Persian Campaign

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Persian Campaign
Part of the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I
M 130 13 Turcs à Ourmiah.jpg
The Ottoman Army in Urmia, 1916.
Date December 1914 – October 30, 1918
Location Iran (Persia)
Result

Military stalemate[1]

Belligerents

Russian Empire Russian Empire
 British Empire

Armenia Armenian forces

Flag of Assyria (1913-1923).svg Assyrian forces

 Ottoman Empire

German Empire German Empire

Flag of Persia (1910-1925).svg Persia
Flag of Persia (1910-1925).svg Jangal movement of Gilan

Qashqai Tribesmen
Tangistani Tribesmen
Laristani Tribesmen
Commanders and leaders

Russia Fyodor Chernozubov
Russia Nikolai Baratov
Armenia Tovmas Nazarbekian
Armenia Andranik Ozanian
Flag of Assyria (1913-1923).svg Agha Petros
United Kingdom Percy Sykes

United Kingdom Lionel Dunsterville

Ottoman Empire Halil Kut
German Empire Georg von Kaunitz
German Empire Wilhelm Wassmuss
German Empire Colonel Bup[2]
German Empire Captain Angman

German Empire Captain Folke

Flag of Persia (1910-1925).svg Mohammad Taqi-Khan Pessian
Flag of Persia (1910-1925).svg Mirza Kuchak Khan
Flag of Persia (1910-1925).svg Ismail Khan Sowlat-ad-dowla Qashqai[3]
Flag of Persia (1910-1925).svg Rais Ali Delvari
Flag of Persia (1910-1925).svg Naser Divan Kazeruni Flag of Persia (1910-1925).svg Mohammad Bagher Khan Tangestani

Flag of Persia (1910-1925).svg Ibrahim Khan Qavam-ul-Mulk
Units involved

Russian Caucasus Army
Detachment Armenian volunteer units
Royal Persian Cossack Brigade
British Indian Army
South Persia Rifles

Khamseh Tribesmen

2nd Army

Detachment (German soldiers and agents)

Persian Gendarmerie
Qashqai Militants
Tangistani Forces
Laristani Militants

Dashti Volunteers
Strength
Total:
United Kingdom 51,000[4]
June 1916:
Russia ~20,000[5]
Total:
Ottoman Empire ?
June 1916:
Ottoman Empire 25,000[6]
?
Casualties and losses
Russia ?
United Kingdom 3,000[7]
2,474+ killed
471+ wounded
Ottoman Empire 2,529[8]
853 killed/missing
1,676 wounded
unknown captured
few thousand died of disease[9]
?

The Persian Campaign or Invasion of Persia also known as Invasion of Iran (Persian: اشغال ایران در جنگ جهانی اول‎‎) was a series of engagements in Iranian Azerbaijan and western Iran (Persia) involving the forces of the Ottoman Empire against those of the British Empire and Russian Empire, and also involving local population elements, beginning in December 1914 and ending with the Armistice of Mudros on October 30, 1918 as part of Middle Eastern theatre of World War I.

Background

Persia was formally neutral in World War I. In reality, Persian forces were affected by the rivalry between the Allied Powers and the Central Powers and took sides based on the conditions. Western interest in Persia was based on its significant oil reserve and its strategic situation between Afghanistan and the warring Ottoman, Russian, and British Empires. Persia was divided into northern and southern spheres of influence under the Anglo-Russian Treaty of 1907, with the Russians naturally having gained the northern part adjacent to their holdings in the Caucasus, while the British took the south. The convention capped off several decades of the Great Game between the Russians and British. The treaty included thus their respective spheres of influence in Persia as well, and provided a further counterweight to German influence.

Germany established their Intelligence Bureau for the East on the eve of World War I, dedicated to promoting and sustaining subversive and nationalist agitations in British India and the Persian and Egyptian satellite states. The bureau was involved in intelligence and subversive missions to Persia and Afghanistan to dismantle the Anglo-Russian Entente. The bureau's operations in Persia were led by Wilhelm Wassmuss.[10] The Germans hoped to free Persia from British and Russian influence and to further create a wedge between Russia and the British, eventually leading to an invasion of British India by locally organized armies.

The Ottoman Empire's military strategic goal was to cut off Russian access to the hydrocarbon resources around the Caspian Sea.[11] Aligned with the Germans, the Ottoman Empire wanted to undermine the influence of the Entente in this region, but for a very different reason. The Ottoman Minister of War, Enver Pasha, claimed that if the Russians could be beaten in the key cities of Persia, it could open the way to Azerbaijan, to Central Asia and to India. Enver Pasha envisioned an extended cooperation between these newly establishing nationalistic states, if they were to be removed from western influence. This was his pan-Turanian project. His political position was based on the assumption that none of the colonial powers possessed the resources to withstand the strains of world war and maintain their direct rule in their Asian colonies. Although nationalist movements throughout the colonial world led to political upheaval in nearly all colonies in Asia during World War I and the interwar period, the decolonisation on the scale of Enver's ambitions was never achieved. However, Enver Pasha continued with his ambition after the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire by the victorious Entente Powers until his death on August 4, 1922.

In 1914, before the war, the British government had contracted with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company for the supply of oil for the navy.[11] The Anglo-Persian Oil Company was in the proposed path of Enver's project: the British had the exclusive rights to work petroleum deposits throughout the Persian Empire except in the provinces of Azerbaijan, Gilan, Mazendaran, Astarabad and Khorasan.[11]

Forces

The Persian forces were established around certain districts, instead of one single force. Each district (like state forces) furnished battalions and each of the provinces had several battalions. Each district depending on the tribal grouping furnished one or sometimes two battalions usually under their own chiefs. The strength of battalions was from 600 to 800. They had artillery batteries whose strength ranged from four to eight guns. The irregular troops amounted to about 50,000 in each district, with ranks composed of tribal horsemen and an uncertain number of footmen, all poorly armed. It was not uncommon of the chiefs, who controlled the battalions, to change sides. Some of these forces were Qashqai Tribesmen, Tangistani Tribesmen, Laristani Tribesmen, and Khamseh tribesmen. The Persian central government also had the Persian Central Government Gendarmerie, which had Swedish officers and consisted of about 6,000 troops. Only 2,000 of the 6,000 were mounted. They were in six regiments, each of nine battalions, and their armament included Mauser rifles, twelve machine guns, and four mountain guns. The Persian forces were dispersed at Tehran, Kazvin (Ghazvin), and Hamadan with the objective of keeping the country's main roads, which covered an estimated distance of 930 miles, under Persian control.

In 1914, Enver Pasha ordered Lt. Col. Kâzım Bey, commander of the 1st Expeditionary Force (11 December) and Lt. Col. Halil Bey, commander of the 5th Expeditionary Force (25 December): "Your duty is to move with your division towards Persia and proceed through Tabriz to Dagestan, where you will ignite a general rebellion and repulse the Russians from the shores of the Caspian Sea."

The German operations were carried out by Wilhelm Wassmuss and Count Kaunitz. Wassmuss, known as the German Lawrence, was a German consular official in Persia who loved the desert, and wore the flowing robes of a desert tribesman. He persuaded his superiors in Constantinople that he could lead Persian tribes in a revolt against Britain.

In 1914, the British Indian Army had several units located in the southern influence zone. Britain had extensive experience in dealing with tribal forces because of the Indian experience. At the end of 1917, a British force headed by Major-General Lionel Dunsterville was established. He arrived to take command in Baghdad on January 18, 1918. The British troops of Dunsterville eventually numbered about 1,000. They were supported by a field artillery battery, machine gun section, three armoured cars, and also two airplanes. Together with mobile field hospitals, staff officers, headquarters staff etc., the total force must have numbered about 1,300. Dunsterville was ordered to "proceed from Mesopotamia through Persia to the port of Anzali, then board ship to Baku and onwards." In 1916 the British formed the South Persian Rifles to protect their interests in Persia.[12]

Russia had long since established forces in the region. The Persian Cossack Brigade and a small contingent of the Russian Caucasus Army under the Armenian General Tovmas Nazarbekian was statopmed there. The Cossack Brigade consisted of eight squadrons, a small battalion of infantry and a horse battery of six Krupp guns; their total strength did not exceed 2,000. Besides this force, in 1912 Russia obtained the formal consent of the Persian government to the formation of a similar Cossack Brigade at Tabriz under Russian officers. The consent of the government was given as a condition for the withdrawal of Russian troops in Persian Azerbaijan which, at the onset of the Great War, Russia did not. The Russians also moved one detachment of Armenian volunteer units under the command of Andranik Ozanian to this region.

Battle zone

Map showing the Ottoman campaigns of 1918.

The engagements were in the northern Persian Azerbaijan, compromising the provinces of East Azarbaijan, West Azarbaijan and Ardabil cities include Tabriz, Urmia, Ardabil, Maragheh, Marand, Mahabad and Khoy.

Operations

Prelude

The central Persian government had difficulties in establishing order before the war. In a single year; the Qashqai Tribesmen, the most powerful in southern Persia, defied the governor-general and raided in Fars as did the Boyer Ahmad-i's Tribesmen; the Khamseh Tribesmen raided the caravan routes in the Kerman province; and other tribes raided in the Fars, Yazd or Kermān provinces from time to time. The government-controlled gendarmerie had gradually established themselves, although not wholly, and engaged a number of tribesmen. The authorities constructed posts along the routes which they held at the outbreak of war.

Russia maintained forces in northern Persia. The Russians, based on security reasons of the situation of Armenian and Assyrian Christians in Persia, occupied a number of cities. Tabriz was occupied in 1909; Urmia and Khoi in 1910. This measure enabled the Russians not only to control Persia, but also to secure the road from their rail-head at Djoulfa to the Van Province of the Ottoman Empire through Khoi.

On July 28, 1914, World War I began. First the Ottoman Empire did not take any serious action. However, the security of the region began to decline even before the Russian-Ottoman conflicts. Disturbances began along the border. A notable attack was made on Urmia, ostensibly by Kurdish Tribesmen. About the same time the Russians closed the Ottoman consulates in Urmia, Tabriz and Khoi, and expelled the Kurds and other Sunni Muslims from the villages near Urmia. Arms were given at the same time to some of the Armenian and Assyrian Christians. Russian authorities distributed 24,000 rifles to the some Kurdish Tribesmen that sided with them in Persia and the Van Province.[13] Russian-Ottoman conflicts began with the Bergmann Offensive on November 2, 1914.

1914

In December 1914, General Myshlaevsky ordered a withdrawal from Persia at the height of the Battle of Sarikamish.[14] Only one brigade of Russian troops under the command of the Armenian General Nazarbekoff and one battalion of Armenian volunteers scattered throughout Salmast and Urmia. Contact was limited to skirmishes on the border of northern Persia. The presence of Russian cavalry units kept them quiet.[14] Enver established [one division] troops from conscripted at Constantinople [December 25].[15] This unit was given under the command of Khalil Bey.[15] While Halil Bey's troops were preparing for the operation, a small group had already crossed the Persian frontier. After repulsing a Russian offensive toward Van, Van Gendarmerie Division [commanded by Major Ferid], a lightly equipped paramilitary formation, had chased the enemy into Persia.

On December 14, 1914, Van Jandarma Division occupied the city of Qotur. Later, proceeded towards Khoy. It was supposed to keep this passage open to Kâzım Bey (5th Expeditionary Force) and Halil Bey units (1st Expeditionary Force) who were to move towards Tabriz from the bridgehead established at Qotur. However, the Battle of Sarıkamısh depleted the Ottoman forces and these forces to be deploy to Persia needed elsewhere. On January 10 the 5th Expeditionary Force, which was on the way to Persia, was rerouted north to the Third Army and soon it was followed by the 1st Expeditionary Force.

1915

In 1915, Wilhelm Wassmuss conferred with local chiefs and distributed pamphlets urging revolt. He was arrested by a local chief, but managed to escape from British custody. He hoped to incite a revolt through pro-German members of the Persian government in conjunction of invasion of Ottoman troops towards Kermanshah and Hamadan.[14]

On January 4, 1915, a volunteer detachment led by Omer Naci Bey, who was sent to Persia on a special mission by Talat Pasha, captured the city of Urmia. One week later, the "Mosul Group" commanded by Omer Fevzi Bey entered Tabriz, without facing much resistance. Apparently taking the Russian higher command completely by surprise. Though referred as Khalil Bey by Aram, Omer Fevzi with his [superior] forces captured the city of Urmia in a few hours and marched on Salmast.[15] At the end of 1914, Omer Fevzi who was identified as Khalil took nearly a thousand Russians prisoners.[15] On January 26–28, 1915, in Sufian area, General Chernozubov had a brief fighting. Russia sent a strong force which succeeded in recapturing the city. On January 30, Chernozubov entered Tabriz.

On February 3, 1915, General Nazarbekov launched a counter-offensive. This time, the Van Gendarmerie Division succeeded in holding its lines. In early March, Nazarbekov attacked with a stronger force. He had seven battalions in total. On 7 March, Van Gendarmerie Division evacuated Dilman and began to withdraw, reaching Qotur three days later and entrenching there.

1st battalion of the Armenian volunteer unit under the command of the Andranik[15]

In April 1915, the 1st Expeditionary Force under the command of Halil Bey moved towards northern Persia. The objective was the city of Dilman, and to clean this region from Nazarbekov's forces, which would provide a significant tactical advantage in the Caucasian Campaign. Diliman was the place of one of the fiercest battles between the Armenians and the Turks.[15] The first battalion of the Armenian volunteers, under the command of the Andranik repulsed the attacks of Khalil Bey, until the Russian Chernozubov arrived[15] The newly arrived Russian forces from the Caucasus, they were able to put to flight Khalil Bey.[15] A poorly executed night raid on April 14 cost Halil Bey around 2,000 casualties. He lost 3,600 soldiers in the course of those three days.[15] General Nazarbekov managed to push Halil Pasha regulars towards Başkale after the Battle of Diliman (April 15, 1915), securing the situation.[14] Halil Bey received the following cable from Enver Pasha and leave this theater of war: "Van is silenced. Roads to Bitlis and Iraq are under danger. In order to avoid even greater threats, withdraw as soon as possible and join the Third Army which would take control of these gateways."

On May 8, 1915, one of the twelve Armenian messengers from the Siege of Van had got through to Persia[16] An Armenian volunteer unit with Andranik, along with 1200 men, and commander Chernoroyal's division dispatched toward the Bashkaleh. On May 7, they captured Bashkaleh. This group from Persia reach the City of Van on May 18.[16] They had expected to find Van still in a state of siege and were amazed at finding it in the hands of the Armenians.[16] When word got to Yudenich, he sent a brigade of Trans-Baikal Cossacks under General Trukhin. With Van secure, fighting shifted farther west for the rest of the summer.[14]

During July 1915, Russian forces at the Caucasus Campaign had a general retreat which one Russian column retreated up to Persian frontier. This retreat was the consequence of events at June 1915. Yudenich planned an attack to limit the Ottomans at Moush and Manzikert. He planned to outflank from Beyazit and Persian Azerbaijan towards Van.[14] However, the Russian advance toward the Caucuses campaign did not last long. The Russian forces suffered reverses. The command of Khalil Bey Eleven divisions of regular troops attacked the very center of the Russian Caucasian advance. In a few days they with Battle of Manzikert July 16, and later Battle of Kara Killisse the Russian army retreated.

In August 1915, as the British occupied Bushire, the gendarmes under Akhgar retreated to Burazjan.

In November 1915, Colonel Pesyan as commander of Gendarmerie in Hamedan launched an attack on the pro-Russian Persian Cossack Brigade at the Battle of Musalla. His gendarmes managed to disarm the Persian Cossacks and he managed to win some of the cossacks to join his forces in a patriotic speech he made to them after their defeat. After this victory, Russians advanced on the Persian Gendermerie, in Robat-i-Karim forces under Mohammad Hossein Jahanbani and in Hamedan-Kermanshah road forces under Colonel Pesian and Azizollah Zarghami could not defend Hamedan against an advancing Russian Caucasus Army which was superior in numbers and weapons. In Soltanabad, gendarmerie force under Masoud Kayhan were also defeated by the Russians. The gendarmes then retreated to Kermanshah. On November 10, 1915, pro-Central powers Persian Gendarmerie under Ali Quli Khan Pasyan defeat pro-British Khamseh tribal forces of Ibrahim Khan Qavam-ul-Mulk and capture Shiraz. All British residents of Shiraz are arrested. Gendarms also capture Yazd and Kerman.

In the middle of November 1915, General Yudenitch who was managing the Caucasian Campaign (the nearest to the spot), dispatched two columns into the Persian Azerbaijan; one, under General Nikolai Baratov, with the order to push southwestward through Hamadan to Kermanshah, on the way to Bagdad. The second column advanced through Kum and Kashan to Ispahan. A detachment of the Russian Caucasus Army marched on Tehran. On November 14, The Austro-Hungarian and German Ministers left the capital, but Ahmad Shah Qajar did not agree to leave his people behind, and the Prince of Reuss undertook to hold strategical points with a force of 6,000 of the Persian gendarmerie, about 3,000 Turkish irregulars, and the disaffected Persian tribesmen, about 15,000 in all. By the end of the month, Tehran was taken by the Russians Caucuses Army and Armenian volunteers.

In December 1915, the Shah was induced to appoint a new pro-Ally cabinet with Prince Firman Firma at its head. On December 15, 1915, Hamadan was captured by the Nikolai Baratov. Baratov's job was not difficult because, there was no significant resistance. During the last days of 1915, Sir Percy Sykes assigned a mission with a temporary rank of Brigadier-General to establish a force South Persia Rifles using the local Tribesmen which would render their service for a price. His mission was to counter the strong German influence in most of South Persia.

1916

The commander of the XIII Corps Ali İhsan Bey and his men (Hamedan)

In January 1916, Baratov drove the Turks and Persian tribesman and occupied Hamedan. On February 26, Baratov's forces captured Kermanshah. On March 12, Baratov's forces captured Kharind. Baratov reached the Ottoman frontier, 150 miles from Baghdad in the Mesopotamia campaign, by the middle of May. It was expected that this unit would eventually effect a juncture with the British army in Mesopotamia. In fact, a Cossack company of five officers and 110 men left the Baratov's Russian division on May 8, rode southward a distance of about 180 miles through the territory of disaffected tribesmen, crossing several mountain passes at an altitude of 8,000 feet, and reached the British front on the Tigris on May 18.

On February 26, 1916, the Russians advanced and defeated the gendarmes who then retreated to Qasr-i-Shirin and managed to hold the region until May 1916, when Qasr-i-Shirin was captured by the Russians. This time, many gendarmes went to live in exile in Istanbul, Mosul and Baghdad. In the spring of 1916, Ibrahim Khan Qavam-ul-Mulk and his Khamseh tribesmen defeated the gendarmes under Ali Quli Khan Pesyan and Ghulam Riza Khan Pesyan who shot and killed each other. Other gendarmes, the German Consul Roever and the Swedish Captain Angman were arrested and tortured.

In early May 1916, due to Enver Pasha's insistence, the Ottomans launched a second invasion of Persia. This was undertaken by the XIII Corps commanding roughly 25,000 troops; the Germans promised to contribute some artillery batteries, but this aid never came. On June 3, the Russians attacked the 6th Infantry Division in an attempt to encircle them at the town of Hankin. However, they were too thinly spread, and their infantry were held in check while their encircling cavalry were crushed. Ottoman casualties were light compared to the Russians: 85 killed, 276 wounded, and 68 missing. This gave the Turks valuable time to strengthen their defenses. On June 8, they crossed the border back into Persia.[17]

In late May, facing Baratov was assigned to the XIII Corps commanded by colonel Ali İhsan Bey, who began his advance. Meanwhile, on the Russian side, Baratov was hoping to capture Khanaqin and move down to Baghdad, which could have been taken by the Russians as the Turks and the British were busy with fighting each other. On June 3, he forced Khanaqin once again, but this time the balance had changed. The Ottoman XIII Corps successful repulsed Baratov's forces, and did not leave it there; soon the counter-offensive that was planned launched. Ali İhsan Bey captured Kermanshah on 2 July and took Hamadan on 10 August. Having lost half of his men, Baratov was forced to retreat north. Baratov stopped at the Sultan Bulak range. In August 1916, the gendarmes return to Kermanshah.

IRA-M1-German Treasury-12 Kran 10 Shahi on 5 Mark (1916-1917).jpg
IRA-M2-German Treasury-25 Kran on 10 Mark (1916-1917).jpg
German Imperial Treasury notes
(5 and 10 Mark, 1904/06) with
red Farsi denomination overstamp
for 12 qiran 10 shahi and
25 qiran respectively (1916–17).
Part of the toman issue by
World War I German forces in Iran.

On June 12, 1916, the British advance in southern Persia which was undertaken by Percy Sykes column under reached the Kerman. From this point, he supported the Russians operations against the Ottoman Empire until June 1917, when he was withdrawn with the new Persian government.

In 1916, General Chernozubov sent a Russo-Assyrian military exhibition into Hakkari. The squads within the expedition were led by the Assyrian Patriarch's brother David; Ismail, Malka of the Upper Tyari; and Andreus, the Jilu Malik.

In December 1916, Baratov began to move on Qoms and Hamadan for clearing Persian forces and Ottoman troops. Both cities fell in the same month.[14]

Count Kaunitz disappeared without a trace, either killing himself or being a victim of assassination by disenchanted coup members. The premature coup was crushed in Tehran as Ahmad Shah Qajar took refuge in the Russian legation, and a sizable Russian force arrived to Tehran under Baratov after they landed in Bandar-e Pahlavi in November of that year.[14] The pro-German coup members of the Majles fled to Kirmanshah and Qom without fighting.

1917

In 1917, Mar Binyamin was invited to the Russian embassy by Basil Nikitin in Urmia for negotiations. Nikitin assured the Assyrians that after the War they will have a national community land in Russia. At the meeting, the Patriarch was accompanied by Agha Petros. The presence of the armed squads of Assyrians in Urmiya irritated Persians. Persians were afraid that Russians might come back and, united with the Assyrians, proclaim their power in the city.

The chaos caused by the Russian Revolution put a stop to all Russian military operations. In January 1917, the Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich Romanov was sent to join Baratov. Baratov established a Cavalry Corps headquarters at Qazvin in northern Persia. Following months Baratov's forces began to suffer desertions. Baratov had barely an effective regiment in his hand at November 1917 as many of his cossacks returned to their Stanisa villages.

In April 1917, Baratov met with a Colonel Rowlandson, who was the liaison to link Caucasian Cavalry Corps with the British Dunsterforce. The new government removed the Grand Duke from his command and reassigned General Yudenich to a meaningless position in Central Asia. He then retired from the army. The Russian army slowly disintegrated until there was no effective military force during the rest of 1917.

On December 16, The Armistice of Erzincan (Erzincan Cease-fire Agreement) was signed officially brought an end to the hostilities between Ottoman Empire and Russians Special Transcaucasian Committee. Ottomans and Germans began to dispute possession of the provinces along the border between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. Enver Pasha believed that Germany had disregarded Turkish interests when the terms of the armistice were negotiated with Russia and moved on to disregard German interests, sending armed forces to the region. A newly established Ninth Army, consisting of the I Caucasian Corps and IV Corps was sent to Persia, under the command of Yakub Shevki Pasha. The task of this army was to "Stop the British advance in Persia, to prevent them from helping the Bolsheviks, to cover the area between the Lake of Urmia and the Caspian Sea, and, if necessary, to join the Sixth Army for the operation to capture Baghdad."

With the Russian armies began to disintegrate.[18] Van, which was located at the Caucasus Campaign war zone, was completely cut off from the Allies. At this time, the British Army did not move very far beyond Baghdad in the Mesopotamian campaign.[18] Armenians of the Van attempted to hold their own.[18]

1918

During 1918, British invited Armenians to hold out and picked officers and non-commissioned officers organized them under the command of Lionel Dunsterville at Baghdad.[18] It was named the Dunsterforce.[18] The military goal of Dunsterforce was to reach the Caucasus via Persia.[18] It was planned to organize an army to be recruited from the Armenians and other pro-Ally elements that still existed in the Caucuses.[18]

In February 1918, the Caucasian Cavalry Corps only consisted of Baratov, General Lastochkin, Colonel Bicherakov, Colonel Baron Meden and about 1000 loyal Kuban and Terek Cossacks. Baratov and his men assisted, even though the new Russian government had signed a peace agreement, while the British remained in Persia until after the end of World War I.

On 3 March 1918, The Grand Vizier Talat Pasha signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Russian SFSR. Treaty of Brest-Litovsk stipulated that the frontiers between Russia and the Ottoman Empire was to be pulled back to prewar borders and the cities Batum, Kars, and Ardahan were to be transferred to the Ottoman Empire.

In April 1918, the Armenians in the Van province were eventually evacuated and withdrawn from the region and retreated eastward toward Persian Azerbaijan.[19] Early in 1918, the Ottoman Third Army moved to the offense. Retreating Armenians from Van, joined by the Assyrians in defense, made a stand near Dilman but continued to retreat southward in the vicinity of Lake Urmiah.[19] Third Army did not follow the retreating force.

On 8 June 1918, the IV Corps entered Tabriz. Yakub Shevki faced an Armenian volunteer force of 4,000 men coming from Van. They aimed to break through the Şahtahtı-Tabriz line and join with Ozanian's forces. On 15 June, the 12th Division of the IV Corps defeated this Armenian unit at a battle to the north of Dilman. The city of Dilman was captured on 18 June. On 24 June, Ozanian's forces managed to defeat opposing units and to lay siege on the city of Khoy. The 12th Division came to the rescue and repulsed Ozanian's forces. At the same time, the 5th Division of the IV Corps had to retreat in the face of a 1,500-strong Armenian force. In the south, Urmia fall to the IV Corps on 31 July. By the end of July, there was an increasing British presence in Persia and the Ninth Army's advance came to a halt.

During July 1918, the British Army captured the greater portion of Mesopotamia during the Mesopotamian Campaign, as well as a large parts of Persian Azerbaijan. Preparations were made for the establishment of a large camp for Assyrian and Armenian refugees near Bakubah, Iraq.[20] Towards the end of September it was decided to raise four battalions from the Assyrians and Armenians refugees at Bakubah along the lines of an Indian Infantry battalion.[21] 2nd Battalion was established by Van Armenians. The 3rd Battalion was established by Armenians from other regions. The G.O.C. North Persian Force decided to locate his 2nd Battalion to Senna. The 3rd Battalion moved to Bijar.[21]

By September 1918, the Ottomans consolidated their control over northern Persia, between Tabriz and the southern shores of the Caspian Sea. But they lost the rest of the region to the British. They would hold this territory until the Armistice on 30 October 1918 when the Ottoman Empire signed the Armistice of Mudros and the military operations ended.

In 1918, about half of the Assyrians of Persia died of Turkish and Kurdish massacres and related outbreaks of starvation and disease. About 80 percent of Assyrian clergy and spiritual leaders had perished, threatening the nation's ability to survive as a unit.[22]

Aftermath

After the Ottoman Empire lost World War I, the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire soon followed. Enver Pasha's political vision which stated as "If Russians beaten in the key cities of Persia, they could be forced to out from the region", failed as Russian and Bakhtiari troops landed in 1920 and forced majles to temporarily cease. The immediate outcome of the Campaign was the Anglo-Persian Agreement, which gave drilling rights to the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. The "agreement" was issued by British Foreign Secretary Earl Curzon to the Persian government in August 1919. It guaranteed British access to Iranian oil fields. In 1919, northern Persia was occupied by the British General William Edmund Ironside to enforce the Armistice of Mudros' terms . Britain attempted to establish a protectorate in Iran. Britain also tightened military control over the increasingly lucrative oil fields.

After the Russians left Persia in 1917 (for a short period—later to come back) following the Russian revolution, Mar Shimmun understood the difficult situation of the Assyrians. His messages in 1918 were persuading Agha Putrus not to fight against Persians, but to make peace with them. Nonetheless, the Assyrians did not put down their weapons, as the Patriarch advised; they chose to attack. After the defeat, Major Pesyan went to live in exile in Berlin. During his time in Berlin, he was trained as a pilot in the German air force, and was rewarded with the Iron Cross for shooting down more than 25 enemy aircraft during World War I.

In late 1920, the Soviet Socialist Republic in Rasht was preparing to march on Tehran with "a guerrilla force of 1500 Jangalis, Armenians, and interestingly this time Kurds, and Azerbaijanis were on their side", reinforced by the Soviet Red Army. Britain attempted to establish a protectorate in Iran following 1919, which this goal aided by the Soviet Union's withdrawal in 1921. In that year, a military coup established Reza Khan, a Persian officer of the Persian Cossack Brigade, as dictator and then hereditary Shah of the new Pahlavi dynasty (1925). Reza Shah curtailed the power of the majles. He effectively turned it into a rubber stamp organization. While Reza Khan and his Cossack brigade were securing Tehran, the Persian envoy was in Moscow negotiating a treaty with the Bolsheviks for the removal of Soviet troops from Persia. The coup d'état of 1921 and the emergence of Reza Khan were assisted by the British government that wished to halt the Bolshevik's penetration of Iran, particularly because of the threat it posed to the British colonial possession of India. It is later claimed by the British Government, that British provided "ammunition, supplies and pay" for Reza's troops.[23][24][25] Although Reza Shah's strong Anti-British actions such as fighting and deposing the puppets of the British government in Iran, such as Sheikh Khazal, strongly contradicts these claims.[26]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Erickson 2001, p. 192-193
  2. ^ "مؤسسه مطالعات تاريخ معاصر ايران IICHS". Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "QAŠQĀʾI TRIBAL CONFEDERACY i. HISTORY". Retrieved 10 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire" (London: HMSO, 1920). Page 777. 2,050 British Army and 49,198 British Indian Army personnel sent to the "Persian Gulf Theatre" from India in total.
  5. ^ Erickson 2001, page 152.
  6. ^ Erickson 2001, page 152.
  7. ^ "Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire" (London: HMSO, 1920). Page 778. South Persian Rifles not included. Figures may be underestimated. Details for British Indian Army in Persia: 25 Indian officers, 1,779 Indian other ranks, and 670 Indian followers dead from all causes. 11 officers, 454 other ranks, and 6 followers wounded.
  8. ^ Erickson 2001, p. 237-238, Appendix F. Battle casualties only. First invasion (1915): 200 killed, 400 wounded. Second invasion (1916): 85 killed, 276 wounded, 68 missing/captured. Defensive against British (1918): 500 killed, 1,000 wounded.
  9. ^ Erickson 2001, p. 152
  10. ^ Popplewell, Richard J (1995), Intelligence and Imperial Defence: British Intelligence and the Defence of the Indian Empire 1904–1924., Routledge, ISBN 0-7146-4580-X 
  11. ^ a b c The Encyclopedia Americana, 1920, v.28, p.403
  12. ^ David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East (Henry Holt and Company, New York, 1989), 209.
  13. ^ (Pasdermadjian 1918, pp. 20)
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Hinterhoff, Eugene (1984). Persia: The Stepping Stone To India. Marshall Cavendish Illustrated Encyclopedia of World War I, vol iv. New York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation. pp. 1153–1157. ISBN 0-86307-181-3. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i Aram, "Why Armenia Should be Free", page 22
  16. ^ a b c Ussher, An American Physician, 286.
  17. ^ Erickson 2001, p. 152-153
  18. ^ a b c d e f g (Northcote 1922, pp. 788)
  19. ^ a b (Northcote 1922, pp. 789)
  20. ^ (Northcote 1922, pp. 790)
  21. ^ a b (Austin 1920, pp. 13)
  22. ^ Baumer, Church of the East, at 263. The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity, Christoph Baumer, I.B. Tauris, 2006.
  23. ^ Abrahamian, Ervand, Iran Between Two Revolutions, (1982), p.117
  24. ^ see also: Zirinsky M.P. Imperial Power and dictatorship: Britain and the rise of Reza Shah 1921–1926. International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. 24, 1992. p.646
  25. ^ see also FO 371 16077 E2844 dated 8 June 1932. A British Embassy report that stated that the British put Reza Shah "on the throne".
  26. ^ Farrokh, K. (2011). Iran at War: 1500–1988. Osprey Publishing Limited. ISBN 9781780962214. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 

References

  • Edward J. Erickson. "Ordered to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War". Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.
  • Pasdermadjian, Garegin; Aram Torossian (1918). Why Armenia Should be Free: Armenia's Role in the Present War. Hairenik Pub. Co. p. 45. 
  • Northcote, Dudley S. (1922). "Saving Forty Thousand Armenians". Current History. New York Times Co. Retrieved 12 December 2008. 
  • Austin, H. H. (1920). The Baqubah Refugee Camp. ISBN 978-1-59333-401-7. 
  • Operations in Persia 1914–1919 by Brigadier-General F J Moberly (Printed 1929 but classed "Confidential"; 1987 reprint, HMSO). ISBN 0-11-290453-X.
  • Atabaki, Touraj (ed.) (2006). Iran and the First World War: Battleground of the Great Powers. New York: I.B.Tauris. ISBN 1-86064-964-5, ISBN 978-1-86064-964-6.
  • Bati, Alum. 1918: Azerbaijan At War – a two-part article on Azerbaijan and Dunsterforce in 1918, for Part 1 see http://www.visions.az/en/news/661/cc10060a/; for Part 2 see http://www.visions.az/en/news/686/ecbd8399/
  • A.J. Barker, The Neglected War: Mesopotamia, 1914–1918 (Faber and Faber, 1967)
  • Paul Knight: The British Army in Mesopotamia, 1914–1918 (McFarland, 2013, ISBN 978-0786470495)

External links


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