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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 54

Kurdistán and S. W. Persia, as a Barrier to Russian Encroachments

Kurdistán and S. W. Persia, as a Barrier to Russian Encroachments.

It was shown on page 12 that before a good strategic and commercial communication could be aligned, it was necessary to lay down—
(i)the military positions to be occupied in case of Russia desiring by force to reach the Persian Gulf and Mediterranean Sea;
(ii)a safe line, easily defended, enabling those positions to be readily reached and the troops in occupation to be quickly supplied with reinforcements, provisions and munitions of war.

Before (i) can be determined, it is necessary that we refer generally to the main military features of the country between the Black and Moditerranean Seas and India. The reader is supposed to be acquainted with its chief general characteristics.

In the belt of country stretching from the Black Sea between the ports,

Great strategic value of the belt of country running southeast from the line Samsún-Trebizond to the line Bushire-Shiráz.

Samsún, Trebizond, in a general south-east direction by Sivas-Erzerum, Kharput-Bitlis- Van, Mozul-Souj-boulak, Kerind-Hamadán, Dizful-Julpaigán to Bushire-Shiráz, it requires no great strategist to see a line of defence, which guarantees to its holder the possession of, in the case of an enemy, and the safety of, in the case of a friend, both Turkey in Asia and Persia.
It may be divided into a hilly and a

It constitutes an offensive-defensive theatre of operations.

mountainous region, the former its offensive, the latter its defensive zone.
From the sea coast to the line Kharput-Bitlis-Van, the belt, the

Offensive zone.

Armenian highlands, consists of grassy mountains and hills, fertile undulations and rich agricultural valleys, generally difficult for military operations, with a climate for four months in the year of a severity to almost prohibit them, and traversed by few and difficult roads.
page 18

Its plains, those of Erzerum, Pasin, Khanus, Boulanyk, Mush, Alisb-gird, &c., grow grains largely.

This constitutes its offensive zone.

The fighting strength of this zone is that of three-fourths the fighting

Its fighting strength.

strength of Turkey in Asia; one-fourth being required as a support to troops holding the defensive zone.
To its south-east, stretching to the Persian Gulf, is a mountainous

Defensive zone.

country, difficult to traverse except by hill paths suited to park transport only, and closed by snow for four or five months in the year, inhabited by unruly tribes, practically free of control, chiefly nomads and subservient only in name to either Turkey or Persia. Reference is made to the Kurds, Armenians, Kizilbash, the Turki-speaking tribes of the mountains of Kurdistan, of Luristan and of the Bakhtíári, the Kuhgehlu and the Kashkai.

In these mountains are the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates, watering the Mesopotamian plain, the Kárún, the Hindiyán, &c., fertilising the coast plaíns of Persia; the Aras and Kizil-Uzen flowing into the Caspian; the Yeshil Irmak, Kizil Irmak and Chorak flowing into the Black Sea; they therefore constitute the main watershed of both Persia and Armenia, for in them rise their greatest rivers.

These ranges constitute the defensive zone.

This is not the place in which to consider fully the fighting strength

Its fighting strength.

of this zone, i.e., of. Kurdistan and South-West Persia;* suffice it to say that it is undeveloped, but no mean one if it receive the necessary training to give it confidence, and if it be backed by the nucleus of foreign troops necessary to give it cohesion.
In the offensive zone grains, fodder and

Supplies of food and transport.

water, transport and livestock (chiefly sheep) are plentiful; firewood, except in parts, is scarce. Trees are found in the coast ranges only.

In the defensive zone nothing is plentiful but fodder, livestock (chiefly sheep), transport animals, water, and in places, firewood (in the Central Kurdistán range).

In both cases transport will require time to collect, for it is found chiefly among the nomad tribes of Turkey and the Eliyát tribes of the Persian Zagros.

The belt, from the sea to the line Diarbekir, Bitlis, Van, is backed

Country between the bolt described and the Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf.

by a hilly country similar to itself; to the south-east of this line lie, to the west of the mountains, fertile alluvial plains watered by the Tigris and Euphrates stretching to Arabia and the Syrian hills, across which are easy passes leading to Iskandarun, Suedia, Latikiyah, and Tripoli, &c., and the alluvial coast plains of Persia, capable of producing abundantly most excellent crops of wheat and barley, sugar, poppy, &c.

The alluvial plains are chiefly peopled by Arabs.

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The primary bases to the left zone are the Black Sea and the Mediterranean

Its primary bases,

Sea, and to the right zone the Mediterranean Sea, for its north-west section to the line Mozul, Souj-boulak, and for its south-east section, the Persian Gulf.
Cyprus is capable of becoming the place-of-arms necessary to firmly


establish the Mediterranean base, and South West Persia that necessary to the Persian Gulf (see page 22); the one is complimentary to the other; the one as necessary as the other; the cultivation of both can be so improved as to support armies.
The secondary bases necessary for offensive and defensive military

and secondary bases.

operations are, for the left zone, the line Samsún, Tokat, Sivas, Mardin, and for the latter the line—
Iskandarun Urfa, Mardin, Mozul, Baghdad, Karmansháh Burújírd
Suedia Urfa, Mardin, Mozul, Baghdad, Karmansháh Burújírd
Tripoli Urfa, Mardin, Mozul, Baghdad, Karmansháh Burújírd

* Sir H. Rawlinson writes—"The tribes indeed on the Western Frontier (Persia), those inhabiting the range which runs from Ararat to Shíráz, are the very beau-ideal of military material, the men being athletic, strong, hardy and active."