Secret Shipments of German Gold; Plotting Global Jihad.
Special to The Great War Project
(1-2-3 November) On the 3rd of November a century ago, the war widens dramatically when Turkey declares war on the allies.
Germany is plotting this move for months.
It starts in the summer, when Turkish leaders sign a secret agreement with Germany that if or when Turkey enters the war, it will be on the German side.
The Germans believe this will be of great benefit to them and for several months they maneuver aggressively and covertly to bring Turkey into the war. In recent days, Turkish ships bombard Russian ports – Sevastopol, Odessa, and others.
The attacking warships include two German ships flying the Turkish flag.
Britain retaliates. But “it seemed small,” writes historian Martin Gilbert. The British attack a Turkish minelayer in Smyrna on the west coast of Turkey.
And on November 2nd a British ship bombards the Red Sea port of Aqaba, which is a part of the Ottoman Empire.
Then the pace of events picks up speed. “British and French warships bombard the Turkish forts at the Dardanelles,” a strait in the Mediterranean that connects the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara. A fortress on the northern shore there is hit, reports Gilbert. German soldiers arrive to strengthen defenses there, including the emplacement of eight howitzer batteries.
That same day, Russian troops cross Turkey’s eastern border.
Russia had signed a secret agreement of its own some months earlier. In it, Britain and France pledge to support the Russian occupation of Constantinople. Russia has always sought a warm-water route out of the Black Sea to its south. That becomes a secret Russian war aim, backed by its French and British allies.
This is war without a doubt, and on November 2nd a century ago, Russia makes its official with a declaration of war against Turkey. Turkey responds with its own declaration of war on the allies on November 3rd, a century ago.
Historian Sean McMeekin reports Turkey first needs to be paid for its declaration of war. And that is exactly what Germany does. One of the secret Turkish demands for its entrance into the war on the German side is a substantial amount of gold from Germany. The Germans fulfill that demand with two shipments of gold to the Ottoman government in Constantinople in late October.
All of these developments inevitably point to the likelihood of a British-Turkish clash on the Gallipoli Peninsula in the Dardanelles straits.
One of Germany’s goals in allying with and bringing the Ottomans into the war is a plot to spark global jihad against Britain and Russia — in the Arab Middle East, in Islamic Central Asia and in British India. That goal already sparks hostilities in the field in Egypt.
In late October, Arab forces under Ottoman control are marching toward Cairo, then occupied by the British. Writes McMeekin, “although the public declaration [of war] would have to await the announcement of hostilities, in the field the jihad had already begun.
“The Kaiser would have his holy war after all.”
The British view the Ottomans with “a certain contempt,” writes Gilbert. “It is the Ottoman Government and not we,” declares Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, “who have wrung the death knell of Ottoman dominion not only in Europe but in Asia.”
Asquith’s wife is less diplomatic. “I loathe the Turk,” she writes, “and really hope that he will be wiped out of Europe.”