30-A Commission, under the leadership of General Harbord

A Commission, under the leadership of General Harbord

You must remember that at this time the American Government had sent a Commission, under the leadership of General Harbord, to study our country and the Caucasus. This Commission also came to Sivas. On the 22 nd September, I had a long conversation with General Harbord on the question of the aims of the national move ment, its organisation and the main factors that would contribute to the establishment of national unity, and about our feelings with regard to the non-Moslem elements, and concerning propaganda and the hostile acts committed by certain foreigners in our country.

The General asked me some strange questions, such as: “What will you do if, in spite of every imaginable effort and sacrifice made by the nation, it should all end in failure?”

If my memory does not deceive me, I replied that the nation that exerts every imaginable effort and makes every possible sacrifice to secure its freedom and independence cannot help being successful. But if we failed, we would have to admit that our nation is dead. The possibility of failure, therefore, cannot be dreamed of in the case of a nation that is full of life and capable of making every kind of sacrifice.

I did not trouble to attempt to ascertain what could have been the General s real object in putting this question to me. I only mention the matter, incidentally, to tell you that he respected my reply.

On the evening of the 25 ta September I received the following telegram from Mahmud Bey, acting commander of the XX th Army Corps at Angora:

“Last night Fuad Pasha was asked to go to the telegraph instru ment by the Telegraph Office in Constantinople. A telegram in cipher was dictated according to the cipher-key which the Ministry of the Interior usually uses when communicating with the vilayet. The contents may be summarised as follows :

c “The country could certainly be saved if the wise provisions of the Padishah s Proclamation were to be observed. The national movement is understood by cultured public opinion to be pursuing fatal aims. The estrangement between the nation and the Govern ment must lead to foreign intervention. The existence of such op position at a moment when the Conference is deciding our fate cannot be accepted as a promising sign of success or salvation/

“Then a proposal was made that the leaders of the national movement and high personalities should meet at a place to be decided upon; they appeared to take it for granted that we would agree to such a meeting. c As time is pressing, we are waiting impatiently for a reply. Promises are made with repeated assurances that the freedom of individual opinion and the dignity of those taking part in it will be respected/ “The sender of this telegram is Abdul Kerim Pasha, a staff officer holding the rank of brigadier-general. The answer was to be given in the same cipher-key to Hadi Pasha, per the Ministry of Commerce and Agriculture.

“It is evident by this ruse that Abdul Kerim Pasha wanted to make the impression on the public mind that this step originated from our side.

“As you are there at the telegraph instrument, would you let me know as soon as possible whether we are to receive them and what answer we are to give them. Fuad Pasha has also been informed about this.” (Document 109.)

At 7 o clock in the evening on the same day I was at the telegraph instrument and telegraphed to Mahmud Bey: “Tell Kermin Pasha and Hadi Pasha that Fuad Pasha is officially detained outside Angora, but if they have anything they want to say they may telegraph in any way they wish to the Representative Committee at Sivas and com municate direct with Mustapha Kemal Pasha, who is a member of it. Be sure that you use the words if they have anything that they want to say , 1 (Document no.)

Mahmud Bey sent us a copy of the telegram he sent to Kerim Pasha at Angora. It was practically the same as the one he had sent to us. (Document in.)

It was now about a fortnight since our rupture with the Govern ment began. The places that had shown a disinclination to join us in the national movement had either to join us voluntarily or would be obliged to do so by force. All the officers faithful to the Govern ment had fled or were compelled to submit. Thousands of telegrams from all parts of the country were sent to Constantinople every day, demanding the overthrow of the Cabinet. Officers and representatives of the Entente Powers who were travelling about in Anatolia publicly declared everywhere that a Commission, under the leadership of General Harbord and that they had no intention of interfering in the internal affairs of the country.

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