Page images
PDF
EPUB

But if the defeat of the Turks had been precipitate, time was on their side in adjudicating the settlement. Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, and Hungary, in their respective order of responsibility, were called before the judgment bar of the Allies, and compelled to sign the respective treaties of peace. Turkey alone was left in the background, neglected by the Allies, but not forgotten by other nations. Sympathy for the outcast Turk came from various portions of the Moslem world, and Soviet Russia, seeking an ally who might proclaim a holy war against international capitalism, cultivated the friendship of her hereditary enemy. The only interest felt by the Allied governments was in the execution of their mutual engagements, to the exclusion of all Russian influences in the settlement. Britain prepared to keep hold of Egypt, which she had annexed at the beginning of the war, as well as to administer Palestine "as a national home for the Jews." By aiding the minions of the Arab chieftain, Hussein, the Kingdom of the Hejaz became virtually a British protectorate, while the Emir Feisal, son of Hussein, became in due season King of the Mesopotamian Kingdom of Irak. Obviously, of all the signatory powers to the secret treaties of 1916, Great Britain, secure in her possession of the oil fields of Mosul, was the chief residuary legatee of Ottoman dominion. France, under the secret treaties, claimed a share of Syria, and occupied Cilicia in addition, although with scant compensation. Italy, omitted in the original bargain, endeavored to secure for herself a sphere of influence in Adalia, in southern Anatolia. Last of all, Greece, under the astute leadership of Venizelos, was able to secure from the Allied governments permission to occupy the Asiatic mainland opposite the Hellenic peninsula, and occupied Smyrna, while she was given control of Thrace, on the European side of the Straits, up to within view of the Ottoman capital. Thus the territorial confines of the Ottoman Empire were strictly delimited, and it was universally hoped that the creation of an independent Armenia, under American protection, would at last afford justice to the

remnants of that suffering people. Once that such settlements had been reached among the Allies, their territorial import was written into the clauses of the Treaty of Sevres, signed August 10, 1920, between the Allies and the Turkish Government. Harsh as those terms might seem to the

Turk, it was generally believed by the Great Powers that he had no alternative except to accede to them. Germany, Austria, Hungary and Bulgaria had all protested in vain against the treaties forced upon them, yet the Allies had enforced a strict compliance, at least territorially, by putting pressure on the respective governments,

With Turkey, however, the case was different, for it soon became evident that the Treaty of Sevres had been signed by a withered hand on behalf of the Sublime Porte. The government which negotiated with the Allies at Paris or London had lost every semblance of authority and spoke, acted or signed, without the possibility of enforcing its words or deeds. Defended against the wrath of the Turkish populace by the Allied bayonets in Constantinople, the government of the Sultan-Caliph, headed by Damad Ferid Pasha, was completely repudiated by the nation at large. which sought to escape the responsibility for the sins of preceding cabinets by constituting a separate government in the heart of Anatolia, far from the reach of the Allies.

The work of creating this counter-government at Angora and of mobilizing the population of Anatolia in its support, was largely that of Mustafa Kemal Pasha, once an obscure artilleryman at the Dardanelles, during the days of German hegemony, and today the recognized leader and the uncrowned ruler of Turkey. It was General Liman von Sanders, the German Commander, at the Straits, that was responsible for the transfer of the young nationalist leader from his position in defense of Gallipoli to the command of a post in the interior of Anatolia. There, in the heart of Asiatic Turkey, Mustafa Kemal gathered around him, in the spring of 1919, a band of devoted followers who pledged themselves not to give up their struggle for the renewed recognition of the independence of Turkey, until their ends had been achieved. The loss of certain portions of Turkey-Palestine, Syria and the lower part of the Mesopotamian Valleys—Mustafa Kemal recognized as irretrievable, but according to the terms of the so-called Nationalist Pact, drafted in the summer of 1919 by Kemal and his followers, the restoration of an independent Turkey must be accomplished by the eviction of all foreigners from Anatolia, and by a return of Thrace and Constantinople to Turkey, although the future of the Straits was not pronounced upon definitely. With this as the basis of his political program, Kemal persuaded the Ottoman deputies to desert the Turkish Parliament at Constantinople and rally to the Nationalist cause at Angora, and the last session of the rump parliament at Constantinople, in January, 1920, confirmed the Nationalist Pact as the program of united national action. Against this the Sultan and his ministers might protest, but their authority was without backing, either by the army, which was with Kemal, or by the nation at large. Undaunted by threats of either a religious or political character emanating from the palace, where the Sultan-Caliph Mehmed VI dwelt in seclusion, the followers of Kemal met in the fall of 1919 and constituted the Great National Assembly at Angora, as a body at once constituent, legislative and executive. Following the principles of ordinary parliamentary government, the National Assembly chose a ministry accountable to the Assembly, to rule on behalf of the nation and to displace the Government of Damad Ferid Pasha and his colleagues at Constantinople. Uniquely enough, the ministers borrowed from the Soviet Government their caption of Commissaries, and rapidly took over the administration of the whole country without opposition from the Turkish population. To trace the constitutional aspects of the Nationalist organization is foreign to this discussion, save to note that throughout the succeeding months, and up to the present moment, Mustafa Kemal, Nationalist Commissary for War, has repeatedly refused to assume either a presidential position over his fellowcommissars, or any other position than that of a military commander. While scoffing at the fulminations of the Sultan-Caliph, he has had the candor to realize that, valuable as he might be to the Turkish nation in bringing it out of its abject position, he could not gain the support of Moslems to the Nationalist cause by an open repudiation of the Caliphate. Thus Kemal, while playing his opponents against each other, while rallying the military forces of a defeated nation for a renewed attack on its enemies, while accepting aid from the definitely Bolshevik commissars and envoys sent from Moscow, Tiflis and Erivan, never directly challenged the political and religious position of the SultanCaliph, in order to secure such a position for himself, whatever might be the opinions of his fellow Commissars.

The policy of Mustafa Kemal was simple and undeviating. To fulfil the terms of the National Pact, he secured the assistance of Moscow, and, after openly repudiating the Treaty of Sevres as not binding upon the Turkish nation, launched an offensive jointly with the Soviet Armies against the weak and struggling Armenian Republic of Erivan. Under the joint impact of Turkish and Soviet forces, the Armenian Republic was vanquished and reconstituted as a tributary member of the Russian Soviet Republic, by the end of 1920. Thus, by military action, reinforced by massacre and deportation, Kemal made his peace with Armenia and secured an alliance with Georgia and Russia in March, 1921. The second phase of Kemal's activity was directed against the French in Cilicia. Two important factors aided him in this: first, the desperate resistance of the native population to French occupation, coupled with the enormous expense of the occupation to France, and second, the return of Constantine I to the throne of Greece, a fact which caused France to withdraw all support from Greece and thrust her might in the scales against the Hellenes. The net result of this combination of circumstances was that, by secret negotiations behind the back of the British Government, France agreed to withdraw from Cilicia, restricted her area of influence in Syria to the advantage of Kemal and the discomfiture of the British, and made her separate peace with the Turks, on very favorable economic

terms. Italy, following the example of France, also undertook negotiations looking toward peace at the same time, without consulting the British, and evacuated Adalia under promise of advantageous economic concessions as compensation. It was at this time, in March, 1921, that the Allied governments formally made proposals for a cessation of all hostilities with Turkey, including the Greeks in this program, but the terms proved unsatisfactory to the Greeks, and they alone continued the struggle, Britain deeming it wisest, from considerations of domestic policy, to declare her neutrality in the Greco-Turkish conflict. Thus, within a year and a half of the adoption of his policy of resistance, Mustafa Kemal Pasha had made his peace with all the Allies except Great Britain and Greece, had recovered Armenia, Cilicia and Adalia, and had gained the material and diplomatic support of Italy and France. It was a policy as brilliant as it was unprecedented, and it became obvious that a large portion of the Nationalist Pact had been achieved. To complete the redemption of Turkey, two further moves must be undertaken, the first, to expel the Greeks. from Anatolia, and the second, to secure the return of Constantinople to the Nationalist Government, along with a portion, if not the whole, of Thrace. Within seven months of its signature, the Treaty of Sevres had been made a dead letter, and Great Britain, to the delight of Turkey, Italy, and France, had been completely isolated in her Near Eastern policy. Thenceforth, time was to be the ally of Kemal, and his efforts were devoted to securing the necessary equipment, from France, Italy and Russia, to pursue single-handed the attack against the Greeks.

The eviction of Greece from Anatolia was not accomplished without a struggle. Three distinct offensives by the Greeks along the arterial railroad lines of Asia Minor carried the Hellenic standards to the very gates of Angora, but Mustafa Kemal rebuffed the attacks, knowing that the relatively isolated position of Greece must, sooner or later, bring her to terms. Thus the remainder of 1921 was spent in the defense of Anatolia against the Greeks, until the British Government, foreseeing the futility of a further

« PreviousContinue »