Turkey Enters the German Alliance Turkey's First Acts of War
Russian Army of the Caucasus, 150,000
General Woronoslav, Commander
Turkish Army of the Caucasus, 160,000
Enver Bey, Commander (Assisted by a German Staff)
Before the first shot was fired in the World War, Turkey had committed herself irrevocably to the German cause. Turkey had been admitted into a political and military alliance, concluded secretly with Germany, only a few weeks before the murder of the Austrian Crown Prince, and under circumstances somewhat indicative of Prussia's prescience of future events.
Desiring the Kaiser's aid in recovering his lost provinces from Faissia, the Sultan in 1912 had proposed an alliance with Germany. For two years the Kaiser equivocated, but in the spring of 1914 he yielded his consent. Scarcely had the treaty been signed when the Austrian Crown Prince, who had been as a thorn in the side of Germany, was assassinated at Sarajevo and the stage set for the greatest catastrophe in the world's history.
With the outbreak of hostilities, the Sultan professed a policy of strict neutrality, while orders issued for the mobilization of the Turkish Army under German direction. The German Military Commission, headed by Gen. Liman von Sanders, took over the duties of the Turkish General Staff, and the German Admiral Sushon, with a retinue of German naval officers, assumed control of the Turkish Fleet.
The Dardanelles were at once closed to all foreign shipping and the waters of the Channel sown with mines, to prevent the egress of the Russian Fleet from the Black Sea and the ingress of the Allied Fleets through the Bosphorus. Thus the only feasible route by which Russia's surplus grain might reach the Allies, or Allied guns might be sent into Russia was sealed tight. Russia had been practically isolated from her Allies!
England roused the temper of the Turks in the first days of the War by commandeering two Turkish battleships under construction in British yards. In reprisal the Turks stormed the British consulate at Constantinople. Turkey revealed her friendship for Germany when, in August, the German warships Goe'oen and Breslau, after being chased through the Mediterranean, were admitted through the Dardanelles and transferred to Turkish Sovereignty. Subsequently, on the persuasion of Germany, the Turkish Government abolished the special privileges, called "capitulations," granted some years before to foreigners living within the Turkish empire.
The Turkish Government, moreover, had championed the cause of Germany against England and her Allies, threatened Greece and Russia, and made overtures to Bulgaria and Rumania, looking to co-operation in a military policy. The Allied diplomats, too, were seeking the aid of those same nations. Bulgaria was promised Adrianople and Thrace ; Greece was tempted with the offer of Smyrna ; while Rumania was to receive certain provinces in Austria as the reward for uniting with the Allies.
Turkey's First Acts of War
Meanwhile, the secret intrigues of the Turks had culminated in definite acts of war. Not only had Turkey harbored enemy warships, and withdrawn her capitulations to foreigners, but on October 9, 1914, Turkish torpedo boats had raided the port of Sebastopol in the Black Sea, sunk several Russian cargo ships laden with grain, shelled two Russian cruisers, and bombarded the town of Sebastopol.
On October 26, 1914, a swarm of Bedouins, invading the Sinai Peninsula, had occupied the wells of Magdada, 20 miles beyond the Egyptian frontier. On October 29 the Breslau bombarded the Black Sea port of Theodosia. Convinced at last of the perfidy of Turkey, the ambassadors of the Allied powers at once asked for their passports. The Turkish Government defended its action by asserting that the Russian ships were the aggressors.
Sultan's Call for a "Holy War" Unsuccessful
The Sultan of Turkey, as spiritual ruler of Islam, on November 4, 1914, declared war against England and called on the 800,000,000 Muslims throughout the world to unite in a "Holy War" for the extermination of all Christian nations then at war with Germany. The Mohammedan rulers of India, Egypt, Tripoli, Tunis, Algeria, and Morocco not only ignored the call, but many of the Muslim princes, including the powerful Agar Khan, proffered their personal services and large sums of money to England.
In Egypt there was some show of hatred for England among the Nomads of the desert, but no attempt was made to instigate a general uprising. Arabia, a Turkish province, allied herself with England and France. Great Britain retaliated by declaring war upon Turkey, November 5, 1914, by seizing all Turkish vessels in British ports and annexing the Island of Cyprus.
The Khedive of Egypt Is Deposed
Abbas II, the Khedive of Egypt, under the persuasion of Germany, and with the probable hope of freeing Egypt from British sovereignty, had espoused the cause of the Turks and fled to Constantinople.
The British Government thereupon abolished the title of Khedive, deposed Abbas, and raised to the throne an Egyptian prince, Hussain, who assumed the power on December 20 at Cairo. At the same time the British Government promised to restore self rule to the Egyptians at the close of the War.