THE SHORT STORY OF APPOINTING A VASSAL FOR THE STRAIT BY COLONIALISM

 

1. The end of the first great war and the occupation of the Ottoman state

In accordance to the Armistice of Moudros, which was signed on the 30th of October 1918, several parts of the surrendered Ottoman state were "occupied". This was realized in such a manner that in a number of certain regions a symbolic small "force" would be kept. The large part of these troops was constituted by the English. The interesting point is that the English occupation was not actually opposed and resisted anywhere. In spite of the fact that the disarmament of Turkey was decided by the Armistice of Moudros, this was not a very easy task and could not be carried out by these troops. The troops were sent as a reinforcement to Lieutenant colonel Rawlinson , who was appointed for the disarmament of the old Ninth Army, which was reconstituted in the beginning of the month of March of 1919, as the new 15th Army Corps, the command of which was taken over by Kazım Karabekir and which was kept by Enver for himself as a resistant force in case of a defeat. This hidden force in the Caucasus, where it has not been hit, constitutes a small force consisting of 2 intelligence officers, 2 interpreters, 8 horses, 2 mules, 1 doctor, medical equipment, 2 sub-lieutenants and 20 private soldiers.

In the Summer of 1919, the withdrawal of the English from the Caucasus had become evident. The White Army could not last in the war and the Red Army was pressing towards the Ottoman border under the "occupation" of the English, while going down from the Caucasus and seizing the fronts one by one. The Bolsheviks gained great victories in the Central Asia as well. Rawlinson, the representative of England in the region, shared the following with Kazım Karabekir the commander of the 15th Army Corps:

"There are important news from Bolsheviks. They dominated the coast of the Caspian Sea. They captured Krasnosk. They captured Petrofsk. The army of volunteers in the Petrofsk district became also Bolshevik [. . . .] All fronts became Bolshevik fronts! It is about to happen from India to the Black Sea."

The Erzurum Congress of the Kemalists was also convened during this time. As England's existence in the Caucasus became insecure, she was working closely with M. Kemal, through Rawlinson, who was in direct contact during this conference.

Although, in the official Turkish historiography, it is emphasized that there were conflicts with Rawlinson, at the same time in the memoires of Kazım Karabekir in the note made on the day of 28 July 1919, we see that Rawlinson was very comfortable: "He said that ‘Your coffee was very good, could you please order one more.' He drank his coffee, he talked frivolously, he bid goodbye and then he left. He had gone to Kemal Pasha."

Rawlinson describes his conversations with M. Kemal in his memoires as follows: "I had a very long and interesting conversation with M. Kemal on the next day (28th of July), in respect to the impending conference; he promised me that if an official decision would be taken, he would inform me. In fact this was a sufficiently satisfying conversation for me and enabled my free transition to the other side of the border, where works gained acceleration."
He reports his sincere conversations with M. Kemal. "I saw him very often during those days and we had conversations again and again, I was aware of his political desires, difficulties met during execution of these and the purposes of the Congress in Erzurum, the realization of which was planned by him within those periods on the month of July. " From his words, we understand that he continued his conversations with M. Kemal.

After the conversation between Rawlinson and Mustafa Kemal on 28 July, which was described by him as "sufficiently satisfying", he did not think to stay within Turkish borders and he decided to pass to the other side of the border.

In his memoires, Rawlinson emphasized the importance of this conversation between them with the following expression: "Later on we said goodbye to each other with a great kindness, after comprehending the dimensions of the great developments, which the future will bring."

On 6 August, Rawlinson leaves Erzurum after farewelling Kazım Karabekir. "From now on there won't be any English in Erzurum. I got an order; we will stay in Sarıkamış or Kars and observe the border between the Black Sea and Iran... Rawlinson was cheerful today also, we laughed enormously."

Karabekir would lend 1,200 liras to Rawlinson before his departure. The Englishman had such close relations with Turks that he got money from them to pay in installments.

After the conference, as promised, the decisions were sent to Rawlinson before announcing them to the public. Karabekir wrote down the following note in his memoires: "I sent the declaration of the Erzurum Congress to Rawlinson in Sarıkamış. In his letter dated, 9 of August, he writes the following: "I will send it to Tiflis and Istanbul, I am very satisfied and I wish you success and salute to M. Kemal Pasha and I share the same desire with him."

Rawlinson went to Istanbul first and then to London; after that he gave the necessary information and report to his superiors. He returned to Erzurum again at the end of the year of 1919. In the meantime, the Sivas Congress was taking place and the Representative Committee under the presidency of M. Kemal is constituted, and M. Kemal passed to Ankara. In reality, the Representative Committee is M. Kemal.

Later on, Rawlinson went to Istanbul first, and then to London in order to conduct conversations with his superiors. He held high-level conversations. Before his return, in his last conversation, Lord Curzon gave him the following instructions: "If possible, meet with Mustafa Kemal once more, learn their conditions to make peace, learn if they are ready or not to accept a peace with conditions other than the conditions mentioned in the declaration of the Erzurum Congress." From this point, we understand that Rawlinson was sent from London to engage in informal contacts.

Rawlinson reports to the general headquarters in Istanbul after his return. Later on, he holds a meeting with his ex-commander General Sir George Milne, commander of the Army of the Black Sea, and he gets his terms of reference. Within this period he stayed in Istanbul, he also held meetings with General Sir Henry Wilson, the Governor General of Istanbul, Admiral Webb, the Deputy High Commissioner, and Admiral Sir John de Robeck, the High Commissioner, and in conclusion, at the end of the month of November, he left Istanbul.

Rawlinson held a meeting with the colonel Mr. Rüştü, the head of the investigation committee in Bayburt, while returning to Erzurum. He told him his purpose for the visit. Colonel Mr. Rüştü reported the meetings with Rawlinson while he was in Bayburt to the 15th Army Corps commandership with two codes dated as 23/12/1919: Mr. Rüştü reported that; "Rawlinson says that if he goes to Pasha [M.Kemal] and holds a meeting, this situation would attract the other entente governments' attention and this is the reason why they must meet with him as if they came across incidentally to prevent other entente governments' understanding, that the English want to realize a quick and radical peace in such a manner that this will not affect the independence of Turkey and be in favor of Turkey, that the absence of a powerful government which ensures full support for the hopes and desires of the nation to realize a treaty, delays the peace, that their wish is rapid carrying out of elections in order to achieve peace, that he is also a nationalist and that he is glad of the nationalist movement, that he works a lot in favor of Turkey, he made a request of this aspect to the minister of the external affairs of England for three-four hours, that even though he has a lot to say for the benefit of the Turkish side, he can't do so because he has not met with Mustafa Kemal."

Rawlinson conducted a long and detailed interview in Erzurum with Karabekir on the 29th of December 1919. Karabekir reported Rawlinson's opinions in a telegram to M. Kemal, on 29 December 1919. The entente states do not bear the wish to carry out a new operation in Anatolia. Rawlinson reported that they did not have the power to conduct such an operation either: "The French could bring only twelve thousand colonial soldiers to Syria and Adana, they could not send even a single French; the Italians made a treaty with the Greeks, however, the interior of Italy is in an awful state and is being shaken by Bolshevik movements; I am out of money, I started to work as an agent for the Germans, I am selling weapons to Anatolia, The Greeks are everywhere, Venizelos did everything against the Turks. However the Greeks were discredited, America experiences fatal chaos and even America doesn't accept the nationality principle and the League of Nations which were promoted by Wilson himself. In respect to the Russians, they are saying the following to Denikin: "We are not interfering in this matter. Go and make a treaty with the Bolsheviks. It is not possible for the Russians to build themselves up within ten years. We suppose that a lot of small governments will be constituted but at the end they will re-unite."

These opinions correspond with those of M. Kemal expressed in the aftermath of the Sivas Congress: "Great states, some of which are our enemies, can't start a struggle anew by sending their armies upon us because of their unsuitable internal and military statuses. We must be certain of this situation. The only force, the only weapon they have against our strength is the Greek army. If, on the one hand, we occupy the enemy with a guerilla war for a couple of months, and another, if we constitute a proper front by reorganizing the regulation and reinforcement of our army, we will defeat the Greek army in any way, even if belatedly."

Rawlinson in his memoires wrote that Kazım Karabekir Pasha had welcomed him very well, that he told him of the events that took place in that region in his absence, and [Rawlison] told Kazim Karabekir of the latest news in Europe. During the meeting, Rawlinson delivers Lord Curzon's message to Kazım Karabekir, on behalf of the English Government for Mustafa Kemal. Lord Curzon stated the following in his massage:

"Very powerful parties in England strongly support the existence of Turkey and support ensuring the independence of Turkey... The English Government also accepts this. England will not give permission to the desires of the other states for sharing Turkey; English public opinion has turned against the Greeks and we will get Greeks out of Turkey, it is not possible for Armenians to constitute a government in Anatolian soil and England promises to protect the existence of Turkey, ensure its independence and work for the economic development of Turkey.


2. A milestone: November 1919

On November 1919, the Red Army gained the final victory and exiled the White Army to the Black Sea. This was a defeat of the colonial England in the Caucasus due to the defeat of the White Army. A new balance was formed in the Caucasus.

Another important point in relation to the subject period is the stopping of the Greeks on November 1919. They were informed not to proceed forward and the Greeks were stopped by means of drawing the Milne line. In Lord Curzon's message to Mustafa Kemal, it was transmitted that the support to Greeks was ended and they would be removed from the regions occupied by them:
The most important issue is Izmir. Antalya and Adana are nothing in comparison to this issue. And with the evacuation of Izmir those regions will be evacuated certainly and with facility. There are a lot of persons persisting for Izmir. However, the Greeks have neither money nor man power. We also have pulled back all our forces. The public opinion in England turned against the Greeks. They will be removed from Izmir anyhow. As for the Armenians, it is not possible for them to cross to your side because they can't even hold on to the other side. I personally told my government what I saw; constituting a government by the Armenians is fundamentally difficult. They absolutely could not dominate the south of the Aras River. I suggested the border to be through the Aras River, instead of the mountains and I think that's how it will be. I don't know what these guys did when I was not there?

Declaring neutrality of the colonial powers in the war between Turks and Greeks by drawing the Milne line was a milestone. After this, Kemal was the choice of the English. Besides this neutrality was transmitted in the message of Curzon by accepting the National Pact (National Oath) of the Kemalists'.

"I say in a certain aspect that no such thing as Pontus exists. You know what charlatan the Greek nation is. Our prime minister said in an interview with one of the high level reaches that "We want to see the end of the weak government in Turkey" but some newspapers in your country misunderstood those words and recorded them as "Weak government must be terminated". Our prime minister said that this was absolutely not like that and had to be especially corrected. In any case, be sure that the English will deliver great economic expediencies for you.

The events that happened after this date, are operations which strengthened M. Kemal.

 

3. Irruption of last Chamber of Deputies (the Meclis-i Mebusan) of the Ottoman Empire by the English, the treaty of Sevres and consequences 

We can mention two explicit acts of support of the English for Mustafa Kemal; the first one was the irruption of the last Chamber of Deputies of the Ottoman Empire: this action of the English had prevented Istanbul of being an alternative [to Ankara] by overthrowing the government of Ali Rıza Pasha and cleared the way for Mustafa Kemal as the only alternative. Before the irruption, the Istanbul government had become an alternative again by activities of Ali Rıza Pasha and his friends; it had become stronger by the reunion of the Meclis-i Mebusan and had headed off the Representative Committee (the Heyet-i Temsiliye). We can even talk about the dissolution of the Heyet-i Temsiliye. M. Kemal wanted Mr. Rauf, who was elected to the Chamber of Deputies, not to participate in the chamber, but he could not succeed. He wanted the Chamber to assemble in Ankara, and to be elected as the president of the Assembly, but did not succeed and had asked Rauf and his friends to turn back to Ankara, ten days before the irruption of the chamber, but his request was not considered. Shortly after, he was not a leader anymore. With the dissolution of the chamber, nor only could he be a leader again, but also the government of Ali Rıza was overthrown by the irruption of the chamber, and he had got rid of two important competitors, Rauf and Kara Vasıf, head of Karakol, who were arrested by the English. By the irruption of the chamber, not only did the assembly that had become independent from M. Kemal be overthrown, but also people who could be alternative as leaders were removed, and, finally he could make the assembly elect him as president by gathering on 23 April 1920. The discourse of Mustafa Kemal against the last Chamber of Deputies of the Ottoman Empire was very hard to swallow.

The second act of support of the English was the Treaty of Sevres. The Treaty of Sevres was perhaps the only treaty signed but not approved by any state parliaments. The treaty was signed but was not taken into consideration. It would not be a mistake to think that the treaty was an English declaration. The treaty, which was one of important cornerstones consolidating the leadership of M. Kemal, could be considered as an English cord and the irruption of the assembly can be regarded as a pole vault, with which to eliminate all the obstacles in front of M. Kemal.


4. 16 March 1921: the treaties between Colonial power, Soviets and Kemalists

Even though such terms as "Cold War" and "détente" have been used for the period after the Second World War, the prevailing atmosphere after the English-Soviet treaty of commerce signed on 16 March 1921, the Soviet-Turkey Friendship and Fraternity Treaty signed, on the same day, and, the treaty signed between Bekir Sami and Robert Vansittart in London, also on the same day, had completely the "détente" soul. The inclusion of the provision in the English-Soviet Treaty for either parties not to conduct activities against their interests and zones of influence was one of the elements strengthening this point.

Moreover, the English who were actually neutral had officially declared their side in the Turkish-Greek War after March 1921 by means of these treaties.


5. The Peace Conference

The emphasis of the message by Lord Curzon through his representative Rawlinson, is important. He wanted to make peace with M. Kemal but there were minor hitches. "Because we haven't seen a powerful government in Turkey till now, peace was not possible. We don't see a power in the existing government [İstanbul] either". His speech to the effect that "We consider necessary that M. Kemal Pasha, who gained the nation's trust, must participate in the Peace Conference or he must come to an agreement with the resolutions" is important. Nevertheless, Lord Curzon said in his message that "However, we are concerned that after many sacrifices Turkey still could collaborate with the enemies. Given this doubt, England wants to make an agreement with people who would be real friends of the English inside Turkey. And of course these people must have influence on the Turkish people. Not like the people we have seen so far, such as the high officials of the government who do not have any power or interest outside Istanbul" . The activities of the English enabled strengthening function in gathering power in Mustafa Kemal's hands and being a one-man power.


6. İzmir Economy Congress: The loyalty oath of Kemalists to Colonial Power

Rightfully, Curzon stated his worries that in spite of enduring so many sacrifices, Turkey could still change sides and collaborate with the enemies of England and for this reason wanted to cooperate with real friends of England inside Turkey but that they must be influential persons on the Turkish people, who were faithful to their words and would oppose England at the first opportunity and wanted to get "assurance" . This assurance was given to the English during the İzmir Economy Congress gathered between the 17th February and the 4th of March 1923. We have to view the congress as a loyalty oath to colonialism. From a different viewpoint, we can say that the foundation of the Turkish Republic in Lausanne was the product of an approach that "the markets which have powerful national characteristics are far more preferable than the markets that weakened in the new world order after the war" . In this respect, the T."R" [Turkish "Republic"] was suitable with the interests of colonialism.


7. Lausanne: Appointment of a vassal to the Straits: the T. "R"

On 15 August 1921, the English High Commissioner, John de Robeck, stated: "We need to realize that this [Soviet-English rapprochement] is a proper moment to bring out a solution in Turkey and it is vital to form a buffer zone between our Empire and Russia." Turkey was suitable for the benefit of the English as a buffer country. Together with the Lausanne Treaty, "Turkey could stay as a buffer between two competing powers and could sustain its national existence . . . . At the end, the independence of Turkey was secured to the extent that safety was possible with Russia in the north and Great Britain in the south."

In this respect, it might not be wrong to assume that the T. "R" was created as a buffer zone between two conflicting worlds. The high representative of colonialism considered the foundation of the T. "R" being of vital importance. Lausanne was the register of this situation. The Vassal of the Straits has performed its duty without any deviation serving colonialism loyally until today. Changing of masters has not affected the status and duty of the vassal.

In return to the faithful vassal appointed at Lausanne, the crimes against humanity by the founder elements have been forgotten. As a requisite of a peculiar fate, the genocide criminals were exchanged with Rawlinson and the founders of the new the T. "R" were acquitted. The sign of this was present in the detailed message of Lord Curzon at the end of 1919.

It was informed with arrogance that support would have been given for ethnic cleansing and ethnic homogeneity desired by Kemalists: When peace will be reached, integrate the Muslims and expel the Christians. This desire was realized in Lausanne under the heading of population exchange and uprooting of the ancient Christian peoples of this geography from their historical lands was registered.

 

References

1.  Lieutenant colonel Rawlinson, who belongs to an aristocratic English family, is the brother of General Sir Henry Rawlinson and he married with the niece of Lord Curzon who was the minister of foreign minister of England. The memories of A. Rawlinson, were published in London in the year of 1924 under the name of "Adventures in the Near East (1918-1922)". (Rawlinson, A., Adventures in the Near East (1918-1922), Andrew Melrose Ltd., London & New York, 1924)
2. Kazım Karabekir, İstiklal Harbimiz, Türkiye Yayınevi, 1960, p 92.
3. K. Karabekir, ibid., page 94.
4. Rawlinson, A., Adventures in the Near East (1918-1922), Andrew Melrose Ltd., London & New York, 1924, p.227. Adapted by: Sinan Tavukçu, İngilizler ve Erzurum kongresi. http://www.haber10.com/makale/29546/ last entry: 26.12.2012. All of the references given in relation to the memories of Rawlinson are taken from this study of Sinan Tavukçu.
5. Rawlinson, ibid., page 189.
6. Rawlinson, ibid., p. 227.
7. Rawlinson, ibid., pp. 231-232.
8. Karabekir, ibid., p. 105.
9. Karabekir, ibid., pp. 128-29.
10. Rawlinson, ibid., p. 249.
11. Karabekir, ibid., pp. 409-10.
12. Karabekir, ibid., pp. 415-17.
13. Rasim Başara, Kıymetli Bir Hatıra, Tasviri Efkar, 29 October 1943.
14. Rawlinson, ibid., pp. 282-86.
15. Karabekir, ibid., pp. 415.
16. Karabekir, ibid., pp. 416.
17. Karabekir, ibid., p. 416.
18. Rauf Orbay could not make sense of M. Kemal's statements regarding English policy: "I cannot explain how, only two weeks ago, Mustafa Kemal Pasha, on the third day of my arrival, responding to journalists' questions in relation to the Armistice of Moudros, he said, with the same belief not just me but the entire Ottoman nation is naturally of the view that you could not have a better friend than the English due to the respect and humanity the Englsih demonstrated to the liberty of the Ottoman nation and the independence of our state." Rauf Orbay, Cehennem Değirmeni, volume 1, Emre Yayinlari, 1993, pp. 227-28.

19. From here, it is possible to construct a chronological table of the process of becoming "one man":

1. On 4 September 1920, it was approved that the nominees of members of representative's committee could be elected by him with the assistance of Mr. Ethem (Dismissing Hakkı Behiç and Mr. Nazım from the their duties as representatives)
2. He eliminated from the most important competitor by making the assembly to approve the elimination of Mr. Ethem on 27 December 1920, when he became sufficiently strong.
3. On 5 August 1921, he took the authority of the assembly by means of Supreme Military Command Law, the assembly was only existing in theory and it was used enable the legitimacy of Mustafa Kemal. By giving authority to Mustafa Kemal on the Independence Tribunals, all the obstacles were being removed day by day.
4. After 30 August 1922, he virtually became a "one man" power.
5. The transfer of authority to the national assembly by the abolition of the sultanate, on 1 November 1922, was another method to gather all the authority in the hands of Mustafa Kemal. There was no other obstacle to make his ‘peace'.
6. Efforts of the assembly were useless and by assassination of Ali Şükrü, the assembly was suppressed and abolished itself on 1 April 1923. Some say that the assembly had no right to abolish itself but that the right belonged to M. Kemal.
7. With the abolition of the assembly, an election committee including some representatives, in appearance only, was formed and M. Kemal became the president.
8. There were no more obstacles to make the assembly like a beautiful girl ("An assembly like a beautiful girl" statement belongs to M. Kemal as told by İ. Habib)
9. There was no assembly until 11 August 1923. At this period, the Lausanne Agreement was signed. That is why it is not considered wrong to say that "the first assembly" was the "assembly" between 23 April 1920 and 5 August 1921.
10. The irruption of the assembly and the arrest of its leadership by the English, can not be considered as acts the consequences of which could not have been predicted. An imperial state or colonial power should have considered the consequences of their acts.

20. Karabekir, ibid.,, p. 415.
21. Karabekir, ibid.,, p. 415.
22. Lord Curzon was wondering about Mustafa Kemal's opinions, with whom he hoped to reach an agreement, through Rawlinson, on separation of the caliphate from the sultanate, transition to republic and transfer of central government to any other place other than Istanbul. According to him, the government that abandoned Rumelia was a government of Asia, that it was not possible to conduct and improve Anatolia from Istanbul. The capital must be transferred to Anatolia from Istanbul. From this, we surmise that "national secret" is just a myth. The new T. "R" was shaped in 1919 in the minds of the English.
23. Karabekir, ibid.,, p. 417.
24. Karabekir tells about the assurance with these words: "If you win Turkey, a group of people consisting of a few of our officers and intellectuals can ensure tranquility, something which you cannot ensure with troops of hundreds of thousands of people. Of course, the opposite could also happen. I understand your doubts, be sure that it was definitely the influence of no-longer present persons, who were friend of Germans. Nowadays, each of person [irrespective of whether is] comprehending or not, is a supporter of English friendship" [The visit of the English King Edward VIII in 1936 is very meaningful. The perception of the state and the press of the King's visit as a visit to a colony, can be observed from that period's press. The visit realized in September 1936 created reactions in Turkey and abroad, local and foreign press pursued this visit with interest]. It is meaningful also that Karabekir was the president of İzmir Economy Congress.
25. Tolga Ersoy, Lausanne: How was an anti-imperialism story written? Sorun Publishing House 2004 page 148
26. Agreement on administrative procedures of the Straits was also one of the agreements entered into force after Lausanne Agreement
27. Bülent Gökay, ‘Turkey between Imperialism and Bolshevism' Translation: Sermet Yalçın Agora Library, 2006, p. 153.
28. Bülent Gökay, ibid., p. 229.
29. Rawlinson have not delayed his duty till the last moment. He imposed the benefits of colonialism with great success. He was awarded as Sir when he went back to England.
30. Karabekir, ibid., p. 416.

      


      

 

     

 

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