The Mesopotamian Campaign

The Mesopotamian Theater

During the first World War, the Ottoman Empire was part of the Central Powers. Battles against them were fought in what was called the Middle Eastern Theater. The allies were represented by the British Empire. The Ottoman Empire had conquered Mesopotamia in the 16th century but never gained complete control of it. The turn of the 19th century brought reforms, the 20th, genocide. The Anglo-Persian oil company had exclusive rights to petroleum in the Persian Empire. Before the war, the British empire contracted with the company for oil with the navy, this created some conflict of interest as the British tried to protect the oil reserves. The effort for conquering Mesopotamia and gaining control of the region was to resume the opinion of the British within the Indian Muslim community. Fighting in Mesopotamia occurred for the whole of the war.

1914

The British offensive began with the navy bombarding the fort at Fao, near the Persian Gulf. The opposition was 350 Ottoman troops. The Sheikh of Kuwait reclaimed his country from the Ottoman Empire by writing Kuwait on its flag. Due to his help, the British occupied the city of Basra, the Ottoman troops occupying it fled and abandoned the city, leaving it it the hands of the British. The ottoman army gave only weak efforts to dislodge the British.

1915

Suleyman Askeri wanted to get rid of the british. He sent letters to other arab sheikhs to dislodge them. This led to the battle of Shaiba. The battle turned sour for the ottoman army and they retreated 75 miles up the river. Suleyman Askeri was disappointed and depressed and shot himself in the hospital in baghdad. After the British success, General John Nixon was sent to take command. He ordered other Generals to move on to Kut or even Baghdad. The army eventually seized Kut that year and began to move for Baghdad.

1916

Both sides suffered many casualties while fighting for Kut. Disease spread rapidly. The British lost Kut. They moved more men to the theater as well as food and water. They continued to pursue Baghdad, and made efforts to retake Kut.

1917

The british attempted to seize Baghdad, they seized Kut along the way, and after many months, the british captured Baghdad. General Maude issued a proclamation of Baghdad and died of Cholera that November.

1918

The British continued their offensive, seizing many forts in the process. But they became tired of the somewhat useless war in Mesopotamia and began to form an armistice.

The Armistice of Mudros.

The ottoman army surrendered to the british, but the british marched to mosul unopposed on November 14th 1918. The war ended that day.

Casualties:

The British suffered 92,000 casualties. The Ottoman's lost 325,000.

Credits:

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