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Mustafa İsmet İnönü (24 September 1884 – 25 December 1973) was a Turkishmarker Army General, Prime Minister and the second President of Turkey. In 1938, the Republican People's Party gave him the title of "Milli Şef" (National Chief).

Family and early life

He was born in İzmirmarker to a family originally from Malatyamarker with mixed Turkish-Kurdish heritage. His father was Hacı Reşid Bey, a member of the Ottoman bureaucracy, an examining magistrate born in Malatyamarker, and his mother was Cevriye Hanım, daughter of Russo-Turkish War refugees from Bulgariamarker. Due to his father's assignments, the family moved from one city to another. Thus, İsmet İnönü completed his primary education in Sivasmarker.

For more than half his life, İsmet İnönü was known as İsmet Pasha. He changed his name in the early 1930s when President Atatürk decreed that all his countrymen had to have surnames. İsmet Pasha decided to take as his surname "İnönümarker", from the Central Anatolian town where he commanded the Turkish forces in his greatest battles as a general, known as the First Battle of İnönü and Second Battle of İnönü, victories which played an important role in the Turkish War of Independence.

His son, Erdal İnönü, was a Wigner medal winner mathematical physicist and a former deputy prime minister of Turkey, as well as the former leader of the Social Democracy Party and the Social Democratic Populist Party, and the honorary leader of the Social Democratic People's Party.

Early military career

İnönü graduated from the Military Academy in 1903 as gunnery officer, and received his first military assignment in the Ottoman army. He joined the Committee of Union and Progress. He won his first military victories by suppressing two major revolts against the struggling Ottoman Empire, first in Rumelia and later in Yemenmarker, whose leader was Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din. He served as a military officer during the Balkan Wars on the Ottoman-Bulgarian front. During World War I, he served as a miralay (colonel) and worked under Mustafa Kemal Pasha during his assignments at the Caucasus and Palestine fronts.

Independence war

After losing the Battle of Megiddo against General Edmund Allenby during the last days of World War I, he went to Anatoliamarker to join the Turkish nationalist movement and was appointed the commander of the Turkish Western Army, a position in which he remained during the Turkish War of Independence. He was promoted to brigadier general after the "Battles of İnönü", in which he successfully defeated the Greekmarker Army in western Anatolia during spring 1921. During the Turkish War of Independence he was also a member of the Turkish Grand National Assemblymarker in Ankaramarker.

İnönü was replaced by Fevzi Paşa, who was also the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense at the time, as the Chief of Staff of the Turkish Army after the Turkish army lost a major battle against the advancing Greek Army in July 1921, as a result of which the cities Afyonmarker, Kütahyamarker and Eskişehirmarker were lost. He participated as a staff officer at the later battles and at the end of this Turkish War of Independence, he was appointed as the chief negotiator of the Turkish delegation at the Treaty of Lausanne.

He became famous for his resolve and stubbornness in defending Turkey's demands while conceding very little to the other side at the negotiating table, causing the peace conference to last longer than expected. Partially deaf, İnönü simply turned off his hearing aid when the British foreign secretary, Lord Curzon, launched into lengthy speeches opposing Turkish demands for recognition of the national pact, and then would restate the Turkish position as if the British foreign secretary had not said a thing.

Political career

İnönü later served as the Prime Minister of Turkey for several terms, maintaining the system that Atatürk had put in place. He acted after every major crisis (such as the rebellion of Sheikh Said or the attempted assassination of Atatürk in İzmir) to restore peace in the country. He tried to manage the economy with heavy-handed government intervention, especially after the 1929 economic crisis, by implementing an economic plan inspired by the Five Year Plan of the Soviet Unionmarker. In doing so, he took much private property under government control. Due to his efforts, to this day, more than 70% of land in Turkey is still owned by the state , resembling the now-defunct Soviet Unionmarker. Desiring a more liberal economic system, Atatürk forced Inönü to resign from the Prime Ministry and appointed Celal Bayar, the founder of the first Turkish commercial bank Türkiye İş Bankası, as Prime Minister.

"National Chief" period

After the death of Atatürk, Inönü was viewed as the most appropriate candidate to succeed him, and was elected the second President of the Republic of Turkeymarker and enjoyed the official title of "Milli Şef", i.e. "National Chief".

World War II broke out in the first year of his presidency, and both the Allies and the Axis pressured Inönü to bring Turkey into the war on their side. The Germans sent Franz von Papen to Ankaramarker, while Winston Churchill secretly met with Inönü inside a train wagon near Adanamarker on January 30, 1943. Inönü later met with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill at the Second Cairo Conference on December 4-6, 1943. Until 1941, both Roosevelt and Churchill thought that Turkey's continuing neutrality would serve the interests of the Allies by blocking the Axis from reaching the strategic oil reserves of the Middle East. But the early victories of the Axis up to the end of 1942 caused Roosevelt and Churchill to re-evaluate a possible Turkish participation in the war on the side of the Allies. Turkey had maintained a decently-sized Army and Air Force throughout the war, and Churchill wanted the Turks to open a new front in the Balkans. Roosevelt, on the other hand, still believed that a Turkish attack would be too risky, and an eventual Turkish failure would have disastrous effects for the Allies. Inönü knew very well the hardships which his country had suffered during decades of incessant war between 1908 and 1922 and was determined to keep Turkey out of another war as long as he could. The young Turkish Republic was still re-building, recovering from the losses due to earlier wars, and lacked any modern weapons and the infrastructure to enter a war to be fought along and possibly within its borders. Inönü also wanted assurances on financial and military aid for Turkey, as well as a guarantee that the United Statesmarker and the United Kingdommarker would stand beside Turkey in the event of a Sovietmarker invasion of the Turkish Straits after the war. The fear of Soviet invasion and Stalin's unconcealed desire to control the Turkish Straits eventually caused Turkey to give up its principle of neutrality in foreign relations and join NATOmarker in 1952.

Multi party period

Under international pressure to transform the country to a democratic state, Inönü presided over the infamous 1946 elections, in which votes were cast in the open with onlookers (most probably secret police) able to observe to which party the voters had cast their votes and ballots were tallied behind closed doors by only his own party's officials. In 1950, his party lost the first free elections in Turkish history, and Inönü presided over the peaceful transfer of power to the Democratic Party of Celal Bayar and Adnan Menderes. İnönü served for ten years as the leader of the opposition before returning to power as Prime Minister after the 1961 election, held after the military coup-d'etat in 1960 in which he allegedly conspired. Although the opposition was imprisoned during the 1961 elections, he still did not win a majority and had to form coalition governments until the 1965 elections. He lost both the 1965 and 1969 general elections to Süleyman Demirel and then in 1972 he lost his party's leadership race to Bülent Ecevit.

Ismet Inönü was by the standards of his time a highly educated man, speaking Arabic, English, French and German in addition to his native Turkish.

İnönü died in 1973. He was interred opposite to Atatürk's mausoleum at Anıtkabirmarker in Ankaramarker and a massive tomb was constructed there.


İnönü University in Malatyamarker is named after him, as is a stadiummarker in Istanbulmarker, home of the Beşiktaş soccer club.


Image:AtaturkAndIsmetInonuAugust1922.jpg|Field Marshal Mustafa Kemal and Brigadier General İsmet İnönü before the Battle of Dumlupınar, August 1922Image:Roosevelt_Inonu_Churchill.jpg|Roosevelt, Inönü and Churchill at the Second Cairo Conference on December 4-6, 1943Image:ChurchillandInonu.jpg|Welcoming Winston Churchill to Adana, Turkey in January 1943Image:IsmetandMevhibeInonu.jpg|With his wife Mevhibe İnönü, after dancing for the first time in his life, on his birthday, 24 September 1966

  • (The sound file of the message by President İsmet İnönü on Kemal Atatürk, November 10, 1963)
  • (The Text of the message by President İsmet İnönü on Atatürk)

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