Baghdad Railway, railroad of international importance linking Europe with Asia Minor and the Middle East. The line runs from İstanbul, Turkey, to Basra, Iraq; it connected what were distant regions of the Ottoman Empire. The railroad was initially financed chiefly by German capital; its Anatolian sections were completed in 1896. The ambitious project was then formed to extend the railroad to Baghdad, and a company, again backed chiefly by German capital, was organized for the purpose. Immediate protests were made to Turkey by France, Russia, and, particularly, Great Britain, which saw in the projected line a direct threat to its empire in India. Operations were held up for several years by these international representations and by engineering difficulties, but in 1911 work was resumed. By playing on imperialistic rivalries, the construction of the railroad was a factor in bringing about World War I. By the end of the war only a stretch between Mosul and Samarra remained to be completed on the main line, which Syria and Iraq later undertook and finished.
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