Down the same Sicilian road
Despite my warning, or maybe because of it, France remains quiet, not even DoWing her new Indian neighbours. In 1691 the truce with Austria expires and no DoW comes from the emperor either. Without the core in Messina, the Austrians seem happy DoWing Byzantines and Hungarians.
But my luck being my luck... means that Austria gets a boundary dispute in Messina in 1693, leading to an immediate warning This is annoying as it removes my freedom to DoW France when it suits me, and even if France DoWs someone else I'd still be exposed to an Austrian attack.
I could DoW Austria directly, but my BB is still high and I want to diplo-annex a vassal before I go to war. Not that I'm very successful... 3 failed attempts with the Mamluks... 2 failed attempts with Iraq... 1 failed attempt with Najd... my blunt caliph doesn't help. I also get a nice 'Corruption' event (I choose to lose 1 stab, the other option is gaining 3 inflation).
Not all is bad news though, at the end of 1696 a string of Iberian provinces core and Castillian culture finally becomes accepted
Austria eventually makes up her mind and DoWs me in November 1696. Her allies (Castille, Ethiopia ) and German vassals join in, as do my ally Astrakhan and my vassals.
The upteenth war with Austria and 0 diplo-annexations are too much to bear for the caliph, who dies of frustration in March 1698. His successor is at long last gifted with some diplomatic charm -I knew the garlic would work!-
Ethiopia is quickly dealt with: I take two provinces, one of which I sell to my vassal Adal after the war. I would have been happy to leave Ethiopia alone for the entire game, but they've been so annoying that I couldn't resist taking some land (and the money) this time.
My ally Astrakhan pulls out of the war early, but they have a much bigger problem to worry about: a war of Khivan succession against the Ottoman Empire They are badly overrun by the Ottomans, and sadly I can't intervene. They lose 4 provinces to the Ottomans in the end (and the once in a lifetime opportunity to lead a PU with OPM Khiva)...
The war with Castille and Austria drags on into the new century. Although I occupy their South African colonies without much trouble, the Castillians have garrisoned their last 3 north African provinces with 20 regiments, which prove rather difficult to destroy with the area's high attrition. It's not until 1702 that those provinces fall and I have enough WS to demand them in a peace deal. Before I wouldn't have bothered getting these provinces, but since I now accept Castillian culture I may as well take them and eliminate my last border with Castille.
Austria is also ready for peace after a long blockade and the fall of Janina and Corfu, I reclaim the core in Messina again and the release of Naples and Siena. The Austrian AI will have to work extra hard to get a boundary dispute on me now
Back at peace, I can renew my efforts of diplo-annexation. In 1704 the new caliph's charms work and Cairo is finally integrated into the empire. The centralisation hit is immediately countered with a spare slider move.
The warning to France is renewed but the French stay put. I keep building up my army in Iberia with some Latin regiments recruited in my Aragonese core (Line Infantry) when in 1705 the wait comes to an end...
Syria in 1705
At war with France*, Prussia, Pommerania.
Allied with Astrakhan, TE, Algiers, Adal, Najd. CB on Granada, Najd, Yemen and Iraq. Guaranteeing Mali. Warning Fez, Khiva and France.
Vassals: Najd, Oman, Algiers, Adal, TE, Iraq.
Monarch: Caliph Saif II (3a/6m/8d)
Army: 204 (62/142/0)
Navy: 140 (94/4/2/40)
The World in 1705
Money. Thanks to the opportunistic conquest of Peru the French have lots of it.
Tech. Trade and Production had to be sacrificed to keep up with the rest.
Army. I hope not all of the 344 French regiments are in mainland France.
Navy. At least France will be no match at sea.
Empire. The HRE has been pretty much reduced to Austria and her small clique.
Old. India has become the new colonial trophy for France, Great Britain and Sweden. Castille and Portugal are taking the remaining African coast.
New. Most of America is now under firm European control. The only big war so far has been between Castille and Portugal.