By Sean McMeekin
The trendy heart East used to be cast within the crucible of the 1st global warfare, yet few be aware of the entire tale of the way struggle really got here to the area. As Sean McMeekin finds during this startling reinterpretation of the warfare, it used to be neither the British nor the French yet fairly a small clique of Germans and Turks who thrust the Islamic international into the clash for his or her personal political, monetary, and armed forces ends. The Berlin-Baghdad exhibit tells the attention-grabbing tale of the way Germany exploited Ottoman pan-Islamism so that it will damage the British Empire, then the biggest Islamic energy on the earth. in the meantime the younger Turks harnessed themselves to German army may possibly to avenge Turkey’s hereditary enemy, Russia. informed from the point of view of the major decision-makers at the Turco-German aspect, some of the so much consequential occasions of worldwide struggle I—Turkey’s access into the battle, Gallipoli, the Armenian massacres, the Arab insurrection, and the Russian Revolution—are illuminated as by no means sooner than. Drawing on a wealth of recent assets, McMeekin forces us to reconsider Western interference within the center East and its lamentable effects. it truly is an epic tragicomedy of unintentional results, as Turkish nationalists provide Russia the battle it desperately desires, jihad begets an Islamic rebel in Mecca, German sabotage plots upend the Tsar providing Turkey from Russia’s yoke, and German Zionism midwifes the Balfour announcement. All alongside, the tale is interwoven with the drama surrounding German efforts to accomplish the Berlin to Baghdad railway, the weapon designed to win the conflict and guarantee German hegemony over the center East. (20100920)
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Additional resources for The Berlin-Baghdad Express: The Ottoman Empire and Germany's Bid for World Power
So long as the suspicious Sultan lived, he would never mortgage his empire to the British, who had already taken Egypt, one of the crown jewels of his empire. Nor did he trust the French, who were already occupying the (theoretically) Ottoman provinces in the Maghreb and making imperial inroads in Syria, not to mention intriguing openly with Russia, Turkey’s mortal enemy. If any Europeans would build the new strategic artery of Asiatic Turkey, it would be the Germans – or no one. The Kaiser’s visit to Constantinople in 1898 raised the stakes in the game, but did not really alter the fundamentals.
38 Berli n to Bag hda d This was much easier said than done. The Deutsche Bank-owned Anatolian Railway Company (Société du Chemin de fer Ottoman d’Anatolie), chartered in 1889 on the heels of Siemens’ generous loan to Abdul Hamid the previous year, did complete the extension of the Izmit line to Ankara by 1892 on its own. 9 A rail line to Baghdad and Basra would likely require outlays of hundreds of millions, which would necessitate ‘kilometric revenue guarantees’ (a kind of promissory note or bond pegged to each section of line constructed) to reassure investors.
The Agatha Christie / James Bond version of the line was actually the ‘Simplon Orient Express’, a more southerly line via Sofia, Zaghreb, Trieste, Venice and Milan, established following the opening of the Simplon tunnel through the Swiss-Italian Alps in 1919. † By the terms of the Russian-Ottoman Black Sea Agreement of 1900, the Russian Tsar reserved the right to veto any railway development projects in northern or eastern Anatolian areas abutting the Caucasus. 36 Berli n to Bag hda d When we consider the suspicions beginning to swirl around both of Turkey’s Crimean War allies at the Porte, it is not surprising that Abdul Hamid began lobbying for imperial Germany to replace them as his protector against the Russian threat.