This motion principally relates to the question of an American mandate
Then, at our sitting on the 8 th September we passed on to the motion I have referred to. This motion principally relates to the question of an American mandate.
Some persons who had come to Sivas from Constantinople had brought with them an American journalist, named Brown.
Before speaking of the dissentions that occurred at the Congress over this question, I will first of all say something about it for your information. You will be able to understand better from certain correspondence which was carried on at Erzerum and which I shall put before you verbatim:
Very urgent. Amasia, 25 th July, 1919.
To the C. O. S. of the Inspection of the III rd Army Corps,
Erzerum. For Mustapha Kemal Pasha.
1. BeMr Sami Bey Effendi has arrived at Amasia to-day. I have had the honour of speaking to him for a long time. He declares that he has a very high opinion of Mustapha Kemal and Rauf Bey Effendi and begs to forward them the following:
2. On principle, independence is undoubtedly preferable and desirable. Nevertheless, it is certain that if we claim absolute in dependence the Empire will be divided into several zones. If that should be the case, a mandate that will guarantee the integrity of our country is surely far better than independence that would be restricted to two or three provinces.
I hold that the most satisfactory solution for our nation would be to plead for an American mandate limited to a certain time, provided that we preserve our Constitution and our right to send represen tatives of the entire Empire to foreign countries.
I have discussed this with an American representative. He told me that it would be advisable to appeal to America, not by the voice of a few people alone but that of the whole nation. He proposes that we should lay the following considerations before Wilson, the Senate and the Congress:
a) The establishment of a suitable Government;
b) The extension of public education;
c) The guarantee of freedom in education and religion ;
d) The abolition of the Capitulations, and
e) The acceptance of a general mandate over the whole of the Empire by the Government of the United States.
3. Further, the representative of the United States has declared himself willing to take a delegation elected by our congress to America on board a man-of-war.
4. As Bekir Sami Bey will still be here for a few days longer, he requests to be furnished with orders and instructions through me and, above all, that he may be informed of the date on which the Congress at Sivas will be opened. He would like to know, also, what place you think will be the best for him to wait at till then.
Arif, Temporarily commanding the 5 th Caucasian Division.
% Ciphered. Urgent and personal. 196. Erzerum.
To the C. O. 5 th Division at Amasia.
For Bekir Sami Bey ? formerly Vali, now at Amasia.
i. Your telegram has interested me very much. The Congress of the Eastern Provinces, which is now sitting, is a powerful body com prising prominent persons possessed of great influence and prestige among the inhabitants of their districts. The complete independence of the State and the Nation is strenuously demanded in the dis cussions that are being carried on at this Congress.
There will, also, be no difficulty in bringing directly before the Congress the question of an American mandate, all the more so as the nature and form of such a mandate has not yet been determined upon.
Referring to the conversations you have had in Constantinople, we particularly request you to give us further information on these points without delay.
As the news we have received from Constantinople hitherto appears to be somewhat vague, we ask you to make these points clear.
Similar vagueness can be seen in the communications from Constantinople coming through Refet Bey at Sivas on the 21 st July.
Consequently, we think it very advisable to demand full parti culars direct from Constantinople.
a) You say that, in case we demand complete independence, it is certain that the country would be divided into several zones. What makes you so certain about this?
b) What are we to understand by the expression “territorial integrity ? Does it mean the integrity of the country or its sovereign rights?
c) You consider that the best course would be to accept a mandate, providing that our Constitution throughout the Ottoman territories shall not be impaired, and that we shall also have the right of being represented in foreign countries.
The remarks made by the representative of the United States seem, however, to contradict these terms. For, if the Constitution were to remain intact, the Government would consist of a Cabinet enjoying the confidence of the legislative power and would be directly under its 8o
control; but, in that case, the United States would have no influence at all on the composition of this Cabinet.
Then the Constitution would either remain in force and it would be unnecessary to ask America to form a suitable Government for us, or, if we were to put forward such a request, the Constitution would become an empty word, without any meaning at all in it.
d) What are we to understand by the development and extension of public education? The first thing about it that strikes us is that it means the establishment of American schools in every part of the country. At present we have about 25 educational establishments at Sivas, one of them alone being attended by about 1,500 Armenians.
This being so, how can the extension of Ottoman and Islamic teaching be brought into agreement with this proposition?
e) The paragraph relating to freedom in education and religion is, to a certain extent, important. But what particular signification can it have if the privileges of the Patriarchates still exist?
f) What are the borders of the whole of the Ottoman possessions which the representative refers to in Art. 5? Are we to understand that they are the pre-war boundaries?
If this expression is intended to include Syria and Irak, will the population of Anatolia be entitled to demand a mandate over these provinces in the name of Arabia?
What is the policy of the present Government? Why has Tewfik Pasha gone to London? It is being said that for their part the English are also trying to obtain a mandate, exactly as the Americans are doing. What is the difference between them? What does the Govern- ment think about the American mandate? Are they inclined to accept it or not? Why have the Americans given up the idea of a mandate over Armenia? How far are they inclined to accept such a mandate?
2. The meeting of the Congress at Sivas is dependent upon the results of the Erzerum Congress. We are particularly interested in this question. In the meantime, it seems advisable that you should remain at Tokat or Amasia.
With the assurance of our highest esteem, Mustapha Kemal .
Strictly private. Very urgent, 96. Amasia, 3O th July, 1919.
To the C. O. S. of the III rd Army Corps Inspection. For Mustapha Kemal Pasha.
i. We forward you herewith the reply we have received from Bekir Sami Bey: 8i
a) The Council of Four has decided to divide our country into several parts and force us to accept several mandates, if we continue to demand our complete independence.
For this reason, he has suggested that the best way of avoiding such a possibility would be to ask for a mandate.
b) The preservation of our territorial integrity is founded solely on its sovereign rights.
c) We would not ask the United States to form a government for us. We would only assure America that we will form a proper govern ment ourselves. We will ask America to help us in our development and on financial questions, only on condition that our Constitution and all the sovereign rights of the dynasty and our diplomatic repre sentation in foreign countries would remain untouched. These are the terms on which we would ask for a mandate.
d) The extension of public education does not infer that we would consent to American Schools being established, even in our villages, but that we would accept America s support in this direction, assuring her that we would do all we possibly could to encourage the extension of national and Islamic education. We want to entrust America with the mandate and not merely the American missionaries.
e) Freedom in education and religion is based on the precepts of Islam; as American opinion has no knowledge about this truth, we want to give positive assurances on the subject.
The borders about which the President of the United States speaks are the pre-war borders. The question as to whether we are justified in demanding a mandate over Syria and other territories, is one for the Congress to decide.
By the way, the American representatives in Syria and the Irak have appealed for a plebiscite. The population, while demanding the formation of an autonomous Arabian State in Syria and Palestine, have expressed the opinion that an American mandate would be preferable to that of any other Power.
f) As the Government was formed only a short time ago, its policy is so far unknown. That of the preceding Cabinets was dictated by weakness and servile submission to the commands of the Entente. Tewfik Pasha has not gone to London, but has returned here with Ferid Pasha.
The opinion of the Americans, based on the reports of missionaries who have made inquiries on the spot itself, is that there is no possible way of setting up a Great Armenia before an actual Armenia has been defined. I will send you shortly a detailed letter on the question of the mandate.
2. For the present I shall remain at Tokat and will await further communications from you, I hope that the propaganda that is being distributed in the provinces will meet with success.
I send my best respects to all. . .,
Commanding the 5 th Division.
Ciphered. Personal. Erzerum. I st August, 1919.
To the officer commanding the 5 th Division at Amasia.
I beg that the following telegram may be forwarded without delay
to BeMr Sami Bey with the request that he will reply immediately:
To Bekir Sami Bey Effendi.
Reply to your message of the 3 rd July, 1919.
We have read your detailed statements concerning the American mandate. In principle, we have nothing to be afraid of. We must, however, draw your attention to another matter.
What advantage can the American Government expect that will compensate them for accepting the burden of a mandate on terms that are so much in our favour?
What, in that event, are the aims and objects that the Americans have in view? We are impatiently waiting to hear further news from you on this subject and what your own impressions are about it.
Amasia, 3 rd August, 1919.
To the C. 0. S. of the III rd Army Corps Inspection. I beg to forward you Bekir Sami Bey s reply.
To Mustapha Kemal Pasha.
Considering that the negotiations with the Americans have natur ally been carried on privately and mean nothing but mere pro posals, an exchange of opinions on the terms to be imposed on the parties to the agreement has not yet taken place.
Speaking generally, I think I ought to draw your attention to the necessity of making arrangements for a congress to be convened and, if possible, to be opened without any delay.
Aarif Lt.-Colonel on the Staff. To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha.
The political situation in the country has reached a specially critical point. The time is rapidly approaching when the Turkish nation, having crossed the Rubicon, must take up a decisive attitude that will enable us to determine the course we shall follow.