Southern Asia 1920: Soviet Victory in Central Asia

Political map of South & Southwest Asia on 18 May 1920 (Anglo-French Overreach: Soviet Victory in Central Asia), showing the following events: Non-Cooperation Movement; Fifth Dervish Expedition; Overthrow of the Khanate of Khiva; Military occupation of Constantinople; Azerbaijan Soviet Conciliar Republic; Soviets in Gilan; Kuwait-Nejd War.

In 1919 the Soviets defeated the rival White movement in Siberia, allowing them to reconnect with their isolated allies in the Turkestan ASR. The following year they moved south across Central Asia and around the Caspian Sea into Azerbaijan. By May they were in northern Persia, where they helped establish a Soviet Republic in Gilan.


Changes to the map 27 December 1919–18 May 1920

Russian Civil War: The Soviets have pushed through Central Asia, destroying the last remnants of White resistance and conquering the Khanate of Khiva. However Turkmen raiders fleeing Khiva under Junayd Khan are now at large to the south.

Caucasus: The Soviets have occupied Daghestan, the North Caucasian Emirate, and Azerbaijan.

Persia: The Soviets have extended their influence into northern Persia. From Azerbaijan, they have occupied Gilan.

Turkish War of Independence: Fed up with the inability of the Ottoman government to suppress the Turkish Nationalists, the British have taken control in Constantinople, forcing the Sultan to dissolve the Ottoman parliament.

Somaliland Campaign: In their final expedition against the Dervish State, the British have defeated the so-called 'Mad Mullah' Mohammed Abdullah Hassan with the support of the RAF.

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

? Jan 1920–12 Feb 1922 Non-Cooperation Movement

Indian nationalist Mahatma Gandhi persuades the Indian National Congress to pursue non-cooperation in a nation-wide protest after the failure of the Khilafat Movement. For two years, many Indians peacefully refuse to work in offices, factories, police, or government services and boycott public transportation and British-manufactured goods. The movement is a shock to the British and encourages Indian wikipedia

17 Jan–9 Feb 1920 Fifth Dervish Expedition

In January 1920 the British mounted their final expedition against the Dervish State of Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (who they nickname the ‘Mad Mullah’) in the south of British Somaliland. The King’s African Rifles, the Somaliland Camel Corps, and 12 aircraft of the Royal Air Force defeated Hassan’s Dervishes and captured their capital of Taleh. Hassan fled into the Ogaden, where he would die of influenza in wikipedia

2 Feb 1920 Overthrow of the Khanate of Khiva

Invading Soviet forces, anti-monarchists, and Turkmen tribesmen force the abdication of Sayid Abdullah, last Kungrad khan of the Khanate of Khiva. In the place of the Khanate, the Khorezm People’s Soviet Republic is wikipedia

14–18 Mar 1920 Military occupation of Constantinople

In response to the increasing collaboration between the Ottoman Parliament and the Turkish Nationalists, British troops occupy key buildings and arrest nationalists in Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman Empire. The parliament meets one last time on March 18 in protest, before being dissolved by the Sultan the following wikipedia

28 Apr 1920 Azerbaijan Soviet Conciliar Republic

Local Bolsheviks, led by Mirza Davud and Nariman Narimanov, and invading Soviet Russian troops of the 11th Red Army force the capitulation of the government of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. In its place, the Azerbaijan Soviet Conciliar Republic is wikipedia

18 May 1920 Soviets in Gilan

The Soviet Caspian Fleet enters the port of Anzali, in Gilan in northwest Persia, in pursuit of Russian vessels and ammunition taken there by the White Russian counter-revolutionary General Denikin, prompting the British garrison to evacuate to Manjil. On June 5, the Soviets support Mirza Kuchik Khan in establishing the Persian Socialist Soviet Republic in wikipedia

18 May–10 Oct 1920 Kuwait-Nejd War

Ikhwan under Faisal al-Duwaish from the Saudi Sultanate of Nejd invade the British-backed Sheikhdom of Kuwait, defeating the Kuwaitis at the six day Battle of Hamdh. From here, the Ikhwan attack the Red Fort at Al Jahra, but are repelled when Kuwaiti reinforcements and British support arrive, bringing a negotiated end to the wikipedia