20 July 2006
Excerpts by Sukru Server Aya, in reference to:
P.24: In May 1828 a Russian contingent crossed the Pruth River and began advancing southward while another force moved along the Eastern Coast of the Black Sea defeating the Ottoman Forces in Kars in July 1828. The Ottomans fought with unexpected tenacity, despite worsening plague and food shortage resulting from an Allied blockade, - Of the one hundred thousand Russian soldiers who began the campaign a mere fourteen thousand reached Adrianople. The rest were dying of various diseases- particularly dysentery and pestilence- at such a frightful pace that they could neither advance or retreat.
P.48: On his accession Ismail (Egypt) had inherited a public debt of £ 3 million by the mid 1870s this had risen to £ 90-100 millionat the terrifying rate of £ 7 million per year
P.49: Ismail once again bowed to foreign pressure. On Aug, 30, 1878 he instructed the Armenian Nubar Pasha to form a cabinet with the participation of European Ministers| Sir Rivers Wilson of Britain minister of finance, and M.de Bligniers of France as the minister of public works.
P.50: To Egyptians Christian Nubar, who had risen to extraordinary political prominence and obtained great personal
Wealth under Ismail, was a humiliating reminder of their growing subordination to the West. Forgotten was his responsibility for both Egypts massive debts and the strong foreign presence on its soil.
P.56: As in January 1882 the Anglo-French action backfired. Westerners fled Egypt by the thousands.
P.62: Particularly influential was the xenophobic Sheikh Abu Al Huda al Sayyadi, an Arab from the province of Aleppo who arrived in Istanbul to establish himself as Abdul Hamids Rasputin.
P.64: ... and Britains primary interests in Egypt in particular: continued international financial control deemed essential for Egypts economic recovery; exclusion of any single power and the security of the Suez Canal.
P.67: When in May 1887, after two years of arduous negotiations, an Anglo-Ottoman convention was signed providing for British withdrawal within three years, but giving Britain and Ottoman Empire the right to re-enter Egypt in certain circumstances, Abdul Hamid would not ratify it. France and Russia were threatening that ratification would give the right to occupy Ottoman provinces and leave only after the conclusion of a similar convention; France might do so un the Levant, Russia in Armenia.
P.68: What had begun as a brief and decisive military action in 1882 had turned into a long occupation that was to have a profound impact on the making of the modern Middle East,
P.71: Tsar Nicholas, in the early months of 1853, told the British ambassador G.H. Seymour his fear that the fall of the Ottoman Empire was a foregone conclusion and that Britain And Russia should therefore reach a general understanding about what was to be done when the Bear dies. We have in our hands a sick man a very sick man, Nicholas said.
P.73: If Britain was not willing to read the writing on the wall, Russia would have to save the Ottomans from the French on his own. Rattling his saber, the tsar mobilized two army corps and sent his special envoy Prince Alexander Menshikov to Istanbul to undo the Catholic gains and better still, to extract a formal agreement placing the Orthodox subjects of the Ottoman Empire under a Russian protectorate. The Porte, buoyed by the British position, informed Menshikov of its readiness to make some minor concessions as a token of goodwill, but rule out any formal recognition of a Russian protectorate over the Ottoman Orthodox. On May 21, 1853 he left empty-handed.
P.77: When Nicholas responded by sending his troops across the Danube, Britain and France declared war on Russia on March 28. The Crimean War had begun.
P.78: In Sept, 1854 fifty thousand British and French troops augmented by a seven thousand-strong Ottoman force
Landed on the Crimean Peninsula and advanced to siege Sebastopol. Suffering on both sides was tremendous. With more lives lost to raging epidemics and biting snowstorms than to actual fighting.
P.79: From its part Russia continued to press the Ottomans from the Caucasus. Advancing from Circassia, Russian forces managed to seize Beyazit and threaten the key Ottoman fortress Kars. The Ottoman garrison was able to hold out for six months, but eventually surrendered in late Nov. 1855 having been starved of food and ammunition.
But at this point General WINTER interceded and brought Ottoman-Russian fighting to a close.
P.85: Even France the foremost champion of nationalism, showed little sympathy for the insurgents. Istanbul was up to its neck in debt - £200 million bearing an annual interest of £ 12 million as against £ 22 million in annual revenues. On Oct. 6, 1875 the Porte declared that it was no longer able to meet its financial obligations. As Turkeys primary creditor, France was far more interested in salvaging its financial investments in the ailing empire.
P.92: The Ottomans watched with horror this wholesale portioning of their European empire but were powerless to arrest the avalanche. Nor could Sultan Abdul Hamids choice of representatives (at Berlin conference) have been worse. True, the chief negotiator Caratheodory Pasha (Greek) was an efficient foreign official who won the respect of his peers, but his timidity and muddled instructions he received from Istanbul prevented him from playing any meaningful role in the talks. The second delegate, the minister in Berlin, Sadullah bey was a miserable alcoholic who drank himself to death shortly after the congress. The third representative Mehmet Ali Pasha was a deserter from the Prussian army who had converted to Islam and had risen to military prominence in the Sultans service.
P.95: ...Turkey has no alternative but defend herself, stating Acting Foreign Minister Gabriel Efendi Noradounghian.
P.96-97: For their part the Young Turks capitalized on great-power concerns to gain another lease on life. As early as Oct. 10, 1912, two days after the Montenegrin declaration of war, the Porte approached Austria-Hungary with the suggestion that if the Powers stop Bulgaria from going to war, the Ottoman Empire would place in the hands of the Powers the execution of the reforms that are necessary. By November the Bulgarians were knocking at the gates of Istanbul. Ministers will also remain in their departments (instead of moving to Bursa) and we have decided to die at our posts. Yet he reiterated his warning that Constantinople is the seat of Caliphate and Mussulmans number 650.000 against 350.000 non-Mussulmans: we are thus going straight towards a catastrophe.
P.100: Like Abdul Hamid, the CUP (Committee of Union and Progress) toyed with the ideal of plan-Islam as a means to arrest fragmentation and restore past glory;but unlike the ill-fated Sultan, they relegated religion to a secondary place, making Turkish nationalism, Turkism, the primary vehicle for their imperial dreams.
P.101: All signs of non-Turkic national expression were regarded as treason, and the nationalist societies as a grave threat to Ottoman unity that had to be eradicated by law or by force. Dissident Albanian and Macedonian national groups were suppressed and Armenians attacked. Zionist activities in Palestine were curbed, the power of Arab chieftains curtailed and the tiny Arab political and cultural societies purged. On Jan. 23, 1913, some two hundred CUP members headed by Enver Pasha, the hero of Libyan war, staged a violent coup detat that came to be known as the Raid on the Sublime Porte: the minister of war was shot, the grand vizier and entire cabinet forced to resign. Absolute power would rest in the hands of a radical CUP triumvirate Enver Pasha, who would become the minister of WarTalaat Pasha, the minister of the interior and Djemal Pasha, the minister of navy complemented by the grand vizier Said Halim, himself a CUP member, The Ottoman Empire had been transformed into a military dictatorship. Its fate unwittingly sealed.
P.106: The triumvirate turned to European powers for military support. In France they placed orders for six destroyers and two submarines, as well as French naval expertise. From Britain the Ottomans ordered two formidable warships of the new dreadnought class Reshadije and Sultan Osman I, and in the summer of 1912 a British advisory mission was deployed within the Ottoman navy, headed by Admiral A.H. Limpus a personal friend of Winston Churchill. For the reorganization of their ground forces the Young Turks turned to Germany. Having been profoundly humiliated during the Balkan wars, the Ottoman Empire asked Berlin to reorganize and supervise its shattered forces.The latter complied and a German delegation headed by Lt.Gen. Liman von Sanders, a recently ennobled fifty-eight year old divisional commander, arrived in Istanbul in late 1913. Of the triumvirs who dominated the Ottoman political scene, Enver has been theleast studied and appreciated, Either because of his relative youthfulness (he was nine years younger than Djemal and seven years younger than Talaat), or, most likely because his imperialist inclinations do not fit the conventional historical narrative blaming the European powers for drawing the Ottoman Empire into WWI, Envers influence on the fateful decision that condemned the Ottoman Empire to destruction has been largely overlooked.
P.107: The men who lead his empire to destruction was born in Istanbul on Nov.22, 1881, to a low-ranking civil servant. Having graduated from the Military Academy, Enver was posted as staff captain to the Third Army in Macedonia, in Sept. 1906 he was promoted to the rank of major, where he spent three years in militaryoperations against Macedonian guerrillas and where he was won over the Young Turkscause, In June 1908 he escaped with a group of followers to the Macedonian hills fomenting the Young Turk revolution of July 23, 1908. At the age of twenty-six, Enver was already a revered revolutionist hero. On March 24, Adrianople fell to the Bulgarians.
P.108: Enver salvaged his reputation by leading the Ottoman counteroffensive in the Second Balkan War that turned the tables on Bulgaria and restored Adrianople to Ottoman rule in July 1913. On Jan.4, 1914 he was promoted two ranks to major-general and appointed minister of war in the CUP cabinet of grand vizier Said Halim Pasha, the grandson of Muhammad Ali of Egypt. Two months later Enver married Emine Nadjiye Sultan, the niece of the reigning monarch, Mehmed IV. The war hero had become related to the sultan-caliph.
P.109: Germany was the power on which Enver pinned his hopes for imperial regeneration. Following the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, the gathering of storm over recoup its European losses, provided that it aligned itself with the right great power.
P.111: The treaty was to be activated in the event of both Russian attack on either Turkey, Germany or Austria-Hungary and an attack by Germany or the Triple Alliance on Russia. Germany would leave its military mission in the Ottoman army for the duration of the war. In return, the Ottoman Empire would place its Supreme Military Command and the actual command of one-fourth of its army under the German mission. Given that Germany was already in a state of war with Russia on Aug.2nd, it expected its new ally to abide by its treaty obligations and declare war on Russia.
P.112: This was not to be. To Berlins deep dismay, on Aug. 3, Turkey mobilized its forces and proclaimed armed neutrality. Through its treaty with Germany, the Ottoman Empire had effectively transformed itself into a belligerent in the Continental conflict, though this was not recognized for some time because of thesecrecy of the agreement. An unexpected event provided an early boost to Envers machinations; on Aug.3, the British requisitioned the two warships the Ottomans had ordered from them and while this decision had nothing to do with anti-Ottoman sentiments. The requisitioning fell into Envers lap like a ripe plum. To the Ottomans the vessels were a source of great national pide.
P.115: On August 16, Djemal Pasha received the Goeben and the Breslau, renamed Yavuz Sultan Selim and Midilli.
P.116: The mobilization had placed an unbearable strain on the crumbling Ottoman economy, and on Sept.30 the Porte appealed to Germany for a loan of 5 million TL in gold, only to be thoroughly disappointed. Berlin was willing to lend Turkey the requested sum, undersecretaryZimmerman told the Ottoman ambassador in Berlin, Muhktar Pasha, but only after the Ottomans entered the war; until then, Turkey would have to content itself with an advance payment of 250.000 gold TL. - Two days later Enver paid yet another visit to the German ambassador, this time with Talaat, Djemal and Halil. The four reaffirmed their commitment to war and promised to allow Souchon to attack Russian targets the moment the German government deposited 2 million gold TL in Istanbul.
P.117: On Oct. 29, Ottoman torpedo boats attacked Russian warships in Odessa, while Goeben and Breslau attacked Sebastopol. On Oct. 30 Enver, Djemal, and Talaat convened an extraordinary session of the CUP, which came out in strong support of an immediate entry into the war. The prevailing view within CUP was that the Ottoman Empires continued adherence to neutrality would be extremely dangerous, since at the end of the war Russia might attempt to occupy the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. On Nov. 4 Russiadeclared war on the Ottoman Empire: Britain and France followed suit the next day. On Nov. 11, the Sultan, in his capacity as caliph, declared holy war against Russia, Britain, and France. Enver could rejoice: the Ottoman Empire had joined the Great War.
P.118: Hence; when their attempt to secure formal alliances with the Entente was declined; they had no choice but to throw in their lot with Germany.
P.119: True, following the 1908 Young Turk Revolution Britain declined several invitations to explore an Anglo-Ottoman alliance and Turkeys inclusion within the Entente (the last attempt made in June 1913). Close scrutiny of thd alliance overtures the Ottomans allegedly made prior to First World War to Russia in May 1914 and to France two months later would quickly dispel any notion of rejection, The overture to Russia was made by Talaat during a courtesy visit to the Livadia Palace in the Crimea.
P.121: As for the alleged overture to France, there is no evidence whatsoever that it was ever made, and the only mention of its existence is in Djemal Pashas memoirs.
P.123: With German help Turkey and Bulgaria signed a secret alliance Treaty on August 6.
P.131: The Entente Powers were caught off guard by the Ottomans Sep., 9. Announcement of abolition of capitulations.
P.132: As late as Oct. 9, Greay was still willing to offer a compromise to the Ottoman Empire on custom tariffs.
P.133: A British squadron lying outside the Dardanelles since the arrival of the two German cruisers in early August had stopped and turned back an Ottoman destroyer venturing out of the straits.
P.134: Talaat - Enver promised that they would initiate hostilities the moment a large consignment of German gold arrived.
P.137: On Oct. 31 Giers left Istanbul to be followed a day later by Mallet and Bompard. On Nov. 3, on Churchills
Instructions, British warships assisted by two French ships, bombarded the outer forts of the Dardanelles, A day later Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire, and Britain and France soon followed suit. The Entente Powers had been drawn into a war against their will.
P.138: Greed rather than necessity drove the Ottoman Empire into the First World War, Its war aim was to realize the imperialist vision of the powerful minister of war Enver Pasha, a tangled web of grievances and revanchist hopes geared toward reassertion of the Ottoman imperial glory and unification of Ottoman imperial glory and unification of the Turkic peoples within an expanded empire.
P.139: High military policy was decided by him and his colleagues: none of the German officers exercised authority over Ottoman forces other than that explicitly delegated to them by Enver; and Liman von Sanders, whom Enver held in low esteem at best, was even informed that any supplies from Germany would be distributed by Enver himself an no one!
P.140: At the outbreak of the war. The Ottoman armed forces consisted of some 600,000 troops, grouped in 38 divisions and three armies. The largest of these, the 250.000 strong First Army, comprising five army corps, was based in the European parts of the Empire for the defense of Istanbul and the straits. The Second and Third armies, each 125.000 strong were deployed respectively along Asian shore of the Sea of Marmara and Transcaucasia along the Russian border. Yet another 100.000 troops, scattered across the Empires Arabic speaking provinces were incorporated into a Fourth Army shortly after the outbreak of war and placed under the command of Minister of Navy, Djemal Pasha. During the last months of 1914, von Sanders proposed an invasion of the Ukraine from Odessa. This, however was not to the liking of Enver who hoped to win a rapid victory in Transcauasia, which was defended by a mere eight Russian divisions.
Such a venture would not only satisfy the Ottoman yearning for revenge and recovery of lost territories, particularly the strategic fortress of Kars, but would also open the door to Ottoman incursions in Russian Caucasus and possibly the Ukraine or Central Asia. For a while Envers strategy seemed to be well conceived, as the Third Army scored a string of successes. The elated Enver decided that it is time to strike immediately while the Russians were still licking their wounds, and would personally assume command. Ignoring von Sanders warning of the merciless winter conditions (*) in Transcaucasia, he packed and hurried to the Third Armys headquarters in Erzurum. The Russians had exploited the lull in the fighting to improve their defense and reorganize their forces, while the Ottoman troops were not ready for winter.
P.141: Fought under snowy conditions the battle of Sarikamish turned out disastrous for the Ottomans. TheThird Army lost more than 80.000 men within a matter of days: nearly 90 per cent of those participating in fighting. As the Russians crossed joint border and began advancing on Erzurum. Enver escaped by the skin of his teeth, arriving in Istanbul in earlyJanuary 1915. Anxious to hide the magnitude of his defeat, he ordered a blackout on news from the front and quickly blamed the debacle on the lack of German support. Djemal, a member of triumvirate since 1913, the minister of navy resented his transfer from the capital in November 1914 to command the Fourth Army. Djemal saw the attack on the Suez Canal as a potential personal coup. A golden opportunity to outshine Enver and to regain his central place in the national leadership. On the night of Feb 2, 1915, Djemal at the head of a twelve thousand strong force attacked the Suez Canal, only to suffer an ignominious defeat.
P.143: In an attempt to relieve the Ottoman pressure, on Dec 27 the Russian commander in chief Grand Duke Nicholas, made a direct appeal to Kitchener for an immediate action against the Ottomans, at their most vulnerable and sensitive point. The Russian withdrew their request within days, having learned Envers defeat at Sarikamish.
P.144: Hamiltons plan was approved. On April 24, de Robecks formidable fleet set to sea and following day landed large forces on the Gallipoli peninsula, only to run unexpectedly tough Ottoman resistance. Allies managed to establish precarious bridgeheads on the peninsula. All attempts to make further advances broke against the uncompromising Ottoman resistance, with the attacking forces suffering heavy losses: on May 12, the British warships Goliath, Triumph, and Majestic were sunk. Suvla drove the nail into the Alliescoffin. In five days of fierce fighting from Aug. 6 to Aug.10, the Ottomans, under the able leadership of the young and dashing Brigadier Mustafa Kemal, appointed field commander by von Sanders, managed to hold their ground, The Entente sustained 18.000 casualties: another 20.000 sick andwounded had to be evacuated. On Oct. 28, Hamilton was replaced by General Sir Munro who recommended the evacuation of the peninsula. By early 1916 the Entente forces had been withdrawn from Gallipoli.
P.145: British casualties in the campaign including 90.000 evacuated sick amounted to 205.000, which with the addition of 47.000 French casualties brought the Allied total to 252.000 or half of the troops sent to Gallipoli, against the officially admitted Ottoman losses of 251.000. Yet despite their heavy casualties, the Ottomans were elated, And while Mustafa Kemal and of course Liman von Sanders were the real heroes of Gallipoli, much of the credit was taken by CUP leadership, first and foremost by Enver. In Mesopotamia, in a battle near Crespion, twenty miles south of Baghdad, on Nov, 22-23, 1915, the Sixth Anglo-Indian Division under Maj. Gen. Townshend, a seasoned officer with distinguished record o service in India and the Sudan, was decimated by a well-entrenched Ottoman force, After sustaining 4.600 casualties, nearly half of the divisions effective strength. By the time he had retreated to Kut in December 3, there was little left of the Sixth Division as a coherent fighting force.
P.147: By the time Townshends forces surrendered to the Ottomans on April 28, 1916, after 143 days of siege, the Mesopotamian campaign had ground to a complete halt, Townsends men were marched hundreds of miles to Anatolia, where most of them would perish in Ottoman labor camps. But Envers imperial dream came not from the battlefields of the Middle East but from the earthquake that convulsed Turkeys northern neighbor; the Russian revolutions of 1917. As early as March 1917, after the overthrow of the tsar and formation of a revolutionary government under Alexander Kerensky, the five hundred thousand strong Russian army in Transcaucasia went into rapid disintegration. Seven months later, following the Bolsheviks seizure of power in what came to be known as the October Revolution, Russia left the war on Dec. 15, 1917, signed an armistice with Germany in the Polish town of Brest-Litovsk, The Ottoman Empire was a direct beneficiary of this agreement, regaining provinces of Kars, Ardahan and Batum, lost during the Russo-Ottoman War of 1877-1978. This was nor good enough forEnver.
P.148: The Ottomans made demands that went far beyond the territorial limits of Brest-Litvosk. They now included Alexandropol and its environs, the Trans-Georgian Railway and free use of all Transcausian railways as long as the Ottoman Empire was at war with the Entente. When these onerous terms were declined, the Ottomans overran the Armenian city of Alexandropol and begokokan advancing on the oil city of Baku. Shortly afterward on June 4, 1918 the Treaty of Batum was concluded between the Ottoman Empire on the one hand, and the Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijanis on the other. Georgia was permitted to retain the Black Sea port of Batum, while Armenia was to cede significant parts of it territories to the Ottoman Empire.
P.151: As a result of Russian agitation, European and American missionary work, and not the least, the nationalist revival in the Balkans, a surge of national consciousness within the three Armenian religious communities, Gregorian, Catholic and Protestant, began to take root, In the 1870s Armenian secret societies sprang at home and abroad developing gradually into militant nationalist groups such as the Hunchakian and the Dashnagzoutiun. Uprising against Ottoman rule erupted time and again; terrorism became a common phenomenon, both against Turks and noncompliant fellow Armenians, Nationalists pleaded with the 1878 Berlin Treaty which had obliged the Porte to undertake improvements and reforms demanded by local requirements in the provinces inhibited by the Armenians and to guarantee their security against the Circassians and Kurds. By 1903 a vicious circle of escalating violence was under way yet again and rebels engaged in dialogues with Ottoman exiles on joint measures to overthrow the sultan, On July 21, 1905, during the Friday prayers, Abdulhamid narrowly escaped as assassination attempt by a group of nationalists.
Compliments of Sukru Server Aya