Greasing the wheels: the Berlin-Baghdad railway and Ottoman oil, 1888?1907
In the 1880s, Germany cultivated an alliance with the Ottoman Empire that led to a concession to build one of history?s most storied, diplomatically contentious, and financially challenging infrastructure projects: the Berlin-Baghdad Railroad. While Germany had many goals in pursuing the project, oil was the only way to make the railroad economic. Drawing on Ottoman archival sources, this article examines the policies and strategies of Sultan Abd?lhamid II in relation to Germany?s attempt to develop Mesopotamian oil from German Emperor Wilhelm II?s visit to Istanbul in 1889 to the conclusion of Germany?s oil concession in 1906/7. It argues that Hamid pursued a pragmatic policy to develop and protect Ottoman oil from being dominated by the powers, especially the British Empire, and, in the process, seeks to reorient our understanding of great power interest in Middle East oil.