The aim he had before him was to preserve the Caliphate and Sultanate and to prevent, at all costs, the establishment of a Republican Government
Raif Effendi and “Union for the Salvation of the Sanctuaries.”
With your permission, I will give you some further details about this. Raif Effendi and his colleagues changed the title of the local organisation at Erzerum from the “Union for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia” into the “Union for the Salvation of the Sanctuaries.” Besides this, Raif Effendi added at the head of the principles containing the chief ideas of the union some clauses which aimed at the maintenance of the Caliphate and Sultanate and the form of the Government. He also intended to extend his efforts to other Vilayets espe cially the Eastern Provinces by sending all kinds of proclamations into these districts.
As soon as I was informed of this, I called the attention of Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha who commanded the eastern front to it, and asked him to bring Raif Effendi, the man of religion, as well as his comrades to reason and induce them to abandon their intentions.
After some correspondence had passed between Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha, who was at Sari Kamish, and Raif Effendi, who was at that time at Erzerum, Raif Hodja went personally to the headquarters of the Pasha. Raif Effendi told him of the reasons that had led him to use the title “Union for the Salvation of the Sanctuaries” and declared that the aim he had before him was to preserve the Caliphate and Sultanate and to prevent, at all costs, the establishment of a Republican Government, which, according to him, would be in the present and future life of the country and the Mohamedan world a source of great trouble and internal dissension. After having ex pressed his opinion that from certain symptoms he had come to the conclusion that the party for the “Defence of the Rights” formed in the Assembly had the intention of replacing the Government of the Caliph and Sultan by a Republican Government, he said that it would be unpardonable not to recognise the lawfulness of his activities.
In his telegram in cipher of the II th July in which Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha sent me this news he also mentioned, among other matters, the following: “We observe that the Constitution Act passed by the Grand National Assembly has also sanctioned the principles concerning the form of government. Anticipating difficulties in the carrying out of the provisions of this Act, I conceive it to be more advantageous if these provisions adopted the form of the programme of a political party.
“I would like to explain this idea from the point of view of general sentiment and of the opinions, prevailing in my district and about the tendency of which I am well informed.
“Most of the adherents of the party which has been formed in the Assembly with the programme in favour of the Constitution Act are those who are apparently driven by ambition to play a role in the destiny of the country in favour of a political change; but among the people there is only an infinitesimal minority who support the new conceptions of the organisation. If the deputies are supporters of the Constitution Act this is only a matter of their personal opinion. In these enterprises, which mean nothing less than a radical change in the form of Government and which must mark an epoch in history, I am convinced of the necessity of consulting our military and civil authorities as well as the local committees of the Union for the Defence of the Rights in the proper way, because all of them are bearing their share of responsibility for the destiny of our country. In the same way, the question ought also to be submitted to the investigation of an extraordinary Assembly, and only after this has been done shall we be able to come to a decision.”
After the decisive victory and the proclamation of the Republic by the second Grand National Assembly, Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha summarised the feelings and objections which he had given vent to long before in the statement he made in the Constantinople Press in the following form:
“We have not been consulted with regard to the proclamation of the Republic.”
“We have not been consulted with regard to the proclamation of the Republic.”
In his observations Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha seemed to have forgotten that the Grand National Assembly was just such an extra ordinary Assembly consisting of representatives who had been en dowed with extraordinary full powers by the nation. He simultane ously gives us to understand that he disapproves of the Act passed by this Assembly as well as the Constitution Act.
It is still more remarkable when he says that he was convinced of the necessity of consulting the military and civil authorities and the local committees of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia” in cases where the question arises of adopting resolutions which could lead to an alteration of the State system. * Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha also raises objections to the fact that I am connected with the party for the “Defence of the Rights.” He said: “I have always considered that Your Excellency should hold yourself aloof from . . . political parties of this description,” and he advises me to maintain a neutral attitude towards all parties. I re plied to this telegram on the 20 th July. I shall content myself with quoting here a few sentences of the somewhat lengthy reply which might throw light on certain points. I said: “The party of the Defence of the Rights has been formed with a clear and precise aim before it, which consists in securing the complete independence of the country. The passing of the Constitution Act is also included in these aims.
Raif Effendi s opinion that it indicates the speedy sub stitution of the monarchical regime by a republican one is founded on mere imagination
The Constitution Act is neither a complete statute nor one that enters into details regarding the whole legal position of the Turkish State and the subsidiary question relating to administration. The Act is confined to introducing the principle of democracy into our civil and administrative organisation as demanded by the exigencies of the time. There is nothing in this Act that expresses the idea of a Republic. Raif Effendi s opinion that it indicates the speedy sub stitution of the monarchical regime by a republican one is founded on mere imagination. Regarding the assertion that among the persons entrusted with the central administration there are some whose per sonalities and past lives give rise to criticism, these assertions must be supported by more concrete evidence.
The idea of entrusting administrative duties only to men who are trained and who are thoroughly educated, as well as being in possession of administrative qualifications and all personal advantages, is at best a very fascinating dream which is very alluring.
“It is not only impossible for us, but for all the progressive nations in the world, to discover men in sufficient numbers who enjoy public esteem in all of the professions, circles and districts.
“The endeavour to weaken the combined and unified organisations which must support the country under the influence of deceptive and vague thoughts and claims could only be regarded as an act of insanity, if not even of treason.
“Your Excellency is well aware of the fact that every important enterprise leading to progress must inevitably be connected with serious difficulties according to circumstances. The important point is that nothing should be lacking in the selection of the means and the measures to be adopted which are most suitable to reduce these difficulties to a minimum.”
Then I explained my ideas regarding the proposal for consulting the military and civil authorities and the organisations for the “De fence of the Rights” in drafting the Constitution Act, as follows:
“As Your Excellency is aware we have a constituted Government and we must adopt all the conceptions that result from this condition. You will probably agree with me that it is not possible, under the effect of ideas that come from a distance, to exercise any influence on the form which the Constitution Act has finally agreed upon after having discussed it in Committee and at the full sitting.”
Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha had also asked to be informed of the reasons which had caused the haste in which, in his opinion, the Constitution Act had been drafted and, in addition, about the eventual difficulties of the application of the Act as well as our opinions on the question of the Caliphate and the Sultanate.
Referring to these points, I had said in my reply: “The reason for the attitude which had appeared to Your Excellency to have been hasty, is only the anxiety to guide the democratic current which reveals itself to-day in our country, as well as everywhere else, into a sound course and to prevent further complications which might arise on thes question of the preservation of national rights, which have been misinterpreted and injured for centuries by incapable men. Also to secure the possibility to the nation, which is the real possessor of these rights, to make its voice heard and, finally, to make the most of the extraordinary occurrences of the moment which are so favour able for the development of this noble idea.
For the purpose of carefully considering the possibility of putting this law into force, we ought to take into account the degree of ad ministrative energy and the capability of those who will have occasion to preside over its application.
The question of the Caliphate and the Sultanate is not to be treated as one of the first importance
The question of the Caliphate and the Sultanate is not to be treated as one of the first importance. The principal question is to define the rights of the sovereign, in the settle ment of the determination and limitation of which rights we must be guided by the experience of past centuries and the exact limitation of the rights of the nation included in the conception of the State. We do not yet possess a clearly defined formula grounded on this basis.
In my reply to Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha s proposal that I should remain neutral instead of being chairman of the party, I said:
“I am not the President of an Assembly like the Chamber of Deputies; but even if I were, it would be natural for me to be a member of a political party. As the Grand National Assembly exer cises at the same time the executive power, it means that I am the President of an Assembly which has, in effect, the character of a Government.
“The head of the executive power must necessarily be a member of the majority party. There is nothing to prevent me under these conditions from being chairman of a political party which has thrown itself into the conflict with a programme that enters into details. Just as it is impossible for me to withdraw from the union with which I have identified myself with my whole being, in the same way it is absolutely necessary that I should take my place in the ranks of the party which this union has produced.
In truth, the party has a crushing majority, comprising nearly all the members of the Assembly. Those who have held themselves aloof from the party are Djelaleddin Arif Bey and Hussein Avni Effendi, deputies for Erzerum, with others like them, and some who were anxious to preserve their free dom of action.” Izzet Pasha and Salih Pasha, who were at that time still at An gora, did not feel at home there. They continually appealed to us, directly and indirectly, begging to be released and to be allowed to return to their families in Constantinople. They assured us, over and over again, that they would keep entirely aloof from political life when they returned there.
At the beginning of March, 1921, while Ismet Pasha was at Angora where he had arrived with the intention of attending to certain affairs, the Pashas renewed their appeals.
One day while the Council of Ministers were holding a sitting, Ahmed Izzet Pasha came to the Government building and asked to see Ismet Pasha who was attending the meeting of the Council. Ismet Pasha had an interview with him. Izzet Pasha assured him in a long explanation regarding the proposal made by us that he would give his word of honour that he would not accept an official position in Constantinople, and he renewed his request to be allowed to return to his family. He added that Salih Pasha, for his part, also pledged his word of honour and begged that he might be allowed to go.
Ismet Pasha informed the Council of these declarations and re quests. The Council of Ministers were of the opinion that the presence of these two Pashas at Angora had not been of any advantage to us in our work, but that they were rather a useless burden and that, moreover, they offered a pretext for certain antagonistic feelings towards us; consequently there was no objection to the return of the Pashas to Constantinople.
I pointed out, however, that I did not think that the pledge given by them was straightforward and sincere and that I was convinced beyond doubt that they would resume their duties in the Government when they returned to Constantinople and in this way cause us further annoyance. They pointed out the fact that the Pasha had given his word of honour. I held that permission should only be granted to them if they consented to give an undertaking in writing; for hitherto they had only expressed themselves verbally. Ismet Pasha told Izzet Pasha, who was in the adjoining room, what I had pro posed. He immediately picked up a pen and wrote out an under taking to hand in his resignation to the Cabinet and signed it. If my memory does not deceive me he made Salih Pasha also sign the document.
But this short undertaking did not seem sufficient to me. It had not the same meaning as the pledge he had given verbally. I called the attention of my colleagues to the fact that there was some trickery and that Izzet Pasha ought to draw up and sign the same declaration that he had given by word of mouth to Ismet Pasha. But they would not admit that after so many assurances and declarations Izzet Pasha could have given his undertaking with any other intentions in his mind; therefore, they pleaded that this document should be accepted as sufficient.
Through this deception, Izzet Pasha and Salih Pasha succeeded in obtaining permission to return to Constantinople.
When they returned, the two Pashas actually handed in their resignations ; but a very short time afterwards they accepted other ministerial appointments in the same Cabinet and informed us by telegram that they had done so. Izzet Pasha, who had become Foreign Minister in the Constantinople Government, told us that he had only taken up this office to guard against the misfortune threaten ing the nation and the country, and then he gave us a great deal of advice. I sent him this reply:
29 th June, 1921. To His Highness Ahmed Izzet Pasha, Constantinople.
I have received your telegram through the Director of the Intelligence Department at Songuldak. I can only say that your position is not in accordance with the undertaking you and His Highness Salih Pasha gave. There is one point that I consider in your favour, and that is, in taking over your office this time you may be in a position to avert the misfortune threatening the country and the nation. At our first interview you yourself admitted how weak the reasons were with which you supported your acceptance of a post in the Ministry; this actually occurred before you came to Angora with the good intention and in the hope of being useful to the country.
Your telegram does not show clearly enough what reasons led you to take up this new position.
We are paying the greatest attention to your advice which is in accord with the interests of the country and the nation, with the Treaties that have been concluded, in short with the National Pact, and we are doing all we can to follow it.
On account of the general situation and the ideas instilled into Your Excellency, I cannot help fearing that again , as happened formerly, your credulity has been taken advantage of. We would be glad to receive explanations that would help us to change this opinion and to see a concrete development of events in this direction.
Mustapha Kemal. Izzet Pasha replied to this in the following telegram in cipher on the 6* h July.
To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha, Angora.
The pledge which Salih Pasha and I gave was to the effect that on our return we would hand in our resignations. We have carried out that undertaking. I do not know whether it would have been possible for us permanently to retire from the service of the State and, above all, to withdraw from the sacrifice that was suggested to us in these dark days when the Entente Powers materially support Greece and the possibility begins to take shape that Constantinople will be ceded to Greece and serve her as a naval base. I do not think that you would be likely to approve of this.
At Angora and Biledshik I had found that it was not advisable to continue our discussions in the presence of persons whom I did not know. As a precaution, therefore, I gave the impression that I was convinced by your arguments. After my return I had even shown enough courage in the explanation which I deliberately made to take all the responsibility for the events upon myself.
The attitude assumed later on by persons who were present at our first interviews has proved that I was quite right in being on my guard. But I do not admit that I have been deceived at any time by anyone. I have remained faithful to the idea of an understanding which had led me to you, as is shown by the discussions in the Council of Ministers and the memorandum I laid before them. Far from ad mitting the credulity which is attributed to me, I am strengthened in confidence in my own personality and my opinions by the collection of evidence that I had correctly judged the political situation in all its details then, as I do now. It is not for me to raise the question as to whether it was appropriate or not that we should have accepted office at this moment. I would be very grateful to you if you would explain what objection you have to it. Taking into account the lawful position of the Government here and the presence of Missions of the interested Powers in Constantinople, the fact is evident that it is neither possible nor right to ignore the situation here. Besides, the majority of the present Cabinet does not follow any personal aim either at the present time or will do so in the future, but is de voted exclusively to the welfare of our country. With this intention, it desires with all its heart to come to a reasonable understanding with the people at Angora, in the reconciliation and unification of opinions and efforts. If its sincerity meets with a fitting response, 5*2
it will even be able to co-operate and render valuable services. But ii its hopes should be deceived, I have the honour to declare to you that it will decline the moral responsibility for the errors and mis fortunes that might result from the failure of such an understanding.
I endorsed this telegram with the following words in pencil:
The Council of Ministers have decided to retain this document among the official records in the expectation that at the proper time the necessary formalities will be introduced.
Ahmed Izzet Pasha had preferred rather to make himself a servant of Wahideddin than to remain in the midst of the Turkish people, who had fed him and reared him, and come to their aid in the days of the darkest despair. He bowed to the Fetwa of Durri Sade El Seyid Abdullah and took care not to disobey the Sultan s orders and lay himself open to the sentence of excommunication by the Sheri. Ahmed Izzet Pasha also involved himself in some other deceptions, about which I shall also speak to you.
Whilst the fighting continued with our enemies and we were endeavouring to oppose them with all the material and moral forces of the nation, Izzet Pasha continued to disseminate the poison of his pessimism, causing despair and fatigue by addressing letters to those men who were entrusted with the command of the principal forces of the nation. He found reasons to mock at my statements when I ex pressed the certainty that we would defeat the enemy s army and save our country. As a kind of threat, he indicated the movement of the Greek army, which after the second battle of Inongu again advanced eastwards as far as the Sakaria, intending thereby to teach us a lesson.
By a strange coincidence, on the same day on which we had forced the enemy to retire by our counter-attack on the Sakaria, I was shown for official reasons a letter which had originated from this brain affected by megalomania, in which it was maintained that my behaviour would lead to our breakdown. This letter had caused us great astonishment.
After having witnessed the retreat of the Greek army, first from the Sakaria and afterwards from Smyrna, and after having read the Treaty of Lausanne, had Izzet Pasha quoted this sentence in his telegram of the 6 th July, 1921, once more in which he said: Tar from admitting the credulity which is attributed to me, I am strengthened, in the confidence in my own personality and my opinions by the collection of evidence that I had correctly judged the political situation in all its details then as I do now” by accident?
I am tempted to believe that this was so.
Izzet Pasha and Salih Pasha had stayed for many a month at Angora. We were ready to offer them positions in the National Go vernment on condition that they accepted our national principles. They remained deaf to this. They did not once set foot in the As sembly. But in every case they were informed of the laws enacted by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey; they were completely familiar with the provisions of these Acts and the attitude of the Grand National Assembly and their Government towards Constanti nople, which was so clearly defined. Now, totally disregarding these Acts and this attitude, they were again at the head of affairs in Constantinople and devoted themselves exclusively to the task of annihilating the authority and the influence of the nation and of exposing their enterprises with the object of maintaining the authority of Wahideddin, who had become a mere puppet in the hands of the enemy.
I will not attempt to explain the importance of these occurrences. I leave this task to the Turkish people and to coming generations.
I would like to take this opportunity to advise my honoured nation not to refrain for an instant from carefully analysing the character and conscience of the men whom they have raised and on whom they will some day bestow the honour of their confidence.