From the time of Osman until the World War One, hundreds of years later, the Turkic people built one of humankind’s greatest empires. When the Great War started in 1914, the Ottoman Empire under chose to take side of their western ally Germany, but they had picked the wrong horse. During the Great War, Britain, and France used the Ottoman Empire as currency to bribe Italy to participate, keep Russia in the war, and get their boot into Arab nations for influence over oil supply lines.
In the Treaty of London April 26, 1915 the Allied powers dangled a carrot to get Italy to enter the war in their corner. Italy was originally aligned with the Triple Alliance but was only bound to the Alliance if one of its allies were attacked first. In the secret conference, Italy had extensive demands for compensation to offer their hand in the war effort. They were promised islands along the Adriatic coastline, the Albanian port of Vlore and other Ottoman territories. (History.com n.pg) Italy suffered great losses financially and in human lives during the short time that it took part in the war. At the treaty of Versailles they received little to none of what they had been guaranteed by the Treaty of London; they did not get that carrot. Italy left the war in 1919 feeling bitter towards Britain, Russia and France.
In March of 1915, the French, English and Russians met to sign the Constantinople agreement which was France and the British enticing Russia to stay with them in the war effort. The Russians had already suffered some pretty big losses and France and Britain were worried about losing their eastern ally. Despite the loss, Russia did want one thing more-they wanted some pieces of land leading towards warm water ports in Constantinople. These routes and the warm water port of Constantinople gave the Russians the commerce lines they desired. The pact promised Russia, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and the Dardanelles. Britain knew this would keep the Russians involved and that is how it seemed it was going to play out, but alas this was not the case. In 1917 the Russian revolution broke out. In November, Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin led revolutionaries against Czar Nicholas the 2nd, ending their involvement in the war thus forfeiting their slice of Ottoman pie. When the war ended the Dardanelles and Constantinople maps did not fly a Russian banner as originally conceived.
After the Ottoman Empire collapsed completely in 1920, the Ottomans signed the Treaty of Sèvres. It was the first of a series of negotiations that led to the political geography of modern day Turkey. The treaty abolished the Ottoman Empire and obliged Turkey to renounce all rights over Arab Asia and North Africa. The “Treaty of Lausanne” ultimately spelled out the end of the Ottoman Empire. This series of pacts also provided for an independent Armenia and autonomous Kurdistan. The areas of Syria and Lebanon and other territories in southern Anatolia became a French protectorate. Several Arab regions fell under control of Great Britain; they had a greater game in mind. Britain promised these Arab nations sovereign nation status, protection and advisement to these fledgling nations. The British put their boots in the sand and made only one demand for their services; controlling share of their main export. It was now the twentieth century and Great Britain knew the new game was Oil.
Once again, Great Britain had control of the poker table. The Arab nations were duped into saying yes to the conditions of the agreement because it appeared to them they got what they wanted. The Arab nations wanted sovereign nation status and protection as they constructed new nation states. Britain gave them this and political advisement as well. Now the lines in the sand had been drawn. Great Britain had control over what would become the most sought after commodity in the modern era. The British took control over the Anglo-Arab pipeline that later became British Petroleum; the age of Oil aggressions in the Middle East had begun.
When the smoke cleared in the early 1920’s the maps of the Middle East and Europe looked a little different than it had at the turn of the century. The Anatolian Peninsula did not end with Russian flags in the Dardanelles and Constantinople. They had forfeit their piece of Ottoman pie when the Russian Revolution broke out in 1917. The Russian sacrifice was quickly forgotten by the British. Armenians who had suffered greatly at the hands of the Ottomans now flew their own flag as a nation. The deserts and beaches of the North African Mediterranean were no longer under the Osman banner. The Austro-Hungarian Empire no longer was the hodge-podge of different cultures it had been under the Habsburgs and German territories were considerably smaller. Arab lands did have new borders drawn up by the British Empire in interest of their new cash cow. Syria and Palestine fell under the French Protectorate and Britain had the oil rich land of Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Lebanon also fell under the Union Jack. Once again the British had maneuvered their way to the top of the food chain through a series of backroom deals and manipulation. They broke promises to their own allies by being vague at the onset, and given the new Arab nations what they thought they wanted. It was business as usual for the empire whose sun never set. Many religious theologians point out, 1914 as the point modern history did a head spin.
The fallout of World War One set the table to slice up Ottoman pie. Globally, we still feel the shockwaves of these events in 2016. Ottoman pie was a filling meal for some, but for others it left them empty; with a bitter taste.