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War in the Middle East Against the Ottoman Empire

This section provides information about the war between the Allies, mainly Britain, and the Ottoman Empire in the Middle Eastern theatre of the war. Fighting also took place between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire in the Caucasus region.

War in the Middle East: British Troops Organizing a Camel Caravan
War in the Middle East: British Troops Organizing a Camel Caravan During the Advance On Baghdad

The most intense fighting took place in Palestine and the area now known as Iraq. Despite fielding poorly trained troops with inferior equipment the Ottoman Empire scored some victories against the British in Mesopotamia. Turkish troops inflicted severe defeats on the British advancing up the Euphrates towards Baghdad, and also put up stiff resistance in Palestine.

However, the Turkish troops were hopelessly outmatched. They were fighting an industrialized nation, Britain -- then the world's first superpower, with obsolete equipment, poor leadership and no motorized transport. Eventually the Turkish war effort collapsed and this led to the disintegration of the ancient Ottoman Empire. The Turkish provinces of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Palestine were partitioned and granted to the victors. France took Syria and Lebanon. Britain took Iraq and Palestine. The partition of the Ottoman Empire, often without regard to local ethnic or political allegiances was to have a profound effect on the future development of the region and the history of the world. The occupation of Palestine by the British was the precursor to the creation of the modern state of Israel.

List of Texts and Resources About the Russian Eastern Front

  • With the Turks in Palestine -- very interesting account of what life in Palestine was like under the brutal and represssive regime of the Ottomans during world war 1. This is a telling example: After beating and robbing an old man, a street vendor, of a fruit, the Turkish soldier declared: --"If a soldier of the Sultan should choose to heap filth on your head, it is for you to kiss his hand in gratitude." Needless to say the Ottomans failed to win the hearts and minds o fthe population, whcih supported the British.