Book Notes: A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East 20th


Some highlights:

  • British issues handling the region were in part due to the individual actions taken by British agency members in Cairo and Sudan, formally under the leadership of Kitchener, with over reliance on their own simplified understanding of the ethnic and political makeup of the region, and with an implicit but incorrect understanding that people wished to be governed by Europeans
  • Prewar, the Turkish Empire had been used to serve British interests by providing a buffer power in the region as a deterrent to Russia in the region to protect British India and other trading routes.
  • Initially, British perspective was that the Middle East was to be settled after the war and not important to prosecution of the war. However, as the war moved on and war theaters expanded, the British eye began resting on the Middle East region with an appetite for control and a vision of a complete, unfettered connection between British India, Egypt, and the British Isles.
  • At the conclusion of the war, the US was unable to ratify its inclusion in the League of Nations and some of the other treaties regarding the Middle East. Woodrow Wilson had been heasvily involved in the initial peace discussions at the Paris Peace Conference, forcing his principled views of self-determination and mandates upon the room in which the victors carved up the Middle East. However, Britain was left holding the back when it came to enforcing Wilson’s views - the US drew back and took an isolationist stance, unable to ratify inclusion in the League of Nations or other points decided in the Paris Peace Conference.
  • Various parts of the British embroiled the country in a series of agreements that overpromised, contradicted, overlapped, and were vaguely worded. Some were myopic and served the issue at hand; others seemed appropriate at the time, but later were of disadvantage to the British. This led to various parties feeling burned by the British, who would often offer alternative interpretations of treaties or renege on parts.
  • The British groomed and staked their future in the Middle East on the Hashemite royal family of the Hejaz. First, the British backed the Emir of Mecca, Hussein bin Ali, who stated that he could lead a revolution of Arab-speaking subjects of the Turkish Empire, and declare himself the caliph of Islam. The Arab Revolt fell a bit flat and failed to gather as much support as initially hoped. The British supported Hussein’s son, Feisal, to head the government when Damascus was captured in 1918. The French eventually captured Syria, and removed Feisal from power. British political forces then worked to propel Feisal to become leader of Iraq, a British mandate. Another son of Hussein’s, Abdullah, was installed to keep the peace in Trasjordan, an area that was previously declared to be part of Palestine, eventually staying on the throne and becoming king of the Arab nation.
  • At the end of the war, disagreements about the handling of Middle East territories and peoples, focus on individual imperial ambitions & territory capture at the expense of others, and overrun costs of maintaining armies of occupation and running administration led to the Entente alliance not working in concert around Middle Eastern policy. In some cases, such as in the Anglo-Russian and Anglo-French cases, relations sourced and became antagonistic
  • Ultimately, the Western European victors sought to lay down lines dividing populations & governments and force a secular European political system on the Middle East, an area where that system was incongruent with the current state and the long history of area. Still today, nations are fighting for legitimacy and their right to exist. It took Europe almost 1500 years after the fall of roam to arrive at its current, accepted system.

Part I: At the Crossroads of History

  • the Legacy of the Great Game in Asia
    • The Great Game was the battle of supremacy between the titans of Europe (namely, Britain and France) and Russia over centuries
    • England, during the 18th century, built an empire that spanned the globe, with a prize of India. To play interference with other powers involving themselves with India, Britain supported middle eastern regimes against European expansion. As Queen Victoria put it, control of the Middle East was “a question of Russian or British supremacy in the world”
    • The keystone was Constantinople, in old Byzantium, the historical political crossroads. It controlled the Dardanelles, which allowed the owner to sail to or from the Black Sea, and was a water gateway between Russia and England
    • Through the 19th century Italy, France, Germany and other powers became economically involved with the Ottoman Empire, heightening the stakes for the Middle East
    • British withdrew involvement in the 1880s from the ottomans due to the ottoman atrocities against Christians thanks to a Liberal push, which forced the ottomans to look for another sponsor.
    • With the unification of Germany in 1871 and Russia defeat in 1905 to japan, she quickly replaces Russia as Britain’s topic threat. Germany gain in manufacturing and production output and built up a great land power. Britain allied with Russia and France separately to quell the German threat, and settled the Asian question in 1807 by splitting embarrassed territories
  • The Middle East Before the War
    • The Ottoman Empire conquered and replace the Byzantine Empire in the 15th century from the East. They never quite lost their marauding ways, proving time again they were much better at conquering than governing. The empire was a patchwork of divided nationalities, 3/4s Muslim, and local authority over a loose despot. In the 19th century they lost land to large empires and to new nations
    • Wyndham Deedes, a British officer who volunteered to serve in the Ottoman Gendarmerie (Turkish police guard headed by Europeans), embedded himself in Constantinople, learned Turkish and understood the politics well. Eventually served the minister of the interior, Mehmed Talaat.
    • Mehmed Talaat was the single most important figure in Turkish politics. He was active in underground political groups, as overt political activity was not tolerated by the Sultan. He was a member of the largest faction of the ruling party. He helped found the Young Turkey Party, which through a bloodless coup and rebellion took control of Salonika, resumed parliamentary and party politics and eventually the sultan was forced to abdicate to his brother.
    • The Young Turks came to mean any brash group of young people with dynamic ideas who rebel against an outmoded leadership
    • In the British government, due to misinformation collected by the British diplomat and cabinet, led them to believe that the young Turks represented foreign interests (due to them meeting in an Italian Freemason lodge), was controlled by Jews (because Salonika had a large population of Jews) which made them anti-British because Jews were anti/Russian and Russia and Britain were becoming allies, and a myriad of other reasons that misrepresented the young Turks to the British government
    • In 1913, the young Turks took control of the government and Enver Pasha became minister of war at 31. There were many factions and intrigue, but an overall consensus about the threat the empire faced and how to combat it
  • The Young Turks Urgently Seek an Ally
    • Turkey had fallen behind drastically. It lacked sufficient railroad networks, only had unskilled labor, imported most manufactured goods, didn’t have automobiles or telephones. Europe had sunk its claws into the Ottoman Empire, taking advantage of debt default and inability to use domestic skilled labor to run various parts of the ottoman government and basic services. The Young Turks wanted to reverse all of that
    • The young Turks (also called CUP, btw) hinted toward sponsorship with all the great powers, but were rebuffed, in the summer of 1914.
  • Churchill Seizes Turkeys Warships
    • Two Turkish warships were being built in Britain for delivery in August 1914 when war broke out. The Reshadieh and the Sultan Osman I were two dreadnaughts.
    • The week before the war Churchill consisted taking them; on July 28th he asked his reports to look into the procedure to do so; on the 29th ordered the builders to the battleship to detain them (as the Turks were hoping to depart immediately); on the 31st, ordered them to be boarded; on the 3rd took them from the builders and cabled the British embassy in turkey to inform the government.
    • The German government was not interested in an alliance with turkey previously, because they had nothing material to offer. On the eve of war, the Kaiser reconsidered, but still, nothing had changed on the ottoman side - they had nothing to offer and their military would not mobilize in time for a quick war. So, did they offer the Sultan Osman I, which they knew was already seized by the Germans and they wouldn’t have access to anyway?
  • An Intrigue at Sublime Porte
    • At the outbreak of war, Enver and the German mission in Constantinople discussed plans. They agreed that the German Mediterranean fleet should come to bolster the Ottoman Black Sea fleet to help a Russian invasion by the Ottomans and Bulgaria. The Goeben and the Breslau began to travel toward the Dardanelles to make their way to the back sea - the British fleet gave chase. Given that turkey did not want to be involved in the European conflict, when the broader CUP learned of this German fleet plan they implored Enver to call the plan off. The commander of the German fleet heeded the subsequent call from Berlin more as a warning than an order, and continued to head toward the Dardanelles. Once there, the Turks refused to let them in due to their neutrality, and they were bottled up by the pursuing British navy. At metaphorical gunpoint, they forced the Germans to accept a deal which in essence gave the ships to the ottomans (still commanded by Germans of course) lest the Germans be overtaken by the waiting British navy. In this book, the ottomans are seen as opportunistic deal makers, using the miscommunication and the leverage of the situation to gain assets. Other history books see this episode as a calculated plan of the Germans and agents inside of the Turk government to force turkeys hand.
    • Britain became belligerent toward the Turks, figuring them already in German hands. The Turks closed the Dardanelles sealed off, blocking Russia’s one unfrozen waterway. Both the Germans and British were frustrated with the situation and unaware of how the other felt: the Turks were clinging to neutrality, waiting on a treaty with Bulgaria (the Turks were afraid Bulgaria would make movies while the ottoman army was away), they needed to finance their army, and had no intention of embroiling themselves in the european war. In fact, they saw this time to cast off foreign interest.
    • Turkeys primary interest was protecting itself against Russia, and now that England was aligned with Russia it could not side with the allies. It felt that an allied victory would carve up turkey.
    • As Russia faltered and was on the brink of collapse, Enver Pasha internally worked to convince other CUP members to join the war. He convinced Djemal, Talaat, and Halil, and informed the German government all they needed was 2 million turkish pounds. Upon receiving the money they decided to stay neutral, but Enver hoped to continue to push the Turks toward war. He issued a secret order to Souchon, commander of the Goeben and Breslau, to engage the Russians to provoke war, and blame the Russians for attacking first. But Souchon just bombed the Russian coast. Britain, seeing the Turks as already in bed with Germany, took the bait.

Part II: Kitchener of Khartoum Looks Ahead

  • Kitchener Takes Command
    • At the request of Churchill (promoted by some Conservative friends) and the urging of the press, Asquith appointee Kitchener as Minister of War. He was reluctant, desiring to go back to Egypt where he was hoping to become Viceroy of India soon, but accepted after some time.
    • Imperialistic fervor has created the wave Kitchener rose on, and his experience in Sudan and Egypt brought a unique focus on the region for after the war. During the war, Kitchener felt there was no military importance.
    • The government, having known so little about the East, deferred their questions to Kitchener, a man of imposing legacy and prestige. Kitchener had a blinders-on view of the Middle East, not fully understanding but mostly focusing on a worldview knowing only about Egyptians
  • Kitcheners Lieutenants
    • In turn, Kitchener relief on his staff in Cairo and Khartoum for middle east information, policy suggestions, and advisement, rather than the war office and foreign office.
    • General Maxwell, commanding general in Egypt, Lieutenant-General Wingate, sirdar of the Eygptian army and governor-general of the Sudan, and Gilbert Clayton, official representative in Egypt of the Sudan government, were the main characters
    • Clayton was the head of three intelligence offices, meaning intelligence came from one source
    • All figured themselves into miserly familiar with the details of the region, but had a lack of understanding about much of the fine details of the region
    • Britain thought the young Turks and Germany to be zionists (due to thinking that the young Turks were pro-Zionist Jews)
    • Britain thought Syria to be pro-British, or at least more anti-French and Ottoman
    • British chauvinism against non-Europeans was at the root of all of this. They believes Arabs wanted to be ruled by Europeans. In fact, those who were Muslim wanted to be ruled by Muslims, and most despised European rule
  • Kitchener Sets Out to Capture Islam
    • Like Cortez seizing control of the Aztec empower or keeping the pope captive to do your bidding, Kitchener believed Islam could be bought, manipulated or captured from the top down
    • He saw Islam as an abstraction of a single being, authoritative and centralized.
    • Gray, Churchill, and Asquith did not seek to grab ottoman territory for the British, but Kitchener was it the mind that it was of vital interest to grab hold of parts of the empire. This was a reversal of British traditional policy
    • The Caliph at that time the Turkish Sultan for many Muslims. Kitchener was afraid the caliph had fallen into the grasp of Germans and Jews (like CUP). Additionally, Russia would likely take Constantinople and thus the caliph. There was a potential successor to the caliph in the Emir of Mecca, the location of the holy places, and much friendlier to the British.
    • India and Northern Africa was also a target in Kitchener’s eyes due to the large Muslim population
    • Kitchener was interested in a group of Arabic-speaking Turkish exiles who lived in Cairo. They were still aligned with Turkey but not the Young Turks, who were de-prioritizing rights and representation of Arabic speakers for Turkish speakers
      • He offered that if the Arabian peninsula freed themselves from the sultan and declared independence, Britain would be their sponsor
  • India Protests
    • British India, almost a subsidiary of British, naturally objected to Kitchener’s meddling in what they felt was their sphere of influence. They understood what Kitchener’s proposal of replacing the Caliph with Hussein in Mecca would mean for Muslims in India, and that they would not accept a replacement that smelled of foreign influence. They also had engaged with the Ibn Saud if Arabia, the hereditary rival to Hussein, the British-proposed Caliph; thus, they did not support garnering support behind Hussein
  • The Man in the Middle
    • Hussein was Emir of Mecca, which was a remote, uncultivated part of the Ottoman Empire that mostly was autonomous. Hussein was if the House or Hashem, as Mohammed was, and had a strong personal loyalty to the sultan. However, the sultan was increasingly just a figurehead as the Young Turks overtook the government. Previously, they had supported a rival candidate for his position
    • The CUP wished for centralization, and thus insisted on building transportation to Mecca and Medina, which were otherwise remote. This would reduce Hussein’s role as a mere subordinate functionary. Hussein supported the Ottoman Empire but opposed its government, as the young Turks were decreasing his power
    • Hussein was still loyal. He was regarded by Arab nationalists as a Turkish tool. The Turkish tool distrusted him. The British were threatening once the ottomans got into the war. And local rival Arab families were also more foe than friend.

Part III: Britain is Drawn into the Middle East Quagmire

  • The Turkish Commanders Almost Lose the War
    • Enver Pasha, not a particularly gifted commander, organizer, or tactician, suffered any parallel military defeat by attempting to take 100,000 men across impassable Caucasus mountains, with no roads or tracks or bridges, with no logistical plans, to attack the Russians. 83,000 men were lost. Under Djemal Pasha, an attack on the Suez canal was attempted and thwarted easily by the British.
    • With conscription, turkey lost its harvest. It’s ports were bottled up by allies. It had no industry, and now it had no agriculture. Inflation reigned
  • Kitchener allows Britain to attack turkey
    • There was much talk from politicians and civilians alike to find another way out of this western front mess. Plans involving attacks from the north, south, and East were devised and proposed.
    • “The doctrine of the generals was to attack the enemy at his strongest point; that of the positions was to attack at this weakest.”
    • Maurice Hanley, Secretary of the War Cabinet, wrote a memorandum to propose an assault on the Dardanelles with Balkan allies. Foreign Secretary Gray opposed, thinking that Greece marching on Constantinople would cause distress to their Russian allies.
    • In 1915, Kitchener changed his mind and proposed for a Dardanelles attack. Russia had asked for a diversion after their fear of the listless Ottoman attack led by Enver. Kitchener implored no troops could be landed and only the navy could participate.
  • On To Victory at the Dardanelles
    • Kitchener, at the behest of many advisors, yielded to the idea of pairing an army with the naval assault, offering the Anzac troops recently arrived and the only remaining division in Britain. He had slowly drawn the British into the Middle East, first by agreeing to the attack, then offering troops, and now embroiling political entities in the outcome of the attack
    • The Dardanelles were woefully under protected and without ammunition- some gunboats could only fire for one minute. The people of Constantinople assumed their city would fall in a matter of days, and the Turks even inquired with their age-old rival Russia about switching sides to protect the Dardanelles
    • The tide of impending, inevitable victory began to turn the Balkan states toward the allied side, with even Greece, who’s king was the kaisers brother-in-law. Italy was rumored to join. Bulgaria offered up parts of its army.
  • Russia’s Grab for Turkey
    • Alarmed at the prospect of a British-controlled Constantinople, Russia issued a request to France and England that Russia be given Constantinople at the conclusion of the war. To make such war bounty claims now might cause a rush of divvying up the spoils before the result was even within reach, but Gray understood that Russian inclusion in the war was pivotal and that control of Constantinople (or rather, prevention of Russian control) was no longer a top priority of British policy.
    • Britain became to make plans for its own pieces of the Ottoman Empire. At the beginning of the war, it wanted to keep the ottoman empire intact as a buffer for Russia. It then wanted to wipe it off the map. And now, it was lapping it’s lips at what pieces it could take for itself.
  • At The Narrows of Fortune
    • The entry of the British fleet into Dardanelles was mismanaged, to say the least. What lay ahead of them was a listless Turkish defense with guns but no ammunition. But on the ground (or rather in the mouth of the Dardanelles), operations were unable to get started in earnest. Minesweepers were command but civilians, who would not operate when they were under fire. The original captain, Carden, before losing a ship or casualty, relieved himself of duty due to the anxiety of the situation. His replacement, De Robeck, was skittish after a single day of engagement, in which a French ship hit a mine and was lost, and hours later two British battleships struck mines and sank. De Robeck thought of his career and presumed it was over at this point, and yielded to the commander of the troops on the ground, Ian Hamilton. They decided to wait on the army to arrive, all the while Winston screamed and pleaded to continue as he knew the defenses were of balsa wood. But, the admirals trusted the men on the ground, and a civilian was unable to force a military commander into action. For Churchill, he had lost what would’ve been a personal triumph and a potential to save the Europe he grew up in.
    • London knew the Turkish and German defenses were non-existent, and that as the boats stood at the mouth of the Dardanelles, Constantinople was being evacuated. But, they were not about to convince the men on the ground that the danger was a facade, and that beyond the initial string of mines a wide open strait existed.
  • The Warriors
    • Enver Pasha relinquished control of the military after British naval bombardment to the Germans. The military was placed in control of Linman vin Sanders, who went to quick work to prep the soldiers, mount defenses, and place German officers in command to generate an effective military force.
    • The landing at Gallipoli went poorly due to miscommunication and mistakes. The west had no real reliable maps of where the army was to land, so some groups were dropped at the wrong beach. Those that landed without much opposition didn’t advance due uncertainty about who was leading.
    • The opportunity for a quick, cheap victory was at Gallipoli was lost, and the allies settled in. Trench ware fare had been brought to the East.
  • The Politicians
    • Churchill, who had been the face of the Gallipoli campaign, took the brunt of the blame for the failure. In typical Churchill fashion, he had pushed a bit too far with eccentric First Sea Lord Fisher, who then resigned. The opposition party took this opportunity to force the issue of forming a coalition government with Liberals, Tories, and Labour. In it, Churchill was removed from his position in charge of the admiralty and placed in a minor.
    • The public blamed Churchill for the “early” arrival of the Navy, which gave away the surprise. However, they were not aware that Kitchener had at first opted for the navy to go alone. Many felt Churchill was using the war as a way to make a name for himself.
  • The Light That Failed
    • The Tories came into the coalition government expecting to provide a buffer between the military leaders and the politicians, thinking that the liberal politicians meddling in military affairs was the cause of the Gallipoli issues. However, they found that Liberal Lloyd George was executing his new control as Minister of Munitions excellently, and that Kitchener was difficult to work with, opaque, and not forthcoming. He refused to evacuate from the Dardanelles, and didn’t supply the politicians with proper figures or data about what was happening. They were left in the dark, and in some cases only found information by circumventing Kitchener. Eventually, Ian Hamilton, the commander at Gallipoli who always had a rosy outlook, was replaced and the new commander knew the situation was fraught. Kitchener resented, Gallipoli was evacuates, and Kitchener offered to resign but rather had his powers finished and another military mind brought in
    • With Gallipoli, Britain had lost a quick chance to win the war in the East, but instead felt drawn into the Middle East due to their desire to understand the failures, avenge their loss, and feel that the sacrifice, presently worthless, was worth something.
  • Creating the Arab Bureau
    • Out of the de Brunsen commission, Sykes traveled to Cairo and India to gauge how the allies should deal with the defeated Middle East (which was not a current situation with the failure of Gallipoli).
    • Sykes recommended and Arab bureau, and after discussion across many departments (mainly the Viceroy of India), an agreement was reached to form an Arab Bureau as a part of the Cairo Intelligence Department. This let Kitchener still exercise control over middle eastern policy and kept the powers reeled in to appease India.
  • Making Promises to the Arabs
    • Sykes brought an Arab named Muhammad Sharif al-Faruqi back from his trip, who said he could help Britain win the war. Not much is known about him, and he ended up leading Britain to promise concessions to many in the postwar Middle East.
    • Hussein, the Emir of Mecca, considered opposing turkey in the war - the Young Turks planned to depose him at the conclusion of the war. This would isolate him in the Arab world. He sent his son to determine if Arab secret societies would support him. They were some reservations, but generally were supportive.
    • Djemal Pasha, the Turkish government of Syria, rooted out the Arab plot and smashed the secret societies. The remainder drafted a document, the Damascus Protocol, to describe the territories and demands Hussein would request from Britain.
    • Al-Faruqi was a secret society member sent to the front lines of Gallipoli; this caused him to suspect his membership in the society was known, as it was a convenient tactic to rid the ottoman army of Arab dissenters. He deserted the ottoman forces and came to the British side, purporting to be a spokesman for the secret society al-‘Ahd. He knew of the Damascus Protocol, which in the eyes of the British made him legitimate.
    • With al-Faruqi representing the secret societies and Hussein asking for the same demands, it became clear to the British that Hussein was representing not his slice of the peninsula but of hundreds of thousands of Ottomans. Al-Farqui issues an ultimatum that if the British guaranteed the independence of the Arabic-speaking Middle East, only then could al-‘Ahd lead an Arab rising.
    • Cairo was in an excited state, coordinating with various leaders for the sign off to do such a thing. Al-Farqui remained in the center of negotiations between Arab leaders, Hussein, and the British Residency, presenting himself as representing himself however most convenient to the discussion at hand.
    • Sykes brought back to London Jews that al-Farqui (representing Hussein) wished to switch sides to the allies but needed some concessions. The cabinets and parts of the government were split, but Kitchener + his Cairo reports won the day.
    • McMahon began discussions with Hussein about borders and British wishes, essentially promising nothing. There were French interests in the area, and Britain was friendly with other Arab leaders, so in its view it didn’t have much to commit to in the various parts of the Arab world. London did not believe the Arabs would actually join, and so had to urgency or conviction to enlist the Arabs.
    • On the flip side, Hussein and the secret society Had much over promised and oversold the influence of their leadership in the Arab world, and could likely not raise an army or ignite a successful result. They implored that the allied armies first land on the Syrian coast, and refused to launch an uprising without that.
  • Making Promises to the European Allies
    • The French wanted control of the Syrian coast and Palestine, a land they felt their country had had interest in going back to the crusades
    • Sykes was the eventual negotiator for the British when discussing allied interests in the Middle East. Picot was the French negotiator. His worldview was one focused on a free Arab world to help with the war. He was young and inexperienced and his hand was known.
    • Miscommunication abounded here via Sykes; his understanding of Clayton wanting Arab independence of Syria was an innocent one, and interchangeable whether that area was influenced by Britain or France, whole to Clayton independence meant a British puppet state. Sykes had given Syria to the French, thinking that such a concession would grant Britain leverage for places she really wanted. Storrs and Clayton say this as betrayal against their wish to create a Cairo-empire like India.
    • It was brought to the attention of Sykes that the Zionists had not been considered. Sykes was a bit of a conspiracy theorist about Jews, thinking there was some underground global network amongst Jews. With Picot, they had decided Palestine would be protected by an international body. Sykes sought to propose to Picot this to be given as land to the Zionists. Sykes engaged with some Jewish government officials to learn about the Zionist movements. He was under the impression that, much like Cairo thought there was an Arab presence that could overthrow the Ottoman Young Turks, London believe there was a Jewish presence that could do the same. Without consideration of Jewish Zionism, Sykes feared the resolution and the war would fall apart as Jews chose to not support the allied cause.
  • Turkeys Triumph at the Tigris
    • At the outbreak of the war, British India sent some troops to protect an oil refinery at Abadan in the Persian Gulf. They destroyed an Ottoman outpost at the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates, and then continued north to Mesopotamia to protect Persia. With resistance being so little, Townsend, the field general, was dispatched further north toward Baghdad. A capable general, Townsend was fighting an uphill battle as the logistics to continue working toward Baghdad proved difficult. Eventually, the Townsend group retreated and were pursued, eventually locking themselves into a small bend in the Tigris River surrounded by water on three sides, garrisoning the fourth. Under siege, they would last for half a year, and pleaded for a rescue mission. But those rescues failed and they were eventually captured. It was humiliating to the British especially against a seemingly impotent enemy like the Turks, who had also repelled British interests at Gallipoli.

Part IV: Subversion

  • Behind Enemy Lines
    • Largely, the Germans left Asia territory objectives to be a discussion post-war, and along with their allies focused on winning the war. The Germans an allies attempted to win over middle eastern colonies, failing in Afghanistan but succeeding in Persia, which fractured Persia into various areas of German, ottoman and Russian control, and disappeared Persia as a sovereign nation that was allied with the allies.
    • Arabic speakers were generally more loyal to the Ottoman Empire than thought by the west. However, the young Turks were suspicious of non-Muslims, especially the Jews in Palestine who were not ottoman subjects but mostly Jews escaping Russia. The Porte began destroying Zionist settles and forcing Jews to leave. The Germans stepped in to prevent that from continuing, for fear of Jewish opinion in neutral countries.
    • Armenians, who lived near the ottoman / Russian border, were Christian and preferred the Russian cause over the ottoman, especially with the Turkish massacres of Armenians over the years still fresh in their minds. In early 1915, Enver and Talaat claimed that the Armenians were engaging in subversion, attempting to create their own state and attacking the Turkish army. They attempted to deport the entire Armenian population, killing some 1.5 million, and forcing many to march without food or water or shelter. This is a “controversial” account, with many claiming turkey engaged in a genocide without any evidence of Armenian involvement prior. Germans at that time observed the area to be quiet prior to the expulsions. Germany and Austria attempted to influence the Turks to stop, mostly due to fears of allied propaganda.
    • Djemal Pasha secretly proposed to the allies a plan for him to take the throne of the ottoman government and overthrow the current regime. Russia was willing to accept his offer, but France and Britain balked at giving him territory they wanted for themselves.
    • The Ottoman Empire were impressive in their defense and subversion attempts. They partied back Britain and France in the west, British India in the east, and Russia to the north. They also broke up allied Persia and Britain’s attempt to win over Arabic-speaking people’s had failed so far
  • Kitchener’s Last Mission
    • Asquith found it politically impossible to fire Kitchener, but at the same time it was clear the War Minister did not have a good grasp of the situation and was no longer in autonomous military command, his power shared by the General Staff
    • Asquith sent him on a mission to Russia, which would take a few months way from command in Britain. On that final voyage, the ship was mined and Kitchener lost
  • Hussein’s Revolt
    • As it became clear the Turks were imminently going to depose of Hussein, he initiated the result that he had been wavering on for so long in June of 1916. The Turks had already dissolved the Arab secret societies and were executing Arab conspirators
    • The revolt as promised never took place. Hussein had no army. The British stormed the coasts, but were not allowed to move inland with Christian military units. So, British Muslim soldiers were gathered to fight in the area
    • The British had misread the politics of the region. They installed Arab “friends” in military positions and commands, but it became clear that Arabs were more opposed to British designs on the Middle East than Muslim Turkish rule
    • Three weeks after Hussein’s revolt was declared, it was essentially deemed dead on arrival by the War Office in London. In Cairo, the Arab Bulletin authored by T. E. Lawrence and others began less and less bullish about the success of the revolt. A year later, Cairo would write it off as a failure as well.
    • But, the British did not want it to be seen as a failure, so they were drawn in even though it was clear the Emir did not really represent what he said he did
    • Sykes began to use the phrase Middle East. He pushed for Sherif Hussein’s reply to continue to receive British aid in late 1916.
    • In late 1916 the revolt in Hejaz was collapsing even more rapidly than thought. Sykes urges for military support, but the British could spare no western front troops. It was suggested they ask France for help, as they too had a Muslim population that would be acceptable to use
    • In October, Storrs of the British Residency in Cairo, came with another approach. He came to support al-Masri, the nationalist secret society leader, who thought that allied troops should not be directly involved but rather the guerrilla fighters should be trained to fight effectively. This is where T. E. Lawrence emerged
    • T. E. Lawrence was fairly unremarkable in background, prestige and stature. When Storrs and Lawrence met with Abdullah, Hussein’s son, Lawrence so impressed Abdullah that he was invited to meet the Emir’s other sons, which the Arab bureau had been trying to do for some time.
    • Lawrence met Feisal, Hussein’s other son, and found him enchanting. He decided he should be the leader of the revolt. Lawrence pressed Wingate, Governor-General of the Sudan, in a way aligned with Wingate, that the British should not use French and allied army units and Hussein should employ Guerrilla units. This allowed the British to maintain their designs on the Middle East without letting the French get entry into the territory, while also not sparing any British troops.

Part V: The Allies at the Nadir of their Fortunes

  • The Fall of the Allied Governments: Britain and France
    • Asquith’s breeziness and display of effortlessness in politicking backfired through the course of war - while disasters multiplied in the Middle East and the western front, he seemed carefree and reluctant to fully commit Britain to war
    • Lloyd George, on the other hand, opposed the war until the last minute but was now pushing for conscription. His old liberal friends found him embracing more conservative, former political foes
    • He was opposed to turkey, who had slaughtered Christians. He saw the Middle East as a prize worth having rather than just a road to India
    • France had gone through a few governments and had no one to turn to other than Clemenceau, a political loner and man who had been principally opposed to colonialism as he thought it was a distraction to the actual enemy, Germany.
    • War and politics he brought into power the first British prime minister who wanted to acquire the Middle East and a French politician who did want to do so

Part VI: New Worlds and Promised Lands

  • The New World
    • Wilson less joined the allies and more declared war on Germany. He did not declare war on Austria until later and never declared war on the ottomans
    • Wilson was principled, to a fault. His motivation in involving Americans abroad was more missionary and less political or conniving; he wanted nothing to do with capturing war bounty or enforcing reparations. This was in stark contrast to his allies, who sought to gain land, partition countries, and seek to win concessions from the losers. Wilson and the allies were sort of at odds with each other when it came to war aims, with the American president espousing principled ideals for autonomy of people’s affected by war and maintain world peace.
    • Wilson’s pursuit was quixotic and academic, while the rest of the allies might describe themselves as pragmatic
  • Lloyd George’s Zionism
    • In the past Radical and anti-imperialism, Lloyd George increasingly embraced keeping captured Germany colonies in Africa and getting keeping territories in the Middle East
    • Lloyd George was from a religious background of Nonconformist faith. He was in a long line of Christian Zionists who wanted to restore the Jews to Zion. Puritans believed that the advent of the messiah would occur once the people of Judaea were restored to their native land
    • Lloyd George ignored the Sykes-Picot agreement, saying it was not worthy winning the Holy Land only to “new it in pieces before the Lord…Palestine, if recaptured. Must be one and indivisible to renew its greatness as a living entity”
    • There was some support in earlier generations for Palestine being a British Protectorate, mostly for keeping a foothold in the Middle East for the great game and currying favor with Jewish populations. A distinctive characteristic for Britain’s evolving Palestine policy was that there was no single reason for it
    • In the sweeping nationalistic fervor of the 19th century, the political program of Zionism was born. Each nation deserved a country. Nationalism was considered the cure-ll for political ills. Of Jews that lived elsewhere such as Germany and Europe, were German and French Jews German or French? Or their own special class?
  • Toward The Balfour Declaration
    • Members of the government were coming around to the importance of Palestine. Without it, there was fear that the Turks would control the road to India and be adjacent to the Suez Canal. Palestine represented the link between the empires of Africa and Asia
    • There was talk of having a Jewish unit in the British military help take Palestine when that time came, with the hope that it would go toward making the Zionist dream a reality
    • The opposing argument was that Palestine was too barren a land to support the millions of Jews who hoped to settle there. Arab groups claimed that there was no room in the country for additional settlers
    • Many were hopeful that pro-Arab and pro-Zionist sentiment could be compatible and aligned, and that the two could coexist would issue
  • The Promised Land
    • Sykes was unaware of the prime ministers goals with Palestine, and that they ran counter to the secret Picot-Sykes agreement. But, on his own, Sykes realized that there was strong Jewish support for the Holy Land, and that current designs for the Middle East may upset Jewish populations
    • Sykes sought out Zionist leaders like Dr. Chaim Weizmann. He proposed plans such as a Anglo-French controlled Palestine, hoping to keep in line with earlier agreements
    • With the entry of the US and the fall of Russia, Sykes saw that sponsorship of oppressed people such as the Jews would be required for entry into Middle East territory, and that with the number of Russian Jews, support for the Holy Land could induce the Russian Jewish support for the government to stay in the war
    • Sykes really wanted to keep French interests in mind, though Palestine was a sticking point. He hoped that Britain could be sole protectorate of Palestine if the French were of Arminians. Many cautioned against French involvement, but Sykes continued to include Picot and introduce him to various Arab and government leaders
    • There became a push for Britain to issue a declaration from various parts of the government that for one reason or another came around to Zionism. France had done something similar due to the political benefit of enticing Russian Jews, but way had much less commitment in the declaration.
    • There was some pushback from the British Jewish community, arguing that Judaism was a religion, not a nationality, and to say otherwise was to imply they were less than 100% British
    • On November 2, the Balfour Declaration was issued, making public British support for establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine

Part VII: Invading the Middle East

  • Jerusalem for Christmas
    • Allenby was selected as commanding officer for Egypt in June 1917.
    • T.E. Lawrence had disappeared off with Auda abu Tayi, the fighting chief of the Bedouin tribal confederation of northern Arabia, over a few months and surprised attack and captured Aqaba, at the head of a channel of the Red Sea. This allow British ships to transport Arabian tribesman to Palestine
    • Feisal, Hussein’s son, became a General in the British military to lead the Arabian tribesman
    • Allenby captured Jerusalem on December 11th, 1917, attacking inland at Beersheba while German and Turkish defenders expected an attack on Gaza.
    • “The calling of the Turkish bluff was not only the beginning of the cracking-up of that military imposter ship which the incompetence of our war direction has permitted to intimidate us for years; it was its a real contribution to ultimate victory.”
  • The Road To Damascus
    • Capture of Damascus would put Britain in a long line of ancient conquerors cementing their empire
    • A critical issue as armies marched on Damascus: which British officials would shape Middle East policy, and to what extent they would adhere or dismiss the various causes they threw themselves behind in public. Sykes wanted to honor pledges he was a part of and the author of. Others did not wish to enforce the pledges, such as Clayton in Palestine, Wingate in Egypt, and India in Baghdad.
    • Issues were Zionism and Jewish support, and Arabic independence and self government - Sykes wished for both, while others though him naive and did not support one or either prongs of policy.
    • Brigadier General Clayton served as chief political officer to Allenby. He often expressed his views to Wingate, a superior he agreed with, but did not to Sykes, causing misunderstanding. Clayton did not want French involvement in the area (unlike Sykes) and also was not a proponent of Zionism at first, but later thought an agreement between Jews and Arabs could work out. He was cynical about keeping the coalition of Arabs and Jews together in regard to Palestine, figuring they were attempting to undo centuries of traditional sentiment
    • The area was ripe with sentiment and precedent, and any new settlement would need to be approached in a slow, equitable manner
    • Feisal, of Arab independence, and Weizmann, of Zionism, met and found that their causes were not in conflict. Feisal wanted Damascus and northern Syria, while Weizmann wanted Palestine. Feisal realized that supporting Zionism would influence the allies to support his claim to Syria
    • Ronald Storrs, governor of Jerusalem, did not take on explaining the British Zionist plans to the non-Jewish inhabitants of the country. He realized that to those who lived in the area, mostly Muslims, that the area was just taken over by a Christian power who then planned to serve the land for colonization purposes to not-popular-people in the area. He did not want responsibility for handling that as part of the military administration, seeing it as a political issue
    • While the British had originally backed Hussein in 1915 and pushed him to declare himself Caliphate, they now, in 1918, thought him as little more than an annoyance, preferring his son Feisal and his rival Ibn Saud, both who had an edge over what Hussein could offer.
  • The Battle for Syria
    • As Allenby approach Damascus, there was confusion over the government that would be installed. The Foreign Office insisted that the Picot-Sykes agreement be upheld even while the cabinet wanted it dismantled. Allenby told his subordinates to keep the Turkish government, while the Foreign Office told the French government that there would be a provisional Arab administration via a French Lisbon officer, and that the Arabs should be viewed as an allied power in the area. The Sykes-Picot agreement would only go into effect when an Arab government was instated, and the British hoped to push that off for the immediate future. Further, if Britain established a military administration in Syria, France would be entitled to exercise all civilian administration. Britain also wanted Feisal to enter the city first to quell suspicions of Christian invaders by the Muslim population
    • However, confusion reared it’s head. The Turkish government fled Damascus, and other Arab sects claimed control of Damascus in the name of Hussein, not Feisal. An Australian Calvary brigade, chasing down Turkish retreaters, went through Damascus and thus triggered British military administration of Damascus, rather than having Feisal capture the Cory - Feisal was still a few days away. Upon his arrival, Feisal learned that we would not have access to the west of the Jordan River, and that France would be the protectorate nation (rather than Britain, as the agreement had previously been officially secret)
    • Feisal had been aware of the plan, but was not told officially. He shortly sent a commando force to Beruit, in Lebanon which was supposed to be France’s (perhaps at the urging of T.E. Lawrence), and took over the city. The French sent in a force and the British sent in Indian troops to convince Feisal to lower the flag and wait until the peace conference to determine control.
    • In Damascus, bubbling beneath the surface were feuds between vying power brokers, factionalism, and fights between city dwellers and invaders.
    • There was a push from all sections of British government and military that France be removed from guaranteed control of the area, and that Arab independence would be the policy of the day (leaving Britain to be the influencing state). But, the French would not renegotiated the Sykes-Picot agreement.

Part VIII: The Spoils of Victory

  • The Parting of the Ways
    • In the last half of 1918, the British and Ottoman forces struck out to gain new territories, captivated at the prospect of spoils of victory. The collapse of the Russian empire yielded fertile ground for imperial ambitions
    • Immediately following the negotiated peace between Germany and Russian, Germany and turkey scrambled for territory that was previously Russian ruled. Enver Pasha establishes a Muslim-only army to take over Baku of Azerbaijani. Pasha’s attempt to capture Baku threatened to deprive Germany of much needed oil and to upset the arrangement with Russia. Despite German pleas, Pasha continued.
    • There was much fragmentation of the political scene in the area east of Turkey and west/north of India. Germany and turkey were secret enemies but public allies, both with their own interests at heart, and the Germans were anti-Bolshevik in these lands but involved with Bolsheviks in Petrograd, and other non-Bolshevik Russian groups were in the fray
    • There was fear in some British circles of German domination across Asia, as it looked like the Germans were in cahoots with the Bolsheviks and that Turks and Germans were gobbling up Asian land
    • Dunsterville was the captain of a small force, about 1,000 British men, sent out from India to keep an eye on Central Asia. He, at the request of non-Bolsheviks in power in Baku, the oil capital of Central Asia, garrisoned his troops there to defend against the Turks, who numbered 10x his forces. He held for six weeks and then evacuated
    • Confused belligerents fought outside of conventional allied lines in Turkestan and elsewhere, as factions grabbed hold of power in recently-Russian and near-Russian states - British-Indian forces fought against Soviet Russians aided by Germans and Austria prisoners of wars armed by the Bolsheviks
  • By the Shores of Troy
    • The Imperial War Cabinet was hoping for a 1919 victory but felt a 1920 was more realistic. But then, General Franchet d’Esperey out of Salonika, Greece, launch an offensive at the end of the summer, causing Bulgaria to collapse. That led peace agreements to be discussed between the allies and central powers
    • There was a mad dash in October by British forces to claim as much territory in the region as they could before armistice was signed. There was jockeying between France and Britain about who would lead what, like who would enter into Constantinople, etc.
    • The fall of Bulgaria had cut off the land route to Germany and Austria for the Ottomans, and with that knew any attempts to further the war would be futile. The CUP resigned in a split decision, figuring that terms would be worse if the allies thought the young Turks were still in power.
    • There was infighting between the British and the French over who would negotiate, who got access to territory in the Middle East, Palestine, Syria, etc. France wanted the agreement upheld and to have access to territory in the Middle East, while Britain pushed for Arab independence (as they would be under British control), control of Palestine, and removal of France from Syria. Clemenceau, the French leader, was more lax about Middle Eastern spoils than other parts of the French government, focusing more on issues in Europe - this gave Lloyd George an opening to clamp down on British involvement and dissuading the French from claiming Syria

Part IX: The Tide Goes Out

- The Ticking Clock
    - As the war ended, there was an intense yearning for troops abroad to come home to Britain. It became increasingly hard for Churchill, now the Secretary of State for War, to maintain armies of occupation in conquered countries while details of territory were worked out by the politicians from both a financial and public sentiment viewpoint. He feared that dissolution of strong armies in conquered territories would lower the leverage when negotiating peace terms, but needed to do so to quell any troop uprising, lest a fever of Bolshevism overcome the troops abroad. 
    - Lloyd George consolidated power, calling for an election after the war to cement power and build more time for him to do his bidding 
- Betrayal
    - Lloyd George hoped to play off the US against Italy and France, while counting on the US to protect Britain from possible Russian or German threats in the future, instead of turning to a Anglo-French alliance. However, Wilson and the US were inclined to withdraw and not enter into any entangling alliances, so the PM came to see that an Anglo-French alliance would be needed, although he had damaged the relationship
    - Wilson insisted on being a part of the discussion and held firm to his seemingly naive ideals, coming without actionable details and with more general themes. He was not much help in crafting, and more of an obstructionist. 
    - Britain wanted the US to assume mandates for Dardanelles, Armenia, etc. to provide a buffer state in the region and support designs on the Middle East. Wilson attempted to convince the American people upon his return from Paris and the peace talks, but he collapsed from exhaustion and became physically paralyzed, essentially ending political effectiveness. In the end, the Americans would not ratify the treaty and in 1920 both the French and Italian leaders were replaced with new leaders much less willing to concede to Britain 
    - The immense time it took to formulate the treaties whittled away at Britain’s leverage in negotiations, as it had spoiled some relationships and no longer had an army in the field to enforce control
- The Unreal World of the Peace Conferences
    - The Ottoman treaty took nearly 2 years from start to finish
    - The British attempted to become protectorates of the autonomous Kurds in Kurdistan, as the territory lay in the Picot-Sykes French territory, but were repelled by the Kurds
    - Britain evacuated much of the army of occupation in Georgia, Armenia in the summer or 1919, due to financial concerns and fears of restlessness
    - Mustapha Kemal, the hero of Gallipoli, whose opposition to Enver meant he did not receive appropriate military appointments during the war, was sent to Anatolia to maintain peace during purgatory in which the Turkish lands were conquered but their fate not yet decided
    - President Wilson and Lloyd George decides to play the Greeks off the Italians in Anatolia in 1919. The Greek Christians were a traditional hated population by Turkish Muslims
    - Kemal broke away from the Turkish government and declared independence in Anatolia, with the support of army officers his age and younger, and the military and civilian networks of the CUP. He defeated a small French contingent with an army of 30,000 men.
    - A parallel movement formed in the Arabic-speaking south of the Ottoman empire, where token French presence stirred up similar troubles. Those in charge in Damascus were preparing to enter into an alliance with Kemal. The Ottoman Arabs who had opposed Britain had taken control under the noses of the British as they worried about the French
    - Feisal’s position was ostensibly supported by the British, but Feisal did not have control over his own administration. His support was visible through the British army maintained by Allenby in the region. By September 1919, the British realized they would have to leave the region and yield to the French, while still have Feisal instated. The absence of the British army meant that Feisal was left to the mercy of the French. Feisal was stuck between the French and now the Arab militants focused on independence and without much allegiance to him
    - Feisal and Clemenceau negotiated in secret, so that Syria would be independent but with strictly French advisors
    - But, Clemenceau lost his pie for president and retired. The next in line, Millerand, saw Syria only as a target for annexation, without Feisal leading some sort of independent state
    - In 1920, without the question of Syria, the two powers divided up the rest of the Middle East. Palestine and Mesopotamia British, Syria and Lebanon French. The Dardanelles and Constantinople under international control for a bargaining chip with Turkey for good behavior vis-a-vis Christian minorities. Armenia and Kurdistan independent. Turkish finances supervised by Britain, France and Italy. Turkey was reduced to a small part of Turkish-speaking Anatolia.

Part X: Storm Over Asia

  • The Troubles Begin: 1919-1921
    • Britain and France were economizing and demobilizing their forces, weakening them to the point where opposing forces were emboldened to revolt
    • Russia was also dealing with revolts and independence movements in Central Asia
  • Egypt: The Winter of 1918-1919
    • Egypt had been temporarily ruled by Britain for decades, although still under Ottoman suzerainty. Britain had included freedom and independence of Egypt as some of the goals of the war.
    • A delegation of political figures requested that now that the war was over, Egypt be granted her independence and to be represented at the peace talks. Britain refused, sparking the leaders to try and force the issue by building a coalition of support
    • Britain jailed the leaders after they spoke publicly about independence and rallied people to their cause. This sparked demonstrations across the country and galvanized all classes to push toward independence, or even just against British rule. Britain tried to negotiate but nothing less than independence would work, so martial law was enforced through 1922 to maintain order
  • Afghanistan: The Spring of 1919
    • The Emir of Afghanistan was assassinated in February 1919. His third son rose to power and proclaimed Afghanistan to be fully free and independent, which in the eyes of the British it was not - it was a British protectorate. It was especially important as a buffer to India.
    • The afghan army prepared an attack into India, and ignited the Third Afghan War. With it, there was fear that Indian subjects may rebel in tandem
    • Inconclusive fighting reigned along the border, with the afghans eventually surrendering. However, the treaty conceded complete independence of Afghanistan
    • There was much linkage between the Russians and the afghans, with plans for joint military action against the British coming to light
  • Arabia: The Spring of 1919
    • As soon as the war ended there was inner conflict between Hussein and Ibn Saud, of the central and East - Britain supplied both of them and they were often attacking each other
    • At the end of 1912 a religious movement that encouraged unification of tribes within the strict Wahhabi life, which Ibn Saud was hereditary champion of, which grew Ibn Saud’s influence in the area. Hussein, on the other hand, was an orthodox Sunni, which made the Wahhabi’s doctrinal and political enemies
    • In 1919, on the backs of the allies victories, Hussein brought his forces to attack Turaba, along the frontier of their two areas. In the middle of the night, Ibn Squad’s army, 1/5 the size, swept down and destroyed Hussein’s 5,000 man army
    • British pride was at stake - they had backed the wrong man. Years later, Ibn Saud would invade the Hejaz and put Hussein in exile
  • Turkey: January 1920
    • In 1919, with nationalism peaking from the Greek landing at Smyrna, elections were held and Turkish nationalists swept the ballot box. Along with Kemal, they issued the National Pact, which essentially outlined the minimum demands they would concede to, with an autonomous Muslim state being one of them. The French and British leaders had their own ideas about treaty terms
    • French and British military action was taken to quell the Kemalists, with Kemal inflicting repeated defeats on the French. Constantinople was taken, but that increased Kemal’s prestige - he was then the only legitimate non-European of the area
    • The area erupted into bands of warring tribes, marauding bandits, and groups that may have started with political intentions but were fighting in a vacuum of power. It looked like the former lands of czarist Russia in the wake of revolution.
    • Kemal at first reaches out to Russia, but was in fact an enemy of Bolshevism and suppressed the Turkish communist party. However, Russia still worked with Kemal under the guidance of Stalin, who put state interests ahead of Bolshevik interests and realized they had a common enemy in the British
    • When Kemal attacked occupied Constantinople, Greek troops were the only available to bolster support. The Greeks used this to capture territory and drive the incoming troops from around the capital. The Treaty of Sevres was signed, leaving Turkey as an almost nonentity, though Kemals new group was not factored into the treaty and still existed
    • Greece regained its ancestors land in Asia Minor, but wasn’t sure if they’d be able to maintain the new land with Kemal lurking. There was a question of Greece should go and attack before demobilizing its force. While that was being discussed, the King was bitten by a monkey and died a few days later. This was around the time of the Greek elections, and there was a question of succession to the throne. To everyone’s astonishment, the pro-German, anti-Allied leaders were brought back to power that had been forced out in 1917
    • The Greeks and the Kemalist Turks were now staring each other down. Loss of the Allied-minded political group during the elections caused France and Italy to drop support of the Greeks. Lloyd George, against wishes of cabinet members and the state of things at home (high unemployment, social problems), pushed on and wanted to coerce or stamp out turkey.
  • Syria and Lebanon: The Spring and Summer or 1920
    • The Arab nationalists in Syria, under the unsteady hand of Feisal, set their sights higher, combating British claims to Palestine and Mesopotamia, forcing an Anglo-French alliance. Feisal was at the mercy of his constituents. They failed to realize that British back is what provided grounds for their power, and in attacking it, lost it.
    • France, after making a temporary truce with Kemal who was aiding the Syrian nationalists, marched into Damascus with much ease against their unskilled military, and proclaimed Syria to be French. The lands which are now Lebanon grew to extend both over the Christian minority and Muslim majority, directly leading to the bloodshed in the 1970s and 1980s as various groups attacked the Maronite Christian minority.
    • All Britain succeeded in was losing the goodwill of the French attempting to withhold Syria and become enemies of middle eastern citizens for letting Feisal down.
  • Eastern Palestine (Transjordan): 1920
    • Post-war France was very anti-Zionism, part anti-Semite and anti-British
    • Feisal and Arab claims also ran to the east of the Jordan River. With the French now taken Syria, the anti-French sentiment by the warring tribes in the area, which was ineffectively formally controlled by Feisal, led Britain to believe that France could legitimately invade it to keep the peace and then hold onto the land. It was supposed to be part of British Palestine
    • Britain believed that they need to quell the unrest in Transjordan to remove any reason for France to invade and conquer. To do so, they could play the tribes off of one another
    • There was so anti-Zionism from the British side, now seeing that British Zionist support could be a propaganda tool for France to redirect hate of foreign influence to point toward British interests
  • Mesopotamia (Iraq): 1920
    • Unlike other areas, Iraq was made up of mostly military men who were formally of the ottoman army
    • Lloyd George did not think the provinces of Baghdad, Mosul and Basra formed a coherent entity
    • Two million Shiite Muslims would not accept rule from the minority Sunni community, which were the only firms proposed for independence
    • There were warnings from westerners embedded in the area that there was 4 millennia of history around the region, and that one could not simply draw a line around Iraq and call it a political entity
    • There was much less British movement toward setting up an independent government than elsewhere, which led to restlessness in the area as they saw Damascus working toward a government
    • In 1920, there was finally a large scale revolt against the British administration in the area. It was effectively across the whole area. A provisional government was proclaimed.
    • “Why were the despises Turks, under Kemal’s leadership, successfully continuing to defy the allies? Why was Britain’s protege, King Hussein, losing their struggle for mastery in Arabia? Why did the Egyptians continue to refuse to negotiate - on any basis - for Britain’s forces to remain in their country? Why were the Afghans conspiring with the Russians? Why did Feisal lose out to France and then allow his followers to strike out at Britain? Why did Arabs riot in Palestine and rebel in Iraq - all at a time when Britain’s economy had collapse and when the governments time, energy, and resources were needed to revive it?”
  • Persia (Iran): 1920
    • Lord Curzon, chairman of the Eastern Committee of the Cabinet, envisioned a “Moslem nexus of states in the Middle East as a shield to ward off Russian expansion”
    • Anglo-Persian Agreement was signed in 1919, with British payments to the Persian ruler helping seal the deal. It provided for British influence in government and economy in the area. British thought was that Persia would want protection from Russian expansionism, a past concern of the Persia’s. However, with the bolsheviks at the helm, the concern turned more into yearning for Russian influence. America and France was also not happy, as Persia was an oil rich area that Britain now had a monopoly on
    • In a province of Persia a socialist republic was proclaimed, and soviet warships captured a flotilla in port
    • London was up in arms about how Persia had ended up. It seemed to have been in Britain’s clutches with the Anglo-Persian treaty, but that was never fully accepted and enforced, the population instead invited Russian control, a soviet republic was proclaimed in some parts, and the situation was out of the hands of the British
    • A new commander on the scene, Ironsides, installed his own choice as the leader of the Persian Cossacks (confusingly, mostly Persian and some Russian, though definitely anti-Bolshevik), Reza Khan. In his command, he carried out a British-support Coup D’etat.
    • But, this new military-controlled government repudiated the Anglo-Persian treaty and signed a treat with Soviet Russia
    • Soviet Russia had now signed a treaty with Iran, Afghanistan, and Kemalist Turkey, in a United front against the British. Some Young Turks leaders became involved with some of these administrations as advisors

Part XI: Russia Returns to The Middle East

  • Unmasking Britain’s enemies
    • The soviets encourage Persian nationalist, Turkish nationalism, and Iraq rebellion, but did not inspired or directed any of these movements or elsewhere.
    • Because Lenin had been ushered into Russia by Germany, it was thought of at the time that the Bolshevik cause was to help the Germans. Additionally, they was the persistent conspiracy of a Jewish pro-German threat, stemming from belief that the young Turks were tools in Jewish hand. The fact that many Bolshevik leaders were Jewish extended that belief
    • Britain was convinced there was a pan-Islamic, nationalist movement being orchestrated by Britain’s enemies. However, it was the simple fact of Britain being an outsider, a colonist, and as a Christian nation hoping to govern Muslim territory. No great scheme was at play
    • In 1921, The Times began printing articles in disfavor of the Arab bureau, GHQ in Cairo, and the Occupied Enemy Territories Administrations in Palestine and Syria were the cause for Britain’s failures in the northeast
  • Moscow’s Goals
    • Until the decade before the First World War, the Russian Empire had been expanding at an average rate of 50 square miles a day for 400 years. With foreign territory came foreign peoples. Most of the Russian empires subjects were not Russians.
    • Stalin, a Transcaucasian Bolshevik, did not share Lenin’s views that the various nations within Russia should be able to be independent. Eventually, Stalin won out, in 1922 when the formation of a Soviet Union dominated by Russia was approved
    • In practice though, their differences were not much. Lenin believed in bolsheviks governing non-bolsheviks; Stalin believed in Russians ruling non-Russians. With Bolshevik being a minority and mostly Russia, in practice they became the same thing
  • A Death in Bukhara
    • In the early 1920s the Soviet Union seemed to be abandoning revolutionary goals in order for power grabs. They dealt with Mustapha Kemal’s anti-communist Turkish regime, allowing them to crush Georgia, Armenia. And Azerbaijan.
    • At a confederation of “East”, the Soviet Union seemed to call for an anti-British strategy, wielding communism and independence against the empire
    • All through this, Enver Pasha was hoping to negotiate some pact between Russian Bolshevism and Turkish nationalism, sponsored by German interests in anti-British movement. The Soviet Union was interest in Pasha as a possible tool against Kemal if needed.
    • Kemal’s star was rising, however, winning a series of battles against the Greek army
    • In the summer of 1921 Enver tried to work against Kemal, who was now even more aligned with the soviets. He was found out, and as punishment dispatched to Central Asia to help with Russian conquest against the native Turkish-speaking population in Bukhara, Central Asia. The city had been recently retaken by the soviets after the Emir there declared independence in 1917. This was against everything he stood for previously, liberation of Turks from Russian rule
    • Once there, Enver joined the Emir who had fled, and attempted to recapture the city to make it independent from Russian rule behind Russia’s back
    • Enver’s postwar adventures shed some light about the Middle East: Enver and Kemal were bitter enemies and not working together, Kemal was the more powerful of the two and had the Soviet war, Enver was not working with the German military machine, but just had some personal friends and Germany was actually working with the bolsheviks, there was no teeth to either the pan-Turkish or pan-Islamic movements, with governments, clans, and individuals responding and thinking locally. Envers ambitions and Soviet ambitions were far apart and in some ways opposed

Part XII: The Middle Eastern Settlement of 1922

  • Winston Churchill Takes Charge
    • British middle eastern policy reversed in the years following 1918. At the height of the war, possession and control of the Middle East seemed to be of utmost importance. In the years following, with domestic economic issues, Churchill took to task the cutting of costs in the Middle East, reducing expenditures by nearly 75%.
    • Churchill, not having any first-hand experience with the Middle East since 1916, took the exaggeration of TE Lawrence and Feisal into account with British policy, and that Britain should support Feisal in the region
    • Allenby, in charge of Cairo now, favored Egyptian independence and in February 1922 declared formal independence (with still some British caveats)
    • A Cairo conference was called in March 1921, led by Churchill and consisting of all the major British Middle East players. It was decided that Feisal would be installed into Mesopotamia (Iraq). There was much discussion about Palestine - Churchill proposed an Arab settlement east of the Jordan ruled by feisal’s brother and Jewish Palestine west of the Jordan.
    • Abdullah, son of Hussein and Brother of Feisal, was installed as the temporary ruler of Transjordan. At first, he was ineffective and cautious, not parrying back attempts at weakening his power. His purpose was to not incite violence so that the French could not have reason to take Transjordan. But, after some time, Abdullah wanted to stay on permanently; his real aspiration was to rule Syria, and proximity to French Syria was in his best interests to achieve that goal.
    • The issue with Abdullah permanently residing in Transjordan was that it was 75% of what was promised as Palestine in the Balfour Declaration. An Arab running a portion of a Jewish state was not a recipe for success. Thus, the British thought it easier to restrict Jewish Palestine to west of the Jordan.
    • Additionally, Ibn Saud sent forces against Jordan, which the British would stop. Ibn Saud and the Hashemites were bitter rivals, and Britain had installed two Hashemite rulers and drew the boundaries between the two empires
    • At the same time, the British hoped to install Feisal as the ruler of Iraq under the auspices of popular support. But, as that decision was being reached, rival Iraqi groups vying for power came to an agreement that allowed them to silicate support around an Iraqi (read: non-British supported) ruler. Britain helped Feisal by jailing one of the leaders of the Iraqi-based independence. Eventually, with a little British muscle, Feisal was accepted and crowned as constitutional monarch of Iraq.
    • But, Feisal began to slowly turn against the British, insisting on formal independence. Britain did not want to give up control, given that Iraq was thought to have large reserves of oil, and at feisal’s request negotiated a treaty, giving Iraq limited autonomy but being given attributes of statehood
  • Churchill and the question of Palestine
    • Churchill was sympathetic to the plight of persecuted Jews around the world. He also thought that there were two choices for politically involved Jews outside of local issues: Bolshevism or Zionism. Aiding Zionism was a defensive measure against Bolshevism
    • The Palestine question was complex. Churchill and Britain misjudged their opposition. Outward, the issue from the Arabs was economical, and that they were being forced to sell or that their country could not support new inhabitants. Churchill set out to demonstrate that they not be worried for economical reasons. But really, the issue at hand was xenophobia, in that foreigners were coming to change their country.
    • Britain was war-weary, and as time went on as the difficulties of Palestine amassed, the reluctance to continuing the “experiment” of Zionism increased from the British public and civil servants
  • The Alliances Come Apart
    • The Soviet government moved quickly into conflict along a southern tier in the Middle East and Central Asia. The worked with Kemal’s Turkish regime, and even began working with Germany, permitting Germans to undergo military training on soviet land to subvert the peace terms imposed on Germany
    • Italy began to show sympathy for the Ottoman’s, potentially due to the comradeship between nationalist movements. Also, Kemal’s forces were a threat, and better to appease than oppose. She was also turned away by the support of Greece from the allies. Italy also felt they were being cheated out of war booty by the allies
    • 1920, the US was unable to ratify the treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations and did not participate in peace treaty talk for the ottomans. There was a push for the “American Way” on the peace resolutions, of an open door policy for trade. Britain and the US also negotiated a deal for access to Iraq’s oil resources
    • France, spurned by their treatment during the Sykes-Picot agreement and the installation of Hashemite family political claims, finally deserted in 1921. France negotiated a separate peace with turkey then, the Angora Accord, overruling the Treaty of Sevres. Britain felt this was a betrayal. Thus, Turks supplied by France were at war with Greeks backed by Britain
  • A Greek Tragedy
    • Lloyd George has grown increasingly out of touch with the rest of the government on the war policy question of the Turkey. Most were pro-Turk and supported coming to a resolution.
    • In March 1921, Lloyd George indicated to the new Greek government that he was not too friendly with that Britain would not stand in the way of the Greeks attacking the Turks. In March and that summer, the Greeks attacked with initial failures and then some wins.
    • Lloyd George had his political reputation stakes on the battles in Asia Minor, as he was in the minority for supporting the Greeks
    • Kemal assumed dictatorship command for 3 months, willing to either succeed, or if he failed, take all of the blame. The Turkish National Assembly agreed. He pulled his forces back, built up defensive positions, and requisitioned supplies from citizens.
    • The Greeks fought hard and took much land, but overextended and eventually had to retreat.
    • The tensions between the Turks and Greeks, and Muslims and Christians were high, resulting in claims of skinning corpses, burning villages, and other atrocities.
    • Kemal marched to Constantinople, challenging the war-weary allies currently occupying the city to play defense. All relented, and the allies and Britain were forced to concede the straights and Constantinople to Turkey. This was the Chantal crisis
    • A military revolution broke out in Greece, leading to abdication of the king and execution of the previous leaders that had brought on the Greek disaster
  • The Middle Eastern Question
    • The Settlement of 1922 - a label for the collection of post-war settles on the region - is still be molded today. There is a question of legitimacy of the nation states carved out in the region, where a secular European political system was pushed onto an area with rich history, diverse makeup, and its own forms of government. The wars being fought today are just an extension of the decisions made after WWI, with nations fighting for their right to even exist. It took Europe 1500 years after the fall of Rome to assemble itself into an accepted map.