Essays in Ottoman-Turkish Political History 9781463229948

A collection of essays by Sina Aksin about the later years of the Ottoman Empire and the early years of the Turkish Repu

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Essays in Ottoman-Turkish Political History

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Essays in Ottoman-Turkish Political History

Analecta Isisiana: Ottoman and Turkish Studies


A co-publication with The Isis Press, Istanbul, the series consists of collections of thematic essays focused on specific themes of Ottoman and Turkish studies. These scholarly volumes address important issues throughout Turkish history, offering in a single volume the accumulated insights of a single author over a career of research on the subject.

Essays in Ottoman-Turkish Political History

Sina Aksin

The Isis Press, Istanbul

preSS 2011

Gorgias Press LLC, 954 River Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA Copyright© 2011 by The Isis Press, Istanbul Originally published in 2000 All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise without the prior written permission of The Isis Press, Istanbul. 2011

ISBN 978-1-61143-122-3

Printed in the United States of America

Sina Ak§in was born in 1937. He graduated from Robert College, Istanbul in 1955 and from the Law School of Istanbul University in 1959. He studied in the U.S.A. under a Fulbright award and received two master's degrees in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston (MA, 1960; MALD, 1961). Between 1961 and 1967, he worked as an instructor of History of Civilization at Robert College, School of Higher Education. While doing his military service from 1967 to 1969, he received his doctorate in Contemporary History from the School of Literature of Istanbul Universtiy (Ph.D., 1968). His dissertation, 31 Mart Olayi, has been published three times, in 1970, 1972 and 1994. In 1969, he became a teaching assistant in the field of Turkish Politics in the School of Political Science of Ankara University (SPS). Between 1971 and 1972, he did research in the British State Archives under a United Nations Fellowship. He became an associate professor in 1975 at Ankara University. His dissertation was published under the title Istanbul Hiikumetleri ve Milli Miicadele (1976, 1983). Between 1978 and 1979, he did research in the archives of the French Foreign Ministry. In 1980, he was elected the chair of Turkish Politics. His book, Jon Tiirkler ve ittihat ve Terakki (The Young Turks and the Union and Profress Party), was published in the same year. He became a full professor in 1989. In the same year, the fourth volume of Tiirkiye Tarihi, which he edited, was published. Between 1989 and 1990, he did research on the period of the first Constitutional Monarchy in the archives of the French Foreign Ministry. In 1991, he became the chair of the department of Public Administration at SPS. In 1992, Son Me^rutiyet (19191920) was published and awarded the Grand Prize by the Tiirkiye i§ Bankasi in 1994. In 1995 the fifth and final volume of Tiirkiye Tarihi and in 1996 Tiirkiye'nin Yakin Tarihi were published.


Foreword "Turkish Nationalism Today," Turkish Yearbook of Relations, Ankara 1976, vol. XVI pp. 18-32

7 International 9

"La Révolution Française et la conscience révolutionnaire des Nationalistes turcs à l'aube de la Lutte d'Indépendance," in La Turquie et la France à l'époque d'Atatürk, Paris 1981, pp. 4555


"Turkish-Syrian Relations in the Time of Faisal (1918-20)," Turkish Yearbook of international Relations, Ankara 1986 vol. XX pp 1-17


"Notes on Kâzim Karabekir's Committee of Union and Progress (1896-1909)," in Première rencontre internationale sur l'Empire ottoman et la Turquie moderne, E. Eidem (ed.) Istanbul 1991, pp. 333-346


"Franco-Turkish Relations at the End of 1919," in L'Empire ottoman, la République de Turquie et la France, H. Batu et J.-L. BacquéGrammont (ed.), Istanbul 1986, pp. 437-446


"A General Appraisal of the Armenian Issue," Turkish Ankara No 4 (Summer 1986)


"Metin Heper: The State Tradition in Turkey," Bibliotheca Leiden 1988, XLV/1 -2 pp. 226-227


Orientalis, 81

"Financial Aspects of the Tanzimat," in Proceedings of the 2nd International Meeting on Modern Ottoman Studies and the Turkish Republic, E. van Donzel (ed.), Leiden 1989


"The Place of the Young Turk Revolution in Turkish History," Ankara Üniversitesi Siyasal Bilgiler Fakiiltesi Dergisi, Ankara, vol. 50 No 3-4 (1995) pp. 13-29






" S o m e Observations about the Influence of the French Revolution on the Ottoman Empire," paper presented at the Colloquium on the French Revolution and the O t t o m a n Empire, held in Strasbourg, 16-18 November 1989


" T w o Victorious War Leaders: De Gaulle and Atatiirk," Yearbook

of International



Ankara 1992, vol. XXII

pp. 51-59


" T h r e e Homelands of the Turks" in Aspects

of Ottoman


Jerusalem 1994,


"Comments on Prof. A. Hermassi's Paper," "Le dernier des Ottomans."' in Istanbul, 121-132


145 Paris 1992, pp.

"The Conquest of Istanbul." in I Alosi tis Polis, Athens 1984

149 159

"Italian Policy During the Ottoman-Russian W a r of 1877-78," in Relazioni turco-italiana

attraverso la storia, Ankara 1994

" R i f a ' a t 'Ali A b o u - e l - H a j : Formation Ottoman Empirein Bibliotheca (1995) pp. 496-499

of the Modem State: The Orientalis, Leiden LII/3-4 181

" A Traveler in Asia Minor: Frederick B u r n a b y , " paper read at a s e m i n a r on " T r a v e l and T r a v e l e r s : E n c o u n t e r s in the Mediterranean", Calgary, Italy (October 1996) " H a i m Gerber: State, Society, Comparative

and Law in Islam:




Middle Eastern Studies,


Law in 1997 vol.

34 No 1 (January 1998) pp


" T h e Balkans and the Committee of Union and Progress"


"The Nature of the Kemalist Revolution," in The Turkish Republic at Seventy-Five Years, D. Shankland (ed.), Huntington 1999 ....


" F a c t o r s Put Forward to Explain Independence M o v e m e n t s in the Balkans"


"Ottoman Political Parties. 1908-1922," essay written for Turcicae Fundamenta,

vol. 5

Philologiae 225


I owe thanks to my friend Sinan Kuneralp not only for publishing my writings, but also for giving me the idea of having them published. Hitherto, I have generally written in Turkish, thinking that those non-Turks interested in my writings would in most cases know Turkish. But sometimes, by necessity, as in the case of international meetings, I have had to write in English (or French). It had not occurred to me that they might add up to a book until the suggestion came from my editor. It turns out that in a period of twenty-odd years, I have written 23 essays in English or French. I would like to give some additional information about some of these writings. "Turkish Nationalism Today" was a paper that I presented to the Anglo-Turkish Society in England. "La Révolution Française et la conscience révolutionaires des nationalistes turcs à l'aube de la Lutte d'Indépendance" was written in Turkish and translated into French by my colleague Prof. Dr. Ômiir Sezgin. "The Place of the Young Turk Revolution in Turkish History" was a paper presented at a symposium held in March 1988 at the University of Manchester. In the case of "Three Homelands of the Turks" and "The Nature of the Kemalist Revolution" I have preferred the unedited versions. "Comments on Prof. A. Hermassi's Paper" was presented at a TurkishArab meeting held in Antalya after the Gulf War. This was organised by the Turkish Political Science Association and centred on the d e v e l o p m e n t of democracy in the Middle East. "The Conquest of Istanbul" was written for a Greek publisher and was translated into Greek by my friend Dr. Herklil Millas. "A Traveler in Asia Minor: Frederick Burnaby" was presented to a seminar on "Travel and Travelers: Encounters in the Mediterranean" held in Cagliari (Sardinia) on October 1996. The views I have presented in "Three Homelands of the Turks" and which were repeated in my Tiirkiye'nin Yakin Tarihi (Ankara: i m a j , 1996), have been contested by Halûk Tarcan in his book Ôn-Turk Tarihi (ProtoTurkish History) (Istanbul: Kaynak, 1998). Basing himself on the research of Kâzim Mir§an, he is of the opinion that the first Turkish script appeared at a much earlier date than the generally accepted date, 730 A.D. Ankara, Faculty of Political Science December 1999


A Note on Nationalism. According to Kohn, "Nationalism is a political creed that underlies the cohesion of modern societies and legitimizes their claim to authority. Nationalism centers the supreme loyalty of the overwhelming majority of the people upon the nation-state, either existing or desired." 1 One must first note the element of modernity. Nationalism is a post-feudal and therefore popular ideology. In feudal society, subjects have no political rights and there is no question of a king or feudal lord trying to mobilize his subjects politically. If he has to mobilize them he will —typically— appeal to their loyalty to his person. Nationalism, then, is an ideology that was born in bourgeois societies, that is to say, in Western Europe. In other, non-bourgeois societies, it became the ideology of those who would modernize their countries. The function of nationalism, as Kohn points out, is to provide cohesion. Nationalism asserts the unity, the belonging to a nation —"existing or desired"— distinct from other nations, of all the people, whatever their class. For that, it has to fasten on at least one or several objective, concrete elements. Here it can be common language, there it can be common history, somewhere else it can be common religion, common territory or any combination of these and other elements. Thus it grows from one or several of these elements and thus a nation is born or developed. A nation is a creation, a construct of prevalent nationalist ideology. "Classic" exceptions to the theory of nationhood like Belgium, Switzerland, the Zionist Jews seem to indicate that nations are the product of nationalism rather than the other way around. Likewise, today in Africa, first comes nationalism in a certain colonial territory that has become an independent state, and it is this nationalism, voiced by a dominant, modern-minded minority that seeks to develop the future nation of that state by rendering nationalism prevalent among the inhabitants. In other words, nationalism is a post-feudal, popular ideology agitating to mobilize all the different classes, especially in times of emergency, to a common "national" cause. Where a nation is as yet non-existent, it seeks to create a common identity, in other words, a nation. It binds classes, indeed, that is its raison d'être. Presumably, it would have no domestic function in a classless society.


H . Kohn, "Nationalism". International


of the Social Sciences,




of Turkish




It has often been pointed out that

it was natural for the Turks to be the last nation in the Ottoman Empire to d e v e l o p nationalism, because they w e r e in certain respects the closest approximation to a ruling race, and for them to be nationalistic would be an open repudiation of the multi-national Ottoman Empire. 1 This statement is doubtless correct, but rather incomplete. T h e Turks were also o n e of the socially "retarded" elements in the Ottoman Empire in terms of the lateness in developing a bourgeoisie. It is this modern and modernizing class which developed Greek, Serbian, Romanian, Bulgarian, A r m e n i a n nationalisms. T h e s e nations owed their early "awakening" partly to their exclusion, to a large extent, f r o m the "ruling" professions (military, administrative) and especially to the fact that the increasingly dominating Western e c o n o m i c interests naturally preferred to have non-Moslem elements as their agents or even workers in the Empire. Ottoman nations which retained their feudal character, on the other hand, would naturally have nothing to do with non-aristocratic popular ideologies such as nationalism. However, under the impact of the nation-conscious West and the example of Ottoman Christian nationalism, even Abdiilhamid II sometimes resorted to measures that seemed to exhibit national c o n s c i o u s n e s s . 2 It w a s also symptomatic that the 1876 Constitution, which was drafted at a time of great external stress, when o n e would expect the accent would be on Ottomanism (that nationalism which was supposed to bind all Ottomans, irrespective of creed or nationality) declared the only official language to be Tiirkge rather than a euphemism such as Osmanlica

(art. 18). 3

For the development of Turkish nationalism, it was necessary that a Turkish bourgeoisie should arise. In the middle of the 19th century however, not only was this essentially lacking, but nearly total economic domination of the West, coupled with the almost exclusive e m p l o y m e n t by Westerners of non-Moslems for comprador functions as well as for petty jobs, rendered it impossible f o r the Turks to d e v e l o p a bourgeoisie. T h e T u r k s therefore accomplished in 1908 the feat of having a bourgeois revolution without a bourgeoisie to speak of. This surrogate bourgeoisie were the mekteplis


graduates of Western type schools. These schools were mainly the School of M e d i c i n e (1827), the W a r College (1834), and the Civil Service School (1859). Though these schools were founded comparatively early in the 19th century, the small number of graduates, plus the fact that for instance, the W a r College's first graduating class was that of 1848, postponed the impact of the mekteplis

to the late 19th or early 20th century.

' B . Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (London, Oxford U.P., 1968), pp. 344-5. - I . H. Dani§mend, ìzahli Osmanli Tarihi Kronolojisi, vol. 4 (Istanbul, Tiirkiye Y „ 1961). pp. 288-9. 3 E . Z. Karal, Osmanli Tarihi, vol. 8 (Ankara, Turk Tarih Kurumu Y., 1962), p. 556.





The education that the mekteplis received was Western and showed them irrefutably and insistently in what ways the West was superior. This "brain-washing" drove these young men to desire ardently that Ottoman society b e c o m e m o d e l l e d on t h e b o u r g e o i s W e s t . T h e lifestyle and achievements of the non-Moslem bourgeoisie, who provided vivid and nearby examples of Western life, was a source both of envy and emulation. On the other hand, the fact that at least in the early echelons of the bureaucracy, Ihey owed their position in the administration and in society not to the favor of the Sultan but rather to the objective appraisal of their schools (manifested by their diplomas) made them less patient with the "slave-institution" style and psychology of the traditional "alaturka" bureaucracy. When coupled with the critically vital failure of the Sultan to stop the downward slide of the Ottoman Empire, the increasing weight of the mekteplis in the bureaucracy became a revolutionary potential unseen before. 1908 was a turning point in Turkish history c o m p a r a b l e to 1789 in French history. T h e only — and very important — difference was that this was a bourgeois revolution without a bourgeoisie, a bourgeois revolution m a d e by a "surrogate bourgeoisie". Turkey's 1789 reached fruition on May 14, 1950, when the fledgling Turkish bourgeoisie first c a m e to power in the person of the Democratic Party (DP), displacing the mektepli or modern bureaucracy, represented at this time by its political organization, the Republican People's Party (RPP). Bernard Lewis makes a fine point about none of the five Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) founders being Turkish. 1 Whatever the character of the C U P in 1889, there is no doubt that it quickly developed into a Turkish organization with Turkish nationalism as its basic tenet. The CUP, in a letter written to the K i z a n h k branch in Bulgaria and dated 1906, declared, "Our C o m m i t t e e is a purely Turkish o r g a n i z a t i o n . " 2 But theirs was a case of wanting to eat one's cake and have it too. They were Turkish nationalists, but they were not willing to forego the multi-national Ottoman Empire. T h e y therefore kept their nationalism, and necessarily their organization, congresses and leadership secret. 3 All this c a m e out into the open in the carnage of the Balkan W a r s and W o r l d W a r I, w h e n it b e c a m e a p p a r e n t that the multi-national E m p i r e w a s an impossibility. T h e mekteplis or, in other words, the C U P and its sociological continuation, t h e R P P , stayed in power—with certain intervals—from 1908 to 1950. This was the surrogate bourgeoisie, whose ideology was nationalism 4 and whose social program was the establishment and development of a Turkish bourgeoisie. Nationalism has continued to be a dominant current of thought in Turkey since the coming to power of the bourgeoisie in 1950.

'Lewis, p. 197 A. B. Kuran, ìnkilap Tarihimiz ve ìttihad ve Terakkì (Istanbul, 1948), p. 203. •'S. Ak§in, "Ìttihat ve Terakkì Uzerine", Siyasal Bilgiler Fakiiltesi Dergisi, voi. 26, no. 1, 1971, pp. 165-7. K. H. Karpat, Political and Social Thought in the Contemporary Middle East (New York, Praeger, 1968), p. 298. 2



of Turkish




T h e first task of n a t i o n a l i s m

was to spread the e m o t i v e c o n s c i o u s n e s s of b e l o n g i n g to a T u r k i s h nation a m o n g the Turks and, if possible, also a m o n g n o n - T u r k i s h M u s l i m s . Starting with t h e Balkan W a r s and a c c e l e r a t i n g d u r i n g W o r l d W a r I, this w a s first started a m o n g e d u c a t e d adults by organizations such as T u r k O c a g i (Turkish H e a r t h ) 1 and various publications, and a m o n g children a n d y o u t h s , by the school system. T h e spread of national c o n s c i o u s n e s s w o u l d naturally be the f i r s t task of T u r k i s h n a t i o n a l i s m , s i n c e f o r T u r k s , t h e m o s t


extra-local ties before 1908 were mainly religious. Being a T u r k w o u l d only be significant to differentiate linguistically between M u s l i m s and would carry f e w , if any, emotional overtones. Success in the task of s p r e a d i n g t h e notion of national c o n s c i o u s n e s s can be roughly equated with the successful spread of the primary school system

in rural a r e a s , t h o u g h s u c h t h i n g s as t h e

c o n s c r i p t i o n s y s t e m , the rapid g r o w t h of u r b a n i z a t i o n , t h e spread of m a s s m e d i a and the d e v e l o p m e n t of the transportation s y s t e m a r e naturally also important. O n e might venture a rough guess that by the y e a r 1960, w h e n total literacy w a s a b o u t 4 0 %, a third of t h e p o p u l a t i o n lived in p r o v i n c i a l or county (ilge) centers, daily n e w s p a p e r circulation had risen to a b o u t 1,400,000 a n d t h e " t r a n s i s t o r a g e " w a s a b o u t to d a w n , t h e s p r e a d of


c o n s c i o u s n e s s w o u l d h a v e m a d e i m p o r t a n t h e a d w a y . It s h o u l d be n o t e d , h o w e v e r , that even in t h e y e a r 1977, with T u r k e y o v e r t h e threshold of t h e television age, the task c a n n o t be considered as c o m p l e t e d . T h e r e s u r g e n c e of religious sentiment, e v i n c e d by the rise of t h e National Salvation Party ( N S P ) as the third largest political party is p e r h a p s an indication of a loyalty still rivaling nationalism. F a v o r e d by the very cool reaction of t h e W e s t to the T u r k i s h "Peace O p e r a t i o n " in C y p r u s and the need f o r p e t r o l e u m products at m o r e r e a s o n a b l e prices, the N S P has actively pursued a policy of f r a t e r n a l relations with Muslim


which can easily

d e m o n s t r a t i n g an extra-national or iimmet-type

be interpreted


loyalty. O n e can a s s u m e that

the mixed results obtained by this policy has t e m p e r e d s o m e w h a t the N S P ' s rather naive optimism in this regard. O n the other hand, the description by the N S P of its policies as t h e "national v i e w " (milli gdru$) though d o u b t l e s s to a large extent merely lip-service to secular sentiment and laws, s e e m s partly to i n d i c a t e the s u c c e s s of n a t i o n a l i s m in d o m i n a t i n g t h e T u r k i s h


M o r e o v e r , the decrease by half of the NSP's seats in the National A s s e m b l y in the J u n e 5, 1977 e l e c t i o n s s h o w s that t h e N S P is f a r f r o m e n j o y i n g t h e "captive" electorate that o n e m i g h t a s s u m e o v e r r i d i n g religious s e n t i m e n t could provide. O n e of the intriguing aspects of the e f f o r t to instill a national identity, w a s t h e so-called s u n - l a n g u a g e t h e o r y of 1935. T h i s t h e o r y of a T u r k i s h Central Asia that served as cradle to nearly all peoples and civilizations has ]

T . Z. Tunaya, Tiirkiye'de

Siyasl Partiter (Istanbul, 1952), pp. 378-86.





been much criticized. T h e r e is no need to discuss the fictitiousness of this theory. However, the needs that prompted it are quite open to discussion. According to one view, this was necessary to prevent the language reform f r o m going to the e x t r e m e of doing a w a y with every non-Turkish word, however c o m m o n its usage. 1 Thus since all civilizations were ultimately Turkish in origin, there was no harm in retaining some of the words that were "thought" to be foreign b e f o r e the advent of the s u n - l a n g u a g e theory. According to another view, this theory was put forward to increase the self-confidence of the Turkish nation, badly shaken from recent pre-Republican events. Timur is of the opinion that the failure of R e p u b l i c a n e c o n o m i c development policies also dictated such a process of self-glorification. 2 O n e can further point to the fascist and national socialist vogue of glorifying the distant past f o r p u r p o s e s of s e l f - a g g r a n d i z e m e n t . In T u r k e y this was appropriate, since a glorification of Muslim and Ottoman recent history was quite out of the question f o r the y o u n g Republic and it w a s considered necessary to do some ego-building in order to offset the paralyzing inferiority complex resulting from many years of failure vis-à-vis the challenge of the West. A Turkish Fatherland: Another task f o r Turkish nationalism was to "create" a fatherland (vatan-yurt)—that territory that is supposed to evoke emotional responses f r o m the nation. N a m i k K e m a l , t h e "poet of the fatherland" had established indelibly the concept of fatherland among the educated. However, just as his nationalism—if it can be called such—boiled down to Ottomanism or Pan-Islamism, his fatherland was nothing else but all of Ottoman territory. The main problem here was that nothing could be more fluid than the Ottoman frontiers during the last quarter of the 19th century and the first quarter of the 20th century. Encouraged by émigrés f r o m Russia and the Germans, the nationalism of CUP, especially during World War I, went to the extremes of Pan-Turanism. T h e collapse of the Russian front after the October revolution aroused great hopes in this respect. At a time when the Ottoman armies were retreating in Iraq and Palestine, many Turks rationalized this retreat as the abandonment of Arab, i.e. alien lands 3 and found consolation in the forward march of the Ottoman army in the Turkish-speaking areas of the Caucasus and Northern Iran. T h e outcome of the war dashed these hopes. Even after the Mudros Armistice, however, the possibility of retaining Iraq and Syria under an American mandate dazzled the eyes of many nationalists and made them advocates of this cause . Recent research suggests that the National Pact (Misak-i Millij was initially far from being the complete

'Lewis, pp. 434-5, from U. Heyd, Language Reform in Modern Turkey (Jerusalem, 1954), 33-4. ?T- Timur, Turk Devrimi ve Sonrasi (Ankara, Dogan Y., 1971), pp. 202-3. For instance, Kazim Karabekir's views in I. Selifuk, Yuzbasi Salahattin'in Remzi, 1973), pp. 287-8.


Romam (Istanbul,


O T T O M A N - T U R K I S H



renunciation of Arab territories that it is commonly supposed to be. 1 Since 1923 however, Turkish frontiers have been stable (except for the addition of Hatay) and for more than half a century Turkey has a fixed fatherland. There may be some who, together with the NSP, would like to see in the Cyprus Peace Operation the re-awakening of the Ottoman territorial appetite. I think this is rather far-fetched. Cyprus was a very special case. Britain was about to relinquish the island and the question of who—if anybody—would own the island became a moot point. The Zurich and London agreements that gave Turkey and Greece the right of intervention and the right to maintain garrisons were the result of hard bargaining between the parties. I think many international lawyers would agree that there are strong arguments for the case that in reality Cyprus was a non-state. Nationalism and Security: In the definition of nationalism given above, nationalism was presented as an ideology seeking to mobilize, especially in times of emergency, different classes to a common cause, It would seem that in spite of the Lausanne Treaty, Turkey's republican regime lived through somewhat of an emergency until about 1950. In the pre-1914 world, all non-European and/or non-capitalist societies were subject to colonial subjugation.' 2 The three important exceptions, China, Iran and the Ottoman Empire were only nominally independent and only because there was more than one Great Power laying claim to them. In other words, they were in most respects de facto colonies held in common. In spite of Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations, the situation did not change after 1918, except for the emancipation of Eastern Europe. The mandate system was obviously a euphemism for the colonial system. The pre-1914 exceptions, however, had given a more concrete reality to their independence. China, Iran, Turkey had shaken of partly, or completely the Capitulations and had established more or less forward-looking regimes. In most cases, these promising beginnings were crushed by invading armies. In 1931, Japan attacked and started to invade China. In 1935 Italy occupied and annexed Ethiopia. In 1941 Britain and the Soviet Union occupied and divided Iran. Under these circumstances it would seem that it was a great achievement or great luck for Turkey to go unscathed. T h e leaders of the new Turkey must have been terribly a w a r e of their precarious position. Rebellions in Eastern Turkey and saber-rattling by the Italians gave ample cause for alarm. It is in this light that the Atatiirk reforms should be evaluated. For many Westerners the more formalistic reforms smack of blind imitation and seem quite unintelligible except as indications of the will to Westernize. A good number of the younger generation in Turkey are of the same opinion and

' m . Tunfay, "Misak-i Millfnin 1. Maddesi Ustiine", Birikim, Agustos-Eyliil 1976, no. 18/19. Latin America would be non-capitalist, but European.




tend to derisively label s o m e of these reforms as "gardrop




(wardrobe reforms). If one examines these reforms within the context of the international inter-war climate, one sees that they are intelligible mainly as defensive measures. They are defensive in the sense of completely disclaiming, through concrete action, the exercise of Pan-Islamic influence — that bugbear of the Great Powers with Muslim subjects. They are also defensive in the s e n s e that to the extent that they E u r o p e a n i s e d T u r k e y , they


presumably give her immunity against colonial subjugation. Of course this would raise many questions, such as whether or not Christianity would be considered o n e of the sine qua non conditions of "becoming" European. However, with the non-European world rapidly attaining independence after World W a r II, it w a s no longer necessary to be so much on the defensive. Indeed, these new states frequently tried to underscore their originality vis-a-vis the European world, especially from the "wardrobe" angle. 1 A f t e r 1945, Turkey continued to live in a state of emergency. This time the danger came from Stalin's desire to recuperate the Tsarist frontiers of 1914 and to achieve preponderant influence in the Straits. T h e T r u m a n doctrine in 1947 appeared to provide the security that the 1938 treaty with Britain and France had provided for a very short while. Turkey's participation and services in the Korean War seemed to assuage to a great extent the fears of Stalinist policy. T h e e f f u s i o n of o p t i m i s m generated by this a r m e d comradeship with the United States was in many respects comparable to a similar state of mind during the Crimean W a r . 2 Turkey's admission into N A T O in 1952 capped this trend. Turkey at last could feel reasonably secure. Stalin's death in 1953 and the repudiation soon after of his d e m a n d s by his successors (May 30, 1953), naturally increased this sense of security. This Soviet move did not at that time receive a very favorable response in Turkey. However, with the unwinding of the cold war and progress in the direction of détente, Turco-Soviet relations slowly progressed in the direction of normalcy. A f t e r 1965, and especially a f t e r t h e M a r c h 25, 1967 E c o n o m i c Aid Agreement, relations became quite friendly. In 1959, Turkey applied to the E E C f o r membership. Negotiations resulted in the signature on September 12, 1963 of the agreement making Turkey an associate member of the EEC. The additional protocol of November 23, 1970, started the "count d o w n " of Turkish customs duties vis-à-vis Europe. T w o lists of products were drawn up, one with a schedule of customs reductions extending over a period of 12 years, the other extending over a period of 22 years. At the end of the respective periods, customs duties for the products in question will have reached zero. Ever since 1963, there has been a

' s . Ak|in, "Atatiirk'u Anlamak için", Milliyel, 10 November 1975.

Ak§in, Istanbul Hiikiimetleri ve Milli Miicadele (Istanbul, Cem, 1976), pp. 44,60.





growing debate about the wisdom of this move. A significant section of the T u r k i s h L e f t is against j o i n i n g the E E C , m a i n t a i n i n g that this will completely spoil Turkey's chances of becoming an industrial country and that Europe will dominate and exploit T u r k e y completely. T h e Turkish Right, including the N S P and the Nationalist M o v e m e n t Party ( N M P ) are also against joining the E E C , the first stressing Turkey's religious incompatibility with Europe, while the second puts the accent on the industrialization issue. It is generally conceded, however, that Turkey's association with the E E C has on the whole, been politically, rather than economically motivated. In other words, the economic pro and cons have not been properly weighed and association with the E E C has been regarded as an i n s u r a n c e a g a i n s t c o m m u n i s m and a natural culmination of the process of Westernization. 1 With the progress of customs reductions, difficulties have arisen which appear to be the result of lack of proper studies. It is to be noticed, however, that though the K09 Holding Company rather recently voiced some doubts about the E E C association, it seems lately to have overcome them. T h e other m a j o r holding company, Sabanci. a p p e a r s to h a v e been f a v o r a b l e to the E E C relationship throughout. Of course, the effects on the public sector and on smaller establishments, and the attitudes to result therefrom remain to be seen. The problem of Turkey's security, which had been more or less solved since the early fifties has been revived lately, though not in such an acute form. This has been the result of the Cyprus Peace Operation. Partly under the influence of Greek propaganda and perhaps partly through the revival of ancient prejudice (what the N S P would call the "Crusader spirit"), W e s t European and American public opinion has been according a distinctly frigid treatment to Turkey. Most notably, this has resulted in the US arms embargo. Armenian agitation, which had been more or less dormant until recent years, has now flared up. The recent assassination of three ambassadors and other Turkish diplomats, allegedly by the A r m e n i a n s , has given r i s e — r a t h e r ironically—to anti-Turkish reactions in Western media. How events will develop is anybody's guess. One thing, however, seems clear. T h e longer this new question mark on Turkey's security remains, the more will it evoke a defense mechanism, namely, nationalism. Nationalism

versus Marxism:

It has become commonplace nowadays

to o p p o s e nationalism to M a r x i s m and to leftism generally. Stileyman Demirel, leader of the Justice Party, declares these days (June 1977) that the division in Turkey is between nationalists and leftists, the R P P being leftist, and therefore, not nationalistic. In China, Chiang Kai Shek's men were called N a t i o n a l i s t s and to this day F o r m o s a styles itself N a t i o n a l i s t


In Turkey, Bulent Ecevit, leader of the RPP, repudiates Demirel's claim to l


Turk D13 Politikasi

(Ankara, Siyasal Bilgiler Fakultesi, 1974), pp 520-5, 563-8.





nationalism and claims it is his side that is really nationalistic. If Ecevit were a true Marxist, I doubt if he would dare to contradict Demirel, even if he felt like it. For M a r x i s m , like its opposite n u m b e r , has, as far as I know, generally assiduously cultivated the notion that it is not nationalistic. Iri the 19th









internationalism tried to de-emphasize the dictates of nationalism in order to establish the primacy of proletarian revolutions. 1 This is perhaps natural, because nationalism had then been wielded only by the bourgeoisie. World War I, however, definitely showed that the working class would respond to the call of nationalism. It is interesting to note, moreover, that the successful and indigenous Communist

r e v o l u t i o n s of o u r c e n t u r y h a v e


themselves under circumstances of resistance to foreign invasion—witness the Russian, Chinese, V i e t n a m e s e , Y u g o s l a v , Albanian, Cuban revolutions. T h e r e is no doubt that foreign invasion is the ideal breeding ground of nationalism, the emergency situation par excellence.

Even if the communist

parties or organizations did not explicitly resort to nationalist propaganda, the situation of invasion would in itself inspire all other classes with a sense of nationalist solidarity. And there is no doubt that, for instance, the Chinese Communists, with their emphasis on national democratic revolution, did to a large extent practice nationalist propaganda. T h e Communist Manifesto in 1848 placed the responsibility for the proletariat "having no country" on the development of capitalism and predicted that national differences and antagonisms between peoples would vanish still faster with the supremacy of the proletariat. 2 A t the moment, this prediction does not seem to have been realized exactly as expected. It was after World War II that the multinational corporation became a sort of supranational phenomenon transcending frontiers and national allegiances 3 . On the other hand, the internationalism generated by C O M E C O N hardly appears to approach that of the multinational corporations. 4 In Turkey, a great deal of propaganda capital has been made of the RPP's recent adhesion to the Socialist International, which has been denounced as an act contrary to nationalism. On the other hand, it is the Turkish bourgeoisie which seems to be running towards the adventure of the C o m m o n Market with little hesitation. Also worthy of note is the fact that the extreme right wing Nationalist Movement Party, which formerly was called the Republican Peasant Nation Party, went

Some would even suggest that behind Marxists internationalism sometimes lies the wish to perpetuate the revolutionary primacy of a more well-established nation, like the German or Russian nations vis-a-vis East European or Asiatic Nations. 2 K . Marx, "The Communist Manifesto", The Political Philosophers, eds. (N. Y., Random House, 1947), pp. 499, 507-8. 3

S e e , for instance, C. Tugendhat, The Multinationals,

A. Nove, "East-West Trade", International Mac Millan, 1969), pp. 104-10.


S. Commins R N Linscott

Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1974). Relations,

P. A. Samuelson, ed. (London






out of its way to change its name (8-9 February 1969)1 which happens now to be almost the same name as that of the Falangist Party in Spain (Partido de Movimiento Nacional) and many more or less fascist parties elsewhere. Since 1960, it has been the Turkish Left which has criticized what it considered to be too liberal foreign investment policies (in industry and minerals) as well as investment policies which unduly increased Turkey's dependence on imported oil. This sort of economic criticism would have been impossible in the 1946-1960 period, when Russian salad, out of fear or hostility, was re-named American salad and the lightest sentence for communist propaganda started (it still does, but the application is much more liberal now) from seven and half years of prison. On the other hand, many, if not most, of doctrinaire Turkish Marxists did their utmost in order not to appear to support the Cyprus Peace Operation, since to them, this would be a nationalistic attitude. The myth of the incompatibility of Marxism with nationalism will die hard, since both Marxists and anti-Marxists struggle so hard to uphold it. Nationalism and Economic Development: An important aspect of nationalism was economic development. The CUP had had a very clear-cut conception of this necessity. It had also accepted the idea that the motor of economic development was the creation of a Turkish bourgeoisie. After 1908, there was a rapid increase in the hitherto insignificant number of Turkish companies. With World War I and the abolition of the Capitulations (1/9/1914), the CUP government had an immeasurably freer hand to do as it pleased. War conditions of scarcity made it so much easier to "create" rich men. 2 The Izmir Economic Congress and the Republic more or less followed in outline the CUP's economic policies. The only important difference was the government's policy, championed by ismet Pa§a, of building railroads. By 1932, the Turkish bourgeoisie that had come into being, was far from adopting the role of "captains of industry" that was expected of it. Foreign investments were also not filling this gap. On the other hand, the 1930 Free Party (Serbest Firka) experiment in pluralistic democracy had revealed the great discontent of the people, in large measure resulting from the Great Depression 3 . The political future of the regime demanded a more dynamic pace of development. A third element in this picture was the Soviet example of industrialization. Thus was born the policy of statism, the setting up of state enterprises, many of them industrial, as a complement to private enterprise. 4 Statism, from 1933 to 1939 was a singularly noteworthy and

' f . and B. T. A h m a d , Turkiye'de Tek Partili Politikanm Agiklamalali Kronolojisi, (Ankara, Bilgi, 1976), p. 362. ^ A h m e d Emin, Turkey in the World War (New Haven, 1930); H. Kivilcimli, Kapitalizmirt Gelifimi (Istanbul. 1965). F. Weiker, Political 4

K . Boratav, Turkiye'de

Tutelage and Democracy Devlet(Hik

in Turkey (Leiden, 1973).

(Istanbul, G e ^ e k , 1974).

1945-1971, Turkiye'de





successful example of economic development with pre-Keynesian orthodox policies and very little foreign aid 1 . The war interrupted a good part of these efforts. After the war, economic development became a process that was to a large extent supported by foreign aid. Since then, the original policy of statism may have changed beyond recognition, but the public sector continues to exist and grow and has a vital role in the economy. Whatever the policies chosen to implement it, economic development is a very basic and vital part of Turkish nationalism. As soon as war ceased to be in the forefront of Turkey's attention, economic development became a dominant issue. Before statism, railroad building was a major concern of the Ismet Pa§a governments. After the beginning of statism, industrial achievements became a great source of pride for Turkey. With the end of World War II, we find the RPP and then the Democratic Party devoting great attention to economic development. President Celal Bayar himself made a point of being present at many opening ceremonies and giving long speeches. After the 1960 Revolution, the setting up of the State Planning Organization seemed to lend a sort of "scientific" and rather "cold" aura to economic investments, instead of the "inspirational" investment activities of the Menderes era. Undaunted, Demirel in 1965 returned to the previous style of grand opening ceremonies and speech making, thus reviving economic development as the central propaganda issue. The Bosphorus bridge figured prominently in the Justice Party's election posters, as did the slogan of "Great Turkey". However, in the National Front government which was in power before the June 1977 elections, the NSP occupied most of the economic ministries. They seemed to outdo the Justice Party on the economic issue, calling in their turn for massive investments in heavy industry to build "factories that make factories" and transform Turkey into a "leading, rather than satellite country". I believe this must have made an impact on the rightist electorate, or they would not have won as many seats as they did. The fate of Ferruh Bozbeyli's Democratic Party which only won one seat, may be cited to partly support this view. Again, the failure of the RPP to win an absolute majority, in spite of the crucial security of life issue in the elections, may be partly explained by the persistence of the JP's image as a "party that builds". Conclusion: Turkish nationalism found its medium with the Young Turk revolution of 1908. The calamities that soon enveloped the Ottoman Empire placed not only the existence of the multi-national Empire, but the very existence of a Turkish homeland in jeopardy. This was the emergency situation that would quickly spread the ideology of nationalism. Since then, Turkey has had to face many emergency situations. Some of these it appears to have more or less solved. With the solution of each problem, the intensity

' k . Boratav, "Buyiik Dunya Bunalimi i^inde Tiirkiye'nin Sanayile§me ve Geli§me Sorunlari: 1929-1939", paper submitted to Makine Muhendisleri Odasi Sanayi Kongresi, 1976 (Ankara).





of nationalism in Turkey will decrease. We saw that the question of a Turkish identity, a well defined fatherland seem to have been solved, that the question of international security has lost much of its earlier acuteness. There still remains the long-term problem of catching up with the "level of contemporary civilization", in other words, economic development. This problem will probably be with us for some time. However, Turkey is developing and appears to be able to solve her economic problems. One other problem facing Turkey is the question of international identity. Turkey is a member of N A T O , OECD and the European Council. She appears to desire to be a full member of the EEC. However, she has a non-European past, a different religious and cultural heritage. Will and can Turkey be a European country in spite of these differences ? The alternative is to become a country of the Third World, more specifically, a member of the Islamic Middle East. A third option is the Socialist World, but at least for today this alternative appears to be academic. Perhaps Turkey has a Euro-Asiatic role to fulfill, in line with her geography. The transit trade between East and West, moribund for centuries since the Age of Discovery, shows signs of a vigorous revival and this will doubtless put its stamp on Turkey. Nevertheless, there will still be the question of a dominant identity. Only time can decide which way Turkey will go. There is no doubt, however, that in the evolution of this process, nationalism will have its say.


Mustafa Kemal affirme dans son célèbre Discours que les pratiques révolutionnaires mises en œuvre entre les années 1919 et 1927 constituaient les étapes d'un projet global préconçu. "Il eût été peu opportun", précise-t-il, "de proclamer dès le début toutes les conséquences d'une résolution de telle importance. Force était d'en répartir l'exécution en plusieurs phases, de préparer les sentiments et les esprits de la nation, en profitant des événements, et de tâcher d'atteindre le but, étape par étape. (. . .) C'est en examinant, dans leur enchaînement logique nos actes pendant ces neuf dernières années que nous pourrons nous rendre à l'évidence que notre conduite générale, depuis le premier jour, ne s'est jamais écartée de la ligne tracée par la résolution initiale, ni du but qu'elle visait." 1 Atatiirk souligne aussi que la révolution fut le fruit non pas d'une décision personnelle, mais d'une nécessité objective : "Au début, la lutte nationale se développait dans le but unique de délivrer la patrie de l'invasion étrangère, mais au fur et à mesure qu'elle était couronnée de succès, il était naturel et historiquement inévitable qu'elle parvînt à réaliser jusqu'à ce jour, phase par phase, tous les principes et toutes les forces d'un gouvernement basé sur la souveraineté nationale." 2 Lorsqu'il résume la situation générale, il répète la même chose mais en mettant cette fois l'accent sur son propre rôle : "... j'étais dans l'obligation de faire évoluer par degrés notre organisme social tout entier, selon la grande capacité de développement que je discernais dans l'âme et dans l'avenir de la nation, et que je portais moi-même dans ma conscience comme un secret national." 3 D'après Atatiirk, "... aller au-delà dans la voie des déclarations sur l'avenir, pouvait donner à la lutte réelle et matérielle que nous avions entreprise un caractère d'utopie." En outre, cela pouvait provoquer la résistance des forces réactionnaires. "Pour réussir, le chemin le plus pratique et le plus sûr était de disposer chaque phase à son heure." 4 'Discours du Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Président de la République turque, Leipzig, 1929, pp. 9-\0. ^Discours.... op. cit., p. 10. 3 Ibid. 4 Ibid.





Un des animateurs du mouvement kémaliste, Mazhar Miifit Kansu, a noté dans son journal qu'Atatiirk songeait à mettre sur pied un r é g i m e républicain avant même que le Congrès d'Erzurum ne se fût réuni. Ce texte est important, car il f u t publié en 1934, du vivant m ê m e d'Atatiirk et avec son accord. On y trouve des éléments qui permettent de penser que le rôle de Kansu fut loin d'être celui d'un simple observateur : "Le 20 juillet 1335(1919). ( . . . ) J'ai demandé encore une fois : ... En cas de victoire, et j e ne doute pas que nous vaincrons, quelle sera la forme du gouvernement? Et j'ai ajouté : —Il est certain que la forme actuelle du gouvernement ne permettra pas le progrès et le bonheur du pays. Je pense qu'il f a u d r a chercher et trouver une autre forme de gouvernement. Le Pa§a en avait assez de m e voir toujours poser la même question, et il répondit avec un léger sourire mais avec fermeté : — Je vais le dire c l a i r e m e n t : à l ' h e u r e v e n u e , la f o r m e du gouvernement sera la République. Je suis ivre de bonheur. J'ai enfin réussi à faire parler le Pa§a. En écrivant ces lignes, j e pleure de joie." 1 Il ressort de ce témoignage que Kansu ne se contentait pas d'observer les faits et gestes de Mustafa Kemal. En fait, il militait lui-même activement en faveur du régime républicain. Il y avait dans l'entourage d'Atatiirk plusieurs autres personnes qui pensaient c o m m e Kansu et il n'est pas impossible que ces h o m m e s aient exercé une certaine influence sur le leader du mouvement de résistance nationale. Les procès-verbaux


n'ont m a l h e u r e u s e m e n t pas


retrouvés. Nous ne savons donc pas si les participants au Congrès y ont manifesté une conscience révolutionnaire. Il est toutefois significatif que les Associations de la D é f e n s e des Droits Nationaux des Provinces Orientales {Vilayat-i




Milliye Cemiyeti)

des Droits Nationaux de Trabzon (Trabzon Muhafaza-i

et de la Sauvegarde Hukuk-u

' M a z h a r Miifit K a n s u , Erzurum'dan Ôliimiine kadar Atatiirk'le beraber d'Erzurum à sa mort), vol. I, Ankara. Turk Tarih Kurumu Yay., p. 74.


( A v e c Atatiirk,

LA Cemiyeti)




aient choisi c o m m e date d'ouverture du Congrès le 10 juillet,

c'est-à-dire le jour de la fête de la Liberté, l'anniversaire de la Révolution de 1908, alors que la c o m m é m o r a t i o n de cette fête était interdite à Istanbul. C o m m e tous les délégués attendus n'avaient pas pu arriver à temps, l'ouverture du Congrès fut retardée de 13 jours. Cette date correspondait au 10 juillet du calendrier grégorien. Cette insistance sur le choix de la date d'ouverture du C o n g r è s m o n t r e à tout le m o i n s q u e les organisateurs de ce c o n g r è s s'inspiraient largement de la Révolution de 1908.' Quant au Congrès de Sivas, nous en possédons les procès-verbaux, et il ne fait aucun doute que là, une conscience révolutionnaire se manifesta dès le premier jour, avant même que la conspiration d'Ali Galip n'ait éclaté. C'est une intervention d'Abdülhak, maire de Sivas, qui fournit l'occasion à divers participants de faire connaître leur pensée. Parlant au nom de l'Association de la Défense des Droits de Sivas, Abdülhak avait demandé que les membres de son organisation puissent participer au Congrès en tant qu'auditeurs. 2 Le délégué de Bursa, A h m e t Nuri répondit : "Notre Congrès s'est réuni malgré tous les risques éventuels ; personne ne doit être au courant de nos débats. Nous allons discuter ici de choses importantes. Les secrétaires mêmes doivent prêter serment. Notre congrès est un congrès révolutionnaire." Bayraktarzade Hüseyin Bey, délégué d'Eskiçehir approuva ces paroles. Mustafa Kemal était du même avis et son argumentation devait mettre en lumière le point faible du Congrès : "La propagation de l'idée que les participants ne sont pas tout à fait les élus de la Nation peut être très nuisible pour nous." 3 Un certain Hasan Efendi

affirma pour

sa part

: "Nous




révolutionnaire. Donc, aucun étranger ne peut être présent. Ils ne peuvent que prendre connaissance, à la fin du Congrès, des décisions qui auront été arrêtées". Enfin, il fut décidé à l'unanimité que les séances se tiendraient à huis-clos. Il convient de rappeler à cet égard que la circulaire d ' A m a s y a (.Atnasya Tamimi) avait prévu que le Congrès national convoqué à Sivas serait gardé c o m m e un "secret national" et qu'en cas de nécessité, les délégués voyageraient incognito. La conspiration d'Ali Galip f u t connue à Sivas le 7 septembre. Deux jours plus tard, Mustafa Kemal donnait au Congrès des explications sur ce sujet. Tout de suite après, Fazil Pa§a proposait de demander la convocation de l'Assemblée en vue de la destitution du Cabinet de Damat Ferit Pa§a. Mustafa Kemal remarqua à ce propos qu'il était dangereux de constituer en Anatolie un "Gouvernement provisoire" et qu'il était indispensable de réunir l'Assemblée. ' s i n a Ak|in, Istanbul Hukumetleri ve Miili Miicadele nationale), Istanbul, C e m Vay., 1976, pp. 473-474.

(Les gouvernements d'Istanbul et la lutte


U l u g Igdemir, Sivas Kongresi Tutanaklari (Les procès-verbaux du Congrès de Sivas), Ankara, Tiirk Tarih Kurumu Yay„ 1969, pp. 14-16. 3

C f . à ce propos S. Ak§in, op. cit., pp. 513-515 et 566-570.





M a i s pour accélérer les élections, il envisageait d e "prendre le p o u v o i r là où il le faut" et il ajoutait : "Nous allons d o n n e r des ordres aux préfets et, si besoin est, n o u s o c c u p e r o n s les p r é f e c t u r e s . . .


L e s h o m m e s réunis à Sivas m a n i f e s t è r e n t é g a l e m e n t leur c o n s c i e n c e r é v o l u t i o n n a i r e p e n d a n t la s i x i è m e s é a n c e du C o n g r è s , lors d e s d i s c u s s i o n s relatives à un t é l é g r a m m e qu'ils s'apprêtaient à e n v o y e r au Sultan Vahdettin. Raif E f e n d i prêchait en f a v e u r d e la m o d é r a t i o n parce qu'il craignait q u e le S u l t a n , par réaction, ne c o n f i e le p o u v o i r à des p e r s o n n a l i t é s e n c o r e plus suspectes q u e D a m a t Ferit, telles q u e Sadik Bey ou Ali Kemal. M a i s il s'attira des réponses très vives. Fazil Paça : "Les dés sont jetés, il nous f a u t recourir à la force. A v e c des mots, on n ' a r r i v a nulle part". Mazhar

Mufit : "Je considère

ce t é l é g r a m m e c o m m e une d e m a n d e d e grâce ; il est naturel qu'il reste, c o m m e tous les autres, sans réponse. Il faut q u e n o u s f a s s i o n s savoir (au Sultan) dès à présent ce que nous ferons dans ce c a s . . . " A u terme des débats il f u t décidé de d e m a n d e r à Vahdettin la révocation d e D a m a t Ferit et d e faire savoir qu'en cas d e refus le m o u v e m e n t national suivrait son c o u r s . 2 O u t r e les p r o c è s - v e r b a u x du C o n g r è s de Sivas, n o u s p o s s é d o n s aussi c e u x d ' u n e série d e r é u n i o n s d u C o m i t é R e p r é s e n t a t i f (Heyet-i


tenues à Sivas entre le 16 et le 2 8 octobre 1919, avec la participation des c h e f s d e s c o r p s d ' a r m é e . 3 La q u e s t i o n la plus i m p o r t a n t e d é b a t t u e lors d e ces réunions était celle d e savoir si l ' A s s e m b l é e devait siéger à Istanbul ou, pour des raisons de sécurité, en Anatolie. Du fait q u e le G o u v e r n e m e n t et le Palais étaient c o n t r e la réunion de l ' A s s e m b l é e en A n a t o l i e , le projet d e M u s t a f a K e m a l , et d e ceux qui p e n c h a i e n t c o m m e lui en f a v e u r d e la d e u x i è m e solution, prenait des d i m e n s i o n s révolutionnaires. Il ne faisait a u c u n d o u t e en e f f e t q u e si l ' A s s e m b l é e se réunissait en A n a t o l i e le G o u v e r n e m e n t et le Palais useraient de leur pouvoir d e dissolution, ce qui conduirait i m m a n q u a b l e m e n t l ' A s s e m b l é à se dresser c o n t r e une telle décision et à s'engager dans la voie d e la révolte ouverte. Il y avait tout lieu de penser, au reste, q u e le Sénat, traditionnellement f a v o r a b l e au g o u v e r n e m e n t , n'accepterait j a m a i s d e se réunir en Anatolie. Or, la constitution précisait que les deux C h a m b r e s — celle des d é p u t é s et celle des s é n a t e u r s — d e v a i e n t obligatoirement siéger en m ê m e t e m p s (art. 4 3 , révision de 1914). C o n v o q u e r l ' A s s e m b l é en A n a t o l i e c'était d o n c courir à la c r i s e c o n s t i t u t i o n n e l l e . C e dernier point allait être souligné par Siireyya Bey : "Si le Sénat ne se rend pas

' u i u g Igdemir, op. cit., pp. 78-80. 2



p. 89.

U l u g Igdemir, Heyet-i Temsiliye Tutanaklari Ankara. Tiirk Tarih Kurumu Yay.. 1975.

( P r o c è s - v e r b a u x du C o m i t é représentatif).




en Anatolie, et il ne s'y rendra sûrement pas, on ne pourra guère parler d'une Assemblée de députés, il s'agira d'une force nationale." 1 L'autre alternative était de réunir l'Assemblée à Istanbul. Mais Mustafa Kemal et ses camarades ne pouvaient naturellement pas envisager de se rendre dans la capitale ottomane car ils y seraient tombés entre les mains des Anglais. Les risque était grand, dès lors, de voir les députés d'Anatolie, privés de leurs chefs, se laisser récupérer par le Palais. Mustafa Kemal mit très nettement l'accent sur cet aspect des choses au cours d'une des réunions du Comité Représentatif : "Hakki Bey a peur d'éventuels revirements. Il a parfaitement raison. Vasif Bey était un camarade en qui nous avions confiance. Mais nous avons vu qu'il a beaucoup changé depuis qu'il est à Istanbul. Les députés, qu'ils le veuillent ou non, se laisseront aller." 2 Mustafa Kemal était persuadé que la vie à Istanbul amollirait les députés. "J'avais même décidé", déclara-t-il un jour à ses camarades du Comité Représentatif, "de faire tuer ceux qui changeraient d'opinion. Je vous ai déjà fait connaître ma pensée à ce propos. Il faut absolument créer une organisation là-bas, et c'est à nous de le faire". 3 Il semble que cette organisation était destinée tant à protéger les députés qu'à les empêcher de "s'amollir". Kâzim Pa§a, qui n'appréciait pourtant pas les méthodes terroristes, était du même avis que Mustafa Kemal : "Notre organisation fut créé par la force. Nous avons menacé beaucoup de gens. À l'Assemblée, en raison de la liberté de parole, nous aurons beaucoup d'opposants." 4 Cette question devait être à nouveau évoquée au cours d'une autre séance du Comité Représentatif : "Kâzim Pasa : Lors de nos congrès, nous avons dit que les forces qui s'opposaient à nous étaient illégales et nous les avons écrasées. Nous avions raison d'agir ainsi. Est-ce que nous allons, cette fois encore, écraser les opposants? Bekir Sami Bey : L'opposition, c'est un droit naturel. Kûzim Pa$a : L'Assemblée des Députés est réunie, le Comité représentatif peut continuer...

'ujug Igdemir, op. cit., p. 7. Ibid„ p. 17. 3 Ihid„ p. 24. 4 Ibid„ p. 31. 2





Mustafa Kemal : Le problème qui se pose est celui de l'existence m ê m e d e l ' o r g a n i s a t i o n n a t i o n a l e . Si l'on dit q u e le C o m i t é représentatif n'a qu'à continuer... Kâum Paça : Aujourd'hui, l'organisation nationale se présente c o m m e une autre forme de l'armée et, à l'exemple d e l'armée, elle est partout. Il faut qu'elle reste au centre du pays. Si elle se réunit à Istanbul, elle se transformera en un parti politique." 1 Rauf Bey f o r m u l e r a un avis c o m p a r a b l e : "Le principal atout du Comité Représentatif et de l'Association des Droits nationaux, c'est la force matérielle. Notre organisation commande les forces armées. C'est sur ce point qu'on va nous attaquer." 2 La lutte nationale, on le voit, est incontestablement a n i m é e d'un souffle révolutionnaire. Les membres du Comité représentatif n'hésitent pas à proclamer que leur m o u v e m e n t est basé sur la lutte a r m é e et les f o r c e s militaires. Les procès-verbaux du Comité conservent plusieurs interventions allant dans le même sens. Ainsi, lorsqu'il fut question de savoir s'il fallait résister contre les forces de l'Entente et si la nation devait participer à un tel mouvement, Bekir Sami Bey déclara : "C'est aux chefs des corps d'armée qu'il appartient de décider de la marche à suivre, et il est superflu d e continuer à parler de cela." 3 De même, lorsqu'il fut question de l'attitude à adopter face aux résolutions de la Conférence de la Paix, Rauf Bey intervint en ces termes : "Si vous permettez, j e dirai qu'il faut que vous commenciez, vous, les officiers, par prendre une décision. Ensuite, nous pourrons en débattre. ( . . . ) N o u s pourrons discuter de l'aspect formel des choses." 4 Il ressort clairement des diverses interventions que nous venons d e citer que le Comité représentatif considérait les civils avec une certaine suspicion et attribuait le rôle essentiel, dans l'animation de la lutte nationale, à l'armée et à ses officiers. 5 Il convient toutefois de remarquer, pour rendre justice aux civils, que les commandants militaires envisageaient pour la plupart le m o u v e m e n t en cours c o m m e un prolongement de la révolution de 1908. Dès qu'il f u t évident que Mustafa Kemal s'orientait vers la mise en place d'une République, certains d'entre eux n'hésitèrent pas à l'abandonner. Du côté des civils, au contraire, on trouve des personnalités telles que Mazhar Miifit ou Hakki Behiç qui se déclarèrent dès le début prêtes à accompagner Mustafa Kemal jusqu'au bout du processus révolutionnaire.

' Ibid., p. 52. 2

Ibid„ p. 55.




p. 82.

L e s membres du Comité représentatif discutèrent longuement du partage des rôles entre civils et militaires. Cf. à ce propos U. igdemir, op. cit., pp. 64-73. 5 C f . à ce propos S. Akçin, op. cit.. p. 601.





Parmi les divers problèmes que le Comité représentatif eut à aborder au cours de ses débats figure également, en bonne place, la question du rôle qu'il convenait d'assigner à la future Assemblée. Il est frappant de constater que les membres du Comité représentatif utilisaient volontiers, en la matière, la terminologie forgée par les révolutionnaires français. C'est ainsi, notamment, que Hakki Behiç Bey—qui souhaitait q u e les députés se réunissent en Anatolie—affirma dès la deuxième séance de travail du Comité que la future assemblée serait nécessairement une "assemblée révolutionnaire" (le terme qu'il utilisait était celui d ' " a s a m b l e " , directement emprunté au français), puisqu'elle se trouverait en conflit et avec le Gouvernement et avec le Sénat. "Ce sera une assemblée de période de crise, et elle devra prendre en main le destin de la nation." 1 Prenant la parole tout de suite après Hakki Behiç, Haydar Bey soutint pour sa part qu'il n'appartenait pas au Comité représentatif de convoquer une telle assemblée. Selon lui, la décision devait être prise par les députés eux-mêmes, sans quoi le pouvoir considérerait la chose comme une "déclaration de guerre". La question essentielle qui se posait, naturellement, était de savoir comment le Gouvernement et le Sénat réagiraient à une éventuelle réunion de l'assemblée en Anatolie. Haydar Bey estimait que si le Sénat et le Gouvernement refusaient de rejoindre l'Assemblée, cette dernière serait une "Assemblée constituante." 2 Le terme qu'il utilisait, Meclis-i Miiessisan, n'était pas une expression française, mais comme il n'existe pas dans l'histoire ottomane d'exemple d'Assemblée Constituante, il pensait probablement à la transformation de l'Assemblée nationale, le 9 juillet 1789, en Assemblée nationale constituante, ou bien à VAssemblée constituante de la Révolution de 1848. La déclaration écrite que fit Bekir Sami Bey mérite également d'être mentionnée : "Sa Majesté le Sultan", peut-on y lire, "ne peut tolérer que le pouvoir législatif, dont il est l'ennemi héréditaire et naturel, ou du moins un adversaire obstiné, puisse se constituer en dehors de la capitale impériale."-' Bekir Sami Bey faisait remarquer qu'une Assemblée boycottée à la fois par le Palais, le Gouvernement et le Sénat ne pouvait être légale et qu'il faudrait la considérer comme un congrès-assemblée. Ce que l'on devait faire, selon lui, c'était demander à la nation le pouvoir de créer une Assemblée Constituante "dotée de pouvoirs extraordinaires pour changer complètement la forme du gouvernement et la structure actuelle de l'État". Cette Assemblée disposerait du pouvoir exécutif et brandirait inévitablement le drapeau de la révolte contre Istanbul en "proclamant immédiatement un Gouvernement provisoire". 4 Bekir Sami Bey plaidait, on le voit, en faveur d'un projet parfaitement

' U. jgdemir. op. cit., pp. 8-9. 2

Ibid„ pp. 9-10.


lbid., p. 151.


Ibid., p. 152.





révolutionnaire. Il soulignait cependant que le Sultan pouvait fort bien, devant une telle situation, donner, par "peur de perdre son trône et à cause de son ambition tyrannique", un chèque en blanc aux forces de l'Entente. 1 11 convient de nous arrêter un peu sur l'expression d ' "Assemblée nationale" ( M e c l i s - i Milli) employée assez f r é q u e m m e n t par le Comité représentatif. Dans la constitution de 1876, on le sait, il est question du Sénat, de la Chambre ou Assemblée des Députés et de l'Assemblée générale formée par la réunion des deux Chambres. Cette Assemblée générale ne siégeait en principe que pour écouter le discours inaugural du Sultan (art. 45). Cependant, lors des événements du 31 mars (13 avril 1909), les députés et les sénateurs avaient tenu séance ensemble à Aya Stefanos (Ye§ilkôy), sous la présidence commune de Sait Pa§a et d'Ahmet Riza. Non seulement la constitution ne prévoyait pas une telle réunion, mais encore un nouveau vocable avait vu le jour à cette occasion : celui d'Assemblée générale nationale (Meclis-i Milli-i Umumi) ou, plus brièvement, Assemblée nationale (Meclis-i Milli)} Cet événement fait penser à ce qui s'était passé en France, le 27 juin 1789, lorsque le roi Louis XVI avait donné ordre au Clergé et à la Noblesse de rejoindre l'Assemblée nationale mise sur pied dix jours auparavant. Il ne serait sans doute pas exagéré d'affirmer que la réunion d'Aya Stefanos fut une véritable révolution démocratique. Après les événements du 31 mars, le Sénat et l'Assemblée des Députés dev aient certes recommencer à siéger séparément. Mais le terme d'Assemblée nationale utilisé à Aya Stefanos s'était néanmoins maintenu dans le vocabulaire politique turc. Bien que nous n'ayons rencontré aucun indice à ce propos, il y a tout lieu de penser que ceux qui avaient imposé cette expression avaient consciemment pris pour modèle la Révolution française. Il ne faut pas oublier en effet que la plupart des Jeunes Turcs étaient de fervents admirateurs de cette révolution, m ê m e s'ils hésitaient à s'en réclamer ouvertement, de peur de passer pour des mécréants (gavur). Revenons aux discussions du Comité représentatif à Sivas. Dans une des interventions de Mustafa Kemal, nous trouvons une analyse détaillée des conséquences éventuelles d'un transfert de l'Assemblée en Anatolie. 3 Une Assemblée convoquée à Istanbul serait-elle en mesure de remplir ses "fonctions vitales"? D'après M u s t a f a K e m a l , la C h a m b r e ne pourrait fonctionner qu'à la condition d'accepter toutes les demandes des Alliés. Mais l'Entente allait sûrement imposer des conditions qui rendraient impossible "la sauvegarde de l'indépendance de la Turquie". Si l'Assemblée refusait de se soumettre aux desiderata des Alliés, elle se trouverait dans l'obligation soit de



^Cf. à ce propos Sina Ak§in, 31 Mari Bilgiler Fak. Yay., 1970, pp. 181-18.5. ^Ulug Igdemir, op. cit., pp. 15-16

Olayi (Les

é v é n e m e n t s du 31 mars), Ankara, Siyasal





se saborder, soit de se laisser dissoudre par les Anglais. Il ne fallait donc pas compter sur elle : "Une telle Assemblée ne peut s'accorder avec le but poursuivi par la nation". Restait la solution de réunir l'Assemblée en Anatolie. Dans cette hypothèse, on aurait affaire non pas à l'ancienne chambre des députés, telle qu'elle était définie par la constitution de 1876, mais à un "congrès", à une "Assemblée nationale" (en français dans le texte) qui ne disposerait pas du pouvoir exécutif. Cette Assemblée ne tarderait naturellement pas à entrer en conflit avec le Gouvernement d'Istanbul. Il faudrait alors engager la lutte contre celui-ci et, à tout prix, prendre en main "toutes les forces intérieures et le pouvoir exécutif", ce qui entraînerait la nécessité de transformer l'Assemblée en "Assemblée constituante" (en français dans le texte). Cela pourrait se réaliser si l'on invitait "un certain nombre de notables" à prendre part aux débats. Mustafa Kemal estimait cependant que les conditions n'étaient pas encore mûres pour la mise en route d'un tel processus. Ce qui frappe le plus, dans cette intervention de Mustafa Kemal, c'est le vocabulaire employé pour désigner l'éventuelle Assemblée anatolienne. Le leader du mouvement national turc utilisait en effet, nous l'avons vu, des termes français directement empruntés à la Révolution de 1789. Cela conférait un sens tout à fait révolutionnaire à son projet. Il convient de rappeler ici que la transformation, en juillet 1789, de 1' "Assemblée nationale" en une "Assemblée nationale constituante" avait représenté un tournant majeur dans le déroulement de la Révolution française, car la nouvelle Assemblée s'était clairement assigné pour but de créer un nouvel ordre dans tous les domaines. Il ne fait aucun doute que ceux qui, à Sivas, prononçaient avec insistance—en français —les termes d'Assemblée et de Constituante, avaient pleinement conscience de leur signification. Il est intéressant de noter, à cet égard, que Kâzim Karabekir Pa§a et Ali Fuat Paça—qui étaient l'un et l'autre peu favorables à une radicalisation du mouvement national—n'employaient jamais ces mots. Il semble, d'une manière générale, que certains membres du Comité représentatif tendaient à situer l'Assemblée constituante dans le cadre de la monarchie constitutionnelle, alors que d'autres, Mustafa Kemal en tête, y voyaient le point de départ d'un processus nettement plus radical. A vec l'occupation officielle d'Istanbul par les Alliés (16 mars 1920), le projet kémaliste d'assemblée révolutionnaire allait enfin trouver les conditions nécessaires à sa réalisation.





En guise de conclusion, j e voudrais é v o q u e r brièvement le p r o b l è m e d e la p é r i o d i s a t i o n de la r é v o l u t i o n kémaliste. U n historien turc, S a b a h a t t i n S e l e k , a s o u t e n u , d a n s un o u v r a g e paru il y a q u e l q u e s a n n é e s , 1 q u e l'on pouvait discerner, dans l'histoire d e la lutte nationale, deux p h a s e s distinctes. Pour la période couvrant les a n n é e s 1919 et 1920, Selek parle de "Révolution anatolienne". Les a n n é e s 1921 et 1922 sont rangées, celles, sous l'étiquette d e "Guerre d ' I n d é p e n d a n c e " . C e qui caractérise la p r e m i è r e période, aux yeux d e Selek, est le fait q u e la lutte s'y d é r o u l e essentiellement entre f o r c e s internes. La s e c o n d e période serait celle de la lutte contre l'ennemi extérieur, c'est-à-dire les G r e c s . Il c o n v i e n t d e s o u l i g n e r ici la j u s t e s s e d e l ' e x p r e s s i o n


"Révolution a n a t o l i e n n e " . La lutte qui o p p o s a , au cours d e s a n n é e s 1919 et 1920, les f o r c e s nationales au p o u v o i r o t t o m a n f u t u n e lutte très d u r e et eut effectivement un caractère révolutionnaire. T o u t e f o i s , la périodisation d e Selek est t r o m p e u s e , car elle d o n n e l'impression q u e la " R é v o l u t i o n a n a t o l i e n n e " s'acheva en 1920, avec l ' é c r a s e m e n t des diverses insurrections orchestrées par le Palais f é o d a l . En réalité, c e t t e R é v o l u t i o n n e prit n u l l e m e n t fin a v e c la d é f a i t e des f o r c e s c o n t r e - r é v o l u t i o n n a i r e s . N o u s a v o n s vu d a n s les p a g e s p r é c é d e n t e s q u e M u s t a f a K e m a l et ses c a m a r a d e s eurent, d è s le d é b u t , pour objectif d e t r a n s f o r m e r d e f o n d en c o m b l e les institutions p o l i t i q u e s d e la T u r q u i e . Il s'agissait p o u r eux non pas d e m a r q u e r leur opposition au Sultan Vahdettin et à son P r e m i e r ministre D a m a t Ferit m a i s d'abattre la m o n a r c h i e o t t o m a n e et le p o u v o i r f é o d a l q u ' e l l e r e p r é s e n t a i t . Il est é v i d e n t q u e la proclamation de la République, d e m ê m e q u e l'abolition du califat et toutes les a u t r e s m e s u r e s r é v o l u t i o n n a i r e s é d i c t é e s par M u s t a f a K e m a l , d o i v e n t être considérées








nationale-démocratique e n g a g é e en 1919. D'une manière plus générale, on peut dire q u e la Révolution a n a t o l i e n n e est un processus qui se poursuit e n c o r e de nos j o u r s .

'Sabahattin Selek, Anadolu

¡htilali (La révolution anatolienne), Istanbul, Cem Yay., 1973.


Husain, Sharif of Mecca, on the strength of an agreement with the British, embodied in the so-called MacMahon correspondence, revolted against the Ottoman government on June 10, 1916, in the middle of the Great War. Reading the Memoirs

of his son, King Abdullah, one is frequently reminded

by the writer that the quarrel of the Hashimites was not with the Ottoman state but with the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). 1 Specifically, Abdullah's quarrel is, on the one hand, with the CUP's policies of Turkish nationalism which tried to exclude the Arabs and/or to Turkicize them, and, on the other hand, with the policy of reducing the power of feudalism from the Sultan d o w n to the local Sheikh (in other words, democratization). (One i m p o r t a n t issue closely related to the latter w a s m o d e r n i z a t i o n :


H a s h i m i t e s , f o r instance, were opposed to the completion of the H i j a z railway.) H o w far Abdullah was sincere in his protestations of loyalty to the Ottoman state, w e cannot know for certain. What is clear is that the C U P was an instrument of Turkish nationalism and that, at least for s o m e time, it did try to f o l l o w a policy of Turkification which aroused reactions not only a m o n g A r a b s , but also among other M o s l e m peoples, m o s t notably the Albanians. T h e British had promised Husain to uphold Arab independence in the A r a b i c speaking lands of Asia. Mersin, Iskenderun, the L e b a n o n , and the Amirates on the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean were specifically excluded. Later, the British went on to make the Sykes-Picot agreement with the French which provided for 1) an international administration in Palestine, 2) the possibility of direct or indirect British administration or control in the Vilayets of Baghdad and Basra, and 3) the division of the region to the north of Arabia and outside the Mediterranean coastline and the t w o Vilayets into respective zones of influence. It is clear that the Sykes-Picot agreement was contrary to the a g r e e m e n t with Sharif H u s a i n . In the f a c e of such a contradiction, it w a s to be expected that Britain would have to prefer the claim of its m a j o r ally France to that of its much more minor ally Husain. However, the British, thanks to a superior bargaining position France, tried

' A b d u l l a h , Memoirs


to go back on the Sykes-Picot agreement. So-called Arab

of King Abdullah

of Transjordan

(New York, Philosophical Library, 1950).



- T U R K I S H



independence under British hegemony was preferable to sharing A r a b lands with France. This British attempt to go back on the Sykes-Picot agreement lasted until September 15, 1919, when the British agreed to evacuate Syria and Cilicia and to let the French occupy Cilicia and the coastal regions of Syria to the west of the Sykes-Picot line. Thereupon, the French occupied Mara§, Ayintap at the end of October, and Urfa on the first day of November. Though the British were evacuating the region, they were in fact leaving behind important forces of resistance. This was, on the one hand, the force of Turkish nationalism, and, on the other hand, the force of Syrian nationalism, led by their close friend and ally, Faisal. The Anglo-French agreement signified that the British government, after important modifications respecting Mosul and Palestine, seemed to have finally acquiesced in the application of the Sykes-Picot agreement. I say seemed, because though this w a s the official policy at Whitehall, on the scene of action, the behavior of British officials continued to give encouragement to Faisal. This situation continued with various ups and downs until the French ultimatum (July 14, 1920) and the battle of Khan Maisalun (July 24, 1920) which forced Faisal and many of his supporters to abandon Syria. The aim of this paper is to describe some of the contacts established between Syria and Turkey during the period between the Armistice of Mudros (October 30, 1918) and the battle of Khan Maisalun. Husain, his sons and their followers had risen against the Ottoman state in order to create an independent A r a b state. W h e n it b e c a m e clear that the Entente was preparing to impose its own rule in the f o r m of the mandate system after having cut up the whole region in small pieces, many Arabs, including Faisal himself, began to think of cooperating with the Turks in a common struggle for independence and territorial integrity. Probably the earliest contact took place on N o v e m b e r 3, 1918. A British delegation headed by a British general was in K a t m a , at the headquarters of the 7th Ottoman A r m y to discuss matters relating to the application of the armistice. Nuri Said w a s a m e m b e r of the British delegation, presumably representing Faisal. Nuri Said, himself a f o r m e r Ottoman officer, gave to Major O m e r Halis, his classmate f r o m the Ottoman W a r College and a m e m b e r of the Ottoman delegation, a secret letter. This letter, purportedly written without the knowledge of the British, was to be transmitted to izzet Pa§a, the Ottoman Grand Vizier, and called for a Moslem federation embracing Arabs and Turks. Ali Fuat Cebesoy, w h o was at that time commander at Katma and from whose memoirs we learn of the incident, dismissed the a f f a i r as a British ploy. C e b e s o y does not tell us w h o s e signature the letter bore. 1

' a . F. Cebesoy, Milll Mucade/e


(Istanbul, Vatan Ne§riyati, 1953), pp. 28-9.




Later contacts c a m e in the second half of 1919. A c c o r d i n g to a British d o c u m e n t , a report dated J u l y 24, 1919, Faisal and t h e O t t o m a n S u l t a n , V a h d e t t i n , w e r e e n g a g e d in n e g o t i a t i o n s . T h e i n t e r m e d i a r y w a s the f o r m e r Mutasarrif of Kerek (probably K e r a k in J o r d a n ) Essad B e y , a m e m b e r of the C U P , w h o c o m m u n i c a t e d with C e m a l Pasa, c o m m a n d e r in K o n y a . C e m a l , w h o c a m e to Istanbul, w a s said to be bearing an autograph letter f r o m Faisal to the Sultan, a s s u r i n g h i m of his d e v o t i o n and fidelity. C e m a l a p p a r e n t l y p e r s o n a l l y h a n d e d t h e letter to t h e Sultan. A n o t h e r a g e n t c o n f i r m e d this i n f o r m a t i o n . On July 21, t h e Sultan c o n f e r r e d with the c a b i n e t a b o u t this letter and a reply w a s prepared. C e m a l Pa§a w a s to carry the reply and w a s given secret instructions. 1 T h e r e is no i n f o r m a t i o n w h a t s o e v e r in T u r k i s h sources to c o n f i r m the contents of this report. W e only k n o w that C e m a l did l e a v e K o n y a on leave on the 1st of J u l y 1919 to c o m e to Istanbul. H o w e v e r , t h e S u l t a n a n d his g o v e r n m e n t could not view him with m u c h f a v o r b e c a u s e they k n e w that he had j o i n e d M u s t a f a K e m a l ' s resistance m o v e m e n t . 2 C e m a l w a s a c c o r d i n g l y dismissed f r o m his c o m m a n d and remained in Istanbul. A good part of the e l e m e n t s in this report reappear again in a d o c u m e n t in t h e F r e n c h a r c h i v e s . 3 W i l l i a m Y a l e , w h o w o r k e d w i t h t h e A m e r i c a n K i n g - C r a n e C o m m i s s i o n w h i c h m a d e a tour of investigation in t h e M i d d l e East, got hold of the text of a Turkish-Syrian a g r e e m e n t w h i c h h e reported on S e p t e m b e r 15, 1919. T h e a g r e e m e n t itself, c o n s i s t i n g of n i n e articles, is p u r p o r t e d to h a v e been signed by Faisal and M u s t a f a K e m a l , m a d e in t w o copies and e x c h a n g e d in A l e p p o on J u n e 16, 1919, through the good o f f i c e s of E s s a d B e y , M u t a s a r r i f of K e r e k (art. 9). A r t i c l e 1 d e c l a r e d that t h e t w o contracting parties, the Turkish and the noble A r a b nations, viewed with regret the division in the M o s l e m world and considered it their sacred duty to end this division and e n s u r e the cooperation of the t w o nations in o r d e r to d e f e n d the religion and the f a t h e r l a n d . A t that m o m e n t w h e n the i n d e p e n d e n c e of the T u r k s w a s in d a n g e r b e c a u s e f o r e i g n e r s w a n t e d to partition Iraq, Palestine, Syria and c o n t i g u o u s areas, they had decided to proclaim holy w a r f o l l o w i n g the C o n f e r e n c e of Paris (art. 2). In order to a c h i e v e this aim, t h e t w o parties declared they would never recognize the partition of the Turkish E m p i r e and A r a b i a and its o c c u p a t i o n by f o r e i g n e r s (art. 3). O n c o n d i t i o n that A r a b i a would r e m a i n b o u n d to the O t t o m a n E m p i r e and that she w o u l d be loyal to the Caliphate, the Ottoman g o v e r n m e n t would recognize the f o r m a t i o n of a

'public Record Office (PRO), FO 371/4233, 117548. G. Jaeschke, Turk Kurtuluç Savagi Kronolojisi (Ankara, TTK, 1970), p. 48; K. Ataturk, Nutuk (Ankara, TITE, 19(60), pp. 48-9. s. Ministère des Affaires Étrangères (MAE), Levant, vol. 142, pp. 145-7. 2





g o v e r n m e n t in the regions of Hijaz, M e d i n a , Iraq, Palestine, D a m a s c u s , Beirut, Aleppo under the sovereignty of "Cherif Hussein Pacha". T h e details of this arrangement were to be fixed later by an alliance (art. 4). In the territories under the occupation of the Sharifian army, the name of the Sultan would again be mentioned in the hutba (art. 5). In order to start the holy war and to ensure the union of Turks, the Sharif would issue a proclamation concerning the attitude taken by foreigners against Islam. T o prepare the holy war, he would on the one hand call on the sheikhs and chiefs and m a k e alliances with them, and on the other, he would form organizations like those in Anatolia. The forces thus prepared would be absolutely prepared to start the holy war when the signal was given (art. 6). The Sharif would aid the national forces of Anatolia to the greatest possible extent and both parties undertook to aid each other in offensive and defense until the realization of the projected aims (art. 7). T h e Sharif would inform of this a g r e e m e n t not only the M o s l e m s of Hijaz, but also I m a m Y a h y a , Sayid Idris, the M o s l e m s of Tripoli, Bingazi, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, India and do his utmost to win them over to a general movement (art. 8). This agreement is also mentioned in a British report. 1 However, there is no evidence of it whatsoever in Turkish sources, thus bringing to mind the likelihood of its spuriousness. This probability can also be deduced from the fact that on 16th of J u n e 1919, Mustafa Kemal was as yet in no position to speak, let alone sign a document, on behalf of anybody else. Not only does this date precede the Congresses of Erzurum (July 23) and Sivas (September 4) where leagues for the defense of rights were formed, but it is also before he had formed with five other senior officers a secret military group at A m a s y a on J u n e 20-22. T h e reaction that K a z i m Karabekir, militarily the most powerful general in this military group, was to show later to m u c h m o r e limited contacts with Syrian nationalists is also proof of the fact that such far-reaching engagements as those embodied in the agreement would not have gone unnoticed. W e are thus forced to conclude that the document in question was invented, either by Turkish and/or Arab nationalists. 2 T h e former case is much more likely, because the agreement refers to the independence of the Turks without mentioning the Arabs (art. 2), to the "Turkish" rather than to the Ottoman Empire (art. 3), and to Sharif Husain as "Pacha" rather than King (art. 4). The aim in concocting such a document would be to try to make the Entente powers fear the consequences of driving the Turks and the Arabs to extremities. 3

•PRO, FO 371/4215, 2404 (p. 399). 6/10/1919. French intelligence sources too. did not take the M. Kemal-Faisal agreement seriously. MAE, vol. 91, p. 116. ^Various intelligence reports about a Pan-Islamic congress in Sivas also tend to give the impression of spuriousness. One instance is a report (20/11/1919) that a delegation from Hussein was about to arrive at Sivas (as well as delegations from Azerbaijan and Afghanistan). MAE, vol. 91, pp. 161-4. Another (17/9/1919) was about the participation at the same congress of six Syrians and the decision taken by that body to revolt against foreign occupation. MAE, vol 142 p. 176. A third report was about the presence of Azemzade Hussein Pasha as representative of Syria at Sivas. PRO. FO 371/4162, 17468 (2/1/1920). 2

T U R K I S H - S Y R I A N



Later, with the Anglo-French agreement of September 15, 1919, real contacts began. The replacement of British troops by French troops was one of the major blows to Arab illusions. The Syrians could view British occupation with less misgiving because, after all, the British Army could be considered an ally of the Sharifian forces. France, on the other hand, had for long entertained colonial ambitions in Syria, so that there could be no mistaking the significance of a French occupation long after the war had ended. Rising discontent in Syria was reported in a long telegram (16/17 October 1919) of Cevdet Bey, commander at Diyarbakir, to Mustafa Kemal. He reported that the Syrians were against any kind of foreign protectorate and desired the independence of all Arab lands under the Sharif. However, Cevdet thought that such a scheme was not realizable and called for a confederation under the Caliph which would comprise different Arab countries. These countries would each be represented by a crescent on the flag of the confederation. 1 According to a secret British report by agent "H" dated October 24, 1919, Azemzade Yusuf was expected in Istanbul together with Jamal Naser, ex-governor of Hauran, to conduct negotiations with the Ottoman government. The Porte was to be represented by Cemal Pa§a, Minister of War, and Izzet Pa§a, former Premier. 2 So far, I am not aware of any confirmation of this report. On the 15th of December, 1919, Lieutenant Colonel Shakir Nimet, a former Ottoman staff officer who was at the head of the national resistance organization in Aleppo, telegraphed Mustafa Kemal, calling for close Turkish-Syrian military cooperation and Syrian independence (Palestine included) with some form of link with the Caliphate or with both the Caliphate and the Sultanate. 3 'Atatiirk, vol. Ill, p. 1104 (doc. 156c). Cevdet himself w a s of Arab origin. 2

F O 371/4160, 151996. A z e m z a d e Yusuf should be Yusuf el-Azma, Faisal's defense minister. E. Kedourie, England and the Middle East (London, Bowes, 1956), p. 171. ^Sahir Uzel, Gaziantep Sava^imn / f Yiizii (Ankara, 1952), pp. 103-4. On page 103 the date is given as 15 January 1919. On the next page the date of the telegram is 15 December and the date of receipt 19 December. It seems rather certain that the latter date is correct. Jaeschke's date of 15 November appears to be a mistake (p. 76). Nimet says that thanks to his efforts two patriotic organizations have been formed in Aleppo, one being secret, the other open. Their aim was the expulsion of foreigners and cooperation with Turkish patriots. Nimet proposed that he should be given the c o m m a n d of the National F o r c e s at Mara§, A y i n t a p and Kilis. and m a i n t a i n e d that if h e w e r e s u c c e s s f u l in r e p u l s i n g the F r e n c h i n v a s i o n , the national organizations in Syria would join the national m o v e m e n t in Turkey. Nimet wanted to know what sort of f u t u r e Turkish nationalists envisaged f o r Syria, and whether they had any foreign support (if so, whose support?). He proposed to c o m e to Pazarcik (Mara§) in 15 days to await instructions. Uzel maintains that Nimet was not sincere and that despite the sending of three secret delegations inviting him (upon instructions f r o m M u s t a f a Kemal), he did not come. But he also says that he did not receive an answer to his telegrams addressed to Kemal. Gokbilgin gives the text of a telegram to Kemal signed with a code name, which he thinks was sent by Nimet. T. Gokbilgin, Milli Mucadele Ba^larken (Ankara, I§ Bankasi Y., 1965), vol. II, pp. 383-4. Robeck, the British High Commissioner in Istanbul, reported on 18 N o v e m b e r 1919 that M. Kemal was seeking an agreement with the Arabs. Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919-1939, First Series (ed. E.L. Woodward and R. Butler), vol. IV (London, H M S O , 1952), p. 895.





Another contact of local significance was a letter by the Sheikh of the Shamar tribe, Mesh'al, written to the Ottoman authorities (dated December 21, 1919) asserting that the people of Dair al-Zor wanted Ottoman rule and not the rule of unbelievers (either British or French), that this was a sentiment shared by Aleppo and D a m a s c u s too, and that with s o m e help f r o m the Ottoman army, they could easily throw out the British. 1 According to a British intelligence report of January 9, 1920, the Ottoman g o v e r n m e n t was sending Zeki Bey, naval o f f i c e r , and Colonel Mahmud Bey to Mecca for talks there. 2 Again, I am not aware of a source that confirms the existence of this mission. On February 4 , 1 9 2 0 , the Ottoman cabinet discussed a letter written on behalf of a "serious body" of Moslem and non-Moslem notables. 3 This letter, secretly brought to the Ottoman C o n s u l a t e in Zurich by t w o Syrians, complained of the unjust treatment of the French and the British in the areas under their occupation which threatened to destroy the national and economic life of the country . They therefore called for a return to Ottoman rule under a regime of complete internal autonomy. A General Assembly elected by the people, would elect for a period of five years an administrator bearing the title of Governor-General or any other appropriate title. His o f f i c e would be c o n f i r m e d by the Caliph. Local revenues, including postal and c u s t o m s revenues, would be locally spent, but Syria would pay a yearly tax to the Ottoman government. Militarily and "in other respects" — presumably, in foreign relations — Syria would depend on the Ottoman government. T h e letter asked that the Ottoman representatives at the Peace Conference propose this settlement, and that, if there should be any hesitation as to Syrian opinion, that an international c o m m i s s i o n should organize a plebiscite in Syria. From the republican principle embodied in the proposal, one can guess, probably with a high degree of certainty, that the proposal emanated f r o m anti-Sharifian Syrian circles. It is difficult to imagine that Faisal could have

' G o k b i l g i n , vol. II, pp. 389-92. Another pro-Ottoman tribal chief was A j e m i Pasha f r o m Iraq. Ataturk'iin Tamim, Telgrafve Beyannameleri, IV (Ankara, T I T E Y., 1964), p. 38. 2

F O 371/4162, 174171. The same report states that it was understood that the Arabic newspaper Erden was subsidized by M. Kemal and that the Sultan objected to this subsidy on the grounds that its p a y m e n t dishonored the Caliphate in A r a b eyes. In one of the resolutions of the Representative Committee of the Association for the Defense of Rights of Anatolia and Rumeli (the organization f o r m e d and led by M u s t a f a Kemal) dated 11 December 1919, mention is m a d e of a Lieutenant Zeki. A p p a r e n t l y he c a m e to Istanbul as the delegate of a Syrian organization called the Turcophile C o m m i t t e e (Turk Muhibbi Komitesi) headed by Y a h y a Hayati Bey. T h e resolution states that the Representative Committee had no contacts with the Syrian organization, that direct talks with the French were contrary to their interests and that the policy to be followed would be the creation of an independent Arab government with which union could later be achieved in a confederation. B.S. Baykal, Heyet-i Temsiliye Kararlan (Ankara, T T K Y.. 1974), p. 75. One wonders the connection, if any, between the Turcophile Committee and the "serious body of notables" mentioned below. 3 Ba§bakanlik Ar§ivi, Meclis-i Viikela Mazbatalari, vol. 218.




a c c e p t e d the p r i n c i p l e of election. T h e r o u n d a b o u t and very secret w a y of c o m m u n i c a t i n g t h e d o c u m e n t can also be c o n s i d e r e d an indication in this direction. T h e O t t o m a n c a b i n e t considered the proposal to b e in c o n f o r m i t y with O t t o m a n interests and instructed the Foreign Ministry to act accordingly. W e n o w c o m e to military contacts and military c o o p e r a t i o n between T u r k e y and S y r i a . In c o n f o r m i t y with t h e A n g l o - F r e n c h a g r e e m e n t of S e p t e m b e r 15, 1919, at t h e b e g i n n i n g of N o v e m b e r , t h e British started to w i t h d r a w f r o m Cilicia and Syria. In Cilicia they w e r e r e p l a c e d by F r e n c h troops. B e c a u s e the French w e r e u n d e r s t o o d to h a v e c o m e to stay, and also b e c a u s e t h e y t o l e r a t e d , w h e n t h e y did not a c t u a l l y e n c o u r a g e , A r m e n i a n terrorism, a r m e d resistance soon b e g a n , especially in Mara§, U r f a , A d a n a and A y i n t a p . T h i s r e s i s t a n c e w a s t h e w o r k of m i l i t i a g r o u p s , t h e s o - c a l l e d National Forces. T h e National F o r c e s had the unofficial but direct support both of t h e national m o v e m e n t led by M u s t a f a K e m a l and of the O t t o m a n g o v e r n m e n t s of Ali R i z a Pa§a and Salih Pa§a. In this b l o o d y struggle, the support of Syrian nationalists w a s of vital importance. Faisal and the Syrian nationalists, having been abandoned

t o t h e m e r c y of F r a n c e



A n g l o - F r e n c h a g r e e m e n t , w e r e in f a v o r of s u p p o r t i n g t h e s t r u g g l e of the T u r k s , and later t h e m s e l v e s actively e n g a g e d in the s a m e s t r u g g l e w h i c h culminated in the tragic defeat at K h a n Maisalun. Y a s i n a l - H a s h i m i , w h o w a s in c l o s e r e l a t i o n s with t h e T u r k s , w a s arrested on N o v e m b e r 22, 1919 a n d i n t e r n e d in P a l e s t i n e . 1 A circular by M u s t a f a K e m a l , dated January 24, 1920, reported that there w e r e 6 6 7 0 French and A r m e n i a n troops in Cilicia. T h e A r a b g o v e r n m e n t , on the o t h e r hand, had a division centered around A l e p p o and M u s l i m i y e . In the vilayet of A l e p p o , a n a t i o n a l o r g a n i z a t i o n had b e e n c r e a t e d w i t h t h e f i r m i n t e n t i o n of not abandoning the Ottoman c o m m o n w e a l t h , c o m e what may. T h e division c o m m a n d e r , L i e u t e n a n t - C o l o n e l E m i n B e y and the D i r e c t o r of P o l i c e at A l e p p o , Staff Lieutenant-Colonel Shakir N i m e t Bey belonged to the national organization. T h e y had been sent a c i p h e r to be able to c o r r e s p o n d directly with the T u r k i s h authorities. In the f a c e of French o c c u p a t i o n , a "national a c t i o n " w o u l d p r o b a b l y be n e c e s s a r y . In this case, t h e national f o r c e s of A l e p p o , a f t e r securing the directions of i s k e n d e r u n , L a t a k i a h , D o r t y o l and H o r n s , w o u l d f o r m three strong d e t a c h m e n t s to a d v a n c e , e a c h one, in the direction of C e y h a n , Islahiye, and A y i n t a p . 2 In this s a m e m o n t h of J a n u a r y , w e learn that t h e railway b e t w e e n A l e p p o and i s k e n d e r u n w a s d a m a g e d to h a m p e r French troop m o v e m e n t s . 3

^Kedourie, pp. 170-1. According to a report by a " M o s l e m agent" w h o visited Ankara, a deputation f r o m Yasin Pasha had come there, calling f o r assistance to drive the French out of Syria. FO 371/5043, E. 1357/3144. 2 Ataturk'un Tamim..., p. 169-71. Kedourie, p. 171.



- T U R K I S H



On November 29, 1919, Mara§ had revolted against French occupation. This bloody struggle ended with the evacuation and retreat of the French on February 12, 1920. Three days later, Mustafa Kemal sent a circular where he stressed the importance of Islahiye, both as a point of access to Mara§ and as a point of contact with the National Forces of Aleppo and Damascus w h o had many times called for common action. H e then repeated for Shakir Nimet Bey, the instructions he had sent already to the chiefs of the A l e p p o National Organization, the General Assembly of Ottoman Forces Defending Syria and Palestine (in D a m a s c u s ) , the Cairo V o l u n t e e r Division, the A m m a n ( ? ) Circassian Division (Shefik Bey). In these instructions, M u s t a f a K e m a l asserts that the proposition to secure, through united action, the independence of Syria, Iraq and Turkey and f o r m a confederation or some other f o r m of union later to be decided upon, had been accepted and detailed instructions had been sent. However, no answer having been received, it was deemed necessary to repeat these in summary: to defend Damascus with the forces in Hauran, Damascus and Baalbek at the Zeydani (?) pass; to threaten the enemy's action towards the interior, f r o m Saida and Beirut, with the forces at A m m a n (?) Marjaioun; to foment insurrections in Beirut and Tripoli, thus preventing the advance of the enemy towards the interior; the forces at Homs to defend Homs in the direction of Tripoli while at; the same time aiding Zeydani (?). These operations depended on the degree of preparation. However, the Turkish forces having started their own operation to eliminate the French and Armenian occupation forces interposed between the Turkish and A r a b nations, the i m m e d i a t e following action by the A l e p p o - H a m a forces was considered necessary: these forces, after securing Hama and Aleppo in the direction of Latakiah and iskenderun, should move their major forces in the direction of Islahiye and their secondary forces in the direction of Ayintap-Osmaniye, thus encircling the enemy. 1 In M a r c h , Maulud Mukhlis, C o m m a n d e r in Dair al-Zor, sent an emissary to the Turkish c o m m a n d e r in Mardin, w h o sent him 100 cases of light arms and 500 artillery shells. A plan was m a d e to help the Turks by resisting French troops and destroying bridges and communications between

1 Atatiirk'un Tamim..., pp. 201-3. General K a z i m Karabekir, w h o c o m m a n d e d the strongest Army Corps at the time, objected strongly to this circular in a telegram dated February 22, 1920. He thought that it was improper for their organization, the Association for the Defense of Rights of Anatolia and Rumeli, to make commitments that only a government was entitled to make, and especially at a time when a democratic parliament was functioning. Secondly, he thought that this action w a s outside the "national decision", and that all action should be confined to the p u r p o s e of the Arabs securing their o w n i n d e p e n d e n c e . T h i r d l y , the sending of written instructions, and the circulation of this telegram down to the divisional level, was imprudent and increased the risk of its falling in F r e n c h hands, w h i c h , w o u l d be an u n f o r t u n a t e and compromising eventuality. Mustafa Kemal's answer was sent the next day. He thought that the policy of cooperating with the Arabs was likely to f o r c e the French to compromise. Certain French overtures, like those of Picot and Admiral Le Bon were indications in this sense. A s to contacts with the Arabs, the government itself had started them and had charged ismet Bey with this duty. T h e instructions sent to Syria had been prepared by Ismet himself. T h e possibility of their falling in French hands had been considered a useful eventuality. Lastly, the "National Pact" (Misak-t Milli) of the Assembly had not excluded territories outside the armistice line, nor had the g o v e r n m e n t declared Arab territories to be outside the national b o u n d a r i e s . K. Karabekir, jstiklal Harbimiz (Istanbul. Turkiye Y „ 1960), pp. 478-81.





Syria and Turkey. In June 1920, the local authorities in H o m s and Baalbek stopped the dispatch of arms to the French troops in the north. T h e government of Damascus approved these measures, but under pressure f r o m General G o u r a u d , was forced to countermand them. At this time, Yusuf el-Azma, Faisal's defense minister, went to the Turkish border and proposed military cooperation with Turkey. 1 It is probable that this visit is related to the Turkish-Arab agreement for cooperation which was signed in Kilis on July 3, 1920 (described below). 2 T h e French invasion of Syria in July and the ensuing flight of Faisal terminated the period under discussion. It also put an end to Syrian-Turkish cooperation. This cooperation

might have continued

with a


underground resistance movement. However, France had for some time already started moving in the direction of a major change of policy which consisted of the renunciation of its claims in territory that was being claimed by the Turkish national movement. This renunciation was to be consecrated by the Franco-Turkish agreement of October 20, 1921. T h e change of French policy made Turkish-Syrian cooperation very difficult and was inaugurated, at least partly, to secure this aim. This is not the place to describe and analyze at length F r a n c e ' s change of policy. However, it might be useful to consider three documents to show how the French were thinking.

' K e d o u r i e , p. 171. This s a m e source quotes Sati 1 al-Husri w h o explains that Syrian action provided Turks with valuable help (pp. 171-2). A c c o r d i n g to Ph. David ( U n Gouvernement Krabe ä Damas, Paris, 1923), Faisal, finding himself squeezed between the French and "his turbulent officers", proposed in May to Gouraud to extend military aid against the T u r k s if certain territories under French occupation were added to the Sharifian zone. But apparently this was "a vain and useless activity" because the French were losing patience, and anyway, Faisal was not in the position to be able to persuade his followers in this sense. In Kedourie, p. 172.1 don't know if this information is confirmed by other sources. 2

C e b e s o y mentions a Yusuf Pasha, originally a staff major in the Ottoman A r m y , as head of the national organization of Damascus. Various f o r m s of cooperation were effected through him. He died, fighting against the French. Cebesoy, pp. 255-6. This Yusuf Pasha may be Yusuf al-Azma. Uzel gives the text of the secret agreement which was signed at the conclusion of a conference held at the village of Kefergani in Kilis, between Polat Bey, c o m m a n d e r of the Kilis National Forces and the Inspector of Gendarmerie Jamil Lutfi Bey, representing Yasin Pasha, his brother the Syrian General Director of Police, Staff Lieut.-Col. Taha Bey, and Iraq and its Congress (?). Jamil B e y called for an alliance in every domain and f o r the creation of an extraordinary war council c o m p o s e d of nine representatives representing Syria, Iraq and Turkey, with full powers for the conduct of war against the c o m m o n enemy, to be waged until their expulsion. H e also called for military and financial aid f r o m T u r k e y to its two Arab neighbors. In the agreement it was decided that the necessity for the creation of such a body would be referred to the Grand National Assembly (art. 1). T h e Syrian government would be urged to provide the Kilis National Forces with two mountain cannons and four machine guns (art. 2). Military information, bandits and traitors would be exchanged (art. 3, 4, 6). French and Armenian military transportation was to be disrupted (art. 5). T h e National Forces were to be allowed to buy munitions in Syria (art. 7). The rest of the agreement was about the coordination of Syrian and T u r k i s h activity. Uzel tells us that a f t e r this a g r e e m e n t , m o b i l e groups commanded by persons such as Ibrahim Henana, Nejib Uveyt, Asim were f o r m e d in Syria. He also mentions as prominent fighters, Özdemir, Bedri (bearded), Bedri (of Damascus), M a j o r Mahmut Bey. Üzel, pp. 99-102.





The first document is a telegram (dated February 10, 1920) by Premier Millerand to Gouraud, High Commissioner in Beirut, where he outlined French policy vis-à-vis Syria and Turkey. In Syria, an "entente loyale" with Faisal was called for, on condition that he cooperate fully and that he exercise complete authority over the Arabs. If these conditions were not fulfilled, France would be authorized to take the "indispensable" measures for the maintenance of order. The question was more delicate and risky as regards Turkish nationalism. However, Mustafa Kemal did not have many troops at his disposal and would not take a directly hostile attitude because of the war-weariness of the population and the risk of facing more severe peace terms. His game seemed to be to pose a threat without actually taking a position of enmity. However, he tolerated or could not prevent the activity of bands which c o m p l i c a t e d G o u r a u d ' s task. T h e means f o r s e n d i n g reinforcements were being examined, but demobilization made it necessary to seek political measures to diminish the risks in the region. These would be to make it known to Kemal and Ottoman nationalism that France was prepared to defend the maintenance of the Turks in Istanbul and the integrity of the Ottoman Empire (except for Arab lands which had already been renounced by the Turks, and an independent Armenia comprising of Russian Armenia and the shores of Lake Van). As to C.ilicia and the towns along the A r a b zone until Diyarbakir, according to Millerand, France would seek a formula of nominal Turkish suzerainty under French control, reinforced by most precise guarantees for minorities.' The second document is a telegram dated February 18, 1920, f r o m Gouraud to the French Foreign Ministry. He reports a conversation he had with Nuri Said, after his last conversation with Faisal. H e writes that according to the Sharifian view, French difficulties in the region were the result of deliberate British preparation. Gouraud is inclined to believe this and he cites a British order given at the time when the French were replacing British troops which forbade their rear-guards from intervening in case fighting broke out immediately after evacuation. He also mentions instructions signed by Yasin Pasha dated October 3, where, more than two months before the departure of British troops, he gave orders to form bands under the direction of Sharifian officers. According to Gouraud, if troubles occurred in Syria right at the moment when Faisal wanted to influence French policy, this was due to preparation beforehand and because of the British. The British had not renounced this policy and their insistence, in spite of his very firm answer, on returning Yasin Pasha to Damascus was an indication of this. Faisal and his supporters had been long aware of the British interest in extending an Arab curtain between the coast and the road to India. Nuri Said insisted that Faisal

' M A E , vol. 169, pp. 261-4.




w a s n o w ready to c h a n g e his policy in f a v o r of France. F r a n c e should support the creation of an undivided Sharifian state, including Hijaz, M e s o p o t a m i a and Syria.1 T h e third d o c u m e n t is also a t e l e g r a m by G o u r a u d , dated M a r c h 15, 1920. H e r e he v o i c e s a certain anxiety as to d e v e l o p m e n t s o n c e the p e a c e t e r m s w e r e m a d e k n o w n . His opinion w a s that the "settlement" of the A r a b question, which would require important f o r c e s , could only be achieved w h e n t h e d i f f i c u l t i e s in the north w e r e solved, thus permitting t h e m a s s i n g of 15 battalions in Syria. T h e situation would b e "very different" if both p r o b l e m s had to be f a c e d simultaneously. H e a n n o u n c e d that he had already telegraphed the M i n i s t r y of W a r f o r an extra division in o r d e r to tide o v e r the d i f f i c u l t period b e t w e e n the d i s c l o s u r e of the p e a c e treaty and its a c c e p t a n c e by the country.2 T h e s e d o c u m e n t s indicate the t w o p r o b l e m s which t h e F r e n c h f a c e d . T r y i n g to d o m i n a t e both Cilicia and Syria m e a n t taking on t w o e n e m i e s at the s a m e t i m e , with all t h e extra e f f o r t and b l o o d s h e d that this i n v o l v e d . F o r F r a n c e , w h i c h w a s w o r n out by the G r e a t W a r , this w o u l d h a v e been a very d i f f i c u l t a n d u n p o p u l a r d e c i s i o n to take. O n t h e o t h e r h a n d , F r a n c e w a s engaged in a keen but underhand rivalry with England. England, using G r e e c e as its satellite, was decided to w e a k e n T u r k e y as m u c h as possible. F r a n c e , to frustrate these British plans and b e c a u s e it had m a j o r e c o n o m i c and financial interests in T u r k e y , in the long run d e c i d e d to side with nationalist T u r k e y . A l s o , and n o t m e n t i o n e d by G o u r a u d , a n t a g o n i z i n g T u r k e y w o u l d m e a n driving T u r k e y into closer relations with the Soviet U n i o n , w h i c h F r a n c e at that time abhorred. T h e s e can be considered the m a j o r m o t i v e s of the F r e n c h c h a n g e of policy. In conclusion, o n e can say that despite m a n y attempts, T u r k i s h - S y r i a n cooperation

in t h e p e r i o d u n d e r d i s c u s s i o n did n o t r e a c h


proportions. T h e reasons f o r this can be s u m m a r i z e d as f o l l o w s . First of all, the French c h a n g e of attitude vis-à-vis

T u r k e y can be m e n t i o n e d . S e c o n d l y ,

the S y r i a n s had not yet had e n o u g h t i m e to p r o p e r l y e v a l u a t e W e s t e r n imperialism. Perhaps a significant proportion w e r e inclined to believe that, in the last a n a l y s i s , t h e W e s t w o u l d act in f a v o r of A r a b a s p i r a t i o n s . T h e hesitations s h o w n by Syrian nationalists in the f a c e of the i m p e n d i n g



MAE, vol.92, pp. 79-81. MAE, vol. 143, pp. 76-80. Soon after the Turkish success at Pozanti (May 25, 1920), an armistice between Turkey and France went into effect on May 30. The French occupation of Zonguldak on June 18, 1920 ended the armistice. See Jaeschke, pp. 105, 108. 2





invasion in July 1920, might be considered an indication in this respect. 1 A third factor which comes to mind, is a reluctance on the Turkish side, after having faced for two years Husain's revolt, to believe that Syrian cooperation could be very serious. The behavior of Ali Fuat Cebesoy, described above, is a case in point. The most important of the three factors seems to be the first, taken in conjunction with Turkish weakness and exhaustion. There were those who believed, both in Turkey and Syria, in a return of Arab lands to Ottoman rule, with provisions for a confederative or federal administration. 2 However, in view of French and British imperial ambitions, this was a mere illusion. Sooner or later, Turkish nationalists realized this. T h e y also realized that substantial Turkish independence, that is to say an independence including the e c o n o m i c d o m a i n , could only be attained at the price of c o m p l e t e l y renouncing all ties with A r a b countries. T h e price, at that time, of renewing ties with Arab countries would be to accept some form of Western tutelage, which was a solution they abhorred.


According to the account in Kedourie, Faisal accepted Gouraud's first ultimatum on July the 18th. He then revoked the Syrian Congress, which was inclined to resist, and began to disband the army. W h e n Gouraud sought a more complete acceptance of his ultimatum, Faisal accepted this too (20th). But when he saw that this was not stopping the French invasion, he proclaimed his decision to fight (21st). Then he hesitated and asked for further negotiations, but this "proved f r u i t l e s s " . U n d e r s u c h c i r c u m s t a n c e s , d e f e a t (24th) w a s inescapable. K e d o u r i e , p. 173. According to Uzel, Syrian nationalists assembled a militia force of about 65.000 (?) men in the A l e p p o area. Pretending an a g r e e m e n t had been reached with the French, this f o r c e w a s disbanded on the 22nd. T h e next day the French occupied A l e p p o without encountering any resistance. Uzel, p. 102. 2

I t is interesting to note that though there seemed to be a certain sentiment to restore political union between Turkey and Syria on both sides, this did not generally aim at a return of the status quo ante. Rather, a confederative or federative type of union was envisaged. In this context, one can mention three further instances of this attitude. On October 21, 1918 (10 days before the armistice of Mudros), M u s t a f a Kemal sent a telegram which contained a proposition by Faisal m a d e to the Governor of Syria, Tahsin Bey. According to this proposition, an armistice was to be concluded between Turkey and Syria. Turkey w a s to recognize Syrian independence and the Sultan was to appoint a viceroy (naibiissultan) there. Kemal, being of the opinion that Syrian i n d e p e n d e n c e w a s a f o r e g o n e conclusion, had authorized Mersinli Cemal Pa§a to conduct negotiations on this basis. T h e government, however, thus made aware of this initiative, put an end to it. H. Bayur, Ataturk (Ankara, Giiven B., 1970), pp. 189-90. A second instance is Sultan Vahdettin's secret peace plan which he presented to the British on M a r c h 30, 1919, according to which a large degree of autonomy was to be granted to A r a b lands. S. Ak§in, Istanbul Hukiimetleri ve Milli Miicadele (Istanbul, Cem Y., 1976), pp. 233-4. A third example is Kemal's insistence on the acceptance of the principle of Arab independence at a meeting of the Representative Committee of the Association for the Defense of Rights on N o v e m b e r 22, 1919. U. igdemir, Heyet-i Temsilive Tutanaklari (Ankara, T T K Y., 1975), p. 88.


I. ABOUT THE BOOK On the book-cover, the title of the work in question is as shown above. On the title-page the title is The Committee of Union and Progress: Why was it founded? How was it founded ? How was it administered ? The book was published by one of Karabekir's daughters, Emel Ozerengin, and her husband Prof. Faruk Ozerengin. It was published in 1982 and is declared to have been written in 1945. This 'writing' must have been in the nature of preparing for publication, for, as is pointed out by his daughters and as the abundance of details in the book shows, Karabekir kept a detailed diary in which he wrote every day. As with istiklal Harbimiz (Our War of Independence) 1 then, this book too, is a diary. But in that book, the documents are as important as the memoirs. Here the memoirs of Karabekir occupy a very large proportion of the book. Besides the memoirs of Karabekir, there are extensive quotations from newspapers and reminiscences by others. All along, I have assumed that the memoirs are authentic, in other words that they were written at the time or immediately afterwards and that even if they were later 'written' or reworded, there have been no 'manipulations' to inflate the role or the foresight of the author. The recollections of others which Karabekir includes in the book belong to the following persons: Ismail Yorukoglu (pp. 166-72), Hazim Tepeyran (pp. 172-80), Mazhar Miifid and Cafer Tayyar (p. 209-10), Bahaeddin §akir (p. 306), Adjutant Major Servet Bey (pp. 521-52).

II. ABOUT KAZIM KARABEKIR Karabekir was a member of the secret military organization formed at Amasya on June 19-21, 1919 to carry out the national struggle. 2 He himself was not able to attend, but by telegraph, he was able to play an active part in the decision-making process. This organization, as we know, was composed

' K a z i m Karabekir, istiklal 2


Istanbul, 1960.

S e e m y Istanbul Hukiimetleri ve Milli Mucadele, Istanbul, 1976, and " M u s t a f a Kemal Atatiirk'un Iktidar Yolu", in fagdaj Dii$uncenm / j i g m d a Ataturk, Istanbul, 1983.





of M u s t a f a K e m a l , Ali Fuad (Cebesoy), R e f e t (Bele), Rauf (Orbay), Karabekir, M e r s i n l i C e m a l . (A s h o r t w h i l e later C e m a l Pa§a w a s t o a b a n d o n this organization and the c o m m a n d of the 12 t h A r m y C o r p s to b e c o m e M i n i s t e r of W a r in the Ali Riza Pa§a government). T h e 15 t h A r m y C o r p s w h i c h Karabekir c o m m a n d e d w a s the o n l y a r m y c o r p s w h i c h at that t i m e had any c o m b a t value, a n d f o r that very r e a s o n h e held a v e r y i m p o r t a n t p l a c e in t h e democratic-nationalist m o v e m e n t . F r o m this point of view and b e c a u s e of the energy and persistence displayed by K a r a b e k i r in serving t h e m o v e m e n t , it can be said that the o r g a n i z a t i o n w a s p r i m a r i l y based on c o o p e r a t i o n b e t w e e n M u s t a f a Kemal and Karabekir. H o w e v e r , with the progress of time, the w a y s of t h e s e t w o c o m r a d e s d i v e r g e d a n d K a r a b e k i r , Ali F u a d , R e f e t , and Rauf t o g e t h e r f o r m e d the o p p o s i t i o n P r o g r e s s i v e R e p u b l i c a n P a r t y on N o v e m b e r 17, 1924. B e c a u s e of t h e p r e s e n c e in the p r o g r a m of this party of an article a b o u t r e s p e c t f o r r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s and f a i t h a n d b e c a u s e of t h e a l l e g e d connection of the party with the revolt of Sheikh Said, it has been considered rightist,

e v e n reactionary. In the last analysis this evaluation is correct, but

because it is considered correct a r e w e j u s t i f i e d in m a k i n g the s a m e assertion f o r Karabekir, w h o b e c a m e president of this party? If the party had lived longer and if K a r a b e k i r had stayed on as president, perhaps this w o u l d h a v e proved true. But these assertions, b e c a u s e they are of a speculative nature, cannot be considered very serious. T h e y are, if at all, valid on the p l a n e of impressions. W h a t I w o u l d like to point out is that the i m p r e s s i o n o n e gets f r o m K a r a b e k i r being p r e s i d e n t of t h e P r o g r e s s i v e Party is c o m p l e t e l y d i s p r o v e d by t h e p r e s e n t b o o k . B e c a u s e h e r e , w e f i n d K a r a b e k i r to b e a f i e r y , r a d i c a l revolutionary. In M u s t a f a Kemal's Speech w e f i n d that Rauf and then R e f e t are s h o w n to be conservatives o p p o s i n g the proclamation of the R e p u b l i c a n d the a b o l i s h m e n t of the Caliphate. R e f e t is s h o w n to h a v e too c l o s e relations with the C a l i p h A b d i i l m e c i d . Ali Fuad is p r e s e n t e d as a neutral p e r s o n in this matter. A s to K a r a b e k i r , n o t h i n g is said a b o u t h i m . 1 S i n c e Atatiirk d o e s n o t mention anything about K a r a b e k i r s h o w i n g that he is on his political right (if

Sezgin and §aylan assert that the basic dynamics behind the Progressive Party was a "personal power struggle", (Omiir Sezgin and Gen$ay §aylan, "Terakkiperver C u m h u r i y e t Firkasi", Cumhuriyet Donemi Turkiye Ansiklopedisi, p. 2051). However, if w h a t Atatiirk says in his Speech (Nutuk) about Rauf and Refet is true, then there must be an ideological-political dimension in question. In other words, within the c o m m o n democratic-nationalist approach of the A m a s y a military organization, Atatiirk, as a person believing in a maximalist, republican program, w a s quite distinct f r o m Rauf and Refet, who, as constitutionalist monarchists, were f o r the m i n i m u m program. If Atatiirk and Karabekir were for the same maximalist program, then w e can talk about a personal power struggle between them. But even then, f r o m Karabekir's point of view, o n e cannot discount the motive of supporting the necessity for a multi-party system. In fact, in two sentences apparently written in 1908, Karabekir voices such a wish: "...political parties which are a requisite of constitutional government should be f o r m e d . These should come f r o m groups of friends with c o m m o n viewpoints and programs led by well-known personalities f r o m the Committee/society (?) (cemiyet). T h e s e will engage in open activity and elections will be held within this framework", (p. 377). If cemiyet here refers to the C U P , then the multi-party system envisaged is o n e 'among friends', such as the Free Republican Party experiment in 1930.






there had been any such thing, presumably he would have mentioned it), the probability that they were on the same radical line exists. Indeed, as we shall see below, we find out from Karabekir's memoirs that he was pretty much of a radical.

III. NEW OR INTERESTING INFORMATION FOUND IN THE BOOK 1. Criticism of Abdillhamid First, let us mention the personal motive that turned Karabekir against Abdiilhamid. According to this account, when his father was district governor at Iskilip, Sultan Abdulaziz, who was very keen on wrestling, asked for capable wrestlers from the provinces. Thereupon, his father sent a certain Pehlivan Mustafa from Iskilip. When in 1881, the Yildiz Court convicted Mustafa for allegedly being one of those who cut the veins of Abdulaziz, Abdiilhamid decreed that Karabekir's father Mehmed Emin Bey should be deprived of advancement, that he should never be allowed to come to Istanbul, that he should be appointed to distant places and that his place of appointment should frequently be changed. Including several years when he was without salary and destitute, until his death 9 years later in 1890, he was appointed to Diyarbakir, Monastir, Hakkari, Van, Harput, Mecca and only one week before his death was he promoted to the rank of pasha (pp. 38-9). There are many criticisms of Abdiilhamid. His rule is "arbitrary and ignorant" (p. 28). Palace people are "ignorant and degenerate" (p. 30). In May 1318 (1902), 150 sacks of books and documents were burned in the furnaces of the C,"emberlita§ hamam: "Burning books and documents constitute the most tainted pages of Turkish history" (p. 53). In 1902, the year Karabekir and his brother graduated from Military College, his brother was arrested in Direklerarasi and expelled from Istanbul under guard, because a few days later Abdiilhamid was to visit the Hirka-i §erif and it was ordered that no new officers should be seen in the vicinity. Many of the salaried received their salaries once every 3 or 4 months and the budget deficit was met thanks to this expedient (p. 55). Marshall Tahir Pa§a could not sign his name. The Sultan knew no budget, he would spend whatever he liked, wherever he liked (p. 56). A confession of ignorance from Abdiilhamid's diary (Hatira Defteri):' When I was on the throne I did not have time to educate myself and to study. As with my elder brother, before I came to the throne I was heedless. After I went to Salonica and 2 or 3 months later when the depression stemming from the situation had passed, I systematically


Hatira Defteri, Istanbul, I960, pp. 103-5.





started to educate myself... Thank God I can now express my thought in a correct style. In French I knew many words from listening to others... Now, with the aid of a dictionary, but with great ease I can understand the newspapers and pamphlets that I read (p. 57). The number of Palace aides de camp was 275, cooks 40, under-cooks 120. At every meal-time 600 trays of food would spread out from Yildiz Palace towards Be§ikta§. Those who did not belong to the Palace were like "colonial peoples" (p. 58). The heavy cannons bought for the defense of the Bosphorus had not been put in place because Russia had intimated that this could not be considered a friendly action (p. 60). While the Balkan komitadjis employed Manliher rifles, Ottoman soldiers used Martini rifles with cartridges whose powder was stolen or lost (p. 98, 150). The army was in a state of collapse, the navy was rotting in the Golden Horn. The commanders were old and helpless, sons-in-law and favorites were being rapidly promoted and were crowding up in Istanbul. The Capitulations and the Public Debt were plagues that were darkening the life of the nation. The system of justice was corrupt, freedom of thought had been strangled (pp. 182-3). 2. The Plans of Action of the Ottoman and the CUP




According to Karabekir, all the officers in Monastir with whom he talked who were graduates of the War College felt that Abdulhamid was directly responsible for the existing evils and that nothing could be done unless he was killed (pp. 98, 203). On December 4, 1907, when Karabekir, coming from Monastir, stopped at Salonica on his way to Istanbul, Talat told him that without getting rid of Abdulhamid and replacing him by Re§ad, the constitution could not be restored. It was necessary that during the next Ramadan, when the Sultan would visit the Hirka-i §erif a house should be prepared in Be§ikta§ in order to assassinate him (pp. 257-8). Once, when it had been decided to start with the assassination of instruments of Abdulhamid such as Arab Izzet or Eczaciba§i Refik, Karabekir opposed this and thus influenced the change of decision (pp. 224-9, 281). After Karabekir came to Istanbul, instructions arrived from Salonica to prepare a house in Be§ikta§ for the assassination. The lawyer Baha Bey searched for a house to let along the route, but couldn't find one. It was decided to make use of the house of Artillery Major Nahid Bey, member of the C U P central committee in Istanbul, which was on Findikh Caddesi or. if Enver were to come, his house in Be§ikta§ overlooking the road descending from Yildiz, but Karabekir, being of the opinion that a few fedafs could do the j o b during a long selamlik, was thinking of going to Monastir to explain this idea there (pp. 283-4).






E a r l i e r , K a r a b e k i r , u p o n l e a r n i n g t h a t A b d ü l h a m i d w a s v e r y ill, i n f o r m e d E n v e r and m a d e t h e f o l l o w i n g proposition: to march with an A r m y of F r e e d o m and m a k e a " t h o r o u g h c l e a n i n g " in t h e P a l a c e ; t h e n , a f t e r appointing a regent of "high capacity" to a prince w h o s e "health a n d morality had not yet degenerated", to provide him with an education "as an individual of the nation and j u s t like us" (p. 115). O b v i o u s l y , C r o w n - P r i n c e Re§ad w a s not such a person. T h i s is the m o s t radical idea c o n c e r n i n g the O t t o m a n dynasty and it is e x p r e s s e d only once. In m o s t c a s e s , it w a s a q u e s t i o n of b r i n g i n g Re§ad to the throne. H o w e v e r , in order not to be f a c e d with a bad surprise, the revolutionaries felt the n e e d to extract f r o m him a written p r o m i s e to a c c e p t the constitution and to r e m a i n loyal to it. A f t e r the f o r m a t i o n of the Istanbul c o m m i t t e e of t h e C U P t h a n k s to K a r a b e k i r , T a l a t , t o g e t h e r with E m a n u e l Karasu, c a m e to Istanbul to receive this d o c u m e n t . T h i s w a s p r o c u r e d , thanks to the f o s t e r - b r o t h e r of the C r o w n - P r i n c e , Re§ad B e y , w h o w a s president of the C o u r t of A p p e a l of t h e C o u n c i l of State. In this c o n n e c t i o n K a r a b e k i r relates an a d v e n t u r o u s incident. In c o n c l u s i o n , T a l a t w a s obliged to return to S a l ó n i c a precipitously w i t h o u t h a v i n g been a b l e to get t h e d o c u m e n t . This w a s later sent to S a l ó n i c a . A p p a r e n t l y , the winter b e f o r e , T a l a t had a g a i n picked u p his c o u r a g e to c o m e to Istanbul and f o r m there a b r a n c h of t h e organization, w i t h o u t , h o w e v e r , m u c h result. K a r a b e k i r f i n d s Talat's second visit very superfluous and apparently evaluates it as a rather stupid action (pp. 271-81). Karabekir, in a talk with Talat, w h o had c o m e to Istanbul on A u g u s t 3, 1908 as a m e m b e r of the C U P delegation representing the Central C o m m i t t e e at Salónica, voiced his support f o r t h e r e p l a c e m e n t of A b d ü l h a m i d by Re§ad, and said that otherwise the constitution might again be e n d a n g e r e d . T o guard a g a i n s t s u c h a p o s s i b i l i t y , t h e C U P s h o u l d r e m a i n secret a n d a


organization should be introduced into the Palace to eliminate A b d ü l h a m i d and his supporters if n e c e s s a r y (pp. 375-6). In a later c o n v e r s a t i o n with T a l a t , Karabekir told him that the fleet would be completely under their control in a f e w months, and that t h e n , with a f e w battalions f r o m Salónica, A b d ü l h a m i d could be d e p o s e d (p. 4 0 6 ) . A c c o r d i n g to T a l a t and t h e rest of t h e S a l ó n i c a delegation, b e c a u s e t h e Sultan had s h o w n his good intentions, it was not possible to do this. A p p a r e n t l y , w h e n t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n w a s p r o c l a i m e d in R u m e l i a and A b d ü l h a m i d f o l l o w e d suit, t h e c o n t i n u a t i o n of the s t r u g g l e against him m u s t h a v e been c o n s i d e r e d u n n e c e s s a r y and d a n g e r o u s to the C U P . Indeed, the Salónica proclamation of the C U P dated July 2 5 , 1 9 0 8 — t h e very next day a f t e r A b d ü l h a m i d ordered e l e c t i o n s — a s k e d that proper respect should b e s h o w n to t h e S u l t a n . It s e e m s that H ü s e y i n H i l m i Pa§a had a certain i n f l u e n c e in the a d o p t i o n of this crucial decision to c o - e x i s t with A b d ü l h a m i d (pp. 3 6 7 - 9 ) . W h a t e v e r K a r a b e k i r t h o u g h t at t h e t i m e , o n c e A b d ü l h a m i d j o i n e d t h e m o v e m e n t as soon as the constitution was p r o c l a i m e d in Rumelia, such a decision b e c a m e inevitable.




3. The Question of the Freedom Army or the Army of


Apparently, the march of Alemdar Mustafa Pa§a with his army on Istanbul in order to depose Mustafa IV and to reinstate Selim III on the throne (1808) was a very attractive model for Karabekir, for he very frequently repeated this idea to others. The first time, upon becoming staff officer and before going to Monastir, he mentioned this idea to his elder brother: "To depose Abdtilhamid with a freedom army like Alemdar's army." According to Karabekir, though there was the danger of an attack from the exterior, two divisions could perfectly accomplish this task (pp. 84-5). Later he repeated this idea to Enver (pp. 106-7, 114, 126, 132, 137, 215), to ismail Hakki Bey, staff officer of the General Inspectorate and to officials of the Ottoman Freedom Association in Salónica (pp. 150, 154, 203, 253), Re§ad and Baha Beys (p. 264), Staff Officer Emin Bey (p. 314). He himself continued to think about it (pp. 321, 328, 335). He even told Emin Bey to talk to Osman Pasa in order to admit him to the CUP, for it was necessary to have a commander for the operation. In Salónica, he mentioned it to Talat too, as he was returning to Istanbul: In order to achieve success, it is preferable that instead of the command of a comrade of low rank, one of the best commanders should be brought, voluntarily or by force, to do the j o b (p. 259). This is a line of thought which seems to be adopted by juntas of young officers in Turkey, particularly after they come to power. Mahmut §evket Pa§a (1909-13) and Cemal Giirsel (1960-66) may be cited as examples. In conclusion, the "Army of Alemdar" did not march on Istanbul in 1908, but in 1909 this model was re-enacted with the Army of Operations (Hareket Ordusu) which indeed marched on Istanbul to quell the so-called 31 s t of March mutiny of the soldiers there. This model may be said to have applied to a certain extent in the Turkish War of Independence too, when the revolutionary army in the provinces overthrew the Sultan and his government in Istanbul. 4. Karabekir's


We learn from the book entitled Yiizba^i Salahattin 'in Romani (The Story of Captain Salahattin) that during World War I, at the time Baghdad fell, Karabekir consoled himself with the thought that it was not a Turkish city after all. 1 From the present book, we can see that his Turkism started much earlier. When he was in the Military Academy, there were a dozen classmates from Damascus and Baghdad. Since he knew some Arabic, he could understand

'ílhan Selsuk, YUzba^i Salahattirim Romani, vol. 1, Istanbul, 1973, pp. 287-88.






that there w e r e currents of A r a b i s m and a n t i - T u r k i s m a m o n g t h e m . H e says: "Saying p o o r T u r k , every compatriot w a n t s o u r destruction, as t i m e went, on, I b e c a m e hostile towards e v e r y b o d y but the T u r k s " . He told his f r i e n d s of this current of A r a b i s m . B u t p e r h a p s K a r a b e k i r ' s a n i m o s i t y t o w a r d s his A r a b c l a s s m a t e s c a m e to s o m e extent f r o m their d i s t a n c e to the c a u s e of liberty, because o n e day, w h e n he and his f r i e n d s had been kept in, an A r a b c l a s s m a t e w h o noticed they were reading prohibited materials denounced them (pp. 71-2). Naturally, f r o m a single incident such as this it is not easy to d e d u c e to what e x t e n t A r a b students w e r e generally loyal to t h e H a m i d i a n a d m i n i s t r a t i o n . I n d e e d , w h e n the M o n a s t i r b r a n c h of t h e O t t o m a n F r e e d o m A s s o c i a t i o n (Osmanli



- O H C , this association later f u s e d with the C U P

and a d o p t e d its n a m e ) w a s established the f i r s t person to b e a d m i t t e d w a s Captain A z i z (el-Misri) f r o m Cairo. This p e r s o n later got into t r o u b l e w h e n he practiced A r a b nationalism and it was then K a r a b e k i r w h o saved him (pp. 183-7). W h e n Karabekir noticed the extent to w h i c h nationalist m o v e m e n t s had d e v e l o p e d in M a c e d o n i a , he b e c a m e even m o r e of a T u r k i s h nationalist. H e invented mottoes like "The Turkish nation shall not die". H e m a d e a m a r c h i n g song f r o m M e h m e d E m i n ' s ( Y u r d a k u l ) p o e m "I a m a T u r k " and h e used to m a k e the troops shout in unison "I a m a T u r k " (pp 101-5). A f t e r E n v e r had b e c o m e a m e m b e r of the Ottoman F r e e d o m Association and had b r o a c h e d t h e subject to Karabekir, h e explained that the sign of t h e A s s o c i a t i o n w a s the crescent, f o r m e d with t h e t h u m b and index f i n g e r , a n d that the p a s s w o r d w a s Muin

(the helper, G o d ) . K a r a b e k i r b e c a m e troubled

w h e n h e heard this and asked if I s l a m i s m w a s involved. E n v e r , o n the other hand, d e f e n d e d the sign against o n e that m i g h t be related to T u r k i s m , as being m o r e c o m p r e h e n s i v e , as allowing A r a b s and A l b a n i a n s to j o i n , on condition of being f o r liberty and t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n , a d d i n g " .. we are not g o i n g to d e c l a r e jihad

a g a i n s t t h e c r o s s , a r e w e ? " . K a r a b e k i r s a y s that as t h e

organization spread, it w a s at his insistence that the sign of the crescent and the p a s s w o r d w e r e a b a n d o n e d , using instead different signs and passwords as the need a r o s e . B u t E n v e r w a s very a t t a c h e d to the c r e s c e n t and upon the p r o c l a m a t i o n of t h e constitution a p p e n d e d a crescent on his f e z and b e c a m e pro-Islamist (pp. 135-8, 187-8). In a n o t h e r p l a c e K a r a b e k i r recounts h o w he t o o k p r e s e n t s to T u r k i s h village s c h o o l s a n d h o w h e d i s c u s s e d national matters there (p. 142).

5. Karabekir's Opinion Concerning Young Turk Publications Karabekir had a rather negative opinion c o n c e r n i n g t h o s e w h o escaped abroad and w h o engaged in anti-Hamidian publications. H e says,





Would that the fashion of escaping to Europe had not arisen and that the many youths had not been ruined because of somewhat frivolous publications. And would that with this sort of publications had not buttered the bread of European politicians (pp. 51,97-8). In another place he explains what he means about serving such politicians. He thinks that such publications, which give too much place to gossip and frivolous attacks, do not serve anything but "to show us as weak even to those who believe in us" (pp. 163 and before). He discussed the issue with Enver and made him accept to have such publications read only by the local board members and to have them destroyed afterwards, without showing them to the other members. Also, it was decided to propose to the Central Committee that these publications should not be circulated, but that after being read by the Committee, the necessary circulars should be sent out (p. 182). Once, when Karabekir saw some of the papers published by Ahmet Riza in the hands of officers in Kóprülü who were about to become members of the organization, he told them not to busy themselves with such things and to see to their military duties (p. 153). After the War of Independence, Karabekir was discussing this subject with Curiiksulu Ahmed Pa§a and Abdullah Cevdet. They said that Mizanci Murad was right (in what respect, it is not clear) and Ahmed Riza was wrong, that the publications in Europe were harmful to them. Karabekir thinks that in any case it was meaningless for too many to go abroad and that even from the point of view of depriving the country of their energies, it was harmful (p. 492). 6. The Passivity of the Libertarian Karabekir in their Becoming Active


and the Role


Hazim (Tepeyran) Bey provided Karabekir with some very interesting information. In 1896, when he was vice-governor in Edirne, an order came from the Palace to search certain homes for prohibited publications. In conclusion, a great deal of such publications were found and some officers and six civilians, among whom were Talat, §eref, Faik, Necib, Mustafa, were arrested. Talat was sentenced to three years in prison, but was pardoned two years later. In 1898 he was appointed mobile postal clerk between Salónica and Monastir, and later was appointed secretary to the Salónica post-office. In 1902, Talat and seven comrades wrote to Ahmed Riza in order to found a C U P branch in Salónica. The following year, Talat was promoted first secretary. He became friends with Rahmi, who belonged to a family of Salónica notables (Rahmi had previously become a C U P member). In 1897, during the Ottoman-Greek War, the CUP, it seems, sent three persons from Tikves to assassinate Abdiilhamid. These aroused suspicion and were arrested. Rahmi






was denounced. Upon the 'armistice' arranged between the Young Turks and the government by Head Detective (Serhafiye) Ahmed Celaleddin Pasa, he was released on condition that he stay in Istanbul. (He escaped to Europe, however, and returned in 1900). Because of the fears of Rahmi, Talat and their friends, they became freemasons with the aid of Karasu, so that they could get organized without any risk to themselves. It seems Karasu was entrusted with the safekeeping of their documents. (The Masonic lodges were foreign and therefore, under the Capitulations regime were considered extraterritorial ground). On August 29, 1906, the number of members was 70. The CUP organ §ura-yi Ummet reported on August 18,1906 that Abdiilhamid was very ill and that if the Young Turks did not get organized, in the event of his death there was the danger of the Great Powers dividing up the Ottoman Empire. Under these circumstances, Talat proposed that they should meet and organize outside the Masonic lodge. It was thus decided to meet outside, but only 10 of the 70 members had the courage to show up—Tahir, Naki, Talat, Midhat §iikrii, Rahmi, Kazim Nami, Omer Naci, Hakki Baha, Ismail Canbolat, Edib Servet. Of these, Talat, Rahmi, Midhat §iikrti, Canbolat were active. At first, upon Rahmi's proposal, the name and sign Hilal (crescent) was adopted, but at a later meeting on September 5, the name Osmanh Hurriyet Cemiyeti (OHC) was preferred, and it was decided that the Association should be considered as founded on the later date. In October, new members began to be admitted (pp. 172-7). According to the regulations, members were to be Moslem, even donme (those converted to Islam) were not to be admitted. But then, how was Cavid, a donme, admitted? How were Yesarya and Cele Efendis, who were Vlach, admitted? (Presumably the latter may have been admitted in reaction to the other Macedonian Christians, because Romania had no designs on Macedonia). At the time of the proclamation of the constitution, the total number of sworn members in Salonica was 505, of which 319 were officers, 186 civilians (p. 180). The high number of civilians, the fact that the most active members such as Talat, Rahmi and Midhat §iikrii were civilians is worth noticing, as it refutes the notion that the OHC or the CUP were purely officers' organizations. Karabekir came to Monastir on February 26, 1906 (pp. 87-8) and took up his duties. On November 30, 1906 Enver Bey, who was also posted there, told him of his membership of the OHC and made him a member too (pp. 131-9). On January 22, 1907, Karabekir came to Salonica and meeting Staff Major Ismail Hakki from the General Inspectorate, asked him about the Association. He was told that the increased activity due to Abdiilhamid's illness had subsided upon his recovery. Karabekir replied that the dies were cast, that even if Salonica should fall back, they would continue, thus in effect encouraging him (pp. 148-52).





Karabekir returned from Salonica to Monastir with the Association regulations and the text of the membership oath. On February 8, 1907, he, Enver and Hiiseyin Bey, a notable from Kolonya and a graduate of the Mekteb-i Mulkiye, formed the Monastir branch. According to their curious decision, "Hiiseyin Bey was to have no part" in the activities of the organization (pp. 181, 235). One can see that in the Monastir branch, a certain place was given to civilians, but officers were to predominate. At least, there were no active civilians such as Talat, Rahmi, Midhat §ukrii in Salonica. Karabekir only mentions the names of officers who became m e m b e r s (including one ranker officer). On the other hand, in Uskiip (Skopje) civilians seemed to predominate (pp. 208-10). The organization quickly spread out. On June 19, 1907, Ismail Hakki said that Monastir had gone ahead very fast, that other places, including Salonica, had not kept pace (pp. 199-200). One gets the impression that there was a definite tendency in Rumelia towards forming libertarian organizations, but that there was a reluctance to engage in effective activity, and that Karabekir played an important role in activating these circles. 7. Mustafa Kemats Membership

in the


In a footnote (p. 175), Karabekir asserts that in the third volume of Tarih (History) published in 1931 as a school textbook, the information about Atatiirk's struggle for the constitution is incorrect. According to the very brief account contained in that book, Mustafa Kemal, after founding the Vatan ve Hurriyet Cemiyeti (Fatherland and Freedom Association) in Damascus, went to Salonica to form there a branch of this organization. However, after his return to Damascus, this branch adopted the name of Terakki ve ittihad (Progress and Union). In this account, according to the facts presently available, there is a discrepancy in that it is not the branch formed by Mustafa Kemal, but another organization, the OHC, that adopted the name of Terakki ve ittihadNevertheless, three of the founders of the OHC—Bursali Tahir, Omer Naci, Hakki Baha —were among the six founders of the Vatan ve Hurriyet branch. It is generally accepted that when Ataturk returned to Damascus, the branch in Salonica faded out and that the OHC, under Talat's leadership, became the CUP. From Karabekir's writing one can imagine the following sequence of events: the above-mentioned three persons belonged to the group of 70 in the Masonic lodge. When Mustafa Kemal arrived in Salonica, with characteristic energy, he persuaded the three of them to join him in forming the Vatan ve Hurriyet branch. After he left, however, these rejoined the earlier group and founded the OHC.

' S e e , for instance, Y. Hikmet Bayur. Ataturk,

Ankara, 1970.






According to Karabekir, Mustafa Kemal entered the C U P under membership number 322 either in February (p. 179) or March 1908 (p. 257). Fethi (Okyar) acted as his intermediary. If this is correct, then in that environment and time, for a person of high political consciousness like Kemal, there is a question of delay, because since Kemal was in Salonica in mid-October, his entry into the CUP is at least 3.5-4.5 months later. We do not know when Kemal applied for membership, how much time elapsed between application and admission. But considering this delay in itself, two interpretations come to mind—either it was an expression of resentment felt by Kemal resulting from disappointment that his organization had not survived, or it was the result of reluctance on the part of certain persons iri the CUP to admit him. Karabekir says one more thing about Mustafa Kemal: "he was not in the center" (merkezde bulunmamqtir) (p. 257). This short statement probably means he did not become an official of the CUP. However, according to Cebesoy's account to §evket Sureyya, and again according to Bayur, Atatiirk was for a time member of the Central Committee. 1 8. The Istanbul Organization

and the Proclamation

of the


On December 7, 1907 Karabekir arrived in Istanbul. He took up his duties at the War College (Harbiye Mektebi). He also formed the Istanbul branch of the CUP. The founding members were Karabekir, Salim (engineer), Baha (lawyer), Mahmud Sadik (journalist), Fatin Hoca, Artillery Major Nahid. As opposed to Rumelia, the organization spread out slowly. Karabekir's statement that they attached more importance to quality than to quantity may be considered one such indication. It seems that the atmosphere in Istanbul was quite different. The persons among the faculty of the War College whom Karabekir approached, declined to join because they found it too dangerous (pp. 267, 287). The Istanbul branch also started to work on the fleet (typically, Karabekir says "I started to... ") (p. 287). When the constitution was proclaimed, the number of members in the Istanbul branch was 94. 16, including Karabekir, formed the fedai group. A group of 40 persons headed by Ibrahim Pasa (from Silistre) Zade Hamdi Beybaba were Unionists from the time of Mizanci Murad Bey (pp. 306-7). In another place Karabekir gives the following numbers: fedais 15, other groups 72, Hamdi Baba group 40 (p. 330).

§evket S. Aydemir, Tek Adam, vol. 1, Istanbul, 1963, p. 109; Bayur, op. cit., p. 27. According to Cebesoy, he himself was also in the Central Committee, but because Atatiirk and himself had a critical attitude, their m e m b e r s h i p there was ended and they were m a d e guides ( r e h b e r ) instead.





Karabekir, w h o apparently gets this information f r o m B a h a e d d i n §akir's published m e m o i r s (published where, w e are not told) indicates that the Paris C U P Central C o m m i t t e e f o r m e d an Istanbul branch parallel to the o n e f o r m e d by the Salonica Central C o m m i t t e e . F o r this, B a h a e d d i n § a k i r c a m e secretly to Istanbul. H e had c o n v e r s a t i o n s with H a m d i B a b a in B a h a ' s o f f i c e . T h e i r branch w a s c o m p o s e d of Dani§ Bey (secretary at the Council of State), Ali Sedad Bey (secretary at the T r e a s u r y ) , H a m d i B e y b a b a , Ismail K a p t a n , A r a b M e h m e d Bey. T h e i r policy, it s e e m s , w a s not to interfere in the activities of S a l o n i c a and to wait f o r the o u t c o m e of e v e n t s . K a r a b e k i r criticizes this attitude and also points out that H a m d i B a b a j o i n e d their branch (p. 306). O n e has to c o n c l u d e that this separate organization w a s f o r m e d b e f o r e the union of t h e O H C and t h e C U P ( 2 7 / 9 / 1 9 0 7 ) . O t h e r w i s e , this u n i o n , w h i c h 1 h a v e elsewhere described as confederative, 1 must be considered as not quite realized, even with that qualification. A c c o r d i n g to K a r a b e k i r , the constitutional revolution, which had been s c h e d u l e d to start with the assassination of A b d i i l h a m i d in late S e p t e m b e r , w a s in f a c t started earlier with action b e g i n n i n g in late M a y (p. 299). A f t e r M a y , no i n s t r u c t i o n s w e r e s e n t f r o m S a l o n i c a to I s t a n b u l —in f a c t , all c o m m u n i c a t i o n between the t w o centers stopped (pp. 299, 307). T h e Istanbul organization

l e a r n e d of t h e e v e n t s that w e r e to be c l i m a x e d



p r o c l a m a t i o n of the constitution in R u m e l i a f r o m very r o u n d a b o u t sources. T h e one exception w a s the first action in the s e q u e n c e of events leading to the p r o c l a m a t i o n of the c o n s t i t u t i o n , n a m e l y , the delivery to t h e G r e a t P o w e r s e m b a s s i e s (except Russia) in Istanbul of a m e m o r a n d u m that w a s at the s a m e t i m e presented to the consulates in R u m e l i a . 2 In this connection w e learn the date of this a c t i o n — M a y 28, 1908 9 , that the m e m o r a n d u m was translated into F r e n c h , that it w a s printed, that it was h a n d e d to the c o n s u l a t e s in S a l o n i c a , M o n a s t i r , U s k i i p and t h e e m b a s s i e s in I s t a n b u l . In this last c i t y , t h e distribution of the m e m o r a n d u m w a s undertaken by the A r m e n i a n d r a g o m a n of t h e Russian E m b a s s y , Haci Biyar, w h o w a s a m a s o n and a f r i e n d of B a h a ' s (pp. 297-8). T h e official p r o c l a m a t i o n of the constitution in Istanbul w a s t h e d a y after the proclamation of the s a m e in R u m e l i a by the C U P . But a very delicate operation remained to be a c c o m p l i s h e d : the abolishment of the institutions of absolutism such as censorship of the press and the secret police, the dismissal of officials w h o had been willing instruments of that regime, the creation of

' S i n a Ak§in, Jon Turkler, ittihat v