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Turkish War of Independence
|Turkish War of Independence|
|Part of the Revolutions of 1917–1923
in the aftermath of World War I
Clockwise from top left: Delegation gathered in Sivas Congress to determine the objectives of the Turkish National Movement; Turkish civilians carrying ammunition to the front; Kuva-yi Milliye infantry; Turkish horse cavalry in chase; Turkish Army's capture of Smyrna; troops in Ankara's Ulus Square preparing to leave for the front.
Armenia (in 1920)
Georgia (in 1921)
(Bombardment of Samsun)
|Commanders and leaders|
| Mustafa Kemal Pasha
Mustafa Fevzi Pasha
Mustafa İsmet Pasha
Musa Kâzım Pasha
Ali Fuat Pasha
| Anastasios Papoulas
Kimon Digenis (POW)
Nikolaos Trikoupis (POW)
Sir George Milne
Süleyman Şefik Pasha
| May 1919: 35,000
November 1920: 86,000
(creation of regular army)
August 1922: 271,000[note 1]
| Dec. 1919: 80,000
7,000 (at peak)
|Casualties and losses|
| 13,000 killed
22,690 died of disease
5,362 died of wounds or other non-combat causes
| 24,240 killed
4,878 died outside of combat
13,740 prisoners[note 2]
| 264,000 Greek civilians killed
60,000–250,000 Armenian civilians killed
15,000+ Turkish civilians killed in the Western Front and 20,000+ in all fronts
30,000+ buildings and 250+ villages burnt to the ground by the Greek military and Greek/Armenian rebels.
The Turkish War of Independence[note 3] (19 May 1919 – 24 July 1923) was a series of military campaigns waged by the Turkish National Movement after parts of the Ottoman Empire were occupied and partitioned following its defeat in World War I. The campaigns were directed against Greece in the west, Armenia in the east, France in the south, monarchists and separatists in various cities, and Britain and Italy in Constantinople (now Istanbul). Simultaneously, the Turkish nationalist movement carried out massacres and deportations in order to eliminate native Christian populations—a continuation of the Armenian genocide and other ethnic cleansing operations during World War I. These campaigns resulted in the creation of the Republic of Turkey.
A phrase originating out of Kemalist historiography, the Turkish War of Independence began with remaining elements of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) forming a counter government in Anatolia, led by Mustafa Kemal. After the end of the fighting on the Armeno-Turkish, Franco-Turkish and Greco-Turkish fronts (often referred to as the Eastern Front, the Southern Front, and the Western Front of the war, respectively), the Treaty of Sèvres was abandoned and the Treaties of Kars (October 1921) and Lausanne (July 1923) were signed. The Allies left Anatolia and Eastern Thrace, and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (which remains Turkey's primary legislative body today) declared the Republic of Turkey on 29 October 1923.
With the war, elimination of Christians, the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, and the abolition of the sultanate, the Ottoman era and the Empire came to an end, and with Atatürk's reforms, the Turks created the modern, secular nation-state of Turkey. On 3 March 1924, the Ottoman caliphate was officially abolished.
The orthodox Turkish perspective on the war is based primarily on the speeches and narratives of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a high-ranking officer in World War I and the leader of National movement. Kemal was characterized as the founder and sole leader of the nationalist movement. Potentially negative facts were omitted in the orthodox historiography. This interpretation had a tremendous impact on the perception of Turkish history, even by foreign researchers. Other historiography understands the "Kemalist version" as a product of historical revisionism. This was accomplished by sidelining unwanted elements which had links to the detested and genocidal CUP, thus exalting Kemal.:805–806
In the orthodox Turkish version of events, the nationalist movement broke with its defective past and took its strength from popular support led by Kemal, consequently giving him the title Atatürk, meaning "Father of Turks". According to historians such as Donald Bloxham, E.J. Zürcher, and Taner Akçam, this was not the case in reality and a nationalist movement emerged through the backing of leaders of CUP, of which many were war criminals, people who became wealthy with confiscated equities and they were not on trial for their crimes due to the accelerating support for the national movement. Kemalist figures, including many old members of the CUP, ended up writing the majority of the history of the war. The modern understanding in Turkey is greatly influenced by this nationalist and politically motivated history.:806
According to Mesut Uyar, Turkish War of Independence was also a civil war which took place in Southern Marmara, Western and Eastern Black Sea, and Central Anatolia regions. He states that its aspect as a civil war is pushed into the background in official and academic books as 'revolts'. The losers of civil war who neither supported Sultan nor Ankara Government, which they considered a continuation of CUP, did not consider themselves rebels. He further emphasizes that casualties and financial losses that occurred in the civil war is at least as catastrophic as the war that was fought against the enemies in other fronts. Thus, he concludes that the war was similar to the Russian Revolution.
Preference of the term "Kurtuluş Savaşı" (lit. Liberation War) has been criticized as it causes Turkey to be portrayed as "a victim of imperialist forces". In this version of events, minority groups were a tool of those forces. This historiography has been accepted ever since not only by Turkish Islamists and the right-wing faction but also by the leftists. In fact, Ottoman Empire had joined the First World War with expansionist goals. The CUP government intended to expand the Empire into Central Asia. When they were defeated, however, they depicted themselves as victims. The result of the war was catastrophic for non-Muslim minorities. The Turkish War of Independence was an Islamist campaign conducted against Armenian minorities in the east and Greeks in the west. National Defence Committees were organizations founded with also Islamist characteristics.
Prelude: 30 October 1918 – May 1919
Armistice of Mudros
On 30 October 1918, the Armistice of Mudros was signed between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies of World War I, bringing hostilities in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I to a close. The armistice granted the Allies the right to occupy forts controlling the Straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus; and the right to occupy "in case of disorder" any territory if there were a threat to security. Somerset Arthur Gough-Calthorpe—the British signatory of the Mudros Armistice—stated the Triple Entente's public position that they had no intention to dismantle the government of the Ottoman Empire or place it under military occupation by "occupying Constantinople". However, dismantling the Ottoman government and partitioning the Ottoman Empire among the Allied nations had been an objective of the Entente since the start of WWI.
On 13 November 1918, a French brigade entered the city to begin the Occupation of Constantinople and its immediate dependencies. This was followed by a fleet consisting of British, French, Italian and Greek ships deploying soldiers on the ground the next day. A wave of seizures took place in the following months by the Allies. On 14 November, joint Franco-Greek troops occupied the town of Uzunköprü in Eastern Thrace as well as the railway axis until the train station of Hadımköy near Çatalca on the outskirts of Constantinople. On 1 December, British troops based in Syria occupied Kilis. Beginning in December, French troops began successive seizures of Ottoman territory, including the towns of Antakya, Mersin, Tarsus, Ceyhan, Adana, Osmaniye and Islahiye. Resistance to the occupations started in Dörtyol against the French on 19 December 1918 by the actions of Mehmet Çavuş.[note 4]
Negotiations for Ottoman Partition
On 19 January 1919, the Paris Peace Conference, a meeting of Allied nations that set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers, including the Ottoman Empire, was first held. As a special body of the Paris Conference, "The Inter-Allied Commission on Mandates in Turkey" was established to pursue the secret treaties they had signed between 1915 and 1917. Among the objectives was annexations of land of the Ottoman Empire by Greece based on the Megali Idea. This was promised by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George to Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos. Italy sought control over the southern part of Anatolia under the Agreement of St.-Jean-de-Maurienne. France expected to exercise control over Hatay, Lebanon and Syria, and also wanted control over a portion of southeastern Anatolia based on the Sykes–Picot Agreement.
Meanwhile, Allied countries continued to lay claim to portions of the quickly crumbling Ottoman Empire. British forces based in Syria occupied Maraş, Urfa and Birecik, while French forces embarked by gunboats and sent troops to the Black Sea ports of Zonguldak and Karadeniz Ereğli commanding Turkey's coal mining region. At the Paris Peace Conference, competing claims of Western Anatolia by Greek and Italian delegations led Greece to land the flagship of the Greek Navy at Smyrna, resulting in the Italian delegation walking out of the peace talks. On 30 April, Italy responded to the possible idea of Greek incorporation of Western Anatolia by also sending a warship to Smyrna (Izmir) as a show of force against the Greek campaign. A large Italian force also landed in Antalya. With the Italian delegation absent from the Paris Peace talks, Britain was able to sway France in favour of Greece and ultimately the Conference authorised the landing of Greek troops on Anatolian territory.
Greek landing at Smyrna
The Greek campaign of Western Anatolia began on 15 May 1919, as Greek troops began landing in Smyrna. For the city's Muslim population, the day is marked by the "first bullet" fired by Hasan Tahsin[note 5] at the Greek standard bearer at the head of the troops, the murder by bayonet of Miralay Fethi Bey for refusing to shout "Zito Venizelos" (meaning "long live Venizelos") and the killing and wounding of unarmed Turkish soldiers in the city's principal casern, as well as of 300–400 civilians. Greek troops moved from Smyrna outwards to towns on the Karaburun peninsula, to Selçuk, situated a hundred kilometres south of Smyrna at a key location that commands the fertile Küçük Menderes River valley, and to Menemen towards the north.
Initial organisation of the Turkish National Movement
Fahrî Yâver-i Hazret-i Şehriyâri ("Honorary Aide-de-camp to His Majesty Sultan") Mirliva Mustafa Kemal Pasha was assigned as the inspector of the 9th Army Troops Inspectorate to reorganise what remained of the Ottoman military units and to improve internal security on 30 April 1919. According to Lord Kinross, through manipulation and the help of friends and sympathizers, Mustafa Kemal Pasha became the Inspector of virtually all of the Ottoman forces in Anatolia, tasked with overseeing the disbanding process of the remaining Ottoman forces. He and his carefully selected staff left Constantinople aboard the old steamer SS Bandırma for Samsun on the evening of 16 May 1919.
Resistance to Allied demands began at the very onset of the Ottoman Empire's defeat in World War I. Many Ottoman officials organised the secret Sentinel Association (Turkish: Karakol Cemiyeti) in reaction to the policies of the Allies. The objective of the Sentinel Association was to thwart Allied demands through passive and active resistance. Many Ottoman officials participated in efforts to conceal from the occupying authorities details of the burgeoning independence movement spreading throughout Anatolia. Munitions initially seized by the Allies were secretly smuggled out of Constantinople into Central Anatolia, along with Ottoman officers keen to resist any division of Ottoman territories. Mirliva Ali Fuad Pasha in the meantime had moved his XX Corps from Ereğli to Ankara and started organising resistance groups, including Circassian immigrants under Çerkes Ethem.
Mustafa Kemal Pasha and his colleagues stepped ashore on 19 May and set up their first quarters in the Mintika Palace Hotel. Kemal made the people of Samsun aware of the Greek and Italian landings, staged mass meetings (while remaining discreet) and made, thanks to the excellent telegraph network, fast connections with the army units in Anatolia and began to form links with various nationalist groups. He sent telegrams of protest to foreign embassies and the War Ministry about British reinforcements in the area and about British aid to Greek brigand gangs. After a week in Samsun, Mustafa Kemal Pasha and his staff moved to Havza, about 85 km (53 mi) inland.
Mustafa Kemal Pasha wrote in his memoir that he needed nationwide support to justify armed resistance against the Allied occupation. The importance of his position, and his status as the "Hero of Anafartalar" after the Gallipoli Campaign, and his title of Fahri Yaver-i Hazret-i Şehriyari ("Honorary Aide-de-camp to His Majesty Sultan") gave him some credentials. On the other hand, this was not enough to inspire everyone. While officially occupied with the disarming of the army, he had increased his various contacts in order to build his movement's momentum. He met with Rauf Bey (Orbay), Ali Fuat Pasha (Cebesoy), and Refet Bey (Bele) on 21 June 1919 and declared the Amasya Circular (22 June 1919).
The Amasya Circular was distributed to Ottoman provincial authorities via telegraph stating that the unity and independence of the nation were at risk, and the Ottoman government in Istanbul no longer has Turkish national interests in mind. It announced a congress was to take place in Erzurum between 6 eastern provinces first, and another congress would take place in Sivas where every province would be able to send delegates.
On 23 June, High Commissioner Admiral Calthorpe, realising the significance of Mustafa Kemal's discreet activities in Anatolia, sent a report about Mustafa Kemal to the Foreign Office. His remarks were downplayed by George Kidson of the Eastern Department. Captain Hurst of the British occupation force in Samsun warned Admiral Calthorpe one more time, but Hurst's units were replaced with the Brigade of Gurkhas. When the British landed in Alexandretta, Admiral Calthorpe resigned on the basis that this was against the Armistice that he had signed and was assigned to another position on 5 August 1919. The movement of British units alarmed the population of the region and convinced the population that Mustafa Kemal was right.
On 2 July, Mustafa Kemal Pasha received a telegram from the Sultan. The Sultan asked him to cease his activities in Anatolia and return to the capital. Mustafa Kemal was in Erzincan and did not want to return to Constantinople, concerned that the foreign authorities might have designs for him beyond the Sultan's plans. He felt the best course for him was to take a two-month leave of absence.
Various regional Defense of Rights Associations started appearing in the country in response to continued Allied occupation operations. The Trabzon Association for the Defence of National Rights was founded in Trabzon by former Unionists, notables, and intellectuals. A similar association in Samsun was also founded, which declared that the Black Sea region was not safe.
The Committee of Representation was established at the Erzurum Congress in July, as a provisional executive body based in Anatolia. The Congress was a meeting of delegates from 6 Eastern Anatolian provinces. The National Pact (Misak-ı Millî) would also be drafted at Erzurum. Following the Erzurum Congress, the Committee of Representation relocated to Sivas, and as per the Amasya Circular, a congress was held with delegates from all Ottoman provinces there in September. The Congress united the various regional Defense of National Rights Associations into a united political organisation The Association of the Defence of Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia (ADRAR), with Mustafa Kemal as its chairman.
On 16 October 1919, Ali Rıza Pasha sent a navy minister, Hulusi Salih Pasha, to negotiate with the Turkish National Movement. Salih Pasha and Mustafa Kemal met in Amasya, the same city where Kemal distributed the circular months ago. Mustafa Kemal put the representational problems of the Ottoman Parliament on the agenda. He wanted to have a signed protocol between Ali Rıza Pasha and the Committee of Representation based in Sivas. It was agreed in the subsequent Amasya Protocol that the Ottoman Parliament would call for elections and meet outside of Istanbul to pass resolutions made in the Sivas Congress, including the National Pact.
In December 1919, elections were held for the Ottoman parliament, that were dominated by a pro ADRAR group called Felâh-ı Vatan. In the meantime, groups of Ottoman Greeks had formed Greek nationalist militias within Ottoman borders and were acting on their own. Greek members of the Ottoman parliament repeatedly blocked any progress in the parliament, and most Greek subjects of the Sultan boycotted the new elections.
Though Ali Rıza Pasha called the elections as per the Amasya Protocol to keep unity between the Istanbul and Ankara governments, he was too hasty in thinking that his parliament could bring him legitimacy. The house of the parliament was under the shadow of the British battalion stationed at Constantinople. Any decisions by the parliament had to have the signatures of both Ali Rıza Pasha and the commanding British Officer. The freedom of the new government was limited. Ali Rıza Pasha and his government had become the voice of the Triple Entente. The only laws that passed were those acceptable to, or specifically ordered by the British.
Last Ottoman Parliament
On 12 January 1920, the last session of the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies met in the capital. First the Sultan's speech was presented, and then a telegram from Mustafa Kemal, manifesting the claim that the rightful government of Turkey was in Ankara in the name of the Committee of Representation.
The Felâh-ı Vatan worked to acknowledge the decisions taken at the Erzurum Congress and the Sivas Congress. The British began to sense that the elected Ottoman government was becoming less cooperative with the Allies and independently minded. The Ottoman government was not doing all that it could to suppress the nationalists. On 28 January the deputies met secretly and proposals were made to elect Mustafa Kemal president of the Chamber, however this was deferred in the certain knowledge that the British would prorogue the Chamber.[clarification needed]
On 28 January, the Ottoman parliament developed the National Pact (Misak-ı Millî) drawn up in the Erzurum and Sivas Congress and published it on 12 February. This pact adopted six principles, which called for self-determination, the security of Constantinople, and the opening of the Straits, also the abolition of the capitulations. In effect the Misak-ı Millî solidified nationalist notions, which were in conflict with the Allied plans.
Shift from de facto to de jure occupation
The National Movement—which persuaded the Ottoman Chamber of Deputies to declare the "National Pact" against the occupying Allies–prompted the British government to take action. To put an end to Turkish Nationalist hopes, the British decided to systematically bring Turkey under their control. The plan was to dismantle Turkish Government organisations, beginning in Istanbul and moving deep into Anatolia. Mustafa Kemal's National Movement was seen as the main problem. The Foreign Office drew up a similar plan previously used to co-opt the Arab Revolt. This time however, resources were channelled to warlords like Ahmet Anzavur. Anatolia was to be put under control of Christian governments. This policy aimed to break down authority in Anatolia by separating the Sultan, its government, and pitting Christians (Greece and Republic of Armenia, Armenians of Cilicia) against Muslims.
On the night of 15 March, British troops began to occupy key buildings and arrest Turkish nationalists. At the military music school there was resistance. At least ten students died but the official death toll is unknown even today. The British tried to capture the leadership of the movement. They secured the departments of the Minister of War and of the Chief of the General Staff, Fevzi Çakmak. He soon became one of the principal military leaders of the National Movement.
Mustafa Kemal was ready for this move. He warned all the nationalist organisations that there would be misleading declarations from the capital. He warned that the only way to stop the British was to organise protests. He said "Today the Turkish nation is called to defend its capacity for civilization, its right to life and independence – its entire future". Mustafa Kemal was extensively familiar with the Arab Revolt and British involvement. He managed to stay one step ahead of the British Foreign Office. This—as well as his other abilities—gave Mustafa Kemal considerable authority among the revolutionaries.
On the 18 March, the Ottoman parliament sent a protest to the Allies. The document stated that it was unacceptable to arrest five of its members. This show of force by the British had left the Sultan as a puppet and sole political authority of the Empire. But the Sultan depended on their power to keep what was left of the empire. However this also gave Mustafa Kemal legitimacy to be de facto leader of national resistance against the Allied Powers.
With the lower elected Ottoman Chamber of Deputies prorogued, the Sultan, his cabinet, and an appointed Senate were all that was left of the Ottoman government.
Dissolution of the Ottoman parliament
Mustafa Kemal expected the Allies neither to accept the Harbord report nor to respect his parliamentary immunity if he went to the Ottoman capital, hence he remained in Anatolia. Mustafa Kemal moved the Representative Committee's capital from Erzurum to Ankara so that he could keep in touch with as many deputies as possible as they travelled to Constantinople to attend the parliament. He also started a newspaper, the Hakimiyet-i Milliye (National Sovereignty), to speak for the movement both in Turkey and the outside world (10 January 1920).
Mustafa Kemal declared that the only legal government of Turkey was the Committee of Representation in Ankara and that all civilian and military officials were to obey it rather than the government in Constantinople. This argument gained very strong support, as by that time the Ottoman Government was fully under Allied control.
Promulgation of the Grand National Assembly
The strong measures taken against the nationalists by the Ottoman government created a distinct new phase of the conflict. Mustafa Kemal sent a note to the governors and force commanders, asking them to conduct elections to provide delegates for a Grand National Assembly, which would convene in Ankara. Mustafa Kemal appealed to the Islamic world, asking for help to make sure that everyone knew he was still fighting in the name of the sultan who was also the caliph. He stated he wanted to free the caliph from the Allies. Plans were made to organise a new government and parliament in Ankara, and then ask the sultan to accept its authority.
A flood of supporters moved to Ankara just ahead of the Allied dragnets. Included among them were Halide Edip, Adnan (Adıvar), İsmet (İnönü), Fevzi (Çakmak) and many of Mustafa Kemal's allies in the Ministry of War, and Celalettin Arif, the president of the now closed Ottoman Chamber of Deputies. Celaleddin Arif's desertion of the capital was of great significance, as he declared that the Ottoman Parliament had been dissolved illegally. The Armistice did not give Allies the power to dissolve the Ottoman Parliament and the Constitution of 1909 had also removed the Sultan's power to do so, to prevent what Abdülhamid did in 1879.
Some 100 members of the Ottoman Parliament were able to escape the Allied roundup and joined 190 deputies elected around the country by the national resistance group. In March 1920, Turkish revolutionaries announced that the Turkish nation was establishing its own parliament in Ankara under the name of the Grand National Assembly (GNA). The GNA assumed full governmental powers. On 23 April, the new Assembly gathered for the first time, making Mustafa Kemal its first Speaker and Prime Minister and Ismet Inönü chief of the General Staff. The parliament was dominated by the ADRAR. Hoping to undermine the National Movement, Mehmed VI passed a fatwa (legal opinion) from Şeyhülislam to qualify the Turkish revolutionaries as infidels, calling for the death of its leaders. The fatwa stated that true believers should not go along with the nationalist (rebels) movement. At the same time, the müfti of Ankara Rifat Börekçi in defence of the nationalist movement, issued a counteracting fatwa declaring that the capital was under the control of the Entente and the Ferit Pasha government. In this text, the nationalist movement's goal was stated as freeing the sultanate and the caliphate from its enemies. In reaction to the desertion of several prominent figures to the Nationalist Movement, Damad Ferid ordered Halide Edip, Ali Fuat and Mustafa Kemal to be sentenced to death for treason.
The Treaty of Sèvres
Venizelos, pessimistic of the rapidly deteriorating situation in Anatolia, requested to the Allies that a peace treaty be drawn up with the idea that fighting would stop. Mehmed VI affirmed Ferit Pasha signature of the subsequent treaty in Sèvres in August 1920. It confirmed the Arab provinces of the empire would be given to Britain and France in the form of Mandates by the League of Nations, while Anatolia would be partitioned between Greece, Italy, French mandatory Syria, British mandatory Iraq, Armenia, and Georgia. Armenia would become an American League of Nations Mandate. The old capital of Istanbul as well as the Dardanelles would be under international League control, while the Empire would become a rump state based in Northern Anatolia.
However the treaty would never come into effect. While the Allies signed the treaty, the Ottoman government and Greece never ratified it. Though Ferit Pasha signed the treaty, the Ottoman Senate, the upper house with seats appointed by the Sultan, refused to ratify the treaty, demonstrating the clout of Kemal's movement in the Ottoman government. Greece meanwhile disagreed on the borders drawn.
The Constitution of 1921
Kemal's GNA Government responded to the Treaty of Sèvres by promulgating a new constitution in January 1921. The resulting constitution consecrated the principle of popular sovereignty; authority not deriving from the unelected Sultan, but from the Turkish people who elect governments representative of their interests. This document became the legal basis for the war of independence by the GNA, as the Sultan's signature of the Treaty of Sèvres would be unconstitutional as his position was not elected. While the constitution did not specify a future role of the Sultan, the document gave Kemal ever more legitimacy in the eyes of Turks for justified resistance against the Ottoman Government.
Early pressure on nationalist militias
Anatolia had many competing forces on its soil: British battalions, Ahmet Anzavur forces, the Sultan's army, and Kuvayi Milliye: local irregular Turkish militia groups. The Sultan raised 4,000 soldiers and Kuva-i Inzibatiye (Caliphate Army) to resist against the nationalists. Then using money from the Allies, he raised another army, a force about 2,000 strong from non-Muslim inhabitants which were initially deployed in Iznik. The Sultan's government sent forces under the name of the caliphate army to the revolutionaries and aroused counterrevolutionary sympathy.
The British being sceptical of how formidable these insurgents were, decided to use irregular power to counteract this rebellion. The nationalist forces were distributed all around Turkey, so many small units were dispatched to face them. In Izmit there were two battalions of the British army. Their commanders were living on the Ottoman warship Yavuz. These units were to be used to rout the partisans under the command of Ali Fuat Cebesoy and Refet Bele.
On 13 April 1920, the first conflict occurred at Düzce as a direct consequence of the sheik ul-Islam's fatwa. On 18 April 1920, the Düzce conflict was extended to Bolu; on 20 April 1920, it extended to Gerede. The movement engulfed northwestern Anatolia for about a month. The Ottoman government had accorded semi-official status to the "Kuva-i Inzibatiye" and Ahmet Anzavur held an important role in the uprising. Both sides faced each other in a pitched battle near Izmit on 14 June. Ahmet Anzavur's forces and British units outnumbered the militias. Yet under heavy attack some of the Kuva-i Inzibatiye deserted and joined the opposing ranks. This revealed the Sultan did not have the unwavering support of his men. Meanwhile, the rest of these forces withdrew behind the British lines which held their position.
The clash outside Izmit brought serious consequences. The British forces opened fire on the nationalists and bombed them from the air. This bombing forced a retreat but there was a panic in Constantinople. The British commander—General George Milne—asked for reinforcements. This led to a study to determine what would be required to defeat the Turkish nationalists. The report—signed by Field Marshal Ferdinand Foch—concluded that 27 divisions would be sufficient, but the British army did not have 27 divisions to spare. Also, a deployment of this size could have disastrous political consequences back home. World War I had just ended, and the British public would not support another lengthy and costly expedition.
The British accepted the fact that a nationalist movement could not be faced without deployment of consistent and well-trained forces. On 25 June, the forces originating from Kuva-i Inzibatiye were dismantled under British supervision. The official stance was that there was no use for them. The British realised that the best option to overcome these Turkish nationalists was to use a force that was battle-tested and fierce enough to fight the Turks on their own soil. The British had to look no further than Turkey's neighbour: Greece.
Before the Amasya Circular (22 June 1919), Mustafa Kemal met with a Bolshevik delegation headed by Colonel Semyon Budyonny. The Bolsheviks wanted to annexe the parts of the Caucasus, including the Democratic Republic of Armenia, which were formerly part of Tsarist Russia. They also saw a Turkish Republic as a buffer state or possibly a communist ally. Mustafa Kemal's official response was "Such questions had to be postponed until Turkish independence was achieved." Having this support was important for the national movement.
The first objective was the securing of arms from abroad. They obtained these primarily from Soviet Russia and from Italy and France. These arms—especially the Soviet weapons—allowed the Turks to organise an effective army. The Treaties of Moscow and Kars (1921) arranged the border between Turkey and the Soviet-controlled Transcaucasian republics, while Russia itself was in a state of disarray. and preparing to establish the Soviet Union. In particular Nakhchivan and Batumi were ceded to the future USSR. In return the nationalists received support and gold. For the promised resources, the nationalists had to wait until the Battle of Sakarya (August–September 1921).
By providing financial and war materiel aid, the Bolsheviks, under Vladimir Lenin aimed to heat up the war between the Allies and the Turkish nationalists in order to prevent the participation of more Allied troops in the Russian Civil War. At the same time the Bolsheviks attempted to export communist ideologies to Anatolia and moreover supported individuals (for example: Mustafa Suphi and Ethem Nejat) who were pro-communism.
According to Soviet documents, Soviet financial and war material support between 1920 and 1922 amounted to: 39,000 rifles, 327 machine guns, 54 cannon, 63 million rifle bullets, 147,000 shells, 2 patrol boats, 200.6 kg of gold ingots and 10.7 million Turkish lira (which accounted for a twentieth of the Turkish budget during the war). Additionally the Soviets gave the Turkish nationalists 100,000 gold rubles to help build an orphanage and 20,000 lira to obtain printing house equipment and cinema equipment.
The Eastern Front
The border of the Republic of Armenia (ADR) and the Ottoman Empire was defined in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (3 March 1918) after the Bolshevik revolution, and later by the Treaty of Batum (4 June 1918) with the ADR. It was obvious that after the Armistice of Mudros (30 October 1918) the eastern border was not going to stay as it was drawn. There were talks going on with the Armenian Diaspora and Allied Powers on reshaping the border. The Fourteen Points was seen as an incentive to the ADR, if the Armenians could prove that they were the majority of the population and that they had military control over the eastern regions. The Armenian movements on the borders were being used as an argument to redraw the border between the Ottoman Empire and the ADR. Woodrow Wilson agreed to transfer the territories back to the ADR on the principle that they were dominated by Armenians. The results of these talks were to be reflected on the Treaty of Sèvres (10 August 1920). There was also a movement of Armenians from the southeast with French support. The
One of the most important fights had taken place on this border. The very early onset of a national army was proof of this, even though there was a pressing Greek danger to the west. The stage of the eastern campaign developed through Kâzım Karabekir Pasha's two reports (30 May and 4 June 1920) outlining the situation in the region. He was detailing the activities of the Armenian Republic and advising on how to shape the resources on the eastern borders, especially in Erzurum. The Russian government sent a message to settle not only the Armenian but also the Iranian border through diplomacy under Russian control. Soviet support was absolutely vital for the Turkish nationalist movement, as Turkey was underdeveloped and had no domestic armaments industry. Bakir Sami Bey was assigned to the talks. The Bolsheviks demanded that Van and Bitlis be transferred to Armenia. This was unacceptable to the Turkish revolutionaries.
The Treaty of Alexandropol (2—3 December 1920) was the first treaty (although illegitimate) signed by the Turkish revolutionaries. It was supposed to nullify the Armenian activities on the eastern border, which was reflected in the Treaty of Sèvres as a succession of regions named Wilsonian Armenia. The 10th article in the Treaty of Alexandropol stated that Armenia renounced the Treaty of Sèvres. The agreement was signed with representatives of the former government of Armenia, which by that time had no de jure or de facto power in Armenia, since Soviet rule was already established in the country.
After the peace agreement with the Turkish nationalists, in late November, a Soviet-backed Communist uprising took place in Armenia. On 28 November 1920, the 11th Red Army under the command of Anatoliy Gekker crossed over into Armenia from Soviet Azerbaijan. The second Soviet-Armenian war lasted only a week. After their defeat by the Turkish revolutionaries the Armenians were no longer a threat to the Nationalist cause.
The Southern Front
The French wanted to take control of Syria. With pressure against the French, Cilicia would be easily left to the nationalists. The Taurus Mountains were critical to the Ankara government. The initial landing were by the French Armenian Legion and the French cooperated with Armenian militia. Turkish nationalists cooperated with Arab tribes in this area.
The Western Front
Western Allies—particularly British Prime Minister David Lloyd George—had promised Greece territorial gains at the expense of the Ottoman Empire if Greece entered the war on the Allied side. These included parts of its ancestral homeland, Eastern Thrace, the islands of Imbros (Gökçeada), Tenedos (Bozcaada), and parts of Western Anatolia around the city of Smyrna (Izmir). Greece also wanted to incorporate Constantinople to achieve the Megali Idea, but Entente powers did not give permission.
It was decided by the Triple Entente that Greece would control a zone around Smyrna (Izmir) and Ayvalik in western Asia Minor. The Allied decision to allow a Greek landing in Smyrna resulted from earlier Italian landings at Antalya. The Allies worried about further Italian expansion and saw Greek landings as a way to avoid this. Faced with Italian annexation of parts of Asia Minor with a significant ethnic Greek population, Venizelos secured Allied permission for Greek troops to land in Smyrna, ostensibly in order to protect the civilian population from turmoil. Turks claim that Venizelos wanted to create a homogeneous Greek settlement to be able to annexe it to Greece, and his public statements left little doubt about Greek intentions: "Greece is not making war against Islam, but against the anachronistic Ottoman Government, and its corrupt, ignominious, and bloody administration, with a view to the expelling it from those territories where the majority of the population consists of Greeks."
On 28 May, Greeks landed in Ayvalık, which, since the Balkan Wars, had become a Greek speaking region. The Muslim inhabitants who were forced out with the extending borders of Greece, mainly from Crete, settled in this area. Under an old Ottoman Lieutenant Colonel Ali Çetinkaya, these people formed a unit. Along with Ali Çetinkaya's units, the population in the region gathered around Reşit, Tevfik, and Çerkes Ethem. These units were very determined to fight against Greece as there was no other place that they could be pushed back. Reşit, Tevfik, and Ethem were of Circassian origin who were expelled from their ancestral lands in the Caucasus by the Russians. They settled around the Aegean coast. Greek troops first met with these irregulars. Mustafa Kemal asked Admiral Rauf Orbay if he could help in coordinating the units under Ali Çetinkaya, Reşit, Tevfik, and Çerkez Ethem. Rauf Orbay—also of Circassian origin—managed to link these groups. He asked them to cut the Greek logistic support lines.
As soon as Greek forces landed in Smyrna, a Turkish nationalist opened fire prompting brutal reprisals. Greek forces used Smyrna as a base for launching attacks deeper into Anatolia. Mustafa Kemal refused to accept even a temporary Greek presence in Smyrna.
Eventually, the Turkish nationalists with the aid of the Kemalist armed forces defeated the Greek troops and population, and pushed them out of Smyrna and the rest of Anatolia.
With the borders secured with treaties and agreements at east and south, Mustafa Kemal was now in a commanding position. The Nationalists were then able to demand on 5 September 1922 that the Greek army[clarification needed] evacuate East Thrace, Imbros, and Tenedos as well as Asia Minor. The Maritsa (Turkish Meriç) River would again become the western border of Turkey, as it was before 1914. The British were prepared to defend the neutral zone of Constantinople and the Straits and the French asked Kemal to respect it, to which he agreed on 28 September. However, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, and the British Dominions objected to a new war.
France, Italy and Britain called on Mustafa Kemal to enter into cease-fire negotiations. In return, on 29 September Kemal asked for the negotiations to be started at Mudanya. Negotiations at Mudanya began on 3 October and it was concluded with the Armistice of Mudanya. This was agreed on 11 October, two hours before the British intended to engage at Çanak, and signed the next day. The Greeks initially refused to agree but did so on 13 October. Factors persuading Turkey to sign may have included the arrival of British reinforcements.
Conference of London
In salvaging the Treaty of Sèvres, The Triple Entente forced the Turkish Revolutionaries to agree with the terms through a series of conferences in London. The conference of London gave the Triple Entente an opportunity to reverse some of its policies. In October, parties to the conference received a report from Admiral Mark Lambert Bristol. He organised a commission to analyse the situation, and inquire into the bloodshed during the Occupation of Izmir and the following activities in the region. The commission reported that if annexation would not follow, Greece should not be the only occupation force in this area. Admiral Bristol was not so sure how to explain this annexation to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson as he insisted on "respect for nationalities" in the Fourteen Points. He believed that the sentiments of the Turks "will never accept this annexation".
Neither the Conference of London nor Admiral Mark Lambert Bristol's report changed British Prime Minister David Lloyd George's position. On 12 February 1921, he went with the annexation of the Aegean coast which was followed by the Greek offensive. David Lloyd George acted with his sentiments, which were developed during Battle of Gallipoli, as opposed to General Milne, who was his officer on the ground.
Historian Erik Sjöberg concludes that "It seems, in the end, unlikely that the Turkish nationalist leaders, though secular in name, ever had any intention of allowing any sizeable non-Muslim minority to remain." According to Rıza Nur, one of the Turkish delegates at Lausanne, wrote that "disposing of people of different races, languages and religions in our country is the most … vital issue". Many Greek men were conscripted into unarmed labor battalions where the death rate sometimes exceeded 90 percent. Raymond Kévorkian states that "removing non-Turks from the sanctuary of Anatolia continued to be one of" the Turkish nationalists' main activities after World War I. Preventing Armenians and other Christians from returning home—and therefore allowing their properties to be retained by those who had stolen them during the war—was a key factor in securing popular support for the Turkish nationalist movement. Christian civilians were subjected to forced deportation to expel them from the country, a policy that continued after the war. These deportations were similar to those employed during the Armenian Genocide and caused many deaths. Over 1 million Greeks were expelled as were all remaining Armenians in the areas of Diyarbekir, Mardin, Urfa, Harput, and Malatia—forced across the border into French-mandate Syria.
Vahagn Avedian argues that the Turkish War of Independence was not directed against the Allied Powers, but that its main objective was to get rid of non-Turkish minority groups. The Nationalist movement maintained the aggressive policy of the CUP against Christians. It was stated in a secret telegram from Foreign Minister Ahmet Muhtar to Kazım Karabekir in mid-1921 "the most important thing is to eliminate Armenia, both politically and materially". Avedian holds that the existence of the Armenian Republic was considered as the "greatest threat" for the continuation of Turkish state, and that for this reason, they "fulfilled the genocidal policy of its CUP predecessor". After the Christian population was destroyed, the focus shifted to the Kurdish population. Ethnic cleansing was also carried against Pontic Greeks with the collaboration with Ankara and Istanbul governments.
First negotiations between the sides failed during the Conference of London. The stage for peace was set after the Triple Entente's decision to make an arrangement with the Turkish revolutionaries. Before the talks with the Entente, the nationalists partially settled their eastern borders with the Democratic Republic of Armenia, signing the Treaty of Alexandropol, but changes in the Caucasus—especially the establishment of the Armenian SSR—required one more round of talks. The outcome was the Treaty of Kars, a successor treaty to the earlier Treaty of Moscow of March 1921. It was signed in Kars with the Russian SFSR on 13 October 1921 and ratified in Yerevan on 11 September 1922.
Armistice of Mudanya
The Marmara sea resort town of Mudanya hosted the conference to arrange the armistice on 3 October 1922. İsmet Pasha—commander of the western armies—was in front of the Allies. The scene was unlike Mondros as the British and the Greeks were on the defence. Greece was represented by the Allies.
The British still expected the GNA to make concessions. From the first speech, the British were startled as Ankara demanded fulfilment of the National Pact. During the conference, the British troops in Constantinople were preparing for a Kemalist attack. There was never any fighting in Thrace, as Greek units withdrew before the Turks crossed the straits from Asia Minor. The only concession that Ismet made to the British was an agreement that his troops would not advance any farther toward the Dardanelles, which gave a safe haven for the British troops as long as the conference continued. The conference dragged on far beyond the original expectations. In the end, it was the British who yielded to Ankara's advances.
The Armistice of Mudanya was signed on 11 October. By its terms, the Greek army would move west of the Maritsa, clearing Eastern Thrace to the Allies. The famous American author Ernest Hemingway was in Thrace at the time, and he covered the evacuation of Eastern Thrace of its Greek population. He has several short stories written about Thrace and Smyrna, which appear in his book In Our Time. The agreement came into force starting 15 October. Allied forces would stay in Eastern Thrace for a month to assure law and order. In return, Ankara would recognise continued British occupation of Constantinople and the Straits zones until the final treaty was signed.
Refet Bele was assigned to seize control of Eastern Thrace from the Allies. He was the first representative to reach the old capital. The British did not allow the hundred gendarmes who came with him. That resistance lasted until the next day.
Abolition of the sultanate
Kemal had long ago made up his mind to abolish the sultanate when the moment was ripe. After facing opposition from some members of the assembly, using his influence as a war hero, he managed to prepare a draft law for the abolition of the sultanate, which was then submitted to the National Assembly for voting. In that article, it was stated that the form of the government in Constantinople, resting on the sovereignty of an individual, had already ceased to exist when the British forces occupied the city after World War I. Furthermore, it was argued that although the caliphate had belonged to the Ottoman Empire, it rested on the Turkish state by its dissolution and Turkish National Assembly would have right to choose a member of the Ottoman family in the office of caliph. On 1 November, The Turkish Grand National Assembly voted for the abolition of the Ottoman sultanate. The last Sultan left Turkey on 17 November 1922, in a British battleship on his way to Malta. Such was the last act in the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire; so ended the empire after having been founded over 600 years earlier c. 1299.
Conference of Lausanne
The Conference of Lausanne began on 21 November 1922 in Lausanne, Switzerland and lasted into 1923. Its purpose was the negotiation of a treaty to replace the Treaty of Sèvres, which, under the new government of the Grand National Assembly, was no longer recognised by Turkey. İsmet Pasha was the leading Turkish negotiator. İsmet maintained the basic position of the Ankara government that it had to be treated as an independent and sovereign state, equal with all other states attending the conference. In accordance with the directives of Mustafa Kemal, while discussing matters regarding the control of Turkish finances and justice, the Capitulations, the Turkish Straits and the like, he refused any proposal that would compromise Turkish sovereignty. Finally, after long debates, on 24 July 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed. Ten weeks after the signature the Allied forces left Istanbul.
The conference opened with representatives from the United Kingdom, France, Italy and Turkey. It heard speeches from Benito Mussolini of Italy and Raymond Poincaré of France. At its conclusion, Turkey assented to the political clauses and the "freedom of the straits", which was Britain's main concern. The matter of the status of Mosul was deferred, since Curzon refused to be budged on the British position that the area was part of Iraq. The British Iraq Mandate's possession of Mosul was confirmed by a League of Nations brokered agreement between Turkey and Great Britain in 1926. The French delegation, however, did not achieve any of their goals and on 30 January 1923 issued a statement that they did not consider the draft treaty to be any more than a "basis of discussion". The Turks therefore refused to sign the treaty. On 4 February 1923, Curzon made a final appeal to Ismet Pasha to sign, and when he refused the Foreign Secretary broke off negotiations and left that night on the Orient Express.
Treaty of Lausanne
The Treaty of Lausanne, finally signed in July 1923, led to international recognition of the Grand National Assembly as the legitimate government of Turkey and sovereignty of the Republic of Turkey as the successor state to the defunct Ottoman Empire. Most goals on the condition of sovereignty were granted to Turkey. In addition to Turkey's more favourable land borders compared with Treaty of Sèvres (as can be seen in the picture to the left), capitulations were abolished, the issue of Mosul would be decided by a League of Nations plebiscite in 1926, while the border with Greece and Bulgaria would become demilitarised. The Turkish Straits would be under an international commission which gave Turkey more of a voice (this arrangement would be replaced by the Montreux Convention in 1936).
Establishment of the Republic
Turkey was proclaimed a Republic on 29 October 1923, in the new capital in Ankara. Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) was elected as the first President. In forming his government, he placed Mustafa Fevzi (Çakmak), Köprülü Kâzım (Özalp), and İsmet (İnönü) in important positions. They helped him to establish his subsequent political and social reforms in Turkey, transforming the country into a modern and secular nation state.
The Grand National Assembly transitioned from a provisional counsel to being Turkey's primary legislative body. In 1923, ADRAR changed its name to the People's Party. A couple years later, the name would be changed again by Mustafa Kemal to the Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi), one of Turkey's major political parties as well as its oldest. The Republican People's Party go on to rule Turkey as a one party state until the 1946 general elections as a political arm of Atatürk for his secularising and nation building reforms.
Aftermath of the Çanak Crisis
In addition to toppling the British government, the Çanak Crisis would have far reaching consequences on British dominion policy. As the Dominion of Canada did not see itself committed to support a potential British war with Kemal's GNA, dominion foreign policy would become less committed for security for the British Empire. This attitude of no commitment to the Empire would be a defining moment in Canada's gradual movement towards independence as well as the decline of the British Empire.
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