Southern Asia 1915: Ottoman Raids in Persia and Sinai

The defeat at Sarikamish did not end smaller scale Ottoman offensives, with one Turkish unit even managing to briefly capture the poorly defended Persian city of Tabriz from the Russians. Further south the Ottomans expanded the war in Persia by allying with local tribesmen to threaten the British-held oilfields, while in Egypt they crossed the Sinai to contest British control of the Suez Canal.


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

12–30 Jan 1915 Ottoman occupation of Tabriz

Taking advantage of the diversion of Russian troops to the Caucasus front, the Ottoman Mosul Group under Ömer Fevzi Bey captures Tabriz, Persia, facing little resistance. The shocked Russians launch a new offensive in northern Persia, retaking the city on January wikipedia

18 Jan 1915 Japan’s Twenty-One Demands

Japan presented its Twenty-One Demands to Yuan Shikai, President of China, threatening dire consequences if they were rejected. The Demands were to confirm Japanese seizure of German ports and infrastructure in China, extend Japan’s leasehold over the South Manchuria Railway Zone, give Japan control over central Chinese mining, bar China from making further concessions to other foreign powers, and accept Japanese advisers. After initial rejection, China would accept a reduced set of 13 demands on May wikipedia

24 Jan 1915 Battle of Jarrab

The Rashidis of Jebel Shammar (Ha’il) attack and defeat the Saudi forces of Nejd at Lake Jarrab. Ibn Saud’s British military advisor, Captain William Shakespear, is killed by a bullet during the battle and then decapitated by the victorious Rashidis. Shakespear’s helmet is given to the Ottoman authorities, who hang it on one of the main gates of Medina as evidence of Saudi-British collaboration. The battle helps dissuade the Saudis from entering World War I on the side of the wikipedia

26 Jan–4 Feb 1915 Raid on the Suez Canal

Some 20,000 Ottoman troops led by Djemal Pasha and the German Colonel von Kressenstein advance across the Sinai, attacking the British controlled Suez Canal at Suez and Qantara. They are successfully held off by 30,000 British Imperial troops and forced to wikipedia

26 Jan–3 Mar 1915 Ottoman expedition to Ahvaz

Irregular Ottoman and tribal units advance from Amarah, Mesopotamia, towards the Karun River and Ahvaz, Persia, threatening British controlled oilfields. On March 3 British and Indian Army forces attack a concentration of pro-Ottoman tribesmen at Ghadir, northwest of Ahvaz, but are wikipedia