86-2. The French Southern Front

2. The French Southern Front

2. The French Southern Front.

a) In the district of Adana national forces had been drawn up immediately in front of the French troops in the country around Mersina, Tarsus, Islahie and in the district of Salefke, and with great courage had begun active operations against them. The heroic deeds of Major Osman Bey, who concealed his identity under the name of Tufan Bey, in the district east of Adana deserve to be specially mentioned. The national troops made themselves masters of the district right up to the gates of the towns of Mersina, Tarsus and Adana. They besieged the French at Bosanti and forced them to retreat.

b) Skirmishes and serious fighting took place at Marash, Aintab and Urfah. Eventually the occupying troops found themselves com pelled to abandon these places. It is my duty to mention here the names of Kilidsh-AH Bey and Ali Saib Bey, who were chiefly respons ible for these successes.

The National Forces gained solidarity day by day in the French occupied districts and on the French front

The National Forces gained solidarity day by day in the French occupied districts and on the French front. The occupying troops were strongly pressed everywhere.

As a result of this, the French tried to get into touch and enter into negotiations with us after the beginning of May, 1920. A major and a civilian coming from Stambul arrived first at Angora. These gentlemen intended to go to Beiruth straight from Stambul. Haidar Bey, former deputy for Van, acted as their dragoman. Our con versations did not lead to any important practical result. However, towards the end of May, a French deputation led by M. Duquest^ who acted in the name of the High Commissioner of Syria, came to 39 1

Angora. We agreed with this deputation to an armistice of twenty days. During the temporary armistice we prepared for the evacuation of the Adana district.

Objections were raised by some members of the Grand National Assembly to the twenty days armistice I had concluded with the French deputation. Nevertheless, when I agreed to it I had this in my mind: First of all, I did not want to be interfered with while I reorganised the National Forces in the district and on the front of Adana that had been partly reinforced by regular troops. Calculating on the possibility of the National Forces dispersing during this suspension of hostilities, when I promulgated the armistice, I added some instruc tions about certain steps that were to be taken. On the other hand, I desired to gain a political advantage which I considered to be very- advisable. The Grand National Assembly and their Government had not as yet been recognised by the Entente Powers, but, on the other hand, in regard to questions concerning the fate of the country and the nation, these Powers were in touch with Fend Pasha s Govern ment in Stambul. Considering the fact that the French, disregarding the Stambul Government, had entered into negotiations and had come to an agreement with us on any question meant at that time a political advantage of the highest importance. During the course of the armistice negotiations, I clearly and formally demanded the complete evacuation of the territory situated within our national frontiers which was occupied by the French. The French delegates spoke of the necessity of going to Paris to ask for full powers on this question. The twenty days armistice was considered to give the delegates the necessary time to provide themselves with the authority to come to a still more important agreement. In the course of these negotiations and interviews I gained the impression that the French would abandon Adana and the district of Adana. I had expressed my opinion and my conviction on this point in the Assembly. When, however, the French occupied Songuldak before the armistice had elapsed we considered that as far as we were concerned this step was equivalent to a violation of the armistice, although they intended to show thereby that the agreement referred solely to the district of Adana. Through this our understanding with the French was delayed for some time.

During the sitting of the Assembly behind closed doors on the 9 tto – May, when I had given certain explanations and had mentioned that French officials and the French deputation had put out a feeler and had tried to get into relations with us, one of the deputies (if my memory does not deceive me, it was the late Fuad Bey, Deputy for Tshorum) told me that “apparently Stambul had been trying for several days to come to an understanding with us,” and he asked me whether I was willing to give him some information about this.

As a matter of fact, four or five days previously a certain “Leon” in Constantinople had tried to get into touch with us telegraphically by the Tjanak Kale line. After he had got into communication with Angora and was sure that we were at the instrument, he said: “We have something very important to tell you, so that we must postpone our exchange of telegrams until to-night, because then the military central station can be prevented from overhearing our conversation.”

We did not telegraph to them that night; but one or two nights afterwards they tried again to reach us. On this occasion a telegram was transmitted to us, signed by Nureddin Pasha, formerly Governor of Smyrna. This is the contents of this telegram:

“Two of my comrades and I consider that it is more in accord ance with the interests of our country to consider how Stambul can come to an understanding with us. The local Government as well as the English are of this opinion also. We await a favourable reply.” Nureddin Pasha addressed his telegram to the President of the Representative Committee. He did not appear to know that the Grand National Assembly of Turkey and their Government had already been formed and had begun to exercise their functions, and that an Act relating to crimes against the country had confirmed the existence and legality of the Grand National Assembly. I handed Nureddin Pasha s telegram to His Excellency Fewsi Pasha, Minister of National Defence. His Excellency replied to Nureddin Pasha. He said: “The fact that you addressed your telegram to the President of the Representative Committee leads us to believe that you are not yet fully acquainted with the real position.” After having ex plained the real state of affairs, Fewsi Pasha asked: “What authority in Stambul is desirous of carrying on this conversation and with what authority do they wish to speak with Angora?” The unsigned reply that we received to this said: “The persons who have sent the telegram are not here at the present moment. They handed in the telegram and went away. To-morrow at ten o clock we shall be able to give you further information.” Later on Nureddin Pasha tried a second time to get into touch with us by telegraph. This time he said: “As it is impossible to come to an understanding by telegraph, will you send a deputation furnished with full powers to Stambul so that we can talk and come to an agreement?” Our reply was: “It is quite evident that it is impossible to come to an agreement; but we would rather that you came to Mudania, and we shall be glad to know when you can come. Persons with full powers representing us will be in that town. The necessary instruc tions have been sent to Brusa.” Nothing further was done in the matter. Hodja Mufid Effendi (Kir Shehr) inquired whether it was really Nureddin Pasha who had sent the telegram. I replied: “Yes; I have no doubt that it was Nureddin Pasha.”

I want to call attention to the fact that the steps undertaken through the mediation of Nureddin Pasha in Constantinople hap pened at the time when Ansawur was beaten in the district of Balikesri and when we had attained our first successes at Bolu.

We received no further telegrams from Nureddin Pasha; but he came personally to Angora in the middle of June, accompanied by Diarbekirli Kiasim Pasha. He declared that before working with us he wanted to know our opinions with regard to certain questions. They were:

1. What our intentions and views were regarding the Caliphate and Sultanate?

2. What our standpoint was concerning the question of Bol shevism?

3. Whether we had resolved to carry on a war against the Entente Powers especially against England.

The conversation took place at night in one of the rooms of our headquarters in the School of Agriculture. In addition to Kiasim Pasha who had arrived with Nureddin Pasha, Fewsi Pasha and Izzet Pasha, were present at that meeting. Nureddin Pasha did not consider the replies which he received to the first and second questions to be sufficient; but the reply to the third led to long and bitter discussions. For we had expressed ourselves to this effect: “Our aim is to secure the complete independence of our nation and the integrity of our territory within its national frontiers. We shall fight and conquer every Power, whichever it might be, who would try to block our way and hinder us from the realisation of this aim. We are absolutely firm in our conviction and our determination.” It was this particular conception of ours that Nureddin Pasha had no faith in, and he refused to agree with us. Finally we told him: “When it comes to a discussion there is no question of changing our faith or of coming to new decisions. You will submit to the convictions of the nation as they have been hitherto drawn up and determined upon.” Then the question of the duties that would be assigned to him arose. We decided that he should take command of the district south of the Greek front and the civil administration of the Province of Konia as Vali, with the additional rank of Commandant of the district of Konia. On the i8 th June we appointed Fuad Pasha to command the entire Western front.

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