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Source: DK/RA-UM/Gruppeordnede sager 1909-1945. 139. D. 1, ”Tyrkiet - Indre Forhold”. Pakke 1, til 31 Dec. 1916
Edition: Danish diplomatic sources
Departure of telegram: 11/03/1915
Embassy/consular serial number: Nr. 160
Translated by: Matthias Bjørnlund
Last updated: 04/02/2012

The minister at Constantinople (Carl Ellis Wandel) to the Foreign Minister (Erik Scavenius)


Nr. 160
Constantinople 3 November 1915.


Mr. Foreign Minister,

The influential and Germanophile Halil Bey’s appointment as Turkish Foreign Minister must probably be seen as a German diplomatic success.
The German embassy here had great difficulties in asserting its influence as long as the acting Foreign Minister was the nominal head of the government, Grand Vizier Prince Said Halim, who only exercises little influence, and, when it wanted to effect something, it often had to apply directly to Talaat Bey who has lately at times shown himself to be less flexible than the Germans would prefer.

Indeed, von Bethmann Hollweg [German Reichskanzler Theobald von Bethmann Hollweg] as well as von Jagow [German Foreign Minister Gottlieb von Jagow] have hastened to send His Excellency Halil Bey very cordial congratulatory messages on the occasion of his joining of the government.
However, it is still difficult to estimate to what extent the German influence here will increase now; that will, for instance, depend on the amount of tact with which it is exercised.

The powerful and incorruptible Talaat Bey is, as noted earlier, no unconditional friend of the Germans; apparently, he has lately become more and more chauvinistic, and though he presently seems to be on a very good footing with Halil Bey, the German diplomacy will most likely be well-advised not to have too high expectations concerning his attitude.

Talaat and Halil are equally ambitious; they both desire to become Grand Vizier, and in order to first reach the goal in this competition Halil seems to rely on Germany's help in particular.

Though Talaat at the moment is closest to Enver and Halil and support them, he simultaneously seeks to keep good relations with the moderates and the almost equally powerful Governor in the Vilayet Aidin (Smyrna), Rahmy [Rahmi] Bey, who has repeatedly opposed the orders of the Committee and Enver, and whom he treats as his equal; overall, he seems to be the most intelligent politician in the Triumvirate, and the most unpredictable.
There is likely to exist an understanding between the moderate Rahmy Bey in Smyrna and the Francophile Djemal Pacha [Jemal/Cemal Pasha] in Damascus, which has as its aim to counteract too strong a German influence in Turkey.

Djemal Pacha feels that his position is being threatened by the Germans, who would rather see that the supreme command of the expedition toward Egypt is taken from him and given to a German, and it quite possible that the conflict which he is presently implicated in, and which I mentioned in my report No. CLIX [159] of 1. this month, is caused by purposeful intrigues.

My Dutch colleague [Jonkheer Van der Does de Willebois], who has occupied his post here since 1908 and before that was a diplomatic agent and Consul General in Cairo for some 20 years, knows the situation here and in Egypt well, and he is on a very intimate footing with the leading men in the German military mission here.
I therefore attach great importance to his opinion when it comes to the Germans' true intentions in Egypt, and today I had a conversation with him on this subject.

The diplomatic minister told me that despite all the promises the Germans may have had to make to the Turks, he did not believe that the Germans are, in reality, intending to help the Turks become masters in Egypt.

"The Germans are clearly realizing," he said, "that they even in the best case scenario would not be able to completely drive out the English from Egypt, and, in any case, that the English will under no circumstances conclude a peace deal unless Egypt is handed back to them; subsequently, they would, if the Turks conquered Cairo, after the war easily end up in the unfortunate predicament where they would have to ask their Turkish friends to once more leave Egypt, which could lead to a conflict that could utterly compromise the German-Turkish friendship."

"I therefore believe," the minister added, "that the Germans would rather that the Turks are not too successful in Egypt, and that their plans may at the moment only extend to transporting heavy artillery by the new railroad they are constructing in the desert in the direction of the Suez Canal so that they can fire shells from a distance of 10-12 km and prevent all English traffic from sailing through the canal."

The German gunners, who are to operate the heavy artillery that is to be transported to the Dardanelles and toward the Suez Canal once the route through Serbia has been opened, are already here in Constantinople.

But Djemal Pacha has many supporters in the army among the second-to-youngest officers, so it is likely the government will try to avoid getting on the wrong side of him.

Indeed, the government seems at the moment to be treading rather carefully in such cases; it has, for example, made an effort to keep Prince Said Halim as Grand Vizier when he wanted to completely withdraw from the government out of regret for losing the post as Foreign Minister.
Granted, Said Halim does not many supporters, but he is rich, and the government was careful not to risk him joining their opponents.

It is, however, easy to assume now that Said Halim, who knows that it is only a matter of time before he loses his post as Grand Vizier or at least is reduced to be a mere figurehead, now will seek to be connected to Djemal Pacha and Rahmy Bey, Djavid [Cavit] Bey and their friends.

With the highest esteem I remain, Mr. Minister, yours faithfully


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