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No Turkey for Christmas

The circumstances that brought the Ottoman Empire into WW1 would be properly regarded as farce in an AH.  The Ottomans had been caught between Britain and Germany, trusting neither power, and trying to remain neutral.  There were factions that called for the Ottomans entering the war on one side or another, but there was no firm decision until the British impounded two VERY expensive and popular Turkish battleships.  The popular pressure in Turkey brought the pro-German faction into power and Turkey declared war on Britain, France and Russia.

It did not have to be that way.  A little more sensitivity would have assisted the Turks to remain neutral or actively joining the allies.  Let’s have Churchill propose a secret deal.  Turkey officially joins the allies.  The Turkish battleships will be crewed by Turks, trained by the British and operate as part of the Grand Fleet.  In exchange, the British (with American support if they can get it) will publicly guarantee the 1914 borders of the empire; provide investment and training for the Ottoman army.  

This has major effects right from the start.  The Turks would either refuse to allow the Goeben transit though the Dardanelles or intern the Battlecruiser.  That would probably lead to the Germans and Autrsians losing the battle for the Mediterranean early. 

Further, there will be no campaigns in Egypt or Iran.  The British will have extra forces to throw at the German colonies across the globe, perhaps taking them all before the Japanese become involved or the Germans have time to dig in.  There may also be a longer Balkan war as the Turks will actively support the Greeks instead of providing a longer front for them to fight on.  This assumes, of course, that the British manage to keep the two historic foes apart. 

The Germans will try to support Arab nationalism.  They would probably have many spies and agents still in the region as OTL (unless the Turks manage to round them all up before they can go underground) and would be free to raise as much hell as possible.  However, with the Turks hunting them (plus whatever the British send to help) it is unlikely that they will make much headway. 

What this means, on a longer term, is that there will be far more allied divisions to throw at the Germans on the eastern and western fronts.  The Germans will be even more outnumbered than OTL and they’ll have lost most of their other advantages.  This might well lead to an earlier allied victory without the US becoming involved or a negotiated peace in 1916, while the Germans have something left to bargain with. 

In the long run, the Ottoman Empire is probably still doomed.  However, with British support they might manage to build a united empire out of the mess they had in OTL, or perhaps grant autonomy to Arab regions. 

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