The Great War in the Middle East
Southern Asia 1915.1122
Middle Eastern Theatre of World War I (22 November 1915)
Historical Map of South & Southwest Asia
The Allies were already having difficulties with German-assisted Persian uprisings, now the ease with which the German expedition to Afghanistan had crossed Persia cemented their view that Persian sympathies lay with the Central Powers. In November, Russia marched on Tehran and enforced Allied terms on the Shah, but this intervention only increased unrest elsewhere in the country.
British Protectorates in the Persian Gulf
The British Residency of the Persian Gulf maintains British India influence in a number of Gulf states. These states are nominally independent - and shown as such in most atlases from the period - but have all signed treaties guaranteeing British control over their foreign affairs.
The Sultanate of Muscat and Oman is the only one of these states with significant international relations, having obtained trade agreements with the US and France before it signed its treaty with Britain. Maps of the time often show Trucial Oman and even Qatar as regions of Oman.
Trucial Oman is the region to the west of Oman which collectively signed treaties with Britain. The sheikhdoms of this region are often called the Trucial States, and will become the United Arab Emirates. However at this time they have little unity, with no regional council until 1952.
The British Indian Empire, also known as the British Raj, is comprised of a complex of presidencies, provinces, protectorates, and agencies. Only the top level subdivisions are shown here.
The area under direct British rule is known as British India and made up of presidencies and provinces - a presidency simply being the name for an older province.
Outside British India, but often included within the sphere of the presidencies/provinces, are the hundreds of protectorates or 'princely states'. These are indirectly ruled states, the largest being Hyderabad, Kashmir, and Mysore. The others are either collected into agencies - which may in turn contain other smaller agencies - or fall under the sway of the provinces.
Bulgaria's entry into WWI
The Kingdom of Bulgaria declares war on the Kingdom of Serbia, bringing Bulgaria into World War I on the side of the Central Powers. Its entry dooms Serbia by creating another front and ensures the continuation of the Ottoman war effort by opening up the way for material assistance from Germany.
Russian advance on Tehran
Russian forces advance via Anzali and Qazvin to Karaj, on the outskirts of Tehran, capital of Persia. German, Austrian, and Ottoman agents flee Tehran with sympathizers to help form a national defense committee in Qom. On November 15 the Persian ministry of foreign affairs announces the capital will be moved to Isfahan, but the plan is revoked by Ahmad Shah, who has decided to come to terms with the Allies.
Ahmad Shah capitulates to Allies
With Russian troops outside Tehran, Ahmad Shah Qajar, 17-year old ruler of Persia, agrees to all Allied demands, including forming a cabinet of ministers acceptable by the Allies. His capitulation only encourages revolt by the pro-German gendarmerie and tribal leaders across the kingdom.
Battle of Ctesiphon
British Imperial and Indian troops led by General Charles Townshend advance on Ctesiphon, Ottoman Mesopotamia, but are brought to a halt by the Ottoman defenders under Colonel Nureddin. After two days of hard fighting, both sides decide to withdraw from the battlefield. When Nureddin discovers Townshend is also retreating, he turns around and pursues the British to Kut.