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The Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire was a political event that occurred after World War I. The huge conglomeration of territories and peoples formerly ruled by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire was divided into several new nations.

The partitioning was planned from the early days of the war, though the Ottoman Empire's opponents, called the Allies, disagreed over their contradictory post-war aims and made several dual and triple agreements. After the occupation of Istanbul by British and French troops in November, 1918, the Ottoman government collapsed completely and signed the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920. However, the Turkish War of Independence forced the former Allies to return to the negotiating table before the treaty could be ratified. The Allies and the Grand National Assembly of Turkeymarker signed and ratified the new Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, superseding the Treaty of Sèvres and solidifying most of the territorial issues. One unresolved issue was later negotiated under the League of Nations (see Mosul (1925)).

The partitioning brought the creation of the modern Arab world and the Republic of Turkeymarker. The League of Nations granted Francemarker mandates over Syria and Lebanon and granted the United Kingdommarker mandates over Mesopotamia and Palestine (which was later divided into two regions: Palestine and Transjordanmarker). Parts of the Ottoman Empire on the Arabian Peninsula became parts of what are today Saudi Arabiamarker and Yemenmarker.

Overview

Sykes-Picot Agreement
The Ottoman Empire had been the leading Islamic state in geopolitical, cultural and ideological terms. The partitioning of the Ottoman Empire led to the rise in the "Middle East" of Western powers, such as Britain and France. The earliest resistance to the influence of these powers came from the Turkish national movement, and became more widespread in the post-Ottoman Middle East after World War II.

The partition was planned by Western powers in several agreements concerning the Ottoman Empire made during the war by the Allies. The British and French partitioned the eastern part of the Middle East (also called "Greater Syria") between them with the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The Balfour Declaration encouraged the international Zionist movement to push for a Jewish homeland in the Palestine region, which was the site of the ancient Kingdom of Israel and at the time had a significant Jewish minority population with respect to a majority of Arab-Muslim population. The tsaristmarker regime also had wartime agreements with the Triple Entente on the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire but after the Russian Revolutions, Russia did not participate in the actual partitioning.

Modern Arab states

The Treaty of Sèvres formally acknowledged the new League of Nations mandates in the Middle East, the independence of Yemenmarker, and British sovereignty over Cyprusmarker.

French mandates

Syria became a French protectorate (thinly disguised as a League of Nations Mandate), with the Christian coastal areas split off to become Lebanon.

Mandate of Lebanon

Greater Lebanon was the name of a territory created by Francemarker. It was the precursor of modern Lebanonmarker. It existed between 1 September 1920 and 23 May 1926. France carved its territory from the Levantine land mass (mandated by the League of Nations) in order to create a "safe haven" for the Maronite Christian population. Maronites gained self-rule and secured their position in the independent Lebanon in 1943.

French intervention on behalf of the Maronites had begun with the capitulations of the Ottoman Empire, agreements made during the 16th to the 19th centuries. In 1866, when Youssef Karam led a Maronite uprising in Mount Lebanon, a French-led naval force arrived to help, making threats against the governor, Dawood Pasha, at the Sultan's Porte and later removing Karam to safety.

British mandates

British Mandate of Palestine
Iraq and Palestine became British mandated territories, with one of Sheriff Hussein's sons, Faisal, installed as King of Iraq. Palestine was split in half, with the eastern half becoming Transjordanmarker to provide a throne for another of Hussein's sons, Abdullah. The western half of Palestine was placed under direct British administration, and the Jewish population was allowed to increase, initially under British protection. Most of the Arabian peninsula fell to another British ally, Ibn Saud, who created the Kingdom of Saudi Arabiamarker in 1932.

Mandate of Mesopotamia

Issue of Mosul

Great Britainmarker and Turkeymarker disputed control of the former Ottoman province of Mosulmarker in the 1920s. Under the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne Mosul fell under the British Mandate of Mesopotamia, but the new Turkish republic claimed the province as part of its historic heartland. A three-person League of Nations committee went to the region in 1924 to study the case and in 1925 recommended the region remain connected to Iraq, and that the UK should hold the mandate for another 25 years, to assure the autonomous rights of the Kurdish population. Turkey rejected this decision. Nonetheless, Britain, Iraq and Turkey made a treaty on 5 June 1926, that mostly followed the decision of the League Council. Mosul stayed under British Mandate of Mesopotamia until Iraqmarker was granted independence in 1932 by the urging of King Faisal, though the British retained military bases and transit rights for their forces in the country.

Mandate of Palestine



During the war, Britain made three conflicting promises regarding the eventual fate of Palestine. Britain had promised, through British intelligence officer T. E. Lawrence (aka: Lawrence of Arabia), independence for a united Arab state covering most of the Arab Middle East in exchange for Arab support of the British during the war. Britain had also promised to create and foster a Jewish national home in the Balfour Declaration of 1917. Lastly, the British promised via the Hussein-McMahon Correspondence that the Hashemite family would have lordship over most land in the region -in return for their support in the Great Arab Revolt.

The Arab Revolt, which was in part orchestrated by Lawrence, resulted in British forces under General Allenby defeating the Ottoman forces in 1917 and occupying Palestine and Syriamarker. The land was administered by the British for the remainder of the war.

The United Kingdommarker was granted control of Palestine by the Versailles Peace Conference which established the League of Nations in 1919. Herbert Samuel, a former Postmaster General in the British cabinet who was instrumental in drafting the Balfour Declaration, was appointed the first High Commissioner in Palestine. In 1920 at the Conference of Sanremo, Italymarker, the League of Nations mandate over Palestine was assigned to Britain. In 1923 Britain transferred a part of the Golan Heightsmarker to the French Mandate of Syria, in exchange for the Metulamarker region.

Independence movements

When the Ottomans departed, the Arabs proclaimed an independent state in Damascusmarker, but were too weak, militarily and economically, to resist the European powers for long, and Britain and France soon re-established control.

During the 1920s and '30s Iraq, Syria and Egypt moved towards independence, although the British and French did not formally depart the region until after World War II. But in Palestine, the conflicting forces of Arab nationalism and Zionism created a situation which the British could neither resolve nor extricate themselves from. The rise to power of Adolf Hitler in Germanymarker created a new urgency in the Zionist quest to create a Jewish state in Palestine.(For a detailed account of this, see Israel-Palestinian conflict and History of Palestine.)

Anatolia

The Russians, British, Italians, French, Greeks, Armenians and Turks all made claims to Anatoliamarker, based on a welter of wartime promises, military actions, secret agreements, and treaties.

Russia

The tsarist regime wanted to replace the Muslim residents of Northern Anatoliamarker and Istanbulmarker with Cossack settlers. In March, 1915, Foreign Minister Sergey Sazonov told British Ambassador George Buchanan and French Ambassador Maurice Paléologue that a lasting postwar settlement demanded Russian possession of "the city of Constantinoplemarker, the western shore of the Bosporusmarker, Sea of Marmaramarker, and Dardanellesmarker, as well as southern Thrace up to the Enos-Midia line," and "a part of the Asiatic coast between the Bosporusmarker, the Sakarya River, and a point to be determined on the shore of the Bay of İzmitmarker." These documents were made public by the Russian newspaper Izvestiya in November 1917, to gain the support of the Armenian public for the revolution. However, the Russian revolution took the Russians out of the secret plans.

Britain

The British sought control over the straits of Marmara, and occupied Istanbul (along with the French) from November 13, 1918 to September 23, 1923. After the Turkish War of Independence and the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, the troops left the city.

Italy

Under the 1917 Agreement of St.-Jean-de-Maurienne between France, Italy and the United Kingdom, Italy was to receive all southwestern Anatolia except the Adanamarker region, including İzmirmarker. However, in 1919 the Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, obtained the permission of the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 to occupy İzmir, overriding the provisions of the agreement.

France

Under the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, the French obtained Hatay, Lebanonmarker and Syriamarker and expressed a desire for part of South-Eastern Anatolia. The 1917 Agreement of St.-Jean-de-Maurienne between France, Italy and the United Kingdom allotted France the Adanamarker region.

The French army occupied parts of Anatolia from 1916 to 1921, including coal mines, railways, the Black Sea ports of Zonguldak and Karadeniz Ereğli, İstanbul (along with the British), Uzunköprü in Eastern Thrace and the region of Cilicia. France eventually withdrew from all these areas, after the Accord of Ankara, the Armistice of Mudanya, the Treaty of Ankara and the Treaty of Lausanne. These conflicts were also called the Cilicia war (French: La guerre en Cilicie, Turkish: Güney Cephesi - the southern front).

Greece

Greek proposal to Paris Peace Conference
Greece according to the Treaty of Sèvres
The western Allies, particularly British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, promised Greece territorial gains at the expense of the Ottoman Empire if Greece entered the war on the Allied side. The promised territories included eastern Thrace, the islands of Imbrosmarker (Gökçeadamarker) and Tenedosmarker (Bozcaadamarker), and parts of western Anatoliamarker around the city of İzmirmarker.

In May 1917, after the exile of Constantine, Greek prime minister Eleuthérios Venizélos returned to Athens and allied with the Entente. Greek military forces (though divided between supporters of the monarchy and supporters of Venizélos) began to take part in military operations against the Bulgarian army on the border. That same year, İzmirmarker was promised to Italy under the Agreement of St.-Jean-de-Maurienne between France, Italy and the United Kingdom.

At the 1918 Paris Peace Conference, based on the wartime promises, Venizélos lobbied hard for an expanded Hellas (the Megali Idea)) that would include the large Greek communities in Northern Epirus, Thrace (including Constantinople) and Asia Minor. In 1919, despite Italian opposition, he obtained the permission of the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 for Greece to occupy İzmir.

South West Caucasian Republic

The South West Caucasian Republic was an entity established on Russian territory in 1918, after the withdrawal of Ottoman troops to the pre-WW1 border as a result of the Armistice of Mudros. It had a nominally independent provisional government headed by Fakhr al-Din Pirioghlu and based in Karsmarker.

After fighting broke out between it and both Georgia and Armenia, British High Commissioner Admiral Somerset Arthur Gough-Calthorpe occupied Kars on April 19, 1919, abolishing its parliament and arresting 30 members of its government. He placed Kars province under Armenian rule.

Armenia

Armenian proposal to the Paris Peace Conference
In the later years of the war, the Armenians established a provisional government, then a republic. Military conflicts between the Turks and Armenians both during and after the war eventually determined the borders of the Armenian state.

Administration for Western Armenia

In April, 1915, Russia supported the establishment of the Armenian provisional government under governor Aram Manougian, the leader of Van Resistance. The Armenian national liberation movement hoped that Armenia could be liberated from the Ottoman regime in exchange for helping the Russian army. However, the tsarist regime had secret wartime agreements with the Triple Entente about the eventual fate of several Anatolian territories. These plans were made public by the revolutionaries in 1917 to gain the support of the Armenian public.

In the meantime, the provisional government had become more stable, as more Armenians moved into its territory. In 1917, 150,000 Armenians relocated to the provinces of Erzurummarker, Bitlismarker, Mush and Van. And Armen Garo (known as Karekin Pastirmaciyan) and other Armenian leaders asked for the Armenian regulars in the European theatre to be transferred to the Caucasian front.

The Russian revolution left the front in eastern Turkey in a state of flux. In December 1917 a truce was signed by representatives of the Ottoman Empire and the Transcaucasian Commissariat. However, the Ottoman Empire began to reinforce its Third Army on the eastern front. Fighting began in mid-February 1918. Armenians, under heavy pressure from the Ottoman army and Kurdish irregulars, were forced to withdraw from Erzincanmarker to Erzurummarker and then to Karsmarker, eventually evacuating even that city on 25 April. As a response to the Ottoman advances, the Transcaucasian Commissariat evolved into the short-lived Transcaucasian Federationmarker; its disintigration resulted in Armenians forming the Democratic Republic of Armeniamarker on 30 May 1918. The Treaty of Batum, signed on the 4th June, reduced the Armenian republic to an area of only 11,000 square km.

Wilsonian Armenia

At the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, the Armenian Diaspora and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation argued that Historical Armenia, the region which had remained outside the control of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1918, should be part of the Democratic Republic of Armeniamarker. Arguing from the principles in Woodrow Wilson’s "Fourteen Points" speech, the Armenian Diaspora argued Armenia had "the ability to control the region", based on the Armenian control established after the Russian Revolution. The Armenians also argued that the dominant population of the region was becoming more Armenian as Turkish inhabitants were moving to the western provinces. Boghos Nubar, the president of the Armenian National Delegation added: "In the Caucasus, where, without mentioning the 150,000 Armenians in the Imperial Russian Army, more than 40,000 of their volunteers contributed to the liberation of a portion of the Armenian vilayets, and where, under the command of their leaders, Antranik and Nazerbekoff, they, alone among the peoples of the Caucasus, offered resistance to the Turkish armies, from the beginning of the Bolshevist withdrawal right up to the signing of an armistice."

President Wilson accepted the Armenian arguments for drawing the frontier and wrote: "The world expects of them (the Armenians), that they give every encouragement and help within their power to those Turkish refugees who may desire to return to their former homes in the districts of Trebizondmarker, Erzerummarker, Van and Bitlismarker remembering that these peoples, too, have suffered greatly." The conference agreed with his suggestion that the Democratic Republic of Armeniamarker should expand into present-day eastern Turkey.

Republic of Turkey

Between 1918 and 1923, Turkish resistance movements led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk forced the Greeks and Armenians out of Anatolia, while the Italians never established a presence. The Turkish revolutionaries also suppressed Kurdish attempts to become independent in the 1920s. After the Turkish resistance gained control over Anatolia, there was no hope of meeting the conditions of the Treaty of Sèvres.

Before joining Soviet Unionmarker, Democratic Republic of Armeniamarker signed the Treaty of Alexandropol, on December 2, 1920, agreeing to the current borders between the two countries. Afterwards Armeniamarker became an integral part of the Soviet Unionmarker. These borders were ratified again with the Treaty of Moscow with which the Bolsheviks ceded the already Turkish occupied provinces of Karsmarker, Iğdırmarker, Ardahanmarker, and Artvinmarker to Turkey in exchange for Adjara region with capital Batumimarker.

Turkey and the newly-formed Soviet Unionmarker, along with Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic ratified the Treaty of Kars on September 11, 1922, establishing the north-eastern border of Turkey and bringing peace to the region. Finally, the Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923, formally ended all hostilities and led to the creation of the modern Turkish republicmarker.

See also



Notes

  1. Roderic H. Davison; Review "From Paris to Sèvres: The Partition of the Ottoman Empire at the Peace Conference of 1919-1920. by Paul C. Helmreich" in Slavic Review, Vol. 34, No. 1 (Mar., 1975), pp. 186-187
  2. Paul C. Helmreich, From Paris to Sèvres: The Partition of the Ottoman Empire at the Peace Conference of 1919-1920 Publisher: Ohio Univ Pr (Trd) (June 1974) ISBN 0814201709
  3. Herbert Henry Asquith, (1923) The genesis of the war. p 82
  4. Armenia on the Road to Independence,' 1967, pg. 59
  5. The Republic of Armenia, Hovannisian, R.G.
  6. Armenia on the Road to Independence,' 1967, pg. 59
  7. The Republic of Armenia, Hovannisian, R.G.
  8. The Armenian People from Ancient to Modern Times: Foreign Dominion to Statehood: The Fifteenth... By Richard G. (EDT) Hovannisian
  9. letter to French Foreign Office - December 3, 1918
  10. President Wilson’s Acceptance letter for drawing the frontier given to the Paris Peace Conference, Washington, November 22, 1920.



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