The geographical position of the Ottoman Empire meant that Russia and her allies France and Britain had a significant interest in Turkish neutrality in the event of war in Europe.
During the Sarajevo Crisis in 1914, German diplomats offered Turkey an anti-Russian alliance and territorial gains in Caucasia, north-west Iran and Trans-Caspia.
Alexandretta was an area with a Christian population and was the strategic centre of the Empire's railway network – its capture would have cut the empire in two.
Vice Admiral Sir Richard Peirse, East Indies Station, ordered Captain Frank Larkin of HMS Doris to Alexandretta on 13 December 1914.
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Before the Dardanelles operation was conceived, the British had planned to conduct an amphibious invasion near Alexandretta on the Mediterranean Sea, an idea originally presented by Boghos Nubar in 1914.
This plan was developed by the Secretary of State for War, Field Marshal Earl Kitchener to sever the capital from Syria, Palestine and Egypt.
The pro-British faction in the cabinet was isolated due to the British ambassador taking leave until 18 August.
As the crisis deepened in Europe, Ottoman policy was to obtain a guarantee of territorial integrity and potential advantages, unaware that the British might enter a European war.
This action strained diplomatic relations between the two empires and the German government offered SMS Goeben and SMS Breslau to the Ottoman Navy as replacements, in an attempt to gain influence.