by Max Barry

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Sultan of Swing - the Suleymaniye renaissance, 1919-1939

Part 1 - The fruits of victory

January 1919 the war ended with the reestablishment of the borderts of 1914 on all fronts and national honor restored, however losses were heavy: the key port of Izmir had been shelled into rubble, the Gelibolu landings and the british advance on Konstantiniyye had, even if it failed halfway, marked a path of devastation in the countryside of the heartlands of the empire. The ancient homelands of the haminid dynasty had not been touched and Konstantiniyye was save, as were the empires second-rank centres, Antalya, Baghdad and Sofia. Rumelia had been hit hard, greece was in open rebellion but the empires' troops were not capable to stop greek independence: there simply were not enough trained men left to hold the russian border, contain the Serbs and the saudi and hashemite rebels in arabia. The Armies of Rumelia had been depleeted to exhaustion, the Anatolian army group had only a third of its strength left and was deployed to the western borders and Arabia. Even the sultans Kapikulu Ordu had been partially deployed and suffered losses, they had halted the cursed İngiliz and created a veritable moon-scape in the process not unlike those strewn through france. Without the russian collapse, the exhaustion of the french armies and the İngiliz giving, dammit, the Hamidi Empire had done what even Wilhelm could not, We, the moors and cameldrivers, the muslim world, had won this war! Well, nothing had been gained and Greece and parts of the balkan had been lost Victory! Victory but loss of the armenian province and all christian balkan lands to the new yugoslav state.

Sultan Suleyman IV. holding grand court in may 1919 for the first time after the war.

The administration of sultan Suleyman IV. focused among other areas on rebuilding the trade ports, and for the interim the old core city of the Hamidi homelands was decently developed and unscathed. Antalya would become a boom-town, the population, modest before the war, shot up to triple its size and a sprawling network of cheap houses and manufactories, dockyards (and of course the usual red light district clutter) made the city a bewildering nightmare to navigate. Policing it fell to the same men that were there to guard it before the war - minus those of them who didn't come back from the war or came back missing limbs, faces and minds. The Imperial Navy was, after the loss of both seaworthy dreadnoughts and 80% of the cruiser force basically inesistent; only the "white elephant" Abdülhamid-ı Evvel, on paper the most powerful vessel of the mediterranean but in reality a dilapidated, faulty hulk taking up docking space in Izmir Arsenal, was left, together with the old protected cruisers Osman Bey and Mesudiye and a dozend torpedoboats of various age and damage state. The "Great Sultan" was ordered to be made seaworthy whatever it took, one had to at least look like a victor and a modern superdreadnought showing the Hamidian Flag on a tour to the foreign lands was certainly a good way to demonstrate. The devastated Izmir Arsenal, shelled into rubble by the Royal Navy, was given up as a lost cause and Abdülhamid-ı Evvel was laborously tugged to Antalya to provide even more chaos to the city.

Abdülhamid-ı Evvel steaming under own power in October 1919.

Part 2: Out of the dark-ages into the rollercoaster

1910, the Empire was a peaceful land with a quiet people. The sultan's efforts to educate his herd of subjects were barely started, and the rural population was in fact still half illiterate. Electricity was rare and even Konstantiniyye and Kairo had dark alleys with no streetlamps at places.
The arabs did as they always had, at times rebelling against the local Emir or Wali, succeeding or not, but as long as not too many were killed and the tax revenue did not drop the Beys and Beylerbeys didn't really care. The Sultanate itself was firmly established everywhere, but Konstantiniyye was far away and the local policeman was - a local. He could be reasoned with, and one would live as one always had.
The actual power base of the Empire were the people living in Anatolia and around the northern bosphorus: kurds, turks, armenians and azeri.
The war saw these rustic fellows confronted with modern weaponry as well as the written word. Hamidi turk and the semi-arabic lettering system it uses were taught in all schools, something the Sultan insisted upon after hearing of the seargent's troubles when they were confronted with for instance greek or jemenite recruits. The Empire used 5 different writing systems in its provinces and over 20 languages, something that was a veritable nightmare to control on every level.
So in 1919 Sultan Suleyman gave the order to establish a reform: learn Hamidi Turk or else. At the same time the writing systems were slashed across the board and (for lack of a better alternative) western script adopted. This foreign lettering, only used in a few balkan provinces within the empire, was the only compromise: had one chosen another writing system it would only have lead to nationalist resurgence, something the sultan wanted to avoid at all costs. The new idea was simple: Suleyman was not only the Sultan but also the Caliph. And it was the duty of every devout muslim to obey the Caliph. Well, most denominations didn't really recognize the Sultan as such, but after all he was the leader of the largest muslim nation on the planet by far, the only one that had stood its ground against the kaffirs and...well... sort of won.
Schools would be traditional, he declared, teaching religious values as well as modern skills and knowledge. The faith would retain hold on laws and the judicial system, and he would have new mosques built as much as schools and hospitals. Islam, so the sultan said, was an enlightened religion: had not muslim scientists lead the world while the kaffirs wallowed in the pigdung and burned witches? Had not the prophet said that: "The superiority of a learned man over an ignorant worshipper is like that of the full moon over all the stars."? One would have education, modern technology... the empire had to if it were to survive. The westerners and their money-grabbing ways were a danger. Islam forbade usury, so capitalism was not exactly compatible to these plans, and the godless bolsheviks fighting their own beyong the northern borders were not exactly to anyons taste either. No, Islam had to find its own the Prophet said: "People are like mines of gold and silver. The more excellent of them in Islam are those who attain knowledge. " One would pay the rajah according to education and service to the state. Even a farmer would receive an ever so slight pay increase when delivering his goods to the depository for redistribution by the state. With reactions ranging from amazement ro utter horror the western ambassadors and visitors watched the "old turk" (as Suleyman was named in their papers) transform his empire: yes, these were the Haminids of old: ruthless and shrewd, the warlord dynasty conjured up pictures of old in the western press: the terrible turk was back!

"The Turk" - picture post, 1919

Part 3 - Happy days are here again

The year of 1920 went by with much hard work and rebuilding, but in spring 1921 the Haminid dynasty cenebrated 600 years of rule as well as the first time the national efforts had produced results going beyond the pre-war level: now one would start to improve, to have real progress! Well the 500.000 dead soldiers hurt, but industry was flourishing: it turned out that when you did not accumulate the gained profits in the hands of a few rich corrupt top-hat-wearing old men you could invest it instead. Also march 1921 marked the discovery of a huge oil field in Dhahran in Arabia, yes, it was a remarkable start. In September Sultan Suleyman would be celebrating his birthday by opening the greatest scholarly institution of the muslim world, Antalya University. This would truly mark the city as the second center of the Empire (and add a planned 90.000 students to the chaos).
Yes...good times indeed, and the people celebrated. Unfortunately not in ways that the newly-empowered religious establishment saw with anything but utter horror; lewd dancing, alcohol, and this music from overseas! Horrible, horrible thing, this jazz coming from over there.
The young people did not obey their parents anymore: "I'll go to Konstantiniyye, Cairo or Antalya and get rich! Screw you, grandpa!"
Especially the "raki-issue" became ever more troubling: even though it was not actually illegal to drink the prophet had forbidden it after all. And something that was forbidden by the "old men" and yet actually legal to do was ratzher attractive to a certain kind of people. Getting drunk on top of the traditional hashish and then dancing to kaffir-music, fornicating the poor girls corrupted by this blasphemy... disgusting! So in april 1921 the efforts had born fruit, and the Şeyḫü'l-İslām approached the Sultan about outlawing alcohol within the Empire.
Sultan Suleyman, himself being quite fond of a relaxing smoke after the days`' work was done but brought up in a traditional manner, agreed. That foreign nonsense had to go, you could see in the kaffir countries what it did to people. And the violence! The Violence in the alcohol business, being a lucrative market without state regulation and in a society wherein having arms at home was the norm in rural areas, lead to the criminal establishment of the Empire quickly taking control here.
No, this had to go, something had to be done... the traditional recreational drug of the Empire was not the devils drink but good old ott (marihuana).
It was a perfect thing to use recreationally, was not even unhealthy. it made the smoker passive, easily amused, and an overdose had a good night's rest as consequence at most.
Well, what to do... outright outlawing booze was stupid, what happened when you did you could see in America with their gang wars and bootleggers. August 1921 saw the establishing of a vendors' and manufacturers' license system for recreationals: to sell coffee, tobacco, ott or booze you would need a license. (and it was clandestinely agreed that nobody would get an alcohol license ever). Behind the closed and halberdier-guarded doors of Yildiz Sarayi however the sultan actually had quite a lot of lewdness ghoing on himself, and that music really did not hurt nobody.

If only these people were a bit more discrete on one and tolerant on the other side, Suleyman thought as he wound up his victrola. Yes, he would organize a little surprise for these old farts on his 52nd birthday. The band was booked discretely, well payed to keep it shut until they would clandestinely arive in Konstantiniyye.
This man Henderson was black as a moor, something that did apparently matter quite a lot to the amerikanlar, which would endear him perhaps to the rajah...yes, perhaps it was for the best that no white man ambassador Muradoglu had asked was willing to "go and entertain the red sultan". If there was one thing history had shown to the Haminid dynasty it was that ability was not related to birth or skin colour. Well... he would have the traditional festivities run as usual, but in the afternoon the party would be public. The Sultan listening to heathen-music, now that had potential. Perhaps one could even spread the word of the prophet among the american blacks...imagining the american coloured working class bound to the word of the Sultan and Caliph and himself as a champion of their emancipation brought a devilish grin to Suleymans face. Even the raki-fabricants were happy enough to sell their booze to scrupulous kaffirs who got rich on US prohibition. The sultans police would look the other way if they operated for export only and did not make waves or sold to their own countrymen. Having one distillery stormed by the military police and shot to pieces with a maxim gun - including the bosses there - had worked wonders convincing the other big men of the business.
He wondered what the amerikanlar were thinking, banning the traditional drug of their population. What would happen were he to ban the hookah? Well, either nobody would care and look the other way or he would have to spend a fortune to enforce the ban, only to have organized crime take it over and have the common man think him a moron. That was the one thing the Hamidi rule traditionally took great care to avoid, their one grace in the public eye: the population had to be and stay convinced that the Sultanate was neccessary to keep the kaffirs in check, and that the sultan and his pashas were smart and violent men. That nobody could fvck with the boss and live, that Konstantiniyye knew all and watched all, and at times just did not care enough to intervene when someone did something that went against their interest. Having a big crime discovered and the criminals shot in public worked wonders...not to big a crime, mind, of the belief in the all-pervasive knowledge of the government would go...a Wali cheating on his taxes, or a kadi taking a bribe, heads chopped off in public always worked.
Of course if anyone actually managed to organise rebellion the military police would do as it had always done, the afghans were the latest to re-learn that lesson. Muhammad Dost Khan had killed the Emir and declared himself shah in 1918, so Kabul was encircled and upon not surrendering immediately when asked shelled with Diphosgene and high explosive until there was nobody left to surrender. It still was a poisoned ghost-town today, something painfully hidden from the western world and clandestinely known to every corner of the empire.

1924 - Let the good times roll! LinkSoundtrack

The Grand Africa Express from Konstantiniyye to Tangiers slowly pulled out of the white marble cathedral that was Antalya Main Station.
Mustapha Kemal Pasha was travelling to his new appointment as Beylerbey of Africa: perhaps more of a sign of the sultans disfavour than anything else. Oh well,
he would make do. Cairo and the Gezirah Palace would do nicely. He had plans for Egypt, and not only for Egypt.

Djemel Hyder Ali meanwhile sat in that same train stations' café and waited for his contact. The man was a kaffir, an italian, bringing news from the other side from their boss. Damn suspicious foreigners, why the man could not simply use the telegraph... but they were afraid of the police, the sultans' men being quite a lot less prone to overlook a kaffir than a simple arab like Ali here. Also they apparently had trouble with this Musoloni-bloke over there, perhaps he would have to start doing business with other venues, or their cousins from overseas. Normally exchanging hamidi Hemp for italian wine and heroin for fat wads of foreign cash was simply done by bribing the local coast guard idiot in charge to tell them the patrol schedule in time and send out the fleet. But the italians had trouble apparently. They missed an important pickup and the man in charge in Antalya was pissed. Also africa had a new Beylerbey coming in and the Pasha of Antalya was 71 already: when old Arslan "Whitebeard" died things would change here. He ckecked his watch... fvcking kaffir was late... damn spaghettis always were. He motioned to the waiter. Fvck it, he thought, if they cant bother to be on time I'll sell to the greeks instead.

Konstantiniyye at night was just as chaotic as in daylight, especially as it was saturday night and the cities shadier corners were open for business. Ever since the Sultan had Hendersons jazz orchestra play at his birthday the party-goers saw their activities as under the caliphs blessing, something that irked the religious fundamentalists to no end. But then the political gains of propagating the multi-ethnic state as a proponent for black emancipation started rolling in, and in manners unforseen at that. Konstantiniyye rapidly gained a name for being the city to be even for the rich white kaffirs: they found it attractive! Of course, with their foreign passports they could buy booze, and the town was only to happy to oblige. Their hanghers-on followed, kaffir criminals too, but they quickly found out that the Sultans police did not give a damn about legal red tape and had no patience at all during interrogation. Anyone misbehaving was deported, including a warning that returning to the Empire would be a good way to go home the second time in a nice new pine box. Anyone committing a real crime who wasn't important enough for his home government to risk pissing off the Sultanate about the wellbeing of their citizen found out that hamidi prisons were indeed an experience: 20 years of breaking rocks in the black Jemen or building railroads in a chain gang in Armenia were wuite another matter than prisons back home.
This did not mean that crime didn't exist, quite the opposite in fact, but it was firmly in Hamidi hands. Hands who took the greatest care not to desturb the sultans peace, the first actual gang war had taken place in 1919 in the Empire's capital. The second one was quickly ended by the Kapikulu Ordu, the sultans capital guard, the method of choice being a number of armored cars and a total wipe-out of both gangs within less than a day. The message was heard clearly: "We know you exist and who you are, and we are fine with you doing things in a civilized manner and under arrangements with us, but dont make us get the hammer."
The usual business practice of these kind of people made sure that the men at the top were not stupid, and they quickly started to understand that neither were the Sultan and his pashas and beys. Things were toned down, simply killing an opponents men was no longer an option. If you got rid of the enemy boss and absorbed his business without making waves that was fine.
The usual protection money deal was alright too, though if squeezed to hard a businessman of import would simply go to the police, and policemen were actually untouchable. This was the one thing one could never do: rub out anyone in uniform. This too had been made clear by the usual means: anyone bearing the sultans tughra was off limits.
Alright, that too could a crime syndicate boss respect: the Sultan was the ultimate Boss of the 240 million of the rajah.
This arrangement in turn saw the public visibility of the hamidi crime scene drop to almost zero, giving the sultans administration the opportunity to tell the world loudly how much more civilized their rule was than capitalism or that italian moron. That Musso-fellow actually had the gall to try and claim Libya by citing his dictatorship as the successor of the Roman Emperors.
The answer of the Sultanate was a gift: for an italian museum, so the note on the gigantic box said, for a lesson on Roman Empires.

One of the great guns of Abdul II who conquered Konstantinople in 1491

Suffice to say the Libya-issue was never heard from again.

1926 - Economic woes and Army Reform

500 Kurush - golden coin from the time of Sultan Mustafa V. made in 1881

The Empire adhered to the gold standard, had done so since antiquity, and even though sultan Abdulkadir had experimented with paper money (payable in gold on demand by the Hamidiye Bankasi) the imperial subjects really had not taken to it. The war and its financial demands had seen the state gold reserve dwindle dangerously, and even the new oil boom that had freed the Empire of its war bond woes was not enough to satisfy the enormous appetite the reforms of the Sultan combined with the rebuilding of the devastated Izmir had slowly but surely brought the message home to the office to the high defterdar: uh-oh!
And so Mustafa Karambolis, a greek jew and high defterdar of the Haminid Empire, came to request an urgent audience in which he explained to a weary Suleyman IV. that the reform and rebuilding of the Imperial Armed Forces would have to wait or the reforms in the educational sector would grind to a halt. Then the Defterdar proposed something totally foreign to the Imperial Sovereign: after all the concept of usury was firmly outlawed in the Empire, and money-lending seen as a dirtier business than prostitution: one could reintroduce fiat money backed by the Imperial Treasury on a bond basis! But would the proverbial Mehmed the Musulman actually exchange this for a golden sultani? Would this work?
If one was to have a military rivalling the other powers it would have to... these new metal cars with guns were something the Empire had not faced in war but obsevers had seen terrible things in the north: imperviouis to bullets, crushing brave infantry under their weight, crossing field fortifications imperviously... the Empire relied on fortifications and defense in depth, backed by the hardened anatolian infantry and heavy long-ranged artillery support by stationary guns. Even german observers had been impressed by the Topcu, the Sultans Artillery Corps...but these tanks, if the Staff Office was correct, would waltz right through the trenches and the wire, and new aeroplanes could bomb the Toplari into paste... they had made plans for special infanrty guns operated right at the front line: high-velocity field guns made for direct fire, of small caliber to knock out the metal monsters. The lesson of the war, so the Imperial Staff Office, was the superiority of defensive war: absorb the enemy and minimize losses, klet them bleed to death while breaking through multiple rings of fortification. then shell the occupying troops into oblivion. Every offensive operation the Armies of the Sultan had undertaklen during the war had been a massacre, a pyrrhic victory at best. The brave mehmetcikler had died in droves, mowed down by enemy machineguns.

kutu kesici - the box-cutter: fiirst succesful haminid AT-gun

the 3cm high velocity anti-armor rifle on field mount, nicknamed the box-cutter, was the first major investment in the Imperial Army after victory in 1919. A decent weapon to deal with tanks was seen as even more urgend than modernizing the obsolete small arms; financially this was archieved by the dissolution of all cavalry forces: either they were rebuilt into line infanrty regiments or simply disbanded. Quite a few proud officers simply shot themselves as their centuries-old regiments were unceremoniously closed down and their commission reverted to infantry. The Kutu was a decent weapon, when it was introduced in 1926 it was propably the best specific AT-gun in the world, and basically the only real anti tank field gun in existence: the implementation in fortification role meant it was never conceived to be fired by less than three soldiers or without a hard mounting; the tripod had provisions to brace against both walls of a haminid standard trench. It could easily pen any tank the Empire had knowledge off, and its simple hardened steel bullet would make a fist-sized hole in anythign it could penetrate. They were envisioned to be half as numerous as the ubitiquous Mahmudiye-Maxim-1913 HMG: 2 per company were seen as adequate. This was easily done: the tripod was adaptable to mount both the HMG and the AT-gun, so they could be swapped out on the mounting. The vision was radio communication to the topcu for concentrated bombardment and a wall of fire going out across the field, then a retreat leaving the mounting in place and only taking the guns to the next line while arty rained down on the position now occupied by the enemy. Rinse and repeat for three to four lines, and every offensive would turn into a "super-somme". The idea was to trade ground for blood until the enemy soldiery would be too exhausted, dirty, cold and sick to be willing to advance any further. (The development of modern bombers was conveniently ignored unfortunately). And besides: every infanrtyman of the Empire had a working gas-kit, the usage of chemical weapons was seen as simply a fact of modern warfare in the empire. While some other nations stepped back the Sultan publicly stated to be willing and accepting of gas warfare in defense of the Empire. This point was stressed in fact: DEFENSIVE USE ONLY!

The new Haminid armed forces would have to be somewhat different from the old system as well: the Staff of the Kapikulu Ordu had acted as the equivalent to the german general Staff system, this was to be expanded and the army education reformed. The kapikulu ordu was to serve as a model for the new territorial forces: the nation would keep the ancient divisions and the Army of Rumelia would receive recruits from the other parts of the Empire to make up for the lost territory. Thanks to the new litteracy efforts the recruits were expected to be able to speak, read and write Hamidi Turkish, so a recruit from armenia had no problem receiving orders from his new jemenite superior. The uniforms of the old 1890 model were to be replaced, but the new ones were still a rather dark grey and included a red fez: some traditions had to be kept after all. The public image of the nation was useful as well: the jackbooted officer with his kaiser mustache even held nostalgic feelings for the foreigners these days. Like a callback to the good old days, "the turk" was the same as he had been in 1895. The Army would enforce this; since the victory over russia in 1879 the Empire was no longer the "sick man" but the only non-christian and non-white great power in the world. The kaffirs had quaked in their boots centuries ago when they heard of the turks, and by the Sultan they would do so now! The Image was fragile: should any foreign power rfeally find out just how hard the losses of the Empire in the Great War had actually been and look behind the facade there would be trouble. The navy only existed in small craft these days, Haminid aviation was virtually nonexistant, the armies depleted and the toplari outdated: war was out of the question for a long, long time. Fortunately the old enemy was in turmoil, the red kaffirs killing the hated tsarist kaffirs, musulman militias fighting a guerilla war in the caucasus using clandestinely imported haminid rifles and ammunition. On the balkan frontier the Imperial Army paraded whatever new equipment they had and showed off fresh troops and hardened veterans together, building new fortifications and generally making every effort to look formidable , every inch the victor of the Great War.

Sultan Suleyman, now 65 years old, served as a beloved father of the nation and fatherly figure to the muslims of the world: the Caliph was a good, wise man, he had defeated the kaffirs and protected the muslims of the world. Rumour had it he enjoyed a smoke and a merry romp in the harem every now and then, and compared to the conservative royalty of the world he was very much a liberal, educated man, and yet something of a mystery to foreigners. This, so his advisors told him, had to change: a State visit or two were in order.
And so for 1927 the Grand Vizier of the Hamidian Empire contacted Gustav Stresemann to make inways to the German government for a Visit of the Sultan to Berlin in August 1928.
The Germans were somewhat puzzled as how to react: the Sultan had been the ally of the Kaiser, but the Grand vizier had said that the German people had been the allies of the Sultanate and not the Kaiser alone... this, so Stresemann reasoned, was an opportunity and a danger together: Suleyman IV. had never visited the German Reich before, but the state visit of an old ally and now a victorious great power, the one nation that had done what even germany could not... the french and british would not like this, neither would the revanchist germans and the nationalists. No, this was a good idea after all...tweaking the frogs and the lobsters, and the Völkischen together was something that brought a universal smile to the Reichstags moderate factions, and the Sultan would be happy as well... the Government of Chancellor Wilhelm Marx (Centrum) aggreed to host the Haminid Sultan and his entourage in the second week of august 1928. The Sultan would travel by Sea of course, even though the germans had offered to send an airship to konstantiniyye...and a very carefully worded letter was sent to the antalya arsenal: his Imperial Majesty wished to travel on the royal Yacht, escorted by the cruiser squadron that had acquitted itself so valiantly during the war.
The royal yacht...yes, where had the ancient paddle steamer gotten off to.... as it turned out she had been scrapped clandestinely and most of her steel was now the second torpedo boat flotilla. Oops. After a week of nerve-racking research it was decided that the Sultan would simply get a new ship: the decomissioned protected cruiser "Osmaniye" would be rebuilt and refitted to be the new Imperial yacht of the Hamidi Imperium.

"Hamid Ghazi", steaming out of the sea of marmara, 1927

Even though she looked splendid, the old cruiser was by no means a luxury ship: her engines vibrated at speeds above 15 knots, and the general noise level of the old reciprocating engine was high. Her top speed was 22 knots, one more than she had reached when she was new in 1911, but compared to modern ships she was slow..but did she ever look pretty, painted whiote with black and red funnels, the gleaming golden moon and star at the bow...yes, the Sultan was not a violent ruler, and having the empire look a bit oldfashioned for the foreigners was fine too. She would take 14 days, one would board in Konstantiniyye, cross the mediterranean and visit Gibraltar, continue along the iberian peninsula up to the north sea, cross the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Canal and finally reach Hamburg Port. From there the Sultan would proceed by train and finally 20 days after leaving Konstantiniyye would hold grand court in Berlin. Back one would take the Emperors League Express from Berlin to Konstantiniyye, and finally after 40 days be safe and sound in Yildiz Palace again. "Öff, amina koyim" - so the general consensus in the sultanates higher circles, a sentiment echoed in Berlin ("Ach du Scheiße"), Paris and London likewise.
The german democrats were worried: the Despot of Arabia, the bloody Sultan, confidante of the Kaiser and good friend of Field Marshals Von der Goltz and Ludendorff... the Sultan had ordered there to be only medium security as to demonstrate his willingness to play by the rules, the communists had already rallied against the "bloody Sultan", the Nazis called him a Traitor to the german people, the social democrats the arch-monarchist... and he would even bring Envher Pasha with him, the "Butcher of the Balkans" whose gas shells had devastated the russian armies. The Sultan was the last autocratic ruler of the Great Powers, his armies had defeated the russian might and blunted the british invasion... the french and english were very worried indeed: the old man was visiting his old allie, especially their general staff... supposedly because Ludendorff and Von der Goltz were his friends, but really now...
stronger Hamidi-German relations were worrysome, for even though the german Armies had been curtailed by the Treaty of versailles (which had drawn strong protests from Konstantiniyye) and the Hamidi navy was devastated; analysts said the Hamidi Ordusu was rebuilding and reforming and would reach pre-war reserve strength again in early 1929. Still, Hamidi doctrine was oldfashioned and outdated and their weapons rather odd as well: So many heavy guns, such a great focus on static defense... the Hamidi Ordusu clearly had drawn the wrong conclusion from the Great War: they thought defense was utterly superior to offense and focused thus on building the perfect immobile army.

1927 - the Sultan in Germany

July 13th 1927: "Hamid Ghazi" crosses the Kiel Channel. The German naval officials were rather amused by the throwback to the past: "Haven't seen a ship like this since before the great war" - "Yes, but the Haminids didn't get Versaill'ed." "I wonder why they didn't use a modern ship..."

On "Hamid Ghazi" meanwhile the Imperial Staff were having their uniforms put in order and the ship polished like their medals. The band were waiting to be on a stretch without onlookers to rehearse the "Hamidiye Marşı" for the 101st time, and the Sultan himself had a headache. Suleyman was now 66 years old, and age began to have its price, as did a lifetime of good food, smoking and other unhealthy habits. "Öff, that's the last time I'll travel by sea. And especially in this old bucket, it feels like everything starts moving in rhythm to the engine in here. Steward! TEA!"

On order of the Sultan the embassies of the allied powers would receive a well-timed snub: his Imperial Majesty the Sultan and Caliph would not receive them, to protest the treaty sanctions against the old ally Germany. The invitation to visit the Kaiser in exile he had thrown overboard as well: "Pompous, incompetent soldierboy, has no manners at all." The political situation was worrysome in Europe, if they continued like this there would certainly be another war, and this time the Haminids were even less prepared and in shape for one than the last time. His favourite son, Murad, was not there yet either: his carreer in the Army had been cut short to commanding a division of the Kapikulu ordu, the household troops, on the Izmir Front, where he had apparently shown himself to be a decent general... but a General was not enough to be a Sultan. Shezade Murad would represent the Empire in the african dominions and equatorial turkey on a simultaneous voyage, so the Viziers could govern in peace. And when he was back Suleyman would grab Murad and have some fun. Damn, hopefully Berlin night life was any good.

July 15th, Hamburg Port, Landungsbrücken, 3:30 PM Linksoundtrack

Half of the city, it seemed, had come to see. This was the first time a state visitor arrived here, the port city was not a fashionable place to be and a major center of german communism. The Schutzpolizei was in full attendance, as were the Roter Frontkämpferbund and a fledgling detachement of the Sturmabteilung, both to try and spoil the occasion. The few red fezzes along the pier seemed forlorn amid the mass of people, as Sultan Suleyman stepped down the gangway to the clamour of the crowd. They had dispersed with the band and usual dignitaries, instead having a caravan of taxi-cabs bring the Sultan to the prestigious hotel "Vier Jahreszeiten" to stay the night.

Dissapointedly the crowd dispersed: this was the dreaded Sultan? This old, bow-legged, bearded fellow looked rather like an old St Pauli boozer stuffed into a theateresque uniform. His soldiers too, rather comical... many old people liked it: like the good old times! No shouted speeches, no violence, no politics. Sultan Suleyman meanwhile had a servant bring him a hookah and a tray of dried dates and ordered not to be desturbed. He wound up his victrola, and tried not to worry so much about the communists standing outside the hotel shouting abuse at the portier.