Tall Armenian Tale


The Other Side of the Falsified Genocide


  Gwynne Dyer on Turkish "Nationalist" Officers, 1908-18  
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Mahmut Ozan
Edward Tashji
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I'm a big fan of Dr. Gwynne Dyer. My first exposure to his work was his now classic "Turkish 'Falsifiers' and Armenian 'Deceivers'," which I deeply appreciated; it was the rare look at both sides of the "genocide" equation by a qualified and objective scholar, and a look that would not be significantly repeated until Dr. Guenter Lewy wrote his sure-to-be-classic "The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide."

Such an examination puts a real scholar between a rock and a hard place in this horrifyingly polarized debate, because it is the Turkish perspective that is the truthful one, but prejudice and political correctness, along with other reasons, have allowed Armenian claims to overpower genuine history. Thus, in order to come across as objective, real scholars are compelled to find fault with the Turkish presentation. Not that there may not be faults with the way some Turks approach the matter, but we can see Dr. Dyer did not truly make the case for "Turkish 'Falsifiers'" in his 1976 essay (featured on TAT), much as he was obligated to make it appear so in his title. (Similarly, Dr. Lewy was also compelled to be overly tough on Turks, in his book. Ironically, such preventative measures are for naught, since no matter how far real scholars bend over backwards for Armenians, if they show the slightest iota of fairness, they will automatically come under attack for being "deniers," or as "agents of the Turkish government" — and not just by unscrupulous Armenian extremists and their hypocritical genocide scholar allies, but even lazy-thinking "neutrals," such as Scott Jaschik, a supposed representative of "Higher Education.")

Little did I know at the time that Dr. Dyer heavily got into Ottoman history during the 1970s. He actually consulted Turkish sources, as a true scholar would be obligated to do, if the idea is to write Turkish history. (Unlike false scholars such as Richard Hovannisian, consigned only to showcase sources hostile to Turks, in the pursuit of a propagandistic agenda; note how Hovannisian embarrassed himself on this shortcoming, when he went up against a real scholar in 1978.)

The article below is from 1973, and while not genocide-related (except in an indirect way: we can see the situation was desperate. Could the key people involved logically afford to conduct a "genocide," when there were so many pressing issues to attend to?), is deserving of a wider audience, and to remind readers of the caliber of Gwynne Dyer's ace scholarship. Too bad that as soon as Dyer brushed against genocide happenings, he evidently lost his interest in Ottoman history. He probably figured the Armenians are a dangerous people to get mixed up with, and who could blame him. (At least he made one mini-comeback in late 2005.)

(What a coincidence. This page went up today, and I just learned that Dr. Dyer has touched on the genocide once again, mere days ago. For the record, as he wrote in The Record, Dr. Dyer is a genocide believer: "It was certainly a genocide, but it was not premeditated, nor was it systematic." He explains that as a young student, he had translated the handwritten diary of a Turkish soldier whose unit was ordered in 1915 "to march east to deal with a Russian invasion and an Armenian rebellion," and in the diary the soldier had written "we really massacred them." If the soldier was referring to innocent villagers, then that is the most solid evidence for genocidal activity I have ever come across; very similar to what this American soldier had written in a letter, regarding 17,000 Filipino villagers. Then again, perhaps the Turkish soldier was referring to their victory against those bearing arms against the Ottoman army, as when a soldier could say after a victory, "we really slaughtered them." Perhaps the rest of the diary provides further clues. Regardless, perhaps Dr. Dyer relied on this diary entry as what he has termed here, "this explains much," and has concluded that slaughter was a matter of course by the Ottoman army for the non-"deported," and as for the "deported," Dr. Dyer tells us, "huge numbers were murdered along the way." I wish Dr. Dyer could have written a book with the evidence for these statements; the bulk of the Armenians who lost their lives died of non-murderous reasons, as famine and disease. The French newspaper Le Figaro, not known for its Turk-friendliness, estimated the numbers who had died from the marching process, and came up with 15,000 for deaths from all causes — not just murder. 15,000 is not a small number, but it is only 1% of the 1.5 million Armenian propaganda tells us, a number that Dr. Dyer disturbingly tells us is a possibility, as well.)

(Thanks to Hector.)


The origins of the 'Nationalist' group of officers in Turkey 1908-18

From the Journal of Contemporary History, Vol. 8, No. 4. (Oct., 1973), pp. 121-164.

The origins of the 'Nationalist' group of officers in Turkey 1908-18

Gwynne Dyer

The nationalist movement in Anatolia in the years 1919-23 was created, sustained, and led by young staff officers of the Ottoman Army belonging to the same generation and group as that which had carried out the original 1908 Revolution from Salonika against the despotic and traditionalist regime of Abdülhamid. Under the brilliant leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha it succeeded in assuming the mantle and some of the genuine characteristics of a popular movement, but it owed its success to the disciplined organization of the Army. No doubt there would in any case have been popular disturbances and even isolated instances of mutiny within the Army in the face of Entente occupation of Turkish territory and the Greek invasion of western Anatolia in 1919, and again against the Entente-imposed Treaty of Sèvres in 1920 which for practical purposes put an end to Turkish independence; some incidents of this sort occurred spontaneously, but such outbreaks had no hope of success. The coordinated and unanimous withdrawal of obedience from the collaborationist Istanbul government by all Turkish Army units in eastern and central Anatolia in the summer of 1919, and the smooth transfer of that obedience to Mustafa Kemal Pasha with an unbroken chain of command; the assumption of control over the civil administration in Anatolia by the Army wherever it did not get cooperation from the Istanbul appointees; the cautious husbanding of material and diplomatic resources and the gradual remobilization of an army capable of expelling the invaders; the suppression of internal revolts and the bringing under regular Army discipline and command of the erratic and ineffective guerrilla forces which had sprung up to oppose the Greeks in western Anatolia—these were the foundations of Turkish victory in the War of Independence.

These accomplishments were the work—with the willing cooperation of the bulk of the Army, to be sure—of a handful of senior Turkish officers. Mustafa Kemal Pasha was the driving force and the overall head of the enterprise, with Rauf Bey (a naval officer) as his chief political assistant. Kazim Karabekir Pasha commanded the Eastern Front against the Armenians until its liquidation at the end of 1920, and by his influence in the area guaranteed the loyalty of eastern Anatolia to the Nationalists throughout the war. Ali Fuad Pasha was commander of the crucial Western Front against the Greeks and then the first Nationalist ambassador to Moscow. Ismet Bey was the Chief of the General Staff at Ankara and then Ali Fuad's successor on the Western Front. Refet Bey commanded the Southern Front against the French in Cilicia, and was Kemal's chief agent in suppressing internal revolts and in reducing the anarchic guerrilla bands to submission.


The emergence of these names at the head of the Anatolian movement was no coincidence. There had existed in the Ottoman Army since 1909 a loose alliance among certain officers who, though nationalist in conviction and all connected with the revolutionary Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) in the early days, had fallen out of sympathy with some of the more unsavoury ways of dealing with opposition which the Society had the habit of using, with the erratic and authoritarian behaviour of the Society when in power, and with the continual involvement of the Army in political affairs to the detriment equally of Army discipline and training and of political stability. Most prominent among these dissident officers were Brigadier Mustafa Kemal Pasha [Atatürk], 37, Brigadier Ali Fuad Pasha [Cebesoy], 36, (naval) Senior Captain Rauf Bey [Orbay], 39, Brigadier Kazim Karabekir Pasha, 36, Colonel Ismet Bey [Inonü], 34, and Colonel Refet Bey [Bele], 37. Another early ally of Kemal's who should be mentioned, though no longer in the Army after 1913, was Ali Fethi Bey [Okyar], 38. (Ranks and ages as of end of 1918. The brackets denote surnames assumed in accordance with the law of 2 July 1934.)

Gwynne Dyer

 Dr. Gwynne Dyer, in later years

Their quarrel with the CUP was over means not ends, and though most of these officers ceased to be active in the affairs of the CUP by about 1910-11, and with two exceptions stayed out of politics from then until the end of the first world war, several of them retained close if sometimes stormy personal relations with the factions of interventionist officers whose leading figures throughout this period were Enver and Cemal Pashas. The non-interventionist group generally opposed Ottoman entry into the war on the side of the Central Powers, but presented with a fait accompli they all fought loyally, and indeed were among the most successful Ottoman commanders during the war. None of the members of this military 'loyal opposition', except Kemal himself at the end of the war, ever contemplated any attempt to overthrow Enver. Like the group opposed to Enver in the CUP and the Cabinet itself, led by Talat Pasha (Prime Minister 1917-18), they dared not risk the danger of taking on Enver's large following in the Society and the Army while the Empire was under external attack. Then suddenly, in October 1918, the war lost, the CUP withdrew from power totally discredited, and only a few weeks later its leading members fled the country. The field was clear, and instinctively this group of 'Nationalist' officers (the title is conferred retrospectively) foregathered in Istanbul to seek some way of rescuing the Empire from the desperate situation in which Enver had left it.

THE COHERENCE AND EFFECTIVENESS of this small group of determined officers in the midst of the political chaos and indecision of post-armistice Istanbul was the result of a decade of association and common effort. Kemal and Ali Fethi first met and became close friends at the Military Training School in Monastir in 1895-98; it was from him that Kemal first learned of 'something called politics'. At the Military Academy and the Staff College in Istanbul in 1899-1905 Icema1 associated closely with Ali Fuad and Kazim, who were distant relatives and had been close friends since childhood. Ali Fethi, who was in a more senior class, also met these classmates of Kemal's through him. In Istanbul Ali Fuad was Kemal's closest friend, and his father, Ismail Fazil, a senior army officer of some note, virtually adopted the young Kemal. In 1905 Ali Fuad and Mustafa Icema1 were arrested together for plotting against the regime and, after some months imprisonment, exiled to the 5th Army at Damascus. About a year later Ali Fuad was appointed back to Salonika, where the CUP was taking root among the young army officers and the revolution was in preparation, but Kemal was able to visit there only briefly and in secret before 1908. As a result of his absence from Salonika at a crucial stage in the growth of the CUP, Kemal took a lesser role in the 1908 Revolution than Ali Fethi, Ali Fuad, or Kazim; his subsequent open criticism of the Army's continuing involvement in politics and in particular of Enver, whose posturing as the hero of the Revolution he abhorred, led to his being sent on a special mission to Libya to get him out of the way. But he was back in Salonika in time to take part in the suppression of the counter-revolution of 13 April 1909—the 31 March Event (old style)—and it was then that a 'Nationalist' group first took shape.


Kemal was Chief of Staff of the 11th Reserve Division commanded by Huseyin Husnu Pasha in Salonika when the counter-revolution broke out in Istanbul. The senior commanders in Salonika hesitated to commit the Army officially to the suppression of the revolt in the first few days, when the news arriving from Istanbul was confused and contradictory, and so Kemal's proposal to send to the capital an ad hoc force made up of volunteers from both the regular Army and the reserve was instantly accepted. It had the right popular flavour, and kept the skirts of more senior officers clear. The force was named the Hareket Ordusu (Action Army) as he suggested, and he and Hüseyin Hüsnü Pasha were made its chief of staff and commander respectively. The Hareket Ordusu set out for Istanbul on 16 April, and Kemal remained effectively its moving spirit until it arrived outside the walls of Istanbul, to be joined there as he had proposed by another contingent of volunteers from Edirne.

By that time, however, it had become clear that the revolt was an outbreak confined to the capital. The CUP had regathered its forces and its leading Army members like Enver, Ali Fethi and Hafiz Hakki came racing back from the capitals of Europe, where they had been sent as attach& after the 1908 Revolution, to take up the key positions in the Hareket Ordusu. The Army's senior officers had recovered their nerve also, and on 22 April the Third Army (Salonika) commander Mahmud Shevket Pasha assumed command of the force outside Istanbul. Kemal was relegated to the background in the final suppression of the revolt amidst scattered street fighting in the next few days.[1]

After the Army had entered the city and put down the revolt, Icema1 for the first time met Hüssein Rauf Bey, a young naval officer prominent in the CUP who was attached to the Army for liaison duties. The two officers agreed that the counter-revolution was the direct consequence of the evil effects of soldiers participating in politics, a conclusion confirmed by the special court of inquiry into the causes of the uprising, of which Rauf was a member. Kemal and Rauf found other young officers in Istanbul at this time in whom the events of the past year had created strong opinions about the necessity of separating politics from the Army. There was Kazim Karabekir, Kemal's classmate at the Staff College and a friend of Rauf's since before the Revolution. He had participated in the founding of the CUP centres in Monastir and Edirne and was now Chief of St& of the Hareket Ordusu's Edirne contingent. There was Refet Bey, a young gendarmerie officer at Kemal's headquarters who had worked with Fethi and Keinal before the Revolution; and Ismet Bey, a youthful staff officer whom Fethi and Refet recruited to the CUP and who had later cooperated with Kizim in founding the Society's organization in Edirne; there was Rauf's friend since childhood, Selgnattin Adil Bey.

Together with Dr Nazim, a former exile and a major power behind the scenes in the CUP, Tevfik Rüshtü [Aras], and some others, Kemal, Kazim, Ali Fuad, [2] Ismet, Refet and Selahattin Adil now briefly became virtually an opposition faction within the CUP. They argued that it must give up its old ways of intrigue and assassination now that it had the responsibility of power, and that, though the Army's support continued to be vital to the Revolution, a clear line must be drawn between those active in politics and those on active service in the Army. Together the young staff officers signed a note condemning the intrusion of politics into the Army, and Ismet Bey presented it to the army commander Mahhud Shevket Pasha. He accepted it, and even instructed Ismet to write an order to the forces under his command laying down this principle. Furthermore he communicated the contents of the note to the other Ottoman Army commanders for their consideration, but it had no discernible effect in either his own army or the others.

Some four months later, at the annual congress of the CUP in Salonika in September 1909, Kemal forcefully presented his view that the Army and the Society must be separated for the good of both. He submitted a resolution proposing that army officers must decide whether to remain in the CUP and resign from the Army, or stay in the Army and resign from the Society. Kemal was fortunate in being one of the men selected to chair the sittings, and he had the wholehearted support of Tevfik Rüshtü, who was elected general secretary of the congress. He succeeded in gaining the conditional support of a majority of those present for his view, and it was decided to send a commission to the Second Army at Edirne (less well represented at the congress than the Third (Salonika) Army) to sound out opinion among the officers there. Refet Bey was chosen to head this commission; Ismet and Kazim marshalled the support of their fellow officers in Edirne behind Kemal, and the commission returned in a few days to report that the Second Army supported Kemal's thesis. His motion was passed by a large majority.


Although many officers did then make the choice between Army and Society, the most influential young officers like Enver and Cemal did not. Moreover the majority of the Society's leaders, now aware that the Revolution did not necessarily have the support of the masses, were unwilling to break their connexion with the Army. The resolution was never put into effect, and the CUP lost its one real chance to transform itself from a revolutionary cabal into a genuine political party. Indeed, Kemal was lucky to escape the attempts of the assassins who were now turned loose on him because of his dangerous views. Neither his ambitions and convictions, nor his contempt for the strutting figure of Enver, diminished, but he and his friends now saw their safest course of action as immersion in their military duties.

Rauf Bey later noted: 'Having seen [the consequences of soldiers becoming involved in politics], we firmly resolved that from that day forward .. . our most important and sacred duty to the fatherland and people would be to use our influence and authority to prevent soldiers from mixing in politics. This course of action of ours—just as had been the case with Mustafa Kemal Bey previously—was ill-received. Right up to... the end of the CUP'S reign [in 1918] we remained under suspicion, and so encountered difficulties in carrying out our duties and were sometimes condemned to idleness.'[3]

Referring decades later, when his own power was secure, to this same parting of the ways between the 'Nationalists' and the officers who then stayed in the CUP, Kemal Atatürk explained why it happened and why it had brought disaster in its wake. 'Those at the head of the CUP revolution who later entered the government were our close friends. In the first phase we were all together. After the Revolution we came out against them, arguing that the Army should not mix with politics-more precisely that we should not mix in politics as army officers. We quarrelled with them over this idea Ad parted company, unable to agree. We withdrew from politics and carried out our duties in the Army. Thenceforward be had no direct connexion with the government of the country. We passed through many stages and &any experiences, we made careers for ourselves and [gradually acquired our present abilities]. Whereas our friends who had made the Revolution with us and were on the same level as ourselves passed to the head of the country at that time. . .We are not the raw men we were then; we are different now. But they tried to govern the country and ward off all the dangers which threatened it . . . with no more experience than we ourselves had then. How could they have been expected to succeed?’ [4]

LIKE ENVER, BOTH KEMAL AND FETHI SERVED in Libya in 1911-12 in the guerrilla war which the Ottomans launched there after the Italian seizure (Rauf was in charge of running guns and supplies into Libya). Relations between Kemal and Enver became severely strained, but an open break was narrowly avoided. While they were absent overseas, the CUP engineered an election to pack the Chamber of Deputies with its own supporters and so quell the rising opposition in the country to its policies. Following this 'Big Stick' election, the CUP was forced out of power in the summer of 1912 by the revolt of a group of 'Saviour Officers' in Istanbul and Macedonia. Besides the resignation of the Government, these officers successfully demanded what Kemal had failed to achieve in 1909, the imposition of an oath upon army officers not to meddle in politics. But later in the year the Balkan states, for once united, attacked Turkey and in scarcely a month seized the entire remaining territory of the Empire in the Balkans. When the officers hastily recalled from Libya reached Istanbul in November and December 1912, they found the Bulgarian Army only thirty miles west of the city facing the Chatalja lines, and the new Government seemingly about to agree to a peace which would cede not only Macedonia but all of Thrace to the enemy, including the old Ottoman capital of Edirne which was still withstanding a Bulgarian siege.

A CUP coup organized by Talat, the most influential figure in the inner circle of the Society, overthrew the Government on 23 January 1913 and installed a new cabinet strongly influenced by the CUP. In organizing the coup Talat had to rely primarily upon the ambitious young army officer members of the CUP whom both their own superiors and the civilian leadership of the CUP had hitherto striven to keep in the background and away from the levers of power. Enver led the assault on the Cabinet Room in which the War Minister Nazim Pasha was killed, and became the hero of the coup just as he had earlier been the hero of the Revolution. Committed to continuing the war, the new Government felt the need for an immediate military success to consolidate its shaky political position. The Bulgarians anticipated the Turks by announcing that the armistice in effect since 3 December would expire on 3 February. The Government under CUP pressure overrode the commander-in-chief Ahmed Izzet Pasha [Furgach] and insisted on an offensive being launched at once. There ensued a clash between Enver on the one hand and Kemal and Fethi on the other which was to be the foundation of a close and long-lasting political cooperation between the latter two.

Mustafa Kemal (third from left, center) and Ahmed Izzet Pasha
along with other officers pose in Aleppo, Feb. 2, 1917


 Rauf Orbay (1936 oil painting, J.C. Mertan)
commanded the Hamidiye ("Ghost Ship")
during the Balkan War, breaking through a
Greek blockade of the Dardanelles, and by
hitting the Bulgarians and Montenegrins

At this time Fethi and Kemal were respectively Chief of Staff and Operations Officer of the force under General Fahri Pasha which was holding the neck of the Gallipoli peninsula at Bolayir against the Bulgars. (They were in close contact with Rauf Bey at the naval base opposite at Nara harbour, until Rauf took his cruiser Hamidiye on its famous raiding cruise.) Fethi was a much more important figure in the inner councils of the CUP than any of the Nationalist officers and had never given strong support to the idea that soldiers must stay out of politics—almost certainly he had no part in the note submitted by the Nationalists in 1909, and he had been elected the deputy from Monastir in the 1912 elections despite the fact that he was on active service in the Army. Remal too, due to his great ambition and conviction of his own worth, and the powerful sense of rivalry with Enver which had been one of his main motives for action in 1908-09, was able to abstain from politics only for short periods despite his theoretical beliefs—his patience was easily exhausted. Fethi had not fully accepted Kemal's criticisms and warnings about Enver in 1908, but by 1912 Enver's rapid march towards power had awakened the same fears in him as well. Both Fethi and Kemal had advised against the coup at least until an attempt had been made to force the Government out by constitutional means; indeed Fethi had managed to get this view accepted at the first of the Istanbul meetings in which the CUP considered the coup, only to have the decision reversed in a second meeting after he had returned to Gallipoli and Enver had reached Istanbul. On the morrow of the coup their worst fears seemed about to be realized: Enver now looked unstoppable.

They had scant resources with which to counter him. Though they knew quite well that the Army was in no shape to undertake an offensive, they knew also that political considerations demanded one. So, quite contrary to military practice, on 4 February 1913, they submitted a joint report to the War Minister and the Deputy C-in-C, bypassing their corps commander. In the report they condemned the coup, but stated that an offensive had to be launched immediately from both the Chatalja lines and the Gallipoli peninsula, to relieve Edirne before it fell and the Bulgarian army encircling it was freed to join the main Bulgarian army before Istanbul. If the offensive succeeded, they would at least share the credit with Enver for recommending it. If it failed, the responsibility would rest with those in the High Command who had done the planning.

As it turned out they were not to escape some of the blame for failure, for Enver chose to make his offensive wholly at Gallipoli. He secured the consent of the reluctant C-in-C for an entire army corps to be landed from the sea at Sharkoy above the base of the Gallipoli peninsula at the same time that Fahri's force at Bolayir launched an all-out attack, the object being to catch the Bulgars between two fires. Enver himself was Chief of Staff of the 10th Army Corps which was to carry out the landing, with responsibility for coordinating the actions of the two forces. Orders for the landing were given on 4 February, to be carried out four days later. Though there were no Bulgars at Sharkoy on 8 February, the landing attempt was an appalling shambles, and after thirty-six hours was abandoned. Meanwhile the force at Bolayir, which was not informed of this, made its frontal attack unsupported and was smashed with the loss of nearly half its men.

 Enver Pasha

A bitter dispute broke out between Fethi and Kemal on the one hand, and Enver on the other, over the responsibility for this debacle, conducted both openly and by means of unsigned pamphlets. Fethi and Kemal's campaign against Enver rapidly made progress and came near to splitting the officer corps into pro- and anti-Enver factions; the new Prime Minister Mahrnud Shevket Pasha went to Gallipoli on 20 February in an unsuccessful effort to settle the dispute. Shevket saw more justice in the Fethi-Kemal side of the argument, but his attempt to defuse the dispute by bringing the 10th Army Corps, of which Enver was Chief of Staff and de facto commander, back to Istanbul quickly backfired. When the threat of an opposition counter-coup led by Prince Sabahattin frightened Shevket in early March, the forces he had to depend on for the preparation of possible military countermeasures in the capital were commanded by Enver and by Cemal Pasha, the military governor of the city and another army officer with a personal following and an urge for political power. Though the Fethi-Kemal campaign against Enver continued even past the end of hostilities, the latter's position, already greatly strengthened by his command of the force safeguarding the Government in Istanbul, was made virtually unshakable by his ostensibly heroic role in the recovery of Edirne at the end of the Second Balkan War on 23 July 1913. Furthermore, the assassination of Mahmud Shevket on 11 June had given the CUP the excuse to abolish in effect all political opposition. More than ever before, reckless young army officers controlled the CUP and the Empire, with Enver, the most powerful, the most reckless of all.


 Fethi Bey (Ali Fethi Okyar)

Shortly after the Sharkoy affair Talat brought Fethi to Istanbul on 16 March 1913, and had him appointed to the Central Committee and the General Secretariat of the CUP. His motive almost certainly was to seek a counter-balance to the monster he had created by allowing Enver to lead the assault on the Sublime Porte, and to recover a measure of control over affairs for the civilian wing of the CUP, by supporting another young officer with a following of sorts. Fethi now resigned from the Army, while Kemal remained with General Fahri's force, now as Chief of St&, until October 1913. But at the end of the war in August 1913 he took leave and went to stay with Fethi in Istanbul, where they sought ways of exploiting Fethi's new position. It was a powerful one, but Fethi tried to do too much.

At the 1913 Congress of the CUP Ali Fethi in cooperation with Talat announced, not for the first time, that the CUP was to be converted from a semi-secret society into a political party. The amendments made to the CUP constitution at the congress had the aim of shifting the centre of decision-making out of the secret Central Committee and in the direction of the general membership of the hitherto subordinate Parliamentary Party of Union and Progress; the change was necessitated by the growing ascendancy of Enver and the army side of the CUP generally in the Central Committee and the inner circles of the Society. Though Talat secured a superficial success, it was of no use against the fact that the balance of power within the CUP had swung strongly in favour of the young staff officers after the 1913 coup, and within a year both Enver and Cemal Pashas (as they became) had forced their way into the leading positions in both the CUP and the Cabinet.

Had Fethi confined himself to cooperating with Talat in this enterprise, his position would probably have remained secure. But in addition he continued his campaign of accusations against Enver and, despite Kemal's warning but probably with Talat's private encouragement, he tried to cut the ground from beneath Enver's feet by depriving him of the support of bis 'silahshorlar'. These 'warriors' were Enver's personal retinue of young bravoes, mostly junior army officers who had distinguished themselves by assassination and terrorism in the service of the CUP in the early days and who had subsequently hitched themselves to Enver's star : they were shortly to bring him to the War Ministry despite Talh's opposition. Fethi's plan was the simple one of seeking to stop their salaries and dismiss them from the CUP'S service, but here he overreached himself. The addition of this violent element to their opponents made Fethi and Kemal's situation hopeless, and to save Fethi's life from the assassins Talat in October 1913 warned him to resign his posts and go to Sofia as ambassador. When Fethi and Kemal sought counsel on this warning from Cemal Bey, the Minister of Marine and Enver's leading rival, whom they both trusted, he endorsed Talat's advice and warned Kemal that he had better go with Fethi to Sofia as military attachi. They took his advice and went.[5]

NONE OF THE NATIONALIST OFFICERS except Fethi and Kemal had been involved in this political operation, and this was a pattern to be repeated in the future. [6] Even before he left the Army Fethi was more politician than soldier, and Kemal, burning with ambition and resentment at the meteoric rise of his old rival Enver, was prepared to engage in political intrigue to rescue the country from incompetence and to bring himself to the prominent position he was convinced his talents deserved. The remainder of the group which had gathered around Icema1 in 1909 were more sincere in their detestation of political intrigue in the Army, and in any case (with the exception of Rauf, an Anglophile with an unshakable conviction of the necessity of the separation of the military from politics) were too junior and too distant from Istanbul during most of the next five years to be tempted to meddle in politics. The instinctive cohesion of the group survived, and rose quickly to the surface in 1918 ,but despite the appalling mismanagement of the war by Enver Pasha there was little joint action or planning by these officers in the war years 1914-18.

The Nationalist officers were not of course a formal group at all, nor at any time before 1919 were they sufficiently distinct, prominent and permanent as a faction to warrant their being given, or giving themselves, a name such as that imposed on them here for convenience. They were a group bound first by such ties as would ordinarily bind officers of the same age who had for the most part gone through the Military Academy and Staff College together, and later fought in the same campaigns side by side, but cemented more firmly by their shared experience of conspiracy, revolution, and the suppression of counter-revolution in the dramatic years 1907-09. What made this particular group of officers from that much larger number who also shared this background a special and self-conscious group with a political potential, was their awareness of the officer corps' responsibility as Turkey's leading elite, and their conviction, first formed in 1909 and greatly strengthened by the catastrophic mismanagement of the first world war, that this elite was betraying its responsibility. An additional and crucial factor was the enormously powerful personality of Mustafa Kemal, who provided a nucleus about which the group could form. The final necessary element which ensured the survival of the group's identity, however dormant, over the long years between the first flush of enthusiasm in 1909 and the first opportunity for common action in late 1918,was the dominance of Enver Pasha and his extremist allies over the affairs of the Army and the Empire as a focus for their dissatisfaction.

Except for Kemal these officers were not gifted with any extraordinary insight into international affairs or even civil-military relations. Indeed, the ideal to which they nominally gave their loyalty—the strict separation of the Army from politics—would have to be abandoned if they were ever to take any action to right what they saw as being wrong with the existing situation, and it was dropped without a qualm in 1919. Asked recently if the Nationalists' use of the Army to create a rival government in Anatolia in 1919, and their defiance of the legitimate Istanbul government which was collaborating with the Entente, was not a betrayal of this ideal, Ismet Inonu replied frankly: 'The [War of Independence] was basically a revolution by the Army. That is as plain as day. The way things were, what else should we have done? The enemy had invaded the country; we had to liberate ourselves. We had the Army, and the Army had to fight.'[7]


In any case, the destructive influence of politics on the Army was no longer a live issue after 1914, for once he came to the War Ministry Enver pulled the ladder up behind him. In a single industrious year he not only reorganized the structure of the Army on the contemporary European pattern and cleared out all the deadwood by a mass retirement of virtually all officers who had reached field rank before the Revolution; he eradicated politics from the Army root and branch. Even his own 'warriors' were not spared; they were found jobs in the new Special Organization or in various CUP posts, but they had to leave the Army.[8] But although Enver removed politics from the Army he did not remove the Army, under his direction, from politics; he was merely ensuring that no rival voice could speak for it. The Army constituted the power base which let him play the dominating role in the Empire's entry into and policies during the first world war.

One grievance against Enver and generally against the CUP was thus quickly replaced by another. It required no special insight to see that Enver's impulsiveness in the direction of Ottoman strategy, his subservience to German strategic needs in the direction of Ottoman forces, the arbitrary violence which the CUP Government sporadically employed against political opponents and minority groups, and the flagrant and large-scale corruption of many of the lesser members of the government, were leading the Empire to ruin. Even though the Nationalist officers had no such thing as an alternative programme, the blindingly obvious contrast between Enver's military policies and the real requirements of the Empire's situation, and the bitter resentment almost all of them felt at the dominating positions given to German officers in the Ottoman Army, provided them throughout the war with a permanent motive to disapprove of Enver's regime and to discuss their views with others of like mind.

 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

THE GROUP WHO HAD ASSOCIATED THEMSELVES with Kemal in 1909 were in close contact with each other during the war owing to the circumstance of postings. Just as important, from the middle of the war on most of them came by chance into contact with the man who was to be Turkey's Prime Minister at the time of the armistice and won his confidence. This man was General Ahmed Izzet Pasha, a successful soldier of the old school who had reluctantly let himself be made the Minister of War after the assassination of Nazim Pasha in January 1913, only to be pushed out of office again the next year by Enver. Some of Kemal's associates he already knew well—Ismet and Rauf had accompanied him to the Yemen in 1910 to suppress the revolt there, the former at Izzet's specific request—and most of the others including Kemal himself he served with during 1916-18. A man without a party, when he was called upon to form a successor government to the CUP and make peace in October 1918, it was to the members of this group of officers that he turned for support, thus giving them a priceless opportunity.

From his semi-exile in Sofia Kemal had become partially reconciled to Enver upon seeing the excellent work in Army reform which he set in progress as Minister of War in 1914, and even made known to the CUP leadership through a well-connected friend his willingness to serve under Enver as Chief of the General Staff—an idea which Enver rejected out of hand. However, on the outbreak of war Kemal realized that the Government intended to join Germany, and urgently sought through both official and private channels to persuade the Government to remain neutral and await the development of events, fearing all too accurately that it would be a long war and that the Germans were by no means certain of victory.[9] When war came anyway, he sought to return to Turkey and take his part in it, but for some months Enver insisted that he remain in Sofia. Finally on 20 January 1915 Enver appointed Kenal to command a reserve division forming near Gallipoli.[10] In the next ten months his brilliant work in the Peninsula, where he twice saved the Turks from irremediable defeat, was the making of his reputation within the Army. Enver used the military censorship to ensure that Kemal's reputation did not grow correspondingly in civilian circles (though in the Anafarta battles Kemal commanded a force of eleven divisions, the largest under a single Turkish commander in the entire war), and contrived to delay his promotion to General and Pasha for more than a year. After Gallipoli however there was no longer any possibility of Kemal's being left to languish in exile or in some harmless administrative post, whatever doubts Enver might have about his trustworthiness.[11]

In the first years of the war Kemal eschewed political intrigue entirely. His attitude at the beginning is summed up in his response to a questioner who asked him why Turkey had entered the war: 'Never mind that now; it's done. Now we must do our duty.'[12] As time went on and Turkey's military situation became more grave, he could not refrain from uttering protests and warnings, but now he had the position and authority—Colonel and Corps Commander in 1915, General, Pasha, and Army Commander by 1916—which enabled him to do so openly and receive a hearing. From the end of 1915 to the end of the war he issued a steady stream of messages and memoranda to the High Command, always inveighing against the erratic and irrational conduct of Ottoman strategy and the undue influence of German officers in the Army.[13] Sheer frustration at his inability to get his views accepted was responsible for the fact that three times before mid-1918 he offered his resignation from important commands (twice having it accepted) and three times refused similar appointments. But not until late 1917 did he again engage in any political activity.


 Ali Fuad

On 16 January 1916, shortly after resigning his command at Gallipoli, Kemal was appointed to command the 16th Army Corps at Edirne. This was part of the 2nd Army then being formed from units withdrawn from the Gallipoli peninsula, and a short time later Ahmed Izzet Pasha, at last given another job by Enver, was brought to command it. Within a few weeks Enver decided to send this army to counterattack the Russian flank and drive them out of eastern Anatolia; Kemal arrived at Diyarbekir in the East on 13 March. Here he had no such spectacular successes as at Gallipoli, though winning some limited victories at Mush and Bitlis in the Turkish counter-offensive which began after the bulk of the 2nd Army troops had reached the area in the late summer. He and Izzet got to know each other well in the year that they fought together on the Eastern Front; equally important, Ismet, Ali Fuad, and Kazim Karabekir, whom Kemal had not often seen since 1909, took up duties in the 2nd Army in the course of that year and renewed their old links with him and each other.

Ismet and Kazim had served together in Istanbul on the General Staff in 1913-14 as the senior Turkish officers in the Operations and Intelligence sections respectively and had established close relations—indeed they had taken a month's leave together in the summer of 1914 and toured Western Europe. Kazim had been sent away from the General Staff in 1914 because of his opposition to German influence in the Army and to Turkish entry into the war, and after various peregrinations had ended up commanding a corps in Iraq in the battles around Kut-el-Amara. Ismet's views had been the same, but because of Enver's regard for him the Germans did not succeed in procuring his removal from the General Staff until early 1916, when Ismet was appointed Chief of Staff to Izzet Pasha, his former commander from the Yemen, in the newly formed 2nd Army.

Ali Fuad was now commanding a division in the 2nd Army, and Kemal saw him for the first time in five years when in August 1916 he rescued Fuad's force from a difficult position. There was an emotional reunion, but these two old friends did not have much opportunity to see each other at this time. The situation was different with Ismet, whom Kemal had not known very well previously and had never before worked with in any official capacity. When Izzet Pasha left for Istanbul on leave in November 1916, Kemal began to deputize for him as 2nd Army commander, and Ismet became effectively Kemal's Chief of Staff. Two months later Ismet was given command of the 4th Army Corps under the 2nd Army. The close relationship of the two men continued for a year, and their attitude towards the disaster rapidly overtaking the Empire developed in constant mutual consultation.

On 2 March 1917 Izzet Pasha was appointed to overall command of both Ottoman armies in eastern Anatolia, and thereupon Kemal was made substantive commander of the 2nd Army. During the spring yet another of Kemal's old comrades and future collaborators joined him in the 2nd Army when Kazim Karabekir arrived to take over the 2nd Army Corps, and subsequently to act as Kemal's second-in-command in the 2nd Army. The dormant links which were revived and the new ones which were established among these four men, and between them and Izzet Pasha, were to bear fruit in little more than a year's time.[14]

On I May 1917 Ismet was appointed to command the 20th Army Corps on the left flank of the Gaza front in Palestine, but within a few months he was replaced there by Ali Fuad, also transferred from the now quiet Caucasus. After a short leave in Istanbul Ismet was appointed to command the 3rd Army Corps in the new 7th Army, then forming around Aleppo in Syria. When he reached Aleppo he found that once again his immediate superior was Mustafa Kemal, now transferred from the Caucasus to command this new 7th Army. Kemal and (indirectly) Ismet became involved in a bitter dispute with Enver in the next few months over the latter's grandiose project for the recapture of Baghdad by a 'Yildirim Armies Group' of which the 7th Army was to form part. Kemal succeeded in dissuading Enver from this project with the help of Cemal Pasha and the Germans, only to have Enver decide to use the force instead for a further attempt to invade Egypt. In disgust Kemal decided to resign, but before he did so he and Ismet prepared their renowned report on the state of the Empire and the measures necessary to rescue it from disaster. On 20 September 1917 they sent it in cipher to Enver, the Deputy Commander-in-Chief (the Sultan being the nominal C-in-C). Contrary to military discipline, they also sent a copy together with a letter directly to the Prime Minister Talat Pasha.

It was not a report merely on the military situation; it dwelt on the desperate state of the country's economy and administration and warned of the possibility of the sudden collapse of the whole structure of the Empire if measures were not taken at once to put things right. On the military side the report mercilessly analysed the rapidly progressing deterioration of the Army and the precarious situation on the fronts. It recommended the removal of all German officers from positions of command and the adoption of a strictly defensive strategy aimed only at preserving Ottoman territory and lives. Ottoman troops serving abroad should all be recalled, and no further attempts should be made to serve the supposed broader strategic interests of the alliance by wasteful and foredoomed offensives on the Ottoman fronts. Only in this way would there be some hope of defending the Empire successfully.

On 24 September Kemal followed this with a telegram to Enver containing an ultimatum: either he must dismiss the German commander Falkenhayn from the Palestine front and place all forces there under one army to be commanded by Kemal, or he must accept Kemal's resignation. Enver's reply of 12 October was polite and conciliatory, but gave no indication whatever that he intended to act on any of Kemal's proposals. On receiving it Kemal instantly submitted his resignation and, without awaiting an acknowledgement, appointed a deputy to command his army and withdrew. He rebuffed Enver's attempts to persuade him to remain, refused an offer to reappoint him to his former command of the 2nd Army in the East, and returned to Istanbul as, in his own words, 'a rebellious general'.[15]


 Refet Pasha

During this last war year the Nationalist officers were mostly either on the Palestine front or in Istanbul, with Kemal as usual serving as the vital link among them. A few weeks after his departure from Syria Ismet's 3rd Army Corps was transferred to the Palestine front and took its place in the line next to Ali Fuad's 20th Corps, and the two men served side by side through the next year in Palestine as the military situation moved steadily towards collapse, until at the very end of the war they came again under Kemal's command when he was reappointed commander of the 7th Army. Besides Ali Fuad and Ismet, Refet was on the Palestine front as a corps commander; he had been there since the outbreak of the war and had already played a distinguished role in the Suez Canal attacks and in the battles around Gaza in early 1917. Kazim Karabekir remained on the Caucasus front until the end of the war, out of contact with the rest for the most part. The remainder of the Nationalist officers were in Istanbul and in increasingly frequent contact with Ahrnet Izzet Pasha during this year.

After his resignation in October 1917 Kemal was not offered a command again until the last few months of the war, which suited him very well, for he now launched himself into political intrigue aimed at displacing Enver, if possible taking his place himself. Benefiting from the loose rein which Enver as always allowed him, he obtained three months leave and set about politicking. He saw a great deal of his close friend Rauf, now Chief of the Naval Staff, and they discussed the country's difficulties at great length: but Rauf was serious about the military not mixing in politics and refused to have anything to do with Kemal's intrigues while he remained in office—indeed he made a practice of delivering Kemal homilies on the subject. Kemal's main collaborator was Ali Fethi, now back from Sofia and at the head of an opposition movement in favour of a separate peace which was emerging among the parliamentary members of the CUP. For the next sixteen months all Kemal's efforts were focused on obtaining the War Ministry for himself, at first in order to conclude a separate peace, later in the hope of being able to deal more effectively with the victorious Allies.

During their earlier period of close collaboration in 1913 Kemal had unquestionably been subordinate to Fethi, who had then occupied a position of power in the CUP, whereas Kemal had been a relatively junior officer with neither political nor military success to his credit. To many in the CUP and the Army, and to the austere Enver in particular, his constant open criticism of the actions of those in responsible positions had been merely the reprehensible consequence of his great ambition, his arrogance, and his fondness for drink. But now there could be no question, at least among his contemporaries in the Society and the Army, of his genuine abilities, and his status and influence in this circle were at least as great as Fethi's. He was still not very well known outside this circle, as his leading role in the Gallipoli campaign had been deliberately played down by Enver; but shortly after his return to Istanbul he took steps to remedy this. In a series of interviews with Rushen Eshref [Unaydin], a writer for Zia Gokalp's Yeni Mecmua, he described his own part in that campaign; the account Unaydin wrote, appearing fast in a special issue of Yeni Mecmua to commemorate the third anniversary of the naval assaults on the Dardanelles in March 1915, and subsequently as a separate pamphlet, helped to make him known to the wider audience of educated Turks outside the Army.[16]

Meanwhile Fethi and Kemal sought a way to bring Enver down, and in November or early December 1917an opportunity of sorts presented itself. Shortly after Talat Pasha had become Prime Minister in a reconstructed Government in early 1917, a serious division had begun to appear in the Cabinet between the supporters of Enver and Talat on the issues of Army control over civil affairs (the whole country was under martial law) and the desirability of trying for a separate peace. It was in essence a recrudescence of the old split between the civilian and military wings of the CUP, with the addition of a personality clash; by the spring of 1918 this division had become so deep that Talat was to engage in at least one abortive scheme to remove Enver and his followers from the Cabinet,[17] but at this time he was still trying to preserve a common front. Enver's supporters, on the other hand, were already taking precautions against such an eventuality. According to Kemal, Ismail Hakki Pasha, one of Enver's closest associates at the War Ministry, approached him shortly after his arrival in Istanbul and revealed to him in confidence that the Government's will to continue the war was weakening; if it appeared likely that it was going to seek a separate peace it would be necessary to overthrow it and install a military cabinet. Would Kemal accept a position in that cabinet? Ismail Hakki added that he had under his personal control a force of 10,000 men distributed around the capital and various places on the Anatolian coast of the Marmara, its purpose known only to Enver and himself, which was being held in readiness to carry out this coup if necessary.

While such a force did indeed exist,[18] it is difficult to believe that Enver and Ismail Hakki would have tried to enlist Kemal's aid in this way—they knew his attitude to the war and to themselves. The real source of Kemal and Fethi's knowledge may well have been Ali [Chetinkaya], the commander of these secret 'assault battalions', who had known them both in Salonika in 1908 and had served with them in Libya. In either case they seized on the existence of this force as a weapon to use against Enver. Fethi went at once to see Talat and warned him of its existence, first getting his word not to reveal the source of his knowledge. Talat was greatly alarmed at first and consulted immediately with his close friends and members of the Central Committee Mithat Shükrü [Bleda] and Kara Kemal Beys. But on further discussion they found it difficult to believe that Enver would consider such an action, and Talat despite his promise to Fethi decided to demand an explanation from the War Minister. Enver freely admitted the existence of the force, but denied that it was directed against the Cabinet; it was he said merely a precaution against another attempt at a coup such as that Yakub Cemil had tried the previous year. Talat had to give the appearance of accepting this assurance, [19] and did indeed conclude that Fethi's revelation had had the purpose of creating suspicion and distrust of Enver in the Cabinet, which would lead to his exit from it.

Talat's conclusion about Fethi and Kemal's motive was certainly correct. This was entirely clear to Enver, but once again he did not take strong action; he contented himself with giving a strong warning to Rauf to relay to Kemal that this was the last time he would overlook his 'political intrigues'. 'There is no question,' he said, 'that Mustafa Kemal Pasha is a person who can be of the greatest service to the country. And I will continue to employ him in the positions he is entitled to. But I am certainly excused from consenting to a continuation of these political enterprises.'


Rauf left Istanbul a few days later to serve as Ottoman military representative at the Brest-Litovsk peace negotiations together with Izzet Pasha, now returned from the Caucasian front. Calling at Berlin on the way he spoke to Kemal, who had preceded him there by a few days in the company of the heir to the throne Vahideddin. Kemal's alarm when Rauf told him that Enver knew what had passed between Fethi and Talat is clear proof of his purpose in this affair. Rauf calmed him by telling him of Enver's willingness to overlook the matter, but could not resist delivering a lecture on the principle of non-interference by the military in political affairs on which they had previously been in agreement. Kemal explained that he felt he had no choice; Enver had offered to make him a deputy in the Chamber if he wished to enter politics, but the deputies were powerless these days, so there was nothing to do but continue as a soldier. Rauf was right about the intervention of soldiers in politics, however; he now pinned all his hopes on the Crown Prince, who must before long ascend the throne as the Sultan was very ill. Vahideddin was a different sort of man from Mehmed Reshad; Kemal was doing his best to enlighten him on the true situation in the country and things would be bound to improve when he became Sultan.[20]

Enver's behaviour on this occasion highlights the ambiguity of his attitude to Kemal throughout the war. In 1913-14 he had been at great pains to remove politics from the Army and to mould it into an instrument obedient to his purposes, and he could be quite ruthless about discipline. Yet he usually behaved most tolerantly towards Kemal, though aware of his great ambition and the need to watch him carefully. In March 1916, on being pressed to promote Kemal, he remarked: 'I have just signed his promotion. .. .But you don't know Mustafa Kemal as well as I do. True he is very valuable, but he is also very greedy. Make him a brigadier and he'll want to be a general. Give him that, and he'll want to become C-in-C. If we agree to that too, he still won't be satisfied . . .There is no limit to his ambition. Therefore we have to handle him very skilfully and give it to him little by little to keep him happy.' Years later, on hearing of Enver's remark, Kemal commented: 'I hadn't realized Enver had so much insight. He was entirely right.'[21]

Even before 1918 Kemal's high-handed acts had certainly given Enver every excuse to act against him, and his later political intriguing with Fethi (and perhaps Cemal Pasha) to overthrow Enver had even reached British ears. A printed memorandum of 27 May 1918 by the Political Intelligence Department at the British Foreign Office stated: 'There is considerable evidence that the discontent among the officers is serious, and . . . that the aim of the movement was a separate peace. . . The malcontents have a possible leader in a certain Colonel Kemal Bey . . . There is reported to be resentment in the Army at the way he has been treated, and he is rumoured to have a considerable following.'[22]

Yet Enver confined himself merely to warning Kemal when he engaged in particularly obvious attempts against him. The reason was that Enver considered Kemal the only man capable of replacing himself. When the CUP Cabinet resigned in October 1918, he advised Talat Pasha to recommend Kemal to the Sultan as the War Minister in the new Cabinet.[23]

IT IS POSSIBLE THAT ENVER'S decision to send Kemal out of the country with the Crown Prince on his visit to Germany on 15 December 1917-5 January 1918 (to return Wilhelm's visit to Turkey earlier in 1917) was made in response to Kemal's intriguing. If so, it was a poor decision, for Kemal seized upon this as another opportunity to work against the Government. He was rapidly becoming more adroit at intrigue, and henceforward there were fewer dramatic resignations and less of the old loud talk in drinking establishments. The aim was the same—to get himself into a position from which he could rescue Turkey from the fatal illusions of Enver and his comrades—but the methods were becoming more sophisticated. Nevertheless, the great hopes he conceived at this time of being able to wield influence on the Sultan-to-be were never realized.

Vahideddin was almost pathologically shy, and the extraordinary mannerisms he affected to conceal this when confronted with strangers made Kemal wonder after their first meeting, a few days before they left for Germany. As he left the Crown Prince's villa he remarked to Colonel Naci [Eldeniz], a former instructor of his at the Military Academy, now a corps commander, who was to accompany them as interpreter: 'That wretched pitiful man. ... Tomorrow he will be Sultan; what can we expect from him?' Naci had answered 'Nothing'. But the possibility also occurred to him that Vahideddin pretended to be ineffectual for self-protection. To a friend he remarked: 'Either he is a very clever man or a total imbecile, I don't know which.'


Vahideddin (a.k.a., Mehmet IV,

When Kemal and the Crown Prince met again on the train taking them to Germany, he thought he had his answer. He found Vahideddin a different man—still withdrawn and nervous, given to long silences, but able at least to carry on a conversation now that he was in a less formal situation. He knew little of the world beyond Palace circles, and almost everything he knew gave him cause to be fearful for his future, but Kemal's hope grew. He explained the change to himself: 'The Heir Apparent, who the first time we had met in Istanbul had behaved so strangely under the influence uf conditions easily understood by those who know that period, saw no harm in showing his personality as it really was after leaving Istanbul and seeing himself really free, especially after he realized that his hearers were trustworthy men.' Every day for the next three weeks he worked on him carefully, enlisting the aid of Naci and some other trusted members of the entourage, attempting gradually to instruct Vahideddin in their view of the Empire's situation and needs.

It was one of the few times that the man who would soon be Sultan had completely escaped the stifling influence of the Palace; the first time probably in all his 57 years that he had extended conversations on matters of gravity with men important in the world outside the Palace, and been taken seriously by them as a man with a responsibility for making decisions. He expanded visibly under the effect of this. He revealed to Kemal his disgust with Talat and Enver and his conviction that they were doing the country harm, encouraging the General to talk even more freely. Kemal did all in his power to enlighten the Prince on the state of the Empire, the exhaustion of its people, and above all on the impossibility of the war's ending in victory for the Central Powers, a fact he became unshakably convinced of after his interviews with Hindenburg and Ludendorff, and especially after their visit to the Western Front. Vahideddin, though still not very forthcoming, gave every sign that he agreed with Kemal's views, and raised his hopes even higher by asking Naci to become his aide. Naci was not at all pleased with the idea of serving at the Palace, but Kemal persuaded him to accept with the argument that 'There must be someone at his side who will explain the realities to him'.

Finally, on the last day before they were to return to Turkey, when the two of them were left alone in the Crown Prince's Berlin hotel room after a press conference, Vahideddin committed himself. He turned to Kemal and asked: 'What must I do ?'

'We know Ottoman history,' Kemal replied. 'There are some [precedents] that make you afraid and suspicious. You are right to be so. I am going to propose something to you, and if you accept I will link my life to yours. May I ?'


'You are not yet Sultan, but you have seen how in Germany the Emperor, the Crown Prince and the other Princes all have jobs to do. Why do you stand aside from public affairs ?'

'What am I to do ?'

'As soon as you get back to Istanbul ask for command of an army, and I will be your chief of staff.'

'The command of what army ?'

'The Fifth.' It was the army which defended the Straits and hence commanded Istanbul.

'They will not give me this command.'

'Ask for it anyway.'

Vahideddin replied: 'I will think about it when we get back to Istanbul.'

It was not the reply Kemal had hoped for. Once back in Istanbul and exposed again to the old influences and fears, the hesitant Vahideddin would be much more difficult to move to action, but he had, he reckoned, accomplished at least something. He was now the confidant of the man who would soon be Sultan.

Kemal had no early opportunity to test the strength of his influence over the Crown Prince, as he fell seriously ill in the train on the way back to Turkey. For the next six months, as the Empire moved steadily towards military collapse, he was much of the time unable to rise from his bed, undergoing treatment first in Istanbul and then in Vienna. While he was there in June Enver offered him the command of the 9th Army, then forming in eastern Anatolia in accordance with Enver's ambition to occupy the Caucasus and north-west Iran and to retake Iraq, but Kemal refused it.[24] He was in Karlsbad, still not fully recovered, when he heard on 5 July 1918 of the death of the Sultan and of Vahideddin's accession to the throne. Greatly annoyed at being absent from Istanbul at such a time, but still too ill to travel, he contented himself with sending a telegram of congratulations to the new Sultan Mehmed Vahideddin VI which was duly acknowledged. Shortly afterwards he heard that General Ahmed Izzet Pasha had been confirmed as the Sultan's chief military aide.

Probably not much had resulted from Kemal and Izzet's joint service on the Caucasus front in 1916-17 beyond a mutual appreciation of the other's potential value as an ally against the dominance of Enver; the characters of the two men were diametrically opposed, and Izzet did not share many of the ideas of the younger generation of state officers to which Kemal belonged. Nevertheless the latter was pleased at the news; he was certain that Izzet would convert his largely honorary post into one of active military adviser, chief of staff almost, to the Sultan, and he had great hopes that the latter could be persuaded to move against Enver. In a letter of 19 July to the new Chief Chamberlain Lutfi Simavi Bey he remarked: 'The Sultan's ascent to the throne has given birth to extraordinary hopes in me from the point of view of the prosperity and safety of our fatherland. . .I am completely convinced that the fatherland, the nation and the Army will be rescued from being a plaything of Enver's.' [25] A few days later Kemal received a telegram from his own aide in Istanbul, Cevat Abbas, advising him to return there. Kemal replied that he was not yet recovered, but Cevat Abbas immediately sent him a second telegram begging him to come quickly, and on 27 July he left Karlsbad, arriving in Istanbul on 2 August.



Cevat Abbas

There Cevat Abbas told him that it had been Izzet who had urgently requested his return. Informed of his arrival, Izzet came at once to see him in his hotel room. He explained that his summons had not been connected to any specific event, but hoped that Kemal's intimacy with the new Sultan would be useful in diverting him into a new course of action. He felt no necessity to spell out that this course would be against Enver and in favour of a separate peace. Kemal agreed at once and requested an audience with Vahideddin through his personal aide, Naci Bey. It was granted on 5 August.

Kemal's whole concern now was that he should be able to continue his former close and frank relationship, brief though it had been, with the new Sultan. Vahideddin greeted him warmly and Kemal, taking courage from this, asked if he might speak freely as before. 'Certainly,' replied the Sultan, and Kemal went straight to the heart of the matter. Vahideddin must at once take supreme command of the armed forces; there must be no Deputy Commander-in-Chief exercising actual command (Enver was Deputy C-in-C); rather Vahideddin should appoint a Chief of Staff directly under himself (Kemal, of course). Before anything else he must control the Army; only after that would it be possible to put into effect such decisions as he might reach. Ominously, Vahideddin's behaviour reverted suddenly to that which had so alarmed Kemal at their first meeting. He closed his eyes, and after an interval asked: 'Are there other military leaders who think like you?' 'There are,' replied Kemal. 'Let us think about it,' said Vahideddin, and the audience was over.

On 8 August the Sultan issued an irade changing the title of the C-in-C of the Ottoman forces from Deputy C-in-C to Chief of the General Staff, but the occupant of the office was Enver as before. There can be little doubt that Vahideddin was now under strong pressure from the CUP, which was aware of his antipathy towards it. On the 9th Kemal was invited to the Palace again, but this time the Sultan did not allow him to divert the conversation from general points to the subject uppermost in his mind. He hinted that nothing could be done before the near-famine prevailing in Istanbul had been remedied. It was true that the people of Istanbul, who were suffering from hunger and privation more severely than those of almost any other part of the Empire, represented a potential danger to any government, but there was no reasonable prospect of their suffering being alleviated while power remained with the CUP and the war went on. With the desperation of a man whose hope is slipping away, Kemal spoke bluntly: 'The first action of the new Sultan must be to take control. As long as the power—the power to protect the State, the people and all their interests—is in the hands of others, you will be Sultan in name only.' Vahideddin replied: 'I have discussed what needs to be done with their Excellencies Talat and Enver Pashas', and the interview was over. Kemal had lost. He returned to his hotel room in despair. He noted later: 'The man we had thought to be a hadji had produced a crucifur from under his cloak. It was necessary to look elsewhere, and not to alarm anyone prematurely.' [26]

Though Kemal was not to be completely persuaded for fully another six months that the Sultan could be no help under any circumstances, in truth he had never had any chance at all. It is almost certainly not true, as has sometimes been alleged, that Vahideddin had been paralysed with fright by the overweening ambition of the young general who had lectured him so constantly during his German trip. Though their long-term aims were entirely different, as he must have guessed, he had recognized Kemal as a potentially valuable though dangerous ally against the men whom he saw at the time as even more dangerous, the leaders of the CUP, who in his view were the enemies alike of the Sultanate and religion. But at no time had he had the nerve to commit himself fully to Kemal—and in fact would have been foolish to do so, as an attempt to overthrow Enver's power any time before autumn 1918 would probably have ended in failure. Once back in his old environment, without Kemal to support him, his timid resolve had crumbled before the overwhelming fact of CUP power in Istanbul. Perhaps under the influence of Izzet Pasha and Kemal's man Naci Bey he toyed briefly with the idea of moving against the CUP on his accession to the throne, or perhaps Izzet's summons to Kemal was an attempt to revive such an idea in him, but it is inconceivable that he could ever have brought himself to the sticking point. Confronted by Kemal with the prospect of really taking the gamble, he retreated hastily into his shell.

Enver of course did not remain unaware of what was going on at the Palace. His position in the Cabinet was by now extremely shaky; Talat had in fact definitely decided to drop him and seek peace, and was only awaiting his moment, though Enver did not know that.[27] In his desperation he apparently tried to arrange Kemal's assassination. When Kemal, who had taken to carrying two pistols, disarmed the would-be assassin, a Sergeant Idris, Enver fell back on a less drastic but almost as effective solution. He arranged the appointment of Kemal away from Istanbul where he could not get at Vahideddin. He was a capable commander, and the 7th Army in Palestine needed one as a British offensive was imminent there. The problem was to get Kemal to accept.


Enver solved this problem neatly by disregarding protocol. Instead of offering Kemal the post himself, he had the Sultan do so personally at an audience where German generals were also present. The surprise was sprung on Kemal on 16 August 1918, and he had to accept the appointment as he could not refuse the Sultan's direct order before foreign witnesses. Emerging from the audience chamber, he met a smiling Enver. In response to Kemal's tightly controlled but angry protest, Enver laughed out loud. It was the last time they saw each other.[28]

KEMAL WAS CERTAINLY IN CONTACT with Fethi during his time in Istanbul in the summer of 1918, but there is no record of what passed between them. Rauf was among those who saw Kemal off to Palestine; just before the train left Kemal drew him aside and asked him to stay in touch with Fethi and follow events closely. Rauf replied almost stiffly: 'I have made a definite decision not to mix in political affairs so long as I am performing military duties, and I repeat: though I have known Fethi Bey since the [1918] Revolution, I find it wrong to become involved in his political dealings.' [29] There is not much doubt that what Kemal was expecting at this time, and what may have been decided already between him and Fethi, was that the latter would soon make his move against Talat's Cabinet. If it succeeded Kemal would become War Minister, perhaps even Prime Minister.[30]

Liman von Sanders

Kemal reached Aleppo on 26 August after an exhausting journey on the collapsing Turkish railway system and left for the Palestine front the next day to take over command of the 7th Army. His two corps commanders were his old comrades and collaborators Ismet and A!i Fuad; commanding the 22nd Army Corps to the west was another former associate, Refet. The situation was far worse than it had been when he had resigned the previous year; in the interval Jerusalem had fallen, and only the stubborn resistance of Ali Fuad had prevented the rot from spreading farther north. None of the three so-called armies on the front could muster the strength of a well found division, and the troops were in the last extremity of deprivation and despair. Though the army group commander was the competent Liman von Sanders, British superiority on the front was about two to one, even leaving aside questions of fitness, morale and supplies, and there was no reasonable prospect of being able to stop the impending British attack. Allenby struck on 19 September, less than a month after Kemal's arrival, and immediately broke through the 8th Army on Kemal's right.

The Turkish front crumbled, and the 8th Army was almost entirely destroyed in the fighting of the next three days. Under continual air attack and with major British forces already completely round his flank and joining from the north in the assaults being made on him from the south, Kemal nevertheless succeeded in withdrawing most of his 7th Army to the east bank of the Jordan on 24 September. From there, together with a few odds and ends from the 8th who had escaped the British, they continued the retreat north to Damascus, joined by what forces could be retrieved in time from the 4th Army. Liman von Sanders still hoped to be able to hold Damascus, but the city had to be abandoned on 30 September, and on 2 October he ordered Kemal to withdraw his forces and break contact with the enemy. Kemal's troops were not pursued by the British, and so the next day von Sanders ordered him and his staff to go farther north to Aleppo and reorganize the 7th Army. Horns was occupied on 14 October and shortly afterwards the 4th Army was dissolved and all its units placed under Kemal's 7th Army, which thus became the only Ottoman army left in Syria except the very weak 2nd Army guarding the Gulf of Alexandretta against landings from the sea. Hama was evacuated by Kemal on the 17th, but it was not until 25 October that British advanced forces reached Aleppo.

Kemal and Ali Fuad reached Aleppo on 5 October 1918. (Ismet arrived there about the same date, but he had fallen ill and after some days spent semi-conscious in a hospital he was recalled to Istanbul). By their long leap backwards the 7th Army commanders had gained twenty days in which to recreate a military force capable of defending the hills north of the city, the gateway to Anatolia itself. Kemal's mind was only half on the problems of Syria, however; his major concern was the possibility of getting a position in Istanbul from which to influence Turkey's political course.

At Aleppo he was in constant contact with what was happening in the capital; Ali Fuad, who was with him every day, remarked admiringly: 'He had a wide circle of friends in Istanbul, and got news of what was going on in the capital with amazing speed.' (Kemal's informant in Istanbul, and presumably his link with Fethi as well, was his close friend Dr Rasim Ferit Talay, then Director of Health there. Talay communicated with Kemal by private cipher through the 7th Army's Reinforcement Officer in the capital, Lt Ahmed.) Kemal was certainly aware by this time of the parliamentary assault Fethi was preparing on the Cabinet, and was quite clear on what would follow if it were successful. He told Fuad: 'We must try for peace immediately. But Talat Pasha's government cannot do it, it's too worn out. A government must be formed under Ahmed Izzet Pasha. I could undertake the War Ministry in that sort of cabinet.' [31] A few days after arriving in Aleppo Kemal received the news that Talat's government had declared its intention to resign and that Ahmed Tevfik Pasha, the aged Ottoman politician whom Vahideddin had nominated in his place, was having difficulty in putting a new cabinet together. He heard on 10 October from Talay that Fethi's attempt to supplant Talat in the Chamber had failed. Kemal still felt he had enough influence on the Sultan to move him now that the CUP threat had diminished so greatly, and Izzet was well known at the Palace, so between 11 and 13 October he sent the following cipher telegram to Naci, the man whom he had persuaded to become Vahideddin's aide, for submission to the Sultan:


I have received news that Talat Pasha's cabinet is paralysed and that Tevfik Pasha has fallen into difficujty in trying to construct a cabinet. The armies have no fighting strength left and the forces still in being are powerless to protect us. Each day the enemy's superiority is growing greater. Come what may it is necessary to take a decision for peace, if not jointly [with our Allies] then alone. There is not a moment left to lose. Otherwise it is not improbable that we will lose control of the country and it will be exposed to deadly perils. . .I respectfully submit that if Tevfik Pasha has really run into difficulties it is necessary to make Izzet Pasha Prime Minister at once and to form a cabinet composed of Fethi, Tahsin, Rauf, Canbulat, Azmi, Sheyhülislam Hayri and myself. I believe that a cabinet composed of these individuals would be able to master the situation. . .Please submit the names of these persons to His Majesty. [32]

Kemal had intended the War Ministry for himself. His plan, according to a later admission, was not merely to seek a separate peace on as good terms as he might be able to obtain; he was aware of the difficulty that might arise in getting acceptable terms, and he wanted to negotiate from a position of strength. Confident that he could control both Vahideddin and Izzet, he intended to remove the Sultan and the Government to Anatolia and to direct the armistice and peace negotiations from there, under cover of the ten Turkish divisions, all fresh and at full strength with eight or nine thousand rifles, which Enver Pasha had gathered in the Caucasus and eastern Anatolia in mid-1918.[33]

AS THE CENTRAL POWERS' MILITARY position deteriorated rapidly through the autumn of 1918, Enver's ability to block any consideration by the Government of a separate peace had weakened with it. The final blows came in the last half of September. On the 15th an Entente offensive in Macedonia had broken through on a broad front, driving the Bulgars to conclude an armistice on the 30th and thus cutting the land links between the Ottoman Empire and its allies and exposing the Turkish capital to the threat of invasion through virtually undefended Thrace. On 19 September the front in Palestine collapsed with the loss of the greater part of the troops holding it. The last straw came on 1 October when the Germans presented the Turks with what amounted to an ultimatum to consent in a matter of hours to a joint plea for peace to Wilson by all the Central Powers. Having no choice, the Turks agreed, and the same day Talat persuaded the Cabinet that if a peace must be negotiated it would be much better for Turkey if there were not a CUP government in power. Enver and his allies in the Cabinet resisted this proposal bitterly, but his influence was gone and the Cabinet agreed to resign as soon as a suitable successor had been found.[34]

Tevfik Pasha, with his two daughters

In informing the Sultan of his decision to resign, Talat recommended two possible successors as Prime Minister: Ahmed Tevfik Pasha or Ahmed Izzet Pasha. He personally preferred Izzet, but the Sultan chose Tevfik and the latter set about trying to form a cabinet. For a variety of reasons, however, he proved incapable of doing so, and on 10 October at Talat's insistence the invitation to form a cabinet was extended to Izzet instead. He accepted with alacrity, and set about seeking ministers. There is no question that Izzet would in any case have had to call on some of group which had Kemal and Fethi as its outstanding figures—it included at this point not only the leader of the main opposition faction in the Chamber but also a good half of the Empire's best military leaders. Not associated with the discredited CUP leaders, they were the most influential, most capable, and most trustworthy body of men available who identified themselves with the Turkish nationalist cause. Furthermore, he had served with most of them and knew them well. But this tendency was no doubt strengthened by the fact that Izzet Pasha knew, liked, and trusted Rauf Bey, who had accompanied him to Brest-Litovsk, and asked Rauf to help him in getting a cabinet together.[35] Rauf had recently resigned as Chief of Naval Staff in protest at German domination of the Ottoman Navy, and was recovering from influenza when Izzet summoned him on the 10th. He instantly agreed to aid Izzet. They decided at once that Canbulat Bey should be Minister of the Interior and Ali Fethi Minister of Public Works. Then Rauf proposed that Kemal be made either Minister of War or Chief of the General Staff. Izzet, however, intended to keep both posts in his own hands for the moment. (In fact he had already rejected the CUP'S proposal of Kemal as War Minister only a few days before.) He could not hope to deal with the detailed duties of both these jobs as well as those of the Prime Ministership himself, and so he was going to summon Colonel Ismet Bey from the Syrian front to act as his deputy in the post of Permanent Undersecretary of War.[36] Kemal, he explained, was the only officer competent to take over command of the Syrian front from Liman von Sanders after an armistice; he could become Minister of War when the danger to the front had passed.

On the next day a number of deputies and senators objected to the appointment of Canbulat as Minister of the Interior, with the result that he was dropped from the cabinet list and Ali Fethi was appointed in his place. Two CUP members were taken into the cabinet, Ürgüplü Mustafa Hayri as MInister of Justice and Cavid Bey as Minister of Finance. Rauf became Minister of Marine (and hence of the Navy). The old Cabinet formally tendered its resignation on 13 October, and on the 14th Izzet's Cabinet assumed office. A few days later Fethi requested that Refet, who had had experience in the gendarmerie, be recalled from the Palestine front if he were still alive (he was) and made commander of the gendarmerie, who were responsible for internal order. Ismet had presumably discussed the situation with Kemal before leaving Aleppo, and the day after he reached Istanbul and took up his post as Permanent Undersecretary of War he wired to Kazim Karabekir on the Caucasus front on 25 October and asked him to come to Istanbul as soon as possible. Ismet's intention, though it was not realized, was that Kazim should become Chief of the General Staff.[37]


Kazim Karabekir

Thus even before the armistice negotiations began most of the Nationalist officers were either in positions of power in Istanbul or on their way to assume them. Within a matter of two weeks all the levers of power appeared to have fallen into their hands. An ally, Izzet Pasha, was Prime Minister and for the moment War Minister. As soon as the Syria front stabilized Kemal would become Minister of War, and under him would be Ismet as Permanent Undersecretary and Kazim as Chief of the General Staff. Ali Fethi controlled the other key post of the Interior, with Refet destined to be his executive arm as commander of the gendarmerie. Rauf was Minister of Marine and in control of the Navy, and the Finance Minister Cavid Bey, who had been one of Talat's closest allies and an enemy of Enver's, could be relied upon to support them within fairly wide limits. Only Ali Fuad was not yet destined for a post in Istanbul; on I December he took sick leave and set out for the capital independently.[38] Their position seemed unassailable.

It was nothing of the sort, and the main reason it was not was Ahmed Izzet Pasha himself. He was a highly emotional man given to bursting into tears at the slightest provocation, with a history of resignations rivalling Kemal's, but generally given in his case from anger, injured feelings, or a desire to avoid doing unpleasant but necessary jobs. He lacked consistency and determination: his most common reaction when faced with a personal affront or a political danger was to fly into a rage; then, unless he had taken some hasty and irrevocable action, quickly to forget all about it. Thus when he was confronted with a request by the Sultan to remove the two Unionist members from his Cabinet in the days immediately following the armistice, his reaction—possibly exacerbated by the fact that since 31 October he had been in bed with influenza—was to seek to resign. Rauf was not a great political fighter by temperament either, and Fethi probably believed he would have an opportunity to form a government himself in the near future, so the Cabinet unanimously decided to resign just nine days after the armistice was signed.[39] When Kemal arrived in Istanbul five days later he was furious at the advantage that had been thrown away.

Besides Izzet's temperament, there was a more specific difficulty which made it improbable that he would be more than merely a means of getting the Nationalist officers to Istanbul as quickly as possible. He was a man without a political party, and with the memory of 1913 clear in his mind he was concerned at the possibility of a CUP coup if the armistice terms he negotiated were seen by the Unionists as unsatisfactory;[40] so he had need of the support and cooperation of this influential group of officers. But he was a full generation older than they were (54 in 1918) and in many ways his ideas were more those of an old Ottoman than of the revolutionary generation these young officers represented. In particular he was suspicious of the ambitious and in his view reckless leader of this group, Mustafa Kemal Pasha. Kemal's message to the Sultan proposing Izzet as the Prime Minister had had no practical effect—it arrived at the Palace only on 14 October when Izzet was actually in the process of being installed as Prime Minister, having completed his Cabinet—but it made him (and perhaps the Sultan) even more wary of this presumptuous general. On hearing of it he commented to his aide: 'What's the world coming to? Mustafa Kemal is advising the Sultan to make me Prime Minister.' [41]

Nevertheless he retained his temper sufficiently to send a message saying he hoped Kemal would join him in the Cabinet after peace had been made. Kemal snapped back in reply that peace would not come quickly, and it was precisely in the critical period preceding it that he would be useful; there were many better people than himself for the War Ministry in peacetime. In the following days Kemal pressed the Cabinet hard, reporting on 21 October that he had already entered into negotiations on his own initiative with Prince Faisal, the leader of the Arabs fighting the Turkish army in Syria, with a view to reaching a Turkish-Arab understanding. The Cabinet hastily ordered him to go no further with them. Nor did Kemal abandon his attempts to enter the Cabinet; on 16 October he instructed Rasim Ferit Talay to get in touch with Fethi and Rauf and find out why he had not been made War Minister and Chief of the General Staff, and to give his personal cipher to Rauf so they could communicate directly. [42]

KEMAL'S BEHAVIOUR IN THE NEXT two weeks was without question openly mutinous, but it is hard not to sympathize with him. On 25 October he had removed himself and his forces from Aleppo after a day of heavy street fighting with Arab irregulars, and the following day he had administered a bruising repulse to British and Arab advanced troops on his chosen line a few miles north of the city. Though skirmishes continued and his line was withdrawn some miles over the next few days, the new front was basically safe for some time, until the British main body should toil up to the north of Syria and re-establish lines of communication, [43] but he was in an agony of anxiety about what was going on in Istanbul. He was convinced that his absence from the Cabinet at this vital time could result in irremediable mistakes being committed. He was probably right.

Rauf had been chosen as chief Ottoman armistice delegate, and had arrived at the British battleship Agamemnon at Moudros harbour on Lemnos on [27] October to begin talks. The armistice that was signed three days later, to take effect on the 31st, granted the Entente virtually unlimited rights over the whole Empire, including the right to occupy any or all points in it, and it teemed with obscurities and imprecisions which gave the Entente ample scope to interpret its meaning entirely as it chose. The tragedy of this armistice for the Turks, though of course they did not know it, was that for reasons of their own the British had been prepared to grant very generous terms indeed, and their negotiator was under instructions to try only for such further provisions as would not imperil the swift conclusion of the armistice. He had been given four compulsory but quite reasonable terms and twenty optional terms, some of them extremely harsh; with minor and meaningless modifications he extracted the full twenty-four terms from the Turks. The fault lay not only in the Turkish negotiators, but in the Cabinet which approved the terms—they were so deep in despair at the Turkish situation that they could only think to cast themselves at the feet of the Entente and would have accepted any terms whatever to get an armistice quickly.[44] It is inconceivable that such a total loss of nerve would have occurred had a man as determined and dominant as Kemal been in a strong position in the Cabinet. The danger then would have been quite the opposite.


With the conclusion of the armistice Kemal was formally appointed Yildirim Armies Group Commander in Liman von Sanders' place. Placing Ali Fuad in command of the 7th Army he set off instantly for Adana, where von Sanders had rejoined the Group Headquarters, travelling non-stop until he got there and assumed command on the 31st. He explained his haste on the ground that with the formal appointment as army group commander responsible for the whole southern front he would be able to communicate with Istanbul without intermediary and so get his point of view accepted. [45] But in fact he had no clear views about this new post-armistice situation. It was obvious that with the cessation of hostilities Turkey's problems were only beginning. Unless all parts of the Empire were to be forfeited some further actions would eventually have to be taken, but Kemal knew no better than anyone else what course he should follow at this point.

He realized that the Turkish population in the exposed border areas might well have to fend for itself for a while, and encouraged the formation of a popular militia in the area under his responsibility and supplied it with some arms. He struggled to reorganize and reinforce against any eventuality the two armies (2nd and 7th) remaining under the command of Yildirim Armies Group, and established contact with the 6th Army to his east in Iraq. But it was only on 3 November, when he was sent the full text of the armistice, that he realized what sort of terms Izzet's Government had agreed to. The first political necessity now became clear: to bring the armistice terms under control by close definition or if necessary revision, and to resist their misinterpretation by the British, by threat of force if need be. He at once wired back to Izzet requesting clarification of the clauses affecting his army. In a hectic telegraphic correspondence with Izzet over the next week Kemal, aware now of Izzet's considerable naiveté about Entente intentions towards Turkey, progressed rapidly from lecturing him on the need for firmness, to a refusal to obey military orders, to open defiance of Izzet's personal instructions as Prime Minister, and within seven days to resignation.

The armistice was in Kemal's opinion an agreement by the Ottoman Empire to surrender itself unconditionally to the enemy. Not only that, but a promise to aid the enemy in his invasion of the country as well.[46] He realized that it would have to be resisted eventually, and already on the fourth day of the armistice he began to think of ways and means. On that day, at the end of a telegraphic conversation with his 7th Army commander Ali Fuad about measures to be taken against the British demand for the surrender of the army in Syria, he asked him to come to Adana and see him the next day. 'I have important things to discuss with you,' he said. Ali Fuad came to Adana on 5 November, and together they reviewed events since the recent armistice. Kemal showed him the messages that had passed between him and Izzet and condemned the irresolute behaviour of the Cabinet. But, he observed, they were not likely to get a better one. They agreed that the Entente Powers had no intention of respecting the armistice provisions. The seizure of Mosul, the demand that Iskenderun be handed over, and finally the demand that the 7th Army surrender itself were clear indications that the Entente, after disposing of the Turkish Army by taking it prisoner or enforcing its demobilization, would impose its wishes on Turkey by force. Kemal told Ali Fuad: 'From now on the nation must seek and defend its rights itself. We must show it the way as best we can and help it with the entire army.' He asked Ali Fuad if he agreed, and the latter said yes.[47] Nothing further was agreed, for the way this decision could be converted into action was not yet clear.

On 5 November Kemal ordered that a British landing at Iskenderun be opposed by force. He was convinced that the British request to use the port and the road from there to Aleppo to supply their army in Syria was a mere pretext: the demand for the surrender of the 7th Army in Syria confirmed it. Izzet Pasha had seen no harm in granting this 'justifiable request'; on the 6th, in reporting his action to Izzet in a telegram marked 'Penalty of death for delay', Kemal said :

The British request. . . is not justifiable . .. I assure you that the intention is not to supply the British army at Aleppo, but by occupying Iskenderun and moving along the Iskenderun-Kirikhan- Katma road to cut the line of retreat of the 7th Army. . .and to place it in a position where it cannot avoid surrender, just as was done to the 6th Army in Mosul. The fact that the British have today put Armenian guerrillas into action at Islahiye lends strength to this suspicion. . . Therefore I am excused in having been the means of informing the British commander in Syria of the state of affairs.. . .I have ordered that the British are to be opposed by force if they try to land troops at Iskenderun under any pretext whatever, and I have ordered the 7th Army to leave a weak outpost organisation on the line it occupies today and to move its main body in the direction Katma-Islahiye and to get within the Cilician border. Since my character is not suited to carrying out the orders [I have been given] and since I would naturally be open to many accusations if I could not act in accordance with the convictions of the Chief of the General Staff, I most particularly beg that the person whom you will appoint in my place be designated swiftly in order that I may relinquish my command immediately.

It is difficult not to conclude that at this time Kemal was most eager to leave his army command and get to Istanbul where he could influence events more directly, for also on the 6th he again begged for the appointment of a successor if he could not have his way in the minor matter of retaining the title of 'Yildirim' for his command in its planned reorganization. He did not have to wait long; the Imperial Decree abolishing the Yildirim Armies Group and the 7th Army (all forces in Syria henceforth to be under 2nd Army) was issued on 7 November, and reached him at Adana on the 10th.

Izzet's reply to Kemal's telegram of the 6th reporting his order to resist a landing at Iskenderun by force instructed him to rescind the order at once.[48] On the 7th he passed on a British ultimatum which stated that if Iskenderun were not surrendered within a stated time to be determined by General Allenby the British would take the city by force, and ordered Kemal to evacuate and surrender the city without delay, as 'the armistice must not be broken for the city of Iskenderun, though [the British] had no right or authority to demand its surrender'.[49] But the crisis had already passed; on the 7th Kemal reported that as he had got his Corps out of the threatening trap he had cancelled the order to resist a landing at Iskenderun. In accordance with Izzet's orders Ottoman forces then withdrew from the city, and on 9 November Kemal reported its occupation by the English without incident.

On 8 November Izzet had submitted his Cabinet's resignation to the Sultan; the following day it had been accepted. On the 10th Kemal received the order relieving him of his command; the same day Izzet called him to the telegraph and told him that the Cabinet had resigned. He thought it would be suitable for Kemal to be in Istanbul. The Nationalists' first opportunity had in fact already been cast aside, but Kemal interpreted this as meaning that the situation in Istanbul was critical. He handed over command to the 2nd Army commander and left for Istanbul by train the same evening, having arranged with Mi Fuad to stay in close contact. He arrived in Istanbul on 13 November, the same day that the Entente fleet, having passed through the Dardanelles in the past four days, anchored off the Golden Horn.[50]

Although six months of futile political manoeuvring in Istanbul were to ensue before the Nationalist officers reached a unanimous decision to launch a resistance movement in Anatolia, their associations of the past decade and the events of the past month had already laid the foundation for that decision. Their confidence in one another and their habit of mutual consultation, engendered by a decade of opposition to the predominating military faction in the CUP, made them the most influential and effective group in the Turkish officer corps after the flight of Enver and his associates abroad. Their experience of the application of the armistice terms had already awakened in them—especially in Kemal, Rauf, and Ali Fuad—the conviction that the Entente's purpose was the destruction of the Empire and that resistance would be necessary. Finally, thanks partly to Izzet Pasha and partly to their own instinctive cohesion, they were all in Istanbul in the winter of 1918-19 and so were able to reach joint conclusions and to concert their preparations for the Anatolian revolt.


1. Celal Erikan, Komutan Atatürk (Ankara 1972), 86-93.

2. Ali Fuad was not in Istanbul at this time, having been sent to Rome as military attache after the 1908 Revolution. But he and Kemal had previously agreed on these principles in Salonika, and Ali Fuad had also become friends with Rauf in the winter of 1908 and had discussed Kemal's ideas with him. Both Rauf and Kemal stayed in touch with Fuad by letters during the Hareket Ordusu episode. Ali Fuad Cebesoy, [Siwif Arkadasint] Atatürk (Istanbul 1967), 134-52.

3. ‘Rauf Orbay'in Hatiralari', Yakin Tarihimiz ( Y T ), II (Istanbul 1962), 305. References for early origins of Nationalist group: Sevket Süreyya Aydemir, Tek Adam (Mustafa Kemal'in Hayati) I (4th ed. Istanbul 1969), 133-35, 14-43; Celil Bayar, Atatürk'ten Hatiralar (Istanbul 1955), 14-20; Yusuf Hikmet Bayur, Atatürk, Hayati ve Eseri, I (Ankara 1963), 9-24, 30-49; Behic Erkin, 'Atatiirk'un Selinik'teki Askerlik Hayatina Ait Hatiralar', Belleten, 1956, 599ff; A. F. Miller, 'Premieres Pages de la Biographie d'Ataturk', Etudes Balkaniques, 1971, 27-56; Fethi Tevetoglu, Atatürk'le .Samsun'a Cikanlar (Ankara 1971), 24-26; S. S. Aydemir, Ikinci Adam: Ismet Inonü, I (and ed. Istanbul 1968), 44-50, 59-61; Ismet Inonu, Inonu'niin Hatirlari', I (Istanbul 1969), 51-81, 90; Cebesoy, Sinif, 13-30, 61-63, 134-37, 141-43; 'Rauf', YT, 11, 304-5; Kazim Karabekir, Istiklal Harbimiz (Istanbul 1960), v; Feridun Kandemir, Kazim Karabekir (Istanbul 1948), 14, 57-58, 103-5; S. S. Aydemir, Makedonya'dan Ortaasya'ya Enver Pasa, I1 (Istanbul, 1971), 176-78.

4. Inonu, Hatiralari, I , 211-12.

5. After his exile to Sofia Ali Fethi published his criticisms of Enver at Bolayir under his own name: Bolayir Muharebesinde adem-i muvaffakiyetin esbabi (Istanbul 1331 [1913]). Arabic script.

References for Libyan campaign, Balkan Wars, and political activities in Istanbul: Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 156-62, 169-84; Aydemir, Enver, 11, 366, 38-82, 388-91, 410-27; Bayur, Atatürk, I, 49-61; Cebesoy, Sinif, 136-37; Inonü, Hatiralari, I, 116-18; 'Rauf', YT, 11, 305-07; Feroz Ahmad, The Young Turks (Oxford 1969), 106-25, 129-32, 141-43, 163-64, 168; Celal Bayar, Ben de Yazdim. Milli Miicadele'ye Gidis, IV (Istanbul 1967), 1088-91; Ibnülemin Mahmud Kemal Inal, Osmanli Devrir~de Son Sadriazamlar, XI11 (Istanbul 1951) , 1977-78; [Mahmud Sevket], 'Sadrazam Mahmut Sevket Pasa'nin Günlük Not Defteri', Hayat Dergisi, I4 January 1965, 14-15, and 28 January 1965, 14, notes of 6/19, 7/20, 8/21 February and 17 February/2 March 1913; Glen W. Swanson, Mahmud Sevket Pasa and the Defence of the Ottoman Empire (unpublished PhD thesis Indiana University 1965), 205-06, 281-82; T.C. M.S.B. Genelkurmay Baskanligi. Harb Tarihi Dairesi. Balkan Harbi Tarihi, VII. Osmanli Deniz Harekati 1912-1913 (Istanbul 1965), 204-09.

6. Ismet Inonu commented that 'Amongst the influential members of the CUP, Ataturk and Fethi Bey together constituted a separate group'. Inonü, Hatiralari, I, 223.

7. Ismet Inonu, Inonü Atatürk'ü AnIatiyor (Istanbul 1968), 40.

8. Inonü, Hatiralari, I, 219-20.

9. Bayar, Ben de Yazdim, I (Istanbul 1965), 117-20; Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 193-94; Bayur, Atatürk, I, 61-62,65-67.

10. Bayar, Ben, I, 120; Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 216, 224; Bayur, Atatürk, I, 69-70.

11. The best account of Kemal's actions at Gallipoli is Bayur, Atatürk, I, 70-102. See also his own accounts in Mustafa Kemal, Ariburnu Muharebeleri Raporu (Ankara 1968), and Anafartalar Muharebatina ait Tarihce (Ankara 1962).

12. Bayar, Ben, I, 120-21

13. His bitter dissatisfaction came to the attention of the Entente quite early on. A French intelligence report of 28 May 1916, in describing discontent with Enver amongst officers serving at the Dardanelles, lays particular stress on an authentic-seeming account of Kemal's heated criticisms at the time of his arrival in Istanbul from Suvla, and describes an open clash at that time with Enver which almost led to an accusation of treason against Kemal. Ministère des Affaires Etrangères (Paris), Archives diplomatiques. Sèrie A- Guerre 1914-1918. Dossier 976,148-49.

14. References for the Eastern Front: Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 281, 289-90; Aydemir, Ikinci Adam, I, 99-111; Bayur, Atatürk, I, 106-09, 11.2; Cebesoy, Sinif, 154, 158-59; Erikan, Komutan, 185-205; Inonü, Hatiralari, I, 123-28, 138, 150-52,1~4-61,222; Karabekir, Harbimiz, vi.

15. Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 289-95; Aydemir, Ikinci Adam, I, 102, 109-13; Aydemir, Enver, III (Istanbul 1972), 329-41; Bayur, Atatürk, I, 116-35; Erikan, Komutan, 211-18;Inonü, Hatiralari, I, 163-66; Ali Fuad Cebescy, Moskova Hatiralari (Istanbul 1955), 175. Ismet wrote the first draft of this report after lengthy discussions with Kemal. The complete text of the report of 20 September 1917 is published in Atarürk'ün Soylev ve Demecleri, IV, Atatürk'ün Tamim, Telgraf ve Beyannameleri: 1917-1938, ed. Nimet Arsan Unan (Ankara 1964), 1-8. Much later, on 29 June 1918, Kazim was to submit a similar though much less detailed warning of impending disaster to the Prime Minister with an equal disregard for official channels. Like Kemal, he laid the blame at Enver's door. Kazim Karabekir, Istiklil Harbimizin Esaslari (Istanbul 1951) 28.

16. Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 110-13,268-69, 298-99; 'Rauf', YT,11,336,368; Falih Rifki Atay, Atatiirk'iin Bana Anlattiklari (Istanbul 1955), 16-18.

17. Sabahattin Selek, Anadolu Ihtilali (Istanbul 1968), 19.

18. 'Rauf', YT, I, 177-78; Bayar, Ben, I, 124.

19. The real purpose of the force Enver had gathered was certainly to ensure against his eviction from the Cabinet, and in reassuring Talat he took care to stress that he would never make a coup 'against a cabinet of which he was a member'. Talat got the message, and he and his close ally Kara Kemal created a counter-force by collecting together a group of gunmen and by arming certain of the tradesmen's guilds in Istanbul. Bayur, Atatürk, I, 146-47.

20. Kemal, Talat, and the secret military force in Istanbul: 'Rauf', YT, 11, 337-38, 368; Rauf heard the details of this story from Ismail Canbulat. Further details in 'Rauf', YT, I, 147, 177-78, and in Cavid Bey's notes for this period, quoted in extenso in Yusuf Hikmet Bayur, Türk Inkilabi Tarihi (TIT),111, Km 4 (Ankara 1963), 159-63. Cavid had the story from both Talat and Ismail Hakki.

21. Cemal Kutay, Atatürk-Enver Pasa Hadiseleri (Istanbul 1956), 11-12; cf. Cebesoy, Sinif, 145-46.

22. Public Record Office (London), F.O. 371/4363/116/140.

23. Auswartiges Amt (Bonn), Politisches Archiv (PA), Türkei 159, Nr. 2, Bd. 19, A42378, Bernstorff to AA, 9 Octobcr 1918; cf. 'Rauf', YT, I, 42; 11, 338, 368; Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 288; Aydemir, Ikinci Adam, I, 113; Bayur, TIT, III,4, 712, and note 21; Samet Agaoglu, Babamin Arkadaslari (3rd ed. Istanbul 1969), 85.

24. Letter from Kemal to Behic [Erkin] dated 28 June 1919, published in Vatan (Istanbul), 22 December 1956.

25. Lutfi Simavi, Sultan Mehmed Resat Han'in ve halefinin sarayinda gordüklerim, II (Istanbul 1340 [1924]),138. Arabic script.

26. Kemal's relations with Vahideddin: Atay, Anlattiklari, 25-49; Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 300-04; Bayur, Atatürk, 1, 136-44, 150-53; Bayur, TIT, I I I , 4 ,

27. 354; Erikan, Komutan, 231-32. For an explanatory comment on Vahideddin's character by an intimate, see Ali Fuad Türkgeldi, Gorüp Isittiklerim (Ankara 1951), 274-75. 27 PA, Tiirkei 159, Nr. I, Bd. 15, A33652, Von Seeckt to Hindenburg, 3 August 1918; Gwynne Dyer, 'The Turkish Armistice of 1918', I, Middle Eastern Studies, May 1972, 147-48.

28. Atay, Anlattiklari, 50-52; Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 301-05; Bayur, Atatürk, I, 145-55.

29. 'Rauf', YT, 11, 369.

30. Fethi's strength lay in the parliamentary group of the CUP. The Chamber was to reopen on 10 October 1918,and Fethi launched his attack in the preparatory meeting of the CUP deputies on 7 October. He and his supporters criticized the Government bitterly on its foreign policy at this meeting and sought to introduce a motion of no confidence in the Cabinet. The CUP leaders succeeded in having the matter left over to the official opening of the Chamber of Deputies three days later, when the election of its President-Fethi was standing against the official CUP candidate Halil [Mentesel-would allow a formal confidence vote. Meanwhile Talat and his ministers lobbied vigorously to gain support, and on the 10th Halil won the election, though only narrowly. Ali Haydar Mithat confirms that Fethi's supporters had fixed their hopes on Mustafa Kemal Pasha. Bayur, TIT, 111, 4, 702-04; Ali Haydar Mithat, Hatiralarim 1872-1946 (Istanbul 1946), 322. Talat had already decided to resign and was to leave office only three days later on the 13th. His vigorous resistance to Fethi's assault was probably aimed at holding together enough of the CUP majority in the Chamber to retain a veto on the successor cabinet, and later over the peace terms which that cabinet would negotiate.

31. Quotation from Ali Fuad Cebesoy, Milli Miicadele Hatiralari (Istanbul 1953), 12-13. References for Kemal's activities in Palestine and Syria August- October 1918: ibid., 11-14; Atay, Anlattiklari, 53-63; Falih Rifki Atay, Atatürk'iin Hatiralari 1914-1919 (Ankara 1965), 63-81; Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 306-09; Aydemir, Ikinci Adam, I, 115-17; Bayur, Atatürk, I, 135, note 69; 156-59; Inonü, Hatiralari, I, 192-203; Otto Liman von Sanders, Five Years in Turkey (Annapolis 1927), 275-3 16.

32. Photocopy in 'Rauf', YT, I, 145. The telegram was sent through Dr Rasim Ferit Talay in Kemal's private cipher. Bayur, Atatürk, I, 164-65.

33. Falih Rifki Atay, 'Büyük Gazi'nin Hatiralarindan Sayfalar', Hakimiyet-i Milliye (Ankara), 5 April 1926; Bayur, Atatürk, I, 167; Bayur, TIT, 111, 4, 710-11.

34.  On political developments in Istanbul in this period see Dyer, loc. cit., 150-53.

35. On the negotiations leading to the formation of Izzet's Cabinet and the decisions of the following fortnight in Istanbul, see ibid., 156-69.

36.  'Rauf', YT, I, 52; PA, Türkei 159, Nr. 2, Bd. 19, A42378. Ismet received this summons in hospital in Aleppo, but was sufficiently recovered by the time he reached Istanbul on 24 October to take up his duties at once. Inonü, Hatiralari, I, 203.

37. 'Rauf', YT, I, 146-47; Karabekir, Istiklal Harbimiz, 2-3, 7. Karabekir, whose army corps was at Tabriz in Iran, did not reach Istanbul until 28 November.

38. Cebesoy, Milli Mücadele, 31.

39. For the events surrounding the resignation of the cabinet, see Inal, op. cit. XIII, 1954-65, 1989-91, 2008-09; 'Rauf'; YT, 11,176-78, 208-10,210-42, 272-73; 'Cavid Bey'ia Notlari', Tanin (Istanbul), 27-28 August 1945.

40. 'Rauf', YT, I, 52.

41. Bayur, TIT, 111, 4, 710. See also Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 325, for a telegram Izzet sent to Mersinli Cemal Pesha at this time criticizing Kemal's ambition and his endless demands.

42. Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 308; Bayur, Atatürk, I, 165; Atay, Anlattiklari, 63; 'Cavid Bey'in Notlari', Tanin, 1945, note of 21 October 1918; Cebesoy, Milli Mücadele, 28-29; Liman von Sanders, Five Years, 262; 'Rauf", YT, I, 147, 179.

43. Atay, Anlattiklari, 59-61; Liman von Sanders, Five Years, 317-19.

44. For a full discussion of the armistice negotiations, see Gwynne Dyer, 'The Turkish Armistice of 1918', 11, Middle Eastern Studies, October 1972.

45. Atay, Anlattiklari, 64-65 ;Liman von Sanders, Five Years, 3 16, 3 19-20.

46. Atay, Anlattiklari, 63-64,68-69.

47.  Cebesoy, Milli Mücadele, 28-30.

48. Harb Tarihi Baskanligi (Ankara). Arsiv 415280, Dolab 4, Goz 4, Dosya 14, Klasor 242.

49. Ibid.Arsiv 1/3, Dolab I , Goz I , Dosya 16, Klasor 4.

50. Atay, Anlattiklari, 83-84; Aydemir, Tek Adam, I, 331; Cebesoy, Milli Mücadele, 30.



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...Is to expose the mythological “Armenian genocide,” from the years 1915-16. A wartime tragedy involving the losses of so many has been turned into a politicized story of “exclusive victimhood,” and because of the prevailing prejudice against Turks, along with Turkish indifference, those in the world, particularly in the West, have been quick to accept these terribly defamatory claims involving the worst crime against humanity. Few stop to investigate below the surface that those regarded as the innocent victims, the Armenians, while seeking to establish an independent state, have been the ones to commit systematic ethnic cleansing against those who did not fit into their racial/religious ideal: Muslims, Jews, and even fellow Armenians who had converted to Islam. Criminals as Dro, Antranik, Keri, Armen Garo and Soghoman Tehlirian (the assassin of Talat Pasha, one of the three Young Turk leaders, along with Enver and Jemal) contributed toward the deaths (via massacres, atrocities, and forced deportation) of countless innocents, numbering over half a million. What determines genocide is not the number of casualties or the cruelty of the persecutions, but the intent to destroy a group, the members of which  are guilty of nothing beyond being members of that group. The Armenians suffered their fate of resettlement not for their ethnicity, having co-existed and prospered in the Ottoman Empire for centuries, but because they rebelled against their dying Ottoman nation during WWI (World War I); a rebellion that even their leaders of the period, such as Boghos Nubar and Hovhannes Katchaznouni, have admitted. Yet the hypocritical world rarely bothers to look beneath the surface, not only because of anti-Turkish prejudice, but because of Armenian wealth and intimidation tactics. As a result, these libelous lies, sometimes belonging in the category of “genocide studies,” have become part of the school curricula of many regions. Armenian scholars such as Vahakn Dadrian, Peter Balakian, Richard Hovannisian, Dennis Papazian and Levon Marashlian have been known to dishonestly present only one side of their story, as long as their genocide becomes affirmed. They have enlisted the help of "genocide scholars," such as Roger Smith, Robert Melson, Samantha Power, and Israel Charny… and particularly  those of Turkish extraction, such as Taner Akcam and Fatma Muge Gocek, who justify their alliance with those who actively work to harm the interests of their native country, with the claim that such efforts will help make Turkey more" democratic." On the other side of this coin are genuine scholars who consider all the relevant data, as true scholars have a duty to do, such as Justin McCarthy, Bernard Lewis, Heath Lowry, Erich Feigl and Guenter Lewy. The unscrupulous genocide industry, not having the facts on its side, makes a practice of attacking the messenger instead of the message, vilifying these professors as “deniers” and "agents of the Turkish government." The truth means so little to the pro-genocide believers, some even resort to the forgeries of the Naim-Andonian telegrams or sources  based on false evidence, as Franz Werfel’s The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Naturally, there is no end to the hearsay "evidence" of the prejudiced pro-Christian people from the period, including missionaries and Near East Relief representatives, Arnold Toynbee, Lord Bryce, Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and so many others. When the rare Westerner opted to look at the issues objectively, such as Admirals Mark Bristol and Colby Chester, they were quick to be branded as “Turcophiles” by the propagandists. The sad thing is, even those who don’t consider themselves as bigots are quick to accept the deceptive claims of Armenian propaganda, because deep down people feel the Turks are natural killers and during times when Turks were victims, they do not rate as equal and deserving human beings. This is the main reason why the myth of this genocide has become the common wisdom.