We made preparations and gave instructions to the effect that the Chamber would meet at Angora.
We made preparations and gave instructions to the effect that the Chamber would meet at Angora.
While doing all that I thought it would be my duty to do concerning this, I had also considered what I would have to do to prevent any *) “Fellahi Watan Grupi” literally means: “Negro party of the native land.” This is an ironical rendering of the real name, which is “Felahi Watan Grupi”, meaning the “Party for the Salvation of the Country”. misunderstanding that might possibly arise in the minds of the people. This led me to wonder whether I ought to be elected President of the Chamber.
My idea was, that as President of the Chamber I would have the necessary qualifications and authority to recall the deputies who had been dismissed. I admit that this step was only intended as a matter of form and that I could only make use of it temporarily. Nevertheless, in critical times it is necessary to take advantage of anything that might be of assistance, even if it should have only a temporary effect.
As a matter of fact, in any case I would not have gone to Con stantinople.
Without betraying my intention , however, I would have temporised ; the business would have been carried on as though I were only absent for the time being and the Chamber had been under a Vice-president.
Of course, those of our colleagues who were able to grasp the true state of affairs and actually went to Constantinople had to be very careful to avoid any hitch in our plan. I discussed this with several people who were interested in it.
They agreed with me, and left for Constantinople promising and assuring me that they would carry out this plan to the letter.
But I heard afterwards that, with the exception of one or two of them, they did not even open their mouths to say a word on the subject.
The first suggestion that had been made was that the question should be asked whether there was not one among so many deputies representing the nation who was worthy to be elected President of the Chamber, even if they had to vote for a deputy who was not present? Would it not degrade the Chamber in the eyes of our enemies if the deputies who formed the Chamber were not people who recognised their own importance?
Another conclusion was:
“From the very beginning it will give the impression that the Chamber would be exposed to criticism if the leader of the national forces was to be elected President; therefore, this would not be expedi ent/ Those who noticed that the people who came to such con clusions were not altogether strangers to me are reported to have preferred to keep silence.
I must admit that the defeat of this measure put me in rather a difficult position when the Chamber was dissolved.
I shall explain this to you when the opportunity occurs. IV.
The Chamber was opened on the ig^ January, 1920. Three days afterwards I received a telegram from the Minister of War which I shall read to you.
Telegram in cipher. Harbie, 21 st January, 1920.
(To be delivered immediately.)
To the Command of the XX th Army Corps, Angora. To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha. In a Note they have presented to the Government, the English have demanded that I shall dismiss His Excellency Djevad Pasha. Although this demand is energetically opposed by the Cabinet, cir cumstances have made it necessary that the Government should remain in power and that we, Djevad Pasha and myself, should resign. Salih Pasha will temporarily take over the office of Minister of War, I beg you to refrain from saying or doing anything that could add to the difficulty that the Government is facing. Otherwise, the position will become much more serious than you can imagine.
Djemal, Minister of War.
This telegram arrived on the 22 nd January. I immediately sent the following reply at 11.30 a.m.
22 nd January. To His Excellency Djemal Pasha, Minister of War.
1. Will you be good enough to send me the actual wording of the Note.
2. When I have read it I will inform you of our views about it. Do not be in too great a hurry to agree to the proposal.
Mustapha Kemal. The reply came with Djemal Pasha s signature in cipher.
Very urgent. Kadi Keui, 22 nd January.
To the Command of the XX th Army Corps, Angora. To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha. Here is a summary of the Note. We are reproached for:
1. Having appointed specially selected officers to the Staff of the national forces;
2. Having sent soldiers dismissed from the XIV th Army Corps, and drawn from the strength of that Corps, to the national forces; 3. Having sent munitions, etc., for artillery;
4. Having delayed the demobilisation of the battalion that had returned to Constantinople from Songuldak;
5. Having transferred a regiment from Afium Kara Hissar to Allah Shehr;
6. Having transferred a regiment from Brusa to Panderma.
7. It is known that the Minister of War and the Chief of the Gen eral Staff are personally responsible for the above. Both of these officers must be dismissed from their posts within forty-eight hours.
Please observe that the question of the Aidin front has not even been referred to in this Note.
In reply to it we said:
“There is no truth in Nos. i, 2, and 3. No. 4 refers to a matter which has not taken place since I accepted office. In accordance with suggestions made to me I have sent these soldiers back to Songuldak. With regard to No. 5 the officer commanding the division has been recalled.
“The sixth point, concerning Ahmed Ansawur; this was necessary for security s sake and has been the subject of correspondence with you. I refer you to the documents. ”
These explanations were not accepted. Therefore we have con sidered these alternatives : either, not to send any other reply than the first one or take any notice of the orders contained in it ; that the Cabinet should resign, or that I alone should do so. In the first case, we were afraid that it would give rise to a scandal here; in the second case, they would obtain precisely what they desire, namely, to bring Ferid Pasha back into Government: we rejected this proposal also. Therefore, we agreed upon the third, that is to say, that I should resign, and we preferred that the department should be administered temporarily by some other Minister. In any case, I would first like to hear what you decide, and I beg you to accept the assurance of my esteem. Djemal, Commanding the Division.
Salih, A. D. C.
What does Djemal Pasha mean when he points out that the Aidin front was not even referred to? There is no doubt that the Aidin front and the support given to it is part of the national defence, and that is what is referred to.
Djemal Pasha wants us to understand from this remark that the Representative Committee is responsible. In my reply I gave Djemal Pasha to understand this:
22 nd January. To His Excellency Djemal Pasha, Minister of War.
If you comply with the demand of the English and resign, the consequences will be dangerous and much more serious than you suggest will be the case in the other event.
Besides, we cannot allow Your Excellency, who is a delegate of the Representative Committee, to resign without the knowledge of and in opposition to the declared opinion of the Committee.
We have also considered the possibility that the English might compel you to resign, and we have taken all necessary steps to meet this possibility.
Therefore, we would like to know the exact wording of the Note ; after we have read it we will give you our decision. Meanwhile we beg you to keep us well informed of what is going on and continue to remain in the Cabinet. We ask you officially to carry out our instructions.
Mustapha Kemal. In the name of the Representative Committee.
I also sent this message to Ali Riza Pasha :
Angora, 22 nd January. To His Highness the Grand Vizier.
The fact that the English have demanded the recall of the Minister of War and the Chief of the General Staff is a formal attack upon the political independence of the Empire. Does it not indicate that all the discussions about the division of our country and the annihilation of our political existence, which has stirred the public opinion of the whole world for a considerable time, have led to a final decision? Or, is this only a manoeuvre to find out what is to be done to put an end to our political existence? Or is it, perhaps, nothing more than one of those acts the Allies have come into the habit of performing, without even conferring with one another, to show their individual power? We do not know and we have no means of discovering which of these three possibilities is the right one. Neither can we find out whether there is any connection between this and the offensive which the Greeks have begun on the Salihli front.
But there is no doubt that if the Government of the Empire were to give in to this barefaced attack upon our political independence, and if the nation were to reply to it only by silence, we should be making it easier for our enemies to deliver further deadly attacks upon our political existence. Therefore, we formally demand that the Government, which is regarded by foreign countries and our own as being supported by the Union for the Defence of Rights, will energetically reject the proposal in question and at all costs retain the Minister and the Chief of the General Staff, whatever shape the aggressive attitude of the English in Constantinople might take and however powerful it might be. The slightest degree of conciliation would not only be injurious to the independence and existence of our nation, but it would place the Government in a position that would be accepted as having abandoned their obligations towards the nation and would only delay and -check our national struggle for independence. Consequently, if the Government would adopt such an attitude, we would be forced to declare that, as they have not fulfilled their obligations towards our Committee, they have lost all the power be stowed upon them by the nation, and that we should hold them responsible for having taken up an attitude which is not compatible with our claim for independence. In case of resistance, even if the English would take upon themselves to remove the Minister of War from his office by force and overthrow the entire Government, the situation that would result would be still more favourable, both to foreign countries and our own, than would be the case if the Govern ment consented to sacrifice the Minister as they are ordered to do. We beg Your Highness to reply within an hour or two. If the English forbid us to hold communication with Constantinople, we shall declare a national and religious war for the purpose of gaining our independence.
In the name of the Representative Committee
of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights of
Anatolia and Rumelia.”
On the same day I sent the following telegram to Djemal Pasha:
Personal and very urgent. 22 nd January.
To His Excellency Djemal Pasha, Minister of War. You appear to have resigned your seat as Minister of War by command of the English. It is our duty and your own not to consent to this, because it impairs the independence of our State and our Nation. We shall take all necessary steps to enable us to perform our duty to the end. We beg you to do yours, and retain your office and administer your department. If, from any personal cause or 3i6
difference of opinion with your colleagues, you do not wish to remain in office, you may resign. But you are not to do so at the request of the English, but rather in a manner that behoves the Minister of a free nation. We beg you not to consider the matter from a personal point of view, but reckoning with the probability of serious disasters threatening our country which this intervention would conceivably be the forerunner. If you retire from the Government under other conditions, the English intervention and the attacks on our indepen dence will be considerably facilitated. If you insist on not returning to your office, we shall feel ourselves obliged to add in serious terms that the Minister of War is also responsible through not fulfilling his patriotic duty. We shall declare that the English are attacking the independence of the nation. The fact that you have delayed for a whole day before communicating the contents of the Note to us and that your resignation precludes you from the possibility of carrying on further communication with our Committee makes your position still worse. We demand and insist upon an immediate reply.
Mustapha Kemal In the name of the Representative Committee.
This was the reply sent by the Grand Vizier:
Sublime Porte, 22 nd January. To the Representative Committee of the “Union for the
Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia.” It is not the English alone who have demanded the dismissal of Djemal Pasha and the removal of the Chief of the General Staff. The representatives of England, Italy and France have presented a joint ultimatum to the Sublime Porte, in which they give the reasons that led them to make this demand, and wherein they give us forty- eight hours within which to accede to their demand. As this demand was considered to be inacceptable by the Government, they resolved, after careful consideration, to resign. Even if the Chamber had already met they could not have acted differently. To induce the representatives of the Powers to withdraw their demand, we have done certain things and have proved to them that their arguments were inconclusive. But the representatives have reiterated their demands. The resignation of the Cabinet was already a fact. Djemal Pasha has addressed them personally and has said that the resignation of the Government before the Chamber of Deputies had been able to begin their discussions would be very injurious to the country. He emphas- ised the probability that the resignation of the Government at such a critical time would lead to exceedingly grave consequences even to a rupture between Constantinople and Anatolia and he preferred that the question would be solved by his resignation. These are the different stages of the development. As the Chamber of Deputies will surely meet in sufficient strength in a day or two, the Government will put all these question before it. It is important that you should not interfere in this matter, because the Chamber will take the matter in hand. The Ministers are perfectly well aware how serious the position is and are satisfied that they are doing the right thing. They have resolved to accept the lesser of the two evils. We inform you that unless you tell us by Saturday morning that you will cease interfering, the Cabinet will resign and will accept no further respon sibility for what may follow. … – - Tr . . J J Ah Riza, Grand Vizier.
This terrible ultimatum was not addressed to those who had offended him, but to us !
Congress. 22 nd January.
To His Highness the Grand Vizier.
Before the Representative Committee can come to any decision about the contents of your telegram, it is absolutely necessary for them to know the text of the ultimatum. I beg you to let us know it
immediately. , T , , r7 . ,
J Mustapha Kemal
In the name of the Representative Committee.
Eren Keui, 22 nd January.
To the Representative Committee of the “Union for the
Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia.” Reply.
It will be sent to you after the meeting of the Cabinet Council.
The Grand Vizier.
I must here remark that we could never get a verbatim copy of the Note from the Government, and have not done so up to the present moment. This is my reply to the Grand Vizier.
22 nd January.
To His Highness the Grand Vizier.
We shall send Your Highness our final decision after we have seen a copy of the ultimatum. There is, however, a difference of opinion existing between the Government and ourselves regarding the prin ciples that govern the present situation, which we should first like to clear up. The Government have regarded our communications as interference in their own affairs, that is to say, they have thought it necessary to ignore the diplomatic aspects and insist that they are dealing with a question of an internal character; but the only question before us is that a Minister has been removed from his post by for eigners. It is not a question of the person of the Minister of War, as you appear to maintain. The incident must be judged in exactly the same way as if any other Minister or a totally different person had been in a similar position.
Moreover, it is doubtful at the moment whether the Power ordering the resignation of the Minister will allow the Chamber to be opened and will accept the declarations made by the Government. As we must be ready to guard against accomplished facts which might be created before the Chamber has been able to say a word, we are anxious to know the views of the Imperial Government. Your Highness will readily admit that if we should be called upon to face another accom plished fact before the Chamber has been able to say anything, and if there should be a postponement for the adoption of measures relating to delicate questions of foreign policy, the responsibility for this would not lie with ourselves. When the Chamber has actually met and has assumed its duties, we shall, naturally, not appeal to the Government on any question. The fact that the Note was not presented on behalf of the English alone, but was a Joint Note from the Allied Powers, is another reason for holding that the entire importance of this is, that it is a matter of foreign policy.
Mustapha Kemal, In the name of the Representative Committee.
In reply to our telegram of 23 rd January, Djemal Pasha stated that his resignation was inevitable and that he must wait until the National Assembly had shown what its attitude would be. (Document 221.)
At noon on the same day we communicated our own new point of view of the situation to the officers commanding at Angora, Erzcrurn, Sivas, Diarbekr, Panderma, Balikesri, Konia, Adrianople, Constanti nople and Brusa, drawing their attention to it and asking them for their opinions. (Document 222.)
In addition to this, I sent this message to Kemaleddin Sami Bey (now Kemaleddin Sami Pasha, Ambassador in Berlin), who was com manding the io th Caucasian Division and was then in Constantinople. January.
To the Officer Commanding the io th Caucasian Division. We request you to go immediately to Rauf Bey and to take the necessary precautions for your safety; to follow with him the devel opment of the situation on the spot and in that neighbourhood. It is entirely out of the question to think of yielding to the demand of England. We have taken steps at once to meet the situation. You must secure telegraphic communication between Constantinople and ourselves. (Document 223.) Mustapha Kemal.
Through Kemal, commanding the Caucasian Division, Shefket com manding the fortress and the A. D. C. of Salih Bey the Minister of War, I also approached Rauf Bey, Bekir Sami Bey, Djami Bey and all the other deputies in the following communication in cipher (22 nd January) :
The English have demanded that Djemal Pasha, Minister of War, and Djevad Pasha, Chief of the General Staff, should resign. This constitutes a deliberate attack on the independence of the Empire. For this reason, the steps which the nation shall take against this proceeding are part of the struggle which will be carried on to maintain our independence. During the first phase of this struggle the re sponsibility will fall on the deputies. They will have the paramount duty of repelling the attack which the English have made on the political independence of the Empire by interfering in the election of the Ministers and by exerting pressure upon the Government, Will you make definite plans regarding the part you will have to play in this, and tell us what you decide. When we go into action, however, the following points must be made sure : Firstly/ we must not expose ourselves to the possibility that, in some unforeseen way, an Irade will be read in the Chamber proclaiming its dissolution. If this appears at all probable, it will suffice if the deputies hold a private meeting and decide upon the course they will take. It is important that we declare to the Peace Conference, to the European Nations, to the Islamic World and the country in general, that a deliberate blow has been struck at the political independence of the Empire. If the English do not stop their aggressive policy it will be incumbent on the Chamber to transfer their meetings to Anatolia and to take the administration of the affairs of the nation into their own hands. This course will be supported in every possible way by the national forces, who combine in themselves the entire strength of the nation. The necessary arrangements about this have already been made.
Mustapha Kemal, In the name of the Representative Committee.
The contents of the above were communicated to all the com manders. In addition, I sent a message in cipher to Rauf Bey on the 23 rd January, through the officer commanding the io th Caucasian Division, to this effect: “Although the resignation of the Minister of War has been handed in, this question has not lost its importance.
“The representatives of the Foreign Powers have chosen to elect members of our Government just as it pleases them! This establishes a precedent that will give them the same power to treat a government that had the confidence of the Chamber in a similar way to-morrow. The pliability shown by the Government in this case, in leaving the nation and the Press in total ignorance of this incident and declining to treat it as a Cabinet question, also constitutes an attack on the independence of the nation. Consequently, this incident must not be passed over in silence, and it is imperative that the Government shall be overthrown publicly in the Chamber, because they have been incapable of upholding the independence of the nation.” I wrote all this to Rauf Bey. (Document 224.)
On the same day I gave the following directions to the officer com manding the io tlx Caucasian Division and Rauf Bey: “It is necessary that the Government, on account of their resistance to the commands of the Allies, shall impress upon the Peace Conference the necessity of declaring before the whole world that they have decided to overthrow the Ottoman Government and that they do so on account of the national forces. The fact that the Cabinet and the former Government had tacitly consented to make concessions on questions that touched the national independence , distinctly shows that their members have ex posed their weakness; it further discloses that this term equally applies to their intelligence and understanding, and that they are entirely undeserving of confidence. We cannot co-operate in solving such complicated questions with people who are so deficient, both in charac ter and intelligence. Therefore, the Government must be overthrown as the outcome of this last incident. They must take care to bring a Ministry into power that is worthy of the confidence of the whole nation/ (Document 225.)
In view of the possibility that foreigners might extend their aggres sive intentions and might attempt to arrest certain Ministers and deputies in Constantinople, I resolved, in anticipation, to make reprisals by arresting some foreign officers who were in Anatolia. I informed the officers commanding the Army Corps at Angora, Konia, Sivas and Erzerum of my resolution in a private telegram in cipher on the 22 nd January, and ordered them to act accordingly on the same day. (Document 226.)
The answer to the telegram I sent to the deputies was signed jointly by Vassif Bey, Rauf Bey and Bekir Sami Bey. They told me that “as soon as the discussions, in the Chamber officially begin the Cabinet will resign as a result of the recent incident. In order to save the situation, it is necessary to keep the Cabinet in power till then. Abstain from doing anything meanwhile, and give us your instructions. You may feel assured that your point of view will be unanimously accepted by all the authorities/ (Document 227.)
I decided to issue no more communications, either to the Govern ment or the Chamber, but to leave it to my honourable colleagues among the deputies to make the necessary arrangements. (Doc ument 228.)
In order to show you what ideas inspired the persons in Constanti nople to act as they did, I will give you one or two examples as shortly as I can.
Some consider this or that diplomatic representative to be a very honourable man. He tells us that we may have confidence in him. He is a friend of the Turks. This man has expressed himself in very sincere and sympathetic terms. If the Minister of War and Djevad Pasha had not resigned, the War Ministry would have been occupied. The reserve and firmness shown by the national forces is very irritating to some people. But do not be too impatient they will be crushed, depend upon it. If an offence has been committed, there is no doubt that those who are guilty will be put to shame. Perhaps other insane acts will still be perpetrated, but be very careful to avoid doing them yourselves. The persons who were in Constantinople felt convinced that such ideas as these were the right ones. (Document 229.)
It is reported that for a week after the deputies had been meeting in Constantinople they were busy with the selection of the officials of the Chamber and among other questions that of the presidency
Kemal Pasha 2I naturally cropped up in its turn. I have already mentioned that I thought it would be advantageous and even necessary that I should be elected President of the Chamber, and that I had expressed my opinion about this to influential persons. In the first days when the deputies, as I have said, began to discuss this question, Rauf Bey told me in his messages of the 28 th January and I st February, after having referred to other matters, that: “We did not continue to discuss the question, because it was surrounded by considerable difficulty/ (Document 230.) And he continued . . . “the question has been discussed recently at a private and confidential meeting. Sherif Bey explained the advantage of your being elected … We feel that at the moment the votes will be divided and we declared that Your Excellency would rather continue to direct the affairs of the nation and remain the power behind the Chamber. Our statement was received with applause, and we could see the sincerity of the manifestations for the person of Your Excellency that was shown in all parts of the Chamber. At the full sitting Reshed Hikmet Bey was elected President, while Hussein Kiasim Bey and Hodsha Abdul Aziz Medsheddi Effendi were elected first and second Vice-presidents.”
After all, Sherif Bey was the only member who advocated my election as President. At the meeting which they called “private and confidential/ the other persons had not even suggested any reason for my being elected President. The question of my election ought to have been raised first of all, and then it could have been ascertained afterwards whether the proposal would have led to the votes being divided. Sherif Bey s arguments were so weak and in conclusive that it was not easy to guess how the voting would have gone.
In my reply to Rauf Bey on the question of the election of the President, I said: “The doubts you express have been considered already and have been provided for. The reasons given in favour of my election are well known. They are that I would take care that the national forces are recognised by the nation; that I would carry on the duties of President very well in case the Chamber were to be dissolved; that I would endeavour, with the authority that would be vested in me as President, to consolidate the material and moral forces of the nation for its defence, in case a national upheaval should result from peace proposals that were irreconcilable with our future existence. What you say distinctly shows that these reasons relating to the defence of our country are regarded in certain circles in Con stantinople as not being of any importance. If the defence of the nation was to be in jeopardy to-day or in the future on account of mistaken points of view, the responsibility would fall only on those who have committed this error. I need not assure you that I have no personal ambition concerning this question/
We know that the Minister of War and the Chief of the General Staff had been forced to resign. We have also heard that this same Reshed Hikmet Bey, who had been elected President of the Chamber and who has since died, had been arrested on some pretext by the foreigners. At that time, Rauf Bey himself informed us, on the 28 th January, that the arrest of the members of the Representative Committee who were in Constantinople had been contemplated. This state of affairs proved that the hour was nearer than was generally anticipated when a hostile attitude would be taken up against the national forces, that the Chamber would be dissolved, and that, consequently, the necessity for providing for national defence was great. But only a few people anticipated this fact.
We had to do what was necessary at Angora for the release of Reshed Hikmet Bey. (Document 231.)
A telegram in cipher, dated 27^ January, in which Rauf Bey described the dilemma in which the Chamber was placed, contained some disturbing phrases. Here are some of them: “The Cabinet had first thought of resigning; but they did not. The present attitude of the Chamber does not help the solution of this question. The deputies who are present here are not inclined to allow telegrams to be read in a full sitting of the Chamber which the nation has addressed to the Chamber about the district of Marash. We are advised to behave amicably on this subject towards the Allied Powers indivi dually. There is not even a proper place for us to meet in.” (Doc uments 232-233.)
In our telegram of the 7 th February, we mentioned to Rauf Bey the following matters: The deputies, yielding to local and foreign influences which are increasingly in evidence in Constantinople, have lost sight of peace and are divided, some cringing before the foreigner and others trying to gain special favour for themselves or giving way to distrust. Our colleagues continually sacrifice their own conceptions and convictions with the object of winning as large a majority as possible of the deputies. In trying to be conciliatory, they have lost all their influence with the Government and recognised circles. If the present condition of things is allowed to go on, they will probably become the tools of anti-national movements and of ambitious people of various kinds, and decisions on national questions unfavourable to us will be the inevitable consequence. The only thing to obviate this is to be content with one party even though it be a small one consisting of friends who are absolutely loyal to our principles. This would be far better than giving in, as has been done hitherto. Without hesitation and unconditionally, the Government must be overthrown. We must take up a determined stand about this. (Doc ument 234.)
All Riza s Government had not resigned. To avoid raising a controversy, the Chamber had not the courage to overthrow them, and had put their confidence in this newly-formed and inexperienced Cabinet.
I do not know whether you remember the terms of the declaration made by this Cabinet before the Chamber. In a kind of introduction to it, the Grand Vizier pointed out the most important task he had fulfilled, namely, to put an end to the discord existing between the Government and Anatolia, which had even reached a rupture of relations between the two parties. He said that henceforward the national movement would find its expression in this High Assembly; that he did not see what there was to prevent them from acting together constitutionally in future.
He wanted it to be interpreted from these words that in future the Representative Committee should no longer act in the name of the national will and would not maintain an opposition that was contradictory to the principles of the Constitution. The Grand Vizier did not think it necessary to speak about the injurious attack of which he himself had been the object on the very day that the National Assembly had met and with him the Chamber and the nation and which was in contradiction to the national will and the principles recognised by the whole world. But he warmly resented the National Committee, and our honourable colleagues among the deputies v stoopcd to listen to his words.
The Government, contending that they had not acted otherwise than impatially towards the political parties and would continue to do so ? left it to the Chamber to appreciate the success they had hitherto gained.
Declaring that the administration of the country needed improve ment, and referring again to the old system in which the Ottoman Empire had always taken refuge when pressed by the Powers, the Grand Vizier promised new reforms. “We shall/ he said, “introduce the system of decentralisation to a wide extent/ He enumerated the principles of the intended reforms and said that, for the purpose of safeguarding the rights of minorities, proportional representation would be introduced and sufficient full powers would be given to foreign inspectors for the control of questions connected with Justice, Finance, Public Works, Police and even the Civil Administration .
Referring to foreign affairs, the Grand Vizier pointed out the ob ligation that: “The Imperial Government considered it their duty not to fail to carry out the stipulations of the Armistice/ whilst on the other hand he was content to say that peace would put an end to the excitement and disorder caused by the occupation of Smyrna, and he brought his statements to a close by expressing his firm conviction that “foresight and determination” will turn the “misfortune” into “happiness.” (Document 235.)
It would be waste of time to analyse and criticise this statement, which was approved by the Chamber. But let me read you the precise wording of a document that shows the secret designs and shameful behaviour of Ali Riza Pasha s Cabinet.
Very urgent. Constantinople 14 ih February, 1920.
To the Vilayets and independent Sanjaks.
Whereas the National Assembly, which is the only place in which the national movement can find expression, has met and, with the help of God, has begun its work; Whereas the complete carrying out of the constitutional laws in the country must now take place free from all obstacles and influences, and claims in the name of the nation s will in any other place than in the said assembly are prohibited ; and Whereas this is one of the main points laid before the Chamber by the Government and which by a large majority has shown its confidence in them,
I hereby bring to the knowledge of all concerned by this circular note, that all machinations and actions tending to interfere with the affairs of the Government will be liable in future to be punished according to law. Ali Riza, Grand Vizier.
What was the purpose of this circular note? What advantage could be gained by depreciating the Representative Committee in the eyes of the nation and declaring that it would be liable to be punished? The Representative Committee, feeling from time to time the necessity for calling the attention of the Government to one matter or another, could have no doubt that their initiative was based on the purest and noblest intentions and dictated by strictly patriotic motives. The Government, considering their chief aim to be the suppression of the Representative Committee thereby destroying the unity and integrity of the nation show on the other hand no concern about the encounters which took place on the fronts of Aidin, Adana, Marash, Urfah and Aintab. They seem to care less about the attacks made by the Foreign Powers, of which they them selves were the victims. I must openly mention here, also, that un fortunately there was no sign that the National Assembly, which was called “the only place in which the national movement can find expression/ devoted itself to anything in particular, as the Grand Vizier had emphasised with thanksgiving to God.
In face of the statement of the Grand Vizier which I have just quoted, we decided to warn the nation in a circular message.
Telegram. 17 th February, 1920.
Having succeeded in strengthening the national unity by achieving the opening of the Chamber this authority which expresses the will of the nation in a lawful manner our union looks upon it as one of their most important and fundamental duties to preserve the national unity till a peace is concluded that accords with the national aims. , It being of importance that our union, animated by the spirit of determination and having ever-growing faith that they will over come all their difficulties, should continue its work for the liberation of the country and the salvation of our national existence, we renew our request to the general committees and the executive committees to continue their work so that the national organisation, whose aim is to secure the existence of the nation and its maintenance, may be formed with branches extending to the farthest corners of our country.
In the name of the Representative Committee
of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights of
Anatolia and Rumelia.”
A communication from Constantinople on the ig th February brought us the news that: “The English diplomatic representative has verbally given definite information to the Government from the Foreign Office that the capital will be left to the Ottoman Empire, but, at the same time, he has demanded that the Armenian massacres shall cease forthwith and that our operations against the Allied troops including those of Greece shall also cease immediately. He added that if this was not done, our peace conditions would be altered. Certain advice was given to us at the same time to the effect that no incident, however insignificant, should be allowed to occur that could give rise to complaints being made concerning them.”
What could be the meaning of this verbal threat? Could it mean that, in addition to the districts occupied by the Greeks, the French, and others, they resolved to occupy Constantinople as well? But that their if conditions are accepted they will abandon the idea of laying hands on Constantinople?
Or, perhaps, it meant that the Greeks, French and Italians, have only temporarily occupied certain districts. Perhaps the Allied Powers intended to seize Constantinople, but they would abandon the idea if we observe the conditions they imposed.
Or did the Allied Powers intend to indicate this: “The occupation by the Greeks, French and Italians is an accomplished fact ; the occu pation of Constantinople is contemplated; if you will allow the Greeks, French and Italians to remain in security and unmolested in their zones of occupation and if you actually give evidence that you consent to the occupation, we shall abandon the idea of occupying Constanti nople?”
Finally, did the Allied Powers entertain some doubt about the Government not succeeding in disbanding troops at the front which the national forces had sent into the occupied districts to oppose the forces of the enemy and put an end to the fight they carried on and the movement they made against them, and did they consequently plan to occupy Constantinople on the pretext that the Government could neither prevent the attacks against the Allied Powers (including the Greeks) nor put an end to the Armenian massacres which, by the way, did not exist? !
I believe that later events have shown that the last of these sug gestions was the nearest of all to the truth. It was, however, noticeable that the Government, far from interpreting the proposal made by the English diplomatic representative in this light, had, on the con trary, founded their hopes on it.
In order to understand how ill-advised this proposal was, we shall recall certain phases of the situation as they presented themselves at that time. The assertions regarding the Armenian massacres were undoubtedly not in accordance with the fact. For, the Armenians in the south, armed by foreign troops and encouraged by the protec tion they enjoyed, molested the Moharnedans of their district. Anima- ted with the spirit of revenge, they pursued a relentless policy oi murder and extinction everywhere. This was responsible for the tragic incident at Marash. Making common cause with the foreign troops, the Armenians had completely destroyed an old Mohamedan town like Marash by their artillery and machine-gun fire.
They killed thousands of innocent and defenceless women and children. The Armenians were the instigators of the atrocities, which were unique in history. The Mohamedans had merely offered resistance and had defended themselves with the object of saving their lives and their honour. The telegram which the Americans, who had remained in the town with the Mohamedans during the five days that the massacres continued, had sent to their representative in Constanti nople, clearly indicates in an indisputable manner who were the originators of this tragedy.
Threatened by the bayonets of the Armenians, who were armed to the teeth, the Mohamedans in the Vilayet of Adana were at that time in danger of being annihilated. While this policy of oppression and annihilation carried on against the Mohamedans, who were only trying to save their existence and their independence, was liable to attract the attention of the civilised world and excite their commisera tion, how could the denials or the proposal made to us to abandon the attitude attributed to us be taken seriously?
Was not the position in the districts of Smyrna and Aidin similar or, perhaps, more tragic?
The Greeks daily reinforced their troops and multiplied their munitions, and in this way completed their preparations for an offen sive. On the other hand, they did not fail to deliver partial attacks all along the line. We had received news that during these days an in fantry regiment , a fully equipped regiment of cavalry , twenty-four motor-lorries and a number of other wagons, six guns and a considerable quantity of ammunition had been disembarked at Smyrna, and that enormous quantities of ammunition were on the way to the different fronts.
The truth was that our nation had never taken up an aggressive attitude anywhere against any foreigner without good reason.
Would it have been reasonable in these circumstances to place exaggerated importance on the base calumnies before the enemy had evacuated parts of our country which he had occupied, or before it was absolutely certain that he would do so? Was it so difficult to understand that such proposals and enterprises were only intended to destroy the national forces which had been the sole mainstay of the country? Considering how uncertain the future seemed to be, was it allowable to desert the national cause suddenly? Was it not the aim of our nation to keep not only Constantinople under our sovereignty, but also the Straits, Smyrna, the district of Adana, and, in short, every part of our country within our national frontiers? How could it be expected that the Turkish nation could be satisfied with the undertaking that Constantinople alone would be left to the Ottoman Empire even if this would be a subject of satisfaction to Ali Riza Pasha, the Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire and that the nation, contented with this promise, would decide to remain calm and passive? Did not Wahededdin s Grand Vizier wish to ponder over his responsibility before history for all these machinations which were aimed at the disbandment of the national forces?
It was natural that the nation and the national forces refused to submit either to the demand of the foreigners or to the wishes and commands of the Government who tried to enforce them. In a telegram in cipher to Rauf Bey, which I sent on the ig th February, I gave him information about the Government and the Chamber which deserves your attention. This is a summary of what I said:
“On the 19 th February, the Grand Vizier, the Minister of the Interior and the Minister of Marine attended a meeting of the “Felahi Watan” party. The Grand Vizier said that he did not con sider it necessary or politically advantageous for the national forces to constitute themselves a second Government; that they had no right to interfere in the affairs of the Government ; that the operations that had taken place in the district of Marash should cease and not be carried on any more ; that quiet and security should be guaranteed. He stated that Zia Pasha and Ahmed Fewsi Pasha should be sent to Angora, respectively, as Governor General and Commander of the Army Corps. The Minister of the Interior had also expressed his wish that his freedom of action should not be interfered with; he said that the Government had not succeeded in making the change in the appointments of the Prefect of Police and the Command of the Gendarmerie; he referred to the honesty of his old friend Keshfi Bey, and informed them that he had appointed him Governor General of Brusa, and Faik Ali Bey to be Under Secretary of State. With regard to Salih Pasha, he said that he was of the opinion that political reasons prevented the Government from taking possession of the places which had been abandoned at Marash and the neighbouring district. He added that such an attitude would incense the French Press against us.