Baghdad Railway, XIX. XXth century. The railway built between Istanbul and Baghdad in the beginning of the century. XIX, where steamships began to significantly change the classic maritime routes to the Orient ports. Railways connection and construction gained great importance at the beginning of the second half of the century. The idea of combining the Mediterranean with the Persian gulf with the classical road system, so reaching India in the shortest route goes back a long time. However, in 1782, John Sullivan's road construction proposal, from Anatolia to India, was carried out by Colonel François Chesney's steam ship operation on the highway to connect Syria and Mesopotamia to India and the Euphrates River, and a railroad through Aleppo. Projects such as the transportation to the Mediterranean and the extension of the Euphrates line to Kuwait remained on paper. In addition, the construction of railways was decided in the Tanzimat Assembly in 1854, and in 1856 a British company took the construction concession of the Izmir-Aydın line and opened it in 1866. The Varna - Ruse line opened in the same year and the first important railway lines in Anatolia and Rumelia were put into operation.
The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 gave a new direction to the struggle between Britain and France on the shortest route to India. This also played an important role in increasing demand for railway projects. The Üsküdar-Izmit-Siv-rihisar - Aksaray - Fırat valley - Baghdad-Basra-Iran and Belgium-Calcutta line, which was proposed by Robert Stephenson as an alternative to the Suez Canal, could not be realized due to the large cost of the project. The military and economic importance of the railways led to the Ottoman Empire, which had a vast territory, to take new precautions, and the Nâfia Ministry was established in 1865 under the leadership of Edhem Pasha. Since 1870, extensive railway construction projects have been carried out and their implementation possibilities have been explored. For this purpose, Austrian engineer Wilhelm Pressel, also known for his work on the Sark railways project in Rumeli, was invited (February 1872). First, the construction of a large railway line that will connect Istanbul to Baghdad was decided. The Haydarpaşa-Izmit line, which started in 1872 as the first part of this project, was completed in a short time. However, the work of taking this line further was suspended until 1888 due to the financial difficulties the state faced, and foreign capital was needed to complete the line. Nâfia Nâzın Hasan Fehmi Pasha expressed the necessity of foreign capital for the construction of the railway with a good work he prepared in June 1880. In addition, it has identified two separate lines that will surpass Anatolia completely and reach Baghdad. One of them was İzmir-Afyonkarahisar - Eskişehir - Ankara - Sivas-Malatya - Diyarbakır - Mosul-Baghdad: the other was from Izmir-Eskisehir-Kutahya-Afyon - Konya -Adana - Aleppo-Anbarli following the right bank of the Euphrates and reaching Baghdad. This second route was preferred and recommended due to its low cost and military advantage.
After the Ottoman financial situation, especially Duyûn-1 Umûmiyye (1882), started to gain credibility in the European financial circles again and the Ottoman governments' interest in railways paved the way for the development of new railway projects.
Among these projects, especially Cazolis and Tancred's Tripolis, Humus, Aleppo. Fırat valley, Baghdad and Basra line project attracted attention. However, the rumors of Jewish immigrants migrating from Russia to both sides of this line and the sudden death of Cazalet caused the project to fall into the water.
Many similar railway projects have been rejected because the proposal parties and states prioritized their political and economic interests and the Porte did not respond to the development goals they hoped to achieve because of the railways. In addition, Babıâli announced that he will not give concessions to any project whose starting point is not Istanbul. While these activities of the British and French capitalists increased the competition and competition between them since 1888, Germany emerged as a new force in the construction of railways. In this, despite the shy policy of Bismarck II. Abdülhamid's personal involvement in the issue played a big role. In this way, Germany became a balance in the East against England and France. With the will of 24 September 1888, a railway construction and operation between Haydarpaşa and Ankara was given to Alfred von Kaulla, Wüttenberglsche Vereins-bank, who had close relations with the Ottomans due to the sale of arms. On October 4, between von Kaulla and the Ottoman government. A contract was signed to extend the existing Haydarpaşa - Izmit line of 92 kilometers to Ankara. The Ottoman Empire gave a guarantee of 15.000 francs per year for every kilometer. The Anatolian Railways Company (Societe du Chemin de fer Ot-toman d'Anatolie) was officially established on March 4, 1889. Thus, the construction of the railway line, which was set out in 1872 towards Baghdad, was resumed, albeit with a delay.
Anadolu Railways Company has continued its construction activities regularly and has fulfilled its commitments on time and in the best way with new privileges for further lines. When the memory of Izmit-Adapazarı in 1890, Haydarpaşa-Eskişe-hir-Ankara in 1892 and the Eskişehir-Konya memorial was completed in 1896, a railway network exceeding 1000 kilometers was installed. The Ottoman government announced that it intends to extend the railway to the Persian Gulf at the ceremony held at the opening of the Izmit - Adapazarı line and intensified its contacts with the Germans. In September 1900, the German government instructed banks and foreigners to provide the necessary support in this regard, in accordance with the world policy that the new kaiser Wilhelm wants to implement. Russia, Britain and France were against the project of extending the railway to Baghdad. From Ankara, Russia has had a significant effect on passing the railroad in the direction of southeast Anatolia and passing through Konya, along with other reasons, and this line has been abandoned from Sivas towards northeast Anatolia. Britain's tolerance to increase its military presence in Egypt and the privilege of extending the Izmir-Town line from Alaşehir to Afyon to France prevented the opposition of these states.
Baghdad railway agreements took their final form through very complex stages. The pre-concession agreement was signed on 23 December 1899, and the main concession agreement was signed on 21 January 1902. Finally, with the last agreement on March 21, 1903, a contract was signed on financing the 250 km Konya-Ereğli line, the first line to be built. On 13 April 1903, the Baghdad Railway Company (Societe Imperial Ottomane du Chemin de fer de Bagdad) was officially established. In order for the construction to begin immediately, the Ottoman State immediately fulfilled the financial obligations it had undertaken, and showed Konya, Aleppo and Urfa's tax duties as mileage guarantee. Under the terms of the agreement, the government will issue Ottoman bonds with a nominal value of 275.000 francs per kilometer, and the real estate owned by the company will be mortgaged. Along with the roads that the line will pass through, it was also granted the use of state forests and mines and quarries for construction. These were similar to the concessions given to companies for railways made in other countries at that time. All kinds of materials related to the railway would be imported without duty. The company would make stations where appropriate by agreeing with the Ottoman Ministry of War, and military transport would be given priority when war or rebellion broke out. The official language of the company was French. Their officers would wear special uniforms and fez. The company, which was dominated by German capital and has 30% French capital, was kept open to other investors. The 99-year concession agreement gave the state the right to purchase the company when the first thirty years were up. Construction I, World War II and during the ongoing Baghdad but in October 1918 in a seamless way, this railway that connects Istanbul, was nationalized on 10 January 1928 with the purchase of the new Republic of Turkey.
Baghdad railway has been one of the main sources of relentless competition between Germany and England, which is the issue of propaganda and opening up to the East, and which is a matter of prestige. The great states, who saw themselves as the natural heirs of the Ottoman heritage, did not digest Germany to appear as a force supporting the Ottoman Empire. It is understood that the Anatolian - Baghdad railway projects have brought political and economic benefits to the Ottoman Empire from the moment they were introduced. As a matter of fact, in addition to the use of the line for military purposes, it can be said that the Anatolian cereals moved to Istanbul and the state center no longer played an important role in the economy of Anatolia as well as in the demographic structure of Anatolia.
Istanbul Baghdad Railway Map
Source : www.filozof.net