Mesopotamia Campaign (1914–1918)

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world war i british military campaign in part of the ottoman empire.

In November 1914, within days of the British declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire (which was allied with Germany in World War I), the British landed an Indian Expeditionary Force (IEP) at Basra in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq). Meeting scant resistance from the Ottoman Turks, the IEF moved north and, in April 1915, Sir John Nixon took command. Nixon ordered his lieutenant, Sir Charles Townshend, to advance northup the river Tigris toward Baghdad. By November 1915, Town-shend succeeded in advancing to Ctesiphon, just south of Baghdad, but his supply lines were stretched thin, and he was repulsed by the newly invigorated Ottoman armies under the command of German General Kolmar von der Goltz. Townshend retreated south to Kut al-Amara, where he was trapped by the Ottoman Turks.

The British failed to reinforce Townshend, and after a 146-day siege, he surrendered his entire force on 29 April 1916. Lacking men and matériel, the Turks were unable to take advantage of the victory. Under the command of Sir Frederick Maude, the British again advanced north, retook Kut on 22 February 1917 and entered Baghdad on 11 March. By September, the British were in control of central Iraq, and by the war's end in 1918, they had occupied all of Mesopotamia south of the city of Mosul.


Barker, A. J. The Bastard War: The Mesopotamian Campaign of 19141918. New York: Dial Press, 1967.

Fromkin, David. A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. New York: Avon, 1990.

Shaw, Stanford, and Shaw, Ezel Kural. History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. 2 vols. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 19761977.

Sluglett, Peter. Britain in Iraq 19141932. London: Ithaca Press, 1976.

zachary karabell


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a city with large oil refineries and an island in the province of khuzistan in southwest iran.

The island of Abadan is 40 miles long and from 2 to 12 miles wide. The island is bounded by the Shatt al-Arab River on the west, the Karun River on the north, and the Persian Gulf on the south. The city, 9 miles from the northwestern tip of the island, was first mentioned by Muslim geographers during in the mid-ninth century. In medieval times it was of importance to travelers and navigators as a source of woven straw mats, supplier of salt, and center of shipping and navigation.

The modern city that developed after 1910 was due to the oil industry. The first oil refinery, which was opened by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1912 with an annual capacity of 120,000 tons, grew into one of the world's largest refineries by the 1960s. Abadan's population grew with its economic development. In 1948 refinery employees formed one-third of the city population of about 100,000. By the 1950s the city's population reached about 220,000, and in 1976 it was 296,000, making Abadan the fifth largest city in the country. In August 1978 more than 400 persons burned to death in a fire at an Abadan cinema. This incident became a precursor to the 1979 revolution.

The IranIraq War (19801988) heavily damaged the refinery as well as the city. Most of the population fled during the war, but some returned during the 1990s, when most of the city was reconstructed.

Because it is an industrial islet heavily influenced by foreign capitalist enterprise that uses the country's unskilled labor and raw material, Abadan's social structure is strongly segregated ethnically and economically. According to the 1996 census, the population of the reconstructed city was 206,073.

see also khuzistan.

Parvaneh Pourshariati


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ABADAN , island and seaport located in the province of Khuzistan at the southwest corner of Iran on the left bank of Shatt al-Arab and about 60 km from the Persian Gulf. It grew into a big city because of its oil refinery. During World War ii there were about 25,000 refinery employees out of a total population of 100,000. This was a period in which Abadan attracted a relatively large number of Jews from several cities in Iran, mainly from *Isfahan, *Bushire, *Shiraz, and *Kermanshah. According to one source (Alam-e Yahud), at this time there were 200 Jewish families (about 800 people) living in Abadan, some of whom were Iraqi Jews. In addition, it has been reported that 300 out of 1,700 foreign professional refinery employees were Palestinian Jews belonging to *Solel Boneh. For this reason, one may say that the post-Reza Shah (1925–41) *He-Ḥalutz movement and Zionist activities in Iran had, to some degree, their roots in the Jewish community of Abadan. Abadan played an important role in rescue missions of the Iraqi Jews during and after the independence of Israel. After the 1979 Islamic revolution, Jews began to leave the city. At the beginning of the 21st century there were few Jewish families living in Abadan, numbering fewer than 20 people.


"Abadan," in: Encyclopedia Iranica (ed. E. Yarshater), 1 (1982), 51–57; Alam-e Yahud, 21 (Jan. 8, 1946), 362; Y. Yazdani, Records on Iranian Jews' Immigration to Palestine, 1921–1951 (1996), 61, 67, 110.

[Amnon Netzer (2nd ed.)]