The Ottoman Empire joined the Central Powers in October and November 1914 because of the secret Turko-German Alliance, which was signed in August 1914. It threatened Russia’s Caucasian territories and Britain’s communications with India and the East via the Suez Canal. The British Empire opened another front in the South with the Gallipoli and Mesopotamian campaigns in 1915. In Gallipoli, the Turks were successful in repelling the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) and forced their eventual withdrawal and evacuation. In Mesopotamia, by contrast, after the disastrous Siege of Kut (1915–1916), British Empire forces reorganized and captured Baghdad in March 1917. Further to the west in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, initial British failures were overcome when Jerusalemwas captured in December 1917, and the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, under Field Marshall Edmund Allenby, broke the Ottoman forces at the Battle of Megiddo in September 1918.
Russian armies generally had the best of it in the Caucasus. Vice-Generalissimo Enver Pasha, supreme commander of the Turkish armed forces, was a very ambitious man with a dream to conquer central Asia, but he was not a practical soldier. After launching a frontal offensive with one hundred thousand troops against the Russians, called the Battle of Sarikamis, in the Caucasus in December of 1914, he lost 86 percent of his force.
General Nikolai Nikolaevich Yudenich, Russian commander from 1915 to 1916, achieved a string of victories over the Ottoman forces, driving them out of much of present day Armenia. Tragically, this would provide a context for the deportation and genocide against the Armenian population in eastern Armenia.
In 1917 Russian Grand Duke Nicholas (first cousin of Tsar Nicholas II) assumed senior control over the Caucasus front. Nicholas tried to have a railway built from Russian Georgia to the conquered territories with a view to bringing up more supplies for a new offensive in 1917. But, in March of 1917, the tsar was overthrown in the February Revolution and the Russian army began to slowly fall apart.
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16 April 14 Uhr