After driving the Turks from Kut, Britain’s Maude is chomping at the bit to march on to Baghdad. In London however Robertson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, fears that if Maude pushes ahead he could be marching into a trap. Robertson does not want to lose another army in Mesopotamia, after Townshend was forced to capitulate last year.
Robertson had ordered Maude to do no more than raid in the direction of Baghdad. However after remonstration by Maude and by senior British figures in India, Robertson changes his tune. Robertson now frees Maude to advance on Baghdad if he thinks the situation warrants it, though he continues to warn him against over-stretching himself.
What has changed Roberson’s mind? He has begun to realise that the Turks are currently in some disarray, with Baghdad potentially there for the taking before they reorganise themselves. Its capture would greatly raise Britain’s prestige in the Muslim world and correspondingly discredit the Turkish Empire. Robertson has also heeded warnings that the Russians are planning their own offensive into Mesopotamia from Persia. If the Russians were to seize Baghdad then it would tear up the secret division of the Middle East that Britain has agreed with France.