The Sovereign has more influence over the Government than the Chamber
“The Sovereign has more influence over the Government than the Chamber. Considering the spirit prevailing in the Chamber, it is impossible to overthrow the Government and put a national Govern ment in their place that would fulfil the desired conditions.” (Doc ument 236.)
I brought this information to the knowledge of all commanding officers in Anatolia and Rumelia, and added: “The Representative Committee appreciate the difficulty of bringing a government into power which is more devoted to the national cause in a city like Constantinople, which is occupied by the enemy and is suffering under foreign pressure, and has therefore announced and communicated its opinion about the Grand Vizier s statement on the 17 th February in a circular addressed to all the organisations. Acting within reasonable limits, it is essential that every attempt to injure national unity shall be wrecked. We specially ask you once again to draw the attention of the persons concerned to the well-known fact that the national forces cannot abandon their activity until a peace is attained which is in accord with the national movement, and that they must redouble their watchfulness and guarded attitude in order to safeguard and strengthen the national unity and consolidation/ (Document 237.)
I sent the following reply to Rauf Bey.
2i st February.
To Salih Bey, A. D. C. to the Ministry of War. For Rauf Bey.
Reply to your telegram in cipher of 19 th February, 1920.
From the discussions that have taken place between the Grand Vizier and his colleagues who had accompanied him, and the “Felahi Watan” party, it is clearly evident that the present Government, supported by the confidence placed in it by the National Assembly, are preparing to destroy the authority and influence which the national forces have gained throughout the country. The fact that Faik Ali Bey, who was dismissed on account of his resistance to the national movement, has been appointed Under Secretary of State; that the rank of Governor General of Brusa has been conferred on Keshfi Bey, Under Secretary of State, who worked with Ferid Pasha and Ali Kemal, and the persistance in the intention to send Ahmed Fewsi Pasha and Zia Pasha to Angora, whose appointment has not been approved of by the nation, clearly show that they are working openly against the national forces. As we are more than ever convinced of the fact that it is necessary for the Government and the nation to work in com plete concord for the purpose of attaining a peace based on the prin ciples agreed upon in accordance with the national movement, we consider that it is a national duty not to oppose or place difficulties in the way of the Government. All has not yet been accomplished and the national aim has not yet been attained. Almost insuperable diffi culties are still lying before us. It is important to ask the Government, in face of the complete uncertainty that veils the future, whether they consider that they can do without the efforts of the national forces in the struggle for liberation. As for ourselves, we consider that any attitude that could injure this national unity and solidarity, which has never before been apparent to the same extent in the history of our country, is a crime against our country, and we shall not hesitate to meet it by making reprisals. It will be very satisfactory if the members of the Government will be perfectly clear about the irrevocableness of the attitude which we should feel ourselves forced to adopt in such an event. The concord and unity existing between the Government and ourselves can only continue if the present state is maintained. The fact that appointments and dismissals are made which are by no means necessary and, especially, that an unyielding attitude is shown in the case of certain officials who had been dismissed on account of their hostile attitude to the national movement, must be regarded as a sign of antagonism against the national forces ; like wise, we shall not suffer that offices shall be entrusted to such persons. There is no doubt about the fact that Ahmed Fewsi Pasha and Zia Pasha will be sent back without any further delay.
If our colleagues in the National Assembly, although fully con scious of the seriousness of the present situation, remain silent about these abnormal facts, the Government, who are being pressed and urged themselves on every side, will encourage it. It is, therefore, essential that those colleagues who adhere to our ideal must take up a definite and decided attitude in this particular case. If the Govern ment were to rule the Chamber, it would lose the supreme control and it is evident that in such an event it would be impossible to come to beneficial decisions for the liberation of our country and realise a national aim. We implore you to put forward your utmost patriotic efforts to force the Chamber to adopt the aims of the national forces, which are accepted as an article of faith by the entire nation. They are looked upon as sacred and they adopt them as their own. In addition, we beg you to take care that control is placed over the Government to see that they act on these principles in their fullest meaning.
Mustapha Kemal In the name of the Representative Committee.
Let me read you another reply we sent to Rauf Bey:
Telegram in cipher. . 21 st February.
To Salih Bey A. D. C., Ministry of War. For Rauf Bey.
Reply to your telegram in cipher of 20 th February.
If the Government have taken up a threatening attitude against the party formed in the National Assembly, it is because this group has not been able to develop and strengthen itself as a political party which is solid throughout. Thus it appears above all other things necessary that this party gets really to work and becomes an element of conscious control. The fact that the Government, with the intention of treating you with consideration and being amiable to you, have invited you again, arises from the fact that they have recognised your present weakness and wish to distract your attention, so that meanwhile they can gain time and strengthen their own position. It is time that you take up a determined attitude towards the Govern ment. The Grand Vizier and the Minister of the Interior must be told plainly that the national forces will continue their activities until they have been successful.
Our enemies, who are still occupying the country and want com pletely to enslave the nation, might well consider themselves justified in objecting to the activity of the national forces. But that a national power struggling for the salvation of the State and Nation should be the object of attack from their own Government is a matter that astounds us.
In the same way as the opinion held by the Allied Powers that Constantinople should remain under Ottoman Government has given us satisfaction, their demand that we should cease our activity has equally astonished us. We have informed Fewsi Pasha, the Minister of War, that we shall not lay down our arms until we are certain that Smyrna and Adana will remain under Ottoman rule. We also want it to be recognised that we have not attacked the Armenians, and that if certain incidents have occurred between the Armenians and ourselves the former having been armed and incited by the French the responsibility for this must rest on the shoulders of the Armenian nationalists and those who have encouraged them.
With regard to the Government s proposal that we shall not extend our operations beyond Marash and Uriah, the immediate evacuation of Adana by the French must be insisted upon, so that the population may be quieted and that the national forces may be restrained. The French must be told straightforwardly that it will be impossible to prevent the national forces from continuing then- struggle for liberation if Adana is not immediately evacuated; that the flame of patriotism is on the point of spreading to Aleppo and Syria; that the success of the French will increase immediately they evacuate Adana and its surroundings; and, in order to allay the violent articles in the Anatolian Press, the Allied Powers must dis continue their attacks and oppression.
To silence a guiltless nation that cries out against so much injustice, oppression even massacres which it has been called upon to endure, is a kind of tyranny that it is impossible to submit to. Throughout the world the Press is entirely free from such arbitrary restriction. We would rather that you had never helped the English to remove a great quantity of ammunition from Akbash. We do not think that a single cartridge should have been returned to the English.
If the Government think that they will succeed in exciting the pity of the Allied Powers by rendering them such services, and if they think that such hypocritical behaviour would carry weight in bringing about any amelioration in the Peace conditions, we can only regret that they lack so much common sense. In short, as it is quite certain that in these critical moments, when the question of our peace is in the balance, every act that gives the impression of weakness on the part of the national forces will have a disasterous influence on the fate of our nation, we beg our colleagues to do their duty in controlling the Chamber resolutely and with the utmost
devotion. ,, , , ,
In the name of the Representative Committee.
On the same day it was considered necessary to send the following telegram also to Rauf Bey, because we wanted to find out what opinion prevailed about the work of the Representative Committee and the national forces. I had its contents also forwarded to Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha at Erzerum. Very urgent. 2i st February, 1920.
To be delivered immediately. To Rauf Bey.
In order to convene the congress which will have the power under the last article of our regulations to alter the constitution of the Union for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia, the Chamber of Deputies must give evidence that they are performing their legis lative duties in safety and complete freedom. The Representative Committee, being the head of all the organisations in their present form, must continue to act officially until Peace is signed, as this is agreed to and demanded by all our comrades.
What excite public opinion against them and place them in a difficult position are: the attacks of the opposition Press, which are practically encouraged by the Government ; the public insults thrown out by the Senate; the attitude and the acts of the Government, and, specially, the declarations made by the Grand Vizier and the speeches he makes in the Chamber, which were applauded whenever the question of the unlawfulness of the national forces are mentioned.
On the one hand, the organisations that exist under the title of the “Union for the Revival of Islam/ to form which according to the Sovereign s wishes is the object of persons like Seinel Abidin, Hodsha Sabri and Said Molla, have no other object than to destroy the national forces by directly attacking them. Among other things they did on the 19^ inst., they incited the inhabitants of Nigdeh and New Shehir by such expressions as, “the Chamber of Deputies has already been opened/ “our Sovereign does not desire that there shall be any more national organisation, or that there shall be any more public meetings or demonstrations held/ It is not improb able that such ideas as these were spread as far as Konia and all over the country, and that similar incidents may take place there as well , Consequently:
1. The Government must be asked to inform us definitely whether they are for the maintenance of the national forces, or not;
2. It is necessary that the “Felahi Watan” party should ascertain whether they enjoy complete safety and freedom; whether they are convinced that the national forces must be dissolved, or not; and that in case it is considered that they should be maintained, a statement to that effect should be laid before the Government and properly supported in the Chamber. We are agreed that the party should be asked to discuss this question ; 3. If the suppression of the national organisations and the national forces should be decided upon in the interests of the country, it would be imperatively necessary to compel the Government themselves to take the necessary dispositions against the troops of the enemy on the fronts of Smyrna, Marash, and elsewhere.
We beg you to consider what we have said above with the greatest seriousness and do what we have demanded. Also, we beg you to inform us of the result as quickly as possible, to relieve us from the difficult position we are in. We are under the impression that some of our colleagues in Constantinople are consoling themselves by putting great trust in foreign powers that are far away, instead of seriously concentrating their final efforts on doing something practical to protect us against the blows aimed at the unity of the national forces, which are the cause of so much anxiety and trouble. With regard to ourselves, we ask you to bear this in mind: If we do not succeed in making the best use now of the power we have in our hands, foreign Powers will no longer consider us worthy of mercy
being shown to us. __ , __ .
In the name of the Representative Committee.
In his reply of the 23 rd February, Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha said:
“I do not think it at all likely that the Representative Committee and the national forces will take up an antagonistic and domineering attitude against the tendency that is now apparent in the National Assembly in Constantinople. As far as I can see, the only course open to the Representative Committee is to withdraw from the affair in a dignified way and leave it to the sense of honour and patriotism of the National Assembly to decide what to do and assume the respon sibility for their decision. ” . . . “If the National Assembly does not agree to the maintenance of the national forces and the Representative Committee, they can express their thanks to them and, according to the resolutions of the Congresses and exercising their authority of legislative control in perfect security, they can inform them that they must be dissolved and stop their activity, meanwhile taking it upon themselves to watch over the destiny of the nation henceforward . . . But it is very doubtful whether the National Assembly could assume the responsibility of coming to the decision and declaring that they are secure in their present position now and in the future. If Rauf Bey Eff endi puts forward this proposal, carries through the resolutions mentioned above, and induces the Assembly to write to the Represen- tative Committee calling upon them to cease their activity, they must surrender voluntarily. They must publish the fact in the Press and announce it to the country, and from that moment they must stop all further activity. They will preserve their honourable position and their dignity in a legitimate way. It is understood that the Aidin front, which has been specially established during the last year on the urgent demand of the nation, will not be broken up nor will its fate be en trusted to the Greeks. Nor can the Government break it up. The men fighting on the front will continue to fight as they have been doing hitherto. But it will be a local fight, and the commanders of the Army Corps will carry it on from their own bases, according to cir cumstances and the object it is intended to attain. With regard to our position and our future actions, we shall do what we think neces sary as events require. This is our opinion.” (Document 238.)
This conception, this opinion expressed about twenty days before the actual occupation of Constantinople, is very important. I shall confine myself to calling your attention to one expression, namely, that “we shall do what we think necessary as events require.” It was evident that we could not adopt such an attitude of resignation. On the contrary, we were merely adherents to the principle of anticipa ting what might possibly occur, of calculating and deciding upon the course we should take and following it promptly and energetically. That is why from the very beginning we endeavoured to find out what they intended to do.
When I read to you literally the reply which I sent to Mashar Mufid Bey s letter, you will appreciate what it was necessary to say in reply to Kiasim Kara Bekir Pasha. I shall not quote Mashar Mufid Bey s letter. If necessary he will publish it himself. But this was my answer to it:
Angora 25 th February, 1920. To Mashar Mufid Bey, Deputy for Hakkiari.
I did not receive your long letter of the 14 th February till yesterday, and I shall send my reply to it to-morrow by courier. Your account of the present state of affairs in the high National Assembly and in the cc Felahi Wat an” party has distressed me. The picture that arose before my eyes when I read all you told me is a very unhappy one.
The unfortunate people see that their honourable deputies, whose duty they imagine it to be is to defend, preserve and secure their lives, their existence and destiny, have forgotten what their real duty is towards the nation and country from the very beginning. At a time when the West and all those whom we call our enemies are pretending that Turkey and the Turks lack any capability and, consequently, assign to themselves the right to take up any hostile action they think fit against us, and whilst we are all resolved to prove the error of this opinion so far as each one of us is concerned, it is painful to have to admit that our selfishness, our narrow-minded passions, are blinding us and depriving us of the power to see things as they are. “The deputies who first arrived wanted to do one thing; those who came later wanted to do something else; one deputy is treated by the Representative Committee as a confidential friend, and another as a narrow-minded man . . .”
Do those deputies who make speeches of this kind represent the great Turkish nation? The mentality and the character here revealed astound and confuse me, and I do not know what to think about it.
You speak of the formation of a new group or party . . . With regard to myself, my dear Mashar Mufid Bey, I cannot believe that any group or party comprising men of the mentality and character you describe could assume such an attitude in the belief that it will help them to save the country. While my companions and I, who are doing our duty devotedly in the name of the Representative Committee, only desire to continue to work for the salvation of the country and the nation till we die, I can see from the attitude and behaviour of the honourable deputies a complete lack of foresight on their part, which leads them to stand in our way. We have written to Rauf Bey telling him to demand from the Chamber of Deputies and the “Felahi Watan” party, who in their childishness and short sightedness have given us to understand that they no longer consider it necessary to rely on the organisation of the “Union for the Defence of the Rights” and the national forces who have created these organi sations, that they should come to a final decision and tell us what they intend to do. We beg you also to exert your influence to obtain this decision as quickly as you can. In arriving at it I want to remind you that you must not forget the fact that at the seat of the Caliphate, which is the meeting place of the honourable deputies, there are 40,000 French, 35,000 English, 2,000 Greek and 4,000 Italian troops, and that the English Mediterranean fleet has cast anchor in front of the Palace of Funduklu. Mustapha Kemal.
The first telegram in cipher that we sent to Rauf Bey referred to the leaders of our organisation in Constantinople; it is mentioned
Kemal Pasha 22 therein that they had agreed that part of the ammunition lying in the depot at Akbash was to be handed over to the English. Allow mi to tell you something about this. There was an ammunition depot at Akbash, which is situated on the European coast not far from Gallipoli. In this depot, which was guarded by the French, there was an enormous quantity of arms and ammunition. The Govern ment, believing it to be in their interest to show their complacency respecting the desires of the Allied Powers, had promised to surrender some of the arms and ammunition stored in this depot. The Allied Powers intended to send them to Wrangel s army; a Russian ship had arrived at Gallipoli to carry them to Russia. The Government had previously obtained the consent and support of the leaders of our organisation in Constantinople to this.
But now, Koprululi Hamdi Bey, one of our heroic comrades at the head of a division of national troops, crossed the Straits on rafts during the night of the 26 t]1 February, reached the European shore, seized the depot at Akbash, arrested the French guard and cut the communications. Then he sent all the arms and a large part of the ammunition to Lapseki, meanwhile taking the French soldiers with him under escort. After he had taken the arms and ammunition into the interior of the country, he sent his prisoners back. We estimated that about 8,000 Russian rifles, 40 Russian machine-guns and 20,000 cases of ammunition were stored in the Akbash depot. (Document 239.)
Following this incident, the English landed 200 men at Panderma. Foreseeing the possibility that the arms and ammunition which were stored in localities in this district behind the territory garrisoned by the national forces, where there were also some Allied troops, would be brought to another place by them or be rendered useless, or that Allied soldiers might occupy the depot, we issued orders to all com manding officers to take certain steps, and commanded them to act firmly and decisively. (Document 240.)
Almost at this identical moment, Ansawur had succeeded in creating a serious and almost dangerous situation in the districts of Balikesri and Bigha. At Balikesri he intended to take the national forces in the rear. He commanded a rather considerable number of men. A sanguinary skirmish took place at Bigha between his men and the national forces that were sent against him. Ansawur was victorious. He scattered our troops, captured our guns and machine- guns, killed some of our officers and men and took some prisoners. Hamdi Bey, the hero of Akbash, was among the killed. Then Ahmed Ansawur, acting in the name of the “Union Ahmedie” which was named after himself continued and extended his criminal activity. On the 3 rd March, I received a telegram in cipher which was of extreme importance. Ismet Pasha sent it from Constantinople. After I had arrived at Angora, Ismet Pasha came to see me there. We were working together. But now His Excellency Fewsi Pasha had suc ceeded Djemal Pasha in the Ministry of War. In obedience to the explicit request of his Excellency and for a specially weighty reason, I had sent Ismet Pasha back to Constantinople a few days before.
The matter which we regarded as of special importance was this. The Greeks had prepared an offensive. The reasonable thing to do in such a case was to mobilise our forces and begin a regular war. His Excellency Fewsi Pasha was perfectly convinced of the necessity of doing this.
The presence of Ismet Pasha in Constantinople would be expedient, so that he could take the necessary steps, and by appointing him chief of the General Staff we would have been able to rely on his official co-operation. That is why I thought it would be a good thing to send him to Constantinople. Ismet Pasha s telegram ran as follows :
Harbie 3 rd March, 1920. To His Excellency Mustapha Kemal Pasha.
It is reported that a union has been formed in Constantinople which, in agreement with the English, has passed certain resolutions. Some of them are said to be : To overthrow the Government and hand over the power to another; to dissolve the Chamber and disband the national forces; to clear the way for the occupation of Smyrna and Adana ; to establish a Supreme Council of the Caliphate in Constanti nople which would serve as the factor of peace and good-will amongst all Mohamedans ; to draw up and publish a Fetwah against Bolshevism. The Minister of War attaches importance to the objects of this union. The activity of Ansawur in Anatolia is the result of the work of this union, and so is the ever-increasing pressure of the English on the Government. The Minister desires me to send you this for your in formation. Ismet
Salih, Major A. D. C. to the Minister of War.
22* As you already know, the British representative had proposed to the Government that the operations against the Allied troops, includ ing those of Greece, shall cease, and had informed them of the “gilded promise” made by the English, according to which Constantinople would still belong to the Ottoman Empire, on condition that this proposal was accepted. But we had been informed of the fact that at the precise moment when this proposal was made in Constantinople, the Greeks had landed fresh troops, new means of transport, and enormous quantities of ammunition at Smyrna, on the i8 th , 19^ and 20 th February, and were preparing for a new offensive. We lost no time in passing this information on to the Government and drawing their attention to it, ignoring the fuss they had made in trying to prevent our so-called interference in the affairs of the Government.
While the Greeks were preparing for this new offensive, Ali Riza Pasha s Cabinet was confronted with a new proposal, namely, “to retire the national forces who had taken up a position against the Greeks for a distance of three kilometres !
It was evident that Ali Riza Pasha s Cabinet was incapable of carrying out this proposal, but they intended to oppose it. The Grand Vizier, under force of circumstances, had replied that it was impossible to do this.