Birth Of A Nation

Coat Of Arms
Republic Of Turkey

Today is Independence Day in Turkey. There are parades, ceremonies and celebrations. It’s rather like the Queen’s Birthday in Britain except it is the Country’s birthday that’s being celebrated rather than that of a monarch.

The Republic of Turkey was established on October 29, 1923 from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire.

During the First World War in which due to at best British diplomatic incompetence, and at worst British Imperialistic greed Ottoman Turkey was forced to fight on the side of Germany.

The ‘victorious’ allies were not known for their magnanimity following the defeats of Germany and Ottoman Turkey. Indeed many believe that the harsh terms led to a Second and much more bloody World War.

Turkey avoided involvement in World War Two by declaring independence and heavily fortifying its borders and inner regions against attack from all forces, especially Italy and Germany.

It was able to do this because during the early 1920s a group of Nationalists, led by Mustafa Kemal and Ismet Inönü, fought a war to attain independence of the Turkish speaking people.

Mustafa Kemal was the only Ottoman commander to acquire fame during World War I. He defeated the British attempt (1915) to land at Gallipoli and later kept the Turkish army in Syria together as it was pushed back into Anatolia by the British, aided by the Arab Revolt, later to be celebrated by T. E. Lawrence in the book Seven Pillars Of Wisdom.

Mustafa Kemal vigorously opposed the Turkish government’s decision to surrender to the Allies (1918) and sign the Treaty of Sevres (1920), which gave up large areas of Anatolia to foreign occupation or influence. In 1919, the government assigned him to supervise the demobilization of the remaining troops in Anatolia. He used this authority and his wartime reputation to coalesce the rising of the Turkish resistance forces, organizing a national army based in Ankara. This army ultimately drove out various Allied occupying forces, abolished the sultanate, and replaced it with a republic with its capital in Ankara. As an appreciation sign, Mustafa Kemal was given the surname Atatürk (“Father of the Turks”) by the grateful nation.

As a result modern Turkey came into being. It is located mainly on the Anatolian peninsular between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. Just 3% of Turkey is in Balkan Europe. This includes half of the old Ottoman capital Istanbul. The modern capital is Ankara, which was chosen for its strategic military position.

The War of Independence had three distinct phases. In the first period, tens of small regional resistance organisations came to gather to build a national force. The second one was a jurisdictional conflict to decide whether the Grand National Assembly or Ottoman Empire was the true source of power. The conflict ended with the abolishment of the Empire by the Grand National Parliament. The Third one is the active fight against the Allies and the newly established Armenian Republic. The results of this war created the conditions of the peace granted through the Treaty of Lausanne.

Although Mustafa Kemal was a great general who came to become the first president of the Republic, great credit must be accorded to Turkey’s other great general Ismet Inönü, who succeeded Attaturk as the second president. He was a superb negotiator who did much to create the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne, and also kept Turkey out of the Second World War, at least until allied victory was certain.

Ismet Inönü And Mustafa Kemal
During The War Of Independence

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