1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Turkey

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TURKEY (Nationalist). An organized State of Nationalist Turkey, in its wider aspect an Anatolian State created by Turkish Nationalists in 1919-20, was the outcome of the terms of peace dictated to the Ottoman Empire by the victorious Powers after the war of 1914-8. A severe peace was expected by the Turkish rulers and people. They were resigned to the loss of Turkish Arabia, Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia; to stringent foreign control of Turkish finance; to the reimposition of the Capitulations; to international control of the waterway between the Aegean and the Black Sea; and to measures for the protection of Christian populations in Turkish territory. Such curtailments of territory and supervision of their internal affairs would doubtless have received their reluctant acquiescence. But the surrender of Ottoman territory of — Smyrna and Thrace — to Greece as part of the terms of peace was a matter that touched all Turks to the quick. The Turkish Nationalist movement received its first great impulse when a Greek force, acting on a decision of the Supreme Council, occupied Smyrna and the surrounding territory in May 1919. Nationalist plans were rapidly matured and put into execution.

General Mustafa Kemal Pasha, an officer who had fought with much credit in the defence of Gallipoli, left Constantinople early in June 1919, ostensibly for his military district in Asia Minor. On June 19 he outlined the Nationalist plan for saving the country at a public meeting held at Khavsa, 50 m. inland from Samsun. It was the official opening of the Nationalist movement. In brief, the scheme was to create a government and army in the heart of Asia Minor to resist the partitioning of Turkish territory within “Armistice limits.” The definition of area referred to the armistice of Mudros of Oct. 30 1918, and thus excluded Mesopotamia, Syria and Arabia from the territory to be preserved, but included Smyrna and Thrace. For this area Nationalists professed willingness to accept a single Great Power as mandatory; they would not, however, accept more than one. The movement spread rapidly. A provisional government was set up at Erzerum in August. In Sept. a National Congress was held at Sivas, which affirmed the purpose not only of maintaining the integrity of Ottoman territory within armistice limits, but of upholding the Caliphate and Sultanate. A few weeks later the seat of the government was changed to Angora, as a more central position. By the end of 1919 the Nationalist movement had been accepted by nearly the whole of Asia Minor, and the Ottoman government at Constantinople became a government representing little, and wielding no authority.

Behind the Nationalist movement was the military class of Turkey, and the still powerful secret society known as the Committee of Union and Progress. In fact, though the movement represented on the part of the people a genuine patriotism and desire to resist what was deemed as aggression, it is doubtful if the Committee were not its real founders. At all events Talaat Pasha, Enver Pasha, Djemal Pasha, Sais Halim Pasha, and many other Committee leaders became exceedingly active in the nationalist cause. They gave it, too, the Panislamist policy which the Committee had followed when in power behind the Ottoman Government at Constantinople. Owing to this connexion between Turkish Nationalism and Panislamism Moslem sympathy was excited in British India. Doubtless the agitation was arranged, but nevertheless it carried weight. A “Caliphate Committee” to oppose the imposition of harsh terms of peace on Turkey was formed, and a delegation sent to London, the delegation laid much stress on a speech made by Mr. Lloyd George on Jan. 5 1918, in which he said: “Nor are we fighting to deprive Turkey of its capital, or of the rich and renowned lands of Asia Minor and Thrace which are predominantly Turkish in race.” This speech the delegation, and other supporters of a lenient policy towards Turkey, claimed as a pledge. At the Peace Conference of the Allies held in London early in Feb. 1920, to discuss the terms of the Turkish peace, it was decided to leave Constantinople in the possession of Turkey. At this time the Nationalists began military operations against Cilicia. Turkish troops drove the French out of Marash and other places in this region, and used their success to massacre great numbers of Armenians. Simultaneously the Nationalists organized resistance in Thrace under Col. Jaffas Tayar Bey.

The Government at Constantinople were now taken with the idea that they could suppress the Nationalists from within. They sought to rally to their side the sober and religious masses of the Turkish population by the joint influence of the Sultan as Caliph and of the Sheikh ul Islam. An Imperial decree was also issued declaring the Nationalists rebels. At the same time a military effort was made by sending Anzavour Pasha with a considerable force to occupy Brusa. But the appeal of the Caliph and the Sheikh ul Islam had little effect; the decree as to rebels was ignored; and Anzavour Pasha's force deserted to the Kemalists before Brusa was reached.

The Supreme Council sitting at San Remo finally decided the terms of the Turkish peace in April 1920, and the treaty was handed to the Turkish delegates on May 9. The terms of the treaty caused the fiercest hostility in Angora. The Great National Assembly declared for resistance to the last, and formally denied the right of the Constantinople Government to conclude any treaty on behalf of Turkey. It declared further that no treaty made by that Government would be recognized by the Nationalists. It was evident now that nothing but the application of force by the Allies would compel acceptance of the treaty by the Government at Angora. On the proposal of M. Venizelos, then the Greek premier, the Allies therefore entrusted the task to Greece of dealing with the Nationalist forces in western Asia Minor, and imposing the treaty. In support of Greece the Allies undertook minor naval operations. During June and July 1920 the Greek armies conducted a campaign in which they overran the part of Asia Minor lying westward of a line drawn from Brusa to Ushak in the valley of the Menderez. A Greek army also occupied Thrace. As the result of these operations, which destroyed any hope the Ottoman Government may have had of obtaining better terms by delay, the treaty was signed by the Ottoman delegates on August 20 1920.

In spite of their defeat at Greek hands the Nationalists showed no inclination to accept the treaty. Instead, they turned more and more towards Bolshevik Russia, with hostility to the Allies as the common cause in pursuit of which each could assist the other. Arms, munitions and money were the chief Nationalist needs; and for her own ends Russia, to some extent, supplied them. In return she took the opportunity for spreading Bolshevik principles in Asia Minor, though with little success among Moslems, who held that Bolshevik theories were in opposition to the teachings of Mahomet. Towards the end of 1920 the Government of Constantinople made an attempt at peace with the Nationalists by sending a “Mission of Reconciliation” to Angora. But this effort, too, had no results. Notwithstanding defeat in the West, and risings and discontent within the area over which they had power, the Nationalist Government was in a fairly strong position. Nothing but force could overthrow them, and the nature of the country and absence of roads made the application of such force from outside a dangerous and exceedingly difficult undertaking. They were in alliance with Bolshevik Russia. Their country was self-supporting. They had but to wait, and time would assure their ultimate success.

Meanwhile Bolshevik Russia and Nationalist Turkey endeavoured to secure better land communications between their territories, to bring, in fact, their territories to a common frontier. Russia was established in the Transcaucasian Republic of Azerbäijän*; but between Turkey and Azerbäijän lay the Armenian Republic of Erivan; and the line of railway from Azerbäijän to Turkish territory passed through the hostile Armenian State. In Sept. 1920 the Nationalists, in agreement with Russia, therefore began military operations against the Republic of Erivan. The upshot was that by the end of Nov. the Republic was crushed, its territory occupied, many thousands of its people massacred, its Government overthrown and replaced by a Soviet Government which accepted Russian mediation and onerous terms of peace. These included the cession of the districts of Kars and Ardahan to Turkey, together with additional territory traversed by the railway from Azerbäijän to the Turkish frontier.

Nationalist leaders had always urged that time was on their side. During Dec. 1920 the elections in Greece overthrew the Government of M. Venizelos; and the return of the ex-King Constantine took place the same month as the result of a plebiscite. These events changed the whole policy of the Allied Powers towards Greece. But a settlement of Turkish questions remained as necessary to the Allies as ever. They therefore invited the Greek and Turkish Governments to send delegations to a conference in London in Feb. 1921, for the purpose of reaching, if possible, a compromise on the Treaty of Sèvres. The condition was made that the Turkish Delegation should include representatives of Angora. The conference finally made an offer to the two delegations, to be accepted or rejected as a whole by their Governments. The offer proposed various important changes in the Treaty, including evacuation of Constantinople by the Allied garrison, an increase in the strength permitted the Turkish army, and the granting of autonomy to the Smyrna zone under Turkish sovereignty, and a Christian governor. These terms were promptly rejected by the Greek Government, who then reopened hostilities against the Nationalists in opposition to Allied advice. The Greek aim was to reach Angora, and destroy the Nationalist army. At the end of March, however, the Greek army was heavily repulsed before Eskishehr and compelled to retreat to its original positions before Brusa and Ushak. At the beginning of July another Greek offensive was made, this time on a much greater scale. Afium Kara Hissar, Kutahia, and Eskishehr were captured, notwithstanding determined Turkish resistance, and the advances continued along the railway towards Angora. But in a great battle at the end of Aug., on the line of the Sakaria river, the Greek army failed to break through the Turkish entrenchments, and again retreated, this time to positions covering Eskishehr and Afium Kara Hissar. (W. J. C.*)