To the Victor, Go the Spoils (Redux): A Plausible Central Powers Victory

Wanted to post here quickly to say thanks very much to everyone who voted for this timeline in the turtledove awards. I had expected to be nominated, but really did not expect to actually win... So thanks!

It's very heartening to see that so many people enjoy the timeline, and I look forward to continuing.

In fact, I'd expect the next update to come this week - I just finished polishing the next installation on the post-war Ottomans.
A well deserved win!

Postwar Ottomans is going to be fascinating! Excellent choice for our next destination
nice work.
Hard to see how the Bolsheviks will do without the grain-growing areas of Ukraine or the oil in Baku.
OTL Russia coal needed to be soaked in oil for use in Russian locomotives due to its poor quality.
The war of independence is beginning in Ireland too.
My grandfather and his brother fought in that in co. Longford.
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Hard to see how the Bolsheviks will do without the grain-growing areas of Ukraine or the oil in Baku.
The Bolsheviks might try and support covert coup. Though we have to see how Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, are post-war. I do know that local Georgian Bolsheviks did try and seize a Military School in Tbilisi.
Ukraine's going to have a interesting future, as it was kind of a white Russian Piedmont, well also you know in a horrible civil war with loads of factions before they get expelled/killed by the reds and blacks.

With a lot of Russian nobility intermarried with the German combined with them likely keeping them around as a potential option the civil war is going to be interesting.

I don't mean the whites are going to win because of German support, indeed it's contrary to their aims but the white movement and the people involved in it are going to evolve differently.

Plus it's not all good for them, with a sorta white friendly Ukraine it's likely the white's are going to much less interested in engaging with the Don Cossacks and that partnership while bad was likely what kept the Russian and Ukrainian migrants separate from the Cossacks being expelled.

New circumstances create new feuds and I think that applies very well to this German victory.
How much of the Brest-Litovisk territories are under firm German control? I know that even before the end of the war Germany was withdrawing/did not have control over a lot of the areas.
How much of the Brest-Litovisk territories are under firm German control? I know that even before the end of the war Germany was withdrawing/did not have control over a lot of the areas.
If I would hazard a guess, I would assume it would be the same, maybe some token forces but not that much. Germany is pretty much a spent force that needs a year or two to have some semblance of military power to protect their Brest-Litovisk territories.
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This week
The New Ummah | The Second Arab Conquest (October 1918 - December 1919)
Part 2 Tomorrow.


The New Ummah
The Second Arab Conquest
October 1918 - December 1919

Harvard University, 1997.

“Good morning everyone, welcome back to the ‘Modern History of the Middle East’. We’ll go over our essays at the end of today’s session. As promised last week, this morning we will be focusing on the immediate period after the end of the Great War in Turkey and the Middle East as a whole.

“As you will remember last week, we left off with the November 1918 Treaty of Alexandria between the British and the large part of the Entente on one side, and the Ottoman Government of Talaat Pasha on the other.

“The Treaty was fairly brutal for the Ottoman Turks. You will recall that the British had sought primarily to inflict territorial losses upon the essentially broke Ottoman Government and to seize key physical assets from them for long term economic exploitation. This was mainly focused on the oil fields of Mosul, which prior to the war had been discovered to be a potentially large source of oil - a resource that was much sought after by the British as well as our own Government here in the United States.

“It’s important to remember at this point that oil was a booming commodity. We need not forget the German-Turkish ‘race for Baku’ - well the same worked here. Britain had quickly identified at the start of the war that oil would be the key military commodity of the future, and so now it sought to trap additional sources in Khuzestan, Mosul and the Trucial states. In fact, the British made sure to keep advancing even technically after the Ottomans had thrown in the towel to secure Mosul for that precise reason.

“Britain also had obligations to her Arab allies who had been enlisted largely just to distract Ottoman Turkish forces during the war - but ended up mounting a rather vaillant campaign. Despite some initial difficulties, they drove the Ottoman army out of their homeland in Hejaz, a victory largely achieved using British aircraft, showing the revolutionary effect of those new machines.

“The Arabs, under ‘King of the Arabs’ Hussein bin Ali, had then struck out and by the end of the war, advancing faster and further than the British main force under Allenby - attacking the Ottoman rear guard during their painful retreat towards the Taurus Mountains. When British forces landed at Mersin, that Ottoman force based around Aleppo was then in effect cut off from the middle east, and with that ended the levantine campaign.

“Obviously we know fighting went on for another few weeks as Britain attempted to enter the Anatolian plateau, but this was the heartland of Turkey itself and thus was fiercely defended with favourable terrain by Ottoman forces under Mustafa Kemal, and thus came to nothing.

“Britain then made peace and extracted from the Turks virtually everything south of the 37th parallel. Britain had actually planned to just make this be a long, straight line for a border along the parallel - but in the end a more ‘fine tuned’ border was agreed based largely on geographical features, prior Ottoman administrative boundaries and most importantly, the Baghdad railway which was still not quite finished.

“Britain seized this for one simple reason; ease of access to the Mediterranean. This railway would become a new highway for resource extraction post war through lands in Syria once assigned to the French ‘sphere’ which now had entered British control.

“We should also remind ourselves at this point that the French, having chosen to leave the war thanks mainly to exhaustion and a lack of path forward, in the eyes of the British Foreign Office had surrendered their right to lands in Syria post war.

“Much like the Arabs, Britain had no legal or even public responsibility to provide France with any of Syria after the war and therefore simply chose not to. Instead she would establish a wider British administered zone - demonstrating the problem with back room diplomacy.

“There had also been no specific territorial promises to the Arabs either in their dealings with Britain, though there were several vague commitments. These essentially entailed that there would be a single Arab state south of the 37th parallel, with British involvement in its administration at various levels. Britain would also take Palestine, though the Arabs believed that they would de-jure remain in control of the land, and France would take Lebanon.

“Of course, there was also the often forgotten and controversial Sykes-Picot agreement between the British and French over the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. As you can see on the slide, the Sykes-Picot agreement followed the earlier deals in 1915 with Russian Foreign Minister Sazonov, as well as a later deal with the Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Boselli. These deals essentially carved out colonial sectors of interest to each power, which each would receive in the case of an Ottoman defeat.

“Counterfactual historians love this deal because it’s a classic example of 19th-century imperial conference approaches to modern conflicts that became so rare after the Great war. A great book on such a timeline, for those interested, is ‘A Line in the Sand’ by James Barr - which is worth checking out.

“The plan was so classically British; to ally a local native elite only to stab them in the back and just take all of the land themselves - only this time bringing France, Italy and Russia along too. It also highlights how Russian foreign policy goals were always orientated towards the Bosporus straits - though it is somewhat doubted if Britain would have ever accepted Russian capture of Constantinople. Regardless, I digress.

“It was clear all along, and with the outcome of the Middle East's division too, that the British never truly intended to keep their word to Hussein and the Arabs. Of course, we will never truly know how much they intended to, if you mind my language, ‘screw over’ the Arabs - for France would ultimately give in to Germany.

“Russia too fell to the Bolsheviks, who promptly published the entire Sykes-Picot agreement to the international press - outraging the Arabs, and greatly embarrassing Whitehall. Britain meanwhile, furious over France’s refusal to continue the fight, simply reneged on the deal.

“This was more of an angry ‘jerk’ action by the Government as it sought to shore up its credit with the British people, but in reality it’s fairly inevitable that eventually a rapprochement would see France gain something - as we shall see in the coming slides.

“Secretary of State for the Colonies William Hewins, this rather fresh-faced man you can see behind me, would be the man ultimately who would ‘decide’ the fate of the middle east.

“Of course, he was not the only influence here, the British Foreign Office was pivotal in drawing boundaries and engaging with their new rulers, but with Prime Minister Bonar Law fairly satisfied to sit back and let the cabinet deal with most foreign affairs while he concentrated on the home front, Hewins would ultimately make the final calls.

“Hewins was a huge proponent of tariffs, imperial preference and other ‘fun’ economic policies mostly associated with taking from the Empire and giving to the British market. He was keen to give Britain a settlement that benefited the British to the maximum possible extent financially, especially given the country’s financial woes after the war.

“This mostly kept in line with traditional Tory Party foreign policy thinking. As sort of the ‘gentlemen’ of the old Empire, the Tories in some ways were actually quite reluctant Imperialists and therefore usually focused on the economic benefits of conquest. This was particularly true after the war, as the war had shown that modern great power conflicts were more of a battle for resources and time - not a battle for strips of land or prestige.

“This was something very few if any military commanders at the start of the war had realised, but by the end was a keen point in the mind of the likes of Prime Minister David Lloyd George, who had now retired from frontbench politics after the collapse of the War ministry. The next war, Whitehall believed, would therefore be worth preparing for immediately.

“With the global economy in such turbulence, the Tories therefore looked towards re-establishing Britain's significant economic role in world affairs - and part of that would be formulated around the middle east.

“Hewins therefore would ultimately accept that the basis for a new territorial settlement needed to be formulated upon the Hussein-McMahon notes rather than the Sykes-Picot agreement.

“These notes had been hashed out by British High Commissioner to Egypt Sir Arthur Henry McMahon during the war and basically amounted to a commitment on what the Arabs should expect if they sided with the British.

“On a side note here, McMahon is often unfairly assumed to have ‘tricked’ the Arabs into accepting a deal on the basis that they would get a giant, united Arab state - but in practice McMahon was largely just negotiating a fair deal. Unfortunately it was those in London who did not find the idea of negotiating with the Arabs that ‘fair’, and McMahon actually resigned in protest of the Sykes-Picot agreement after it was published by the Bolsheviks. I always think that goes to show how little the British Government really let their colonial officials know their actual plans long term.

“Anyway, this strategy of rule was not without precedent in Britain; after all Britain had effectively ruled India for centuries by this point through the adoption of a native elite who were then cajoled and bribed into accepting British overlordship. Hewins plan here was identical; Britain would install an Arabic-speaking elite in some areas of the middle east, while other areas of key economic advantage would be placed under direct British rule.

“Adopting McMahon’s notes as a baseline was not some grand gesture, but entirely a policy of British self-interest. Hewins saw the negotiations as necessary because, unlike as planned with Sykes-Picot, without any French involvement in the Middle East, any deal that was opposed by the Arabs would have to be imposed by force - which Britain could not afford or spare men to do.

“We should at this point just take a quick look at what the state of the middle east actually was following the end of the war. While some might assume that immediately upon the end of the conflict there would be new boundaries drawn and institutions established, in actual fact in the Middle East, much like in Europe under German rule, there would be at least six months after the war where administrative systems were basically non-existent.

“Britain had inherited the Ottoman administrative structure, but perhaps partially naively decided to largely ignore it. Instead the entire ‘bloc’ of land they had won from the Turks was transferred straight into military administration. This consisted of several military Governorships broadly headed by a joint military command in the region.

“As expected, this did not lead to effective Government - but it was also not actually intended to do so. Military Government in the levant and mesopotamia, as in most cases, was merely a stopgap aimed at keeping order more than anything. This had several quite important effects though.

“First and foremost, it left the question of an Arab state, along with the boundaries of the future middle east totally in question. Britain had no more than 100,000 men in the middle east as a whole by January 1919; a massive reduction from the over half a million men in Mesopotamia and the Levant in 1918, but a natural consequence of demobilisation.

“Of course, these 100,000 men could still defeat any standing force they wished to, however to do so would be expensive, a waste of time and may seriously destabilise the middle east which Britain hoped to rule.

“With limited forces, Britain struggled to impose direct control over everywhere all at once. As a result a lot of the British forces were concentrated in A) the key cities, and B) the coastal areas, and along the large rivers. This left a lot of the ground uncovered, and allowed Arab forces to move essentially at will.

“Britain also did little to nothing to actually contain their Arab allies, and General Allenby was more than happy to allow them to roam freely, while the around 5,000 British troops which were posted with the three major Arab forces under each of Hussein’s sons largely stuck with those forces as they moved around the region.

“The unintended consequence of this was that it was the Arabs who first liberated major Arabic-speaking cities such as Damascus and Aleppo. During the war this did not seem like a big deal, but it soon turned out to be a bigger one than expected as post-war politics quickly evolved in the middle east.

“You see Hussein had several sons involved in this great Arab revolt, and some were more willing to see their now very aged father gain political power than others. You had his eldest son; Ali, his second son; Abdullah, and then two more; Faisal and Zeid.

“Therefore when the second youngest son of Hussein, Faisal, arrived in Damascus - he was not going to let his older brothers just take what he considered himself to have rightfully conquered.

“You see this was essentially mediaeval level conquest and fighting between siblings. Faisal, being lower in the inheritance scale, stood little chance of having a land to call his own to rule. As such, he viewed the war as his chance to literally carve out a realm - and that he did.

“The idea of ‘arab nationalism’ being the main factor in the Arab revolt is a bit of a myth. It was primarily a land grab by these sons and their Dad who had for around 500-years now been ruled by the Ottomans. A justified land grab built out of desire for self determination, but still a land grab. Hussein wanted independence, and so he may as well build an empire doing it.

“On 5 October 1918 Faisal fired the starting gun on this race to claim land by declaring an ‘Arab Kingdom of Syria’ into existence. Allenby, oblivious to the significance of this or believing it did not hugely matter, allowed this to happen - albeit largely due to his genuine belief that there would be some kind of accommodation with the Arabs anyway.

“Conveniently for Faisal, the territory he claimed for this state was actually some of the land that Britain had less interest in. Britain’s primary goals were as follows, and as you can see on this map. They wanted Direct control of southern Mesopotamia, direct control of Palestine for prestige reasons - as well as to secure the east side of the Suez Canal. They also wanted to gain direct control over the future coast of any arab state in the Alawite northern stretch of the Syrian coast, again in part for security but also to secure ports for oil export. Finally, they wanted the oil of the Mosul area by administering that as some kind of autonomous entity in effect ruled by Britain - very much like Kuwait had been for decades.

“Faisal’s Syrian state, which claimed the in-land territories behind Palestine and up to the Mesopotamian frontier, was therefore not much of a disruption. However, his brothers did not see it that way. You see the brothers had all had very different approaches to the war. Faisal had been all in, and it was his army that had advanced ahead of the British army into Syria.

“Abdullah meanwhile had led his own army, but after liberating Hejaz had essentially stayed there. He was disinterested in grand conquests, and in many ways just fell out with Faisal over the future spoils. He advanced somewhat into Transjordan, eventually settling in the city of Amman which he used as a base following the end of the war.

“Ali, the eldest son, meanwhile had paid little heed to the British revolt and thus had no actual army to speak of. He was due to inherit his father’s lands of Hejaz, and thus was largely satisfied with that. Predictably though he hoped that his father would take all of the new land, if not directly then as suzerain as head of a new Islamic Caliphate based around Mecca. He would be the one ton inherit this title therefore upon his elderly father’s death, and thus it benefitted him to stick to the ‘greater arab state’ plan.

“Finally, Zeid bin Hussein was the youngest brother and had served quite closely with the British. He was a fairly relaxed man, not especially ambitious and in many ways following his brother Faisal who led the Arab Northern Army he was attached to.

“Hewins intended to play on this political division between the brothers. The goal of the Foreign Office was to establish several weaker realms in the middle east through which Britain could rule with ease, and therefore he heavily favoured the brothers Abdullah and Zeid over Faisal and Ali.

“This was a fairly obvious move for the British, as the latter two had pretensions of a pan-arab state which Britain did not wish to assist in creating. In the whitepaper ‘On Governing the Levant’, Hewins therefore argued for the division of the newly conquered lands into various spheres of interest.

“There would be the so-called ‘Arab Zone’, the ‘French Zone’ and the ‘British Zone’. We’ll look at the last and most important one first.

“The British zone in effect covered all the lands that Britain would rule directly. This included the former Baghdad and Basra Vilayets, which unlike Kuwait would be ruled directly by a British Commissioner as a Protectorate of ‘Irak’. This was similar to the arrangement found in much of Africa, especially places like Kenya - which then was known as British East Africa.

“Britain would also directly rule the Mutasarrifate of Palestine, which would also become a British Protectorate under the same model - governed directly by Britain. This was a bit more difficult of an area to conclude, as Hewins also had to contend with the Balfour Declaration.

“I won’t go into a huge historical debate about the Balfour Declaration, but long story short - as you all know the declaration was made by the Lloyd George Government as a commitment to the Jewish community worldwide that they would be given some kind of Jewish-led autonomous status or state in Palestine eventually.

“It was a fairly in-exact commitment, but was a commitment that the British Government felt obligated to uphold as it had been made to some of Britain’s most senior Jewish figures in various industries with an interest in the matter. But, importantly, it would not mean a Jewish state or autonomy any time soon.

“Britain would also establish military control over the coastal zone of what we could call ‘Alawiya’, basically the Syrian coastline area. This would essentially be the ‘British zone’ - an area they directly ruled.

“Then you have the ‘French Zone’. This was basically a consolation prize for the French at this point but also was delivered because if it had not been, France would have been livid. France had long maintained a protectorate status over eastern Christians, and thus the territory of Lebanon was vital to French imperialist ambitions in the Ottoman Empire.

“Sure, France had given up - but Britain was now in the mind to build coalitions for the upcoming protracted struggle against Germany in the long run. France would not get Syria, but Hewins proposed the transfer of the Mutasarrifate of Lebanon to French control.

“This would have the added benefit of anchoring French interests in the region, further locking France into a pact with Britain for the long haul by giving her a stake in the defence of the middle east. Particularly as Lebanon was a source of coal and some ores that the French economy would need.

“Finally, you have the ‘Arab Zone’. Now, unlike the British and French zones, this would not be an area the Arabs would directly administer and would have staggered degrees of autonomy. The Arab zone was essentially a vast area considered by Britain to be in effect under Arab ‘rule’, even if in practice it was under British ‘administration’.

“This is a key difference. Arab Kings may reside here, but the British Government would run much of the civil service, the army, etc.

“This zone essentially included everywhere south of the 37th parallel, excluding the Protectorate of Irak of course and Palestine. Unlike what McMahon had perhaps implied in his negotiations with Hussein though, there would be no recognition of basic Arab suzerainty over Palestine either.

“The Arab lands would also be divided between the various brothers - with Syria being the first issue to confront. It’s worth noting here thar at the time, it was considered possible to simply boot Faisal out of Damascus - however the British saw little need here.

“Faisal was a close ally of the British, a reliable ally at that, and a friend to numerous British officers. He was understood, respected, and seen as reliable. Thus, while the proclamation of such a large Syrian state was annoying to Whitehall - which sought to divide the lands on their terms - it was not something that justified war.

“Instead the British simply sat down with Faisal in Damascus, and discussed what the exact relationship of his state and Britain would be. Ambitious and competent, Faisal was not unreasonable and thus the boundaries of his new Syrian state were fairly easily established. Faisal would take ownership of the Aleppo, Damascus and Dier-ez-Zor vilayets as part of the Arab Kingdom of Syria.

“In exchange, he would concede authority over Palestine and would accept British occupation over the Jabal Ansariyah - the Syrian coastal mountain range. This was made much easier for the British due to Faisal’s pragmatism, even agreeing in principle to the Balfour Declaration in January 1919 as part of the Faisal–Weizmann Agreement.

“Faisal would also hand control of the Baghdad railway to the British, and would accept the appointment of an Envoy to the Kingdom by the British with special powers in his administration.

“For Faisal, this worked out fairly well. He had the backing of a nationalist legislature made up of representatives from across Syria which had proclaimed him King, and in that role he had then successfully defined what the boundaries of that state were. He had the backing of his elder brother Abdullah, as well as his younger brother Zeid, and thus there would not be a contest to his rule.

“His state would also receive guidance through their new Envoy, who much like in Persia would essentially just be an ambassador with unofficial powers over aspects of the economic administration. This benefitted him greatly, as Syria had near no administrative apparatus - which Britain could help to construct.

“Unfortunately some Arabs did not like the new state, notably the Alawites of the Jabal Ansariyah, who rebelled in July after British forces occupied the region - prompting a two year long guerilla war. This dislike largely stemmed from the Alawites sectarian differences with the Sunni Arab Faisal, who had next to no knowledge of the region he now ruled and was out of step with the Shiite Alawites.

“Seeking to avoid Sunni rule and hostile to British occupation, Saleh al-Ali rebelled with the aim of establishing his own autonomous state and in the end would in some ways succeed. While the Alawites were militarily crushed by 1921, Britain would use the rebellion as a justification to detach the Latakian region from Faisal’s state in 1921 and establish yet another area of de-facto British direct rule - in effect cutting the Syrian state from any coast. However, that is for later discussion.

“The next area of contention was the Vilayet of Mosul, which would be established as a new state north of Irak.

“British officials spent significant time actually trying to decide what to label this state, varying between Kurdistan, Assyria and other options, but in the end concluded that much of the work involved in establishing the realm had identified it as ‘Mosul’ - and therefore they called it the Kingdom of Mosul. It was dull, but hey - that’s Britain.

“Mosul would be a Kingdom ruled by the youngest brother Zeid. While some might point to T.E. Lawrence’s proposed division of the middle east and immediately say that he clearly decided Zeid should have this area, in fact Lawrence had exactly zero involvement in the end of war territorial divisions.

“Lawrence was a largely irrelevant figure still, certainly among Government officials, and has only gained his ‘legendary’ status since the war thanks to the British media. Britain instead settled on Zeid because he was low in the line of succession, a minor British officer who had shown his commitment and ability to work with the British, and because he was essentially uninspiring.

“He would rule over a land he had never visited, where the local population actually did not especially even like him, and he would do so as a British puppet ruler equivalent to the Emir of Kuwait. What this meant is that the civil service would be run by British officials, there would be no army for Mosul, and Britain would thus in effect run the state in all but name through a Governor - the first being Major-General Sir John Humphrey Davidson.

“The boundaries of Mosul were easily defined. Britain simply used the boundaries of the Ottoman Vilayet of Mosul, attached any areas of the Van and Diyarbekir vilayets they had seized below the 37th, and left it at that. It was a very ethnically divided land, featuring a large number of Kurds an turkomen - the largest population of Turks outside of the Ottoman Empire in fact. However, it was religiously fairly unified - which helped ensure some stability post-war.

“Zeid was actually initially quite reluctant to accept the throne. He was just 21 years old, and though a successful commander was largely disinterested in ruling. In the end though he would accept in May 1919 but only after the position of his elder brother Faisal was secured in Damascus.

“This created a convenient state for the British to rule through in the north east, and essentially concluded the allocation of new lands in the ‘Arab zone’.

“So, to run over where the middle east was at come the end of 1919, you now have several key new states and dependencies. You have a Syrian state extending from the Taurus mountains to the Hejaz ruled by Faisal - but one that features significant British informal rule and economic control. You have an occupied Jabal Ansariyah, which Britain administers under Syrian de-jure authority but is in revolt and will later be detached in 1921. You have a British ruled protectorate in Palestine. A small French enclave in Lebanon. As well as a largely British-administered Kingdom of Mosul ruled by Zeid, and a large protectorate of Irak in the south eastern area of Mesopotamia directly ruled by a British commissioner.

“Anything unclear about that?”

One hand raises before the student asks “so what about Hussein, Ali and Abdullah?”.

“Good Question.

“Hussein was, naturally, not happy with the arrangement as he expected to personally take control of much of this land - and basically he and the British fell out over the arrangements post-war. His pension, paid by the British, was gradually cut post war and his sons largely fell out with him over the division of the Arab land.

“There was also a significant debate over the title of Caliph, which Hussein had hoped to claim, but we’ll get to that next when we look at the Ottomans. The Kingdom of Hejaz actually also fell to the Saudis in the early 1920’s as a result of this debate, as well as the falling out between Hussein and his sons. This was somewhat ironic, and a rather sad end for Hussein really, as he had essentially broken his relationship with his sons over the land he should have received from the British, only to then also lose his own lands and have calls for his defence be refused by Faisal.

“His eldest son, Ali, would later attempt to retake that land as we will see, but more on that in another lecture. As for Abdullah, he actually had a very interesting life. Initially serving with his brother in Syria, Abdullah was quite dissatisfied by the end of the Arab conquests but equally had little interest in ruling outside of the Syrian area.

“He would eventually be offered the crown of Irak after a series of revolts in 1920 crippled the British administration there, which he fairly reluctantly accepted in August of 1921 after initially having rejected the throne in March of 1920. As such, by the start of 1922 you have a son of Hussein on every throne in the middle east save for Palestine, Kuwait and Lebanon.

“We’ll look a bit more at Abdullah later on. But for now - it’s time to take a look at the post-war development of the Ottoman Empire…”
Good to see it’s not just the Germans who are already considering the next war.

Heaven forbid peace is given a chance after the slaughter and crippling of millions of men.
Heaven forbid peace is given a chance after the slaughter and crippling of millions of men.
Gotta think like an imperialist- Britain will always be scared of a European hegemon and moves against it. Germany, the said hegemon, knows that and must act to preserve their winnings
Now you're speaking like a warmonger.
Well, someone has to speak some sense here. Rebuilding, living in prosperity and trading with each other? Nonsense, the Great War was just 4 years of hopeless war and senseless slaughter. Rookie numbers, I tell you.

On the topic of discussion, I lack the knowledge to comment on it, but I believe it’s maybe a bit better than what happened in history? Some one will have to help me out here.

That said, I liked the narration style mix up to break the monotonous book article format. I wouldn’t want every update going forward to be presented this way, but interspersed here and there it’ll keep the timeline fresh.
There were people shortly after the Great War ended who were already calling it WW1. It was blatantly obvious there was going to be a round 2. So far, I’m seeing mixed signals in terms of good/bad in the Middle East. On the one hand, the Sauds are rising, which is very bad. On the other, the British were forced to at least partially honor their agreements with the Arabs, so better.
"With limited forces, Britain struggled to impose direct control over everywhere all at once."

I would have made that

"With limited forces, Britain struggled to impose direct control over everything everywhere all at once."