Southern Asia 1917: Russian Revolution

Unfortunately for the Allies, the new Russian Republic which had arisen after the February Revolution was weak and unstable. On November 7 (October 25 in the old-style calendar), Vladimir Lenin's revolutionary Bolshevik party seized power in Petrograd, the capital, and overthrew the government. Further armed insurrections took place across Russia.


Changes to the map 6 July 1917–7 November 1917

In Mesopotamia, the British have advanced up the Tigris, destroying Ottoman positions at Tikrit although not permanently occupying that town. In the east, they have begun securing the border with Persia.

In Persia, the Russians are continuing to withdraw. The British are still fighting tribes around Shiraz.

In Palestine, the British have resumed their advance with Arab support in the Jordan valley.

In the Arabian peninsula, the Arab rebels have almost completely expelled the Ottomans. Medina still holds out, supported at the cost of sending supplies down the long and vulnerable Hejaz Railway.

Sometime between 1916 and 1917, the Aidids of Upper Asir begin to assert their independence. However Ottoman forces remain in Abha, their capital, until after the end of the War.

In Ethiopia, Lij Iyasu's revolt has been defeated although Iyasu himself has escaped. In British East Africa, British forces have brought an end to the revolt of Juba tribes.

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.

Indian Empire

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.

Main Events

14 Aug 1917 Entry of China into World War I

The Republic of China, under Premier Duan Qirui, declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary, entering World War I on the side of the Allies. Duan hoped that this action would lead the Allies to look favorably on China and revoke many of the unequal treaties it had been forced to sign in the past. The Chinese government immediately terminated the German and Austro-Hungarian leases in wikipedia

2 Nov 1917 Balfour Declaration

British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour sends a letter confirming British support for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine to Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The letter, published on 9 November, is in contrast to British promises to the Arab independence wikipedia

7–8 Nov 1917 October Revolution

On 7 November (25 October Old Style) 1917, Bolshevik Red Guards, led by Leon Trotsky, mounted an armed insurrection in Petrograd, capital of the Russian Republic, capturing several government buildings. The following day they seized the Winter Palace, the seat of Alexander Kerensky’s Provisional Government. The Bolsheviks declared a new government, the Council of People’s Commissars, with Vladimir Lenin as its head. Simultaneously and over the following days, other Bolshevik uprisings took place in towns and cities across wikipedia