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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 54

General Plan for the Defence of Turkey in Asia and Persia

General Plan for the Defence of Turkey in Asia and Persia.

It is assumed that, for the defence of the belt, three armies are required,

The forces advantageously subdivided into three or four armies.

which may be termed the Eastern, the Western, and the Southern. As already noted, the services of a fourth or Persian army is

Their various râles and bases.

desirable, but not necessary unless Persian territory be violated.

The Eastern and Western armies, operating in the offensive zone, would be based upon the lines Mardin to the Black Sea and Mardin to the Mediterranean Sea, and the southern or defensive army would be based on the line Mardin-Baghdád. The Persian army would be based on the lines Karmanshah, Baghdad and Burújírd, Shústar, Muhammerah.

The eastern army should be pushed forward to fortify and hold the

Eastern or advanced army.

passes blocking the roads leading from Ar-twin, Olti, Kars, Kachysman and Erivan and to occupy in strength the fortresses of Van and Erzerum, the former as well as positions about Melasgird and Pergri being converted into entrenched camps.
page 21

A mountainous district when properly held in a military sense (see Afghanistan as a theatre-of-war, page 2) is the best defensive barrier, if held by good troops and supported by a well-trained and disciplined field army, the place of which is supplied by the western army to be formed along the base, Samsún to Kharput.

The front held on the defensive is a strong one, and if bravely defended,

Western or reinforcing army.

ample time would be given for the western army to reinforce it from Trebizond, Sivas, Diarbekir, &c.
The southern army would have as the theatre of its operations the

Southern or defensive army.

defensive zone from the line Diarbekir-Van, south-east to the Persian frontier, occupying its passes, the junction of roads in the hills, with main concentrations at Diarbekir, Mozul and Baghdad. This defensive front is very strong: it would be much improved if the mouths of the passes were in Turkish instead of Persian hands, i.e., if the line Karmansháh, Sahna, Tabríz were Turkish and not Persian.
It is inhabited by Armenians, wild Kurds, Yezidis, Kizilbash tribes,

Inhabitants of the defensive zone.

proud of their ancient descent; but lawless and valueless as soldiers, unable to intelligently co-operate in the defence of their hills, but nevertheless offering good raw material for troops.

The possibility of these tribes and of the discontented Armenians falling a prey to Russian intrigue is a contingency to be foreseen and carefully guarded against; distasteful neighbours as they are, they hold a belt of hills of great importance to the defence of the Persian Gulf and the coasts of Syria, and are bound to us by ties of common interest.

Any Eastern Power friendly to the Turks co-operating with them

Persian column.

could best do so by concentrating in the area Karmansháh, Sahná, Burújírd, Hamadán; such a force could move on Tabríz, Khoi, Ardabil, thus flanking all the passes through the Zagros or on the Caspian.

This force would be connected with its base, the Persian Gulf, by the lines given on page 19.

Co-operation between the four armies presents no difficulties; the bases from which they operate, being joined by railway, are practically one.

All the above considerations point to the important part that the

Importance of the area Kar-mansháh, Sahná, Burújírd, Ramadán in the defence of Turkey in Asia and Persia.

area Karmansháh, Sahná, Burújírd, Hamadán, is capable of playing in the defence of both Turkey in Asia and Persia and the Persian Gulf, and it is most necessary that ready access should be given to it from the Tigris at Baghdad, and thence by rail and by the Kárún river to Shúshtar, and thence by rail or road to Burújírd and Karmansháh (see page 14).

The area in question besides protecting the Eastern outlets of the pasess across the Kurdistán hills to Van, also protects the whole of South-West Persia from the line Hamadán, Isfahán to the Gulf, and prevents all passage through the Lur, Bakhtíári and Kashgai hills.

A naval power, based on the Gulf, administering South-West

Defence of the route and of Persia.

Persia (from the line Hamadán, Isfahan, southward to the Gulf) with her advanced page 22 troops occupying the area designated, is in a position to watch over the integrity of Persia, to prevent what is vital to us being seized by another, and to safeguard the overland railway route to India. This overland route is essentially a British one; it is a link in a communication demanded by the interests of Greater Britain, and is one of her Imperial highways in which all the Eastern Colonies are interested.

Even supposing that the Turks, in a fit of madness caused by irritation consequent on our forcing upon them a better rule, turn against us, the subject Armenians, Kurds and Arabs, bordering on the line of railway, would be with us, and even should they (the Turks) join with Russia for a time, it would be but for a time, until their fit of madness passed and the power of self-interest and love of national existence re-asserted .themselves with a double fervour, and in the meantime the Naval Power holding South-West Persia and the adjoining portion of Kurdistan, based on the sea and acting on the defensive, would occupy an impregnable position.

South-West Persia surrounded by the sea, lofty mountains and desert tracks, combines the advantages of a continental situation with practically those of an island. It is based on the sea, the best of Britain's bases, stocked with the most rapid and cheapest of all carriage, England's mercantile marine.

The military reasons for the railway taking the line Karmansháh, Isfahán, are now apparent; the commercial reasous have already been given (see pages 10, 11).