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The Turkish War of Independence ( ; May 19, 1919 October 29, 1923) is the political and military resistance developed by Turkish Nationalists to the Allied partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after its defeat in World War I. The Turkish National Movement in Anatoliamarker culminated in the formation of a new Grand National Assemblymarker which successfully mobilized its resources under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal. After the military campaigns against offensives of Greece, and of the Turkish-Armenian and Franco-Turkish War, the Turkish revolutionaries forced the Allies to abandon the Treaty of Sèvres and negotiate the Treaty of Lausanne in July 1923, leaving Anatolia and Eastern Thrace to form the Republic of Turkeymarker in October 1923. The establishment of the Turkish national movement led to the end of the Ottoman millet system and with the Atatürk's reforms created a modern, secular nation-state on the political front.

Precursors (October 1918 – May 1919)

Allied occupation of Istanbul
On October 30 1918, the Armistice of Mudros ( ) was signed between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies of World War I, bringing hostilities in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I to a close. The treaty granted the Allies the right to occupy forts controlling the Straits of the Dardanellesmarker and the Bosporusmarker; and the right to occupy "in case of disorder" any territory in case of a threat to security. Somerset Arthur Gough-Calthorpe, the British signatory of the Mudros Armistice, stated the Triple Entente's position that they had no intention to dismantle the government of the Ottoman Empire or place it under military occupation by "occupying Istanbulmarker". Contradictory to this though, dismantling the Ottoman government and partitioning the Ottoman Empire among allied nations had been an objective since the start of the war .

On November 12 1918, a French brigade entered the city to begin the Occupation of Istanbul and its immediate dependencies, followed by a fleet consisting of British, French, Italian and Greek ships deploying soldiers on the ground the next day. A wave of seizures took place in the following months by the Allies. On 14 November, joint French-Greek troops occupied the town of Uzunköprümarker in Eastern Thrace as well as the railway axis till the train station of Hadımköy near Çatalcamarker on the outskirts of Istanbul. On December 1, British troops based in Syriamarker occupied Kilismarker. Beginning in December, French troops began successive seizures of Ottoman territory, including the towns of Antakyamarker, Mersinmarker, Tarsusmarker, Ceyhanmarker, Adanamarker, Osmaniyemarker and Islahiyemarker.

On January 19, 1919, the Paris Peace Conference opened, a meeting of allied nations that set the peace terms for the defeated Central Powers, including the Ottoman Empire. As a special body of the Paris Conference, "The Inter-Allied Commission on Mandates in Turkey" was established to pursue the secret treaties they had signed between 1915–17. Among the objectives was a new Hellenic Empire based on the Megali Idea. This was promised by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George to Greece. Italy sought control over the southern part of Anatolia under the Agreement of St.-Jean-de-Maurienne. France expected to exercise control over Hatay, Lebanon and Syria, and also wanted control over a portion of South-Eastern Anatolia based on Sykes-Picot Agreement. France signed the French-Armenian Agreement and promised the realization of an Armenian state in the Mediterranean region in exchange to the French Armenian Legion.

Meanwhile, Allied countries continued to lay claim to portions of the quickly crumbling Ottoman Empire. British forces based in Syria occupied Maraşmarker, Urfa and Birecikmarker, while French forces embarked by gunboats and sent troops to the Black Seamarker ports of Zonguldakmarker and Karadeniz Ereğli commanding Turkey's coal mining region. At the Paris Peace Conference, competing claims of Western Anatoliamarker by Greek and Italian delegations led Greek to land the flagship of the Greek Navy at Izmirmarker, resulting in the Italian delegation walking out of the peace talks. On April 30 Italy responded to the possible idea of Greek occupation of Western Anatolia by also sending a warship to Izmir as a show of force against Greek occupation. A large Italian force also occupied Antalyamarker. With the Italian delegation absent from the Paris Peace talks, Britainmarker was able to sway Francemarker and the United Statesmarker in favour of Greek's claims and ultimately the Conference authorized the landing of Greek troops on Turkish territory.

The Greek occupation of Western Anatolia began in May 15, 1919, as Greek troops began landing in Izmir. For the city's Turkish population, the day is marked by the "first bullet" fired by Hasan Tahsin at the Greek standard bearer at the head of the troops, the murder by bayonet coups of Colonel Albay Fethi Bey for refusing to shout "Zito Venizelos" and the killing and wounding of unarmed Turkish soldiers in the city's principal casern, as well as of 300-400 civilians. Greek troops moved from Izmir outwards, occupying towns on the Karaburun peninsula, Sökemarker, situated a hundred kilometers south of İzmir at a key location that commands the fertile Menderes River valley and Menemenmarker and Torbalı, towards the north and the southeast at proximity of İzmir.

Initial organization (May 1919 – March 1920)

Anatolia in 1919

Resistance to Allied demands began at the very onset of the Ottoman Empire's defeat in World War I. Many Ottoman officials organized secret Outpost Societies ( ) in reaction to the policies of the Allies. The objective of the Outpost Societies was to thwart Allied demands through passive and active resistance. Many Ottoman officials participated in efforts to conceal from the occupying authorities details of the burgeoning independence movement spreading throughout Anatolia. Munitions initially seized by the Allies were secretly smuggled out of Istanbul into Central Anatolia, along with Ottoman officers keen to resist any division of Ottoman territories. General Ali Fuat Cebesoy in the meantime had moved his army corps from Syria to Ankara and started organizing resistance groups, including People of the Caucasian immigrants under Çerkez Ethem.

Since the southern rim of Anatolia was effectively controlled by British warships and competing Greek and Italian troops, the Turkish National Movement's headquarters moved to the rugged terrain of central Anatolia. In the face of nationalist resistance, the sultan and his government bribed major Ottoman Pashas like Mustafa Kemal with important positions in the areas remaining under "direct Ottoman authority" territories defined by the Treaty of Sèvres, areas free of Allied control. The reasons for these new assignments is still a matter of debate; one view is that it was an intentional move to support the national movement, another was that the Sultan wanted to keep Istanbul under his control, a goal which was in total agreement with the aims of the occupation armies which can keep the Sultan in control. The most prominent idea given for the Sultan’s decision was by assigning these officers out of the capital, the Sultan was trying to minimize the effectiveness of these soldiers in the capital. The Sultan was cited as saying that without an organized army, the Allies could not be defeated, and the national movement had two army corps in May 1919, one based in Ankara under the command of Ali Fuat Cebesoy and the other based in Erzurummarker under the command of Kazim Karabekir.

Through manipulation and the help of friends and sympathizers, Mustafa Kemal became the Inspector General of virtually all of the Ottoman forces in Anatolia, tasked with overseeing the disbanding process of the remaining Ottoman forces. He and his carefully selected staff left Constantinople (Istanbul) aboard SS Bandirma, an old steamer for Samsunmarker on the evening of May 16, 1919. The inspector general stepped ashore on May 19 and set up his quarters in the Mintika Palace Hotel. Mustafa Kemal made the people of Samsun aware of the Greek and Italian landings, staged mass meetings (whilst remaining discreet) and made, thanks to the excellent telegraph network, fast connections with the army units in Anatolia and began to form links with various nationalist groups. He sent telegrams of protest to foreign embassies and the War Ministry about British reinforcements in the area and about British aid to Greek brigand gangs. After a week in Samsun, Mustafa Kemal and his staff moved to Havzamarker, about inland.

Mustafa Kemal writes in his memoir that he needed nationwide support. The importance of his position, and his status as a hero after the Battle of Gallipoli, gave him some credentials. On the other hand, this was not enough to inspire everyone. While officially occupied with the disarming of the army, he had increased his various contacts in order to build his movement's momentum. He met with Rauf Orbay, Ali Fuat Cebesoy, and Refet Bele on June 21, 1919 and declared the Amasya Circular (22 June 1919).

Decoding national movement, June 1919

On June 23, High Commissioner Admiral Calthorpe, realizing the significance of Mustafa Kemal's discreet activities in Anatolia, sent a report about Kemal to the Foreign Office. His remarks were down played by George Kidson of the Eastern Department. Captain Hurst (British army) in Samsun warned Admiral Calthorpe one more time, but Hurst's units were replaced with a Brigade of Gurkhas. The movement of British units alarmed the population of the region and convinced the population that Mustafa Kemal was right. Right after this "The Association for Defense of National Rights" (Müdafaa-i Hukuk Cemiyeti) was founded in Trabzon, and a parallel association in Samsun was also founded, which declared that the Black Sea region was not safe. The same activities that happened during the Occupation of Izmir were happening in the region. When the British landed in Alexandretta, Admiral Calthorpe resigned on the basis that this was against the Armistice that he had signed and was assigned to another position on August 5, 1919.

The Ottoman War Minister Damat Ferid Pasha ordered Refet Bele and Mustafa Kemal to work on reducing the tensions among the Muslim Black Sea population. Ferit Pasha promised that the British would not take any action against them. Mustafa Kemal said to his close friends "Ferit Pasha does not understand the realities of the region; he should resign for the benefit of the Empire".

On 2 July, Kemal received a telegram from the Sultan. The Sultan asked him to cease his activities in Anatolia and return to the capital. Mustafa Kemal was in Erzincan and did not want to return to Istanbul, concerned that the foreign authorities might have designs for him beyond the Sultan's plans. He felt the best course for him was to take a two month leave of absence.

Representative committee established at the Sivas Congress (4 September 1919 11 September 1919).

Representational problem (October 1919)

On October 16 1919, Ali Riza Pasha sent a navy minister Hulusi Salih Pasha to negotiate with the Turkish National Movement. Hulusi Salih Pasha was not part of World War I. Salih Pasha and Mustafa Kemal met in Amasya. Mustafa Kemal put the representational problems of Ottoman Parliament on the agenda. He wanted to have a signed protocol between Ali Riza Pasha and the "representative committee." On the advice of the British, Ali Riza Pasha rejected any form of recognition or legitimacy claims by this unconstitutional political formation in Anatolia.

In December 1919, fresh elections were held for the Ottoman parliament. This was an attempt to build a better representative structure. The Ottoman parliament was seen as a way to reassert the central government's claims of legitimacy in response to the emerging nationalist movement in Anatolia. In the meantime, groups of Ottoman Greeks had formed Greek nationalist militias within Ottoman borders and were acting on their own. Greek members of the Ottoman parliament repeatedly blocked any progress in the parliament, and most Greek subjects of the Sultan boycotted the new elections.

The elections were held and a new parliament of the Ottoman State was formed under the occupation. However, Ali Riza Pasha was too hasty in thinking that his parliament could bring him legitimacy. The house of the parliament was under the shadow of the British battalion stationed at Istanbul. Any decisions by the parliament had to have the signatures of both Ali Riza Pasha and the commanding British Officer. The freedom of the new government was limited. It did not take too long for the members of parliament to recognize that any kind of integrity was not possible in this situation. Ali Riza Pasha and his government had become the voice of the Triple Entente. The only laws that passed were those acceptable to, or specifically ordered by the British.

Ottoman Parliament acts alone (January 1920)

On January 12, 1920, the last Ottoman Chamber of Deputies met in the capital. First the sultan’s speech was presented and then a telegram from Mustafa Kemal, manifesting the claim that the rightful government of Turkey being in Ankara in the name of the Representative Committee.

A group called Felâh-i Vatan among the Ottoman parliament worked to acknowledge the decisions taken at the Erzurum Congress and the Sivas Congress. The British began to sense that something had been flourishing that they did not want. The Ottoman government was not doing what it could to suppress the nationalists. On January 28 the deputies met secretly. Proposals were made to elect Mustafa Kemal president of the Chamber, but this was deferred in the certain knowledge that the British would prorogue the Chamber before it could do what has been planned all along, namely accept the declaration of the Sivas Congress.

On 28 January, 1920, the Ottoman parliament developed the National Pact (Misak-i Milli) and published it on 12 February 1920. This pact adapted six principles; which called for self-determination, the security of Constantinople, and the opening of the Straits, also the abolishment of the capitulations. In effect the Misak-i Milli solidified a lot of nationalist notions, which were in conflict with the Allied plans.

Shift from de facto to de jure occupation (February 1920)

The National Movement, which persuaded the Ottoman parliament to declare "Misak-i Milli", prompted the British government to take matters into its own hands. To put an end to this situation the British decided they needed to systematically bring Turkey under its control. The plan was to dismantle every organization beginning from Istanbul to deep into Anatolia. Mustafa Kemal's National Movement was the main problem. The British Foreign Office was asked to devise a plan on how to deal with it. The Foreign Office developed the same plan they used during the Arab Revolt, but this time the resources were channeled to warlords like Ahmet Anzavur. The political side of this decision was solidified under the Treaty of Sèvres. Anatolia was to be westernized under Christian governments. That was the only way that Christians could be safe said the British government. The Treaty of Sèvres placed most of Anatolia under Christian control. This policy aimed to break down the authority in Anatolia by separating the Sultan, its government, and putting Christians (Greece and Democratic Republic of Armenia, Armenians of Cilia) against Muslims. The details of these covert operations is summarized under the title Jurisdictional Conflict.

On the night of March 15 British troops began to occupy key buildings and arrest Turkish nationalists. It was a very messy operation. At the military music school there was resistance. At least ten students died but the official death toll is unknown even today. The British tried to capture the leadership of the movement. They secured the departments of the Minister of War and of the Chief of the General Staff, Fevzi Çakmak. Çakmak was an able and relatively conservative officer who was known as one of the army’s oldest field commanders. He soon became one of the principal military leaders of the National Movement.

Mustafa Kemal was ready for this move. He warned all the nationalist organizations that there would be misleading declarations from the capital. He warned that the only way to stop the British was to organize protests. He said "Today the Turkish nation is called to defend its capacity for civilization, its right to life and independence its entire future". Mustafa Kemal was extensively familiar with the Arab Revolt and British involvement. He managed to stay one step ahead of the British Foreign Office. This, as well as his other abilities, gave Mustafa Kemal considerable authority among the revolutionaries.

On March 18 the Ottoman parliament sent a protest to the Allies. The document stated that it was unacceptable to arrest five of its members. But the damage had been done. It was end of the Ottoman political system. This show of force by the British had left the Sultan as sole controller of the Empire. But the Sultan depended on their power to keep what was left of the empire. He was now a puppet for the Allies.

Jurisdictional conflict (March 1920 – March 1922)

The new government, hoping to undermine the National Movement, passed a fatwa (legal opinion) from Şeyhülislam. The fatwa stated that true believers should not go along with the nationalist (rebels) movement. Along with this religious decree, the government sentenced Mustafa Kemal and prominent nationalists to death in absentia. At the same time, the müfti of Ankara Rifat Börekçi in defense of the nationalist movement, issued a counteracting fatwa declaring that the capital was under the control of the Entente and the Ferit Pasha government. In this text, nationalist movement's goal was stated as freeing the sultan and Caliphate from its enemies.

Dissolution of the Ottoman parliament (March 1920)

Mustafa Kemal expected the Allies neither to accept the Harbord report nor to respect his parliamentary immunity if he went to the Ottoman capital, hence he remained in Anatolia. Kemal moved the Representative Committee's capital from Erzurum to Ankara so that he could keep in touch with as many deputies as possible as they traveled to Istanbul to attend the parliament. He also started a newspaper, the Hakimiyet-i Milliye (National Sovereignty), to speak for the movement both in Turkey and the outside world (January 10, 1920).

Mustafa Kemal declared that the only legal government of Turkey was the Representative Committee in Ankara and that all civilian and military officials were to obey it rather than the government in Istanbul. This argument gained very strong support, as by that time the fact of the Ottoman Parliament being fully under the Allied control had been established.

Declaration of the Grand National Assembly (April 1920)

The strong measures taken against the nationalists by the Ottoman government created a distinct new phase. Mustafa Kemal sent a note to the governors and force commanders, asking them to implement election of delegates to join the Grand National Assembly, which would convene in Ankara. Mustafa Kemal appealed to the Islamic world asking for help to make sure that everyone knew he was still fighting in the name of the sultan who was also the caliph. He stated he wanted to free the Caliph from the Allies. Plans were made to organize a new government and parliament in Ankara, and then ask the sultan to accept its authority.

A flood of supporters moved to Ankara just ahead of the Allied dragnets. Included among them were Halide Edip, Adnan Adivar, Ismet Inönü, Kemal’s important allies in the Ministry of War, and the Celaleddin Arif the president of the Chamber of Deputies. Yunus Nadi Abalioglu, the owner of Yeni Gün newspaper, journalist-author and deputy of Izmir, Halide Edip Adivar met in Geyve on March 31. Two intellectuals discussed the necessity that a news agency should be established to allied military administration's censure over the news. They chose Anadolu as the name. Mustafa Kemal, which they meet in Ankara, immediately launched initiatives to herald establishment of Anadolu Agency. Kemal wanted to transmit news stories to the world. Kemal also stressed the importance of making the national struggle be heard inside and outside of the country. Celaleddin Arif's desertion of the capital was of great significance. Celaleddin Arif stated that the Ottoman Parliament had been dissolved illegally. The Armistice did not give Allies power over dissolving the Ottoman Parliament and the Constitution of 1909 which removed the power from Sultan to prevent what Abdulhamid did in 1879.

Some 100 members of the Ottoman Parliament were able to escape the Allied roundup and joined 190 deputies elected around the country by the national resistance group. Ismet Inonü joined as a deputy from Edirne. On March 1920, Turkish revolutionaries announced that the Turkish nation was establishing its own Parliament in Ankara under the name Grand National Assemblymarker (GNA). The GNA assumed full governmental powers. On April 23, 1920, the new Assembly gathered for the first time, making Mustafa Kemal its first president and Ismet Inonü chief of the General Staff. The new regime’s determination to revolt against the government in the capital and not the Sultan was quickly made evident.

Early pressure on nationalist militias (April and June 1920)

Kuvva-i Milliye.
Efforts for independence.

Anatolia had many forces on its soil: British battalions, Ahmet Aznavur forces, and the Sultan's army. The Sultan gave 4,000 soldiers from his Kuva-i Inzibatiye (Caliphate Army). Then using money from the Allies, he raised another army, a force about 2,000 strong from non-Muslim inhabitants which were initially deployed in Iznik. The sultan's government sent forces under the name of the caliphate army to the revolutionaries and aroused counterrevolutionary outbreaks..

The British being skeptical of how formidable these insurgents were, decided to use irregular power to counteract this rebellion. The nationalist forces were distributed all around Turkey, so many small units were dispatched to face them. In Izmit there were two battalions of the British army. Their commanders were living on the Ottoman warship Yavuz. These units were to be used to rout the partisans under the command of Ali Fuat Cebesoy and Refet Bele.

On 13 April 1920, the first conflict occurred at Düzce as a direct consequence of the sheik ul-Islam's fatwa. On 18 April, the Düzce conflict was extended to Bolu; on 20 April, it extended to Gerede. The movement engulfed an important part of northwestern Anatolia for about a month. The Ottoman government had accorded semi-official status to the "Kuva-i Inzibatiye" and Ahmet Anzavur held an important role in the uprising. Both sides faced each other in a pitched battle near Izmit on June 14 1920. Ahmet Aznavur's forces and British units outnumbered the militias. Yet under heavy attack some of the Kuva-i Inzibatiye deserted and joined the opposing ranks. This revealed the Sultan did not have the unwavering support of his men. Meanwhile the rest of these forces withdrew behind the British lines which held their position.

The clash outside Izmit brought serious consequences. The British forces opened fire on the nationalists and bombed them from the air. This bombing forced a retreat but there was a panic in Istanbul. The British commander, General George Milne, asked for reinforcements. This led to a study to determine what would be required to defeat the Turkish nationalists. The report, signed by Marshal Ferdinand Foch, concluded that twenty-seven divisions would be sufficient, but the British army did not have twenty-seven divisions to spare. Also a deployment of this size could have disastrous political consequences back home. The Great War had just ended and the British public would not support another lengthy and costly expedition.

The British accepted the fact that a nationalist movement could not be faced without deployment of consistent and well-trained forces. On June 25 the forces originating from Kuva-i Inzibatiye were dismantled under British supervision. The official stance was that there was no use for them. The British realized that the best option to overcome these Turkish nationalists was to use a force that was battle-tested and fierce enough to fight the Turks on their own soil. The British had to look no further than Turkey's neighbor: Greece.

Establishment of the army (July 1920)

Before the Amasya Circular (22 June 1919), Mustafa Kemal met with a Bolshevik delegation headed by Colonel Semyon Budyonny. The Bolsheviks wanted to annex the parts of the Caucasus, including Democratic Republic of Armenia, which were formerly part of Czarist Russia. They also saw a Turkish Republic as a buffer state or possibly a communist ally. Kemal's official response was "Such questions had to be postponed until Turkish independence was achieved." Having this support was important for the national movement

The first objective was the securing of arms from abroad. They obtained these primarily from the Soviet Union and from Italy and France. These arms, especially the Soviet weapons, allowed the Turks to organize an effective army. After the Treaty of Kars (October 23, 1921) nationalists agreed to cede Nachicevan and Batum and in response they received support and gold. For the promised resources, the nationalists had to wait until the Battle of Sakarya (August – September, 1921). On August 4 1920, Turkey's representative in Moscow, Riza Nur, sent a telegram saying that soon 60 Krupp artillery pieces, 30,000 shells, 700,000 grenades, 10,000 mines, 60,000 Romanian swords, 1.5 million captured Ottoman rifles, 1 million Russian rifles, 1 million Austro-Hungarian Mannlicher rifles, as well as some Martini-Henry rifles and 25,000 bayonets would be in the possession of the Turkish nationalists.

Treaty of Sèvres (August 1920)

The Ottoman Government signed the Treaty of Sèvres on the basis that the Treaty did not dismember the Caliphate and Istanbul was left to the Sultan. The Treaty was rejected by the Turkish national movement. Their position was that territorial settlements were not made on the basis of broad practical statesmanship to arrange durable frontiers and a tolerable future for the peoples concerned. Rather, it was drawn on the momentary interests of foreign policy.

Also Venizelos drew the Greek gains in the Treaty as other nations had to let Greece occupy these regions. It was not that the Triple Entente wanted to see these regions detached from Bulgaria and Anatolia, but they were not strong enough, either their domestic policy or armed units did not have the will to go forward, to take themselves.

Conflicts in the East (June – November 1920)

The border of the Republic of Armenia (ADR) and Ottoman Empire was defined in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 3, 1918) after the Bolshevik revolution, and later by the Treaty of Batum (June 4, 1918) with the ADR. It was obvious that after the Armistice of Mudros (October 30 1918) the eastern border was not going to stay as it was drawn. There were talks going on with the Armenian Diaspora and Triple Entente on reshaping the border. The Fourteen Points was seen as an incentive to ADR, if Armenians could prove that they were the majority of the population and that they had military control over the eastern regions. The Armenian movements on the borders were being used as an argument to redraw the border between Ottoman Empire and ADR. Woodrow Wilson agreed to transfer the territories back to the ADR as given the ideas that they are dominantly controlled by Armenians. The results of these talks were to be reflected on the Treaty of Sèvres (August 10 1920). There was also a movement of Armenians from southeast with the French support. The French-Armenian Agreement granted the Armenian claims to Cilicia with establishment of French Armenian Legion. The general idea at that time was to integrate ADR to the French supported southeast Armenian movement. This way ADR could gain much sought resources to balance the Bolshevik expansionist movements.

One of the most important fights had taken place on this border. The very early onset of national army was the proof of this, even though there was a pressing Greek danger on the west. The stage of the east campaign developed through Kâzim Karabekir's two reports (May 30 and June 4, 1920) outlining the situation in the region. He was detailing the activities of the Armenian Republic and advising on how to shape the sources at the eastern borders, especially in Erzurum. Russian government sent a message to settle not only the Democratic Republic of Armenia but also Iranian border through diplomacy under Russian control. The Soviet support was absolutely vital for the Turkish nationalist movement, as Turkey was underdeveloped and had no domestic armaments industry. Bakir Sami Bey was assigned for the talks. Bolsheviks demanded that Vanmarker and Bitlis be transferred to Armenia. This was unacceptable to the Turkish revolutionaries. The revolutionaries were also faced with another dilemma: their hesitation to move forces to prevent the Armenian raids was causing a growing unsettlement among the Turks. The Greek threat and diplomatic connections needed to be balanced.

Active stage

Before more diplomatic exchanges took place, to show a sign of power on the discussion table, Armenia moved its forces to Oltu, leading to the battle of Oltu. The battle of Oltu ended the discussions with Russian government and in a couple of days the Treaty of Sèvres was signed by the Ottoman Empire. This was followed by occupation of Artvin by Georgian forces on 25 July.


The Treaty of Alexandropol (December 2, 1920) was the first treaty signed by the Turkish revolutionaries. It nullified the Armenian activities on the east border which was reflected on the Treaty of Sèvres as succession of regions named as Wilsonian Armenia. The tenth item in the Treaty of Alexandropol stated that Armenia renounced the Treaty of Sèvres, which stipulated the Wilsonian Armenia.

After the peace agreement with Turkish nationals, in late November, a Soviet-backed Communist uprising happened in Armenia. On November 28, 1920, the 11th Red Army under the command of Anatoliy Hekker crossed from Soviet Azerbaijan to Armenia. The second Soviet-Armenian war lasted only a week. The ADR was not eliminated by the Turkish revolutionaries, whom Armenians could no longer threaten after being defeated. It is also possible to claim that had the ADR been content with the boundaries as of 1919, she could have shown more resistance to the Bolshevik conquest, both internally and externally.

On March 16, 1921, the Bolsheviks and Turkey signed a more comprehensive agreement, the Treaty of Kars, which involved representatives of Soviet Armenia, Soviet Azerbaijan, and Soviet Georgia.

The arms left by the defeated ADR forces were sent to the west for use against the Greeks.

Conflicts in the West

The war arose because the western Allies, particularly British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, had promised Greece territorial gains at the expense of the Ottoman Empire if Greece entered the war on the Allied side. These included Eastern Thrace, the islands of Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos), and parts of Western Anatolia around the city of Izmir (Smyrna). Greece wanted to occupy Istanbul (Constantinople), the historical capital of the Byzantine Empire, to achieve the Megali Idea, but Entente powers did not give permission.

It was decided by the Triple Entente that Greece would occupy a zone around Izmir (Smyrna) and Ayvalik in western Asia Minor. The reason for these landings were prior Italian landings on the southern coast of Turkey, including in the city of Antalya. The Allies worried about further Italian expansion and saw Greek landings as a way to avoid this.

On May 28, Greeks landed on Ayvalik. It was no surprise that this small town was chosen as this town was the Greek-speaking stronghold before the Balkan Wars. The Balkan Wars changed the nature of this region. The Turkish inhabitants who were forced out with the extending borders of Greece, mainly from Crete, settled in this area. Under an old Ottoman Lieutenant Colonel Ali Çetinkaya, these people formed a unit. Along Ali Çetinkaya's units population in the region gathered around Resit, Tevfik and Çerkes Ethem. These units were very determined to fight against Greece as there was no other place that they can be pushed back. Resit, Tevfik and Ethem were of Circassian origin who were expelled from their ancestral lands in the Caucasus by the Russians and Armenians. They were settled around the Aegean coastmarker. Greek troops first met with these irregulars. Mustafa Kemal asked Admiral Rauf Orbay, if he could help in coordinating the units under Ali Çetinkaya, Resit, Tevfik and Çerkez Ethem. Rauf Orbay, also of Circassian origin, managed to link these groups. He asked them to cut the Greek logistic support lines.

The Allied decision to allow a Greek landing in Smyrna resulted from earlier Italian landings at Antalya. Faced with Italian annexation of parts of Asia Minor with a significant ethnic Greek population, Venizelos secured Allied permission for Greek troops to land in Smyrna, ostensibly in order to protect the civilian population from turmoil. Turks claim that Venizelos wanted to create a homogeneous Greek settlement to be able to annex it to Greece, and his public statements left little doubt about Greek intentions:"Greece is not making war against Islam, but against the anachronistic Ottoman Government, and its corrupt, ignominious, and bloody administration, with a view to the expelling it from those territories where the majority of the population consists of Greeks.".

Active stage

Mustafa Kemal in İzmir, greeting people.
Mustafa Kemal in İzmir, greeting people.

As soon as Greek forces landed in Izmir, a Turkish nationalist opened fire prompting brutal reprisals. Greek forces used this as a base for launching attacks deeper into Turkey. Atatürk refused to accept even a temporary Greek presence in Izmir. Greek forces committed numerous atrocities in their attempts to control the region, and frequently targeted defenseless civilians and religious symbols. Eventually the Turkish nationalists would push the Greeks out of Izmir.


With the borders secured with treaties and agreements at east and south, Kemal was now in a commanding position. The Nationals were then able to insist that unconditionally, the Greeks evacuate east Thrace, Imbros and Tenedos as well as Asia Minor, and the Meriç River to be set as the border at Thrace at its pre-1914 position.

France, Italy and Britain called Mustafa Kemal to Venice for cease-fire negotiations. In return, Mustafa Kemal demanded negotiations be started at Mudanya. Negotiations at Mudanya began on October 3, and it was concluded with the Armistice of Mudanya.

Conflicts in the south (January 1920 – February 1921)

A French army
Çukurova Nationalist militias.
Çukurova Nationalist militias.

The French wanted to settle in Syriamarker. With a pressure against French, Cilicia would be easily left to the nationalists. The Taurus Mountainsmarker were critical for Mustafa Kemal. The French soldiers were foreign to the region and they were using Armenian militia to acquire their intelligence. Turkish nationals had been in cooperation with Arab tribes in this area. If compared to the Greek threat, they were the second most dangerous for Mustafa Kemal. He proposed that if the Greek threat could be disseminated, the French would not resist.

The resistance of the national forces was a big surprise to France. They blamed the British forces which did not curb the resistance power of the local sources. The strategic goal of opening a front at the south by moving Armenians against the Turkish National forces was a failure after the defeat of the Greek-British forces on the west. The French Armenian Legion joined with local Armenians in the region against the Turkish National forces turned out to be a failure. Most of the Armenians in this region had to migrate alongside the French army. Even though most of the fight was organized alongside the Armenian sources, the loss of French soldiers generated much disapproval in France, which tried to mend the results of the continental wars. France asked for 1,500,000 gold coins from the Turkish National Government (Mustafa Kemal) for their loss, which was denied.

Conference of London (March 1921)

In salvaging the Treaty of Sèvres, The Triple Entente forced the Turkish Revolutionaries to agree with the terms through a series of conferences in London. The Conference of London, with sharp differences, failed in both the first stage and the second stages. The modified Sèvres of the conference as a peace settlement was incompatible with the National Pact.

The conference of London gave the Triple Entente an opportunity to reverse some of their policies. In October, parties of the conference received a report from Admiral Mark Lambert Bristol. He organized commission to analyze the situation, inquire into the bloodshed during the Occupation of Izmir and the following activities in the region. The commission reported that if annexation would not follow, Greece should not be the only occupation force in this area. Admiral Bristol was not so sure how to explain this annexation to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson as he insisted on 'respect for nationalities' in the Fourteen Points. He believed that the sentiments of the Turks 'will never accept this annexation'.

Neither the Conference of London nor Admiral Mark Lambert Bristol's report changed British Prime Minister David Lloyd George's position. On February 12 1921 he went with the annexation of the Aegean coast which was followed by the Greek offensive. David Lloyd George acted with his sentiments that were developed during Battle of Gallipoli, opposed to General Milne who was his officer on the ground.

Stage for peace (March 1922 – October 1923)

Soldiers on the way back.

The first communication between the sides were during the failed Conference of London. The stage for peace effectively began after the Triple Entente's recognition to make an arrangement with the Turkish revolutionaries. Before the talks with Entente, the nationalists partially settled their eastern borders with Democratic Republic of Armenia signing Treaty of Alexandropol, but changes in the Caucasus especially establishment of the Armenian SSR required one more round of talks. The outcome was the Treaty of Kars, a successor treaty to the earlier Treaty of Moscow of March 1921. It was signed in Karsmarker with the Russian SFSR on October 23, 1921 and ratified in Yerevan on September 11, 1922.

Armistice of Mudanya (October 1922)

The Marmara sea resort town of Mudanya hosted the conference to arrange the armistice on October 3, 1922. Ismet Inonü, commander of the western armies was in front of Allies. The scene was unlike Mondros as the British and the Greeks were on the defense. Greece was represented by the Allies.

The British still expected the Grand National Assembly to make concessions. From the first speech, the British were startled as Ankara demanded fulfillment of the National Pact. During the conference the British troops in Istanbul were preparing for a Kemalist attack. There was never any fighting in Thrace, as Greek units withdrew before the Turks crossed the straits from Asia Minor. The only concession that Ismet made to the British was an agreement that his troops would not advance any farther toward the Dardanelles, which gave a safe haven for the British troops as long as the conference continued. The conference dragged on far beyond the original expectations. In the end, it was the British who yielded to Ankara's advances.

The Armistice of Mudanya was signed on October 11. By its terms the Greek army would move west of the Maritsa, clearing Eastern Thrace to the Allies. The famous American author Ernest Hemingway was in Thrace at the time, and he covered the evacuation of Eastern Thrace of its Greek population. He has several short stories written about Thrace and Smyrna, which appear in his book In Our Time. The agreement came into force starting October 15. Allied forces would stay in Eastern Thrace for a month to assure law and order. In return Ankara would recognize continued British occupation of Istanbul and the Straits zones until the final treaty was signed.

Refet Bele was assigned to seize the control of Eastern Thrace from the Allies. He was the first representative to reach the old capital. The British did not allow the hundred gendarmes who came with him. That resistance lasted till the next day.

Abolition of the Sultanate (November 1922)

The form of the government in Istanbul, resting on the sovereignty of the Sultan, had already ceased to exist when the British forces occupied the city after the World War I. The law for the abolition of the Sultanate was submitted to the National Assembly for voting. Furthermore, it was argued that although the Caliphate had belonged to the Ottoman Empire, it rested on the Turkish state by its dissolution and Turkish National Assembly would have right to choose a member of the Ottoman family in the office of Caliph. On 1 November, the Grand Assembly voted for the abolition of the Ottoman Sultanate. The last Sultan left Turkey on 17 November 1922, in a British battleship on his way to Malta. This was last act in the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Conference of Lausanne (November 1922)

Turkish delegation at Conference of Lausanne.

The eleven-week Conference of Lausanne was held in Lausannemarker, Switzerlandmarker, during 1922 and 1923. Its purpose was the negotiation of a treaty to replace the Treaty of Sèvres, which, under the new government of Kemal Pasha, was no longer recognised by Turkeymarker.

The conference opened in November 1922, with representatives from the United Kingdommarker, Francemarker, Italymarker and Turkey. It heard speeches from Benito Mussolini of Italy and Raymond Poincaré of France. At the conclusion, Turkey assented to the political clauses and the "freedom of the straitsmarker", which was Britain's main concern. The matter of the status of Mosulmarker was deferred, since Curzon refused to be budged on the British position that the area was part of Iraqmarker. The French delegation, however, did not achieve any of their goals and on 30 January 1923 issued a statement that they did not consider the draft treaty to be any more than a "basis of discussion". The Turks therefore refused to sign the treaty. On 4 February 1923, Curzon made a final appeal to Ismet Pasha to sign, and when he refused the Foreign Secretary broke off negotiations and left that night on the Orient Express.

Treaty of Lausanne (July 1923)

The Treaty of Lausanne, signed on July 24, 1923 in Lausannemarker, Switzerlandmarker, settled the Anatolianmarker and East Thracian parts of the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire by annulment of the Treaty of Sèvres that was signed by the Istanbulmarker-based Ottoman government. The treaty also led to the international recognition of the sovereignty of the new Republic of Turkeymarker as the successor state of the defunct Ottoman Empire.

Establishment of the Republic (October 1923)

The Republic was proclaimed on October 29, 1923, in the new capital of Ankara. Mustafa Kemal was elected as the first President. In forming his government, he placed Fevzi Çakmak, Kazım Özalp and Ismet Inönü in important positions. They helped him to establish the Atatürk's Reforms.

See also


  1. Mango, Atatürk, chap. 10: Figures on a ruined landscape, pp. 157–85.
  2. Erickson, Ordered To Die, chap. 1.
  3. Nur Bilge CRISS, "Istanbul under Allied Occupation 1918–1923 page 1
  4. 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
  5. "The Armenian Legion and Its Destruction of The Armenian Community in Cilcia" Stanford J. Shaw,
  6. The activities of commission is reported in Henry Churchill King, Charles Richard Crane (King-Crane Commission), "Report of American Section of Inter-allied Commission of Mandates in Turkey" published by American Section in 1919.
  7. Erickson, Ordered To Die", chap. 8, extended story at the Cost section.
  8. Richard G. Hovannisian, Armenia on the Road to Independence, 1967.
  9. Lord Kinross. The Rebirth of a Nation, Chap 19. Kinross writes that the Erkân-i Harbiye Reis Muavini, ie the General Commander of the Ottoman Empire at the time was Fevzi Pasa, and old friend. Although he was temporarily absent, his substitute was Kâzim (Inanç) Pasa, another old friend. Neither Mehmet VI, nor the Prime Minister Damat Ferit had actually seen the actual order.
  10. Lord Kinross. The Rebirth of a Nation, chap 19.
  11. Lord Kinross. (1999) Atatürk: The Re-birth of a Nation, chap. 16.
  12. History of Anadolu Agency
  13. George F. Nafziger, "Islam at War: A History", p. 132.
  14. By Stanford J. Shaw, Ezel Kural Shaw History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey Page 344
  15. Kapur, H Soviet Russia and Asia, 1917–1927
  16. "Not War Against Islam-Statement by Greek Prime Minister" in The Scotsman, June 29 1920 p.5
  17. Text of the Treaty of Kars
  18. English translation of the Treaty of Kars
  19. Kinross, Rebirth of a Nation, p. 348
  20. Full text of the Treaty of Lausanne (1923)


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