Europe especially Great Britain wants at any price to raise the Armenian Question
But Europe especially Great Britain wants at any price to raise the Armenian Question and to see that the Armenians are adequately compensated. In the name of the Armenian martyrs, she does all she can to influence the public opinion of America. The danger that threatens us from Europe occupies the thoughts of all our intel lectuals. Reshad Hikmet Bey, Djami Bey, even our diplomatists who organised the national union, have all proposed different solutions of the American question. I will inform you officially about this in writing.
We are passing through an exceedingly critical time. America is following the course of events in Anatolia with the closest attention and sympathy. The Government is working hand in hand with Eng land to deceive America with the idea that the Government is aiming at a massacre of the Armenians and intend to bring the “Unionists” into power.
Plans are continually being made to send troops to suppress the national movement. Everything is being done to win the English over to this idea. In prominent quarters the assurance is given that the national movement would find immediate support in America as soon as it made definite proposals and was not influenced by tendencies antagonistic to the Christians.
We are trying to delay the American Commission till the opening of the Congress at Sivas. We might even succeed in getting an American journalist to attend the Congress.
In consideration of what I have just said, and distressed by the fear of the possible dismemberment of the State, I feel sure that we would do well to put our trust in America, without losing this favour able opportunity, and rely upon her to defend our cause. Vassif , my brother, will explain to you the points in which we are in agreement on this question himself.
It is quite possible that one or two determined men can save Turkey.
The time for dissension and speculation has gone. We must fight with all our strength to safeguard our future, our development and our unity. Our unfortunate country has lost a great number of her sons on her frontiers. But how many heroes have fallen in the struggle for our spiritual progress and our civilisation?
We want the good patriots of Turkey to become the founders of our future. We are expecting you and Rauf Bey to work together, bearing in mind with judicious foresight the great future that lies before our country, which is shaken to its very foundations.
I send you my highest esteem and all good wishes for success in your enterprise.
I assure you that I, a plain Turkish soldier like yourself, am among the loyal champions of the national cause. Halid Edib 13 th August, 1919.
Kara Hissar Sahib, 13 th August, 1919. To the Officer Commanding the XV tl1 Army Corps. To Mustapha Kemal Pasha.
All the political parties in Constantinople have unanimously decided to send the following resolutions to the American Embassy:
I. The Committee are of the opinion that the Turks in the Eastern Provinces and prominent persons at the head of the Government would be willing to agree to the surrender of part of the territory in the east of Turkey to form, eventually, an Armenian State, on con dition that their own welfare and their future development would be duly taken into consideration. They believe, however, that the Turks concerned would not like this proposal to be publicly known, because they have made common cause with the Kurds, who are by no means favourable to the idea of abandoning any territory to the Armenians. Even if they should consent to this, the Turkish majority in these provinces would differ on this point from the Kurds, reserving the following conditions:
1. The integrity of the territory of the Turkish and Kurdish major ity and of the other minorities dwelling among them.
2. The guarantee and confirmation of complete independence.
3. The abolition of the Capitulations, which hinder the free devel opment of Turkey on its way to progress ; to allow her the possibility in the surest way of gaining her independence and her rights as pro vided for in Wilson s points.
4. … (illegible) with the League of Nations, American help in the realisation of these desires and the rapid development of Turkey.
II. Immediate accomodation in their new dwelling places for the Turks and Kurds living in the abandoned districts, with the guarantee of American help, thus securing them the possibility of immediately taking possession of this property.
III Immediate transportation of all the Armenians who are in habiting crowded settlements in these districts specially between Erzingan and Sivas to the territory of new Armenia.
IV The cession of territory, the possibility of which we keep in view in the name and in favour of Armenia, shall not be earned out in the name of an independent Armenia, but in that of a modern State to be developed under the mandate of a Great Power; because the cession of territory in favour of an Armenia already in existence would mean the creation of a second Macedonia on the flank of Turkey and a centre of discord in the Caucasus.
V All the foregoing is still in a state of … (illegible). But in order to put all this into a definite shape, it is absolutely necessary to enter into negotiation with the Commissions now in the country and send a deputation to one of the important officials attached to them.
VI It stands to reason that this question would have to be laid before the Ottoman National Assembly, so that it could receive legal and proper sanction. Selaheddin,
Commanding the XII th Army Corps.
In cipher. Personal No. 339- Erzerum 21 st August, 1919.
To the officer commanding the XII th Army Corps.
To the officer commanding the XX th Army Corps.
For the XII th Army Corps only, referring to telegram in
cipher of 13 th August, 1919.
The resolutions arrived at by different parties in Constantinople to be communicated to the American Embassy have been received with the deepest regret by our Representative Committee. In para graph I the question of ceding a part of the territory of the Eastern Provinces to Armenia is mentioned. It is not only practically imposs ible to-day to cede even an inch of this territory to the Armenians, but it would be dangerous, considering that the overwhelming majority of the population consists of Turks and Kurds, to settle Armenians there en masse, even if they cared to dwell there again in face of the violent irritation and thirst for revenge that prevail among these elements. The widest concessions that could be granted to the non-offending Ottoman Armenians would be, consequently, to suffer their return ^on equitable and equal terms. To contend that a compact Armenian population is dwelling between Erzingan and Sivas, as laid down for in paragraph III, shows complete ignorance of the actual facts. Even before the war, the inhabitants of these districts consisted of a pre ponderating Turkish majority, an infinitesimal proportion of Kurds, who are known by the name of “Sasa,” and an insignificant number of Armenians to-day there are scarcely enough to be worth men tioning. These committees should, therefore, first of all recognise the limitations of their competence and, if they really want to do some thing useful, take the trouble to study the statistics and graphic delineations drawn up for the peace negotiations by the Ministries of War and Foreign Affairs. We beg that you will forward this telegram to Constantinople. Mustapha KemaL
Strictly confidential. Angora, 14** August, 1919.
To the C. O. S. III rd Army Inspection.
For Mustapha Kemal Pasha.
i. Your last replies addressed to Constantinople have been for warded to the proper quarter. In answer to these communications I have received a printed report and two long letters from Kara Vassif or rather, from “Djingis” and from Halid Hanem, who are both full of ideas that agree with the opinions of many others, like Ahmed Riaz Bey, Ahmed Izzet Pasha, Djevad Pasha, Turuk Suli Mahmud Pasha, Reshad Hikmet Pasha, Djami Bey, Reshid Saadi Bey and Essad Pasha. I will have a copy of these made for you and will send the originals to Sivas. All these documents plead that foreign help is necessary, and reasons are given why the acceptance of America is the least of all possible evils. The printed report was drawn up in agreement with the leading opinions, after Djami Bey, Rauf Ahmed Bey, Reshad Hikmet Bey, Reshid Saadi Bey, Halid Hanem, Kara Vassif, Essad Pasha, and all the different parties and societies had been consulted. According to their opinion there is still time to act. It is only necessary for the Congress to get to work as soon as possible and that the result can be made known before the Americans leave. An attempt is apparently being made to postpone their departure ^on various pretexts. Will the Congress be able to arrive at a final decision soon? The Americans, in urging this question, show that they are well disposed towards us. You are earnestly begged to hasten on the Congress. All Fuad
Commanding the XX th Army Corps.
The letters referred to in this telegram were forwarded by tele graph in cipher, which kept the telegraph lines fully engaged for several days. One of these telegrams, which followed one another in
rapid succession, was to this effect:
Personal. Strictly confidential Angora, 17** August, 1919.
To Kiasim Bey Effendi, C. O. S. III rd Army Inspection.
To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha.
(Continued from paragraph 9 of the telegram in cipher, No. 880,
of the i6 tl]L August, 1919. From Kara Vassif, supplementing the
particulars communicated in Art. 10).
i. If we were to take up a favourable attitude regarding American support, and if the Congress of the Eastern Provinces a national congress were to inform our Government of this fact in the shape of a unanimous desire communicated by telegram, it would provide Wilson with excellent material to lay before the American Congress. Most of the intellectuals approve of this idea and are preparing something to this effect. They say that it would be a very good thing if Anatolia would do the same. The American mandate would allow us to get rid of all the other scoundrels. We could arrange matters afterwards with the Americans alone, and the struggle would be made all the easier.
The Americans are criticising us severely and hold our Govern ment up to public scorn and our nation to derision. . . . (illegible) the departure of the Plenipotentiaries from Constantinople, their arrival in Paris and the . . . (illegible). They say in addition that you assume that Europe will not dare to do it. You say, for instance, that Europe will not create a Great Armenia. Your Grand Vizier supports the idea of the frontier line running along the Taurus. He wants an Armenia, whereas none of the American Commissions has reckoned with such a possibility. All accounts agree in emphasising the fact that it is impossible to establish an Armenia in Asia Minor indeed, even autonomous administrative councils. An Armenian population does not exist, nor is there a purely Armenian district. Such an administration., therefore, would be unable to function unless it were supported by a considerable military force. The Armenians do not possess this force. America cannot provide them with one. No other Power would entertain the proposal, except in so far as they would agree to occupy these districts and convert them into . . . (illegible), which is not practicable. Their rivalries are quite suffi cient to stand in the way of any other kind of agreement.
This is all the news from Constantinople. Please study it care- fully. We still have time. Wilson will soon lay the question before the American Congress.
2. In Constantinople they are continually discussing whether Mustapha Kemal will rally his followers or submit to whatever Con stantinople decides to do and support it. Their aim is to secure the unity of the nation, the integrity of the country, its independence and its sovereignty. If Mustapha Kemal does not rally his followers and does not speedily enter into negotiations with America, England and the other Powers, we shall continue to act independently here. In that case, it is not impossible that something unpleasant will happen. I draw your particular attention to this point. . , . (illegible) would be better to undertake this and direct the policy. As regards relying on Mustapha Kemal Pasha and what he is doing . . . (illegible), his declarations and actions are contradictory to … (illegible).
3. Hussein Selaheddin (“the clumsy or one-armed man”) is a hypocrite; he must be turned out. We must see that this individual, who is one of Sadik Bey s minions and stands high in his favour, will not be appointed to any official position.
Ali Fuad, Commanding the XX th Army Corps.
This is the telegram I sent in reply to Kara Vassif Bey:
In cipher. Personal. Urgent. Erzerum, 19 th August, 1919.
To His Excellency Ali Fuad Pasha, commanding the
XX t& Army Corps. Reply to your telegram of 17 th August, 1919.
1. It is of the utmost importance for you to study minutely the nature of the American mandate and the proposed American help, and find out whether these are in accord with our national aims. Assuming that the object of all that has been done in Constantinople is to secure the unity of the nation, the integrity of the country, its independence and its sovereignty, will the acceptance of the American mandate be the best way to realise these aims?
2. As resolutions that do not agree with the desires of the nation cannot be entertained by it for a moment as being possible of execution, we cannot discharge our duty, which consists in conscienciously gaug ing the future of the country and the conscience of the nation in such a way as to give the impression that we are specially authorised to act in all questions, before the ultimate aims of the nation have been def initely laid down. For this reason, we prefer that our negotiations and relations with foreign countries shall be conducted in the name of the nation, founded on the proceedings of the Congress. The develop ment and expansion that the national movement, thank Gpd,^is showing throughout the country and its strength, which is daily in creasing, support me in this opinion.
3. It must not be overlooked, that the only Government that could have the right to come to an understanding with America or any other nation, would be one that recognises the sovereignty of the nation, approves of the national council and possesses its confidence. This being the case, it is essential that all persons who constitute the Government shall combine these qualifications in themselves. Your work there, as well as ours here, must keep these conditions in view as our chief aim.
4. You will soon be informed of the resolutions passed by the
Congress. With brotherly greetings, Mustapha Kemal.
I would like to add that I think I ought to have a personal interview with the American journalist who has arrived at Sivas. He is a very intelligent young man, who has no difficulty in understanding what he is told.
I shall now try as well as I can to give you an account of the de bates and discussions that took place in the Congress on the question of the mandate.
Many deputies took part in them. Before I joined in the debate, I said a few words as Chairman, which I quote from the official minutes :
“Before I enter into any discussion on this motion, I would like to draw your attention to certain matters. For instance, the name of Mr. Brown has been mentioned, and it has been alleged that he has spoken about the arrival of an army of 50,000 labourers.
“Mr. Brown has assured me that he has no official status whatever, and whatever he said was merely in his character as a private in dividual. He denies that he said that America will undertake the man date, but, on the contrary, declares that in his opinion it is probable that she will not accept it. In any case, he can speak solely in his own name and on no account on behalf of America. For his part, he has no idea what the mandate would be like. I can only suppose that the mandate will be exactly what you want it to be , he told me. The chief subject of this motion is the question of the mandate. Before we discuss it any further, I will adjourn the meeting for ten minutes/* (3.25 p. m.) When we met again I gave Vassif Bey permission to speak. He made a long statement defining the mandate. Then he gave way to others, and later on said: “Let us accept the mandate in principle and leave the details to be discussed later on/
Madshid Bey, another delegate, spoke to this effect: “The main question before the meeting is, whether we shall be able to exist in future if we are left to look after ourselves. In what form shall we accept the mandate? and what terms shall we be able to come to with the Mandatory Power? Which of the Powers is it to be? That is the question/
Here the Chairman intervened with the remark : “It strikes me that two points arise from this discussion. One is that the Government cannot and must not abandon their demand for internal and external independence; the other is the question as to whether the Government and the nation, surrounded by enemies belonging to foreign countries, are justified in appealing for foreign support. To me this is very astonishing. If you are also of this opinion, we had better refer the matter again to the Committee for Motions. In any case, we have no intention whatever of losing our internal and external independence/
The next speaker was Bekir Sami Bey, who said: “The task that lies before us is as difficult as it is important. We must not waste a minute in empty discussions. Let us get on with our debate on this motion and pass it without any further delay.”
“Allow me to explain this question,” I said, “in my capacity as Chairman of that Committee. The motion has been read in Committee and was discussed for a long time. Our discussions did not result in a definite decision. The motion had been previously referred back to the Committee before it was read in a full sitting. That is why we tried to come to a final decision on the question in Committee, in case the meeting, after having debated the question without arriving at an agreement, referred it once more to the Committee/
Ismail Fasil Pasha (since deceased) also spoke, and said: “I beg to associate myself with the views expressed by Bekir Sami Bey. We have no time to lose. After all, the question is a very simple one. Which are we asking for, full independence or the mandate? The decision we shall come to is limited to these alternatives. Let us lose no more time, or else this important question perhaps the most important of all would be referred once more to the Committee, only to be brought up before the meeting later. This would drag the question on indefinitely and our time is precious. To-day, to morrow or the day after, at latest, we must pass this motion in a full sitting. Do not send it back again to the Committee, for it is a vital question,”
Hami Bey followed. After he had declared that he shared the opinion of His Excellency Ismail Fasil Pasha and Bekir Sami Bey, he expressed himself in these words: “Whatever happens, we must seek help. The elementary evidence of this necessity is that the revenues of the State are barely sufficient to cover the interest on our debt.”
The next speaker was Raif Effendi, who opposed the mandate. Instead of simply replying to Ismail Pasha, he started a long discussion, during which Sami Bey spoke again. He said: “I would only like to add a word to what his Excellency Ismail Fasil Pasha has just been saying and with which I am in complete agreement. It is this : At the Paris Conference in which we took part after the Crimean War from which we emerged victorious our Allies imposed certain conditions, of which you are aware. If we compare the ideas expressed in this motion with those conditions, I think that we shall see which affects our independence more powerfully/ 1
Then Bekir Sami Bey, Hami Bey and, following him, Refet Bey, who subsequently was raised to the rank of Pasha, carried on the discussion. This is what Refet Bey said: “While there cannot be any doubt that the mandate will not prejudice our independence, some of our colleagues are putting questions like this: Shall we remain independent or shall we accept the mandate? Before we can answer them, we must know what the mandate will mean to us. But before I say anything more, I think it will be well to explain the meaning of the word itself, which occurs in the report and causes so much alarm. Fasil Pasha speaks of a mandate under the reservation of our inde pendence ! The motion proposed by Hami Bey in regard to the mandate is divided into two parts ; the first is an explanation of the reasons for it, and the second gives a definition of it. Before I can form any opinion on the question of the mandate, so far as it is referred to in this document, I would like to know whether the actual text of the motion has been discussed in a full sitting or not?”
Ismail Fasil Pasha then withdrew the motion in these words:
“Three of us, Bekir Sami Bey, Hami Bey and myself, beg to be allowed to withdraw this motion, because it has caused a great deal of misunderstanding and we prefer not to proceed with it.”
(They kept the draft and the copy of the motion in their own possession.)
In my capacity as Chairman, I declared that the motion had been withdrawn. Although the discussion should have terminated, Refet Bey made a very effective speech that filled five or six pages of the minutes. I think it will be quite sufficient if I quote a few passages from it to show what the speaker was aiming at.
“The object we are striving to reach in preferring an American mandate is to avoid being placed under an English mandate, for this would lead every human community into slavery and suffocate the minds and consciousness of the people; that is why we would prefer America, a nation that is moderate and respects the feelings of other nations …. The question of money is not all a vital one . . .”