I tried pushing hard east with Austria supported by Ottomans and left the Germans to deal with France. It can be a gamble but the 2 games I played it forced Russia to divert some of her stacks southward, relieving German pressure in Northern Europe.
As for the fleet? My first game I sortied out to the Med, took out the Italians with minimal damage but got wiped by the French. The Ottomans are a wash with the Black Sea cruisers.
The biggest … ace I’ve found in the East/N. Africa is Air Power. Get a plane or 2 in Austria and 1 in Constantinople and suddenly your are doing MUCH better. The other key is to coordinate with Germany to stretch UK to the breaking point. Not so much beat them in combat… but force the British to constantly switch buying priorities. If they go whole hog in India… Ottomans are done. BUT… distract the Brits a couple turns and the Turks can really really capitalize. Once they break the line at Sevastpol… the Russian east is wide open. Sevastpol needs to fall really by turn 3… or at least contested and bypassed.