Return to the point where I had left off, namely, concerning the Western front
I shall now return to the point where I had left off, namely, con cerning the Western front. After the battle of Godos and its painful moral and material consequences, Ali Fuad Pasha s authority and influence as commander of the forces appeared to have been shaken, Just at this moment Ali Fuad Pasha asked in a telegram in cipher on the 5 th November for permission to come to Angora for the pur pose of consulting us. I had begun to feel that I would have to recall him from his command. The unfavourable criticisms levelled against Ali Fuad Pasha and the fatal effect which the existence of the “Flying Columns” had had on the discipline of the Army, had actually begun to be so noticeable that I considered it necessary on the 7 th November to order Ali Fuad Pasha to return to Angora as quickly as possible.
I was convinced that Ali Fuad Pasha could no longer hold the command of the troops on the Western front. At this time it was thought necessary to send a diplomatic mission to Moscow, and here was an opportunity of sending him there as our Ambassador.
As regards the Western front, which required very serious and careful handling, it appeared to me that the quickest and best thing to do would be to send Ismet Pasha, Chief of the General Staff, who was already engaged in studying the general military operations, to take over the command.
It became clearly necessary that we should have strong cavalry units, both for the military operations as well as for employment in the country against seditious movements and other troubles.
I considered it expedient to send Refet Bey (now Refet Pasha), Minister of the Interior, to Konia and the surrounding districts for the sole purpose of recruiting such units, and I added this appoint ment to his other duties. Refet Bey had often for different purposes been to Konia and Denisli, where he had taken an interest in the southern part of the Western front, and was therefore well acquainted with this part of the country. Thus I was able to solve the problem in this way: The entire front was divided into two parts, of which Ismet Pasha was given the command of the most important one, called the Western front, while the southern portion of it could be given to Refet Bey, whom I had to send into the Konia district, and both fronts were directly under the General Staff.
Fewsi Pasha, Minister of National Defence, could undertake the administration of the General Staff.
In Fuad Pasha s time there was another zone behind the front line extending from the front to Sivas. To control this zone Fuad Pasha had been obliged to create the post of an acting commander. It was clear that this was scarcely practicable. Consequently, it was natural that part of this zone which was included as the base in the territory of the front came under the administration of the Ministry of National Defence in the new scheme.
To secure the quick preparation and reorganisation of the Army, it seemed advisable that for a certain time Ismet Pasha should still remain at the head of the General Staff, in the same manner as it was necessary that Refet Bey should temporarily retain his office as Minister of the Interior. In this we had the special objectin view of securing the organisation of the cavalry with which he was entrusted as quickly as possible by preserving order in his district and requisi tioning animals and material from the population.
Fuad Pasha arrived at Angora on the 8 th November. I went to the station personally to meet him. I noticed that he was dressed in the uniform worn by the men of the national units and carried a carbine on his shoulder. There could no longer be any doubt about the great influence which such ideas and ways of thinking had gained on the whole of the Western front, considering that they had even induced the officer in command to wear this uniform himself.
Therefore, after I had explained my ideas in short to Fuad Pasha, I mentioned the new duties which he could undertake. He accepted them willingly. On the following night I asked Ismet Pasha and Refet Pasha to come to me and we arranged what their new appointments and powers would be.
The emphatic instructions I gave them were “to create a regular army and a strong cavalry force as quickly as possible.” This was the beginning of the execution of our determination “to destroy the spirit and system of the irregular organisations” which we had resolved upon on the 8 tla November, 1920. Now let us pause for a moment and see what was going on in Con stantinople. The plan followed by Damad Ferid s Government in collusion with our enemies of all descriptions “to put an end by force of arms” had not been successful.
We had resisted the internal upheavals and had suppressed them. The Greek offensive had at last been brought to a standstill on a certain line. The operations undertaken by the Greeks were confined to limited areas.
It became evident that we had undertaken serious steps against the internal unrest as against the Greek forces. It was also apparent that the armed attacks whether from the interior or the exterior of the country would not succeed, and particularly that the position of the National Government at Angora could not be shaken.
Consequently, the policy of attack by arms pursued by Constanti nople had been wrecked. The conviction that the policy would have to be altered naturally followed. In that case it would be better to adopt a policy of internal disintegration under cover of a policy of under standing exactly as happened in September, 1919, after the first resignation of Damad Ferid Pasha and the Cabinet of All Riza Pasha came into power, when the question arose of pursuing a policy which was apparently a reconcilable one towards us with the intention thereby of producing our inner disintegration.
We shall see that in the struggles that followed we had to combat ideas which were aimed at tempting us into internal and external enterprises and internal intrigues, through the mediation of Stambul in the same way as against the Greek Army, but under conditions which were far more difficult to understand and to explain.
Tewf ik Pasha was at the head of the Government in Constantinople.
Ahmed Izzet Pasha and Salih Pasha, respectively, occupied the offices of Minister of the Interior and Minister of Marine in this Cabinet, which soon tried to come into contact with us. It was Ahmet Izzet Pasha chiefly who made this effort.
An officer among the military leaders of the Palace was furnished with certain documents and sent to Angora by Ahmed Izzet Pasha. In them we were informed that they hoped to arrive at a peace under more favourable conditions than hitherto. Smyrna, for example, with the consent of the Greeks, would come under a special regime under Ottoman sovereignty. Above all, it was important to come to an agreement with the Constantinople Government.
It was remarked that Ahmed Izzet Pasha and the Cabinet to which he belonged were not clear about the character and authority of the Grand National Assembly and their Government, and that they had conceived the idea of forming a Government in Constantinople as a means to solve the problems concerning the destiny of the country and the nation.
With a view to fully enlightening Izzet Pasha andTewfik Pasha s Cabinet and to inform them about the situation, we drew up a docu ment containing in full detail all the communications and obervations we considered necessary and sent it to them by the special agent who had come to Angora and who left in the direction of Ineboli on the 9 th November.
I received a short telegram from Songuldak, signed “Captain Kemal,” on the 12 th November. It contained the words: “I have just left Stambul for the purpose of sending a telegram in cipher.” The telegram referred to was signed by Izzet Pasha, Minister of the Interior, and had been written in Constantinople on the 9 th October, 1920.
In this telegram we were informed that they had obtained the consent of the French representative to transmit news between Stambul and Songuldak through the French wireless station. Then the question was asked: “Has the principle of coming to an under standing with the Government been accepted? If so, at what place would a meeting be possible and what route would have to be taken to reach that place?”
Later on an order to the chief Post and Telegraph Administration at Kastamuni arrived, which was signed “Orchan Shemseddin, General Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Stambul,” and was dated II th November, 1920. This order was enclosed in the envelope of a non-official letter sent to the Direction at Heraklea and ran as follows:
1. It is necessary that telegraphic communication between Ana tolia and the capital shall be established as quickly as possible.
2. To secure this, it is urgently necessary that, on the one hand, all the wires belonging to the main line between Sabanja and Geiveh which can be repaired shall be put into working order, and that, on the other hand, the establishment and reparation of those lines which connect the towns of Ismidt, Kandire and Indshili which require considerable attention shall also be repaired.
3. Bekir Bey, Inspector in Stambul, has been ordered to carry this out and is ready to leave for Ismidt. He has the foreman of a gang and a sufficient number of telegraph clerks under his command.
4. I request you to give these officials, who are in possession of special identification papers from the Ministry of the Interior, all the help they require in the places where they consider it necessary to carry out this work and permission to enter into telegraphic com munication with the competent authorities. TI th November, 1920.
The order we circulated in reply to this telegram was to avoid all communication with Constantinople and to arrest any one who would come with the intention of repairing the telegraph lines.
I postponed my reply to this telegram in cipher which Izzet Pasha had sent by a third person until the arrival of the information that Izzet Pasha had read the communication we had sent to him by the messenger. I wanted to know whether Izzet Pasha would maintain his views after he had learned our news. When I knew what I had to expect in this direction, I sent Izzet Pasha the following answer by means of the communication existing between us :
“A meeting with the deputation in question at which it would be advisable that Your Excellency and His Excellency Salih Pasha should be present, could most easily and most quickly be made practicable at Biledshik. You could travel by rail from Stambul to Sabandja and continue your journey by motor-car; or, you could come by sea to Brusa and go from there to Biledshik. If you prefer, you could con tinue your journey from Brusa by motor-car. We have already advised the competent authorities on both these routes. I beg you to arrange your journey so that you will arrive at Biledshik not later than the 2 nd December, and that you will let us know the date of your departure from Stambul and the road you have chosen to take from Songuldak in the usual manner. I would remind you of the necessity of proceeding in such a way that your journey will not attract attention.” 25 tn November, 1920.
In a telegram written in Constantinople on the 23 rd November, which was signed by the special messenger who had arrived in Con stantinople and which had been sent to Ineboli and transmitted from there to Angora on the 27 th November, the following was said:
Kemal Pasha 2 “When I was with Izzet Pasha to-day, the 23 rd November, the Minister for Foreign Affairs made the f ollowing statements regarding the latest political situation:
“It is reported that the English Ambassador, who arrived here a few days ago, has declared that a favourable solution would be found for the Ottoman Government on the important questions of Armenia and Georgia, and afterwards on the question of Smyrna. It seems advisable to profit by this favourable situation and not miss the opportunity of doing everything that is possible to safeguard the future of the country. If Angora wants to gain time, feelers must be put out immediately and the following resolutions adopted unanimously. 55
“After making these statements Izzet Pasha said that it is our duty to make use of the advantages which our continued struggles have gained for us. If Anatolia would not receive the deputation which it is intended to send there, we must get into touch with him personally and explain our aims privately to him. If we were not to consent to this, the conclusion would be drawn that we had abandoned the idea expressed in the above-mentioned statement. In that case he would no longer remain in the Cabinet but would resign and, if it was desired, he would go to Angora without taking any notice of StambuL”
In the same telegram we were told that the following statements appearing in the Constantinople Press were attributed to Izzet Pasha: “In sending a special agent to Anatolia the Government wanted to find out whether any connection could be arranged with the people in Angora or not. The agent who had just returned has stated that such connection could be established. Correspondence with this object has been opened. We shall naturally do what is necessary.”
In answer to the observation that statements of this kind were not in accordance with the point of view of Anatolia and that they should be altered, the Cabinet told us that they did not agree with us. Izzet Pasha, however, gave the following explanations to the journal called “Terdshumani Hakikat”: “The higher interests of the country emphatically demand that the Press should be silent for the moment on this question. Consequently, I wish to be excused for the present from giving any information. 5
Tewfik Pasha, Ahmed Izzet Pasha and Salih Pasha were regarded as the great men of the moment. The nation believed them to be wise, well-informed, far-sighted and reliable. For this reason every- body abandoned himself to all kinds of hopes when Damad Fend Pasha resigned and a Government succeeded it whose prominent Ministers were these very personalities. When Tewfik Pasha s Cabinet tried from the very beginning to get into touch and negotiation with Angora, public opinion could not imagine that there was any reason for doubting his good faith. Everybody looked upon it as a good sign that Tewfik Pasha s Cabinet had come into power. It was exceedingly difficult to believe or to convince anybody that this Cabinet had accepted office without having discovered a way to obtain the maximum advantages for the nation and the country. This was all the more so because, through the language th 3y used in political circles and the Press of Constantinople, they had adopted an attitude which confirmed this popular opinion.