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The site of civilization
In the Ottoman empire
     Destruction and decline
     Sections missing
     World War in Mesopotamia

To be completed

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Destruction and decline: 15th - 20th century

Mesopotamia now becomes a border region of little consequence, fought over by more powerful neighbours. The city of Baghdad is sacked by Timur in 1401. It is taken by the shah of Persia, Ismail I, in 1508; by the sultan of Turkey, Suleiman I, in 1534; by the Persians again in 1623; and finally by the Turks once more in 1638.

The region remains a sleepy part of the Ottoman world until the demise of the Turkish empire in World War I. The war changes the region out of recognition, ending the Ottoman centuries and bringing into existence the modern territories of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine (now including Israel), Jordan and Iraq.


Sections are as yet missing at this point.


Sections Missing

Sections are as yet missing at this point


Mesopotamia: 1914-1916

With the collapse of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, the only untried route of attack against the Turkish empire is in the Middle East, up through Mesopotamia or Palestine.

From the start of the war Mesopotamia has been the site of British muddle and disaster. As soon as Britain and Turkey are at war, early in November 1914, a British force is despatched to seize the Turkish port of Basra on the Shatt-al-Arab (the confluence of the two great rivers of Mesopotamia, the Tigris and the Euphrates). The purpose is precise and limited. Basra is a mere fifty miles upstream from the Persian port of Abadan, where the recently established Anglo-Persian Oil company refines and ships out its precious commodity. Britain needs to protect its supply of diesel for the navy.


This limited objective is rapidly achieved. Basra is taken on 22 November 1914, and a defensive outpost is established some fifty miles further north at the junction between the Tigris and the Euphrates. But during 1915, as the campaign in Gallipoli gets bogged down, an impressive advance up the Tigris becomes politically attractive.

Amara is taken on 3 June 1915, followed by Kut on September 29. This is more than half way towards the mesmerizing prize of Baghdad. A British and Indian advance party, too small for the task and too far from reliable sources of supply, pushes on up the river.


It finally reaches strong Turkish opposition at the historic site of Ctesiphon, a mere twenty miles from Baghdad. The date, 22 November 1915, is exactly a year after the successful capture of Basra. With heavy losses (half the 8500 men are killed or wounded), the Allied force withdraws to join its supporting troops in Kut. There they find themselves trapped. For five months they are besieged by a Turkish army until, on 29 April 1916, the British commander finally surrenders. 10,000 British and Indian soldiers are taken into Turkish captivity.

This adventure against the Turks has been as humiliating as the contemporary events at Gallipoli. But meanwhile a new development in Arabia seems to offer greater hope.


This History is as yet incomplete.


This History is as yet incomplete.


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