was aided by Ottoman gunners who attacked Italian positions, forcing them back into the main city, making the wells fall into the hands of the Ottomans.


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    Ottoman troops in Bu Meliana.

    And as such, the Battle of Tripoli ended, with a pyrrhic Italian victory, and a tactical Ottoman victory as well. For now, there were 6000 Italian troops in the city, ripe for dying of thirst.” [1]


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    - Chapter 3 of The War of Sands: A History of Ottoman Libya by Sir Douglass Howe, published in The University of London in 1988.

    “In the eastern parts of the Ottoman Empire in North Africa, the Italian landing at Derna and Benghazi were rebuffed by the Ottoman forces, reinforced from the mainland. At Benghazi, the Italian landing attempt was not even attempted by the Italian army after seeing the city filled to the brim by the 4th Infantry Division whilst the landing at Derna was repelled by elements of the 8th Infantry Division, causing a small set of casualties between the two powers.

    The only Italian landing that was successful after the first landing at Tripoli was the landing of Italian troops at Al-Khums. The port of Al-Khums was close to Tripoli (only 30 miles east of Tripoli) and was lightly defended by light Libyan irregulars which were pushed back into the interior by the well-armed Italian marines.” [2]

    - Chapter 1 of The Ottoman War in Libya by Mustafa Ali Ahmed published in 1996 in the University of Constantinople.

    “The once greatest fleet of the Mediterranean Sea, a fleet that once had the capability to even contest the seas with the mighty British Royal Navy, the Ottoman Fleet was a shadow of itself in 1911. And the disadvantage against the Italian navy was clear for all to see. The Ottoman Navy in the Mediterranean wasn’t necessarily obsolete, many were modern ships like the Turgut Reis and Barbaros Hayreddin and most of the ships were in their middle life, and still capable of fighting within their full capacity. However, the Italians had dreadnoughts, and a numerical advantage over the Ottoman Fleet and to some extents, the quality of the Italian sailors were far better than the quality of the Ottoman sailors too.


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    The Barbaros Heyreddin, the flagship of the Ottoman Empire, a powerful pre-dreadnought.

    Therefore when the Chamber of Deputies contacted Ciballi Tahir Mehmed Bey on September 19, the fleet commander of the Ottoman Navy, they were given the direct answer from Mehmed Bey that the Ottoman Navy was in no condition to even think about attacking the Italian navy head on.

    However nonetheless, the British Naval Mission in the Ottoman Empire led by Admiral Hugh Pigot Williams saw an opportunity. Williams knew about the diplomatic tug of war for influence that Germany and Britain was fighting for in the Ottoman Empire, and using the Naval Mission to their advantage in this war could become a benefit for the British influence in the Ottoman Empire, if the Naval Mission was successful in aiding the Ottoman Empire during this war.

    Admiral Hugh Pigot Williams met with Mehmed Bey on September 21, and both of the naval commanders sat down to discuss strategy on the matter of the navy. Williams proposed that the 1st and 2nd Fleets in Constantinople be consolidated along with the Smyrna detachment and the Salonika Detachment. This would give the Ottomans the majority of their fleet stationed in the Aegean Sea, and prevent the Italians from conducting any trade interdiction against the Ottoman Empire, thus preserving the Ottoman Empire’s economy throughout the war, and prevent any Italian attack within the Aegean Sea, and Northeastern Mediterranean Sea.


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    Admiral Hugh Pigot Williams, the leader of the British Naval Mission in the Ottoman Empire.

    The Preveza Detachment that formed the Ottoman Adriatic Fleet was ordered to move towards Beirut, with Williams acknowledging that the Ottomans could do little but attack the Italians with their coastal batteries in the Adriatic. Instead Williams believed that consolidating the Preveza Detachment with the Beirut detachment would create a strong enough fleet in the Eastern Mediterranean to protect the Ottoman coast in the Levant as well. It was in the Red Sea, however where Williams wanted the Ottomans to go on the offensive. The Ottoman ships in the Red Sea were medium tier ships, however capable in their own right and even outnumbered the Italian Red Sea Fleet in the area. Therefore, the Ottoman Red Sea fleet under Korvet Kaptan (Fleet Captain) Hamid Pasha was ordered to blockade the Red Sea to any and all Italian warships or trading ships.

    The compilation of these naval plans were called ‘Plan 1’ by Mehmed Bey and on September 25th, as war seemed likely the fleets were ordered to follow the plan. On September 29, the Ottoman destroyer Moha in the Red Sea sank an Italian transport ship carrying 120 troops, killing all aboard. The naval war had started.” [3]

    Chapter 19 of A History of the Ottoman Navy by Sir John Rackham published in 1988 in
    The University of Oxford.

    ***

    Footnotes:-

    [1] – Much of the battle is otl, of course other than the fact that Bey has orders ittl and the forts are active, causing a massive difference in the battle outcome than otl.

    [2] – The landing attempt at Benghazi and Derna were lightly defended otl itself, and were many times too weak. The ottoman lack of orders led to the surrender of the cities otl, however that is clearly not the case ittl.

    [3] – Historically the Ottoman fleet in 1911 was not bad, it was in fact on many levels capable in its own right, however the sudden attack of the Italians rendered the Ottoman navy incapable of making any plans. As you can see, that is not the case here ittl.


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    Chapter 2: The Battle for Tobruk and the Battle for Diplomacy
  • Chapter 2: The Battle for Tobruk and the Battle for Diplomacy

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    “As the battles for Tripoli continued on in the western parts of Libya, the Italians who had turned back after seeing the reinforcements of the Ottomans had returned to the bay in front of Tobruk harbor, intent on landing and claiming Cyrenaica, this time having a total strength of 3000 marines available with them. The defenses of Tobruk were given to Captain Mustafa Kemal leading the detachments of battalions of the 9th Infantry Division alongside a group of Libyan volunteers fighting under the banner of the Senussi Order under Al Mabri Yassen.

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    Captain Mustafa Kemal before the battle.

    The defenses at Tobruk were basically non-existent in comparison to the major earthworks, forts and redoubts that defended Tripoli and Benghazi. The Ottoman government had never given much thought to the other cities of Libya other than Benghazi and Tripoli, and this was evident in the fact that other than the two aforementioned two cities, the others basically had no defense against the shore bombardment that the Italian Navy threw at the Ottomans in the area.

    Therefore on October 12th, when the Italian navy showed itself on the shores of Tobruk, Captain Mustafa Kemal ordered a tactical withdrawal from Tobruk into the hills and countrysides and ordered that the wells outside the city be held by the detachments of the Senussi order and the 6th Battalion, whilst the remainder of his other forces would lay siege to Tobruk and throw the Italians back into the sea.

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    Italian troops landing next to Tobruk.

    He also had good news in the form that the rest of the 9th Infantry Division were ready to be deployed to Tobruk from Bardiyah and would be able to reach and group up with Kemal’s forces within a week at most. Kemal was now faced with the task of holding the lines against the Italians in Tobruk for only a week until he could use his overwhelming advantage in numbers to assault the city and drive the Italians out of the city.

    However on October 13th, the Italian soldiers came out of the city and captured the Nadura Hill in Mureyra Valley and were busy with reinforcements and digging trenches. Captain Mustafa Kemal foresaw that this movement from the Italians which would consolidate Italian troops outside of Tobruk would jeopardize his position. Thus, he ordered Ali Mabri Yassen to attack as soon as possible to overcome further Italian reinforcements on the strategic Nadura hill which overlooked Tobruk. Under the approval of Enver Bey, a prominent CUP military official in Cyrenaica, Turkish soldiers and Libyan volunteers were ordered to recapture the hill. The ottoman forces approached the hill just before dawn on October 15th, and besieged the hill, followed by heavy fire and an all out attack. The Italian soldiers were surprised and responded in a disorganized manner under the command of General Carlo Caneva, unable to do much without the surveillance of the canon fire. Italian positions were captured in two hours and the Italian regiments retreated back into Tobruk leaving behind precious munitions and guns, most prominently 6 machine guns.

    Meanwhile, the other Ottoman forces under the command of Mustafa Kemal, consisting of a thousand soldiers, destroyed Italian reinforcements who were supporting Italian forces near the hill. After five hours of brutal slogging and fighting, the Italian attack was repulsed and the Italians were forced to retreat back into Tobruk.

    By October 18th, the 9th Infantry Division arrived at Tobruk in their full, and with the superiority of number with him, Kemal ordered the city of Tobruk to be besieged as the Siege of Tobruk began in earnest.”

    Mustafa Kemal: A Biography by Fahad Ahmed Khan, published in University of Angora, in 1978.

    “The Italian landing at Al-Khums had been unopposed and soon they swung to the west with the intention of destroying the tactical railroads connecting Benghazi and Tripoli and to join up with the beleaguered forces in Tripoli. However the amount of forces under the Italian army at Al-Khums was a scant 5,000 and the Senussi Order was given the order to stop them from reinforcing Tripoli, which if it could be done, may risk losing the wells of Bu Meliana, which would end the predicament that Italy found itself in Tripoli, unable to loot the water wares of the civilians, lest the Europeans act outraged, or sit down and die of thirst.

    The Senussi Order managed to garner around 7,000 arab cavalry troops led by Ahmed Sharif to protect the Ottoman forces gathering next to Tripoli that were currently choking the Italians in the city.

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    Senussi soldiers shadowing Italian soldiers from Al-Khums

    Ahmed Sharif led his 7,000 cavalrymen through the northern slopes and hills and instead of attacking the incoming Italians head on, he instead tried to shadow them, and keep himself at a distance from the Italians instead hoping to ambush them when the most opportune moment showed itself. While a sound plan, the arrival of Italian airplanes disrupted this idea. The Italian aviators saw the Senussi conducting a shadowing movement and soon contacted the soldiers on the ground about the Senussi movement and the Italians on the ground were made aware of the danger they were in.

    Nonetheless, Ahmed Sharif had not survived the dangerous deserts and colonial wars against the French and British by being an idiot. When he saw the planes overhead and the planes taking their pictures, he knew his plans were in tatters and instead switched to another strategy. He quickly redirected his troops to hide in the mountains and passes of Northern Libya, allowing the Italian ground troops to remain scared whilst the Senussi remained hidden even from the Italian planes.

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    Italian planes in the Italo-Ottoman War.

    By October 22nd, the Italian troops marching from Al-Khums resumed their march to Tripoli believing that the danger was over. The danger was far from over. Ahmed Sharif planned to attack the Italians the moment they entered the roads leading to Alaluas. Alaluas was next to sloping hills and a good amount of small rivers in the area and Ahmed Sharif suddenly attacked the marching slow moving Italians near Alaluas and conducted a cavalry charge at the surprised Italians and forced them back.

    The small battle of Alaluas saw the Italians pushed back and with no other option in front of them, as the Italians were far from their supply depots, the Italians retreated back to Al-Khums with the intention of being reinforced them as Ahmed Sharif conducted multiple harassing attacks on the retreating Italians wearing them down bit by bit.”

    From The War in the Sands, published in 1998 in the University of Angora.

    “On October 29th, 1911 about a month into the Italo-Ottoman War, the Italian fleet in the Ionian Sea after reinforcing the Italian Central Mediterranean Fleet began searching for Ottoman warships in the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. At around 2 pm, or so, five Italian destroyers under the command of Prince Luigi Amedeo sighted three Ottoman gunboats near Preveza. Outnumbered, the Ottomans opened fire but soon chose to flee without making any hits. The torpedo boat, Tokat steered to the north whilst the Anatolia veered south. After several moments of firing, one of the Italian destroyers managed to sink the Tokat in which 9 sailors were killed, including the ship’s captain.

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    Location of the Battle of Preveza in 1911.

    However the Anatolia managed to successfully retreat from the engagement and became docked at Preveza harbor, where the Ottoman defenses there were made aware of the fact that the Italians were in the vicinity and the Preveza Castle and all of its defenses were readied by the castle’s commanders. The castle contained 25 modern heavy artillery batteries and were capable of firing at long distances, and the commander of the castle, Reis Pasha was ordered to fire at anything ‘that was Italian’. The next morning the Italians under Prince Amedeo attacked the next day towards the castle. The gunboats at Preveza harbor were all sunk by the Italians however one of the five Italian destroyers were also sunk by the castle defenses before Prince Amedeo decided to retreat in good order, having successfully destroyed any hopes of Ottoman hit and run tactics in the Ionian Sea against the Italians.

    But, whilst this was a naval defeat for the Ottomans in the Ionian Sea, the situation in the Red Sea was quite different than the Ionian Sea. Both sides had old decrepit ships in the area with second standard sailors, however in the region, the Ottomans held a significant numerical advantage against the Italians and on October 18th, the Ottoman government declared a blockade of Italian Eritrea and Italian Somalia declaring weapons, munitions, extra supply of food, to be contraband.

    Nonetheless, as the Ottomans weren’t exactly a stellar naval power, not many really cared about the declaration and Giolitti was not exactly taken aback by the Ottoman declaration at all, stating that the Italian fleets in the area would be more than enough to take care of the Ottomans in the Red Sea and take out this so called blockade. The ottomans were intent on proving him wrong on that point.

    In the beginning of November, 1911 the Italians had a fleet of 1 protected cruiser, 3 destroyers, and 2 gunboats in the Red Sea whilst the Ottomans had the torpedo Cruiser, Peyk-I-Sevket alongside 4 gunboats and 3 destroyers themselves, having a slight edge ready for service. The Italian naval commanders decided that in order to clear the way to Suez and stop the Ottoman disruption of transport ships, they would sally out and destroy the Ottoman fleet in good order.

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    The Peyk-i-Sevket

    However there was a problem. Ottoman spotters from the Yemeni Viyalet in Al-Hudayda and Kamaran had been ordered by the Sublime Porte to keep tabs on the Ottoman coastline in the region and they immediately responded back to Jeddah reporting the Italian fleet that was moving northwards. The Ottomans had learned the presence of the Italian ships, and the Ottoman fleet in the region set out to meet their Italian adversary. The Italians were taken by surprise when the Ottoman lead ships opened fire at a range of 3,500 yards and a tense naval battle soon followed. The Italian fleet was led by the small Italian protected cruiser Calabria and the ship paled in its armaments in comparison to the Peyk-i-Sevket which was a very modern ship, perhaps the most modern class in the entire Ottoman Navy, commissioned in 1908 and 1909. Her sister ship was in the Smyrna detachment of the Ottoman fleet.

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    Ottoman Yemeni Viyalet.

    The Peyk-i-Sevket soon rounded against the Calabria and after a quarter of an hour of intense naval bombardment the Peyk-i-Sevket managed to sink the Calabria and instead turned towards the other Ottoman ships intent on helping them, as the battle between the gunboats and destroyers between the Ottomans and the Italians remained a bloody stalemate.

    The battle unfolded at Kunfuda bay near the Ottoman Hejaz coast and before the Peyk-i-Sevket entered the fray between the destroyers and gunboats both sides were fighting each other on equal terms. 3 Ottoman gunboats had been taken out of the fight (1 sunk) whilst on the same level 2 Italian gunboats were taken out of the fight (1 sunk) leaving both sides having 2 gunboats and 3 destroyers firing at each other.

    At around 1 pm, the Peyk-i-sevket arrived to reinforce the Ottoman fleet and managed to force the gunboats to flee as the gunboats really could do nothing against the guns of a cruiser, and the destroyers of the Italians were now stuck between a rock and hard place as the Ottoman destroyers concentrated from the north and the gunboats aided them using covering fire. The Peyk-i-Sevket concentrated from behind. By 1:15 pm, they came to a decision to conduct a strategic withdrawal and started to disengage from the battle, and even though one destroyer was lost during the retreat, mainly due to one of the gunboat’s hitting the stern of the ship, the other two managed to retreat in good order and grouped up with the retreating Italian gunboats to return back to their naval bases in Eritrea.

    The ottomans thus were able to lose one naval battle, and win another. The Ottomans were ecstatic about their victory in the Red Sea, at least for now, and decided to reinforce the Red Sea fleet with the Beirut Detachment, knowing that defending that portion of the Ottoman coasts with naval power was futile against the Italians and the 2 Destroyers and 3 gunboats from the region were immediately transferred to the Red Sea through the Suez Canal.

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    The sinking of the Italian Cruiser Calabria was the highlight of the Battle of Kunfuda Bay.

    The Battle of Kunfuda Bay was an embarrassment for Italy. Giolitti came under significant scrutiny and so did the Ministry of Naval Affairs. In response Giolitti ordered the Italian Indian Ocean Fleet based in Mogadishu to move north to Eritrea to reinforce the Eritrean fleet and force the Ottoman fleet to stay bottled up in the Red Sea, dampening the effects of the Ottoman victory. Nonetheless, this forced around 7,000 Somali reinforcements to Libya to stay put.”

    A Naval History of the Ottoman Empire by Sir Douglass Howe

    “Ibrahim Hakki Pasha was able to remain as Grand Vizier by the skin of his teeth mainly due to his good decision to prepare for the war against Italy, which gained him a lot of votes in his favor in the Chamber of Deputies. On October 27th, 1911 the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies also passed the ‘Bill of Bonds’ in which the government issued debt securities and war bonds to the people of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman economy was still within a recovery phase and the country was not capable of going into a full war economy. As such the Ottomans decided to sell retail bonds, at affordable prices for the citizens of the empire, at least within urban areas such as Salonika, Constantinople, Skopje, Tirana, Angora, Smyrna, Baghdad, Damascus and Jerusalem. The Ottoman government knew that it could not count on advances from the banks to meet the costs of war, and the Ottoman bond loans followed a pre-arranged plan and were issued half yearly intervals for a five year term.

    The government also temporarily nationalized all military industries in the country and instead focused the production of rifles, mobile artillery and rations for the army, recognizing the logistical difficulties of the ottoman army, in these particular areas. Some stocks were sold by the government in order to raise funds as well. The Ottoman Public Debt Administration was asked by the government to create a credit launch by the government from the amount of money that the government had paid to the OPDA, and the OPDA was partially successful in the endeavor which did lighten a good amount of the economic strains on the Ottoman Empire.

    Politically, Hakki Pasha created a War Cabinet, consisting of himself, the Grand Vizier, the Minister of War, Mahmud Shevket Pasha, the Minister of Naval Affairs, Ciballi Mehmed Bey, Ahmet Riza, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, and Ibrahim Temo, the leader of the Opposition.

    Ahmet Riza, who was a gifted polymath and diplomat was assigned with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mehmed Rifat Pasha to conduct diplomatic meetings with the ambassadors to Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia, Britain and France to ensure their neutrality within the context of the war, and in the case of Britain, Riza was asked to find a favorable outcome to the Egyptian question in the war and the placement of orders for 2 dreadnoughts for the Ottoman Navy, for which the government had managed to scrape just enough money.

    1608124290227.png

    Ahmet Riza.

    On the former, Riza was not successful, as Sir Gerard Lowther, the British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire carefully danced around the issue and did not give a concrete answer to Riza regarding Egypt and its accessibility to Ottoman troops as a subject to the Sultan. However in regards to the Dreadnoughts, when presented with the money, Lowther agreed and two dreadnoughts were contracted in British dockyards to be built for the Ottoman Empire.

    In terms of Egypt, the Khedive of Egypt, Abbas II, he was staunchly in favor of aiding the Ottomans. Abbas II called the Italian war in Libya ‘a national disgrace for moslems’ and instead tried to convince his british governor-general Sir Eldon Gorst to aid the Ottoman Empire in the war. Gorst and Abbas II had good relations, unlike Gorst’s predecessor Sir Cromer, and did cooperate with Egyptian authorities on many matters. However Gorst did not accept this idea from Abbas II stating that it would go against legislation from London and against direct orders, much to the disappointment of Abbas II. Nonetheless, whilst officially Abbas II remained at the sidelines, he did secretly aid the Ottoman Empire, turning a blind eye to Ottoman smugglers going through Egypt, not reporting them to the British, and sending ‘Religious Volunteers’ to fight in Libya in support of the Ottoman Empire. In order to deflect the Italian blockade of Ottoman goods, he also allowed the Ottoman Merchant Marine to use the Egyptian flag and stay at Egyptian ports. Much of these would be invaluable aid to the Ottoman War Effort.”

    1608124354461.png

    Abbas II of Egypt.

    Excerpts from The Ottoman War in Libya

    ***
     
    Chapter 3: The Balkan Powder keg.
  • Chapter 3: The Balkan Powder keg.

    ***

    “The Ottoman Empire at the start of November, 1911 was at the crossroads. It had successfully reinforced Ottoman Libya, and whilst the Italians had got a toehold on Libya, the majority of the lands remained in Ottoman hands, the Italian troops remained cooped up in Tripoli, Al-Khums and Tobruk, all under siege from the Ottoman forces. The Egyptian Khedive Abbas II was secretly supporting the Ottomans, and Ottoman supplies were smuggled through Egypt multiple times to keep the troops supplied. Often times, Ottoman merchant marine in Constantinople would fly the Egyptian flag, sail down to Sidi Barrani and El Salloum and then smuggle the goods they had to Libya. The Egyptian government had also garnered around 5000 Egyptian troops as a volunteer force that were sent to Libya as well. In naval matters, the Ottomans had managed to gain a medium scale victory in the Red Sea and had prevented Italian reinforcements to come from Somalia and Eritrea, and had imposed a blockade on Italian goods on the Red Sea temporarily, knowing that when Italian naval reinforcements arrived, the fleet would have to sail back into harbor.

    Meanwhile, within the Ottoman Ministry of War, Minister of War Mahmud Shevket Pasha was extremely busy with regards to the war. He was working with a project that had been an ambitious project of his since 1909. On the 2nd of December, 1909, Louis Bleriot and the Belgian pilot baron Pierre de Caters performed the first pilot aviation demonstration in the Ottoman Empire. After witnessing the growing importance of an air combat support branch, the Ottoman government decided to organize its own military aviation program, and for this purpose, officers were sent to Europe by the end of 1910 for pilot training, however they returned back to the Ottoman Empire due to financial constraints on the empire. Although without any guidelines, Mahmud Shevket Pasha had continued to encourage the idea of a military aviation program and in June, 1911 secret aviation written examinations were conducted. The passing aviators were then sent to Bleriot School in Paris, by the end of July 1911, to be trained to fly.

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    Mahmud Shevket Pasha.

    Now, the Ottoman Empire at the start of the Italo-Ottoman War had around 5 planes in their aviation corps, all of whom were stationed in Constantinople. The planes were sent to the Levant provinces in order to scout out in the sea for Italian warships. The scouts would be used to scout for Italian warships approaching the Eastern Mediterranean. They would then return back to base and tell the local defenses about the approaching Italians and the local defenders would ready their coastal defenses.

    However in comparison to the Italians, who were using their planes with impunity in Libya, the Ottomans did not have any planes in Libya, and when news arrived to Mahmud Shevket Pasha about the utilization of planes by the Italians in their invasion of Libya, the necessity of an Ottoman aviation corps being an official part of the armed forces arose. In November 4th, it finally received approval from Ibrahim Hakki Pasha, and the Ottoman Air Corps was officially established on that day, boasting a total of 5 airplanes, 8 pilots and 26 logistics staff. Not exactly something to be scared off. Nonetheless, it was a start. The Air Corps was still under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of War.

    Mahmud Shevket Pasha and the Ottoman Ministry of War also had links with the Parisian aviation clubs and aviation producers, and on November 7th, an order was placed in the Bleriot aviation industry in Paris to produce 10 Bleriot XI Militaire which was a military version of the Bleriot XI plane. The Ottoman War Ministry was also looking into other planes from France and Britain, with the Ministry of War debating over the usage of the REP plane made by Robert Esnault-Pelterie. The government and ministry planned to send the planes to Libya by flying over the Eastern Mediterranean from Palestine.

    1608344557739.png

    A Bleriot XI. Most used for recon and a one time drop bombing runs.

    The Ottoman Ministry of Navy was also pretty busy and doing their part for the war. The Ottoman Navy prior to the war had based its future plans based on the lessons learned from the Russo-Japanese War. The Ottomans did not have the money for a large fleet, however did have enough to start creating a medium-scale modern fleet. In 1909 a new naval program was put together called the 5 year plan intending to bring the dismal state of the Ottoman navy up to standards. This 5 year program was a 46 ship program, consisting of 6 Battleships, 4 scouts (cruisers), 20 destroyers, 6 submarines, and 2 minelayers alongside 1 training ship, 1 repair ship and 3 floating docks costing about 3.4 million pounds a year. The plan had been passed by the cabinet in early 1910. On the naval plan, the Ottoman Navy had made good progress in the auxiliary portion of the plan as by the start of the Italo-Ottoman War, they already had 1 training ship, 1 repair ship, 1 minelayer and 2 repair docks. In terms of the others, however the Ottomans were making slow progress. They had two pre-dreadnought battleships brought from Germany, and 4 new destroyers from the planned 20. They hadn’t even ordered one of the planned four cruisers.

    Nonetheless the order of two dreadnoughts from Great Britain had also revived the issue of the 1909 Naval Plan and the Ministry of Naval Affairs was currently expanding the date of the plan from 1914 to 1915, with the intention of the remaining 2 battleships being entirely dreadnoughts and the cruisers all being light cruisers. The Naval Ministry saw no need for heavy cruisers for the navy, as the light and speedy focused modern Ottoman navy did not need slow moving heavy cruisers, at least in comparison to light cruisers. The remaining 16 destroyers however were subject to great debate. Not in the manner they would be built, or of what kind, but from where? The Cruisers and Dreadnoughts (the remaining ones anyway), were all being discussed with the British Embassy, with some progress, and however relying too much on the British to build their fleet wasn’t exactly what the Ottoman Empire thought was sustainable. Neither was it sustainable to ask more destroyers to be built by Germany. Germany already had a massive level of influence in the Ottoman Armed Forces, and in the navy, and increasing their influence was not on the checklist of the Ottoman government either.

    However after much deliberation on part of the Naval Ministry it was surprisingly decided that 8 destroyers would be ordered from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, whilst the remaining 8 destroyers would be ordered from Germany, lowering the need of the Ottoman Empire to rely on Germany for naval matters by a good margin. The 6 submarines that the Ottomans wanted were all ordered from Austria-Hungary. The amount of time that the naval program would take was estimated to be somewhere between late 1914 to early 1916. The dreadnoughts ordered from Britain were all based on the Iron Duke Class dreadnoughts, whilst the light cruisers ordered from Britain were based on the Drake Class Armored Cruisers Class. The destroyers ordered from Germany and Austria-Hungary were all based on the Peyk-i-Sevket class destroyers, and the submarines ordered from Austria-Hungary were based on the Austro-Hungarian U u-boat series. The money being used was taken from the reserves, bonds, and some loans, though payments for many ships were to be conducted on a slow basis, not really creating a major problem at all.

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    Austro-Hungarian subs were more well suited for the Ottoman Empire.

    Diplomatically, the Ottoman Empire was juggling multiple amounts of work to turn the situation in its favor. Historically, Russo-Ottoman relations had a calm period after the 1877-78 war, and relations had turned from hostile to neutral. As such, the Ottoman Empire really saw no need to talk with Russia more than necessary and Ottoman diplomats sat down with their Russian counterparts, in which they received confirmation that the Russian government would not be intervening in the war. The Ottoman Government also convened with the Ottoman Public Debt Administration or the OPDA to talk about economic affairs of the state. The Ottoman Empire had not been at war with any country which had a representative in the Ottoman Public Debt Administration ever since it was founded, and as such this was a peculiar time for the Ottoman Public Debt Administration, as Italian administrators, still worked in the administration, having not been informed about their government’s intention to go to war, and had been stranded in Constantinople. The Ottoman government argued that during times of war, individual debt owed by the government of the Ottoman Empire to the government of the Kingdom of Italy was possible, as it preserved the economic sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire. However other OPDA administrators, such as the British and French, as well as Austrians and Germans were hesitant about allowing a default on Ottoman debt owed to Italy, as it set a precedent with which the Ottoman government could negate on its debt. However it was agreed by the end of the negotiations on November 10, 1911 that the Ottoman government would have no ‘legal need to pay private Italian companies with debt repayment in the situation of war, and the Sublime Porte only owed money to the individual governments of the debt administration’. Using this loophole, the Ottoman government defaulted on it’s debts owed to private Italian companies, which amounted to 37% of the Italian held debt in the OPDA. The Italian administrators, were also asked to freeze their operations, as the Italian sector of the OPDA was temporarily frozen by the government. Alberto Theodli, the leader of the Italian Representation in the OPDA, was asked to leave the country politely and was offered passage through Austria-Hungary back to Italy. The reduction of 37% of its debts owed to Italy freed up a total of around 9 million pounds for the Ottoman government, and the money was immediately funneled into the armament industry of the country, whilst some of it was used to pay off some minor debts from the OPDA as well. [1]

    In Berlin, the Ottoman Ambassador to Berlin, Osman Nizami Pasha was told by the German government that Germany had a formal obligation to Italy as a part of the Triple Alliance, however would find it ‘easier to persuade Italy to make peace, if she suffered military defeats on land with greater propensity’. This was a tacit promise from the Germans that should military operations go in favor of the Ottoman Empire in Tobruk or Tripoli, then the Germans would start diplomatic negotiations in Rome. This was good news. [2]

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    Osman Nizami Pasha

    In the Balkans, the Ottomans had only taken one division, the 6th Infantry Division to be diverted to Libya. The other divisions of the Ottoman Army remained in place, however the Sublime Porte was becoming increasingly fearful of a Balkan coalition against the Porte whilst being simultaneously in a war with Italy. The Third Army consisting of the 5th, 17th, 18th Infantry Divisions and the 3rd Cavalry Division was an army suited to defense, however it would not be able to survive an onslaught from Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece combined. Mahmud Shevket Pasha asked the porte on November 19th, to conduct a mobilization of the troops in the Third Army. However this request was denied, as Hakki Pasha was fearful of provoking Bulgarian or Greek reaction. However nonetheless, with the fear that the Balkans could be up to something with Italy, Hakki Pasha nonetheless, allowed the Third Army to retreat from their normal barracks back to defensive positions that were highlighted in von der Goltz’s defensive plans for the Ottoman Empire.

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    Flag of the Cretan State

    A war between Greece and the Ottomans could still be diverted however. Greek diplomats and consulates were watching the war in Libya closely, intent on watching every Ottoman move. And the Ottomans wanted to use that to their advantage. Ibrahim Hakki Pasha in early 1911 had proposed the recognition of Crete as Greek territory in return for an economic pact with Greece. However with war’s prospect back then unlikely, the idea was shot down. However with a real war going on, the idea was revived again. Many asked why recognizing the de-facto situation on the ground in Crete, which had been annexed by Greece in 1908, would be any cause for the Greeks to enter a non-aggression pact and an economic pact. However the foreign minister of the Ottoman Empire, Gabriel Noradunkyan, an ethnic Armenian, put the case forward. The Cretan union with Greece was unrecognized by the Great Powers and neither was it recognized by Greece itself, with Cretan deputies not allowed in the Greek parliament. The Great Power’s police force on Crete still operated in Souda Bay flouting the Greek annexation of Crete. The Cretan question was also a huge political debate in Greece, and recognizing the Cretan Union with Greece would make the Great Powers recognize Crete as Greek, allowing Greek and foreign investment back into the island, and Cretan problem would be solved for the Greeks once and for all. Allowing the Greek’s access through the Persian Gulf was also an offer put forward by the cabinet, as it would allow the Greeks to expand their economic base, and increase their trade links in Asia, mainly with China and Japan.

    On November 21st, the cabinet agreed to offer Greece a reconciliation pact. The pact offered the following points:-

    • Ottoman recognition, thus worldwide recognition, of the Cretan Union with Greece.
    • Greek companies, and merchant marine as well banks would be allowed full access to the Persian Gulf under the control of the Ottoman Empire.
    • Rights of Greek citizens in the Ottoman Empire to be reaffirmed by the Sublime Porte.
    In return the Ottoman government asked for a non-aggression pact and economic pact with the Kingdom of Greece. The next day on the 22nd, the Greek ambassador to the Sublime Porte, was called to the cabinet, where he was presented with the offer. The ambassador then contacted Prime Minister Venizelos about the offer. Prime Minister Venizelos of Greece had been pretty alarmed by the amount of orders the Ottoman government was throwing around for tis navy, which if successful, would erode Greek naval dominance in the Aegean away from Greece. However Venizelos also did not wish to be entangled in any event in the Balkans until the Greek Army and Navy were fully reorganized and modernized, as well as revitalizing the Greek economy. He had also offered a similar deal at the beginning of 1911 to the Ottomans, however without the added bonus of an economic pact which would potentially make the process of Greek economic revitalization better. In light of this, he took the offer from the Ottoman government very seriously and the ending days of November was fractious in Greece, as the Greek parliament debated on the question. The parliament was in favor of the Cretan question’s solution presented to them, as they had proposed this to the Ottoman government before, and the added bonus of an economic pact was a good one.

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    Ottoman and Greek diplomats signing the treaty.

    Finally on December 3rd, 1911, the Greek parliament agreed to the reconciliation pact. Ottoman and Greek diplomats met each other in Salonika on the 11th, where they signed the Treaty of Salonika. The Treaty of Salonika was a quiet affair, in order to hide it from the Italians, and the Russians as well. The terms of the treaty were:-

    • The Ottoman Government, representing Sultan Mehmed V would recognize the Cretan Union as a legitimate act, thus placing Crete as a province of the Kingdom of Greece.
    • The Ottoman Government would reaffirm the rights of the Greek population of the Ottoman Empire.
    • The Ottoman Empire would give full access to the Persian gulf to Greek companies, Greek banks as well as the Greek Merchant Marine.
    • The Greek merchant marine would be allowed to dock at Ottoman docks in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf freely until 1918 after which they would be offered a discounted price until 1925.
    • The Greek government would sign a non-aggression pact with the Ottoman Empire which would remain in force until December 31, 1915.
    • The Greek government would sign a new trade treaty with the Ottoman Empire up for renewal every 3 years.
    • The greek government would allow free passage of Cretan muslims into the Ottoman Empire should they wish to do so.
    • The treaty would be enforced in December 30, 1911.
    The Treaty of Salonika would be ratified on December 23rd. Both sides were pretty happy with the deal. Venizelos had managed to end the Cretan question once and for all, and had received a major boost in his economic reforms for the nation with the economic concessions he got from the Ottoman Empire, as well as the new trading pact. The Ottomans had managed to stave off Greece as a possible belligerent in any future conflict in the Balkans. All of the Third Army’s forces could be deployed against Bulgaria and Serbia in any future war now.

    However as diplomats battled with pens and words in the political arena, the soldiers were the ones changing the military situation on the ground.”

    - Excerpts from ‘Ottoman Diplomacy in the War over Libya’

    “On November 14th, Ahmed Sharif, bolstered by the reinforcements of around 1,200 Senussi troops from Fezzan, decided that attacking the Italians bogged down in Al-Khums and driving them back to the sea, was now best possible. If he could do so, he could veer west and aid Neshat Bey with the Siege of Tripoli and increase the likelihood of an Italian surrender there. As such, his troops began moving from their base of operations in Msallata and started to move north.

    On November 17, his 8,200 troops managed to reach Al-Khums. He immediately began an attack on the Italian forward positions, using his cavalry’s mobile speed to get around Italian defenses and attacking them at the rear. He continued to use a strategy which entailed swinging around Italian defenses, using the cavalry to their advantage and then running off the moment Italian defenses consolidated. And then, rinse and repeat. Using this technique, he managed to wear down the forward defenses of the Italian troops with great effect, with many redoubts reporting soldiers sleeping and falling into unconsciousness with fatigue, as well as exposure from the unfamiliar climate of Libya. In November 20, Ahmed Sharif closed in for the kill.

    1608344786586.png

    one of the few large guns that the Senussi had with them.

    Using his precious few horse drawn artillery guns for the first time in the entire attack, he managed to surprise the Italian defenders enough for his cavalry shock troops to plug the redoubts and forward positions of the Italian defenders again and started a massive attack from all directions at the Italian defenses. With low supplies, being cut off from Tripoli, and being caught by total surprise, the Italians were driven back from the surroundings back into the city of Al-Khums, dangerously ill-defended. Many Senussi cavalrymen broke through into the city and started thoroughly looting Italian barracks before Ahmed Sharif restored order. Sharif then ordered a massive attack from two directions, the south east and south west concentrating at Al-Khums, which resulted in a melee between Italian troops and Senussi cavalrymen in the area, which close lethal point blank firing. However the Senussi advantage in numbers was too much, and soon enough they started to push. By 2 pm, the Italian captain at Al-Khums, Augusto Abry gave the order for the Italian regiments to retreat back into the ships in harbor and retreat back into the sea and back to Italy, with a potential deployment to Tripoli later on.

    By 6 pm, around 1200 Italians had been evacuated before the city of Al-Khums fell. Abry ordered the fleet to move after that, stranding 700 Italians in the city. Few of them were taken prisoner, despite Sharif’s best attempts at limiting massacres. To his surprise, much of the massacres were conducted by the population of Al-Khums against the Italian troops for their mistreatment of the Muslim population during their occupation.

    As soon as he recuperated his troops, he swung west intent on reaching Tripoli by the end of the first week of December. However his actions would have huge consequences. With Al-Khums as an Italian foothold gone, only two areas were left in Libya in which the Italians could penetrate Libya. That would Tobruk and Tripoli. One was being held under siege, and the second was quickly starting to loose drinking water supplies.

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    The Italian Indian Ocean Fleet moving north

    At sea, the Italian Indian Ocean fleet started to move upwards into the Red Sea crossing the Bab al Mandab straits on December 13th, and started to reinforce the battered Italian Eritrean Fleet. Receiving news that the Italians were reinforcing the Red Sea, and knowing about their inability to contest the sea with Italian reinforcements, the Ottoman Red Sea fleet retreated back to Harbor. However even then, the Ottoman fleet was ordered to keep an eye out on Jeddah port, in order to save the ottoman fleet there from any attempts at destroying it from the Italians.”

    - Excerpts from The War in the Sands.

    “The string of defeats that the Italians faced had the Italian population back in the Italian peninsula coming up in arms. The government of Giolitti was becoming unpopular, and the socialists, who had retreated to simply writing anti-war articles, began rioting. San Giuliano, the Italian Foreign Minister had to conduct multiple meetings with foreign ambassadors to conduct what amounted to ‘these are small setbacks, nothing adverse will happen’. However, many Diplomats found this response lacking. In particular, British Foreign Minister Sir Edward Grey, who had initially supported Italian ambitions in Libya, called Italy to be ‘temperate’ and warned that any proclamation of an annexation of Libya would make the situation in Libya ‘more complex and precipitous’.

    1608344901954.png

    Austrian Foreign Minister, Alois Lexa von Aehrenthal

    Tensions between Austria and Italy had also been rising, and Austrian foreign minister Alois Lexa von Aehrenthal warned Italy to ‘make amends immediately so as to preserve the international status-quo before opportunity slipped from Italy’. By this point, Austria was clear in its belief that with the Italians only holding onto Tripoli and Tobruk, the military situation turning in favor of the Ottomans was only a question of time. As Italian intentions to extend the war into the Aegean became a possibility, both Aehrenthal and the German foreign minister, Alfred von Kilderen-Waechter both agitated for a mediated peace. However this time both the Austrian and German diplomats were surprised when they found that not only Italy rejected this mediation attempt, but also the Ottoman Empire. The proposed mediation basically handed over Fezzan and Tripolitania to Italy as protectorates whilst the Ottomans kept Cyrenaica. This was unacceptable to the Ottoman Empire, releasing a press statement:

    ……With military situation in Libya turning in favor of the Porte, it is not within the intention of the Porte to seek terms with Italy which will assume lost territory for the Porte. An equal peace, and status quo ante bellum are the only offers on the table….

    In December 17th, Gabriel Noradunkyan, the Foreign Minister of the Ottoman Empire agreed to meet to go to Vienna to meet with Aehrenthal and the Italian attache there personally to start diplomatic negotiations, however he warned that unless the military situation turned decisively in favor of Italy, the Porte was not in the mood to discuss any concessions to Italy.

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    Gabriel Noradunkyan, the most prominent Ottoman Armenian in the Ottoman Empire and the Foreign Minister of the Empire.

    Resit Pasha, the Ottoman ambassador in Vienna, started to negotiate with the Italian ambassador to Vienna, Ambassador Averna about peace. Averna remained elusive and did not give a proper answer, wanting to wait it out until he received proper information from Rome on how to react. In Rome, General Spingaddi and Polio had given a document to King Emanuel III and Giolitti stating that if the Turks drove the Italians out of Tripoli and tobruk, then any hopes of winning the war was over, as the amphibious capability of Italy was in question, as well as the fact that the war was costing 110 million every month, rather than the thought 30 million, costing almost 4 times as much than what the Italian government had thought it would cost.

    And the Ottomans were very much intent in pushing the Italians back out of Libya.”

    Excerpts from the Great Concert of Europe in the 20th Century
    ***
    Footnotes:-

    [1] considered otl, did not go through.

    [2] – exact offer given by the germans otl

    ***
     
    Chapter 4: The Treaty of Vienna.
  • Chapter 4: The Treaty of Vienna.

    ***

    “Foreign Minister Gabriel Noradunkyan, reached Vienna on the 3rd of January, 1912 amidst cold snowy winds in the grand city. There, he personally met Kaiser Franz Joseph I, who congratulated him on the current successful defense of Libya, and called him to ‘finish the war’ once and for all, promising Austro-Hungarian economic investment in the Ottoman Empire, after the war ended. Though Noradunkyan knew that Franz Joseph I was in no position to honor that comment, the very fact that he said as such, was a promising sign.

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    A photograph of Noradunkyan in Vienna in his diplomatic clothes

    Finally, he met with Foreign Minister von Aehrenthal, as well as German Ambassador to Vienna, Heinrich von Tschirschky, and an Italian Demarche, as well as diplomats from Britain, France and Russia. The mood was quite good for in Noradunkyan, and there he made his move. He condemned the war in front of the diplomats, but he also brought up two very interesting points. The 1907 Hague Conference had forbid the usage of any ‘floating device’ to bomb or shell any place, and the Italians had done so, by launching bombs from their planes into Tripoli and Tobruk. His second point was also about Hejaz. Italian naval reinforcements had been going on attacking any coastal fort they saw in Hejaz, and Noraunkyan, condemned this, stating that the millions of Muslim pilgrims coming to Hejaz to go to Mecca and Medina were being put at risk. In this endeavor he called out to the governments of Britain, France and Russia, and to an extent Austria-Hungary as well (Austria-Hungary had a sizeable Muslim population in Bosnia), to take matters seriously in that regard.

    1608467748045.png

    Heinrich von Tschirschky

    On the second point, Noradunkyan was very successful, one the first he wasn’t. The Dutch ambassador told him that The Hague could not do anything unless the war was first brought to an end. However on the second, his statement was taken very seriously. Foreign Minister Edward Grey who was contacting the diplomats in Vienna through telegraph would write:

    …….The issue of Moslem pilgrims visiting their holy lands in Hejaz is one of utmost importance. We cannot allow the Italian Navy to move as it see’s fit in the region, as the Moslem’s already angered by a Christian country warring against a Moslem one, may be pushed over the edge. The temporal power of the Caliph in the Ottoman Empire is also one we must consider seriously, for our Empires, are full of Moslem subjects, and we cannot afford to alienate them…….

    Austrian Foreign Minister von Aehrenthal, who was still very cautious over the Bosnian issue, agreed, and also voiced his opinion, that with Italy holding only a small toehold in Libya, both of which seemed likely to fall within the next few days, a return to the Status Quo should now be put on the table, with neither side giving any concession. French delegates in the Vienna Conference also took the Hejaz question seriously, as they did not wish to alienate their Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian subjects, and stated that they would support any withdrawal of Italian naval actions in the Red Sea. However unlike the British who were backing a full Italian withdrawal in the Red Sea without any repercussions to the Ottoman Empire, the French delegates also put out the need for the Ottoman fleet in the Red Sea to stay at port, to ensure the safety of the Red Sea for all passing by civilian ships, which may also include Italian transport ships. Noradunkyan protested vehemently, however as Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Sazanov also backed the French proposal, showing ‘concern’ over their own Muslim subjects living in Turkestan and the Caucasian mountains.

    1608467815804.png

    Sergey Sazonov

    As such, the diplomats then presented Italy with a demand asking for all naval operations in the Red Sea on part of the Italian navy be stopped. Italian Foreign Minister San Giuliano protested against this move, and said that he could guarantee that the Italian Navy would not make any moves in the Red Sea, for he was not a part of the Military Staff. However by this point, Noradunkyan had enough of the Italian’s stubborn position, and he reminded San Giuliano of Italy’s own problems in Somalia and threatened that should the deal of no naval moves in the Red Sea be rejected then, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, also the temporal Caliph of the Muslim World, both Sunni and Shia as well as Ibadi, would declare Jihad against the Italians. This was a surprising move, as Noradunkyan was a Coptic Armenian, however as person who lived in the Ottoman Empire, he knew very well the temporal power the Sultan held, even in a constitutional monarchy.

    1608467863313.png

    San Giuliano

    The threat was not an empty one. In front of the Italian delegation, the Ottoman Foreign Minister telegraphed the Sublime Porte to bring Sultan Mehmed V on standby should the Italian delegation not acquiesce to the agreement. Italian Eritrea was a hotbed of religious conflicts between Muslims and Christians, whilst Somali tribesmen continued to conduct a low level war in the region, especially in Jubaland. Any declaration of Jihad would Italy’s colonies descend in chaos again, and as such, San Giuliano finally agreed on the 5th, and in return for now Ottoman blockade of the Red Sea, the Italian navy was pulled out of the Red Sea.

    After the tense negotiations, von Aehrenthal then proposed a tour of Austria proper for the Ottoman Foreign Minister promising a second conference in Vienna with the Italian diplomats, after the situation on the ground had changed suitably. Noradunkyan agreed and the Armenian would soon get a tour of Salzburg, Graz and Innsbruck before he returned to Vienna again to resume negotiations.” Ottoman Diplomacy in the Italo-Ottoman War.

    “On the ground, the situation was turning. The Ottomans had around two months worth of supplies left, and knew that unless they made a bold move now, then the war was lost for them. Captain Mustafa Kemal Bey in Tobruk and Neshat Bey in Tripoli were in constant contact with one another, and both were in agreement that a new general assault was needed, to bring the theatre operations to an end. One letter from Mustafa Kemal to Neshat Bey reads:-

    ……The war is currently in our favor, with diplomatic channels depending on our forces to aid them with their words of fire in Vienna, we need to take firm action soon. My army in Tobruk has enough ammunition for 64 days, and enough rations to last for 98 days. However after that my army will cease to exist as suitable fighting force, so whatever we do, we must do it now, when we have time to spare, and ammunition to use……

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    Mustafa Kemal Bey in Libya looking at the artillery keep up the siege of tobruk

    Neshat Bey agreed. The two commanders set the date of January 15 for the general assault on the Siege of Tripoli and Siege of Tobruk to begin. For the next week, the two commanders set about preparing their forces, propping them up, reinforcing their supply lines by coming into contact with the multiple Bedouin tribes in the region, most of whom supported the Ottoman Empire and their troops. On January 14’s morning, the ottoman guns went silent, allowing a slight reprieve for the Italian troops, however that was only because the ottoman guns were being moved around to get into a better position from where they could penetrate the Italian defenses in a better manner. At 6 pm, the Ottoman guns fired again, and for the entirety of the night the Ottoman guns shelled the Italian positions at Tobruk and Tripoli, not allowing them to sleep, whilst rotating their own gunners to allow them to get sleep. This was a part of their plan, to wear down the Italian defenders before the general siege.

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    ottoman artillery gunners during the dusk period starting a night long bombardment

    The next morning in Tobruk, the battalions of the Ottoman 9th Infantry Division started a general assault on the western sector of tobruk, clashing with the forces that the Italians had pushed forward. The general assault on the western side of the city was not going anywhere, however they managed to pin the Italian troops down, whilst the rest of the Ottoman 9th Infantry Division started a massive assault on the eastern sector of the city, managing to gain some amount of ground. However in the western sector, the Ottoman troops started to get some progress made, when Imperial Prince Osman Fuad, managed to rally some Bedouin cavalrymen from the sidelines to aid them, and led a charge against the frontal redoubts of the Italian positions. The frontal redoubts were seized by the Ottoman and Bedouin troops by 2 pm that day, whilst the other battalions were now tying down Italian troops in the other sectors of the defenses, though they were not able to seize the frontal redoubts in the other sectors.

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    Imperial Prince Osman Fuad, the future Sultan Osman IV of the Ottoman Empire

    The same day in Tripoli, Neshat Bey ordered the 6th Infantry Division, Ahmed Sharif’s Cavalrymen and the 3,000 troops which were the Tripoli garrison to start a massive assault on the city, and to force the redoubts, defending the city to fall back into the city. With greater number on Neshat Bey’s side, he did not use his troops in the conservative manner that Mustafa Kemal Bey had done, and instead used the infantrymen and the garrison troops to attack headlong at Italian positions, allowing Ahmed Sharif and his men to flank the Italians and pushed them out. With lethal close range artillery being fired by the Ottomans, sometimes in suicide attacks, the Italians by the end of the day were pushed out of the redoubts defending Tripoli, and by the end of the day, 1000 Ottoman troops, took control of the former Fort Hamidiye once again. With most of the Italian troops forced back into the city walls, the situation for the Italians turned grim.

    In Tripoli, General Carlo Caneva, the overall commander of the Italian troops in Libya, finally agreed to order a general evacuation of Italian troops in Libya, and ordered the Navy to aid them. The Navy sent transport ships all the way to Tobruk and Tripoli, and throughout the night, the Italians started their evacuation.

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    Carlo Caneva

    The next day, the Ottomans began to assault the positions again. This time they held the definite advantage. In Tripoli, without proper water, and with the evacuation going on, the morale was dripping among the Italian troops, and in Tobruk, the news of the Italian withdrawal had leaked into the Ottoman camp, raising their morale high enough to start encouraged assaults on the city. By 12 pm, the Italians evacuated the city of Tripoli, and the Ottoman troops entered the city victorious once again, with the Ottoman flag being flown in the city once again, though the Italian flag was torn down.

    In Tobruk, the Italians held out during the entirety of the 16th, and managed to hold the lines. But that night they abandoned their positions and the city, boarding the ships that had arrived at port, and on the morning of the next day, Mustafa Kemal Bey and Prince Osman Fuad entered the city of Tobruk victorious and in high spirits.

    The war on land had ended, and with the Ottomans victorious on land (barely, Mustafa Kemal would write that he had no reserves left when the Italians evacuated), the diplomats seized their chance.” The War in the Sands.

    “The news that the Ottomans had pushed the Italians out of Libya was met with a wide spectrum of reactions. In the Sublime Porte the news was met with wild applause and caught up in the mood of the government, Sultan Mehmed V ordered festivities to be conducted in Constantinople that night and the people of the city came out to celebrate the victory.

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    a painting of the festival.

    In Italy, Giovanni Giolitti responded apparently by not showing up to a cabinet meeting and the socialists and nationalists of the Italian population openly rioted, with the nationalists openly demanding a second invasion of Libya. However the Italian economy was in no position for a second invasion. What was estimated to be around 120 million in the past 4 months, had cost around 375 million for the Italian government, and economic and financial ministry of Italy was currently up in arms about the war.

    In Vienna, the mood of the diplomats was that of finality. Austrian Foreign Minister von Aehrenthal called the war ‘ended’ and called for the Italians to commit themselves to what Aehrenthal called a ‘fair peace’ of the war. Noradunkyan also called out to the diplomats of Europe to mediate, calling them to force Italy to make peace. And by this point, they had to. Sergey Sazanov, the Russian Foreign Minister sent a telegram stating ‘The return to the status quo is absolutely necessary at this moment, and Italy must agree to it…..’. British Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Grey called out for calm and stated that Italy now had to come to the table, and Germany started mediation, whilst France remained silent on the issue, not wishing to rock the boat, so to speak.

    San Giuliano left Rome on January 20, and arrived at Vienna on February 13th, and there he met with Noradunkyan and the other Ottoman delegations who had arrived with the Ottoman Armenian as well. The Ottoman stance was pretty clear. Status Quo Antebellum with some amount of economic concessions, and San Giuliano tried to save face for Italy by forcing the Ottomans to give some economic concessions to Italy as well in Ottoman North Africa. At first, Noradunkyan was not budging on the issue, however as his Austrian and German benefactors were supporting a compromise, he slowly agreed. The Treaty of Vienna was signed on February 17th, and consisted of the following points:-

    • Italy and the Ottoman Empire to revert to Status Quo Antebellum territorially.
    • The Ottoman Empire to guarantee the rights of Italian merchandise in the Ottoman Empire.
    • The Italian government to forgive a third of the debt owed by the Ottoman Empire to Italy.
    • The Ottoman Empire to allow Italian economic investment in Libya.
    • Italian representation to be allowed in the OPDA once again.
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    the sigining of the Treaty of Vienna.

    The treaty was a massive victory for the Ottomans, and a massive loss for the Italians. The repercussions of this war would be far reaching….” The Ottoman History.

    ***
     
    Chapter 5: The 1912 Ottoman General Elections.
  • Chapter 5: The 1912 Ottoman General Elections.

    ***

    “General Elections were held in the Ottoman Empire in April 1912, during when the people of the empire were still happy and drunk with victory after the end of the Italo-Ottoman War of 1911. The ruling Committee of Union and Progress, even though they had seen the war to the end victoriously, many blamed the CUP for their ultranationalist stance of not allowing the Italians invest in Libya, which allowed the Italians to use a casus belli to invade the region (indeed, no economic freedom in Libya was one of the casus belli’s used by Italy to invade Libya) and for ignoring the looming danger of the Italian invasion for far too long. The news that the Ottoman military had been few weeks away from drying out of ammunition before pushing the Italians out had been common knowledge and many put this against the CUP as well. The regional population and ethnic minorities also remembered very well how the CUP had imposed Ottoman Turkish as the only language in ottoman schools throughout the country controlling the education system through the national curriculum.

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    (1)Ali Kemal. (2) Syrja Bey Vlora

    The major parties contesting the election other than the Committee of Union and Progress was the Liberal Union or the Freedom and Accord Party led this time by Ali Kemal, who had won the by-elections to the top spot of the party. Ali Kemal, alongside his deputy, Syrja Bey Vlora, an ethnic Albanian, spearheaded the Liberal Union’s party campaign for the election. The Liberal Union ran a platform of mild-ottomanism (Rather than the radical sense of ottomanism that the CUP wanted to throw at the minorities), teaching Ottoman Turkish and ethnic languages in schools and also ran on the platform of being the middle-ground for Turks and ethnic minorities in the empire.

    The third party to run for the election was the Ottoman Democratic Party led by Ibrahim Temo. Temo ran on a platform of democratic liberalism and ran on a platform of economic focus. He laid out plans for economic development throughout the empire, and increasing the economic standards of living in the country as well as upgrading the aging infrastructure of the nation, and connecting the rural areas via new railroads. He also backed teaching both Ottoman Turkish and regional languages in schools, rather than just Ottoman Turkish.

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    Ibrahim Temo.

    The fourth party to take part in the election was the Armenakan Party. This party, unlike other Armenian parties, did not call for Armenian independence, and as such were allowed to challenge the elections. This party was more of an autonomist party, and chose to champion the rights of the Armenian population of the country and their religious rights. They also attracted a bit of Jewish and Greek votes as well due to their religious stances, which called for equal standing of all religions in the country (with Islam being first among equals due to the Sultan’s stature). The party was led by ethnic Armenian Mekertich Portukalian. It had once been militant in nature during the reign of Abdul Hamid II and had preached Armenian independence, however had mellowed out during the 1910-12 years, which made them legal once again.

    The last party seriously campaigning during the elections was the Social Democratic Hunchakian Party. This party was social democratic in nature, mixed economic ideals, whilst it also tried to juggle religious politics, with which they supported the Caliph, however guaranteed the rights of the Jewish and Christian population of the empire. The party was led by ethnic Armenian Gevorg Gharadijan.

    The other parties taking part in the election were too small, and likely not going to pass the five percent benchmark. As such the rest were all independents, vying for a seat in the Chamber of Deputies.

    The results of the elections were:-

    • CUP: 31% (89 seats)
    • Liberal Union: 27% (77 seats)
    • Ottoman Democratic Party: 22% (63 seats)
    • Armenakan Party: 8% (23 seats)
    • Social Democratic Hunchakian Party: 7% (20 seats)
    • Independents: 5% (16 seats)
    ottoman elections.PNG
    Whilst the CUP had won the most seats in the Chamber, the CUP had not won the majority of seats allowed to make a government, and instead the Liberal Union, Ottoman Democratic Party and the Armenakan Party instead announced a coalition government between the three parties, forming the government. The CUP and the Social Democratic Hunchakian Party instead formed the opposition in the Chamber of Deputies. The leader of the Liberal Union, Ali Kemal was elected Grand Vizier (and nominally appointed by the Sultan) and he formed his government.

    The cabinet of his government was:-

    • Grand Vizier: Ali Kemal (Liberal Union)
    • Minister of the Interior: Ibrahim Temo (Ottoman Democratic Party)
    • Minister of the Navy: Ciballi Mehmed Bey (Independent)
    • Minister of War: Mahmud Shevket Pasha (Independent)
    • Minister of Foreign Affairs: Syrja Bey Vlora (Liberal Union)
    • Minister of Justice: Aristidi Pasha (Ottoman Democratic Party)
    • Minister of Agriculture: Riza Nur (Liberal Union)
    • Minister of Education: Riza Tevfik Bolukbasi (Liberal Union)
    • Minister of Finances, Economics, Industry and Trade: Mizanci Murat (Ottoman Democratic Party)
    • Minister of Pious Foundations: Mekertich Portukalian (Armenakan)
    On April 18th, his government received the royal assent of Mehmed V and his tenure officially began, as former Grand Vizier, Ibrahim Hakki Pasha moved to the opposition.” A History of Ottoman Politics, University of Baghdad, 1988.

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    “The effects of the Italo-Ottoman War was felt by the Italian nation acutely. The war had been far more costly than they had anticipated and the war had made the Italian military the laughing stock of Europe, with many snickering that they had lost to the Sick Man of Europe, the Ottoman Turks. Giovanni Giolitti was able to keep his position as Prime Minister through a hair’s breathe as his party ruled out a Vote of No Confidence in the Chamber of Deputies by a small margin. San Giuliano was not as successful, and the man resigned as Foreign Minister and retired from politics entirely, his name blemished by the war. After the Right and Left conducted an alliance in the Italian Chamber of Deputies against him, he founded the Liberal Union Party in Italy that followed conservative liberalism as their main ideology. Giolitti used his transformismo to conduct alliances with several liberals in the country. Giolitti managed to gain an alliance with the Radicals, and the Democrats, however his offer for an alliance was turned down by the Reformist Socialists and the Clericals. His new government in early 1912 consisted of a flexible centrist government, that shied away from the extremes of the left and right. However, Giolitti remained quite unpopular due to his part in the Italo-Ottoman War, and his inability to properly cope with the economic problems that arose after the end of the Italo-Ottoman War. As such just before the 1913 General Elections Campaigning season began, Giolitti would resign as the leader of the Liberal Union, and ensured that popular statesman Sidney Sonnino took his place as the leader of the Liberals.” The Giolitttian Era: A History, Osprey Publishing, 1997.

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    Sidney Sonnino

    “The Italo-Ottoman War also brought in a whole different slew of national heroes for the Ottoman nation. Neshat Bey who had led the successful defense and recapture of Tripoli was renamed Neshat Pasha and was elevated from Governor of Tripoli to the Governorship of Tripolitania. Mustafa Kemal Bey, who had successfully defended Cyrenaica and recaptured Tobruk was elevated to become Mustafa Kemal Pasha, and his rank was elevated to Miralay which was the equivalent of a Brigadier in the Ottoman Military, and the highest field command in the Ottoman Armed Forces.

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    Mustafa Kemal Pasha.

    Mustafa Kemal Pasha, however soon came into conflict with his political party, the Committee of Union and Progress, for his central ideology of nationalism and ottomanism, and his backing of the De-politicization of the armed forces. As such in March, Mustafa Kemal Pasha left the CUP, and instead joined the Ottoman Democratic Party as an observer, as the party did not wish to have an active member of the armed forces as a full member of the party. Nonetheless, the his victories in Libya made him a household name.” Mustafa Kemal Pasha: A Biography, University of Angora, 2008

    “Within the Balkan Countries of Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro, the Ottoman victory in the Italo-Ottoman War had been a massive surprise for the countries, and the utter Italian disaster, in terms of its economy, meant that the countries could no longer count on Italian investment to shore their economies up to shape as well. This made the Serbo-Bulgarian alliance, made in secret in October, 1911 quite redundant, and the Ottoman-Greek Treaty signed in December, 1911 basically kept Greece out of any Balkan intrigue in favor of the Serbs. With nothing pulling them closer, the Serbo-Bulgarian alliance, seemed to be on the verge of collapse, however the intervention of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Sazonov kept the situation calm, and instead the Russian foreign minister pointed out that the Ottomans, drunk with victory may try to use force to stop the disputed claims in the Balkans, and an alliance would be the only thing to keep the Ottomans at bay. He also pointed out to Serbia, that the hostile Ottoman and Austrian Empires would not allow the Serbs access to the seas for Serbian economic interests and that the Bulgarian ports were a heaven sent for the Serbian economy. He pointed out to Bulgaria, that no matter how militarized Bulgaria was, it alone would not be able to fight the Ottomans, and needed the Serbian military for defense as well. The alliance endured when on April 27th, Bulgarian Defense Minister Mihail Savov confirmed that the alliance would be staying between the two nations, however the debate that was now raging was about the secrecy of the alliance. Many debated that coming out in the open would be better, however for now, the Russians advised to keep the alliance secret.

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    Mihail Savov.

    In Greece, the Ottoman victory was seen neutrally. Many had actually predicted that the Ottoman victory was possible in the war, as the moment Egypt started subverting the blockade to aid the Ottomans, the Turks had been able to send supplies (in small numbers, but still) to Libya, and the after the treaty in December, the Ottomans had been able to use Greek ports to subvert the Italian blockade as well. The Greeks were however worried about the current naval program of the Ottoman Empire, as by 1916, the Ottoman Empire would have the strongest navy in the Eastern Mediterranean by a good margin, and what was worse, the ships would be very modern. With relations cooling down, and both sides opening new consulates in each other’s countries, some Greek politicians in the Greek parliament opened the motion about a naval treaty with the Ottoman Empire. The basic form of such a treaty would be not allowing the Ottomans to go beyond their already ordered ships, and keeping the same number of ships for a suitable period of time. Whilst this was supported by Venizelos’s Liberals, the opposition led by Georgios Theotokis opposed such a move, calling for the need for Greece in return to build up her own navy as well. And to be fair, this was going on as well, as in response to the Ottoman buildup in the naval arena, 10 destroyers were ordered from the United Kingdom and United states as well.” A History of the Balkans, University of Damascus, 1976.

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    Georgis Theotokis.

    “The Italo-Ottoman War was a victory for the Ottomans, yes, however it also showed a large amount of deficiencies in the Ottoman Armed Forces. The Ottoman Logistical cells bemoaned that the infrastructural level of the country was not up to par with the rest of the great powers, and that the sparse railroad networks were a hamper to the Ottoman military. The Ottomans when they had moved to defensive positions in the Balkans in December, 1911 had also run far behind date, showing a fault in their mobilization system, and the semi-mobilization that had taken place had shown that the Redif troops of the army were severely under trained. During the semi-mobilization, many German officers who had overseen the mobilization as a part of the German Mission in Constantinople had bemoaned to the Ottoman Ministry of War that many soldiers in the Redif formations did not even know how to shoot properly or use a rifle properly. Support services in the Ottoman Armed Forces were small, and often times inefficient, and this had been seen in the Italo-Ottoman War with ample examples as well and the need for support services was quickly becoming high. The last and greatest problem that the army saw was that many of its officers were political appointees and politicized to such levels that they often were involved in politics, rather than the art of war. To some levels every armed forces in the planet was politicized, however the extent to which the ottoman army was, was a hindrance to the armed forces. As such, in late April, 1912, Mahmud Shevket Pasha would propose the following army reforms to the military:-

    • The army training system of the Ottoman Armed Forces would be revamped, with more daily military moves and maneuvers being practiced on part of the army and officers.
    • Redif formations were to be reformed along the lines of Prussian and German reservist forces, to create a better reservist force in the empire.
    • Support services for the army, like demolition, supply, logistics, medical care etc, would be allocated 15% more funds, and given high priority.
    • Officers would not be allowed to get involved in politics, other than observer status at most.
    This was a small but comprehensive reform. The Ministry of Army estimated that the results of the reform would be finished by late 1915 or early 1916.

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    The Hejaz Railway in 1914.

    The Ottoman Economy had also been shown its weaknesses. The food supply of the country was not adequate, and the railroad system was extremely inadequate which made the economy extremely vulnerable. However, the economy also had an out. The Italians had been forced to waive around 33% of the debt owed by the Ottoman government to the Italian government, meaning that the Ottoman government had reduced around 70% of the total debt owed by the Ottomans to Italy throughout the war, and had freed up around 11 million pounds for the economy. This 11 million pound was to be funneled into a new economic project called the Hejaz-Damascus railway. This railway had started construction way back, but had stopped due to a lack of funds, and the Germans not having investor confidence in the Ottoman Empire. The first was solved due to the waiving of debt, and the second was also solved by the victory of in war, which had made ottoman stocks in the international market rise by around a good 6.5%. The construction would start again in June, 1912.” Excerpts from ‘The Ottoman War in the Sands’.

    ***
     
    Chapter 6: Economics and Diplomatic Intrigue.
  • Chapter 6: Economics and Diplomatic Intrigue.

    ***

    “The Albanians had formed a core part of the Ottoman Empire ever since it had been conquered by the Turks. The Albanians had contributed more Grand Viziers to the Ottoman Empire than any other region in the empire. As such, the Albanians were pretty well respected in the Empire. However, the attempts at centralization and conscription had made the population restless. However the imposition of the Turkish language as the only language in schools had made the restless population erupt into anger, and riots. And though the victories against Italy, and the fear that Italy may try to invade Albania led to a respite in the riots and protests, as the war swung in favor of the Ottomans, the Albanians turned to rioting and protesting again.


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    Albanian protests and riots in Skopje.

    As such the lead up to the 1912 Ottoman General Elections in Albania was tense. Basically no one supported the Committee of Union and Progress in Albania, and the CUP deputy candidates were all sidelined in favor of the candidates from the Liberal Union and the Ottoman Democratic Party, both of whom supported the repeal of the previous Turkification laws in the Empire, though they did not support total decentralization. The Albanian viyalets and cantons, voted decisively in favor of the Liberal Union and Ottoman Democratic Party, both of whom had managed to portray themselves as the go to party for Albanians, and the subsequent coalition government between the Ottoman Democratic Party and the Liberal Union had made the situation calm down. However the politicians in power knew that they had to do something about the Albanian question.

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    Hasan Prishtina

    In May 1912, the Chamber of Deputies officially began debate on the Albanian question, and what would be best suited to end the question once and for all. An Albanian deputy in the Chamber, Hasan Prishtina, put forward a list that he deemed necessary for the continuation of Albania within the Ottoman Empire. This list, called ‘Prishtina’s List’ contained the following points:-

    • The Suspension of studying only Ottoman Turkish in schools in Albania, and instead the inclusion of both Albanian and Ottoman Turkish in schools.
    • Appointment of all governmental officials in Albania to happen only with officials who spoke Albanian.
    • Albanian conscription service to take place only within the 4 Albanian vilayets, other than in times of war.
    • The freedom to establish private schools and societies, as long as they met the government guidelines.
    • The suspension of extra taxes levied in the Albanian vilayets.
    These demands thankfully skirted around the idea of a unified Albanian vilayet, which would be unacceptable to the Porte, and instead showed a modicum of compromise. The Social Democratic Party, which supported a unified Albanian vilayet, and the CUP, which did not at all like that its Turkification laws were being repealed, spoke out against this list, calling it a disgrace, and not at all a proper solution to the Albanian question.

    Contrary to what was going on in the CUP and the Social Democrats however, the Ottoman Democratic Party, led by Ibrahim Temo, who himself was an ethnic Albanian, and the current Minister of the Interior, supported the list, replying in a letter to his friend:

    …….The list manages to seek a compromise between the Albanian demands and the Porte’s own needs. Should the list pass as a bill in the Chamber, I believe that the question of Albania will have been resolved for the future…….

    Albanian nationalists however wanted one more thing. They wanted a separate institution to represent them in the government, in the same manner as the Minister-President of Hungary or the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. This however was a problem. The Ottomans could not afford to give something like that to every ethnic group in the empire, and most certainly they could not allow the Albanians to be seen as favored in the empire, which would incite the Greeks, Bulgars, Macedonians and Armenians against the Porte. As such, instead, the Porte came up with the idea of an Albanian Commission, which would be subservient under the Ministry of the Interior. This was a suitable compromise. Finally on June 27th, 1912 the ‘Albanian Bill of 1912’ was passed in the Chamber of Deputies, holding all of the aforementioned points plus the Albanian commission, with the government coalition voting in favor of the bill, and the CUP and Social Democrats, leading the opposition voting against it. With the majority of the chamber voting in favor of the bill, and bill was sent to the Ottoman Senate, which was then ratified as law.


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    Ottoman Chamber of Deputies.

    The bill went a lot in the way of reforming the empire, and provided a base for the empire to expand upon. Not only that the removal of the Turkification policy in the Albanian vilayets, also gave the Liberal Union and the Ottoman Democratic Party the impetus and platform to repeal the Ottoman Turkish Education Act entirely, and instead replaced it with the New Education Curriculum Act in late 1912 which instead placed the local language in the vilayet together with Ottoman Turkish instead.” A History of Ottoman Albania, University of Tirana, 1988.

    “The Ottoman Victory in the Italo-Ottoman War had set off another diplomatic race. Ever since 1902, the Germans and the British, had been engaged in a race for influence in the Ottoman Empire, with the British dominating the Ottoman naval department and the Germans dominating the Ottoman Armed Forces department. The Austrians who were aligned with the Germans, also had their own noticeable presence in Constantinople.

    France, had basically given up their influence in the Ottoman Empire when they supported Italy in the Italo-Ottoman War, and the subsequent backlash saw the Ottomans respond harshly, and the French influence in the Sublime Porte had been extremely badly hit, and many French consulates had been shut down by the Ottoman government in reprisal against the French support of the Italians. However despite this, the Ottomans carefully toed the line of the reprisals, keeping in the knowledge that many of their commanders were in France, studying in French military academies, and the fact that France supplied the empire with it’s slowly burgeoning Air corps.


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    An Ottoman Poster of the German Mission in the Ottoman Empire.

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    The view of Constantinople from the British Embassy in the Ottoman Empire.

    Nonetheless, the loss of French influence in the Ottoman Empire created a diplomatic ‘hole’ so to speak. A hole that the Germans, Austrians and the British were eager to fill. Quite fast, the Austrian, the British and the German governments all filed the Sublime Porte for permission to open up new consulates, in place of the older French ones, and quickly enough there was a race for appointment schedules between the Consulates and the new Grand Vizier, and occasionally with the Sultan as well.

    Ali Kemal was more than happy to let the Foreign powers become distracted with one another whilst his government reaped the benefits of the foreign investment. His focus currently was on the economy of the Ottoman Empire. Ever since 1908, the Ottoman economy had grown at faster rates, and it was estimated that the Ottoman Public Debt Administration would no longer be needed by 1917 as by that point, the Ottoman debt would have lowered down to normal levels. The Ottoman government who had been hamstrung by the Ottoman Public Debt Administration, too many times to count, was all the more eager to make that date come early.

    State sponsored industrialization had led to Egypt becoming a near peer to the European economies under the rule of Muhammad Ali, and whilst that level of economic progress was gone after the economic exploitation of Egypt by Britain and France, in the 1880s, the result had been clear for many Ottoman economists to see. However for a state sponsored economic reform in the country, the empire needed a good banking sector, which the government and the nation was lacking in.


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    Muhammad Ali Pasha.

    As the Bank of Constantinople was not a capital comprehensive bank, the use of the bank was little in international and global economics, and locally ran banks were more inductive and useful for the Ottoman economy than the so called ‘central bank’ of the Bank of Constantinople. Of course, not having a proper central bank was a detriment to the Ottoman economy. It relied too heavily on the Heckscher-Ohlin economic principle of ‘A capital abundant country will export the capital intensive good, and the labor abundant country will export the labor intensive good.’ Problem was, that the Ohlin Law was widely regarded as an outdated way of thinking, and outdated economic theories being applied, created an economic bubble, which could explode any time the economy started to go wobbly. Which would disastrous for the Ottoman economy. As such, economists in the Ottoman government, aided by foreign supervisors, were alarmed by the overuse of the Heckscher-Ohlin theorem in the Ottoman economy, and the call for banking reform had started in the country.

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    Ali Kemal knew better than anyone, having studied economics in his youth, that a proper banking system was required, however such a thing was easier said than done. Liquidated goods would have to be transferred, and temporary loans would have to be procured. This course of action of course threatened to expand the duration of the OPDA by a few months, should it happen. However considering that the Ottoman economy was teetering on the brink of entering an economic bubble, the need for banking reform was getting desperate.

    The Ottomans did have a secondary bank, the Ottoman Imperial Bank, however the Ottoman Imperial Bank was under the control of French and British entrepreneurs, and as such was not considered trustworthy and did not have investor confidence.

    The ‘Ottoman Banking Legislation’ of late 1912 however proved to be mildly successful, as it managed to get the Ottoman economy out of an incoming economic bubble, however failed to accelerate Ottoman economic growth. Nonetheless, the major points of the Ottoman Banking Legislation were:-


    • The merging of the Bank of Constantinople and the Ottoman Imperial Bank to form the Imperial Bank of Constantinople.
    • The Imperial Bank of Constantinople to serve as the Central Bank of the Ottoman Empire.
    • All 145,000 shares of the Imperial Ottoman Bank and 120,000 shares of the Bank of Constantinople to be transferred to the Imperial Bank of Constantinople.
    • The Imperial Bank of Constantinople would receive a governmental charter regarding their economic duties.
    • The Imperial Bank of Constantinople to function around the topics of:-
      • Monetary Policy: By setting the official interest rate and controlling the money supply.
      • Financial Stability: Acting as a government’s banker and as the banker’s bank.
      • Reserve management: Managing the country’s foreign exchange money reserves, gold reserves and governmental bonds.
      • Banking supervision: Regulating the supervising the commercial banking system of the Ottoman Empire.
      • Payments System: Managing and supervising the means of payment and inter-banking clearing systems.
      • Coins and Notes issuance: The bank would issue all notes and coins in the empire.
      • Other Functions include economic research, statistical collection, supervision of deposit guarantee schemes, and advice in governmental financial policy.
    The Imperial Bank of Constantinople would start issuing Lira notes a few weeks after its establishment.” A History of Ottoman Economics, University of Angora, 1995.

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    The main building of the Imperial Bank of Constantinople.

    “Israel Zangwill was the leader of the Zionist Union after the death of Theodor Herzl in 1904. Coming at the forefront of cultural Zionism, and appreciation of Zionism in Europe and America, the man was an opponent of Theodor Herzl’s views of settling Palestine with Jews whilst remaining under the sovereignty of the Ottoman Empire. In 1896, Theodor Herzl had managed to worm a meeting with Sultan Abdul Hamid II of the Ottoman Empire, asking permission for an en masse settlement in Palestine on part of Jews in return for them remaining Ottoman citizens, and paying off massive amounts of debts that the Ottoman empire had. Abdul Hamid II, who had been a pan-islamist, and a Sultan who disliked his religious minorities, did not wish to add more to the list, and instead declined the offer. Israel Zangwill had criticized this offer, and called it a disgrace.

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    Theodor Herzl

    However the Ottoman victory in the Italo-Ottoman War had made Zangwill reconsider his options. Militarily, attacking a strong and rejuvenated Ottoman Empire was something not in the question at all, as such an endeavor would have been political and diplomatic suicide. As it was, the Ottoman government had allowed Jews to settle down in Palestine as long as the migrant numbers coincided with the Arab birth rate in Palestine, this retaining the balance of population. Because of this, Palestine did have a noticeable Zionist population, but the majority remained Arab Muslims, and the Ottoman government, not intent on alienating its Arab population, only maintained the ratio of the Arab to Zionist population in the province, creating an ordered balance. And even then, some anti-semite riots had broken out in Jerusalem, however they were more or less squashed down easily by the Porte.

    Zangwill had in 1902 spoken about how Palestine was a ruined and forsaken Turkish territory, however the Ottoman government, already not really interested in Zionist politics, and slightly miffed and angered by the statement started to shut Zangwill out of their diplomatic reach and instead started to speak and meet with Zangwill’s rival Zionist organizations. He quickly backpedalled calling the Ottoman supervision of Palestine and the pro-semite stance taken by the Ottoman government extremely fruitful, as historically the Ottomans had remained a safe haven for fleeing Jews from the European countries. Zangwill had been and would remain a supporter of the Uganda Scheme, however instead of his former careful anti-Ottoman views, the man turned towards careful pro-Ottoman views, and instead did start encouraging the Jews to settle down in the Ottoman Empire, though not specifically Palestine.


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    Israel Zangwill.

    By the end of 1912, the Ottomans and the Zionist Organizations would start negotiations and talks regarding Zionist immigration to the Ottoman Empire in earnest.” A History of Zionism in the Ottoman Empire, University of Jerusalem, 2008.

    ***
     
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    Chapter 7: Arabian Nights
  • Chapter 7: Arabian Nights

    ***

    “The Ottomans and the British, though ostensibly allied with one another during the 19th century against the Russian behemoth, also engaged in a low level ideological and influential conflict with one another, over dominance in the Persian Gulf. In one era, before the British managed to take over the Trucial states, and the Pirate Coast, Oman and the Ottomans were the rulers of the Persian Gulf, moving with impunity. And even though Oman and the Ottomans had their disagreements, they usually got along well enough to stay within their own zone of the Persian Gulf. However as Ottoman power in the gulf waned, and the Omani Sultanate became subject to British influence, Britain began competing with the Ottoman Empire for influence over the Gulf region. In the early 1900s, British influence in the Gulf was solidified by the Anglo-Russian Entente which subjected the lower half of Persia under British Influence. Nonetheless, whilst Ottoman influence in the gulf was a shadow of its former self, they still held a good amount of influence in the region, and sometimes, it became a source of tension between London and Constantinople.

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    Ottoman Arabia

    In order to stop any further dispute regarding the Gulf region, Britain and the Ottomans began formally negotiating a treaty regarding the region with one another in June, 1911. During the Italo-Ottoman War, negotiations grounded to a halt, as during a war, the Ottomans did not wish to be seen as weak, and instead started to stop giving into British demands, at least temporarily. However as the war swung in favor of the Ottomans, the Turks became amenable to concessions to the British once again.

    The major questions regarding the Gulf region was that of Kuwait, ruled by its Sheikh, Mubarak Al-Sabah and Bahrain, as well as the Sheikdom of Qatar ruled by its Sheikh, Jasim Al-Thani.

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    Sheikh Mubarak al-sabah

    1609234632958.png
    Sheikh Jasim Al-Thani

    In regards to Kuwait, the Ottomans had held sovereignty over the region for centuries, but following the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, the Ottoman hold over the region had declined, and even though the country had been included within the Basra Vilayet the small Sheikhdom rarely ever functioned as a normal province of the Ottoman Empire, instead going off doing its own thing, though they remained a suzerain territory of the Ottoman Sultan.

    The British instead wanted influence over Kuwait, as it would secure their base in Abadan for the Anglo-Persian Oil Company and the Gulf route to India. Nonetheless, they weren’t willing to use military intervention to take control of the region like they had done to Egypt in 1882, and even though they had the capability, they weren’t willing to open up the can of diplomatic and political worms that would ensue after such an action. So instead they sought to negotiate with the Ottomans. The Ottomans knew that their hold over Kuwait had always been tenuous at best in the past fifty years, and a money sinkhole when they did have a good hold over it, and as such were willing to give British their wanted influence in Kuwait. However, in order to protect the sea lanes to Basra, and the Ottomans ports in Iraq, they were not willing to cede the islands of Warban and Bubiyan to the Sheikhdom of Kuwait.

    At first, the British government protested against this course of action, stating that it was clear throughout history that the Kuwaiti Sheikhdom had controlled the islands, though this claim was dubious, the islands had swapped hands multiple times, and reiterated their point that Kuwait would need those islands. The Ottomans refused to budge on this, stating clearly that the islands of Warban and Bubiyan were Ottoman territory, and had a garrison of 60 men from the Ottoman Army. This fact, was true, and was checked by the British government, and was found to be true, this putting the British government in a slight difficult position.

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    Warban and Bubiyan

    In the end, the British caved in to Ottoman demands that the islands of Warban and Bubiyan would be annexed into the Basra Vilayet, however in return, the discussed money expropriation from Kuwait to the Ottoman Empire, would not be forthcoming. This did not sit well with the Ottoman government, but nonetheless, in return for having a larger sea lane presence in the Persian Gulf, the Ottomans gave up their money from Kuwait.

    The Anglo-Ottoman Convention of October, 1912 thus relegated the Sheikhdom of Kuwait was an autonomous Kaza of the Ottoman Empire, under total British Influence. Though the Ottoman Sultan remained the Suzerain of the Sheikhdom of Kuwait. The British also promised to not annex Kuwait or make Kuwait into a protectorate in order to preserve the balance of power in the Persian Gulf.

    In regards to Bahrain, the Ottoman Empire had never held onto the island properly and had largely only been the symbolic ruler of the island, and the island’s officials and sheikhs largely did their own business, and ruled as they saw fit, only really aiding the Ottomans in their privateering during the late 18th and early 19th century in the Persian Gulf. As such, the Ottoman government really did not have any real qualms in dropping their claims to the island after putting up a symbolic resistance during the negotiations.

    Finally, in terms of Qatar however the Ottoman resisted. The Ottomans before 1877 did have a firm control of Qatar, and had remained in control of the region tenuously thereafter, and was connected to Qatar through the Najd Sanjak. However when the British government put forward a proposal for around 40,000 pounds being paid to the Ottoman government for the expropriation of Ottoman investments in the island the Ottomans snapped the offer up, and renounced their rights to Qatar. This was because Ottoman investments in Qatar totaled around only 26,000 pounds, and getting a good profit was something that the government could not pass up. Nonetheless, in return, the British government also formally recognized the Sanjak of Najd as firm Ottoman territory.

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    Ottoman Qatar in 1890

    Thus, the Anglo-Ottoman Convention of 1912 came to an end in October 19th, 1912 and the treaty was signed in Baghdad. The treaty would be ratified by the Ottoman government on the 29th of October, and the British government would ratify the treaty on the 31st of October.

    The Anglo-Ottoman Convention marked the beginning of a new era in the Persian Gulf. Ottoman dominance in the Gulf had ended after many centuries, and now the British were the undisputed leader of the Persian Gulf. However the Ottomans had lost little from this. They weren’t really interested in expanding their influence anymore, and were more interested in holding their already existing empire, and building the economy. The loss of money sinkholes was even celebrated in the Ottoman Financial Ministry.” A History of the Persian Gulf and the Pirate Coast, Penguin Publishing, 2001

    “The interior of the Arabian desert had always been of no particular use to the Ottoman Empire. It was full of unprofitable sand, with small oases sprinkled in. As such, throughout the history of the Ottoman Empire, the Ottomans had claimed nominal sovereignty over the interior of Arabia, however had let the native Arab Bedouins do whatever they wished as long as they did not threaten the Ottoman rule in Hejaz or the Gulf. However the Saudi-Rashidi War of 1907 had upset the balance of power in the region.

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    Map of Arabia in 1904 during the start of the Saudi-Rashidi War.

    The House of Saud had always been a pain in the neck for the Ottoman rulers, however after beating them off, the Saudis had remained quiet in their sector of Arabia in Riyadh, however under their new Emir, Abdulaziz, the Saudis had been growing extremely bold in their movements, they had engaged in direct warfare with the Emirate of Jabal Shammar, which was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans had received a message from Jabal Shammar which asked for aid, however underestimating the Saudis, the Ottomans had only sent token aid of around 8 battalions worth of third line troops, who did nothing much other than sitting on the sidelines. As such, the Emirate of Jabal Shammar lost the Saudi-Rashidi War, and lost control of the populous Al-Qassim region to the Saudis and had to retreat back to Ha’il.

    However with the Anglo-Ottoman Convention over, and the Ottoman finances starting to recover, the government turned its attention to the unruly Saudis, intent on stopping the Saudi raids into the Sanjak of Najd and the Ottoman ruled coastal cities in the region. On November 4th, 1912, the Ottoman government authorized the deployment of 10,000 troops from the 6th Army based in Mesopotamia. The deployment consisted of around 11 battalions and would be sent to Najd, where they would fend off any Saudi attempt to probe into the region.

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    Najd Sanjak

    The Emir of Jabal Shammar after the Saudi-Rashidi War was Emir Saud bin Abdulaziz, who was merely 14 years old in 1912. In his stead, the Emirate was ruled by his mother, Fatima Al Zamil, the regent of Jabal Shammar. Fatima Al Zamil, hated the Saudis with all of her being, especially since her own family had been from Al-Qassim, and had been itching to go to war with the Saudis once again. However the previous Ottoman administration had not been willing to look into Arabian affairs when they were engaged in European and North Africa affairs. However with no African or European distractions, the current Ottoman government was capable of turning its full eye towards Arabia. The Ottoman government contacted Al Zamil, and promised the 10,000 troops from the 6th Army to aid the Rashids, and also promised 15,000 rifles and all the associated ammunitions required if the Emirate of Jabal Shammar went to war with the Saudis again.

    1609235009022.png

    Emir Saud bin Abdulaziz of the House of Rashid

    Al Zamil knew very well that the Ottomans wanted to fight a proxy war with the Saudis, and wanted to use the Rashids to do it for them, however the opportunity was too good to pass up. The Saudis and the Otaibah Tribe had been feuding with one another for the spoils of war, and at the current moment, the Saudis and their allies were most disunited. Conducting a surprise attack would be extremely successful if it was executed properly.

    1609235078800.png

    Fatima Al-Zamil

    Al Zamil took a risk, and agreed to go to war with the Saudis, but would only do so, after the Ottoman troops and aid arrived. This was a suitable compromise, and on November 29th, the first troops started to arrive as well as the first cargo of rifles and ammunition arrived in Ha’il. The Regent of Jabal Shammar then called the Rashid tribes to Ha’il where the tribes, emboldened by Ottoman aid, agreed to go to war with the Saudis once again. Later that evening, the Emirate of Jabal Shammar declared war on the Emirate of Nejd, declaring the Saudi probes in Al-Qassim as their casus belli for war.

    As the desert Arabs went to war again, the Ottomans were poised to finally have their vassal take control of the region, ending a headache once and for all.” A History of a Rashidi Arabia, University of Ha’il, 1991.

    “The Ottoman Economy was ridiculously infamous for being an ultra-liberal economy with absolute free trade being practiced by the government. So much so, that the famous manufacturing companies of the once mighty Ottoman Empire were no more, having been drowning in debt. By this point, the Ottoman government knew they had to do something in regards to their economic policy, and instead they chose to move towards protectionism. Protectionism was the economic policy of restricting imports from other countries through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, import quotas, and a variety of governmental regulations. The economists in the Ottoman empire argued that the protectionist policies would shield the producers, businesses, and the import competing sector from harm.

    In normal cases, protectionism had one downside. They reduced trade, and adversely affect consumers in general by raising the cost of imported goods, and harmed producers in the export sector. However, the case of the Ottoman Empire was anything but normal. The Ottoman Empire had a high amount of imports, however only around 15% of these imports were consumer goods, thus the raising of import tariffs by 3% would raise consumer good prices by around 1.5%. Noticeable amount, for sure, but not at all hard for the people to subsidize. Another thing that worked in favor of the Ottoman Empire was that it really only exported textiles, and as such it’s production sector would not be adversely affected by the protectionist tariffs. As such, the Ottoman government decided to go full steam ahead with protectionism, partly to compete against the international economic giants on their own terms, and partly to build up their own industry before trying to challenge countries like Britain, Austria or Russia.

    The rise in tariffs and custom duties, also allowed the Ottoman government to increase their public expenditure. Protectionist policies raised prices by a small amount, compelling the government to spend more amount of money on the purchase of goods and services, thus increasing the service sector of the Ottoman Empire. This in turn created more jobs and more money to be given to the Ottoman employed sector. All in all, it finally seemed that the Ottoman government had found a coherent economic policy.

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    Calouste Gulbenkian

    The Ottoman economists were also starting to get diverted into another burgeoning sector. The oil industry. Ever since the advent of oil had started in the global economy, it had been widely speculated that the Levant and the Fertile Plains alongside Mesopotamia contained a large amount of oil reserves, though this speculation remained unfounded for many years. However, one prominent ethnic Armenian, Ottoman by citizenship, Calouste Gulbenkian was finally given the charter by the Ottoman government to start cooperating with French, British and German companies on behalf of the Ottoman government to start scouring activities to find oil reserves in the Ottoman Empire.”
    A History of Ottoman Oil, University of Ha’il, 2009.
     
    Chapter 8: End of 1912
  • Chapter 8: End of 1912

    ***

    “Armenians had been an integral part of the Ottoman Empire for many centuries, ever since the Ottoman Turks had conquered Anatolia and the Caucasus. And even though the Ottoman influence was waning in the Caucasus, the Ottoman Empire consisted of around 45% of the entire Armenian population in the world in 1912. Armenians had remained loyal subjects for many centuries, however the ever pan-islamist Abdul Hamid II’s reign brought a lot of problems for the Armenian population, beginning with the Armenian Massacres under Abdul Hamid II.

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    The Hamidian Massacres

    Because of these massacres, the European powers had intervened partially, and had forced Abdul Hamid II to agree to an Armenian reform package in 1895, but like many reforms during his era, the Armenian reform was left to rot, and the discrimination against the Armenians continued. Russia who was caught up in putting down their own Armenian population, kept quiet, and Britain, France, Germany and Austria had no particular interest in watching the reforms being implemented.

    During the 1908 Young Turk revolution, the Armenians rejoiced, and supported and aided the CUP, however their enthusiasm quickly started to dampen over the Cilician Armenian Massacres, for which the CUP was partially responsible. The Armenian population was then caught up in a rock and hard place. They got the representation they wanted in the Ottoman government, however the CUP led government was becoming increasingly pro-Turkification, which was protested heavily by the Ottoman Armenian population. The Ottoman government also, whilst becoming more secular, still kept Islam as first among equals, and during ethnic violence between Armenians and Kurds, the Ottoman government tended to favor the Kurds, due to them being Muslims.

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    The Ottoman Revolution of 1908

    During the 1911-12 Ottoman-Italian War however, the Armenians were presented an opportunity. The Foreign Minister of the government was an Armenian, and the Armenian National Assembly intended to use this to their advantage. The acts of the Ottoman Armenian Foreign Minister were displayed in the country through pro-Armenian papers, and indeed this did lead to pro-Armenian voices rising in the Ottoman Empire and the government as well.

    The Armenians themselves, were united in the consensus that reform was needed, but were disunited in the consensus of what kind of reform was needed. Many did not favor Russia, even though some Russians made an illusion thinking Armenians would prefer Russian annexation. To many in the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, Russian annexation would simply be swapping one master for another. And considering Russia’s own heavy handed Russification policies, the Ottoman’s own Turkification policy seemed tame in comparison, and as such very few in the Ottoman Armenian provinces preferred Russian annexation. However the ethnic violence between the Kurds and the Armenians were starting to mount, with villages of mixed ethnic groups erupting into ethnic violence between Kurds and Armenians. The Ottoman Empire, which was still urbanizing as they went through their late (better late than never) industrialization, had…..questionable amounts of influence in their rural villages.

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    Building of the Armenian National Assembly in Van, Ottoman Empire.

    The Armenian National Assembly in October 1912, made a formal application to the Ottoman government, speaking about reform, and asking for aid to stamp down on ethnic tensions. The Ottoman ministry, truly worried about the ongoing violence, promised to bring the application to the Chamber of Deputies after the ratification of the Anglo-Ottoman Convention took place.

    And indeed it did. After the Anglo-Ottoman Convention was ratified, the Ottoman Chamber was filled with the Armenians bringing up the reform application. The Armenians asked for the provinces of Van, Erzurum, Bitlis, Trebizond, and Sivas, and Diyarbakir to be included in an all encompassing Armenian province. Whilst the Ottoman government was open to an Armenian specific province and vilayet, such a large province was out of the question.

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    Erzurum, Van and Bitlis would form the Armenian Vilayet.

    As this became public, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Sazonov, reacted badly and informed the Ottomans that Armenian reform was necessary, and even stated that the Russians could aid the Ottoman in drawing up reform plans. The Ottomans politely declined.

    Back in the Ottoman Empire, the reform package was still being negotiated. The Ottoman government under Ali Kemal argued that Trebizond, Diyarbakir and Sivas were Armenian plurality provinces, not majority, and as such that made them ill-equipped to join an Armenian province. After a lot of heckling, the Armenian delegation reluctantly agreed to the establishment of an Armenian Vilayet, consisting of the Erzurum, Van and Bitlis Vilayets, combined the Armenians formed around 60% of the total population of these combined provinces. The areas with local Kurd or Turkish or Greek Pontic majority would be given Sanjak or Kaza status within the Armenian Vilayet.

    The first point, defining the boundaries of an Armenian province was finalized in the Chamber of Deputies in December 17, 1912 when the Chamber ratified the map. However the next set of challenges of course, came in the form, of what kind of autonomy the Armenians could wield. The debate would continue well into 1913.” A History of Ottoman Armenians: History Book for the Ottoman Curriculum for Armenians, Grade 11.

    “By December 1912, tensions in the Balkans were at a fraying point. The Ottoman Empire, for good reason was very very suspicious about the Balkan states of Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro. More than anything actually, the Ottomans feared tiny Montenegro. It’s royal family was wed with almost every royal family in Europe. The Romanovs, Savoyards, the Hohenzollerns, the Bourbons of Spain, and the Scandinavian monarchies and the Saxe-Coburg and Gotha royal family in Britain. The small kingdom was small indeed, but it was wily and slippery, and the Ottomans who had failed to conquer Montenegro properly, knew this better than anyone else.

    Nicholas I of Montenegro was no small threat, even for the rather small size of his country. In fact the Montenegrin economy was boisterous under his reign, and the country’s armed forces were becoming more and more professional under his reign, and thought looking at the map people may wonder why Montenegro would even be a threat to the Ottoman Empire, many in the Sublime Porte saw Montenegro as an even more definite threat than Serbia.

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    Nicholas I of Montenegro.

    Nonetheless, Ottoman consulates in Romania, and Bulgaria had managed to observe a peculiar movement of Bulgarian and Serbian troops in Bulgaria and Serbia, sometimes these troops entering each other’s territories accompanied by their generals, and the governments of said both countries doing little to nothing about it. Because of this, the Ottoman government started to have suspicions regarding the so called neutrality of the Serbs and Bulgarians against the Ottoman Empire.

    The Ottomans were also wary of Russia. Ever since 1881, the two powers had settled on tentative neutrality in relations with one another, which was way better than the brutally bad relations the two had for each other previous to that, however the Ottomans still remained wary of the Russians, knowing of the Russian links to the Serbian and Bulgarian government. Even more so, the Turks knew that the Russians were becoming more and more agitated by the game of cat and mouse that the Russians and Ottomans played in northern Iran. As per the Anglo-Russian Entente, northern Persia was under Russian influence, however as per previous agreements with Iran and Britain, northwestern Iran was also under Ottoman influence. This led to game of cat and mouse between the Ottoman Empire and Russian Empire in the Persian Northwest, with both powers hampering each other in the region by building barracks and army stations in the region. The Ottomans worried that the Russians were causing and stirring up trouble to make the Ottoman focus on Persia become diverted, especially since the Ottomans had managed to clear out Russian influence west of Lake Urmia in Iran.

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    The division of Russian and British influence in Persia.

    In November 28th, however the Ottoman consulate in Sofia managed to break a cypher in the Bulgarian capital, which proved Ottoman concerns. The Serbs and Bulgarians had allied with one another, and though whether or not they were getting aid from Russia was murky. The reaction in Constantinople was one of muted silence. The Ottoman military was still trying to rearm and reform, and going to an offensive war in its current state would be utter suicide. As such, the Ottomans decided to hold the information for themselves, and instead decided to divert some funds to start the construction of fortifications across the Serbo-Bulgarian border with the Ottoman Empire as well as the border with Russia. These new fortifications would be instrumental in future conflicts. The armed forces had their strategy oriented against Serbia and Bulgaria as well.” A Military and Diplomatic History of the Ottoman Balkans, University of Sofia, 1998.

    “Ottoman oil exploration had started in the empire ever since the Persians had fallen into the grasps of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, fearing a similar fate. The first foreign intervention in the Ottoman oil scouting took place in 1907 on part of Sir William Knox D’Arcy. D’Arcy was an influential member of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company, and the man had been instrumental in finding the inner Abadan oil fields. He petitioned the Ottoman government in 1907 for a scouting mission with permission from the Sultan and the British ambassador in Constantinople. This was denied by the Ottoman government. They had seen what had happened in Persia.

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    William Knox D'Arcy

    Nonetheless, between 1908 and 1912 the Royal Dutch Shell and the German Oil Companies engaged in a race to find oil fields in the Ottoman Empire, and some small oil fields were usually contested heavily between the British and the Germans. In order to offset foreign intervention within this vital industry of the empire, the Empire finally gave Calouste Gulbenkian the charter to seek out oil fields independently of the Germans and British. In 1912, D’Arcy had lost his position in the Persian Oil Fields, and with this new opportunity brewing, he filed to join this Scouting mission in Constantinople. Reluctantly, the Ottoman government allowed D’Arcy to work together with Gulbenkian.

    One Sir Ernest Cassel, an Englishman of German descent proposed creating an Anglo-Ottoman-German Oil syndicate in the Ottoman oil fields, to reconcile the differentiating interests in the region. Cassel enjoyed the confidence of the Ottoman and the British government and the Deutsche Bank as well, the latter of which funded the German scouting missions in the Ottoman Empire.

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    Sir Ernest Cassel.

    In December 26th, 1912 after a series of muted negotiations were held between foreign minister Syrja Bey Vlora, and British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey as well as German Foreign Minister about the Ottoman oil interests in Mesopotamia. In the end, the three sides agreed to the creation of the Ottoman Oil Company Corporation or the OOCC. The OOCC would be headed by Calouste Gulbenkian, and the Ottomans would hold 60% of the entire stocks, whilst Germany and Britain held 20% of the stocks of the company each respectively. The OOCC was given a total of 90,000 pounds as their starting charter by the government. Lord Strathcona, the chairman of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company promised around 10,000 pounds in aid as well for the Ottoman Oil Company Corporation.” A History of Ottoman Oil.

    “By late 1912, the 15 airplanes that the Ottomans had ordered from France had arrived in Constantinople, much to the delight of Mahmud Shevket Pasha. This meant that the Ottomans had a total of 18 airplanes in service, and had 30 pilots, ready for service. And good news for the Ottomans was the majority of the planes were all modern and capable of holding a single bombing load. Having seen the effectiveness of the airplanes in the Ottoman-Italian War, the Ottomans knew very well that airpower would play a huge part in future wars, especially in flat areas, of which the Ottomans had aplenty in Mesopotamia and the Levant.

    1609659167923.png

    members of the OAAC smiling for a photograph

    In November 17th, 1912, the Ottoman Ministry of War, officially declared the establishment of the Ottoman Army Air Corps or the OAAC, with support from the government. For the moment the OAAC remained under the jurisdiction of the army and the Ministry of War. Minister of War, Mahmud Shevket Pasha then divided the 18 planes into 3 squadrons of 6 planes each. The 1st Squadron was placed in Salonika, the 2nd was placed in Constantinople and the third and last squadron was placed in Jerusalem. The major goals of the OAAC was mainly to be the recon eyes of the army and capable of committing themselves to bombing as well, making them a formidable enemy.

    The end goal of the Ottoman Empire in regards of the OAAC was to have 105 planes by the end of 1918 divided into 7 squadrons of 15 planes each, with 3 recon squadrons and 4 bombing squadrons.

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    Insignia of the OAAC.

    The Ottoman government also made their underground aviation campus in Constantinople *official* and started to hand out leaflets advertising young men to learn how to pilot planes. As piloting was a high paying job during this time, even more so than today, many young men volunteered to join the Constantinople Aviation Campus.

    Thus began the famed Ottoman Air Force, from humble origins.”
    A History of Ottoman Airpower, 1988.
     
    Chapter 9: Diplomatic Services
  • Chapter 9: Diplomatic Services

    ***

    “The Situation in Arabia grows more and more grim for the Sauds. It is a bright day for the House of Osman.” – Ali Kemal.

    The year of 1913 began with a great Ottoman and Rashidi victory in the Battle of Buraydah in which the Rashidi forces aided by the Ottoman troops sent to the region to act as volunteer troops for the Rashids smashed the Saudi army. The infighting between the tribes and the feudal clans had led to a great diminishing of power within the faction of Ibn Saud and the Rashidis and Ottomans had chosen an opportune time to strike at the Sauds. With Buraydah under Rashidi control, the only next goal was the path towards Riyadh and to set ablaze the Saudi capital once more and end the Saudi and Wahhabi threat once and for all.

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    Rashidi Camel Troops.

    Back from Constantinople, the government of the Ottoman Empire was conducting diplomatic control in favor of the Rashids between Great Britain and the Qajar Persian Empire. The Persians were not a real threat, but nonetheless, they fielded a large army and even though the army was ill-equipped and poorly trained, having 500,000 troops at your border was ill-advised for anyone and Ottoman delegations were sent to the Shah of Iran to discuss the current Arabian situation. The Shah of Iran was nominally Ahmad Shah Qajar, however the Shah was a minor and as such not ruling personally. In his name, his uncle and regent, Ali Reza Khan Azod Al-Molk ruled Iran. Reza Khan was incredibly worried about the current tug of war between the Ottoman sphere of influence in Northern Persia and Russian sphere influence in the same region, and to see the Ottoman Empire increase their influence in the interior of Arabia, where the Qajars did have some proxies led to some amount of concern at the Qajar court. Nonetheless, the Ottoman delegation in Tehran managed to seek out Qajar neutrality.

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    Ali Reza Khan Azod Al-Molk

    Back in London however, the Ottoman Ambassador, Ahmed Pasha was finding it increasingly hard to negotiate with Sir Edward Grey and the rest of the British cabinet, who were frankly not amused by the blatant power play that the Ottomans had extended in the interior of Arabia. Grey also reminded Ahmed Pasha that British claims from the British controlled Aden Colony and British Pirate coast stretched inland as well as far into Ash Shalfa. The British government in reaction to the Ottoman instigated proxy war in the region sent a colonial force of 2000 men into the Ash Shalfa region, formally annexing the territories into the British colonies in the region. The Ottoman government protested against this action, however the Ottoman government was not capable of directly challenging British claims in the region.

    Despite this setback however most of the Ottoman governmental officials were happy. The Rashids would gain control over Nejd soon enough and bring over 80% of the interior of Arabia under the control of an Ottoman vassal state. The British could have what they could take. The Ottomans had never exerted control over the Shalfa region anytime in history anyways even though it was claimed by the government.

    The Ottoman government soon was brought with more merry news as Ali Kemal was informed of the fact that on January 13, that the Otaibah tribe led by Ibrahim bin Aqeel had defected over to the Rashidis in favor of tribal settlement of land and great autonomy. The Rashidis were more amenable in giving autonomy to their allied clans that Ibn Saud was willing to gibe. The Otaibah clan and tribe was a powerful martial tribe in the interior of Arabia capable of giving even modern armies some trouble in putting them down. So their aid was an added bonus for the Rashid and Osman forces fighting in the harsh deserts.

    The Russians were also wary of the ongoing war in Arabia, however they had more problems to contend with anyways. The after-effects of the Armenian-Tatar Massacres of 1907, which were still taking place in small isolated incidents in the Russian Caucasus were diverting Russian attention. Just as the Ottomans were giving more and more rights and capabilities to their Armenian population, the Russian government could not be seen repressing the Armenians within their own territory. However Foreign Minister Sazonov would write a letter of protest to the Ottoman government stating that the status quo in Arabia would have to be honored by the Ottoman government. This letter, was of course ignored by the Ottoman government. Russia had no business in Arabia.


    Pg 108 of Ottoman War in the Sands.

    The government wishes to give more rights to the Armenians? Good for them I say.” – Sultan Mehmed V

    The territorial extent of the so called Armenian Vilayet was confirmed in the ending days of 1912 and now as 1913 started, the government began their negotiations in regards to the autonomies and administrative roles that Armenians would have to adhere to in their own Vilayet. The government made it clear, that the Armenians as the largest Christian ethnic group in Anatolia was the only one getting an exception of such scale in the empire for the moment, as no other ethnic group had an ethnic territory so concentrated like that of the Armenians. In regards to the Kurdish, Turkish and Greek minorities that were now finding themselves inside an Armenian run province, these communities were promised a personal autonomy law within the province, which would not hinder their own personal religion and freedom. The Armenian provincial government would also not have any jurisdiction over religious affairs, instead such powers were all relegated to the Ministry of Pious Affairs in the capital city of Constantinople. This measure was done so that the local Turkish and Kurdish population would not complain about being dominated by another religion in the province.

    The Ottoman government finally wrote into law the Armenian Reform Act in January 29 after the final autonomy laws were placed down. The Act tabulated the following points:-


    • The creation of an Armenian Vilayet consisting of Van, Erzurum and Bitlis.
    • The creation of autonomous districts within the Armenian Vilayet for districts with Greek, Turkish or Kurdish majority.
    • The Armenian Vilayet would have total command over local administrative and economic affairs, though the economical staff would still remain subservient under the Ministry of Finance.
    • The Armenian Vilayet would be able to control their own national guard force, of a total of 50,000 irregulars at a time.
    • The Armenian conscription law would be applicable only to the Armenian Vilayet and service would only take place in the Armenian Vilayet.
    • Religious affairs would still be handled by the Ministry of Pious Affairs.
    • The local school curriculum would necessarily include Armenian and Ottoman Turkish both in language classes regardless of other subject changes in the curriculum.
    These tabulated points are of course only the brief summary of what the Armenian Reform Act had in place for the Armenians, but nonetheless, the act satisfied most of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire. Sultan Mehmed V’s eldest son, Mehmed Ziyaeddin personally travelled to Van where he officially implemented the act on part of the Imperial Family.

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    Prince Sehzade Mehmed Ziyaeddin.

    Pg 198 of Ottoman Armenia: A Tumultuous history of loyalty.



    The Crisis unfolding in Ulster and Ireland must be brought to heel through diplomacy and politics, as proper British denizens, not as our enemies.” – King George V of Britain.

    Irish Home Rule had been a hot topic in British Politics for over three decades by 1913. The Liberal Party and the Conservative Party often butted heads over the issue multiple times. The Irish Home Rule Bill presented by Prime Minister H. H. Asquith provided more autonomy to Ireland and presented the establishment of a bicameral Irish Parliament (a 40 member Senate and 164 member House of Commons) with the power to deal with most national and domestic affairs in Ireland. The bill also included the mention that a number of Irish MPs would continue to represent Ireland in Westminster, though diminished in number from 103 MPs to 42. The infamous Dublin Castle Administration was also to abolished and eliminated, though with the retention of an honorary Lord Lieutenant position.

    In mid-1912, the bill passed the House of Commons, and was shot down in the House of Lords. The bill passed to the House of Lords in late 1912 once again and was again shot down by the House of Lords. In early 1913, January 6th, to be more precise, the Irish Home Rule Bill was presented to the House of Lords once again and again failed to pass.

    However this time, the British Parliament Act of 1911 was invoked by the House of Commons to bypass the House of Lords and presented the bill to King George V, the King of Britain, Ireland, and all the dominions as well as the Emperor of India. George V was disposed towards giving his royal assent to Irish Home Rule, however the current Ulster Crisis played his hand as he stayed his royal assent until the Ulster Crisis could be avoided. This was not a refusal of royal assent, however a postponement. Quite peculiar in British political history.

    And King George V was correct. Giving Home Rule during the brewing Ulster Crisis would have been disastrous, and could have sparked civil war in Ireland, something everyone wanted to avoid. John Redmond, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, at first underestimated the opposition being created by the Ulster Unionists and Loyalists, however William O’Brien who had worked in 1893 to pass a failed Home Rule bill warned Redmond that special provisions would have to be made for Ulster, or the Home Rule would either fail or lead to conflict.


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    John Redmond.

    Again, at first, Redmond did not take the advice of his elder politician, instead believing that ‘Ulster will have to follow’ much like many Irish politicians. However the amalgamation of Ulster loyalist militias by Sir Edward Carson by creating the Ulster Volunteer Force raised ringing bells in the Irish Parliamentary Party. Redmond was loathe to actually negotiate with the Ulster Loyalist, they were known for being hardline unionists and loyalists and rarely listened to reason. They were called ‘loyalists’ but even when the British government supported Irish Home Rule, they didn’t. Redmond decided to finally negotiate with the Ulster Volunteer Force and his rival Edward Carson.

    Seeking the support of other Irish groups, Redmond also contacted Arthur Griffith, the leader of the Sinn Fein party. The party did not have a large representation in the government for they failed to garner votes in the Irish counties, however they were pretty influential during Irish by-elections.


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    Arthur Griffith.

    Arthur Griffith, the leader of Sinn Fein was supportive of Home Rule, believing that his idea of a parallel between Britain and Ireland and Austria-Hungary could happen under Home Rule. He was also wary of the ongoing crisis within Sinn Fein in which the members of IRA, a radical Irish nationalist and republican movement, were slowly starting to infiltrate Sinn Fein. Griffith had also set up the Irish Proportional Representation Society as a measure to bridge the gaps between Unionists and Nationalists. Led by the moderate unionist Tomas Spring Rice, 2nd Baron Monteagle of Brandon, the Society had been successful in attracting a lot of moderate unionists, particularly in the south of Ireland, however the radical Ulster Loyalists continued to stay stubborn in their position.

    Finally the meeting of these Irish political leaders took place in Dublin on January 27, 1913. Carson argued that the internal market of Home Rule Ireland would be subject to British tariffs and lose British markets, which economically would have been devastating to the industries and manufacturing centers of Belfast and its surrounding areas. Redmond acknowledged this, stating that it would economically hard to conduct, however the Home Rule Bill included an article mentioning British subsidies for a few years, by which time Redmond argued, the economy of Ireland would have recovered, with aid from said subsidies.


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    Sir Edward Carson.

    Griffith on the other hand, moderate as ever, proposed that an amendment be made in the Home Rule Bill excluding Ulster from the entirety of the Home Rule Ireland economic zone, and keeping it within British economic direct control, whilst remaining administratively a part of Home Rule Ireland. This would on paper at least remove a major economic point touted by the unionists. Carson reluctantly agreed that such an amendment would probably appease the moderate unionists, however on a personal level he continued to oppose ‘Rome’ rule.

    Finally it was Prime Minister Asquith’s intervention that saved the bill. Asquith put forward an amendment stating that the nine counties of Ulster would have a plebiscite regarding the issue of joining the Home Rule Area or joining it after suitable reforms and negotiations had happened. This appeased the unionists, because they were quite confident that they would win any plebiscite in the region, and the nationalists were happy because the manner in which the amendment was worded basically stated that Ulster would have to join the Home Rule Area. Though when, of course remained in question. It could be the day of the implementation, a year later, a decade later, and so on and so forth.

    The Ulster Plebiscite was conducted throughout March 1913, in which the Ulster Countries gave the following results:-

    County……….In Favor of Home Rule……In Favor of Joining after Reforms.


    • Down……34%......64%
    • Antrim……22%.....75%
    • Armagh…..35%.....62%
    • Londonderry……39%....60%
    • Tyrone……44%.....53%
    • Fermanagh….55%...44%
    • Donegal……53%......47%
    • Cavan…….56%.....41%
    • Monaghan…..52%.....46%

    The counties voting in favor of joining after reform were thus kept out of the Home Rule area in Ulster, and the counties voting in favor would be able to join the Home Rule Area. With the Ulster Crisis slowly dying out after the plebiscite, in June, 1913, Royal Assent was given to Irish Home Rule, and Irish Home Rule was finally passed. The first Irish Home General Elections would take place in December 1913.

    Pg 176 of Irish Political History.

    Radicalism in Italy grows underneath the specter of defeat. We must act fast, or Italy will face radicalism the likes of never before.” – Giovanni Giolitti.

    Italian defeat in the Italo-Ottoman War led to a national embarrassment for the Italian nation. This was the second colonial war that they had lost to the natives of the region. The new Foreign Minister of Italy, who had taken power in 1912, Sidney Sonnino went to Vienna in late 1912 to renew the Triple Alliance with Austria-Hungary and Germany. With Italy having been made the laughing stock of Europe, Italy needed the alliance more than Austria or Germany needed Italy, and the Italian government knew this.

    However the defeat of the Italian military in Libya had radicalized the population. Many anti-Colonialism members of government defected over to the Socialist Party led by Constantino Lazzari. The Italian Socialist Party, or the PSI were not really against Giovanni Giolitti, and the conciliatory position of Giolitti had led to the PSI becoming a strong party in the early 1910s, however the party was divided into two factions. The Maximalists led by Lazzari prevailed over the Reformists, led by Filippo Turati. Lazzari and his faction won over the socialist voters with the aid of rising start Benito Mussolini.


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    Constantino Lazzari.

    This factionalism in the Socialist Party led to the splitting of the party, with the creation of the Italian Reformist Socialist Party. The Italian Reformist Socialist Party, despite its name was more of a social democratic party more than anything else and reformist and progressive in its ideals led by Leonida Bissolati. However the support of the PSI in the Italo-Ottoman War had put many Socialist voters against them, and the Italian Reformist Socialist Party received around 40% of the entire PSI when they split off from the PSI, becoming a powerful political party and group in their own right.

    The Liberal Union led by Giolitti himself was doing fine, shakily albeit, but with his political skills, Giolitti was able to get the Liberal Union hanging onto power, promising that he would not be running for another term in the 1913 General Elections. Ettore Sachi, the leader of the Italian Radical Party, however was the biggest problem brewing in Italy. Italy was being taken by the wave with radicalism and the Radical Party of Italy was taking full advantage of this. The failure of getting Libya, also reflected badly on the Italian monarchy, and one of the ideologies of the Radical Party, which was republicanism also attracted a heap load of voters, and their anti-secularism also alienated a lot of Catholic Christian democrats in Italy.


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    Italian Radical Party

    The political situation in Italy remained extremely tiring. On one side there were two moderate parties, the Liberal Union and the Italian Reformist Socialist Party whose ideals remained extremely similar. Liberalism, progressiveness, keeping the status quo in favor of the Italian Monarchy, and promoting free trade economics. In contrast the other side of Italian politics was dominated by the Italian Socialist Party and the Italian Radical Party. Both of which were republican parties advocating anti-clericalism.

    This polarized political situation would fully manifest itself in the 1913 Italian General Election.


    Pg 128 – 29 of Italian Politics Amidst Defeat.

    “Ottoman Democracy is Fragile. New, an infant. We must protect it.” – Huseyin Hilmi.

    Ottoman Politics and democratic politics in a whole were new to the entire ‘multi-party’ scheme. To many in the illiterate Ottoman countryside, democracy simply meant putting your votes in for a representative for the government and that was it. End of story. Of course, politics is more complicated than that. Other than the sitting parties in the Ottoman Parliament, there were other political parties as well.

    However early 1913 began with a bang for Ottoman politics when the Ottoman Socialist Party and Socialist Worker’s Federation united to form the Ottoman Socialist Worker’s Party. Both parties had failed to get past the 5% threshold in the 1912 General Election gaining 3% and 2.5% respectively. If a new election were held, the new party, OSWP would probably gain a handful of seats. However unlike their socialist comrades in the rest of Europe, the OSWP led by Husseyin Hilmi did not wish for a proletariat. They did not wish for the abolishment of the monarchy like normal socialists and instead were oriented towards democratic socialism, social democracy, market socialism and planned market economics.

    Huseyin Hilmi summarized his new party’s ideology in the OSWP manifesto written in January 23, 1913:-

    ……We do not advocate for a proletariat of workers, nor do we advocate the abolishment of the Imperial Family. Both are out of the question. The first because a proletariat does not work in a rural country like ours, and second, the Imperial Family is the living example of rising above ethnic identities to become ‘Ottoman’. For these reasons we do not support republicanism and the proletariat. In regards to our economic policy, we support private merchandize and business, but propose that governmental supervision must take place in the economy alongside planning between the private economies with the national economy to ensure the highest amount of economic productivity……….

    His slogan and ideology was quite popular in the urban populations of Izmir, Constantinople, Salonika, Skopje etc. They had their first major victory when the Izmir By-Elections of January, 1913 went in their favor with their candidate winning the election with 51% of the total votes.


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    Huseyin Hilmi.

    Other than the OSWP and other ethnic parties, one another political party truly stood out. The Jewish Social Democratic Party, or simply Poale Zion stood out in the Ottoman Empire. Deriving its support from the Salonika Jews, Palestinian Jews and Iraqi Mashriq Jews, the Poale Zion was a small party, but one that was growing. It supported a new ideology called Ottomanism Zionism which basically espouses that Jews are a distinct group of citizens in the Ottoman Empire, whose autonomy and traditions must be respected, but still a loyal part of the empire. As the Ottoman Empire’s overall Jewish population continued to grow over the years, the Poale Zion would also start to grow in popularity.

    Pg 122 of ‘Ottoman Politics during the Early Democratic Era’.

    “Zionists appeal to the Sultan, praising him and shouting ‘Long Live the Sultan!’ all over the place. Jewish they may be, but they are His Loyal subjects.” – Emmanuel Karasu Effendi.

    The Zionist Question had pervaded the Ottoman Empire for many years and months by this point. Palestine had restrictions on Jewish immigration except for pilgrims coming to the city and despite this many Jewish pilgrims overstayed their welcome, saying that they were here for pilgrimage that would last for years on the end. Nonetheless, Ottoman support for *limited* jewish immigration to raise the capital of the empire had made many Zionists pro-Ottoman and created pro-Ottoman lobbies in many European countries, most prominent among these in Britain, Austria and Germany.

    However by early 1913 the Zion question was coming to a head. The Zionist faction in the Ottoman Parliament was led by Emmanuel Karasu Effendi, a Turkish Jew, who had his ancestral origins in Poland, with his ancestor being one of the many Poles who had fled into Turkey when the Ottoman Empire have refuge to Polish citizens after the partitions of Poland. He was an ardent Ottomanist and a Zionist, and did have links with the political party of Poale Zion. He advocated for greater Jewish immigration into the Empire, especially from Anti-semitic countries such as Russia, France, Spain and Romania. He also raised the issue that over 120,000 Jews living in the empire for generations did not have ottoman citizenship.


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    A Jewish immigrant family in Albania, the Ottoman Empire.

    Finally after years of debate and haggling, the Ottoman Senate in February 3rd, 1913 ratified the ‘Jewish Immigration Legislation’ in which immigration quota was increased for Jews coming to the empire. From a ratio of 10%, the ratio was increased to 15% in Palestine, and around a maximum of 5% in other provinces of the empire. The legislation also made the knowledge of rudimentary Turkish mandatory to immigrate, and as soon as this was made public, Turkish schools were opened by Zionist organizations all over Europe. The Ottoman Empire was historically and at this moment, the only openly pro-Semite country in Europe. And the Zionist organizations were going to take the chance when they could. They would not let this opportunity slip beneath their fingers.

    In regards to the 120,000 Jews living in the empire without citizenship, giving them all at once was considered an ill plan. However, Ottoman administrative officials would slowly increase their pace of citizenship renewal and grants. At the end of 1913, around 96,000 Jews would remain citizenship less, at the end of 1914, around 71,000 would remain citizenship less and so on and so forth. By the end of 1918, all of the citizenship less Jews would have received their ottoman citizenship.


    Excerpts from ‘The Ottoman Zionist Question’

    ***
     
    Chapter 10: Muslim Diplomacy
  • Chapter 10: Muslim Diplomacy

    “I was a young teenager back then, and I did not fully comprehend the result of the war. But now the destiny of the sands has slipped into my hands.” – Sultan Saud bin Abd Al-Aziz of Rashidi Arabia.

    The Ottoman Empire and Arabia had an interesting history with one another throughout their shared history together. The Ottomans did not have a real interest in the sand filled interior and deserted Arabian sand dunes, and as such successive sultans only claimed suzerainty over the interior of the Arabian Peninsula however never actually took the lands for themselves. They controlled the coasts, the important coastal cities and the holy sites of Mecca and Medina. That was all that mattered for Constantinople in the end. This policy had its own drawbacks though. Interior tribes often rose up in defiance of the sultan and often tried to invade and attack the Ottoman Arabian lands, which were often poorly defended. Such occasions like the 1st and 2nd Saudi States are quite good examples of such problems. With the aid of Mohammad Ali’s burgeoning empire in Egypt, the Ottomans had defeated the Sauds in the early 1800s and had ended Saudi ambitions for well over a century.

    However as technology advanced throughout the 19th century travelling big distances even through treacherous terrain became much easier for the people, and as this happened, the ottomans also started to take greater interest in the interior of the Arabian Peninsula. Sultan Abdul Hamid II’s policy in the Arabian interior was horrible however. The Ottomans had been involved in the 1902-07 Saudi-Rashidi War, and that war had ended in open disaster for the Ottomans and their small vassal state of the Emirate of Jabal Shammar, ruled by the House of Rashid. The Ottoman troops sent to the region were all third line troops, and were more interested in gallivanting who knows where and sight seeing the desert dunes than actually fighting. As such the Sauds, led by their audacious leader, Ibn Saud managed to defeat the Rashidis in 1907, and brought tentative peace in the region. However after Ottoman attention turned back to the Arabian interior in the aftermath of the Italo-Ottoman War, Revanchist feelings were used by the Ottomans to goad the Emirate of Jabal Shammar, ruled by its regent Fatima Al-Zamil.


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    With the Ottomans taking their Saudi opponent seriously this time, economically aiding the House of Rashid in their struggle, and sending actual troops to the region that saw action, the Saudis were caught completely by surprise. Worse yet, the Saudis had been quarreling with their tribal allies over the spoils of war from 1907, and many of Ibn Saud’s former allies became his enemy during the war.

    The Rashids also had a new commander, a far better commander under their pay during the war that led to the victory for the House of Rashid. Sultan Ahmed Al-Otaibah was the leader of the Otaibah tribe, a tribe which had been aligned with the Saud’s, but later switched sides to the House of Rashid. He was a brilliant field commander and was responsible for many Saudi victories in 1907. Another factor working in his favor was that he knew how the Saudi Army was organized and he knew its weaknesses as well. After the Battle of Buraydah, he struck southeast and engaged in major combat with a Saudi Army at Az Zulfi and managed to defeat the Saudis in the Battle of Az Zulfi. He then divided his army into two and ordered his northern detachment, under the command of his son to continue marching to Riyadh. He himself marched south-west and defeated a gathering Saudi Army in the Battle of Al-Duwadimi. He then sent more detachments towards Riyadh and then marched south once again. He met the Saudi rearguard at the Battle of Afif and destroyed their capability of reinforcing Riyadh. Then he himself swung towards Riyadh. On February 26, 1913 he reached Riyadh and grouped up with the entire Rashidi Army. The capital city of Riyadh was then kept under siege. The city of the Saud’s surrendered one week later on March 5th when a breach in its defenses allowed Al-Otaibah to move into the city. The last remnants of Saudi forces tried to attack and retake the city however Al-Otaibah defeated the force at the Battle of Al-Kharj on March 8.


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    Al-Otaibah's campaign against the Saudis

    Ibn Saud himself was caught in the crossfire of the battle, and was killed from his injuries. One week later, Fatima Al-Zamil and Emir Saud bin Abdulaziz-Rashid arrived in Riyadh where the rest of the Nejd government finally surrendered to the House of Rashid. Fatima Al-Zamil betrothed the younger spouses of Ibn Saud to the 15 year old emir, and the rest were married into the lesser Rashid lines. The Treaty of Riyadh was also signed which stipulated that the Emirate of Nejd was fully annexed by the Emirate of Jabal Shammar. The Saud Dynasty was scattered into the wind by this act and the interior of Arabia was united once and for all. With the blessings of Sultan Mehmed V, Fatima Al-Zamil declared the Emirate of Ha’il and Jabal Shammar to be no more on March 23rd, and declared the establishment of the Kingdom of Rashidi Arabia.

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    Rashidi Arabia was now a new kingdom in the region. Albeit it was still a vassal state and Tributary state to the Ottoman Empire. Emir Saud bin Abdulaziz-Rashid was declared the first Sultan of Rashidi Arabia as well. And with this act of war the ideology called Wahhabism also died out. It’s main ideological backers in the Saudi Dynasty had all been culled and disintegrated, ending the ideology for good. For the moment at least.

    Excerpts from Ottoman Sand Wars



    “We must have naval parity and peace. With one another and our population if nothing else.” – Greek Prime Minister Venizelos.



    The fruits of the Ottoman-Greek treaty of 1911 was quite fruitful, so to speak. Both nations were reaping the benefits of the treaty to their full. The Greek merchant marine, an integral part of the Greek economy took full advantage of the free trade and shipping given to Greek ships in the Red Sea and Persian Sea to increase Greek trading activity in the region. This in turn of course led to a massive upturn in Greek trade which in turn led to a better Greek economy. For the first time in many years, the Ottomans were also allowed to invest in the Kingdom of Greece, and Ottoman companies began opening shops in Athens and Ottoman investors started to buy economic shares in multiple Greek companies as well. This was also beneficial to the Ottoman economy as well.

    This upturn in economic activity with one another, indirectly also led to better relations between Greece and the Ottoman Empire. It helped that the Ottoman permission to annex Crete had allowed the Greeks to end a political crisis. And it also helped that Greek ports had been used by the Ottomans to flout the Italian blockade. This as stated earlier, led to better relations between the Ottoman and Greek state. As both were aligned to the British as well, the relations between the two were also starting to burgeon. Of course, the age old question of the Greeks living in Ottoman territory continued to gnaw at the politicians and people of Greece however the sentiment seemed to have dimmed slightly, as Greeks living in the Ottoman Empire received more opportunities in the empire than ever before.


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    The U-5 class submarine.

    Nonetheless, tensions still arose when the Ottoman Empire received 8 new naval ships for its navy in the month of February. The 1st two of the 6 submarines ordered from Austria-Hungary was transferred to Constantinople. They would be classified as U-1 and U-2 in the Ottoman Navy. The U-1 and U-2 submarines were based on the Austrian U-5 class submarine and the basic features of this class of submarine were:-



    Displacement: 240 tons surfaced and 273 tons submerged.
    Length: 105 ft, 4 inches, (32.11 meters)
    Beam: 13 ft, 9 inches (4.19 meters)
    Draft: 12 ft, 10 inches (3.91 meters)
    Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 x 6 gasoline engines (370 kW total), 2 x 3 electric motors (170 kW total)
    Speed: 10.75 knots surfaced, 8.5 knots submerged.
    Range: 800 nautical miles surfaced, 60 nautical miles submerged.
    Complement: 19
    Armament: 2 x 45 cm (17.7 inch) topedo tubes, 7 torpedoes.




    In early march, around 6 of the 10 armored destroyers ordered from Britain also arrived. Based on the Peyk-i-Sevket and Laforey classes, the ships were named Ibrahim Pasha, Gabriel Effendi, Rashid, Osman III, Erzurum, and Trebizond. The ships were then added to the main Ottoman fleet based in Constantinople. It’s basic features were:-

    Type:Destroyer
    Displacement:965–1,010 long tons (980–1,026 t)
    Length:268 ft 10 in (81.94 m) o/a
    Beam:27 ft 8 in (8.43 m)
    Draught:10 ft 6 in (3.20 m)
    Installed power:
    • 24,500 shp (18,300 kW)
    • 3–4 × water-tube boilers
    Propulsion:2 shafts; 2 steam turbines
    Speed:29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph)
    Range:1,720 nmi (3,190 km; 1,980 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
    Complement:74
    Armament:
    • 3 × QF 4-inch (102 mm) Mark IV guns
    • 2 × QF 1.5-pounder (37 mm) guns
    • 2 × twin 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes



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    The Ibrahim Pasha.



    Of course this arrival upset the balance of naval power in the eastern Mediterranean in favor of the Ottomans, and many in the Greek government were pointing that out. Around 2/3 of the destroyers ordered from the US and UK had arrived to Greece, and the rest would take good amount of time to be fully constructed and reach Greece and the rest of the Ottoman naval buildup, including the submarines and cruisers would of course, disrupt the balance of naval power, and as such some ultranationalists were also calling for an all-out attack as well. Such an endeavor was out of the question. Greece could ill-afford any such kinds of war, and the current economic progress would have been all for nothing should Greece go to war. As such, Venizelos instead opened the parliament to a new path of questioning. He opened the notion of a naval treaty with the Ottoman Empire.

    The notion was not a new one, not in its entirety however. The Ottomans and Greeks had brought up the topic during the 1911 negotiations however that had been shunted away for the time being, mainly due to the Ottoman burdens of war. Now during peacetime the question arose once again. As the Greek parliament started to debate on the issue, the Ottomans and the Greek delegations started their first earnest negotiation regarding the issue in March 26th, in Skopje.

    Excerpts from ‘Greek History with the Ottoman Empire




    “An Alliance with the Ottoman Empire is within the highest priority of His Majesty’s Government in London. See to it that we can reach a compromise regarding the Persian and Arabian Issue with His Sultan.” – Sir Edward Grey

    The Ottoman Empire throughout the 19th century had turned to Britain to safeguard itself against Russia. And even though Russia and Britain were now allies against the rising Germans, elsewhere, the situation was very different. The Russians and British had very different interests in Arabia and the Middle East as well as the Balkans, and the Ottoman Empire knew this. The Ottoman Empire was now starting to gun in favor of an alliance with the British.

    The Ottoman Ambassador to the UK, Resat Pasha, was one of the main advocators for a formal Ottoman-British alliance. Before 1912 however the British had been extremely unwilling to ally with the Turks, not wishing to alienate the Italians, whom they sought to win over. However with Italy burning out of the war, and its economic and political situation in constant instability, the British turned their eyes towards the Ottomans with a gleam.

    Should a war start with the Germans, then the British were quite sure that having the Ottomans on their side would be good. Turkophiles in the British government pointed out that during a war, should an alliance with the Ottomans be made, the ships could pass through the Dardanelle Straits without taxation to supply Russia. And the Russians without the need to garrison the Caucasian border would be even more effective against Austria and Germany. They also argued that Ottomans could invade Bosnia to distract the Austrians, and with the aid of the Muslim Bosniaks, drive the Austrians out of Bosnia. Such a case was compelling. The Ottomans would have to only face enemy in the Balkans in such a scenario, with allies all around its borders, making it capable of shifting all of its might in the Balkans. These Turkphiles were quickly aided by the growing pro-Ottoman Jewish lobby in the British government.

    A slight hitch had opened up in early 1912 when the British had reacted badly to the Ottoman’s proxy war in Arabia, however other than that, Grey and the British foreign ministry began looking into a formal alliance with the Ottoman Empire on a more level headed playing field. The first conference regarding the issue took place in Izmir/Smyrna in March 28th, 1913 when the first British delegation arrived to speak with the Ottoman Foreign Ministry. The Ottoman Foreign Minister Syrja Bey Vlora was involved in the first convention as well.


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    FM Vlora meeting the British delegation. (Right picture)>>>

    Vlora was persistent in bringing up the Persian dispute regarding the Turkish and Russian sphere of influences overlapping with one another. The British government was quite unsure on how to respond to this fact, however in the end, Sir Edward Grey proposed that since Russia was also a British ally, Britain could not act against Russian interests. But if the British were to ally the Ottomans as well, then the British could not act against Ottoman interests either. Thus, he promised Constantinople for full British neutrality in the Northwestern Persian Issue.

    In regards to Arabia, both the Ottoman Empire and the British brought up a proposal for a partition of southern Arabia, much of which were not inhabited by people. Whilst a formal map was not agreed upon during the first convention, the need for a partition to define spheres of influences was agreed upon by both Vlora and Sir Edward Grey.

    As such the first diplomatic negotiations between the British and Ottomans started. The Ottomans and their proposal for a partition of Arabia gave vast swathes of southern Arabia (uninhabited, but still looks good on maps) to the British, and that would remain the basis for future negotiations with the British.


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    The Ottoman proposal for a partition of Arabia. Light Green is the Kingdom of Rashidi Arabia.

    Excerpts from ‘A History of Ottoman Arabia’



    “The Sultan is being offered to mediate in the conflict in Aceh. The Dutch have asked the Sultan to use his temporal authority of the Caliphate.” – Ali Kemal

    The Netherlands and their subjugation of the East Indies is a fascinating tale, one that is pretty inspiring for small nations such as the Netherlands. However one nation in the East Indies refused to bow down to the Dutch. This nation was the Sultanate of Aceh. Once an Ottoman vassal during the Ottoman Empire’s high days in the Indian Ocean, the Acehnese had remained fierce and independent in their will. This of course drew ire from the Dutch government, who were intent on colonizing the East Indies, and using its vast resources for the benefit of the Netherlands.

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    Flag of the Sultanate of Aceh. The Ottoman inspiration to the flag is quite obvious.

    A fierce conflict spanning generations started to take place as the Dutch slowly encroached on Acehnese territory and finally in 1904 the Dutch overthrew the Sultanate, placed the sultan under permanent house arrest alongside the rest of his dynasty and annexed the entirety of Acehnese territory directly into the Dutch East Indies and its colonial government. However this proved an uphill task. The Acehnese weren’t going to take the subjugation sitting down. They declared Parang-Sabil or a personal war or a personal Jihad against the Dutch, and suicide attacks in Aceh were becoming a norm in the Acehnese territory controlled by the Dutch. Often times guerilla bands operating in Aceh controlled the countryside whilst the Dutch only controlled the cities and roads connecting them.

    Many individual ottoman private businessmen had also been involved in the Acehnese resistance, and many private businessmen from the Ottoman Empire who sympathized with the Acehnese and their fellow Muslims supported the Acehnese with private donations and aid. Of course nowhere near the amount needed to fend off the Dutch, but it was the thought that counted after all.

    In the 1898 Moro Rebellion however, a similar rebellion but in the Philippines, the American government had asked Abdul Hamid II to intervene and use his temporal power as Caliph to stop the muslim Moros from rebellion. Abdul Hamid II, who had wished for better relations between the USA, and the Ottoman Empire, agreed to do so, and the Moros received a letter from Sultan Abdul Hamid II asking them to lay down their arms and peacefully resolve their conflict. The Muslim Moros subsequently stopped their participation in the rebellion.


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    American troops during the Moro rebellion.

    The Dutch government began to negotiate with the Ottoman government for something similar, but with Aceh. The Ottoman government however did not wish to seem like they were throwing their old vassal under the bus (entirely) and for the sake of public relations, could not afford to look like that. Ali Kemal bluntly told his Dutch ambassador that such a thing would be impossible and more compromises would have to be found.

    After hefty relations with one another, the Dutch and the Ottomans signed the Treaty of Beirut with one another on May 16th, 1913. The treaty stipulated the following points:-


    • The Ottoman Sultan and Caliph, Caliph Mehmed V would speak out against the resistance and ask the Acehnese Ulema and the Acehnese people to put down their weapons.
    • In return the Dutch would waive 8% of the debt that the Ottoman government owed to the Dutch government within the Ottoman Public Debt Administration OPDA)
    • The Dutch would release Sultan Alaudin Muhammad Dau’d II Syah from captivity.
    • The Sultanate of Aceh would be restored under Dau’d II as a ‘princely sultanate’ under the Dutch East Indies reminiscent of the Indian Princely States
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    Sultan Alaudin Muhammad Dau’d II Syah of Aceh.

    The rebellion soon died down in Aceh as the news of their Caliph asking them to stop fighting came down. The Acehnese population, who had seen their Sultan as their figurehead for the resistance were happy to see the Sultan freed and their ‘freedom’ restored. Whilst foreign affairs were now handled exclusively by the Dutch government, it was still a diplomatic victory to regain their autonomy, at least in some form. The Ottomans would be credited for their fast diplomatic maneuvers in the issue, and it remains to this day, one of the Ottoman Empire’s biggest diplomatic victories.

    Excerpts from ‘The Ottoman East Indies’

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    notice
  • well, guys its seems that i am going to be having exams next week and i seriously need to study, so there won't be many updates (if any) for around 2.5 weeks. Please bear with me till then and thanks for all your support!
     
    Chapter 11: New Developments.
  • Chapter 11: New Developments.

    ***

    These mountains near Bulgaria, and filled with Turks, Greeks and Slavs living together, will be the death of the Bulgarian invader.” – Mustafa Kemal Pasha.

    “The Ottomans had found out in 1912 that the Bulgarians and Serbians were allied together against the Ottomans, as the Ottomans managed to turn the tide against the Italians in the Italo-Ottoman War over Libya. The breaking of the Serbo-Bulgarian Cypher almost elicited panic in the Ottoman capital and the cabinet, however calmer heads prevailed, and the money that was freed up by the reparations and the Ottoman Public Debt Administration was then funneled into the construction of major fortifications in the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman fortifications on the Russian border was already considerable and the addition of the Caucasian Army made the Caucasian defenses already very formidable. That is why the Ottoman government and the Ottoman War Ministry led by Mahmud Shevket Pasha were prioritizing the defense of the Balkans rather than the defense of the Caucasian Mountains. The money that was freed up was going to be used by the Ottoman government to construct new massive fortifications on the Rhodope Mountains. The areas around the Rhodope mountains were filled by Greeks, Slavs and Turks, and no ethnic group had a clear majority in the area, making it easier for the Ottoman central government and the war ministry to get their will done in regards to the issue.

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    The Rhodope Mountain Range Location.

    The Rhodope mountains were filled with high steep mountains at high altitudes that made it an easy place to defend and needed only a small amount of troops to hold. As such Mahmud Shevket Pasha decided that the mountain range would be the perfect defense for the Ottoman Empire against any Bulgarian invasion, and if need be, any Greek invasion as well. He presented the Ottoman War Ministry, Cabinet and the Ministry of Finance the plan for creating the ‘Rhodope Line’ that would hold Bulgaria in place, and preserve the link between the Ottoman Empire’s Asian holdings and the rest of the Balkan parts of the empire. The plan called for the funneling of around 9 million pounds into the massive fortifications, nearly 80% of the entire funds given to the War Ministry, and such a massive investment was by this point unprecedented. Nonetheless Mahmud Shevket Pasha reminded the government that such fortifications would be necessary for the Ottomans to defend its other Balkan possessions and to create a more secure environment in the Ottoman Balkan Empire. The government caved in and the bill was proposed before the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies.

    The Ottoman Chamber of Deputies exploded over the costs of the program, and the cost of the fortification line. However as the costs were being financed by the War Ministry and their own budget, the deputies reluctantly agreed to the plan and the program was passed in the Chamber of Deputies. The construction of the fortifications began in early 1913. Immediately major forts, pillboxes etc started construction. Modern fortifications were adapted by the Ottomans with the aid of British, French, Austrian and German supervisors, engineers and firms as well as private Ottoman firms as well. The Ottomans styled their defensive forts on the basis of the French fortifications near Alsace-Lorraine to get the maximum defensive output they could get, as the French defenses were considered to be one of the best in the entire world. Massive artillery compounds were also created in the valleys to fire at the Bulgarian border within a short notice, and an entire network of army compounds and garrison compounds started construction.” A History of Ottoman Fortification In the Balkans, University of Angora, 1998.

    “The Ottoman Empire had at one point in history, one of the most complex and richest of economies in Europe. Those days were long gone by 1913, however the Ottoman government wished to overturn that development. The Ottoman dependence on Britain, Germany and Austria-Hungary to build their navy was seen acutely by the Ottoman government during the Italo-Ottoman War with narrowed eyes. The government quickly decided to do something about the ailing Ottoman maritime industry. The Ottoman Ministry of the Navy was ordered to conduct a report on the existing condition of the Ottoman maritime industry and its failings, and possible solutions to that.

    The report that the Ministry of the Navy compiled was quite sobering to say the least. The Ottoman Ministry of the Navy’s report stated that the maritime industry of the ottoman empire was inefficient, ill-equipped in the modern technologies and the maritime industry had an extremely small group of capable sailors and proper human resources up for the task in the industry. Older dockyards and slipways in the Ottoman Empire which were used for making warships during the 19th and 18th centuries were laying and rotting on the side. The report concluded that the Ottoman maritime industry was thus, in dire straits, and if something could not be done in a short amount of time, then the industry itself could die out in the empire entirely, a grave prediction. The report however provided an ample list of probable solutions as well. The report stated that the older slipways and dockyards that were rotting away in Mersin, Sinope, Salonika, Izmir, and Beirut could be renovated and brought back to shape. They would not be able to construct warships for a good many years, the report predicted, however convoys and transport ships, as well as gunboats could be built using these extra amount of dockyards. The report also stated that the growth of the maritime industry in this regard to give the Ottoman Economy an avenue of expanding employment in the empire, and it recommended opening up and constructing new dockyards in the Persian Gulf, the Red Sea as well as the Adriatic to create more dockyards in the empire and to augment the maritime industry of the Ottoman empire.

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    Ali Kemal discussing the NEP with his ministers.

    This coincided with the Ottoman government’s compilation of multiple plans for the creation of a new economic plan for the Ottoman Empire. These were all included in the ‘New Economic Plan ‘or the NEP by Grand Vizier Ali Kemal when the presented the NEP in front of the Chamber of Deputies on June 17th, 1913. The NEP consisted of the following points:-

    • The renovation of older slipways and dockyards in the Ottoman Empire to invigorate the maritime industry more.
    • The creation and construction of new maritime dockyards in Jeddah, Basra and the Persian Gulf as well as Beirut.
    • To create shares of the new dockyards to be sold to the general Ottoman population.
    • The creation of industrial ‘estates’ in the Ottoman empire for the better supervision of the industrial sector of the Ottoman Empire.
    • The creation of ‘puppet industries’ in the Ottoman Empire which would become the base for future industrial expansion in the Ottoman Empire.
    • The mineral wealth of Anatolia and the Balkans to be exploited in the construction of mines.
    • The creation of more service sector employment through the tourism and religious pilgrimage industry.
    • The creation of the National Investment Board which would survey, supervise and guide national investment schemes in the empire.
    • The creation of the Izmir Aeronautical Industrial Estate to serve as the second aeronautical industry of the Ottoman Empire.
    • Increase of 10% in public spending in the empire to create more infrastructure in the empire, creating more innovation and growth in the empire.
    These goals and points reflected years of self-research by the Ottoman government. They were eager to create a better economy for the nation and these points reflected that. Even cross party members in the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies, in the CUP and Social Democratic Party agreed with the NEP and the deal passed in the Chamber 217-71. The NEP would eventually go down in history as Ali Kemal’s greatest contribution to the Ottoman Empire, as it would be instrumental in the enormous growth of the Ottoman economy in the late 1910s and early 1920s.” Ottoman Economic Trajectories: History, Present and Future. University of Chicago, 2017.

    “The Beginning of the Ottoman Cinema Industry is one filled with dependence on foreign film contractors, and censoring available films, especially by Sultan Abdul Hamid II who censored the release of the tapes of the Hamidian Massacres in the 1890s and early 1900s. However civilian interest in the film industry was starting to grow by the time of the Italo-Ottoman War and the war provided a further incentive for the civilian sector of the empire to get involved in the cinema industry as the tapes of the Italo-Turkish War began to trickle back home. The Constantinople Office of the Cinema (COC) was the first major cinematic company established in the Ottoman Empire in late 1912 by the group of Turkish and Greek businessmen and firms.

    The COC was instrumental in many regards for the early development of the Ottoman Empire into the twentieth century. The COC was responsible for the shooting of many documentaries of the empire detailing the changing situation in the empire. These tapes and documentaries where then sold all throughout Europe and the empire in good order. The COC’s own commercial success soon after garnered the interest of many other business groups and the government as well.

    In June 26th, 1913 a group of ethnic Pontic Greek educators filed a permission request in the Ottoman Ministry of the Interior asking for permission to create linguistic tapes for teaching young Pontic greeks their ethnic language in a more efficient manner. This request was an odd one, as most requests regarding the cinema industry were largely in line with commercial business’s, and not education, but nonetheless, the Ministry of Interior gave permission to the request and the Pontic Greek Language and Linguistics Studio (PGLLS) was then established in Trabzon on the 18th of July, 1913. At first it limited itself to the Pontic Greek language, however by the 1930s and 1940s it would expand itself to cover Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian, normal Greek, and Arabian distributing its tapes to multiple universities and schools throughout the Ottoman Empire. It provided an excellent medium for Ottoman scholars to learn languages in the Ottoman Empire as well.

    The military under Mahmud Shevket Pasha was also interested in the cinema industry, with Shevket Pasha stating that the use of tapes could be employed in training exercises to study the army, their successes and their failures, making it easier for the Ottoman military to discern their own weaknesses and to move against them. Consequently on August 2nd, 1913, the Military Office of the Cinema or the Merkez Ordu Sinema Dairesi was established by Mahmud Shevket Pasha as a part of the Ministry of War.

    Thus from humble origins, began the Ottoman Cinema Industry.” Angora Valley: The Eastern Cinema Powerhouse, a History. Penguin Publishing, 2007.

    “British negotiations with the Ottoman Empire regarding a division of Arabia continued with the prospect of a possible alliance being thrown up between the foreign ministers. Both, Vlora and Grey were eager for an alliance between the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire, however many in both countries were more eager for a non-aggression pact and cooperation deal rather than a full-fledged alliance. In both Constantinople and London, the idea of a full alliance between each other, raised the questions of the reaction from St. Petersburg. Under Alexander III of Russia, the Russians and Ottomans had managed to finally after many centuries of warfare have good relations with one another, however Alexander III’s son, Nicholas II of Russia was slowly overturning that policy of friendship between the Sublime Porte and Russia, and there were fears that Russia would invade the Ottoman Empire if the empire formally allied with Britain. Similarly British politicians pointed out that breaking the Entente over the Ottoman Empire was not something to take lightly. Britain still had an invested policy in making sure that the Germans did not achieve hegemony over mainland Europe.

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    FM Syrja Bey Vlora.

    To an extent the British and Ottoman worries were well-founded. St. Petersburg had expressed disgust at the ongoing negotiations and Sazonov had even warned Sir Edward Grey that the negotiations with the Ottoman Empire were putting the Triple Entente in danger. The French not wishing to loose either of their allies were raising the question of an alliance of the Ottoman Empire with Russia and raising the question of stopping the negotiations with Britain, playing both sides, hoping for one to cave in and mend the rifts in the Triple Entente.

    On August 1913, Prime Minister Asquith succinctly summarized the current situation by stating ‘We stand at an uneasy precipice. The Russian response to our negotiations with the Sublime Porte will decide everything.’

    Finally late in the month of August the British Parliament and the House of Commons decided to use the negotiations to end the Arabian question once and for all and postpone the idea of an alliance for later, and instead to sign a non-aggression pact with the Sublime Porte. The Ottomans who were relieved with the idea of not having to go to war with the Russians quickly agreed to the plan proposed by the British.

    With the need to make sure that the Russians kept their goodwill and to keep the entente alive, both Grey and Vlora met and worked with extraordinary speed and the Convention of Beirut was signed on August 28th, 1913 by the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire. The terms of the Convention of Beirut were:-

    • The Ottoman control of Hejaz and Northern Yemen to be recognized by the British Empire.
    • The Ottoman control of the Nejd Sanjak to be re-asserted and re-recognized by the British Empire.
    • The Ottoman government to recognize the British control of Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, all formerly beneficiaries of the Sublime Porte.
    • The recognition of the Kingdom of Rashidi Arabia as the sole governmental authority in the interior of Arabia.
    • Both the British Empire and the Ottoman Empire to sign a non-aggression pact for 8 years until 1921, up for renewal again until 1925.
    • The British Empire and Ottoman Empire to sign a mutually beneficial trade deal with one another (textiles and chromium exports for the Ottoman Empire and Machinery and technology exports for the British Empire).
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    Arabia after the Convention of Beirut.

    A week later both Westminster and the Sublime Porte ratified the convention’s treaty. This convention finally ended the Arabian Question in the east once and for all and the goodwill between Britain and the Ottomans were starting to grow. Despite a small irritation between London and Constantinople regarding the game of cat and mouse the Ottomans played with the Russians in Iranian Azerbaijan, the relationship between the Ottomans and the British were starting to become better than ever before. Thankfully for the Russians, that relationship did extend to an alliance, but a mere non-aggression pact for the time being.” A History of the Relationship between the Ottoman Empire and the British Kingdom, Osprey Publishing, 1996.

    “Jews have always had a special place in the Ottoman Empire. Sephardic Jews from Iberia after the Spanish Inquisition threw them out, the Jewish Poles fleeing the Partitions of Poland, as well as the Arabic Jews from Jerusalem and Baghdad as well as the Jewish peoples of Lebanon and the Balkans also created a massive Jewish subculture in the Ottoman Empire.

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    A Sephardic Jewish family in Baghdad.

    The permission of the Ottoman foreign ministry to allow increased Jewish immigration into the empire also added to this cultural dimension of the Ottoman Empire. Of course, the quota for Palestine immigration was heatedly taken up by the Jews from all over Europe wishing to live in their sacred holy lands. They presented their best CVs and learned Turkish in earnest, taking Turkish exams and showing their certificates to Ottoman embassies throughout Europe to gain citizenship. The battle to live in the Jewish Quotas of Palestine were so heated that Ottoman Foreign Minister Vlora jokingly called it the ‘Jewish Crusade’ in the Ottoman Empire. Nonetheless, around 20,000 Jewish peoples from Europe were given permission to settle down in Palestine and were given citizenship.

    Other important areas of Jewish settlement by immigrants were Tripoli, Benghazi, Beirut, Izmir, Mersin, Sinope, Tirana and Baghdad. All of these places in the empire were regional capitals and the ottomans were all the more happy to have Jewish manpower and riches in these parts of the empire, secretly thankful that the battle for gaining access to living in Palestine had not been as heated as they had thought it would be. The Arab population of these areas were at first apprehensive of the Jewish immigration into the empire, however the Ottoman government remained true to their promise and stated that the Palestinian Quota for Jews would remain at 20% for the foreseeable future, and would not be expanded upon without the approval of the Arab Committees of the Empire.

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    Jewish Immigrants arriving in Benghazi.

    The Arab Committee of Cyrenaica was the first openly pro-Jewish Arab Lobby in the Empire. Jewish peoples in Libya had been instrumental in the Italo-Ottoman War where they formed partisan groups against the invading Italians, and the people of Cyrenaica were in the gratitude of these brave peoples. Arabs in Benghazi, and the rest of Cyrenaica happily welcomed their new Jewish compatriots. A new word began to rise in the Arab population that was used to describe the Jewish immigrants. Yahud Jadad or the ‘New Jews’ which was used as a term to distinguish between the new Jewish immigrants and the older Salonika and Sephardic Jews. Life for the new Jewish immigrants in the empire was at first, obviously hard, as they received lower jobs, and lower living standards, however the pro-semitism of the Empire garnered much goodwill in the Yahud Jadad jews, and they would become the cornerstone of Ottoman Loyalism in the Ottoman minorities in the future.” Immigration Patterns in the Ottoman Empire. OttomanGov.com.

    ***

    Benghazi, Ottoman Libya, 1913

    Abraham Aaronovich sighed as he wiped his eyes to get rid of the burning heat. He was from the Russian Empire, and he and his family weren’t used to the immense heat of Northern Africa. Nonetheless he smiled at the passing Arab family and waved at them.

    “Abraham Effendi!” Ahmed Hassan, his neighbor greeted him with a smile.

    “Ahmed, how are you?” Abraham replied back with a smile in broken Arabic. He knew rudimentary Turkish, however his Arabic language skills left much to be desired. Thankfully Ahmed didn’t seem to mind and seem to understand his broken Arabic.

    “My dear friend, you need to get a job.” Ahmed told him as he looked at the small amount of clothes Abraham had and the smaller amount of food that Abraham’s children were eating than usual. “Your part time job in the synagogue obviously doesn’t pay as much as you’d like it seems.”

    “It seems by dear Ahmed, that you are right.” Abraham sighed as he looked at his wallet and saw the meager amount of Ottoman Lira in it. “I made an account in the Bank of Cyrenaica at the main square, and I was quite embarrassed to give in only around 200 Lira as my starting amount for the account.”

    “Hm, what did you do in Kharkov Abraham Effendi?” Ahmed asked speculatively as he rubbed his chin in deep thought.

    “I worked in the…..army. I was a junior corporal in the 18th Don Cossack Regiment. Well that was before the government found out I was a jew.” Abraham muttered. “After that I was ‘honorably’ discharged from the Imperial Russian Army.”

    “Well that means you have the experience!” Ahmed smiled looking on the bright side. “Do you have any proof of your previous occupation as a corporal?”

    “Erm yes, It is included in the papers I brought with me when we immigrated.” Abraham muttered as a response.

    “Good then, we can enlist you in the army as a junior officer! The army pays pretty well.” Ahmed replied and dragged Abraham through the streets as Abraham protested.

    “But-but a corporal is nothing in the army! I bet Colonels, Lieutenants, Lieutenant-Colonels get the better benefits!” Abraham spluttered.

    Ahmed raised his eyebrow as he looked at his Jewish friend. “Here in Libya, during peacetimes, Corporals are often as high as officers we can get. You will get paid well, my friend. I was a trooper during the war, I have some contacts in the army.”

    Abraham quieted down. Of course, he knew that many in Cyrenaica and Tripolitania had military backgrounds due to the Italo-Ottoman war, but it was still very construing to hear it often.

    After a few minutes Abraham found himself in front of the army recruitment office where Abraham shifted his feet slightly. The main officer spoke with Ahmed and then turned to Abraham and spoke up in Turkish. “You are Abraham Aaronovich?”

    “Erm, yes.” Abraham replied in rudimentary and heavily accented Turkish.

    “You were a Corporal? In Little Russia?” The officer asked again as he lifted his eyebrows.

    “Yes.” Abraham nodded.

    “I will need proof you realize?” The officer folded his hands.

    “I can send you the papers and my badge later on through the postal service.” Abraham offered.

    “Yes, that would be best. My name is Asuman Pasha. I am the Lieutenant-Colonel of the region.” Asuman introduced himself. “Send me the papers, I will send my response then. You can take him away Ahmed, I assure you old friend that I will make an exception for your friend here. Its good to see the new Jews mingling in the population so quickly.”

    “Thank you my old friend!” Ahmed slapped Asuman’s back and then turned to Abraham. “Now, Abraham Effendi, you must go home quickly and send your papers to Asuman Effendi here quick!”

    Abraham nodded. That night he packed his papers regarding his service in the Imperial Russian Army and sent it to Asuman Pasha. The next he received a letter stating that he would be enlisted for the Ottoman Benghazi Military Academy for three months after which he would be enlisted as a regional corporal with a salary of 550 Lira a month. Abraham would forever be indebted to Ahmed for this act of charity.

    ***

    “The first Ottoman designed plane would enter planning phase on August 12th, 1913 when the Ottoman government allowed the aeronautical engineers in Constantinople to start their own aeronautical designs. The Sky Wolf I Gokyuzu Kurt Ben or the Sky Wolf I was the first prototype Ottoman designed plane that was designed by a group of Ottoman aeronautical engineers. It was mainly based off the design of the Bleriot IX plane of the French and was intended for reconnaissance missions. The Sky Wolf II that was being planned by the Ottoman government was being designed as a bomber instead.

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    The Sky Wolf I.

    The Sky Wolf I was a two seat model, with side by side seating and non-lifting triangular tailplane with a semi-elliptical trailing edge elevators, with several variations such as floats extended nose, modified tail skid and other changes to the Bleriot class planes. It’s overall length was 8.32 meters, and its wingspan was around 10.97 meters. Overall, it was an above average plane and the Constantinople Aeronautical Industrial Estate, the only aeronautical industrial estate in the Ottoman Empire started the construction of the planes from the end of August, 1913.” Ottoman Planes: The Beginning. Tirana Publishing, 2009.

    ***

    Somewhere in Serbia, inside a Black Hand Society Meeting Room

    “Those damned muslims. The Turks have upped their game. Several of our members in Macedonia have been arrested. The Turkish intelligence has improved.”

    “Damn them to hell and back…….”

    “And back again…..”

    “So what do we do now?”

    “Our only way forward lies now with conflict. We will do what we can to liberate the Serbian peoples from the Turkish yoke. Violently if we must. You haven’t forgotten your oaths have you?”

    “No.”

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    Logo of the Black Hand Society.

    “Then what are we to do?”

    “The Sultan is rumored to be coming to Tirana to meet with the Albanian officials in a month and to take the oath of the First Albanian Premier, signaling the start of an autonomous Albania in the empire with Prishtina’s list being implemented. There we will strike.”

    “Sounds like a good plan.”

    “Aye, and we will succeed…….”

    ***
     
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    Chapter 12: The end of 1913
  • Chapter 12: The end of 1913

    ***

    Long Live the Sultan! Long Live the Sovereign of the Albanians!” – Shout of the Albanians during the Assassination attempt.

    “Sultan Mehmed V, despite his promiscuous behavior with the women, especially with women of his own harem, with whom he beget many children who became famous princes and princesses in their own rights, the sultan of the empire was very much a beloved character. He was much more open than his predecessor Abdul Hamid II with the people, and thankfully perfectly fine with being the typical constitutional monarch. His personal support for the democratic process and the autonomies of Armenia and Albania also made him a particularly likeable character to many of the Ottoman minorities. It helped that the man knew how to speak Turkish, Arabic, Greek and rudimentary Albanian, which he made him a sultan of the people so to speak.


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    Sultan Mehmed V of the Ottoman Empire.

    With the implementation of the Albanian autonomy in the Ottoman Empire, the creation of the post of ‘Premier of Albania’ was also established within the Albanian ministry of the Ottoman Empire. The first premier of Albania was none other than Hassan Prishtina himself who was elected by the Albanian Vilayets to become their premier. The inauguration ceremony was dated to be on October 11, 1913. However due to some transportation issues near Salonika, where a recent storm had disrupted the local transportation system, the date was pushed one day behind to October 12, 1913 when the Sultan reached Tirana amidst a massive Albanian presence.

    The Sultan made his way to Tirana Square where he spoke out in favor of the reforms and made a small speech calling about the brave histories of the Albanians. He throughout his speech pointed out that Albanians had made a disproportionate amount of contribution to the Ottoman Empire for their small size, as the empire had multiple Albanian Grand Viziers throughout its history and called on the Albanians to have a more prosperous future as a part of an autonomous Albania within the Ottoman Empire.

    He was met with polite applause from the Albanian audience, and Hassan Prishtina was called to the podium so that the Sultan could confer to him the title of ‘Premier of Albanians’ when the Sultan’s bodyguards shoved both the Sultan and Prishtina out of the podium and the podium exploded in a bomb blast, killing 2 of the bodyguards, and two governmental officials who were unfortunate to be on the podium. The Sultan and Prishtina were injured from their fall from the stage and podium, however they were alive and the wounds they had taken were relatively minor and could be treated within hours. From the other side of the massive audience, the military guard present in the area to protect the Sultan declared a lockdown and that no one was going to leave without inspection from the military, to find the would be assassin.

    Gunshots rang out in the panic as the Albanians tried to figure out what was going on. Finally the Ottoman guards captured one Ljuba Cupa and three other Serbians amidst the crowd who were all found with weapons and all the items needed to make a makeshift bomb. Cupa tried to run away by threatening to shoot the innocent bystanders, however this only served to enrage the Albanian audience, as the Albanians started to shout ‘long live the sultan’ and tried to menace the assassins. Ironically amidst this uproar, the Ottoman gendarmerie had to protect the assassins from the enraged population, and the four would be assassins were extracted to Tirana Prison.


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    Ljuba Cupa, the would be assassin.

    A small makeshift stage was then made using wooden slabs and the Sultan shakily conferred the title of Albanian Premier to an equally shaken Hassan Prishtina. Nonetheless, the Sultan ordered the festivities to go on ahead, stating that he would not let petty terrorists strike at their psyche and the festival went on. In Tirana Prison, the Ottoman police force managed to torture the assassins, primarily Ljuba Cupa enough to find out that they were from a Serbian secret society called Black Hand that wished to bring all Serbians under the rule of the Serbian Kingdom. When asked whether or not the Serbian government had aided or funded the group, Ljuba managed to speak out that while sympathizers were present, the Black Hand had no official backing from the Serbian government. In the future it was found that this fact was a lie, however for the moment the Ottoman government was thankful, for it stopped any notion of war with Serbia.

    The aftereffects of the failed assassination were far reaching in the Ottoman Empire and beyond. The assassins were tried before the Ottoman Supreme Court where they were sentenced for multiple counts of murder, including the monarch of the empire, as well as the murder of the four people who had died during the assassination attempt. Many in the international community also spoke out against the assassination attempt. King George V called it a disgrace, Kaiser Wilhelm II called the assassination attempt an anarchist and ultra-nationalist cell, Emperor Franz Joseph I called the assassination attempt an attempt in ludicrously and all of the other monarchs of Europe followed suit. The Presidents of France and the USA also showed their personal sympathies by sending letters of congratulations for surviving the assassination attempt. Sultan Mehmed V personally gave the families of the two dead bodyguards a life’s worth of pension in gratitude for them having saved his life.


    assassination.PNG

    Domestically, Ali Kemal was hit by the negative effects of the attempt, as opposition members called out that it was his duty to protect the Sultan. Kemal managed to quieten the opposition by a little bit when he proposed a police and internal security reform which would strengthen the internal security of the empire. Nevertheless, the assassination attempt at Sultan Mehmed V would have unseen consequences in the future, all of which would be extremely interesting.” Mehmed V: Constitutional Monarch of the Ottoman Empire, The Beloved.

    “Immediately after the assassination attempt at Sultan Mehmed V of the Ottoman Empire, tensions between the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Serbia skyrocketed. It didn’t help that unlike other monarchs of Europe, King Peter I of Serbia had extended no such wishes of goodness or happiness to the Sultan, and this was considered to be a massive diplomatic slight to the Ottoman Empire. So much so that the population of the Ottoman Empire started to rally on the streets demanding war with Serbia. The Albanians were the most fierce proponents of war with the Serbian Kingdom and the Arabs were also rallying for war, calling the attempt to kill the Caliph a sacrilege. The Turkish population of course was outraged by the attempt to kill their monarch and the people openly rioted asking their government to start war.


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    King Peter I of Serbia

    Of course the government knew something that the population did not. War with Serbia, meant war with the Bulgarian Tsardom and the Russian Tsardom. Something the government wished to avoid at all costs. Grand Vizier Ali Kemal wrote a letter to Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pasic demanding that the Serbian government do something about the Black Hand. At first Pasic was inclined to do nothing. He was a member of the People’s Radical Party, whose main goal was the idea of a ‘Yugoslavia’ or a nation of south slavs. Denigrating an attempt to restore Serbian territory would have made him look like a hypocrite in front of his own party and the Serbian parliament.

    However soon diplomatic pressure mounted. Russia did not wish for war with the Ottoman Empire, believing that such a war would be taken advantage off by the Germans and Austrians and pressured Serbia to make lip promises to the Ottoman Empire. Bulgaria who had not sufficiently mobilized its troops would be in danger of being invaded completely by the Ottoman Armies in the Balkans and pressured Serbia as well. Austria-Hungary which had its own fair share of Serbian terrorism problems in Vojvodina and Bosnia too started to pressure the Serbian government to at least make some lip promises to stop the Black Hand Society.


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    Serbian PM Nikola Pasic.

    On October 28th, Nikola Pasic wrote a letter back to Constantinople in which he agreed to have the Black Hand Society operating within Serbian territory squashed contained. However nonetheless, he did not allow Ottoman supervisors to take part in this ‘squashing’. Even though this letter helped to diffuse tensions in the regions, the pre-1913 relation between Constantinople and Belgrade would never be the same. The Ottoman Empire may not want war, however it would not be pushed around by small arrogant powers like that of Serbia. It immediately placed massive tariffs on Serbian goods in Ottoman territory and embargoed certain goods from entering the Serbian country. This would become one of the major reasons why the Balkan War would start a few years down the line.” Reasons of the Balkan War, History Textbook, class 12, Kingdom of Romania, circa 2008.

    “Senatorial Reform in the Ottoman Senate had been a hot topic for Ottoman politics ever since the Second Constitutional Era had started. With only 48 members, it was deemed inadequate and having no proper party political spheres in the Senate made it a tad undemocratic. As such, the idea of Senatorial reforms in the Ottoman Empire had been floating for far too long by this point to ignore.

    Ibrahim Temo, the leader of the Ottoman Democratic Party raised the notion of senatorial reform on October 27th, 1913 and called for the expansion of electoral districts, the creation of a proper senatorial elections in the country and the expansion of party politics into the Senate as well, to create a more democratic sphere in the country. The frozen attitude of the Senate during the assassination attempt at Sultan Mehmed V also made the need for senatorial reform all the more wanting in the Ottoman Empire.

    Ali Kemal and the Liberal Union were all for senatorial reform. The Committee of Union and Progress were less so, as they had a lot of influential men and people in the Ottoman Senate who could be removed from the reform, nonetheless, even the most diehard of CUP supporters acknowledged that they needed reform in the senate.

    In the senate itself, the people were divided on the issue. People who benefitted from the current senate were opposed to any reform and the people who did not supported the reform. The Senate could not decide whether or not it wished to be reformed, and multiple votes held on the issue simply brought in inconclusive results, making the process of reform all the more frustrating for the empire.

    Finally on November 8th, the issue was taken to the Ottoman Supreme Court in Izmir where the Supreme court was asked to deliver the final say on whether or not Senatorial reforms were needed in the Ottoman Empire. The Supreme court heard both sides of the arguments and on the next day declared that senatorial reform was needed in the Ottoman Empire, and Bill #1675 drafted by Ali Kemal and Ibrahim Temo for the reformation of the Ottoman Senate would be adopted by the Ottoman State. The Bill was brought before Sultan Mehmed V on November the 11th, who gave the bill imperial assent thus making it law.

    The 1913 Ottoman Senatorial Reform included the following points:


    • The enlargement of the Ottoman Senate from 48 seats to 100 seats.
    • The creation of exactly 100 electoral districts in the Ottoman Empire on the basis of population for the seats of the Senate.
    • Senatorial Elections for the Ottoman Empire to take place every two years.
    • Party threshold in the Senate to be lower than in the Chamber of Deputies. Party threshold for the Senate would be 1% instead of the Chamber’s 5%.
    • The first Senatorial Election of the Ottoman Empire would be scheduled for December 22-24, 1913 in the Ottoman Empire.
    The 1913 Senatorial Reform still exists in the Ottoman Empire till this day, with some amendments along the way to amend the reform to modern needs of the empire.” Ottoman High Laws: A History. Penguin Publishing, 1988.

    “Italian politics in the wake of the Italo-Ottoman War became ever the more fractious. The Liberal Union now led by Sidney Sonnino did the best they could to appeal to the moderates of the Italian nation and committed themselves to the economy of the nation, using bondage firms, and investment schemes before the 1913 general elections to gain an advantage. And to an extent this did lead to a small lead for the Liberals in the Italian General Election, as the economy started to recover, many of the Italian electorate were eager to vote for a moderate government.

    However the Italian Radical Party led by Ettore Sachi was not sitting about twiddling its thumbs. Due to the fallout of the splitting of the Italian Socialist Party into the Italian Socialist Party and the Italian Reformist Socialist Party, many disillusioned young socialists joined up with the Italian Radical Party, chief among them was the group of socialists led by young Benito Mussolini who joined the Italian Radical Party as well.


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    Ettore Sacchi

    Nonetheless, Ettore Sachi was an enigma in the Italian Radical Party. He was accused of being a radical in the public and was accused of being a moderate by his own party. Unlike many in the party who called for an Italian republic, Sachi was unwilling to endorse republicanism unless a referendum was held on the issue in the entire country, which the rest of the radicals were unwilling to do, fearing that the monarchy would be retained through referendum, which would give it a democratic advantage.

    Sachi was also however willing to ally with the Italian Reformist Socialist Party and managed to make a strong opposition force against the Liberal Union in the Italian Parliament, and though the Italian Socialist Party remained a powerful force, it had no allies and found itself increasingly isolated from the rest of the Italian parties.


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    Sidney Sonnino

    It was amidst this fractious political nature that the 1913 Italian General Elections were held in October, 1913. The Liberal Union lost a good amount of seats, however managed to retain 255 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, forming the largest party out of the 508 seat chamber. The Italian Radical Party soon followed with 62 seats. The Italian Socialist Party followed with 52 seats and the Italian Reformist Socialist Party followed with 34 seats as well. The Italian Republican Party also won around 8 seats and together with the Italian Reformist Socialist Party and the Radical Party formed the opposition to the Liberal Union which once again formed government with a coalition of the Liberals, Constitutional Democratic Party, Catholic Electoral Union, Conservative Catholic Party and the Democratic Party. Giolitti resigned from the premiership of Italy as he had promised and Sidney Sonnino became the next Prime Minister of Italy.” A History of Italian Politics.

    “The idea of a jewish homeland for Jews had been a topic of heated debate ever since Zionism as an ideology was revived by 19th century Jews. Many called out for an invasion of Palestine to settle it. Some called for settling down in the Sinai, in Uganda, in Alaska and in Guyana as alternative solutions. All of these proposals had their fair share of supporters and dissidents. However with the opening of the Ottoman empire to Jewish migration on a wider scale, the scope of the Jewish homeland question started to become even all the more complicated. With many Jews from anti-semitic countries like Russia, France and Italy migrating to the Ottoman Empire, the normal base of the Zionist organizations were starting to revert to the Ottoman Empire. This meant that the Ottomans now held an advantage with negotiations with Zionist organizations, and almost every person which had advocated for an invasion of Palestine were quiet by the time the 1913 Zionist Congress started.

    The 1913 Zionist Congress tried to ascertain new manners in which they could settle and where. The United States had shown little enthusiasm for a Jewish settlement in the Territory of Alaska, and frankly speaking very few Jews were willing to settle down in an icy freezing desert. It was in the 1913 congress that a new proposal was raised. The people in the congress pointed out that the Ottoman Empire giving shelter to Jewish minorities was now a fact that the Congress could not change, however it was something that the Congress could take advantage off, in their opinion. A plan to settle down in the Sinai Peninsula had been in the works ever since the British had raised the idea of it in 1905, however by this point the Zionists were taking the question seriously and petitioned the British government to start conducting trials in the Sinai region to see whether or not the land could be created into a new jewish homeland. The Egyptian government led by Sultan Abbas II was eager to allow Jewish settlement, as it would allow investment and economic growth, but only if the Jewish agreed to become Egyptian citizens, highly autonomous Egyptian citizens with a province that would likely become Jewish majority, but still subservient under the Egyptian government. The Jewish Congress agreed on the condition that Jewish rights of religion and living were secured. When this was accepted by Cairo, observation trials began in earnest in the Sinai region as Zionist, British and Egyptian architects started to work together to figure out how to make a jewish homeland in the Sinai.


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    The Sinai Peninsula, the Chosen Homeland of the Zionists.

    This plan was accepted by the Ottoman Empire as well, however the empire rose the question of the local Arabic population living in the Sinai, and asked the Zionist Congress to respect the rights of the Arabic population in the Sinai. The Zionists had no intentions of doing as such, however they paid lip service to the Sublime Porte and agreed to protect the rights of the Arabic population of the Sinai as well. When they backtracked on their promise to protect the rights of the Arabic population, it would start the Sinai Crisis in the late 1930s and early 1940s.” A History of Zionist Sinai, Osprey Publishing, 2003.

    “The first Ottoman Senatorial Elections took place on 22 December, 1913 to 24 December, 1913. The Senatorial Elections had a lower threshold for parties, and as such more parties were believed to be able to get seats in the senate than in the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies. Since the day the Senatorial Reform of 1913 was ratified and given imperial assent by Sultan Mehmed V, the parties of the empire began a massive electoral campaign to win the majority of the seats in the Senate.


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    the ottoman population lining up to vote.

    The Liberal Union led by Ali Kemal did the best they could, appealing to the moderates and the liberals of the Ottoman Empire, pointing toward the flourishing Ottoman economy as their main standing point for the elections. They also pointed out that it was under their government that the economy was doing so good, and that It was because of them that the democratic processes in the empire were not only being strengthened but expanded. They also appealed to the minorities by pointing at their minority appeasement policy’s, mainly the creation of the Armenian Vilayet.

    The CUP led by moderate Huseyin Hilmi Pasha focused on the rural population of the Ottoman empire, and the more conservative class, by promising to overturn the ongoing secularization of the empire, and making Islam first among equals once again. They also appealed to their conservative tendencies, though they remained true to their ideals of Ottomanization and under the moderate leadership of Huseyin Hilmi Pasha, who was himself an Ottoman Muslim Greek, forced the party to drop Turkification which would bolster the party.

    The Democratic Party led by Ibrahim Temo was strongest in the ideal that it had been the one to draw up the 1913 Senatorial Reform and used this slight increase in prestige to garner votes. Its main stronghold was in Albania and the Aegean Coastline where the Aegean greeks favored the Democratic Party.

    The Socialist Party led by Huseyin Hilmi however surprised all by the amount of popularity they gained, as they campaigned for the elections. As industrialization continued in the empire however, it should have been expected that leftist ideals would become more appealing to the people, and the party garnered a good amount of successes. The suburbs of Constantinople and the major city electoral suburbs of Izmir, Salonika and Baghdad, all of whom experienced rapid industrialization became socialist strongholds. As the Ottoman socialists were pro-monarchists and pro-religious, many conservative leftists also were comfortable in voting for them.

    The Armenekan Party led by Mekertich Portukailan was the regional autonomist Armenian party and they ran on a platform of retaining the new privileges of the Armenian population and managed to gain a stronghold in the Armenian Vilayet. The Social Democrats led by Gevorg Gaharadijan did not win a stronghold anywhere in the empire, however did win some constituencies, enough to gain a few seats as well.

    The Ottoman Party for Administrative Decentralization, which was led by Rafiq Bey Al-Azm, managed to win a few seats and votes from the Arabic population as their decentralization and federalist policies were pretty popular in the deep conservative Arabic population of the empire. Poale Zion, the Jewish party of the empire became strengthened by the Jewish immigration to the Ottoman Empire, and expanded from its base in Salonika, and managed to win a small stronghold in the minority electoral districts in Palestine as well.


    senate.PNG

    The end result was that in the elections, the Liberal Union won 29 seats, The CUP won 23 seats, the Democratic Party won 17 seats, the Socialist Party won 12 seats, the Armenakan Party won 6 seats, The Social Democrats and the OPAD won 5 seats each and Poale Zion won 2 seats in the Senate. 1 independent from Angora managed to win his way to the senate as well. In the senate, the Liberal Union and the Democratic Party alongside the Armenakan Party managed to retain their coalition and remained the majority government, holding 51 seats. The Socialist Party and the CUP formed opposition having a total of 35 seats. The rest formed a third block in the Senate.” A History of the Ottoman Senate: University of Angora, 1998.

    ***
     
    Chapter 13: Qajar Woes
  • Chapter 13: Qajar Woes

    ***

    “The history of the Pontic Greek population within the Ottoman Empire is an interesting one. The Pontic Greek population of the empire like the Armenians were divided between pro-Ottoman and pro-Russian lines. However nonetheless, during the 1878 Russo-Turkish war, the support of the pontic greek communities in Trabzon made the government turn its attention to the pontic greeks. As this unwanted attention became known, the pro-Russian pontic greek communities started to immigrate into Russian Georgia and Russian Armenia as well leaving behind a population of Pontic Greeks in the Ottoman Empire which was either pro-Ottoman or at least ambivalent towards the empire.

    At the turn of the century, around 25% to one third of the population of the Pontus area were made up of Pontic Greeks. Whilst many of these Pontic Greeks had been ardently anti-Abdul Hamid II, they worked together with the CUP during the 1908 Revolution that brought democracy back to the Ottoman Empire. They supported the CUP throughout the 1909 countercoup attempt but had fallen out with the CUP after the CUP turned towards radical Turkish nationalism as their ideology. Nonetheless, the Pontic Greeks remained one of the empire’s most pro-democratic populations and as democracy became ever the more strengthened in the empire, turned increasingly pro-empire as well.

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    Governor Matthaios Kofidis of Trabzon

    It was therefore approved on January 2nd, that Deputy Matthaios Kofidis, a Pontic Greek by ethnicity and a member of the chamber of deputies would become the next governor of the Trabzon Vilayet. Kofidis was an important man in politics from the Pontic steppes of the empire. Kofidis was a well liked man, even in the muslim population of Trabzon who lovingly called the man ‘Kofidis-Effendi’. He was involved in the state as a businessman running the tobacco industry of the area and was an avid historian as well. Writing on the Trebizond Empire turned out to be his niche so to speak and he wrote multiple books about the Trebizond Empire.

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    logo of the Ottoman Socialist Party

    Kofidis was politically a member of the Ottoman Socialist Party. He had once been a part of the Committee of Union and Progress, however had fallen out with the party over religious and ethnic issues as the party turned towards Turkish nationalism as its ideology. Instead Kofidis joined the Ottoman Socialist Party and rose during the 1912 Ottoman General Elections as a member of the Ottoman Socialist Party, where he won the mandate of his constituency and became a deputy in the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies.

    His assignment to the governorship of Trabzon was an important move forward by the ottoman government, which had always been quite hesitant to appoint non-muslims to governor roles in the past. It was a message being sent by Grand Vizier Ali Kemal which was basically saying that religion no longer was required for becoming a part of the government; competence instead was required. It marked an important day for both the Ottoman Empire and the Pontic Greek community of the Ottoman Empire.” A History of the Ottoman Pontic Greek Community: Unity in Diversity. University of Trabzon, 1998.

    “It would take a fool in the early 1900s in Europe to say that relations between the great powers were fine. The empire was split between two major alliances, that of the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance. But even within these two alliances there was factionalism present. Austria and Italy distrusted each other in the Triple Alliance, and Britain and Russia could rarely see eye to eye in the Triple Entente. Nonetheless, both alliances were united in their opposition to the other alliance. Tensions were rife, and a single trigger could spark a Europe wide conflict. Sad fact of the matter however was that many of the powers wanted a war. France wanted a war to regain its lost territories in Alsace and Lorraine, Britain wanted a war to gobble up Germany’s precious colonies of South West Africa and East Africa, Russia wanted a war to annex Galicia and Volhynia, the Germans wanted a war to achieve their dream of European hegemony and their colonial ambitions of mittleafrika, the Austrians wanted war to put the pesky slavs in their place, and the Italians wanted war to regain the honor that they had lost in the Italo-Ottoman War.

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    The European Alliance System

    Frankly put, no one was really interested in long term peace, and everyone knew that a big war was coming. And the Ottomans knew this as well, they would have been fools not to see the tensions riding high in Europe. The Moroccan Crisis’s had led the continent to a point of no return so to speak in terms of diplomatic relations. The Ottomans were friendly with Germany, Austria Hungary and Britain, however they wanted no part of a European wide continental conflict.

    The new Ottoman Senate convened in early January to discuss the issue of the current tensions in Europe and the senate voted overwhelmingly, around 81 to 19 to isolate itself from tensions in Europe, instead furthering their own diplomatic interests by acting as a mediator between the Triple Entente and the Triple Alliance. The Ottomans also had look in the Balkans to make this strategy. Greece was pro-Entente, with its favorable pro-British policies. Serbia and Bulgaria by default of having its patron as Russia were pro-Entente as well. Romania on the other hand was a pro-Triple Alliance nation and Montenegro often drifted between the two. Austria-Hungary obviously was pro-Triple Alliance. As a result, the Balkan peninsula was quite divided on the issue. However seeing as the overwhelming majority of the states were pro-Entente, the Ottomans made a decision not to court to the Triple Alliance too much, for fear of turning the Balkan countries against the Ottoman Empire once again. The empire was fairly certain that it could take on one or two countries in the Balkans at the same time pretty fine, however it was sure that it could not take on the majority of the Balkan countries all at once.

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    Ottoman Embassy in Bucharest

    As such, in order to diffuse tensions between the Balkan and ottoman state, the Ottoman Empire decided to start a rapprochement strategy in the Balkans and decided to go on the diplomatic offensive in Belgrade, Sofia and Athens as well as Bucharest. Romania, which no longer had a border with the Ottomans and were more interested in Bulgaria, Russian and Austrian territories, welcomed the diplomatic missions warmly, and several key diplomatic exchanges were made. Bulgaria, which had a sizeable Muslim and Turkish minority welcomed the diplomatic exchanges with some amount of ambivalence, not taking an offensive stance, nor taking a welcoming stance. In Belgrade however, the diplomatic exchanges were received with ill-welcome and the Ottoman delegates sent to Belgrade complained back to Constantinople that the Serbian hosts were ill-treating to the diplomats in hidden manners all throughout the missions. In Athens, in the diplomatic exchanges were simply another round in the growing relations between the two countries, and Venizelos welcomed the Ottoman delegations quite warmly, having hesitantly warmed up to the Ottoman Empire with its recent figurative olive branches. Of course the so called ‘Megali-Idea’ of Greek nationalists and the anti-greek rhetoric of radical ottomans continued to hamper Greco-Ottoman relations, however when it came right down to it, both sides ignored that side of relations and got into business.

    Whilst the diplomatic exchanges did serve to lighten tensions, they did not serve to end them. Venizelos in 1914 writes in his diary, properly mentioning this fact as well.

    The exchanges between the Balkan capitals and the Ottoman Empire were indeed soothing for the war weary populace, and goodwill sprung anew. However these did not stop Bulgarian or Serbian ambitions. In fact they only helped to make them even more coveted. War in that moment became almost inevitable. When and How was the only question left unanswered. And of course with whom? Would Greece take up arms with the Ottomans together against the Slavic invaders? Or would we continue or historic animosity with the Ottomans? Only time will tell.’

    His words, would prove prophetic.” Greco-Ottoman Relations: A History of Hurt and Goodwill. Bucharest Publishing, 2003.

    “Qajar Persia ever since the 1850s had become the epitome of inefficiency, bad and incompetent rulers, corruption and ill-advised foreign intervention and influence. All of which led to massive resentment against the Qajar Dynasty and its government. It didn’t help that competent Shahs were more interested in fondling women in their harems rather than actually doing their work for once. In the early 1900s revolution had swept the Qajar Dynasty and a semi-democratic government was set up after that. However woes continued to disrupt the country. When the Russian border conflict with Persia started, it was more often than not that tribal groups defeated the Russian forces rather than the actual Qajar Persian army. The economy was in the dustbin so to speak, and capitulations to the Ottomans, Russians and British had angered the Persian population beyond measure.

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    flag of Qajar Persia

    Shah Ahmad and the regency of the Qajar Empire was also seen with a bad light, as the regency was extremely weak and inefficient, and as such the state of the country continued to decline. A small spark was all that was needed for the country to fall in civil conflict.

    And this came in the form of the Persian dissidents. These dissidents took the streets throughout the country in early 1914 demanding reform of the government, of the monarchy and of the army, which exercised too much power in the government for the liking of the liberal dissidents. Led by a member of the Qajar Dynasty itself, Prince Abdul-Hussein Farman Farma, the dissidents practiced non-violent measures of protests like sit-ins and slogans to make their point known to the government. Other influential members of the Persian political spectrum such as Zia ol Din Tabatabae and Ahamd Amir-Ahmadi took part in the protests and the marches against the current Qajar government. The Persian Cossack Brigades famously turned against the strong armed Qajar army and supported the dissidents, following their prince in the marches protectively as well.

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    Zia ol Din Tabatabae

    All it took was a single decision. A single decision to open fire on the protestors and dissidents shook the Persian nation to its very core. It is not known who ordered the army and the gendarmerie to fire at the protestors at Qom, Tehran and Isfahan, since the Regent Ali Reza Khan Al-Molk who an honest politician fired half of the cabinet on the spot when he heard the news, and the Shah was still a minor. It could easily have been a panicked officer ordering his troops to fire, however the damage was done.

    The dissidents were radicalized in the ensuing chaos in the Persian cities, and many of them formed guerilla bands and attacked the Qajar army bases throughout the country. In Bandar Abbas, Zia ol Din formed a new government with the political members of the dissidents and declared his cabinet to be the legitimate government of the Persian nation. He appealed to Qajar dynasty itself and asked the more liberal minded members of the royal family to defect over to their side and to reform the Sun-Monarchy’s imperial throne. Prince Abdul-Hussein answered the call, and ordered the 25,000 strong Persian Cossack brigades to protect the Zia government, the vast majority of which agreed to do as such. In Bandar Abbas, Prince Abdul-Hussein was welcomed to the city by the population and the dissidents, where he was proclaimed to be Shah of Iran.

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    Shah Abdul-Hussein Farman Farma Qajar, the declared new Shah of Persia

    With two governments opposing each other, two claimants to the Sun throne opposing each other, and the country divided on these two lines, the stage was set for the Persian Civil War. The Dissidents controlled the southern area of the country whilst the loyalists of the regime controlled the northern half of the country in majority. As news of civil war broke out into London, Constantinople and St. Petersburg, the governments of all three nations immediately worked in a flurry of diplomatic works.

    The Ottoman delegation, Russian delegation and the British delegation met each other at Alexandria in Egypt on February 18, two weeks after civil war erupted in Persia to discuss the civil war. The Ottomans proposed that the Ottomans, Russians and British to withdraw all troops until the end of the civil conflict. Russia proposed that St. Petersburg and Constantinople to use this conflict as a way to end the Russo-Ottoman competition for northwestern Iran and supported the idea of withdrawing troops from the region. Britain however did not. Britain needed the lucrative Anglo-Persian Oil Company and the Abadan Oil Fields, and proposed that all troops would remain where they were, but they would practice full neutrality in the civil war, and not interfere with it. Not wishing to loose influence in Persia if they were the only ones to withdraw troops, Russia and the Ottomans reluctantly agreed, and all sides declared neutrality in the Persian Civil War, and ordered their troops to stay put.

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    side of the Persian Civil War. Purple represents the Zia government.

    However in secret, the three powers had already picked sides. The Russians found the old government easy to control, inefficient and quite feeble, and wanted to keep Persia in that manner. Britain who had its own financial woes from Persian inefficiency tacitly supported the Zia government, as the Zia government was made up of, perhaps the most competent men and politicians from all over Persia, including the pretender Shah who was a capable royal in his own right. The Ottomans threw their lot in on both sides, wishing to play both sides. They sent information and intelligence to both the loyalists and the dissidents and managed to cultivate a good relation with both sides. The Qajar/Persian Civil War had started in full swing.” The Rise of the New Qajar Dynasty: A Memoir. Qoms Publishing, 1976.

    “Libya had been a battleground in 1911 and 1912 for the Ottomans and the Italians. The former tried to and was successful in retaining its influence and power in the region whilst the latter tried to and failed to conquer the region. Regardless of result however, it was undeniable that the area was devastated by war. Refugees had fled in land, and several parts of important cities had been destroyed in the war. The strength of the army in the region increased, and manpower used for productivity became diverted for the army.

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    flag of ottoman libya

    For two years, the situation had been ignored in favor of solving the more important questions of the empire, however finally in early 1914, the empire turned its head back to the Libyan Vilayets of the Ottoman Empire. The Vilayet of Tripolitania was the most important and the richest of the Libya vilayets, and it was decided that this region would get the least amount of development. Cyrenaica would receive a good amount of investment from the empire whilst Fezzan would receive the most.

    On February 27th, 1914, the Libyan Development Scheme was unveiled by the Ottoman Government. The LDS was a wide ranging development scheme, and mainly focused on bringing the Libyan Vilayets upto continental Ottoman standards. The slipway and dockyard projects from the NEP was thrust into Libya as well, with the intention of remodeling and remaking the ports of Benghazi and Tripoli to accommodate more ships and to make it capable of building warships in the future as well.

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    the Tripoli railway station built by the Ottomans in 1914.

    Perhaps the most important part of this developmental scheme was the project to construct a railway line connecting Tripoli to Tobruk with Benghazi along the way. A railway line from Sirte would be diverted to the south and become connected with Sabha, the de-facto capital of Ottoman Fezzan in the region. This developmental scheme was aimed at increasing the transportation services of Ottoman North Africa, and in return increasing the productivity of the area. A Hospital Scheme was also introduced by the scheme. During the war, the lack of proper medical services in Libya had been felt and it was time to rectify it. The scheme called for the construction of 5 major new hospital centers in Libya, and some 20 smaller hospitals throughout Libya. Small scale industrial estates were also introduced in the scheme to make sure that industrial productivity in the region could be stimulated. An irrigation system was also proposed in Libya which was approved. An irrigation system was to be built to increase agricultural productivity in the region.” Development of Ottoman Libya: An Economical History. Benghazi Publishing, 1999.

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    Chapter 14: Naval Matters and the Matters of the State
  • Chapter 14: Naval Matters and the Matters of the State

    ***

    “The Ottoman Navy had once been the pride of the Ottoman Empire, once the largest and most ferocious fleet on the entire planet, and in the early 1900s, it was a mere shadow and relic of its former glorious past. However the 1910 Naval Plan seemed to envision a slow but sure naval buildup for the Ottoman Navy, which was envisioned to create a more naval secure environment for the empire, both in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and to some extents in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea as well.

    The Austro-Hungarian Empire and the German Empires had managed to deliver the destroyers that the Ottomans had ordered and the 16 destroyers which were built over a span of three years were all put into service in the Ottoman Navy. Out of the 16 destroyers, six were put into service in the Mediterranean Fleet based in Izmir, whilst four were put into service in the Black Sea fleet, based at Sinope. Three destroyers were put in place at the Adriatic fleet based out of Durres, and the remaining three were put in the Red Sea fleet based out of Jeddah.


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    Naval standard of the Ottoman Empire.

    However the Ottomans were more wanting of the four light cruisers that it had ordered from the British and two dreadnoughts as well. Both of them would go a long way in increasing the naval projection power of the Ottoman Navy. The Ottomans had spent a great deal of money for the ships, and they didn’t wish to see it wasted for nothing. At least the submarines and the destroyers had been built in time.

    The British admiralty contacted the Ottoman Naval Ministry on March 12th, 1914 and told them that the light cruisers were ready and would arrive at Ottoman Harbor within a week at most, whilst the dreadnoughts would still take a few months to be completed and finished. The Ottomans were ecstatic. The warship program of the Ottoman Navy seemed to be coming towards a close, and the Ottoman Naval Ministry turned its eyes on naval logistics.

    The Ottomans were already upgrading their dockyards and slip-yards, however some in the empire called out that the maintenance companies of the shipyards were not up to the task of maintaining such a large amount of ships. In order to get around this problem, the Naval Ministry bought a good amount of maintenance kits from private companies in Greece, Italy and the UK and instead started to reverse engineer them, making suitable maintenance pads for the warships, and these were slowly being dispatched throughout the major ports of the empire.


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    One of the Town Class Light Cruisers built for the Ottoman Navy at Izmir Harbor.

    Two weeks later the four light cruisers built by the British arrived in harbor in Izmir much to great celebration by the populace, who were having fun in the small fair thrown by the government in celebration of the naval ships. The four light cruisers were made based on the Town Class Cruisers, and all of the light cruisers were put into service in the Mediterranean Fleet. The Ottoman Navy alongside the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Navy would be the three navies which would operate the Town Class Cruisers. The basic characteristics of the Town class cruisers were:-
    Displacement: 4,800 to 5,440 long tons
    Length: 453-462 feet.
    Beam: 48-50 feet
    Draught: 14-16 feet
    Installed power: 22,000 – 25,000 horsepower or 16,000 – 19,000 kW, alongside 12 Yarrow boilers.
    Propulsion: 4 shafts, 2 steam turbine sets
    Speed: 25 knots (46 kilometers per hour)
    Range: 4,140 to 5,830 nautical miles
    Complement: 310 – 480
    Armament: Two BL 6-inch (152 mm) Mk XI guns (50 caliber), Ten BL 4-inch (101.6 mm) Mk VII guns, Four QF 3 pounder (47 mm) guns, Two 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes.
    Armor: Deck: 19 to 51 mm
    Conning Tower: 102 mm
    Gun Shields: 102 mm

    These light cruisers were fast, and more importantly for the ottomans, modern. For if the Ottomans truly wished to have a large navy on numbers only, then the Ottomans could easily bring out older patrol ships and torpedo boats to fill the navy numbers (the stored older torpedo boats were kept in reserve for times of war). This would be the beginning of a new era for the Ottoman Navy, for both the naval ministry and the government was finally starting to take the navy as an important facet of the state once again after five decades.” The Ottoman Navy: An Illustrious and Bumpy History, 2001.

    “The Zia government was supported in Persia by the elite Persian Cossack Brigades, all of whom were veterans of tribal wars in Persia, and since they had sworn personal loyalty to Prince Abdul-Hussein Farman Farma Qajar, who had been proclaimed Shah by Zia, they supported the Zia government as well. This led to a massive gaping hole in the Qajar loyalist military, and the government was forced to plug this gap with conscription service in the Persian population, which did not exactly endear the loyalist government to the population.


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    The Persian Cossack Brigade at attention in 1912.

    A few revolutionary uprisings in Qoms and Isfahan had been put down by the loyalist gendarmerie already and the situation was turning pretty bad for the loyalists. Shah Ahmad did not make things any better. He was a child, a teenager and like many teenagers, knew nothing of the conduct of war in the modern era, yet he tried to interdict in the decision making process, and tried to give war time orders, which the regent was forced to annul time and again. However the regent could not be present everywhere, and could not hear of the Shah’s antics every time. And such a time came at a most un-opportune moment. On March 17th, 1914 Shah Ahmad, noticing the absence of his uncle, the regent, who had gone to Mazaradan to gather supporters there, ordered the military to encircle the pockets of Zia’s supporters in the Persian north and to eradicate them. The military who swore allegiance to Shah Ahmad protested however Shah Ahmad insisted on the move much to their dismay and to conduct the northern offensive, the Qajar military had to strip the southern front, where the Zia’s forces were most strong and send them north.

    The Zia government immediately felt the absence of the enemy troops at the front, and ordered Reza Pahlavi, the overall commander of the Persian Cossack Brigades of the region to probe north and move as far north as possible without meeting serious resistance. Reza Pahlavi acquiesced and moved north, slowly but surely. He defeated isolated garrisons, and was only drawn into major combat in the Battle of Sirjan. The 8,000 Persian Cossacks stood their ground against the loyalist militias and tribal bands as they attacked headlong into Reza Pahlavi’s small army.


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    Reza Pahlavi, one of Qajar Persia's most successful Prime Ministers in the future.

    Pahlavi defeated the attack and moved north and managed to group up with one of the many pockets of Zia’s supporters in the north, based in and around of Bam and Kerman, dealing a hefty blow to the loyalist regime. The loyalist regime did have successes however. In the north, in Iranian Azerbaijan, the small pocket of Zia’s supporters based in Ardabil were surrounded by loyalist military and were crushed at the Battle of Davil. After the Battle of Davil, the Qajar loyalists entered Ardabil and took the city without a real fight, even though some Zia militias did wreak the place a bit in their small bid for resistance.

    This action in the north was hampered and dampened by the effects of what was going on in the south unfortunately. The Zia government had given command to General Ahmad Nakhjavan to invade and capture Qajar Balochistan which was under the firm control of the Loyalists. Nakhjkavan invaded Balochistan with some 6000 troops and managed to defeat the tribal guerillas sent at him by the loyalists and eventually reached the port city of Chabahar in early April, defeating the loyalists in open battle, forcing the loyalists to take up arms in a guerilla war against the Zia government in the tribal regions of Balochistan.

    This, however was a fool’s approach. The British government was secretly supporting the Zia government and the Persian Baloch region was right next to British Balochistan, then a part of the British Raj. Weapons flowed from the British Raj into the Zia government’s hands now, and a few Baloch tribes were allowed by the British government to cross the border from British Balochistan into Persian Balochistan to deal with the Balochi tribes who were allied with the Qajar loyalists. [1]

    The Zia government then turned to securing a broad amount of support in the country. Under the loyalist regime, minorities of the Sunni Muslim community, the minority Arabic community in Khuzestan, as well as the Armenian, Assyrian and Zoroastrian communities had been oppressed and suppressed. The Zia government let out a declaration from Bandar Abbas declaring the government of the Persian Dissidents led by Zia to be free for all Iranians, regardless of their ethnicity and religion, adopting semi-secularism as one of their ideologies. This immediately had a ripple effect on the Persian nation. Armenian, Assyrian and Zoroastrian guerilla groups and militia groups which were active in Iran defected over to the Zia government (most of them anyway), and the Sheikh of Arabistan, Sheikh Jabir declared his support for the Zia government.


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    Sheikh Jabir of Arabistan

    The Emirate of Arabistan, which was a semi-independent polity within the framework of the Persian Empires ever since the Safavid Empire, was a strong subsidiary kingdom, and with the defection of Sheikh Jabir, the Qajar loyalists lost all connection to the Persian Gulf. The British troops in Khuzestan watched impassively as the Zia government raised the new reformist Qajar flag in the province, remaining true to their armed neutrality in the conflict.” The Qajar Civil War: How the Modern Middle East Was Shaped. University of Qoms, 1998.

    “The completion of the Hejaz railway on April 7th, 1914 was a good omen for the Ottoman Empire, as many believed that it heralded a new era of infrastructural development in the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans were all the more happy to see their country being brought up to par with the rest of the world.

    The Hejaz railway was opened by Sultan Mehmed V the next day personally in a royal ceremony in which he invited Hajj visitors to go to Hejaz using the railway service to the region to make their journey more comfortable and easier. The railway would become one of the most used railways in the Ottoman Empire, and still remains as such till this day as well.

    The completion of one project that the Ottomans had been gunning for years opened the platform for the government to look into other matters of the state regarding infrastructure as well. The Libyan railway construction was going on perfectly, however the Ottoman government was more concerned with the rural Anatolian inlands, which were very sparsely populated, and very rural and backwards in comparison to the coastal lands of Anatolia, which were developed. The only real city that stood out in development in the Anatolian interior was Angora, and sometimes Van. Angora and Van already had railways connecting each other, and to the main Ottoman rail service, however a proper railway system had not been designed for the other isolated places in the interior, and as transportation and connectivity had been one of the major topics on which Ali Kemal and the Liberal Union had run their entire platform on during the elections, the government turned their attention to the transportation sector of the interior as well.


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    The Hejaz Railway

    It was decided that a new railway line would be opened through Sivas to Angora, which would then be connected all the way to Erzincan and finally towards Erzurum. Then the railroad from Erzurum would be connected to Trabzon as well, creating a ring of railroads in the interior of Anatolia, so to speak. The bill presenting this was passed in the Chamber of Deputies, and soon ratified in the Senate and construction began in the empire soon enough.” A History of the Ottoman Railway System, University of Angora, 2008.

    “Lake Bardawil in the Sinai Peninsula is a very large saline lagoon nearby the forested area of Zaranik. The lake is about 30 kilometers long and around 14 kilometers wide. It is considered to be one of the three great lakes of the Sinai alongside the Great Bitter Lake and the Little Bitter Lake. It is shallow, reaching a depth of around three meters at most, and is separated from the Mediterranean Sea by a narrow sandbar. Its fertile coasts and calm temperate made it the best place for the Zionists to settle down according to the Egyptian government and the Zionist Congress.


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    modern day New Tiberias.

    Khedive Abbas II gave his permission to start the construction of a city in the region near Zaranik, and the town was to be named New Tiberias by the Zionist Congress. As the small town expanded, the newly constructed port of New Tiberias received around 50 new Jewish families, mainly from Britain and France to live in their new home. New Tiberias would grow on to become the capital of Zionist Sinai, and would become a sprawling metropolitan area in the future.” A History of Jewish Sinai

    “The tensions between the Ottoman Empire and the Serbian Kingdom over the Black Hand and the attempted assassination of Sultan Mehmed V had started to reach boiling point with one another. The Ottomans were becoming increasingly angry that they were finding more and more Black Hand members in Ottoman Serbia and Ottoman Macedonia, and were lambasting the Serbs to actually work on their promise of suppressing the Black Hand society.

    The Black Hands were not taking the situation sitting down either. The execution of Ljuba Cupa, who was a hero and martyr in the eyes of the Black Hand, had galvanized and radicalized them even further, and several terrorist attacks had taken place in Ottoman Serbia against Ottoman rule. The Ottomans responded by using anti-terrorist civilian measures. They had learned their lesson from the 1903 IMRO uprising in Macedonia and instead of using the army, used the civilian gendarmerie to take care of the terrorists and civilian anti-terrorist measures were successful on many lengths to calm the Ottoman population down and to eradicate Black Hand influence in the Ottoman Balkans.

    Thankfully the Black Hand wasn’t fighting against the Ottomans only, and they soon turned their attention towards the Serbian government, who had started to slowly suppress the secret society in order to stave off war with the Ottomans for which they were not prepared for. The Black Hand believed that the Serbian government led by Nikola Pasic had betrayed the Serbian and Yugoslav cause and blamed Pasic for ‘appeasing’ Constantinople and betraying the Pan-Slavic cause as well.

    It certainly didn’t seem to them that the Ottoman Serbian population were becoming more and more pro-Ottoman due to the terror attacks conducted by them, and that the Serbian government did not wish for war. Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary aptly described the Black Hand when he called them ‘raving and spoilt children throwing a tantrum for not getting what they wanted’.


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    Nikola Pasic

    Nonetheless, this did not mean that the Black Hand were weak and not dangerous. They further solidified their reputation and infamy when they assassinated Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pasic on the 10th of April, 1914 for ‘betraying’ them.

    Pasic had a habit of sitting on one of the many parks near the Danube river in Belgrade during calm evenings, and the Black Hand took advantage of this and assassinated the man when he was taking a calm rest near the Danube. The Serbian government themselves, now facing the brunt of the Black Hand attack were horrified by the assassination.


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    Aleksa Aca Stanojević

    Much to the distaste of the Black Hand and many radical serbs, Aca Stanojevic, a moderate member of the People’s Radical Party succeeded Nikola Pasic as Prime Minister of Serbia. Stanojevic had never liked the Black Hand and their overbearing influence in the government, and whilst he was a supporter of Yugoslav ideals, he didn’t wish it to come through with overbearing force of arms and instead intended to use democratic ideals for it. After receiving royal mandate from King Peter I, he assumed the premiership and started to mend ties with the Ottomans a little bit, to at least come to neutral terms, though he did not break off the alliance with the Bulgarians. And this time, he actively suppressed the Black Hand, fulfilling the promise of the Serbian government. The Black Hand was forced to go further into hiding in the European continent.” The Black Hand: Born in Infamy. Salzburg Publishing, Archduchy of Austria.

    “In light of the growing tensions on the continent, and between the Balkan powers as well, the Ottomans knew that their rearmament process would have to be sped up. They increased the funding of the military, and former commanders and reservist officers were recalled back into the military as well. Generals such as Mustafa Kemal Pasha were sent to service in the Balkans, and most famously, Mustafa Kemal Pasha was given command of the forces guarding and garrisoning the Rhodope Mountain defenses, which were only half or partially complete when he took up command in the region.

    Such appointments were made all throughout the empire and for great effect. Military exercises under the careful watch of the government took place all throughout the country to better the standards of the army and its quality, and lessons learned from the Italo-Ottoman War were being reviewed once again as well. Defensive tactics to play on the defense in the Balkans until the Asian armies could reinforce the Balkans were being drafted and the Ottoman Military Academies received new academic charters as well.

    The Ottoman government was praying to the high heavens that war could be avoided, however they were not fools either. The assassination of Nikola Pasic had inflamed tensions on the continent once again, and ultra-nationalism at its heart was making decision makers in Europe make rash decisions. The Ottomans knew, that as a great power they could only watch from the sidelines for a small amount of time before being dragged in from one side.

    When the war did start, their enemies would be caught off guard by the new Ottoman military pointing their guns at them.” A History of Ottoman Rearmament: The Great War.

    “The Ottoman Public Debt Administration and the countries represented in the OPDA during the early months of 1914 were becoming quickly anxious as they looked over the statistics and numbers all over again, reviewing the statistics once again out of fear and confusion. The Ottomans had never liked the OPDA, and after their economic growth rate had increased from the 1908 revolution, the Ministry of Finance had made it a number one priority to pay their debts off as fast as they could to get rid of the economic capitulations the empire owed to France, Britain, Germany, Austria-Hungary, Italy and the Netherlands. The amount of debt that the Ottomans owed to Italy had been drastically reduced during the Italo-Ottoman War as the Ottomans had defaulted on their debt partially, and on April 15, to much celebration, the Italian government withdrew their delegation from the OPDA declaring the Ottoman capitulations to Italy over, as the Ottomans finally managed to pay the Italians to their full extent. The Netherlands was quickly becoming worried as they had absolved the Ottoman government of some debt during the Aceh crisis for their aid, and now it looked like the Ottomans were paying the Dutch as fast as they could. By the end of 1914, the Ottomans were well in position to have paid the Dutch off as well.


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    The OPDA building in Constantinople.

    It was predicted that the Ottomans could pay the Austrians off by mid-1915 to late 1915 and the Germans off by 1917. After that it was predicted that the Ottomans could pay the British by 1918 and finally the French by 1920. A small meeting between the diplomats of these countries took place in Holland and it was agreed that after the payments were fulfilled, the Ottoman Public Debt Administration would be annulled and shut down. The Ottomans would complete their payments by 1921 and the OPDA would be shut down forever after that, much to the respite of the Ottoman Empire.” A History of the OPDA, University of the Hague, Netherlands, 1999.

    ***

    [1] - Balochi tribesmen loved killing each other, tribal feuds in a tribal society
     
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    Chapter 15: Naval Resurgence, and Armored Pride
  • Chapter 15: Naval Resurgence, and Armored Pride

    ***

    “After the acquisition of the four light cruisers for the Ottoman Navy, the tow dreadnoughts were the only real warships left for the Ottoman Navy to acquire to end the warship portion of their 1910 Naval Program. After that the program highlighted a number of logistical operations that would take place under the authority of the Naval Ministry. Ottoman Naval Minister Ciballi Mehmed Bey was proud to announce in early June that the dreadnoughts that had been ordered from Britain were ready to be sent to the Ottoman Empire, to which there was a feeling of elation.

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    a portrait of Cibali Mehmed Bey

    Many in the Ottoman Empire believed that the Ottomans had been invaded and attacked by the Italians due to the degraded state of the Ottoman Navy before the 1911 war, and as such saw the return to having a formidable navy as a good breather for the navy as well. Mehmed Bey himself enthusiastically ordered the preparations for the commissioning ceremony as the two dreadnoughts left Bristol harbor en route to the Ottoman Empire.

    A week later the two dreadnoughts arrived in Constantinople, and the people looked at the new two flagships of the navy with unhidden pride and feelings of joy, for it truly symbolized the return to having an Ottoman Navy which would be a formidable power in of itself. Truthfully, the Ottoman Navy at this point in time was a modern coastal defense force more than anything, however unlike the previous two or more decades, it was modern, which made all the difference in the minds of the admirals and policy makers in the Sublime Porte.

    The two Dreadnought Battleships were based on the British Orion Class Dreadnought Battleships, and had been installed with all that the Italian money could equip them with. This is because the two dreadnoughts were bought with the Italian war reparations and the Italian debt that had been defaulted by the Ottomans during the Italo-Ottoman War in 1911-12. To many it was an irony as Italian money was being used to further and build up the Ottoman Navy. The first of the dreadnoughts was named Yavuz Selim and the second one was named Sultan Osmaniye and both were commissioned into the Ottoman Mediterranean Fleet, adding a new dimension to the Ottoman Navy. The basic features and characteristics of these two dreadnoughts in service of the Ottomans were:-

    Displacement: 21,922 long tons (22,274 tons)
    Length: 581 feet (177.1 meters)
    Beam: 88 feet (27 meters)
    Draught: 31 feet (9.5 meters)
    Installed power: 27,000 installed horsepower, and 18 water tube boilers
    Propulsion: 4 shafts and 2 steam turbine sets
    Speed: 21 knots (39 kilometers/hour or 24 miles/hour)
    Range: 6,730 nautical miles or 12,460 kilometers at 10 knots speed
    Complement: 738 – 1,107 men
    Armament: 5 x twin 13.5 inch (343 mm) guns
    16 x single 4 inch (102 mm) guns
    3 x 21 inch (533 mm) Torpedo tubes
    Armor: Belt: 12 inch (305 mm)
    Deck: 4 inch (102 mm)
    Turrets: 11 inch (280 mm)
    Barbettes: 10 inch (254 mm)
    Bulkheads: 6 and 10 inches (152 and 254 mm)
    Conning Tower: 11 inch (280 mm)

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    The Sultan Osmaniye during sea training in 1915.

    The ships represented a new era for the Ottoman Navy and the crews of the new ships boarded their new ship for the first time on June 9th, 1914 amidst roaring crowds in Constantinople.” The Ottoman Navy, NavalEncyclopedia.net

    “As a part of the New Economic Plan made by Grand Vizier Ali Kemal and Ottoman Minister of Finance Mizanci Murat were ambitious, of that there is no doubt. As the Ottoman Navy received a lot of attention in the year of 1914, let us delve into the New Economic Plan’s naval portion, for the port facilities and the port development that the NEP conducted throughout the Empire created valuable income for the Ottoman Empire in its own right in the future.

    The NEP recognized five ports in the Ottoman Empire that could be used to further encourage commercialization, and industrialization within the empire, and these were deemed to be the ports of Smyrna, Salonika, Sinope, Mersin, and Jeddah.

    The NEP in regards to the port of Smyrna wished to make Smyrna the premier port city of the Ottoman Empire. In order to do this the empire had to tackle the problem of congestion and overcrowding in the port of Smyrna, which while important for the empire, had been left to its own devices in the past, becoming horribly small and inefficient and lacking in many modern supplies as well. In order to combat this, the NEP called for the expansion of the port facilities and new dockyards and slipyards were being constructed in Smyrna to offset the congestion in the area. The extra port facilities would allow more trade to take place in the port, which would in return aid the economy of the empire. After the expansion took place, the port of Smyrna experienced a commercial increase of 12%, making the money spent on expansion well worth it.

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    Smyrna port circa 1910s.

    The port of Salonika was large, and important for the empire as well. However engineers pointed out that the port was insufficiently dredged up, and extra dreading would have to take place. Architects and civilian engineers also found storage problems in Salonika, and as a result, the NEP report called for the construction of new storage facilities in Salonika as well, alongside the dredging works of the port. Salonika’s economic fruits were less immersive and much less than the benefits the expansion of Smyrna produced. In of itself, the dreading and the expansion of port storage facilities saved around 4% of the budget of the port, as the port had been going into deficit at times before the dredging and expansion of port facilities. The port in Sinope, which was perhaps the most important Ottoman port in the Black Sea, (Trabzon is arguable in this regards), too had a similar fate like that of Salonika. The port slipways were upgraded, a few were added, and the port facilities of the port, including its storage facility was expanded to become more encompassing and allowing greater amount of storage.

    The port in Mersin was an important port for the Ottoman Empire however it had an unsecure anchorage, and several independent companies of the empire such as Royal Constantinople Dockyards, and Imperial Smyrna Standards were contracted by the government to construct a secure anchorage in the port of Mersin, which after construction allowed more heavy goods to pour into the port. This was especially crucial economically as now heavy goods no longer had to be transported to Smyrna from where they could be transported to the rest of the empire through rail. Now the heavy goods could go directly to Mersin, saving a good amount of transportation money and cost. The expansion of the port of Jeddah was straightforward. Jeddah’s port was not up to the Empire’s standards, and the port was simply built up to normal standards so that larger amount of trade could take place from the port.

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    the construction of the Port of Basra started in 1914 and ended in 1916.

    The NEP also called for the construction of a new port on the Persian Gulf, to allow the Ottoman Empire to expand its maritime resources, especially in the hotly contested Persian Gulf. The perfect area for a new port was deemed to be the city of Basra. The Port of Basra began construction in 1914 and would become the main commercial port of the Ottoman Empire on the Persian Gulf.

    As a result of the NEP, the overall trading power of the Ottoman Empire was augmented by their investment and development into their port facilities and general port development.” An Economic History of Ottoman Economics, 1988.

    “The Qajar Civil War continued to rage on in Persia even after Sheikh Jabir switched sides and declared Arabistan for the Zia government, calling in his own formidable army of 8,000 men to fight for the Zia government based at Bandar Abbas. However the Zia government were in for a small shock as they tried to push north. Reza Pahlavi tried to move north, and attacked a Qajar loyalist contingent at the Battle of Kerman, and managed to take the city, however with massive difficulties. Pahlavi reported back to the government that the troops were better trained, and the weapons used by the troops at Kerman were more modern as well, worrying the Zia government to no ends.

    The British government, who was supporting the Zia government was also worried by these reports and started to send its infamous spy networks into the Qajar loyalist domain to find out how the new loyalist troops were fighting with more coherence than before. British spies sprawled around in Tehran and Qoms, in Ardabil and Isfahan before they found out and reported back to the British government, who in return handed the information to the Zia government. The Russians had been supplying the loyalists with modern weapons, and had sent advisors to Tehran to conduct the strategy of the ongoing conflict as well. The British government in retaliation, allocated around 10,000 modern rifles, and their associated ammunition to be sent to the Zia government, and also handed over some 20 bonds to Bandar Abbas to shore up the economic and military situation of the Zia government.

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    Russian Imperial Troops in Iran.

    The Ottomans during this situation played on both sides. It was decided that around 8,000 modern rifles and their associated material and ammunition would be sent to Tehran as a form of ‘aid’ whilst a clique of capable generals from the Ottoman Empire were sent to Bandar Abbas to become advisors and military supervisors as well. This played well into the Ottoman strategy of playing both sides of the Qajar Civil War, and the Ottoman aid to both sides would be very consequential. The Ottomans would provide a lot of aid to both sides throughout the duration of the war, providing invaluable aid.” Factions of the Qajar Civil War, Imperial University of Qoms, 2007.

    “In early to mid 1914, the Ottoman Empire was starting to find a problem in its mainland provinces. Its economic progress was being dampened by the nomadic culture of many Bedouin and Kurdish tribes in Mesopotamia and Syria. These nomads accepted no other authority other than the religious temporal authority of the caliph. This meant that they didn’t accept the governmental central administration of Constantinople. Unlike the Bedouins of Libya who were kind people who didn’t commit much crimes, the Bedouins and Kurdish nomads of the empire were notorious for their many raids and the trail of destruction they left behind in their wake within the empire.

    The Armenians, and the Mashrique Iraqis were already petitioning the Ottoman government to do something about the constant raids the Kurdish nomads were conducting against the urban towns and villages. The Ottoman government had long turned a blind eye to the antics of these nomads not wishing to attack them, however events forced the hand of the Ottoman Empire when Bedouin nomads attacked Hajj pilgrims on their way to Hejaz. The riches of the pilgrims were stolen and looted by the Bedouin nomads, and these complaints reached the personal desk of the Sultan himself.

    On June 15th, the government ordered the gendarmerie of the Syria Vilayet and the Kurdish Vilayets to begin policing measures and to conduct anti-nomadic attacks against rogue nomadic tribes amongst the Bedouins and the Kurds. A peaceful solution was wanted by the government and the people however the stubborn tribes refused to give up their looting and attacking ways, forcing the hand of the government.

    Anti-nomadic raids took place in Syria and Ottoman Kurdistan, forcing the nomads to settle down in the cities, and in order to subconsciously make the nomads settle down in the cities, and urbanize themselves, the Ottomans began providing more economic incentives to settle down in the cities and towns. This was partially successful as a good many tribes settled down permanently in urban centers, however a good amount still stayed with their nomadic ways and opposed the centralizing influence of Constantinople, calling it against Islam. Of course this isn’t true, however these nomads clutched every excuse they could find.

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    A bedouin nomad in Syria during the Looting War.

    Truth be told, many in the Ottoman government had not wished to use force of arms to get rid of nomadism, however the looting and thieving ways of the nomads had made domestic and civilian tensions rise exponentially in the empire, and the empire had to respond properly.

    As such for the rest of the decade, a low level guerilla war commenced between the Kurdish and Bedouin tribes and the central authority of Constantinople. In the end, the central authority of the Ottoman Empire would be successful, but not before around 458 Ottoman civilian gendarmerie troopers and 2000 Bedouins and 2100 Kurds lost their lives in what became known as the ‘Looting War’. The name is derived from the fact that the Ottomans triggered the small conflict based on nomadic looting and the nomads believed that the ottomans ‘looted’ their culture.” The Looting War: An Enigma of Positives and Negatives. Osprey Publishing, 1997.

    “Samos was an island in the Ottoman Aegean that contributed 1 deputy to the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies. It was an autonomous region of the empire called the Principality of Samos. Samos always had an autonomous and independent thought and behavior, and had joined the Greeks during the Greek War of Independence, however being so close to Ottoman Anatolia, the rebellion in Samos had been crushed. Nonetheless, the sultan of the time, Mahmud II did not wish to have new concerns in the Aegean and granted Samos extra autonomy becoming a semi-independent principality. The title of ‘Prince of Samos’ was made for the principality and a clause was made to make the Prince a native of Samos. This manner of conducting day to day administration with autonomy was well-liked by the inhabitants of Samos, and many constitutionalists during the 1908 revolution had been from Samos as well. The 1908 revolutionaries re-affirmed the autonomy of Samos, and as such the people of Samos were more than content with the status quo.

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    flag of the principality of Samos.

    However in 1908, one Andreas Kopasis was made the Prince of Samos. Though Kopasis himself was from Samos, and was a native greek by his tongue, he was an ardent member of many Turkish nationalist brotherhoods, and imposed tyrannical laws and policies intent on turkifying the island of Samos. He used brutal methods to meet the end goals of turkification and ethnic riots and massacres became common place on the island under his rule. Finally both the Ottoman Parliament and the Samos Parliament could not bear to watch the carnage unfolding in front of their eyes and the ottoman parliament sent a group of delegates to ask the Samos parliament to draw up a vote of no confidence. The vote of no confidence passed with an overwhelming majority of 67-13 out of the 80 seat Samos parliament and Kopasis was then with the authority of the Sultan, who was the head of state of Samos, and the authority of the Samos parliament, which was the governing body of Samos fired from his position as Prince of Samos.

    1613118233577.png

    Andreas Kopasis.

    Before a new Prince of Samos could be appointed however, the parliament of Samos opened a new dialogue with the central government. They wished to make the position of Prince of Samos an elected position after which the sultan would ceremonially ‘appoint’ him. Sultan Mehmed V was surprisingly a supporter of the bill and asked the government to take the reform and make it a part of the Samos Charter. Ali Kemal, who was more than happy with more reforms acquiesced and the reform bill was accepted by the Ottoman government, and the Samos Charter was amended to make the position of Prince of Samos an elected position.

    The by-elections for the position took place for the first time on June 27th, 1914 and an independent Grigorios Vegleris who represented the moderate faction of the island (wishing to retain the status quo) was elected to become the Prince of Samos.” Samos: The Peculiar Principality, Samos Publishing, 1997.

    “The Ottoman Empire was once a hotspot for scientists and innovators. However as the empire turned into the Sick Man of Europe, innovation started to become extremely rare in the empire. However as the empire began to recover in the early 1910s, the tradition of innovation was starting to make a small comeback. The production of locally designed warplanes was proof for this.

    During the Italo-Ottoman War, the Italians had used a small amount of armored cars which had been used in deadly effect by Italian generals. Thankfully for the Ottomans, armored cars had not been brought by the Italians in large amounts into Libya and the Ottomans defeated these new items of war using sheer numbers most of the time. However the Ottomans hadn’t forgotten these new weapons. And instead as the small military industries of the empire grew, the engineers turned their attention to make their own armored car designs.

    Ottoman engineers on June 12, 1914 handed the Ministry of War a design scheme of a new armored car alongside its prototype which the engineers believed was possible to built in Ottoman industries. Mehmed Shevket Pasha had wanted an armored car corps in the army and seized this opportunity for the army and accepted the proposal, and a first batch of around 5 armored cars could be built by the end of august.

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    The Duvar.

    This armored car was named Duvar or wall by the Ottomans, an appropriate name indeed. It was based on the Austro-Daimler armored car, and a four wheel drive armored vehicle equipped with a 360 degree rotatable turret. It consisted of a crew of 4 to 5 men, and its overall length was 4.86 meters whilst its width was 1.76 meters. Its height was 2.74 meters and its total dimensions weighed around 2.5 tons. It’s armor was 4 mm thick and its main armament was a 7.92 mm machine gun arranged on rotating turret. It was equipped with a 4 cylinder engine with 40 horsepower and a 4.4 litre engine. It had a top speed of 45 kilometers per hour and could provide a range of 250 kilometers at 20 kilometers per hour.

    Imperial maneuvers in the army were ordered for the Duvar and were planned to begin in early September.” A History of the Ottoman War Machine, University of Salonika, 2009.

    “The position of mayor of Constantinople which was established in 1910 was an important political position within the empire, and had earned the nickname, Mayor of Mayors, and for a good reason. It was here that the main bodies of the government of the empire could be found and it would come under the administrative jurisdiction of the mayor. As such the 1914 Mayoral Elections in Constantinople which was held on May 14, 1914 was contested heavily between the political parties of the empire.

    The Committee of Union and Progress and the Ottoman Democratic Party’s delegations were eliminated in the first preliminary elections pretty early on, and much to the surprise of many, the socialist candidate, Baha Tevfik managed to gain the nomination of the mayoral constituency of Constantinople. He would be competing against Aristidi Pasha, the incumbent mayor of Constantinople and a member of the Liberal Union.

    Tevfik ran his platform and campaign for the mayoral position based on the growing economic development of the empire. Tevfik pointed out that whilst the rest of the empire was going through unprecedented economic reform and progress, the capital city itself lagged behind, and had not seen any real reform other than the maintenance of the current status quo economically. He also appealed to the merchant class of the capital by pointing out that the growing port development in Smyrna, Sinope and Salonika together would be capable of overshadowing the commercial importance of Constantinople’s own port facilities. As a socialist (monarchist socialist he may be, however he was still a socialist) he also ran on a platform on reducing wealth inequality which was growing under the growing economic industrialization of the capital.

    The incumbent, Aristidi Pasha ran his platform on the anti-corruption measures he had taken as Mayor of Constantinople. He had launched massive anti-corruption raids and programs and had made the bureaucracy of the city much more efficient and more economically wise. He also pointed out that socialists were normally agnostics and atheists and used this to smear Tevfik’s reputation amongst the religious muslim community of the city. Tevfik for his part rebutted this by publically going to the mosque and praying in it. Aristidi Pasha also ran his campaign on a basis and ideology of stability believing that long term office holders provided stability to the position they were looking after and this appealed to many moderate voters in the city who wished to keep the status quo.

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    Finally on May 31st, the results of the election were released and it was found that Tevfik had won 331,982 votes whilst Aristidi Pasha won 275,529 votes. All in all Tevfik had won 55% of the votes whilst Aristidi Pasha won 45% of the votes of the electorate. Pasha stepped down as mayor of Constantinople and Tevfik became the new mayor in a ceremony held on June 15th, 1914.

    This was a major victory for the Socialist party which had managed to finally gain a representation in the mayoral committees of the nation, and fortunately for them, they managed to gain it in the most important mayoral constituency in the nation. This would simply be the first step in a long path to premiership for the Socialist Party within the Ottoman Empire.” The Ottoman Socialist Party: An Illustrious Political History. University of Smyrna, 1998.

    ***
     
    notice #2
  • Sorry if i have not been so active lately. I'm getting married and had to go to nepal for the marriage, and everyone including me are busy for the marriage. The pre-written chapters will be uploaded by the end of the week (hopefully) however after that i cannot guarantee a chapter for sometime. Nonetheless, do not fret, this timeline will continue, and will continue to be updated, just at a slower pace than before.
     
    Chapter 16: Rising Foes
  • Chapter 16: Rising Foes

    ***

    “The Ottoman Empire as it entered the central half of the year of 1914 was becoming acutely aware that Europe was coming onto the brink of war with one another. Elections in France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy was becoming dominated by the question of expansion, colonial expansion and the alliances of Europe. Whilst the Ottoman Empire had pursued a policy of alliance with the British Empire, the Russian objections to the alliance had dashed any hopes of Ottoman alliance with Westminster and the deal was watered down to a non-aggression pact. Germany and Austria-Hungary seemed like good allies as well, however the fact that Italy was a part of the Triple Alliance dashed any hopes for the Ottomans joining them too.

    This feeling of tensions and this oppressive feeling within Europe continued to grow with the assassination of Serbian Prime Minister Nikola Pasic, and the infamous Serbo-Black Hand conflict which saw the Serbian state fight against the ultra-nationalist secret society of the Black Hand. For the first time in centuries, Serbs and Ottomans worked together to attack and arrest members of the Black Hand, which was quite disconcerting, as the Ottomans knew about the Serbian alliance with Bulgaria which was aimed squarely against the Ottoman Empire.

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    The Zaian War took place in the Middle Atlas Mountains.

    However another event was starting to draw Ottoman attention in the Maghreb region. The Zaian War had started. The signing of the Treaty of Fez in 1912 had established a French protectorate in Morocco. The Treaty had been prompted by the Agadir Crisis of 1911 during which French and Spanish troops aided Sultan Abdelhafid to put down anti-colonial revolts. The new French protectorate was led by the resident-general Louis Hubert Lyautey, and adopted the traditional Moroccan way of governing through the tribal system. Upon taking office however the French replaced Sultan Abdelhafid with his brother, Yusuf. The tribes took offence at this and installed their own sultan, Ahmed al-Hiba in Marrakesh and taking 8 europeans (7 were French, 1 was a Swedish journalist) captive. General Charles Mangin acted fast and using 5000 colonial troops, stamped down on this rebellion fast. Al-Hiba fled into the Atlas Mountains where he lived the rest of his life out until his death in 1920.

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    Louis Hubert Lyautey

    A popular idea among the French population of the metropole was to possess an unbroken stretch of territory from Tunis to the Atlantic Ocean including the so called Taza Corridor in the Moroccan interior. Lyautey was in favor of this idea and encouraged expansion through peaceful means where possible. This French expansion into the Middle Atlas Range was strongly opposed by the powerful Bedouin trinity of Mouha ou Hammou Zayani, the leader of the Zaian Confederation, Moha ou Said, the leader of the Ait Ouirra tribe, and Ali Amhaouch, a religious leader of the Darqawa variant of islam prevalent in the Atlas mountains.

    The Zaians has a commanding force of 4000 to 4200 tents and Zayani was an experienced leader, having commanded the Zaians since 1877. Zayani was also personally outraged from the French expansion because his daughter was the second wife of the deposed Moroccan Sultan, and he declared holy war against the French and intensified his tribes attacks on the pro-French tribes of the region and military convoys in the Atlas mountains. Despite the Zaian’s anti-French rhetoric and the French anti-Zaian rhetoric however, both side seemed to ill-want to confront each other directly and largely only attacked the other’s allied tribes. Lyautey in early 1914 tried to propose a peace by making the Zaians a highly autonomous protectorate of France with only foreign policy power in the hands of Paris, however this was dismissed by the Zaians as an offer that Lyautey could not guarantee, as Lyautey did not have the ability or power to finalize such an offer.

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    Zayani, leader of the Zaian Confederacy.

    Soon, in June all-out war between the Zaians and the French broke out as the Zaians and French finally began to attack each other head on multiple pitched battles in the Atlas mountains against each other. As Zayani had declared holy war, the French turned towards the leader of Islam, The Ottoman Caliphate to intervene, lest the restless populace of Algeria, Bornu and Tunisia decided to join such a holy war. The Ottomans had neither forgotten the slight that the French had committed to the Ottomans during the Italo-Ottoman War, nor had they forgotten the French for it, and instead demanded refused to deny Zayani of his declaration of holy war, and however knowing their own precarious position, declared neutrality of the Caliphate in the Zaian War.

    Despite this declaration however, several members of the Ottoman Empire, including prominent Arabian and Bedouin businessmen and merchants smuggled multiple scores of weapons and their associated ammunition to the Zaian Confederacy and sent multiple mercenary supervisors to teach the Zaians on how to fight a modern war. This made the war against the Zaian confederacy all the more harder, and the French would be stuck fighting a colonial war without a real end in the Zaian Confederacy for the next few years to come, proving to be a massive monetary, financial and military drain.” Ottoman Involvement in the Zaian Confederacy, Rabat Publishing, 1999

    “Mustafa Kemal Pasha was in June 18th, 1914 named the Ottoman Military Attaché to Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania, and was given a promotion to Mirliva or Major General in normal military terms. Becoming a general officer of the Ottoman Military and Armed Forces. The man was a household name for his antics and his actions in Libya, and his coordination and the construction of the Rhodope Mountain defenses had earned him a new series of fame as well. On June 28th, the man reached Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria to commit himself to his duties as Military Attaché and became involved in coordinated Ottoman military developments with Bulgarian military developments as well.

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    Stiliyan Kovachev

    While in Bulgaria, he met with Dimitrina Kovacheva, the daughter of famous Bulgarian general Stilliyan Kovachev, who had recently completed her education in Switzerland and during a ball in Sofia, fell in love with her. The two danced at the ball and started to secretly date with one another in the following days. Mustafa Kemal proposed to her twice which she accepted, however Dimitrina’s family refused to accept the marriage, especially her father who was worried about the religious denomination of his daughter if she married into a muslim family and one from the Ottoman Empire at that. Kovachev was also the Minister of Defense of the Tsardom of Bulgaria and had to think of his own political career if his daughter married into the Ottoman Empire’s famous war hero.

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    a picture of Dimitrina and Mustafa Kemal Pasha in the late 1920s.

    Finally it would be in the year 1915, wherein Kovachev finally accepted the third proposal on the condition that Dimitrina would be allowed to practice her faith, Orthodox Christianity freely and would be allowed to speak her native tongue Bulgarian freely as well, and that Mustafa Kemal would not be involved in Bulgarian political shenanigans which may arise from the marriage. A marriage ceremony was held in Salonika where both Islamic and Orthodox rites were observed for the marriage and Dimitrina Kovacheva became Dimitrina, the wife of Mustafa Kemal Pasha. Whilst this marriage would be a happy one, with both sides loving each other intently, the marriage with a foreigner, a bulgarian at that would spell a lot of troubles for Mustafa Kemal during his rise to power in the Ottoman empire.” Mustafa Kemal Pasha: Rise of Glory, Angora Publishing, 2009.

    “The Jewish settlement in the Sinai region, especially in the new city of New Tiberias was going along swimmingly well, however underneath the smiling faces of both the Zionist Congress as well as that of the government of Cairo, tensions were already starting to erupt between the two sides. The Egyptian government was allowing Jewish settlement but that didn’t mean they wanted the Jews to snuff out the Arabians in their full extent within the Sinai and wanted to keep the Zionists as subjects to the Egyptian Khedivate. The Zionists on the other hand wanted no Arabian in their new homeland and certainly wanted no connection to Egypt other than the most flimsy and weak loyalties.

    The very first religious riots took place in early July when the Arab population of the Sinai launched a massive campaign protesting against the encroaching Zionists and pleaded with the Zionists to respect the Arabian population of the peninsula if they wished to settle down in the area. Seeing as the Jews were still very outnumbered in the Sinai, the representatives of the Zionist congress in the region led by Romanian Jewish nationalist Samuel Pinelese agreed and passed some jurisdiction laws that protected both Zionism and Arabs of the peninsula.

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    Zionist Congress

    However these cracks in the surface worried the ottomans who certainly didn’t wish for an unstable border near Transjordan, which was an integral part of the Ottoman Empire, and produced one of the highest revenues of the state. Grand Vizier Ali Kemal called on the Zionist Congress to remember their promise to the Ottoman State of respecting the Islamic population of the peninsula, and added the sweet deal of around 30,000 pounds in investment to New Tiberias to follow through with the promise and the deal, which Pinelese snapped up almost immediately.

    Meanwhile within the Ottoman Empire itself, many Jewish organizations within the empire were starting to distance themselves from the Zionist Congress as tensions slowly rose over the Sinai question and distinguished themselves as Ottoman Jews, and continued to encourage Jewish migration into the empire. Jewish organizations within the empire, with the aid of the political party, Poale Zion met in Beirut, Ottoman Lebanon on July 27th, 1914 and declared the merging of all the organizations into the Ottoman Jewish Front and Organization or the OJFO and declared that the front would be representative organization of all Ottoman Jews, and that the Zionist Congress had no jurisdiction over the OJFO or the Jewish population of the Ottoman Empire. Whilst this act aided the Ottomans domestically as it consolidated the political power of the Jewish population within the empire, diplomatically this event only helped to further tensions with the World Zionist League and forced the Ottomans to withdraw some investments into the Zionist Congress.

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    Ottoman Jews in the Ottoman Armed Forces.

    Whilst the Sinai Crisis would only erupt in the 1940s, the foundations for it were already being laid down during the year of 1914.” How the Sinai Crisis came to be: A History of the Sinai Conflict. Penguin Publishing, 2017.

    “The defection of the Armenians and Assyrians to the Zia government created a massive whole in the defenses of the loyalist Qajar regime and by this point the government was starting to collapse. The loyalist Qajar Dynastic members were defecting to the dissident Qajar Dynasty left, right and center, and the governmental functions of the loyalists was starting to flounder, and the Russians, seeing the writing on the wall was also starting to disengage slowly but surely.

    It was at this time that the Ottoman aid to the loyalists in the form of 10,000 rifles and their associated ammunition arrived to Tehran, to scenes of rapid disillusionment and rapid collapse. The Mullahs of Iran and the reformist conservatives and the reformist islamists were rapidly defecting to Zia and the government was thrown into utter chaos. In order to capitalize on this, Zia ordered Reza Pahlavi to be reinforced with 5,000 troops, and ordered Pahlavi to move towards Isfahan, Qom and Tehran in a daring attack led by 17,000 troops. Pahlavi initially refused, calling the order suicidal and impossible to commit into, however as the defenses of the loyalist regime began to break apart, he found it easy to advance up north, and ordered his Turkmen allies in the north to keep the loyalists busy with raids.

    The Battle of Shahreza was the last major battle of the Persian Civil War as Pahlavi went against the last remnants of the loyalist military. 15,000 dissidents went up against 21,000 loyalists and the battle raged throughout the area. Pahlavi had advanced from the south bypassing the Zagros mountains through Luristan and managed to take the loyalists by surprise and ambushed them during the battle. A portion of his military swung north and reach Bahrestan, managing to encircle around 8,000 of the loyalist troops, and crushed them in an encircling move, forcing the rest of the loyalist militia to flee into the mountains and nearby areas. The city of Isfahan then fell without a fight after the devastating defeat at the Battle of Shahreza. The road to Qom and Tehran was wide open and Pahlavi knew this. As per his instructions from Zia and the government in Bandar Abbas, he led his troops up the deserted path and only found loyalist tribes in their way and managed to defeat the tribes back. A few garrisons were left here and there along the path however they were not a problem for Pahlavi’s massive army (in comparison to the loyalists at least).

    On August 24, 1914, Pahlavi entered Qom after a short scuffle with the city’s garrison and the city was captured in the name of the Shah Abdul-Hussein Farman Farma Qajar, the dissident Shah of Iran. The city’s garrison put up a good fight, however by this point, the city’s people had enough of fighting and supported the dissidents against the loyalist garrison, and the garrison was soon outnumbered, encircled and then massacred. The road to Tehran was right open. Not wishing to see the country’s capital razed to the ground in a battle that would certainly destroy many parts of the city, Shah Abdul-Hussein sent a letter to his cousin, Shah Ahmad, and asked the boy to surrender once and for all, to see to it that peace reigned in the country again and the capital was saved from a disastrous battle.

    Shah Ahmad, despondent from losing Isfahan and Qom agreed, and agreed to peace. The Armistice of Varamin was signed on August 29th, 1914 which ended hostilities after six months of war, and on September 18th, the Treaty of Tehran was signed between the loyalists and dissidents. The major points of the treaty were:-

    • Shah Ahmad to abdicate the Sun Throne and recognize Shah Abdul-Hussein Farman Farma Qajar as the legitimate ruler of Iran.
    • The Constitution of 1914 to be promulgated in the Qajar Dynasty
    • The Loyalist and Dissident Armies to be merged.
    • Loyalist opponents of Zia to be pardoned, but kept in house arrest.
    • Zia to take power as the new Prime Minister of Iran, with legislative elections to take place in December, 1914.
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    Shah Abdul-Hussein Farman Farma Qajar, the New Shah of Iran

    The Persian Civil War was over after six months of brutal fighting and slogging with one another, and the British, Russians and Ottomans retained their spheres of influence over Iran. However the dawn of a truly democratic Iran can also be traced to the Ottomans. Zia, Pahlavi, and many other dissidents working against the autocratic and decadent old Qajar regime were inspired by the new democratic route that the Ottomans had chosen for themselves, and had aspired to emulate that within their own country as well. The announcement of universal male franchise which was a picture perfect copy of the Ottoman male voting franchise was testament to this fact as well.” The Qajar Civil War: A History. Qom Publishing, 1999.

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    “As the Italians turned increasingly radical and belligerent after their defeat to the Ottomans in the Italo-Ottoman War, they were starting to eye up the Empire of Abyssinia once again and was eager to have retribution for their defeat at Adawa. As the Italians were the Ottoman Empire’s main enemy of late, the empire was forced to look towards the Ethiopian Empire and aid them in their struggles against the Italians, as a few border skirmishes broke out in Eritrea and Somalia.

    The monarch of Ethiopia at this time was Lij Iyasu, who was not crowned, but made de-facto monarch of Ethiopia after the death of his grandfather, Menelik II of Ethiopia. Many members of the Ethiopian nobility distrusted Iyasu as his father had been a muslim in a predominantly Christian nation. Iyasu tried to prove himself to the nation by increasing the modernization of the state, however the nobility remained ever so disunited with him. At this point of desperation, Iyasu decided to leave the capital, ostensibly on a military expedition against the Afar peoples, but he simply traveled to the eastern Shewa and into the Wollo, meeting the common people to shore up his public support. He had promised to return to Addis Ababa but instead visited Debre Libanos, and joined Dajazmach Kaddaba’s expedition against the Somali tribes. Here, Iyasu took part in multiple slave raids in which 40,000 peoples of both sexes were enslaved and captured. This action plus his rude behavior with his grandfather’s ministers, who had reformed and modernized the state, plus his wish to appease Italy made him highly unpopular. Finally, Princess Zewditu had enough of the situation.

    Many of Iyasu’s opponents wanted to install her as a puppet monarch and she herself didn’t like Iyasu, but neither did she want to become a puppet monarch of Ethiopia. And neither did she want to appease Italian expansion into Ethiopia either. She secretly contacted the Ottoman legislation in Addis Ababa led by Omar Al-Aziz Pasha, and asked for aid for aid in gaining power in Ethiopia. Omar Pasha relayed the news through telegram to Constantinople where Vlora Bey, the Foreign Minister gave the go ahead for the plan. He sent aid in the manner of money, equipment and weapons to Zewditu and on September 27th, Iyasu was arrested by the Princess’s personal guard which had been equipped with ottoman weapons. She declared Iyasu unfit to rule Ethiopia and demanded him to submit to her authority, basically naming her monarch of Ethiopia. Iyasu resisted, however the weak willed man gave in soon after and three days later named her his heir and successor. The Council of the State, who had never liked Iyasu, and as many of the Councilors were Zewditu’s puppets whom she had bribed through Ottoman money, accepted the change in power, and the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church officially announced the death of Emperor Menelik II and the deposed Iyasu in favor of Zewditu whom they named Empress, and Queen of Kings.

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    Empress Zewditu of Ethiopia.

    However Iyasu managed to escape captivity and managed to use his supporters to conduct a guerilla campaign in the north against the authority of Zewditu in an attempt to regain the throne. Zewditu again turned to her new allies in Constantinople. The Ottomans were more than happy to aid their new Ethiopian friends against Iyasu and using Ottoman support, and supervisors, Iyasu was recaptured, and then put under house arrest in the Ethiopian highlands, far from urban life. Zewditu then signed a treaty of friendship and trade with the Ottomans giving the Ottomans a massive amount of influence in the nation. The Ottoman-Ethiopian relationship was just beginning.” A History of Constantinople’s relation with Addis Ababa, Imperial University of Addis Ababa, 1994.

    ***
     
    Chapter 17: The End of 1914 and the beginning of a Crisis
  • Chapter 17: The End of 1914 and the beginning of a Crisis

    ***

    “The Committee of Union and Progress was undergoing several reforms after Huseyin Hilmi Pasha took the reins of the party after the devastating defeat the CUP had been dealt with in the 1912 Ottoman General Elections. The radical Turkish nationalism ideology that much of the CUP had fallen under was stamped out and Huseyin Hilmi Pasha, himself a Muslim Ottoman Greek, who had origins in Thessaly (his ancestors being one of the multiple muslim Greeks who had been forced out of the new Kingdom of Greece in 1827) and he spoke greek fluently as well. Under his leadership, the CUP began to open up to the other minorities as well, and started to incorporate them into the political apparatus of the political party as well. In a move to suppress Turkish nationalism within the party even further, the man changed the nickname of the party from the ‘Young Turks’ to the ‘Young Ottomans’ in honor of the secret society which had brought the ideology of constitutionalism into the Ottoman Empire in 1876. All of these actions led to the partial recovery of the CUP in the 1913 Senatorial Elections, however the Liberal Union continued to hold greater seats in both legislatures of the government.

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    Ahmet Riza.

    Husyein Hilmi Pasha retired as the leader of the CUP party after the end of the 1913 Senatorial Election, and was instead succeeded by Ahmet Riza, a polymath who had fallen out with the CUP in 1909 over its radical Turkish nationalism. Huseyin Hilmi Pasha and Riza had reconciled with one another, and after his retirement, Riza rose to become the leader of the CUP once again.

    Ahmet Riza proved himself to be an exceptional opposition leader, and he found himself in multiple heated debates with Ali Kemal in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate over policy reform and the nation itself and its forward policy. Ali Kemal for all of his brightness and competence, was just not made for debate in the manner that the polymath and competent Ahmet Riza was. Riza continued to win over multiple deputies with his eloquent, charming and charismatic speeches in the halls of the Chamber of Deputies, often challenging the policies of the Grand Vizier head on.

    Riza was aiming to invoke the 1908 Constitution’s 9th article which laid out the rules for a new snap election to take place. Ali Kemal’s economic policies had been wildly successful, however the man’s own personal image had been broken by his relative’s scandals in the eyes of the public (a sexual affair with a married woman by his brother), and as such Riza knew that utilizing this opportune moment would allow him to win the elections, should one occur.

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    Epicenter of the 1914 Burdur Earthquake.

    Riza got his chance. Though not in a manner he had hoped. On the 4th of October, 1914, a 7 rector scale earthquake of IX (violent) intensity struck southwestern Anatolia, centered around Lake Burdur. In and around the area, around 11,000 people’s lives were directly affected by the earthquake whilst ~1000 people died in the earthquake as well. The earthquake also disrupted the railway construction going on in the area, severely pushing back Ottoman economic developmental plans in the region. In Burdur, nearly 100% of the homes were destroyed along with other significant and historical monuments. Killinc was completely diestroyed, and in Keciborlu, a small village centered around a nucleus of ottoman highways, around 85% of its houses collapsed from the earthquake. In the city of Isparta, it’s great mosque was destroyed alongside its nearby homes. Other villages near the epicenter were largely destroyed as well. The earthquake had taken place along the Fethiye-Burdur fault zone, and would become one of the three earthquakes throughout the 20th century to take place in that faultzone.

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    Earthquake prone fault-zones in Anatolia.

    With multiple areas in southwestern Anatolia coming under heavy subsidence, and massive infrastructural damage continued as an aftermath of the earthquake and its aftershocks, the people turned to the government. Ali Kemal personally led a forward a new stimulus bill aimed at personally involving the government on a one to one basis to relieve the people from the earthquake and rebuild the area. However quite the opposite, Riza proposed a notion of a vote of no confidence against the Ottoman Grand Vizier, citing multiple reasons, including the inability of the Kemal government to effectively respond in time to the earthquake and asked the Chamber of Deputies to confer on this notion. Ali Kemal was blistering mad about the notion, however unfortunately for him, he had made too many enemies to stay at the top anymore. The vote of no confidence against him passed 56% to 44% in the Chamber of Deputies, and Riza, triumphant, cited Article 9 of the Ottoman constitution to call for new snap elections. The government allocated the date of November 12 for the new general elections.” A Political History of Constitutional Ottoman Political History. University of Angora, 2019, 8th Edition.

    “Within the Austro-Hungarian General Staff, a change in power was happening. The older Chief of Staff, Blasius von Schemua was relieved of his post after he tendered his resignation, citing health concerns. However this was merely a coverup. The man had made many political enemies within the state of the Habsburg Empire, and many archdukes now moved against his position, making his life dangerous within the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

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    von Schemua

    He was replaced by Viktor Dankl von Krasnik. Krasnik was born in the then Imperial Austrian Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia. His father was a captain in the army from nearby venice. His secondary education took place in Gorizia where his family relocated after his father’s retirement. In 1874 he graduated from the Theresian Military Academy and was assigned to the 3rd Dragoon regiment as a second lieutenant. After the completion of a secondary education in a war school in Vienna, he became a general staff officer in 1880. For the next few decades, he would rise through the officer ranks, becoming the head of the central office of the Austrian general staff in 1899. In 1903 he became a Major General, and was given command of an infantry brigade in Trieste. In 1912, he was promoted to the title of Lieutenant Field Marshal, and received the command of the 14th Corps in Innsbruck. As such, the man was perfectly qualified to hold the title, Chief of General Staff.

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    Viktor Dankl von Krasnik.

    Von Krasnik soon became involved in upending the one decade old offensive doctrine that former Chief of Staff Conrad Von Hotzendorf and Schemua had made up. Instead, Krasnik decided to opt for a more defensive strategy creating more defensive layouts for the imperial army and increased the regimental columns and their cohesiveness as well, creating a min-reform within the Austro-Hungarian military.” Habsburg Commanders: How Europe Was Shaped, Imperial University of Graz, 1983.

    “For the month preceding the new ottoman general snap elections, the contest between the political parties, as usual, was hot and extremely competitive with one another. The Liberal Union was highly affronted and insulted by the motion of no confidence passing the Chamber of Deputies, and fractured with the Armenakan Armenian regionalist and autonomist party, as many members of the party had supported the no confidence vote, which only served to fracture the political governing coalition led by the Liberal Union. Their only remaining ally, the Ottoman Democratic Party led by Ibrahim Temo wasn’t much better either, as while the parties were aligned and allied with one another, the Democratic Party liked to do its own thing politically, whilst being only loosely aligned or relegated with the Liberal Union. It also didn’t help that the ottoman democratic party itself wished to distance themselves from the multiple scandals surrounding Ali Kemal’s relatives, as such leading to a negative relation between the Ottoman Democratic Party and the Liberal Union, though they remained allies.

    By contrast, the Committee of Union and Progress, the CUP was experiencing a revival of political thought and growth within the empire, as the level headed faction of Ahmet Riza won out in the end within the political struggles of the party. Riza was well liked by the European portion of the empire, even managing to take away a few constituencies in Albania, which was a solidly pro-Ottoman Democratic Party region. Riza toured the country and empire, giving multiple campaign speeches to the people, and used his vast language skills to aid him. When he spoke in front of the Arab population, he spoke in Arab, when he spoke in front of the Greek population, he spoke in Greek, when he spoke in front of the Turkish population, he spoke in Turkish, and so on and so forth, creating an atmosphere of trust for the new leader of the Young Ottomans. The new and revived CUP ran their platform for the elections based on new politics, promising more educational reform, which had been neglected by the Liberal Union and Ali Kemal, as the stagnating literacy rate showed, and also promised to put more direct interest and investment in the outlying states and provinces, mainly Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Epirus and Macedonia, which didn’t get as much attention as it really should have.

    Meanwhile the Socialist Party, led by Huseyin Hilmi also campaigned vigorously, using their stronghold in Trabzon and their governorship within the city of Constantinople to their advantage. The Socialist party managed to win a few constituencies scattered throughout the empire and found their main base of support to be in the urbanized and industrialized cities of the empire, and Huseyin Hilmi managed to win the constituency for his own home leader’s seat in Smyrna, bringing an important electoral constituency under the influence of the Socialist Party.

    The results of the 1914 general elections were:-

    • CUP: 26.7%, or 76 seats won
    • Liberal Union: 25% or 72 seats won
    • Ottoman Democratic Party: 18.3% or 52 seats won
    • Ottoman Socialist Party: 15% or 43 seats won
    • Ottoman Social Democratic Party: 6% or 17 seats won
    • Armenakan Party: 4% or 11 seats won
    • Poale Zion: 2% or 5 seats won
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    The rest of the seats were scattered across various independents representing mostly rural constituencies, which tended to vote for independents more than the urban areas. The election, like so many within the Ottoman Empire, failed to give any one party a majority in parliament, however Ahmet Riza, having been given mandate by the overall majority of the votes going to his party, formed a minority government, led by his own Committee of Union and Progress Party and surprisingly the Ottoman Socialist Party which agreed to join a minority government coalition with the CUP, on the basis that cabinet positions were equally divided between the two parties.

    After the coalition had been declared, Sultan Mehmed V invited Ahmet Riza to form a new government within the Ottoman Empire, and its governmental executive. Ahmet Riza soon made his cabinet. The cabinet of his government was:-

    • Grand Vizier: Ahmet Riza (CUP)
    • Minister of the Interior: Huseyin Hilmi (Socialist Party)
    • Minister of the Navy: Ciballi Mehmed Bey (Independent)
    • Minister of War: Mahmud Shevket Pasha (Independent)
    • Minister of Foreign Affairs: Curuksulu Mahmud Pasha (CUP)
    • Minister of Justice: Refik Nezvat (Socialist Party)
    • Minister of Agriculture: Mehmed Celal Bey (CUP)
    • Minister of Education: Ahmed Sukru Bey (CUP)
    • Minister of Finances, Economics, Industry, and Trade: Avraam Benaroya (Socialist)
    • Minister of Pious Foundations: Avnullah Kazimi (Socialist)
    This government, which would lead the Ottoman empire for the next eight years, would ironically earn the name – the wonder cabinet, for this cabinet comprising of the best policy makers and lawmakers of the empire, would truly deliver a masterpiece to the new slowly rejuvenated Ottoman Empire.” A Political History of the Ottoman Empire in the 20th Century. University of Angora, 1999.

    “The American Economy had always been a fragile thing. Every decade or so, a bank run and panic would take place. The ending months of 1914 was no different. The Panic of 1914-15 is mostly linked with the Panic of 1907 and the Panic of 1911, however the economic depression had its roots almost a century before the economic depression even began.

    In 1836, President Andrew Jackson allowed the charter of the Second Bank of the USA to expire, and the USA was then stuck without a central bank, and the money supply in New York City fluctuated with the country’s annual agricultural and monetary cycle. Each autumn money flowed out of the city as harvests were purchased, and in an effort to attract money, interests rates were raised by money loaners. Foreign investors, mainly from Britain and Germany then sent their money to New York to exploit and take advantage of the higher interest rates, attracted by the new high interest schemes presented by US commercial banks. From January 1906, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a record high of 103 points on the stock market, and the market began a modest correction that would continue throughout the entire year. The April 1906 San Francisco Earthquake which devastated the city, also contributed to the market and monetary instability, prompting even greater flood of money from New York to San Francisco to prompt reconstruction of the destroyed areas of the city. This affected the British economy badly as money invested into British suppliers were diverted to San Francisco so the Bank of England raised its interest rates, partly in response to UK insurance companies paying out so much to US policy holders, and more funds remained in London than what was expected initially. From their peak stock prices in January 1906, stock prices declined by 18% by July, 1906, triggering the panic of 1907.

    The Hepburn Act, which gave the Interstate Commerce Commission or the ICC the power to set a maximum railroad rate, became law in July 1906 as well, this depreciated the value of railroad securities which made the market lose 7.7% of its capitalization as well. The economy had turned volatile as a result of the loss of stocks and the Hepburn Act and a number of other shocks hit the system, the stock of the Union Pacific fell by 50 points, and an offering of New York City bonds failed. The Copper market collapsed, and in August 1906, the Standard Oil Company was fined $29 million for antitrust violations, decreasing investor confidence, leading to further stock market depreciation.

    Even though the economy recovered by the end of 1907, the fact that the USA had to frequently face economic depressions after the civil war; 1873, 1893, 1904 had made the people lose confidence in their own economy. The frequency of economic crisis in the USA, and the severity of the 1907 crisis added to the concern about the outsized role that JP Morgan played within the panic and added to the impetus for reform. Congress son passed the Aldrich-Vreeland Act which established the National Monetary Commission to investigate the panic ad to propose a legislation for banking. Senator Nelson Aldrich (R-RI) went to Europe in 1909 and only returned in late 1911 having learned the continent’s new banking and economic systems in a bid to reform America’s economy on European lines.

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    American newspaper detailing the Federal Reserve Act.

    The National Monetary Commission passed a final report in late 1913, which was then when Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act. President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation immediately, and the legislation was enacted on the same day, December 23, creating the Federal Reserve System. Charles Hamlin became the system’s first chairman and JP Morgan’s deputy Benjamin Strong became the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, with a permanent seat on the Federal Open Market Committee.

    For a normal reader, this backstory may seem unnecessary and quite long and trepid, however for you, an economic student to understand the Panic of 1914, all of this to be understood is essential.

    Whilst the Federal Reserve Act was consequential in bringing a regulatory body to American economics once and for all, America was new to the system of central banking. And as such, it made several mistakes. Former money in the USA being concentrated in local banks became concentrated in the Federal Reserve, and this hampered the ability of the reserve to work properly. The system of creating regional banks was a good one, however too few regional banks were created by the act, and as a country with 48 states, having simply 12 regional banks was simply not enough for such a large state. As monetary accessibility became all the more harder, business started to hurt. The stock index topped in mid-1914 at 111 before suddenly, the extra monetary input led to severe inflation, and the stock market started to contract again. Stocks decreased by more than 27% on December 18th, 1914 and this triggered the panic of 1914.

    The first business’s to collapse, was unfortunately, the Copper industry again. Soon, the after-effects were felt all throughout the USA as the stocks dropped throughout the country. The Federal Reserve made things a little better when it froze money supply into the stocks to freeze inflation, however the damage had already been inflicted on the economy, and suddenly everyone was marching towards Wall Street collect their collateral in a panic and hurry hoping to mitigate the ongoing economic disaster.

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    Americans lining up before Wallstreet during the Depression of 1914-15.

    Quite more disastrously for America, the governments of France, Britain and Germany had enough of the constant economic depressions in America, and instead opted to withdraw their investments in the American banking sector, leading to a sharp decline in the economy as well. The American Great Depression had started.” A History of American Economics; Why the Federal Reserve System Had To Be Reformed. University of Chicago, 2017.

    “The Alsatian Crisis of December 1914 would typify the war that was about to start. Tensions had been rising in Alsace and Lorraine ever since the 1874 German Elections over the neglect and bad behavior that Alsatians and citizens of Lorraine had to commit themselves to from the main German government. It wasn’t only French Alsatians and Lorraine’s that felt the brunt of this discrimination, however German speaking people in the region, making up the vast majority of the population, also felt the sting of discrimination. Alsace Lorraine was conquered territory. So why would it be equal in the eyes of the rest of the country? That was the thought spread in the Prussian Kingdom in the German Empire. It also didn’t help that Alsace Lorraine was a majority catholic area, and the protestant dominated German Empire, certainly didn’t like Catholics too much, which was why Bavaria, Wurttemburg and Baden had powerful autonomist and regionalist political parties as well.

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    Gunther von Forstner

    The first measure of the crisis came when Second Lieutenant Gunter von Forstner, spoke disparagingly of the inhabitants of Alsace Lorraine in Zabern on December 23, 1914 during a troop induction ceremony. He told his soldiers “If you are attacked, then make use of your weapon. If you stab a wackes In the process, you will get ten marks from me” Wackes was a German derogatory word for a native Alsatian (be it French or German speaking). In addition he told his men to act against French agents who had been legally allowed in Alsace Lorraine to recruit members for the French Foreign Legion.

    On December 26, the two local newsppaers, the Elsasser and the Zaberner Anzeiger informed the public about these remarks and orders, and the population exploded in anger. The Alsatians had never liked that they basically lived under military occupation from the 99th Rhenish Division and 87th Rhenish Division, and now the population exploded in protests aginst this treatment by the Prussian Military. The situation turned dangerous, as French nationalist organizations encouraged the protests, and the Governor of Alsace-Lorraine, Karl von Wedel, ordered the commander of the 99th division, Adolf von Reuter, as well as the commanding general of the area, Berthold von Deimling to transfer the second lieutenant to another region of the country.

    In the eyes of the military however, this was inconsistent with the pride and prestige of the German army and instead only lightly reprimanded von Forstner and delaying a potential promotion by a year. Obviously unimpressed by this decision from the military, the population continued to protest. As a further provocation, Fortsner himself showed up in public. The youthful protestors derided, and abused the lieutenant who had made the remarks. Director Mahl of the civil administration was ordered to restore peace in the city, however as Mahl himself was a local Alsatian, and himself angered by the lieutenant’s remarks, did not accept the orders pointing out that the protests had remained peaceful, thus not violating any law.

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    Alsatian armed protestors during the Alsatian Crisis.

    The inaction of the german military and years of boiling tension exploded all over Alsace-Lorraine as on December 30, a huge crowd of Alsatians again assembled before the barracks, which led to a very inappropriate reaction. The military of the barracks, under the threat of force of arms, dispersed the crowd, and arrested over 300 people without any legal basis. Among the prisoners were the president, two judges, and a prosecuting attorney of the Saverne Court, all of whom had been made accidental members of the crowd when exiting the nearby court. Suspiciously, most of the arrested Alsatians were all French speaking Alsatians which inflamed ethnic tensions as well. Twenty six of the arrested people (of whom 19 were ethnic French) were locked in a coal cellar overnight. The editorial rooms of one of the local papers were also checked by the army. A feeling of siege enveloped the city as machine guns were displayed openly by the 99th Division in the streets.

    However this would only be the beginning of the Alsatian Crisis.” How the Great War Came To Be. University of Paris, 1998.

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