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May 19: Start of the Ankara movement

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19.05.2017

World War I was perhaps one of the biggest disasters in Turkish-Islamic history. The war ended with a major defeat and the people responsible for the defeat fled abroad. The Ottoman government was obliged to sign the Armistice of Mudros. In this regard, the invasion of Anatolia by the Allied powers provoked national awareness. In almost every city, congresses were held regarding how to respond to the occupation. Among the organizers of the congresses were the unionists, members of the Committee of Union and Progress, which had formed a strong organization and strengthened this power during a 10-year dictatorship in the Ottoman Empire.

Sultan Vahideddin, sitting on the throne of the ashes of war at that time, feared that contradicting the sovereign world leader of the time, the British Empire, would make the consequences of the war even worse, and hoped to save his country through diplomacy. However, he did not expect that the resistance movement in Anatolia would win a victory against the strong enemy. He wanted to centralize this movement, thus achieving more favorable conditions by putting it forth as leverage in the Peace Treaty to be signed with the Allied powers. Well, who was going to do it? Istanbul was under occupation.

An opportunity

Meanwhile, there was a row between the Greeks and the Turks in the eastern Black Sea. A high-ranking officer had to be sent to Anatolia to oversee the exercise of the armistice. The British demanded that it be a high-ranking pasha who was not a unionist and a German supporter. Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who had been defeated in the Syrian Front, losing his army during World War I, was in Istanbul and available at that time and was apparently one of the only figures who met the conditions necessary. He persuaded the sultan of his loyalty, as well.

Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who previously wanted to marry the daughter of the sultan and become war minister but failed to succeed, established a friendship with the Italian occupation Commissioner Count Sforza in order to secure himself. Thus, he was removed from the list of allies to be arrested as former unionists. Even though he set up a committee with his friends, including Fethi Bey, in his house in Şişli, and planned to stage a political coup and dethrone the sultan, he gave up the idea thinking that the occupation forces would not allow it.

For this, he gave weight to his friendship with the British. In the Minber newspaper he founded, he wrote articles that praised "the sensitivity and respect the British showed towards the freedom of our nation and the independence of our state." Worrying that Enver Pasha, who had fled to Russia, would re-establish a Bolshevik-style administration exerting absolute rule over the country, the British leaned towards his arch-rival and opponent, Mustafa Kemal. The British had been following him since he was appointed to Sofia as military attache; in 1913, knowing his secular, modern ideas.

Meanwhile, thanks to his British friend, journalist and intelligence officer Ward Price, he contacted British intelligence. He spoke with agent Reverend Frew at the Pera Palace. He had been friends with the British General Allenby since his time in Syria, who even recommended the appointment of M. Kemal Pasha as the commander of the 6th Army in February 1919. As a result of all these contacts, the pasha realized that Britain would establish a protectorate in Anatolia. Thinking that he might have a say in this system, he decided to go to Anatolia.

A sultan's intention

The Damat Ferid Pasha government decided to send him to Anatolia as the 9th Army inspector, granting him extraordinary powers that allowed him to dismiss even governors. The small amount of funding available in the Treasury was handed over to him and he was also provided with horses and carriages. The governors and district governors were also........

© Daily Sabah