34.1.3: Ataturk and Turkish Independence
The occupation of the Ottoman Empire by the Allies in the aftermath of World War I prompted the establishment of the Turkish national movement under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal. This led to the Turkish War of Independence, which resulted in the establishment of the Republic of Turkey.
Outline the path taken to a Turkish state and the role played by Ataturk
- After the Armistice of Mudros ended the Middle Eastern theater of World War I, the Allied forces began a process of occupying the defeated Ottoman Empire.
- The occupation of Istanbul and Izmir by the Allies in the aftermath of WWI prompted the establishment of the Turkish National Movement under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha, a military commander who had distinguished himself during the Battle of Gallipoli.
- The Turkish revolutionaries in the National Movement rebelled against the occupation and partitioning established by the Treaty of Sèvres, a conflict which became the Turkish War of Independence (May 19, 1919 – July 24, 1923).
- After the end of the Turkish-Armenian, Franco-Turkish, and Greco-Turkish fronts of the War of Independence, the Treaty of Sèvres was abandoned and the Treaties of Kars (October 1921) and Lausanne (July 1923) were signed.
- The Allies left Anatolia and Eastern Thrace, and the Grand National Assembly of Turkey decided on the establishment of a Republic in Turkey, which was declared on October 29, 1923.
- Mustafa Kemal (later given the honorific Atatürk meaning “Father of the Turks”) became the first President of Turkey and embarked upon a program of political, economic, and cultural reforms, seeking to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern and secular nation-state.
- Atatürk’s Reforms
- A series of political, legal, religious, cultural, social, and economic policy changes that were designed to convert the new Republic of Turkey into a secular, modern nation-state and implemented under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in accordance with Kemalist ideology. Central to these reforms were the belief that Turkish society would have to Westernize itself both politically and culturally in order to modernize.
- The Turkish War of Independence
- A war fought between the Turkish nationalists and the proxies of the Allies – namely Greece on the Western front, Armenia on the Eastern, France on the Southern and with them, the United Kingdom and Italy in Constantinople (now Istanbul) – after some parts of Turkey were occupied and partitioned following the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I. It led to the founding of the Republic of Turkey.
- Turkish National Movement
- Encompasses the political and military activities of the Turkish revolutionaries that resulted in the creation and shaping of the modern Republic of Turkey, as a consequence of the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I and the subsequent occupation of Constantinople and partitioning of the Ottoman Empire by the Allies under the terms of the Armistice of Mudros.
- Mustafa Kemal
- A Turkish army officer, revolutionary, and founder of the Republic of Turkey, serving as its first President from 1923 until his death in 1938. His surname, Atatürk (meaning “Father of the Turks”), was granted to him in 1934 and forbidden to any other person by the Turkish parliament.
The occupation of some parts of the country by the Allies in the aftermath of World War I prompted the establishment of the Turkish National Movement. Under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, a military commander who distinguished himself during the Battle of Gallipoli, the Turkish War of Independence was waged with the aim of revoking the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres. By September 18, 1922, the occupying armies were expelled. On November 1, the newly founded parliament formally abolished the Sultanate, thus ending 623 years of Ottoman rule. The Treaty of Lausanne of July 24, 1923, led to the international recognition of the sovereignty of the newly formed “Republic of Turkey” as the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, and the republic was officially proclaimed on October 29, 1923, in the new capital of Ankara. Mustafa Kemal became the republic’s first President of Turkey.
Background: Allied Occupation of Ottoman Empire
On October 30, 1918, the Armistice of Mudros was signed between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies of World War I, bringing hostilities in the Middle Eastern theater of World War I to a close. The treaty granted the Allies the right to occupy forts controlling the Straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus and the right to occupy “in case of disorder” any territory in case of a threat to security. Somerset Arthur Gough-Calthorpe—the British signatory of the Mudros Armistice—stated the Triple Entente′s public position that they had no intention to dismantle the government of the Ottoman Empire or place it under military occupation by “occupying Constantinople.” However, dismantling the Ottoman government and partitioning the Ottoman Empire among the Allied nations was an objective of the Entente since the start of the war.
On November 13, 1918, a French brigade entered the city to begin the Occupation of Constantinople and its immediate dependencies, followed by a fleet consisting of British, French, Italian, and Greek ships deploying soldiers on the ground the next day. A wave of seizures by the Allies took place in the following months.
Turkish National Movement
The Turkish National Movement encompasses the political and military activities of the Turkish revolutionaries that resulted in the creation and shaping of the modern Republic of Turkey as a consequence of the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I and the subsequent occupation of Constantinople and partitioning of the Ottoman Empire by the Allies under the terms of the Armistice of Mudros.
The national forces were united around the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the authority of the Grand National Assembly set up in Ankara, which pursued the Turkish War of Independence. The movement gathered around a progressively defined political ideology generally termed “Kemalism.” Its basic principles stress the Republic, a form of government representing the power of the electorate, secular administration (laïcité), nationalism, a mixed economy with state participation in many sectors (as opposed to state socialism), and national modernization.
Turkish War of Independence
The Turkish War of Independence (May 19, 1919 – July 24, 1923) was fought between the Turkish nationalists and the proxies of the Allies – namely Greece on the Western front, Armenia on the Eastern, France on the Southern and with them, the United Kingdom and Italy in Constantinople (now Istanbul) – after some parts of Turkey were occupied and partitioned following the Ottoman Empire’s defeat in World War I. Few of the present British, French, and Italian troops were deployed or engaged in combat.
After a series of battles during the Greco-Turkish war, the Greek army advanced as far as the Sakarya River, just eighty kilometers west of the GNA. On August 5, 1921, Mustafa Kemal was promoted to commander in chief of the forces by the GNA. The ensuing Battle of Sakarya was fought from August 23 to September 13, 1921 and ended with the defeat of the Greeks. After this victory, on September 19, 1921, Mustafa Kemal Pasha was given the rank of Mareşal and the title of Gazi by the Grand National Assembly. The Allies, ignoring the extent of Kemal’s successes, hoped to impose a modified version of the Treaty of Sèvres as a peace settlement on Ankara, but the proposal was rejected. In August 1922, Kemal launched an all-out attack on the Greek lines at Afyonkarahisar in the Battle of Dumlupınar and Turkish forces regained control of Smyrna on September 9, 1922. The next day, Mustafa Kemal sent a telegram to the League of Nations saying that the Turkish population was so worked up that the Ankara Government would not be responsible for massacres.
By September 18, 1922, the occupying armies were expelled, and the Ankara-based Turkish regime, which had declared itself the legitimate government of the country on April 23, 1920, started to formalize the legal transition from the old Ottoman into the new Republican political system. On November 1, 1922, the Turkish Parliament in Ankara formally abolished the Sultanate, ending 623 years of monarchical Ottoman rule. The Treaty of Lausanne of July 24, 1923, led to international recognition of the sovereignty of the newly formed “Republic of Turkey” as the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, and the republic was officially proclaimed on October 29, 1923, in Ankara, the country’s new capital. The Lausanne treaty stipulated a population exchange between Greece and Turkey in which 1.1 million Greeks left Turkey for Greece in exchange for 380,000 Muslims transferred from Greece to Turkey. On March 3, 1924, the Ottoman Caliphate was officially abolished and the last Caliph was exiled.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s Presidency
Mustafa Kemal became the republic’s first President of Turkey and subsequently introduced many radical reforms with the aim of founding a new secular republic from the remnants of its Ottoman past. The Turkish parliament presented Mustafa Kemal with the honorific surname “Atatürk” (Father of the Turks) in 1934. For the first 10 years of the new regime, the country saw a steady process of secular Westernization through Atatürk’s Reforms, which included the unification of education; the discontinuation of religious and other titles; the closure of Islamic courts and the replacement of Islamic canon law with a secular civil code modeled after Switzerland’s and a penal code modeled after Italy’s; recognition of the equality between the sexes and the granting of full political rights to women on December 5, 1934; the language reform initiated by the newly founded Turkish Language Association; replacement of the Ottoman Turkish alphabet with the new Turkish alphabet derived from the Latin alphabet; the dress law outlawing the fez); the law on family names; and many others.
- Ataturk and Turkish Independence
“Turkish War of Independence.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_War_of_Independence. Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0.
“History of the Republic of Turkey.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Republic_of_Turkey. Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0.
“Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mustafa_Kemal_Ataturk. Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0.
“Turkish National Movement.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_National_Movement. Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0.
“Türk_Kurtuluş_Savaşı_-_kolaj.jpg.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_War_of_Independence#/media/File:Turk_Kurtulus_Savasi_-_kolaj.jpg. Wikipedia CC BY-SA 3.0.