1. The Background of the Campaign
1.1 Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century
the beginning of this century, Turkey was still the big Ottoman Empire.
general, it was composed of the actual Turkey together with extensive
possessions in the Balkans and the Dodekanesos. Apart from that, there were
the coastal regions of the Arabian subcontinent : in the west this meant
Israel, Syria, part of Arabia and Yemen. In the east the Turks ruled
over the Persian Gulf, Iraq and the Emirates.
the enormous size of these possessions had once been the foundation for
the power of the state, it was also the factor that ultimately led to
the decline of the empire. Through its uncontrolled growth over the
centuries, the state had become a mixture of cultures, languages and
religions that lacked any form of cohesion and progressively became more
difficult to control.
under Sultan Abdul Hamid, the empire had managed to keep its status and
stability over a period of thirty relatively calm years. One element
that had been important here, was the clever way in which Turkey made
skilful use of the competition between England and Russia, who both
wanted to extend their influence in the region.
at the beginning of the 20th century, these two started making
diplomatic moves to better their mutual interests through a more intense
cooperation, the role of Turkey as a buffer between the two became less
relevant and gradually the decline of the empire set in. Constantinople
became a beehive of diplomatic activity, while the unity of the country
itself was increasingly threatened by internal differences and a growing
political tension. Maintaining a centralised government became more and
more difficult and different parts of the empire slid into a state of
latent, and sometimes acute, anarchy.