Yayin tarihi: 16 Ocak/January 1998

Ustatlarin Kaleminden

 

U.S. AND BOLSHEVIK RELATIONS WITH THE TBMM GOVERNMENT
THE FIRST CONTACTS, 1919-1921

H. B. Paksoy, D. Phil.

Published in
THE JOURNAL OF SOPHIA ASIAN STUDIES
(Tokyo) No. 12 (1994). Pp. 211-251


This is a 2-part article

INTRODUCTION

     "We have conducted a War of Independence. If the 
     participants do not record it, its history will be 
     reduced to fairytales." Kazim Karabekir.1  
  
During the 19th century, the European Balance of Power 
struggles were very much in the minds of the participating 
politicians and the ranking Civil Servants of the time. That
struggle had spilled over to become, in the words of 
Kipling, the "Great Game in Asia." The "Eastern Question" 
was but a sub-division of the "Great Game," whose origins 
are traceable, inter alia, to the events leading to the 
treaties of Turkmenchai (1828), Adrianople (1829); Crimean 
War (1853-56) and the Congress of Berlin (1878). The 
principal players of the game included the British, Russian 
and German empires. What was justified on the surface as a 
race to acquire colonies, to take up "white man's burden" 
and to bring God's word to the "heathen populations," was 
actually a serious competition to secure supplies of raw 
materials and markets for industrial goods; or at least deny
them to the opposing states. Those maneuvers were designed 
with grand strategic objectives and goals in sight, as 
perceived by competing planners. It was in the Caucasus that
the Eastern Question and the Great Game were linked 
directly, especially at the outset of the First World War.2 
     
Against this backdrop, the circumstances leading to the
Turkish War of Independence, formally begun during 1919, 
were turbulent.3 After the dissolution of the Russian 
Tsarist Empire, the British planned to partition the regions
west of the Caspian Sea, with a view to founding a number of
small buffer states between the Bolshevik Russians and the 
Middle East. For the purpose, they deployed their troops in 
the regions of Merv and Baku. This was a continuation of the
long standing Great Game policies. Simultaneously, the 
Ottoman Empire was also undergoing dismemberment4 and its 
provinces were being occupied by other Allies of the British
according to the Treaty of Sevres signed by representatives 
of the Ottoman government: the French (Adana, Marash and 
environs); the Italians (Antalya region); and the Greeks 
(with the active support of the British, the Western half of
Asia minor). The Ottoman capital was at that time under the 
joint occupation of British, French and Italian troops. They
were reinforced by the local non-Turkish minorities of the 
Ottoman Empire, wearing the army uniforms of the occupying 
Allied armies, having been induced by the Allied powers to 
enlist.  
     
Under these conditions, the first contacts between the 
Bolshevik and the TBMM (Turkish Grand National Assembly)5 
governments, as well as between the U. S. and the TBMM, were
primarily made through General Kazim Karabekir (1882- 
1948)6. Karabekir's visitors from both the U. S. and the 
Bolsheviks were charged by their respective governments with
tasks of observing and reporting actual conditions within 
TBMM territories.  
     
Though Karabekir evidently did not meet anyone from the
King-Crane Commission7, nor with Admiral Bristol8 of the U. 
S. Navy, he kept himself informed of their activities. The 
contact with the U. S. Army General Harbord9 came when the 
latter led a sizeable delegation, replete with several film 
crews, to investigate the state of the territory, 
inhabitants and its administrative apparatus. Despite the 
amicable contacts between the two men, this connection with 
the U. S. side did not develop to the level of those with 
the Bolsheviks, according to Karabekir, due to the self- 
imposed constraints under which the American side was 
operating. 
     
As the Commander of the XV. Army Corps10, from April 
1919, Karabekir had to deal not only with the strictly 
military matters of his front, but the full economic, 
political, religious and diplomatic aspects.11 Fluent in 
French and German (also spoke and read Russian), an 
experienced troop-commander of the First World War, and 
having been exposed to world affairs at decision making 
levels in the pre-war period, Karabekir was equipped to 
undertake his primarily self-defined duties.  
     
Karabekir's relations with the Bolsheviks were 
extensive and complex. As the Bolsheviks did not yet have a 
track record, he first had to assess this relatively recent 
movement. Thus, he initiated contacts with the Bolsheviks 
well before the Red Armies occupied the Caucasus during 
1920-1921. Karabekir closely followed the developments 
across the Caucasus, selected and appointed the personnel to
represent the TBMM government in several capitals, outlined 
their negotiation parameters, and kept a close watch on the 
economic, political and diplomatic conditions in the 
neighboring territories --including Iran and Afghanistan. 
Karabekir's contacts with Moscow, perhaps more important 
than his military activities, are significant in the early 
history of the Turkish Republic. Through these channels of 
communication, the TBMM government was able to exchange 
diplomatic missions, and secure two initial financial aid 
packages from Moscow, enabling the TBMM to carry forward the
Turkish National War of Independence. In the intervening 
period, as he learned more about the new ideology, Karabekir
remained a Nationalist and firmly in opposition to 
Bolshevism in his homeland. In addition to instigating the 
Erzurum Congress (23 July - 7 August 1919), it was Karabekir
 who, with those thoughts in mind, convened and negotiated 
the Kars Treaty of 1921, signed between the TBMM and the 
Bolshevik government that established the basis of the 
present borders between the USSR and the Turkish Republic. 
     
This study explores the initial TBMM contacts with the 
U. S. and the Bolsheviks.12 
THE MANDATE 
 
During 1919, under military occupation, the functions 
of the Istanbul Ottoman government increasingly came under 
the direct rule of foreign powers.13 While each of the 
Allies was engaged in disseminating its own views, often in 
competition against one another, a relatively new political 
ideology and, simultaneously, a resurgence of colonialism 
appeared on the scene. These were first applied in Istanbul 
for eventual transmittal into the interior of the country: 
Bolshevism and the Mandate. Several of the Powers 
volunteered for the Mandate, or "advised" each other to take
it on. In fact, the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 
established a special body, "The Inter-Allied Commission on 
Mandates in Turkey" pursuant to the Secret Treaties among 
the Allies signed between 1915-1917. However, economic and 
political competition among the powers complicated the 
issue. There were also disagreements even among the various 
agencies of each Power as to how the Mandate issue ought to 
be approached. Many favored partition of the Ottoman 
territories based upon "existing knowledge," the nature of 
which was not publicly divulged. Others urged comprehensive 
studies of conditions on the ground before drawing lines on 
the map. Some of those arguments were even previously 
printed, either as official position papers, or as "private"
lectures.14 
     
As befits the earlier European Balance of Power 
Struggles, the disagreements among the Allies generally 
stemmed from the politico-economic benefits to be derived 
from the mandated areas, and their division. This was most 
apparent from the specific oil exploitation agreements. For 
example, "...by April 1919, France and Great Britain had 
signed the Long-Berenger Oil Agreement, which became the 
basis of the San Remo Oil Agreement of 24 April 1920. By 
this agreement Great Britain and France delimited their oil 
interests in Russia and Romania, British and French 
colonies, and especially in Mesopotamia. France was allotted
a 25 per cent share in the oil exploitation."15 Shortly 
before the Royal Navy had begun converting its fleets from 
coal to oil burners, and the "Oil Policy in the Middle 
Eastern Mandates" was already being discussed between the U.
S. and Great Britain.16 Thus, when the 10 August 1920 
Sevres Treaty was signed as a supplement to the Treaty of 
Versailles (signed on 28 June 1919)17, the division of economic
benefits was already agreed upon between the European Allies. 
     
Therefore, the Sevres Treaty essentially was providing the 
political framework through which the 
earlier economic treaties were to be enforced, by dividing 
the territories of the Ottoman lands, including Asia Minor, 
among Great Britain, France and Italy, and their local 
Allies. 
     
Following the Sevres Treaty, U. S. and Great Britain 
began a diplomatic correspondence concerning the economic 
rights of the U. S. in the region under discussion. Great 
Britain, while not disputing the rights of the U. S., 
pointedly suggested that the issue be considered within the 
League of Nations context. However, since the U. S. "had not
taken her seat at the League of Nations," controversy 
continued.18 As one consequence, the U. S. did not become a 
participant in the Lausanne Convention, which culminated in 
the July 1923 Lausanne Treaty19. However, the U. S. 
attained the status of Observer, with full rights to have 
representatives present in all discussions. Shortly after 
the signing of the Lausanne Treaty, the U. S. and Ankara 
Governments concluded their bilateral agreement, the first 
of many to come, "providing for protection of philanthropic 
and religious enterprises, free navigation, adjustment of 
claims, safeguarding of minorities, regulation of 
naturalization, and archeological research." On 12 October 
1927, the first U. S. Ambassador Joseph C. Grew presented 
his credentials to the first President of the Turkish 
Republic, Mustafa Kemal [Ataturk].20 
     
During 1919, under the conditions of military 
occupation, both Bolshevism and the Mandate found 
enthusiastic supporters in Istanbul and even attracted 
interest among some leaders of the Nationalist movement. The
first to receive consideration was the American Mandate, 
since the proposals for the individual or collective 
British, French and Italian Mandates were most vehemently 
opposed. Despite that, British propaganda was intensifying 
to take the mandate21. To facilitate it, the Ingiliz 
Muhipleri Cemiyeti [Friends of England Society] was 
established in Istanbul, with branches planned at every 
major population center and even a Ladies Auxiliary22. 
Aware of the efforts, Admiral Bristol became alarmed and 
sent requests to the American Peace Commission in Paris (in 
February 1919) for an investigative commission. The Allied 
censorship exercised over the Istanbul press was so tight, 
Admiral Bristol was unable to secure an outlet for his 
Government's official views. 
     
Apparently, Admiral Bristol was acquiring his own 
information in every way possible, as he worked to persuade 
his superiors on the need for the U. S. Mandate. The first 
U. S. contact mentioned by Karabekir was with a Lieutenant 
"said to be an adviser to Admiral Bristol."  This Lieutenant
accompanied Rawlinson23 to Erzurum, along with a Russian 
Colonel of the Denikin forces24, on 29 June 1919. Karabekir 
does not identify the Lieutenant by name, or his Service
 affiliation, but appears to be impressed with the ideas 
expressed by this Lieutenant and his manner.25 Karabekir 
also indicates that there were a number of other U. S., 
French26, Russian officers passing through his territory 
during this period, on their way to the Caucasus. On 3 July 
1919, the Ottoman General Staff Intelligence Department 
circulated a summary of Istanbul newspaper accounts, on the 
arrival in Istanbul from the Caucasus of a twelve member U. 
S. delegation, on its way to the Paris Peace Conference to 
submit its report. Since the King-Crane Commission did not 
arrive in Istanbul for another month, and the Harbord 
Commission followed King-Crane Commission's departure, this 
12 man delegation must have been concerned with the proposed
Mandate in the Caucasus.  
     
Indeed, members of the Missionary Board, the Food 
Relief, plus various lone military officers were appearing 
at sundry locations in the Caucasus under a multitude of 
designations and duties.27 A number of the other 
"Delegates" proved to be at best impostors, being mainly 
persons from among the local allies of the Occupying Powers.
Some of these even appropriated the officer uniforms of the 
British and the French armies, and impersonated allied 
officers to the detriment of all concerned.28 
     
The American Commission to Negotiate Peace (which had 
its own Intelligence Section) finally recommended a 
Commission to be sent to Turkey to investigate the proposal 
for the U. S. Mandate. Approved by President Wilson29, 
King-Crane Commission was formally charged with its 
specified duties by the Secretary of State R. Lansing on 30 
April 1919. On 29 May 1919, the King-Crane Commission, 
officially designated as the American Section of the Inter- 
Allied Commission on Mandates in Turkey, left Paris by rail.
The Commission first went to Syria and Iraq. The Turkish 
portion of the King-Crane Commission's investigations began 
on 23 July 1919, upon their arrival in Istanbul. On 31 July,
the Commission began interviews of all political parties.30 
     
Despite the censorship, on 1 August 1919, Istanbul 
newspapers report the arrival in Istanbul of an American 
Delegation, which contacted the representatives of all 
political parties there. This break in the apparent news 
embargo was perhaps because the King-Crane Commission made 
its presence widely-felt by contacting large groups of 
interested parties, to obtain their positions with a view 
toward reporting the entire spectrum to the Paris Peace 
Conference. Admiral Bristol's efforts finally bore fruit. 
Karabekir learned that a memorandum was adopted by an 
amalgamation of political groups in Istanbul, containing the
framework of an American Mandate, to be handed to the 
American delegation 13 August 1919.31 Consequently, the 
Erzurum Congress, which has been in session since 23 July 
(until 7 August 1919)32 sent a memorandum to President 
Wilson on the same day (1 August). It was probably also 
meant to remind all other parties of Wilson's 14 Points and the
fact that the Nationalists were aware of them.33 Among 
the objectives of the Nationalists was, it appears, to 
signal the resolve of the Nationalists to the interested 
parties, and display their intent not to tolerate 
indiscriminate political pressure.34  
     
On 7 August 1919 Rawlinson and his staff left the 
Eastern Asia Minor where they have been residing since the 
Armistice.35 On 9 August 1919, two Americans arrived in 
Erzurum by way of Diyarbakir-Van-Beyazit. Karabekir 
indicates that they evaded the question of what they were 
hoping to find. Karabekir surmises their mission was "to 
determine if the area is suitable for the 'mandate.'"36  
     
What began as a suggestion to the Nationalists to 
accept the American Mandate at the time of the Erzurum 
Congress, became a major campaign immediately afterwards. By
the time Sivas Congress was convened37, no less than three 
channels were working on the Nationalist leadership to 
persuade them at least to "consider" the American Mandate, 
if not outright adopt a resolution in favor of it at the 
Sivas Congress. Even a sample copy, to provide the bases of 
such a resolution, was supplied through two of the channels.
On 17 August 1919 a telegram from the III. Army Corps 
(Sivas) indicates that one Vasif Bey had forwarded a report 
on the American Mandate to Mustafa Kemal. Moreover, Vasif 
Bey desired to send two members of the American 
Investigative Committee [meaning the King-Crane Commission] 
to Erzurum, to discuss the wishes of the people38. Just 
about that time, in a cable sent to Karabekir on 23 June, 
Mustafa Kemal indicated he was considering the suitability 
of Bolshevism for the Movement.39  
     
The second channel was through Ismet Bey [Inn]40 to 
Karabekir. On 30 August 1919, a Staff Officer41 had brought 
the American Mandate proposals of Izzet Pasha42 by way of 
Ismet Bey from Istanbul to Trabzon43. On 4 September 1919, 
that Memorandum signed by Izzet Pasha reached Karabekir44. 
Ismet Bey sent along a personal letter to Karabekir urging 
him and the Representatives at the Erzurum Congress to give 
it due thought.45  
     
Efforts were also underway to relay the American 
Mandate Memorandum directly to the participants of the Sivas
Congress about to convene, attempting to "go over the heads"
of the Nationalist leadership. Karabekir delayed the 
dissemination of the Memorandum, and moreover refrained from
discussing it with anyone. Ismet Bey followed it up several 
times, writing even directly to Mustafa Kemal46, who 
relayed Ismet Bey's communication to Karabekir on 4 December
1919 with a request that the contents of the American 
Mandate Proposal ought not be made available to the 
Representative Council [the early nucleus of the TBMM]47. 
Ismet Bey wrote again to Karabekir specifically stating he 
was aware that the American Mandate Memorandum was in 
Karabekir's hands (on the strength of the courier's report 
who returned) and Karabekir ought to relay it to the 
Representative Council without further delay.48 By way of  
proof, Ismet Bey enclosed a telegram and its answer, one of 
the addressees and respondents was Mustafa Kemal, who flatly
stated that the Proposal had not arrived.49 
     
Vasif Bey was also attempting to make the existence of 
the American Mandate proposal public by disseminating it 
more widely. For the purpose, he informed the III. Army 
Corps (Sivas) Command that copies were sent to others. News 
of these actions reached Karabekir.50 Vasif Bey also 
contacted the XX. Army Corps (Ankara) Commander Ali Fuat51, 
who was a close friend of Mustafa Kemal. In turn, Ali Fuat 
also notified Karabekir of the communication.52 Finally, 
Karabekir wrote a terse cable to Ismet Bey, sending a 
verbatim copy to the Representative Council, which included 
Mustafa Kemal.53 In no uncertain terms, Karabekir 
reiterated that the Erzurum and Sivas Congresses constitute 
the decisions of the people, therefore ought not to be 
evaded. Mustafa Kemal thanked Karabekir, adding he entirely 
agreed with Karabekir's position.54 Karabekir notes that 
three days later (on 9 January 1920) the Bolsheviks occupied
Odessa and the U. S. vessels in Istanbul received orders to 
return stateside.55 In the end, although the Paris Peace 
Conference had agreed to a U. S. Mandate, and in 
competition, the British continued work to establish a 
British Mandate on the same territory, there was to be no 
outright mandate as originally envisioned.  
     
It is of interest to raise a question, with several 
parts: Who on the U. S. side gathered the necessary 
intelligence to link Izzet Pasha-Ismet Bey-Kazim Karabekir 
and Ali Fuat with Mustafa Kemal?56 Who managed to obtain a 
Memorandum in favor of the American Mandate from Izzet Pasha
and transmitted it to Karabekir? Performance of these tasks 
suggests the existence of not only an information gathering 
network, but also an operational capability --since Istanbul
was under Allied occupation, and the occupying forces 
controlled all governmental functions, especially the 
appointments and movements of the Ottoman army officers. As 
the U. S. was not an occupying power, how was it that a 
memorandum directly opposing the position of the occupying 
powers was being relayed through Ottoman channels? Moreover,
because the King-Crane Commission did not leave Istanbul to 
investigate, and instead invited a myriad of individuals and
committees to come and present their opinions, the views of 
the Nationalists in Asia Minor were not represented before 
the King-Crane Commission, except by unsanctioned proxy.57 
Although the Harbord Commission made an attempt at least to 
see the land, it arrived after most of the cited initiatives
were already completed. Consequently, the Harbord Commission
could not have played a role in getting the American Mandate
Proposal to the Nationalist leadership. It is unlikely that 
the King-Crane Commission could have collected and sifted 
through the information, identified opportunities, built the
channels and acted (including securing leave of absence and 
travel permit for the courier officer), all within two 
weeks. So the original question stands: Who was able to perform
all of the foregoing? One possibility, the logical 
one, is Admiral Bristol. Although Karabekir does not 
specifically record, it appears he, too, maintained contact 
with Admiral Bristol by way of unofficial 
representatives.58 
     
The Harbord Commission sailed from Brest on the U.S.S. 
Martha Washington on 20 August 1919 and arrived in Istanbul 
on 2 September. The Harbord Commission report was completed 
on 16 October 1919, on board ship.59 In the intervening 
period, General Harbord met Mustafa Kemal on 20 September 
1919, who informed Karabekir.60 Karabekir not only already 
knew of the impending arrival of General Harbord, but was 
aware of the composition of his retinue, the types of 
questionnaires they carried, the questions they asked others
on the way, and their itinerary.61 General Harbord arrived 
in Erzurum on 25 September 1919, was welcomed in the best 
tradition and ceremonies by Karabekir and his Staff. Dinner 
was served in the Headquarters dining hall, decorated with 
U. S. and Turkish flags for the occasion, in accompaniment 
to a live trio of piano, violin and flute. Next to each 
American officer sat a foreign language speaking member of 
Karabekir's Staff. These gestures were not lost on the 
visiting delegation. Karabekir also prepared a detailed 
report directly addressing the Commission's concerns and 
presented it to General Harbord.62 The two men also held 
lengthy private talks, apparently speaking French, and 
attended plays staged by war orphans being cared for by 
Karabekir and the XV. Army Corps (Erzurum).63 Karabekir had 
earlier written the plays himself.  
     
The other mandate seekers, with pecuniary and political
ambitions, were not yet prepared to leave the scene. Several
local dignitaries and former officials affiliated with the 
occupation government in Istanbul appeared in the Malatya- 
Diyarbakir region in the company of Major Noel of the 
British Army.64 Intelligence reports started pouring onto 
Karabekir's desk.65 A number of the visitors were 
specifically sent from Istanbul for the occasion.66 All had 
previously held high administrative positions particularly 
in Eastern Asia Minor, and reportedly had accepted payments 
between one hundred fifty to over two hundred thousand 
Pounds Sterling each, and were expending efforts to cause a 
"tribal incident" in Eastern Asia Minor.67 Such an 
"incident" involving the Kurds would have prepared the 
international public opinion for a politically acceptable 
occupation and division of all Asia Minor. That would also 
have forced the U. S. government to rescind Article 12 of 
Wilson's Memorandum, thereby removing from the equation the 
Nationalists, who were preventing both the occupation and 
the mandate.68 Acting jointly, Commanders of the XIII. 
(Diyarbakir), III. (Sivas), and XV. (Erzurum) Corps 
concentrated their efforts towards preventing any staged 
incident from taking place within their jurisdictions.69 
Orders and detachments went out to arrest the named 
dignitaries and ex-administrators, who returned hastily to
 Istanbul via Aleppo.70 On 6 September 1919, a compilation 
of the "Crimes of the Cabinet" in Istanbul was drafted and 
sent to the Sivas Congress, followed by a detailed expose of
the plotters.71  
     
At that point, Istanbul occupation governments 
attempted to consolidate the "troubles" in Asia Minor in the
crucible of "Bolshevism." On 19 September 1919, while the 
Harbord Commission was investigating the conditions in Asia 
Minor, Prime Minister Damat Ferit gave an interview to a 
French wire service, which was duly reported in the Istanbul
papers. Damat Ferit asserted that beginning with the Samsun 
and Trabzon regions, Asia Minor was falling into the hands 
of the Bolshevik inspired groups. Since Bolshevism was 
already understood to be against religion and tradition, the
interview was meant to incite the population against the 
"Bolshevik inspired groups" in Asia Minor.72 To counter the 
propaganda in kind, Nationalists had appropriately worded 
petitions sent directly to the Sultan in Istanbul, with 
copies to General Harbord.73 By the beginning of 1920, as 
the Bolshevik armies started pushing Denikin's forces South,
this type of public opinion campaigns began proliferating. 
They were to reach monumental proportions after the defeat 
of Denikin forces became public knowledge.74 
 
BOLSHEVISM 
Halil and Nuri Pashas75, who were arrested and imprisoned 
by the British in Batum, inexplicably managed a 
jailbreak. Both individually began private operations in the
Caucasus against the Bolsheviks, continually urging 
Karabekir to support them militarily. Karabekir, long 
familiar with the pair, remained unconvinced of the 
propriety and utility of their activities and argued that 
their initiatives were tantamount to adventurism. Having 
fought the tsarist Russian armies in the First World War, 
Karabekir was not a Russophile. Neither a Russophobe, 
Karabekir looked upon the Bolshevik movement as a possible 
lever against the occupying Allies who were endeavoring to 
physically surround the TBMM movement. He was aware, too, 
that the Allies were expending an all out effort to contain 
the Bolsheviks north of the Caucasus, and hoped to use the 
small independent states of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia 
as a buffer zone between the Russians and the Middle East. 
This was also planned by way of another "Mandate," and, 
inter alia, the Italians were being encouraged to take this 
assignment.76 All three Caucasus states had declared 
independence in 1918, and the first two were granted de 
facto recognition early in 1920, after Denikin's defeat. All
three sent delegations to the Paris Peace Conference,77 but 
not all gained "full accreditation." Karabekir's analysis 
indicated that under no circumstances would these three 
Republics be able to contain a Bolshevik military advance, 
for they lacked not only organization, trained cadres, but 
also the population. Therefore, Karabekir thought, only a
 political solution could save these three entities.78 He 
endeavored to provide any such help that was feasible under 
the circumstances.79 
     
Cognizant of the critical importance of collecting 
reliable and continuous information, after consulting with 
Rauf Bey80 and Mustafa Kemal, Karabekir sent Doctor Fuat 
Sabit to Moscow81. The aim was to maintain close contact 
with the intentions and actions of the Bolsheviks. As noted 
earlier, Mustafa Kemal was also making demarches concerning 
Bolshevism.82 Moreover, Karabekir had established 
intelligence links into the Caucasus, at times sending 
officers from his command. The information flow is evident 
from the contents of the copious circulars Karabekir was 
telegraphing to the other Army Corps and the TBMM 
leadership.  
     
Meanwhile, skirmishes between the French colonial 
forces and the citizens of Antep, Marash and Adana began. 
Later the fighting spread to Urfa and environs. The French 
withdrew.83 Contacts with the Italians in the Antalya 
region was under observation. The British were attempting to
recruit junior Ottoman army officers, even encouraging them 
to desert from Karabekir's Command, for the military units 
to be fleshed out by the Caucasians, whose sole aim would be
to fight the Bolsheviks. All publications, domestic or 
foreign, were awash with news of Bolshevik military 
advances. Concurrently, news of social unrest in the home 
countries of the occupying Allied Powers were being touted. 
Some were premature, or exaggerated, but the general tenor 
was not entirely misleading. The Istanbul government, under 
the leadership of Damat Ferit and Ali Kemal, was also 
increasing its Bolshevik attributions to the TBMM movement, 
to turn the support of the Turkish population away from the 
TBMM. For a while, it appeared that the Bolshevik propaganda
had gained the upper hand. The TBMM seriously began 
considering this new development.84 The TBMM leadership had 
to prepare simultaneously for both war and peace, an 
inherently demanding set of circumstances, both against the 
internal and external adversaries, in political and military
arenas. 
     
Once again, Rawlinson appeared in Erzurum, around 
February 1920. He and Karabekir paid courtesy visits to each
other. Rawlinson was interested in discovering the extent of
Karabekir's knowledge concerning developments then in 
progress in the Caucasus and about the Bolsheviks. Aware of 
Rawlinson's communications with the British Istanbul Center 
via long and cyphered telegrams, Karabekir simply suggested 
that Rawlinson could directly ask Batum (where the British 
also maintained a Center) or Istanbul. Next day, Karabekir 
received a cable from Sevket Turgut Pasha (at that moment, 
the Chief of the Ottoman General Staff of the Occupied 
Istanbul government)85 posing basically the same type of 
questions put to him by Rawlinson the previous evening. 
Karabekir, considering this a new tack, provided an outline 
of information generally available.86  During the following few
days Karabekir was sending a much different set of 
cyphered telegrams to other Army Corps Commanders and the 
Representative Council, providing specific intelligence. In 
contrast to the intelligence summaries sent from the 
Representative Council in Ankara to Karabekir during those 
days, it appears Karabekir's network possessed more reliable
sources, at least pertaining to the East.  
     
Next, Rawlinson began probing Karabekir for a military 
operation, encouraging him to reclaim the three Eastern 
Ottoman Provinces lost to the tsarists during 1877, and 
again in 1914 campaigns.87 In the light of the other 
information available to him, Karabekir concluded that the 
British no longer had faith in any other means of containing
the Bolsheviks except by the "use" of the TBMM forces. As a 
side benefit, Karabekir thought, such an action by the TBMM 
would have eliminated the TBMM military resistance to the 
occupying powers in Istanbul. As the means of containing 
Bolshevism, the transition in Allied thinking from direct 
Mandate plans to encouraging the Anti-Bolshevism of TBMM 
began. But, this was not entirely obvious to the TBMM.88 
The principal TBMM concern was that the TBMM territories 
were in danger of being entirely and completely surrounded 
by hostile forces, eventually drowning the movement. 
Therefore, the TBMM leadership had to consider all 
possibilities of preventing that anticipated encirclement. 
In that endeavor, the Bolsheviks could be either an ally, or
an adversary. The Bolsheviks could aid the TBMM in breaking 
the blockade of the Allies, or, if the TBMM leadership did 
not resist, engulf and devour the TBMM themselves in 
accordance with earlier tsarist goals and plans.89 In fact, 
shortly afterwards, it became clear that the Bolsheviks 
merely postponed their overt plans of demanding land90, and 
were about to mount a "revolutionary movement" from within 
the TBMM territories, preferrably beginning in Ankara91. 
For the purpose, a Turkish Communist Party was already 
established and became "operational" in Baku. In addition, 
during 1920-1921 the Bolshevik government was funding Enver 
Pasha in Moscow, who in turn was preparing a secret 
organization out of previous CUP personnel to take over the 
TBMM movement. The intentions and the direction of the 
Bolshevik philosophy and policies was just gaining clarity 
in the minds of the TBMM leadership. 
     
For its own part, Moscow was hard at work.92 Lenin 
made no secret of his intentions, according to Times 
[London] of 16 January 1920, which reached Karabekir on 25 
February 1920. The circumstances required immediate sorting 
of the information.93 One cable from Rauf Bey, in the 
context of reports from Dr. Fuat Sabit, allowed a modicum of
comparison.94 Dr. Fuat's letters provided information on 
the Bolshevik leadership's thoughts and pointed to British 
plans to form a confederation involving Southern Azerbaijan,
and the portion of Azerbaijan Democratic Republic95, then 
independent, previously occupied by the tsarist regime.96 
However, that channel was about to outlive its usefulness, if
indeed it ever was of any true help. Dr. Fuat had been 
coopted by the Bolsheviks.97 
     
On 16 March 1920, the British forces launched a night- 
time attack on Ottoman troops, while they slept, in 
Istanbul. The British occupied the Chambers of the recently 
elected Representative Assembly (Meclisi Mebusan), the 
Ministry of War, and later the telegraph offices. The TBMM 
leadership in Ankara had received early warning of the event
a day earlier, "from Italian sources."98  Immediately 
afterwards, the Representatives of the Occupying Powers 
(signing with that designation only) telegraphed a circular 
letter to all provinces, asking the Governors and other 
officials in charge to inform the population of a series of 
arrests (including the Deputies) and new orders, in 
favorable words and report back immediately. Karabekir 
ordered that Governors in the XV. Army Corps region should 
not answer the cable at all.99 Karabekir also ordered 
Rawlinson be taken into protective custody, preferably 
within the confines of his residence.100 Rawlinson 
voluntarily withdrew the Union Jack he was flying from the 
upper floors of his house.101 Rawlinson and Karabekir 
exchanged very polite messages, conveying understanding of 
the circumstances to each other.102 
     
On 17 March 1920, Karabekir sent additional officers 
from his command to Azerbaijan, in order to gather reliable 
information on the Bolshevik movements. On the same day, 
three Bolsheviks, sent by Lenin to Istanbul seven months 
earlier, surfaced in the vicinity of Trabzon. They were on 
their way to Batum and had been charged with the duty of 
establishing contacts with individuals and political parties
favorable to Bolshevism and to found an organization.103 
This Bolshevik Delegation had a list of questions, the 
contents of which were cabled to Karabekir. Karabekir 
provided answers via the 3rd Division in Trabzon. He also 
advised the TBMM leadership in Ankara. In response, Mustafa 
Kemal, writing on behalf of the TBMM on 18 March 1920, 
cabled his complete agreement with Karabekir's comments to 
the said Delegation. Ankara leadership also agreed with 
Karabekir's recommendations to convene the TBMM in Ankara, 
with the participation of those Representatives who had 
escaped British arrest in Istanbul.104 Subsequently it was 
learned that Rauf Bey and Vasif Bey were forcibly detained 
by the Allies, press and communications censorship tightened
in Istanbul.105  
     
On 23 March 1920, two Bolshevik Inspectors [no names 
cited] arrived in the vicinity of Trabzon,106 to rendezvous 
with Batum Bolsheviks. One of whom stated he was sent from 
Moscow to gather information on the conditions in Batum. An 
officer representing Karabekir was also present in the 
meeting, by prior arrangement.107 The Bolsheviks provided 
information on their strength, conditions in the Caucasus, 
their own programs. They appeared to have detailed knowledge
on the activities of Halil and Nuri Pashas. Karabekir sent 
an additional set of questions and received answers. The
 Inspectors did not possess authority to negotiate but 
indicated that they would request a Plenipotentiary from 
Moscow for the purpose, and suggested a counterpart be 
designated from the Turkish side. In fact a three man 
delegation had already been sent to Istanbul some two months
earlier; it was headed by one Can Bey, and included a 
colonel and an engineer. Moreover, a person authorized to 
speak on the affairs of the Caucasus was about to arrive in 
Tbilisi [presumably from Moscow], and he would be invited to
Batum. They also asserted that many German engineers, 
officers had joined the Bolsheviks, bringing along their 
weapons and industrial plants. The two individuals returned 
to Batum on 25 March.108  
     
Karabekir established two more intelligence gathering 
points, in Kars and Sarikamis. On 25 March, an armed 
skirmish took place between the National Forces [Kuvai 
Milliye]109 and the British units in the vicinity of 
Izmit.110 On 26 March, a wireless set became operational in 
Erzurum, began gathering open news broadcasts by all 
parties. Two others were established in Bayazit and Van.111 
On 27 March, a French representative resident in Trabzon 
provided personal opinions to the Governor of the province, 
and requested contact with Karabekir, indicating his 
opposition to British policies and promising to work in 
favor of the TBMM cause in the Paris Peace Conference. 
Karabekir sent word that such matters required the attention
of TBMM in Ankara. Separately, Rawlinson proposed to serve 
as a mediator between the TBMM and the British Headquarters 
in Istanbul. The suggestion was accepted by the TBMM side, 
but rejected by the British Istanbul Headquarters. Those 
previous members of the Representative Assembly managing to 
break through the Allied blockade began arriving in Ankara. 
Among them were author Halide Edib [Adivar]112, President 
of the Assembly Celaleddin Arif Bey, as well as Ismet Bey 
[Inn]. 
     
On 11 April, Artillery Lieutenant Ibrahim Efendi 
returned from Baku, after having established contact, as 
ordered, with Halil and Nuri Pashas. The letters he carried 
were signed "Turkish Communist Party" and with its 
abbreviation, TKP. A significant item in the letters was the
request for a Plenipotentiary from the TBMM side, to 
coordinate actions with the Bolshevik organizers in Baku, 
whose names and duties were also noted.113 Karabekir 
relayed the information to TBMM, including its appendix of 
organization charts. Next day, Karabekir was notified of the
arrival of another courier, Riza Bey, the Commander of the 
7th Regiment, 3rd Division, XV. Army Corps. The letter he 
carried was signed Baha Sait114, containing more 
information on the Bolsheviks, including the news that the 
Plenipotentiary sent by Moscow to Istanbul was on his way 
back and arrived in Baku from Istanbul. Baha Sait's letter 
was also relayed to Ankara, in cyphered sections. Karabekir 
saw the need to pose a question to Mustafa Kemal: "...In his
letter, Baha Sait often refers to an Agreement signed in your
name115 in Istanbul, and handed to the Bolshevik 
Plenipotentiary. I surmise this is the agreement relayed to 
you by Rauf Bey [Orbay]. A copy of it shall be 
appreciated."116  
     
The next day, Karabekir sent a longer cable to Mustafa 
Kemal, providing comments: "...it seems plausible that the 
said Agreement may have been seen by a Delegation of the 
Istanbul Government [membership in which is] as yet unknown 
to us....Baha Sabit Bey's Chief of Staff is a Russian....the
declaration made by the Istanbul Government following their 
occupation [of the Meclisi Mebusan] and related threats, to 
the Provincial Governors in the said circular to prevent any
cooperation with the Bolsheviks, indicate Istanbul's 
[Allies'] awareness of this Agreement....Yusuf Ziya Bey 
arrived from Baku with [an unspecified amount of] money, 
went to Oltu. He attempted activities which he tried to keep
secret from me [he and apparently TKP acting on its 
own]....Bolsheviks requesting our military intervention by 
the XV. Army Corps in the Caucasus during the winter months 
require careful evaluation...."117 
     
Mustafa Kemal responded with a short cable, requesting 
that Karabekir establish contacts with the Bolsheviks at the
earliest possible time, noting the Ankara group was aware 
and appreciative of all previous demarches made by 
Karabekir. Karabekir wrote back a long answer, first 
outlining the background of all past contacts with the 
Bolsheviks through his command, adding his analysis of what 
the Bolsheviks are trying to do against his forces and his 
precautions. Since "....Halil and Nuri Pashas no longer 
constitute a viable channel, it is imperative that a TBMM 
Plenipotentiary be sent to Moscow without delay to establish
direct contact..."118  On 15 April 1920, Mustafa Kemal 
cabled the following: "I reiterate, the Agreement referenced
by Baha Sabit Bey, was not signed by me. Copy of the said 
document follows." The "Agreement" in question stated that 
it has been contracted between the Usak Congress and the 
"Karakol Cemiyeti"119 on one side, both of whom 
representing the Turkish Revolution, and the [unnamed] 
Caucasus Plenipotentiary of the Ishtirakiyun [Social 
Democrat] Party Central Committee, acting on behalf of the 
People's Commissars of the Rusya Mttehit Sovyetler 
Cumhuriyeti [Russian Soviet Federated Republic]. It further 
stated that Baha Sait Bey was signatory on behalf of the 
Usak Congress and the Karakol Cemiyeti, as their 
Plenipotentiary accredited to Caucasus. Signed on 11 January
1920 in Baku.120 
     
Mustafa Kemal followed up with another cable, with two 
supplements. "The said Agreement was sent for signature by 
Kara Vasif Bey.121 Following are the answers I sent in 
response to that proposal, and the [separate] letter I wrote
to Rauf Bey. I absolutely did not sign [the Agreement]. Baha
Sait Bey is constructing falsehoods. If Kara Vasif Bey had 
signed it on behalf of the Karakol Cemiyeti without our 
knowledge, we repudiate it. As we shall not undertake any action
in that regard without your knowledge, participation 
and agreement....you may refute it [in any strength] as you 
think necessary..."122  Karabekir surmised that Baha Sait's 
position was weakened when the local Bolsheviks in the 
Caucasus realized that TBMM side was in high level contacts 
with the Bolsheviks through Dr. Fuat and Halil Pasha, and 
that Baha Sait was not representing the TBMM. Baha Sait thus
endeavored to regain credibility by engineering such an 
Agreement and that may be the reason behind the Bolshevik 
requests for a TBMM Plenipotentiary. Karabekir apparently 
was partially correct, since the Karakol Cemiyeti was being 
funded by the Bolsheviks through Enver Pasha; quite apart 
from the TKP.  After that evaluation, Karabekir sent two 
cables to the Representative Council in Ankara on 18 April 
1920. The first was in response to the cable of 15 April, 
proposing the specific personnel to constitute the advance 
military delegation being sent to Baku, to be later followed
by the full Commission. The second telegram outlined the 
instructions to the military delegation Karabekir proposed 
to send. As no response was forthcoming from Ankara, 
Karabekir dryly notes that he repeated the cables on the 
22nd, 23rd, and 26th, finally receiving answers on the 27th 
of April.123 
     
TBMM was officially convened for the first time on 23 
April 1920.124 After the installation of Mustafa Kemal as 
TBMM Chairman, Karabekir implies that his primary political 
objectives were accomplished.125 However, the Bolshevik 
issue was gaining momentum and importance. On 15 April 1920,
Karabekir circulated a declaration addressed to "everywhere,
including Istanbul" containing a synopsis of all available 
information on prevailing conditions within Bolshevik 
occupied territories and lands adjacent. The declaration 
contained specific section headings on the Tatars, Kirghiz, 
Bashkurt, Sart, Turkmen and Yomut126 as a part of the 
overall analysis. In due course, Karabekir even mentions 
Zeki Velidi [Togan] by name among leaders of the National 
Liberation Movements in that region.127 Karabekir also 
urged Mustafa Kemal, as Chairman of the TBMM, to broadcast a
Declaration on TBMM relations, expected or actual, with "the
servants of the Istanbul Government" as well as with the 
Bolsheviks.128 
     
On 26 April 1920, the response desired by Karabekir 
arrived129. TBMM approved his plan that a military 
delegation to be sent to Baku, and the contents of the 
communication they were to carry. TBMM officially was asking
for money from the Moscow government.130  Karabekir added a 
separate questionnaire to be answered by the Bolshevik side,
and a letter to the Turkish Communist Party in Baku. Before 
the designated delegation could leave, the news of Red 
Army's occupation of Baku on 28 April 1920 arrived. The 
travelling route through Batum was now closed. A second 
venue through Nakchevan was established and new letters had 
to be written; they were sent on 5 May. The Istanbul 
government was beginning to increase the pressure on the 
civilian bureaucracy through fresh appointments from 
Istanbul, to displace those Prefercts and Governors loyal to
TBMM. Apparently, not all of the Istanbul appointees 
actually tried hard to take up their appointments within the
TBMM territories, but the TBMM was not at ease and 
endeavored to counter all such initiatives. Karabekir also 
suggested the publication of a foreign language newspaper 
for distribution abroad.131 There were also the usual 
frictions among colleagues and friends that take place 
during highly-charged times.132 
     
As a means of countering increasing propaganda from 
Istanbul, TBMM sent a congratulatory cable to the recently 
established Orenburg Government for distribution in the 
"East," on 29 April 1920, along with a new Declaration of 
the TBMM.133 The telegraphers, to whom the TBMM movement 
owed an immense debt, founded the Association of 
Professional Telegraphers in Defense of the Motherland, and 
informed Karabekir. Acutely aware of their inestimable 
contribution to the Independence Movement efforts, Karabekir
heartily congratulated the membership of this new society 
(perhaps the first professional association in the TBMM era)
via an open letter published in the (probably the Albayrak 
in Erzurum),134 local paper.135  
     
On 2 May 1920, TBMM announced the establishment of its 
standing executive committee, the Council of Ministers. The 
monetary crisis in Ankara forced Mustafa Kemal on 3 May 1920
to ask Karabekir to request funds from the Azerbaijan 
government.136 On 5 May, as noted above, not knowing how 
the newly Bolshevik Azerbaijan government was going to 
react, and having lost the Batum channel, Karabekir opened 
another via Bayazit and Oltu. A new letter was sent to the 
Turkish Communist Party in Baku. Simultaneously, Karabekir 
wrote to TBMM, urging them not to delay the decision on 
sending a Plenipotentiary to Moscow. Meanwhile, Peace 
Conference deliberations were continually being discussed by
the daily media in Europe, drawing ever changing lines of 
influence by various powers on the map.137 Istanbul 
government was also assigning new Extraordinary Inspectors 
for Asia Minor, but the appointees were rarely leaving 
Istanbul. Also, attempts were being made to establish quasi-
military units loyal to the Istanbul government to fight the
TBMM forces. Fighting between the invading Bolshevik armies 
and the Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijan forces was 
continuing while the TBMM borders in the East began to be 
violated. There were disagreements between the TBMM 
leadership and Karabekir as to how best to deal with these 
conditions. Politics, internal and external, began to clash 
with military strategy among the TBMM leadership, as the 
Bolshevik armies proceeded bloodily to occupy Caucasian 
territories. Karabekir continually circulated the latest 
intelligence available on the developing conditions.138  
     
On 25 May 1920, the TBMM Delegation to Moscow, 
comprising Bekir Sami (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Yusuf 
Kemal Bey (Minister of Economy), and three staff members,   
arrived in Erzurum. On the 27th, Karabekir read the 
instructions given to this Plenipotentiary Delegation, dated
8 May, and discussed its provisions with the Ministers.139 
On 30 May 1920, Karabekir warned TBMM that San Remo 
Conference140 was bankrupt, therefore armed struggle might 
become the only available venue to assure independence.141 
On 6 June 1920, in the face of approaching Bolshevik armies,
TBMM ordered Karabekir to reclaim Elviyei Selasiye (the 
Ottoman administrative term for the territories lost to 
tsarists during 1877 and 1914 campaigns), which were 
restored to the Ottomans by the Brest-Litovsk treaty of 3 
March 1918. Mobilization orders went out. On 15 June 1920, 
the courier officer, Artillery Lieutenant Ibrahim Efendi 
arrived from Moscow. This Lieutenant had conveyed the first 
TBMM Declaration to Moscow, now was bringing a letter from 
the Soviet Foreign Affairs Commissar Chicherin (dated 3 June
1920), addressed to the Chairman of TBMM. Upon reading the 
letter, Karabekir concluded that Bolsheviks, too, wanted to 
detach land from the TBMM. There were also letters from 
Doctor Fuat Sabit Bey (now signing as the Representative of 
the Baku Turk Communist Party), Bahaddin Sakir Bey, Ahmet 
Cemal Pasha142 and Halil Pasha, who were all in Moscow.143 
On 23 June 1920 Karabekir wrote to the Red Army Commander in
Baku, asking for facilitation of safe passage of the TBMM 
Plenipotentiary Delegation.144  
     
According to orders of TBMM, Karabekir's XV. Army Corps
began the re-possession maneuvers. Immediately afterwards, a
series of elliptical cables from Ankara told Karabekir to 
pause and consider the Bolshevik proposal of establishing a 
"Caucasus Federation." On 27 June 1920 the TBMM Delegation 
left Erzurum for Moscow. Next day, another courier was sent 
from Trabzon to Moscow, via Tuapse. Destitute refugees began
streaming into TBMM territories from the East, fleeing the 
Bolsheviks of all types while the XV. Army Corps 
reconnaissance patrols come under fire. During the night of 
9/10 July, the TBMM Delegation finally left TBMM territories
aboard a motorboat, from Trabzon to Tuapse. They sent their 
first wireless message from Moscow informing Karabekir of 
their arrival on the 19th, by a special train sent to 
collect them from Tuapse, which they boarded on the 
12th.145 On 5 July 1920 Rawlinson volunteered to be 
exchanged for the detainees in Malta. Karabekir passed the 
message on to Ankara, and the proposal was eventually 
carried out. It is interesting that Rawlinson, under house 
arrest and surveillance, knew of the developments in 
Istanbul.146 
     
Karabekir notes that earlier he had sent a delegation 
led by the Commander of the 12th Infantry Division, Lt. Col.
Resat Bey, to contact the Red Army. Information pertaining 
to the troop movements of the Red Army being deployed in 
Nakchevan now began arriving. This news was disturbing to 
the civil population in Erzurum, who had no particular 
affinity toward the Bolsheviks. Karabekir had to assure the 
local civilian leadership that TBMM had no intention of  
becoming Bolshevik, but had to establish contact with them 
and even seek their material help. The officers thus sent 
from the XV. Army Corps removed their Ottoman style gold 
braid epaulets, sensitive to the hostility of the Bolshevik 
side to such decorations. Karabekir immediately redesigned 
the entire slate of rank insignia for the XV. Army Corps, to
prevent both Bolshevik contamination and confusion with the 
old Ottoman army, and informed Ankara.  
     
On 27 July 1920, two officers arrived from Northern 
Caucasus and provided a report.147 Despite the written 
guarantees given to the Northern Caucasus populations by the
Bolsheviks, those promises were not being kept. On 2 August 
1920, Prefect of Zor, comrade Salih Zeki (in the company of 
comrade Nureddin) visited Karabekir at his field 
Headquarters. The two comrades made a case for a Bolshevik 
TBMM, asserted the existence of Bolshevik organizations in 
Asia Minor. They planned to visit Ankara to argue their 
position. Despite Karabekir's best efforts, Bolshevik 
propaganda was taking root, even in Erzurum, which centered 
around the proposed establishment of various "peoples 
governments."148 On 3 August, Karabekir issued an order to 
his officers, forbidding low level contacts with the Baku 
Turkish Communist Party officials. On the 4th, Karabekir 
circulated a more comprehensive declaration to his entire 
command, with detailed information on the political and 
military conditions. Mustafa Subhi asked and obtained 
permission to visit TBMM in Ankara.149  
     
On 5 August 1920, a telephone message arrived from 
Halil Pasha, indicating the shipment from Moscow to Ankara 
of 500kg of gold in six crates, a complete wireless 
telegraph station capable of instituting direct 
communications between Moscow and Ankara. In addition, two 
"Muslim Staff Officers" of the Red Army and the First 
Secretary of the Bolshevik Embassy to Ankara were 
accompanying Halil Pasha. Signing as "Comrade Halil," he 
further indicated the planned shipment of munitions. On 7 
August, General Staff of the Red Army provided order of 
battle information to Karabekir. "Comrade Halil" supplied 
political intelligence on 8 August, the contents of which 
were passed on to TBMM.150  
     
Karabekir notes that a delegation was requested from 
his region, to attend the Bolshevik Congress in Baku.151 
Karabekir added two of his officers to the group, to observe
the conditions. Some of the participating civilians were 
apprehensive. Karabekir lectured the delegation, assuring 
them the TBMM leadership intention was not to adoption of 
Bolshevism, however it had to be taken into account and 
studied. Thus it was their duty to learn, not to be caught 
unawares. Another cypher from "Comrade Halil" indicated a 
larger sum of gold was scheduled to arrive in the company of
the Bolshevik Ambassador. There was also another letter from
Cemal Pasha to Mustafa Kemal.152 On 15 August 1920, another 
courier officer, Lieutenant Serif Efendi, arrived from Baku.
He had had interviews with the 11th Red Army Commander   
Levandovksi on 9 July 1920, Ordjonikidze on 17 July 1920, 
the Azerbaijan War Commissar Ali Haydar Karayev, Head of the
Turkish Social Democrat Organization [sic] Mustafa Subhi, 
and Turkistan Deputy Minister of War, Emirhanov. 
     
On 27 August 1920, the Embassy of the Soviet government
arrived in Karakose, in the company of Halil Pasha.153 On 3 
September 1920. TBMM Chief of Staff Ismet Bey informed the 
XV. Army Corps that TBMM was considering a move to Sivas due
to the Western Front [i. e. Greek Armies] moving closer East
and its anticipated effects on Ankara. Karabekir disagreed, 
regarding such a move as a display of weakness.154 On the 
same day, another cable from TBMM General Staff, signed by 
Ismet Bey stated "The arriving Russian delegation exhibits 
the signs of an intelligence and administrative control 
organ charged with the duty of organizing the country for 
revolution, rather than a Diplomatic Embassy. It is 
unacceptable and unexplainable that they have left telegraph
equipment and personnel in Bayazit....The English and 
Germans had acted similarly, established direct and 
independent communication links [with their superiors] upon 
setting foot in our country....It is apparent from the 2 
September 1920 decision of the Heyeti Vekile (Executive 
Committee, or, the Cabinet of the TBMM) there is a movement 
to effect a communist revolution, enslave and turn the 
country over to the Bolshevik objectives...."155  
     
On the same day another courier officer [Kamil Efendi] 
arrived from Moscow. He reported having been thoroughly 
examined in Tuapse by the Russians, the nature of whose 
questions betrayed the intentions and thoughts of his 
interrogators. This officer's cyphers [implied to be sent 
from Tuapse] required four days to reach the TBMM 
Plenipotentiary in Moscow. He was later confronted by an 
individual named Mustafa Nafi, who earlier held privileges 
in Istanbul,156 claiming to be a true communist, "unlike 
Mustafa Subhi."  He now carried a map on which the Bolshevik
flag was depicted over Istanbul, and expressed his wish to 
plant the communist flag on St. Sophia personally. He 
further asserted he was a Turkish language instructor at the
Red Army Communist Staff and Command School. Kamil Efendi 
observed the presence in Moscow literally hundreds of 
individuals claiming to represent "Turkiye." The courier 
officer also learned that the guards posted in front of the 
building to which the TBMM Plenipotentiary Delegation was 
assigned were ordered not to reveal anyone the identities or
affiliations of the individuals staying in the building. No 
one was to see the TBMM Delegation except by special permit.
Enver Pasha arrived in Moscow, held talks with Lenin, and 
Lt. Kamil Efendi secured an audience with Enver Pasha [who 
also met with the TBMM Plenipotentiary Delegation in 
Moscow], who spoke at length of saving the "country." Kamil 
Efendi's final comments pertained to the extreme scarcity of
food in Moscow, and the meagerness of the rations provided 
even to the Plenipotentiary Delegation, which consisted of a
loaf of bread, tea, "cabbage soup" and corn gruel.157 
     
After reading this report, Karabekir wrote a letter to 
Enver Pasha and sent it via a courier officer, reminding him
of their earlier friendship, asking him to refrain from 
adventurism under any guise.158 Karabekir adds a personal 
observation: "Every individual, especially those holding 
responsible positions, ought to consider the nature and 
origin of all ideas prior to acting on them. Otherwise they 
should know they will cause harm to their nations."159 
     
On 7 September 1920 the Bolshevik Embassy Delegation 
was invited to the plays staged by the War Orphans cared for
by the XV. Army Corps. Among the Delegation members were the
First Secretary Opmal and the Military Attache Bakirof, who 
is reported by Karabekir to be a Turk. Opmal asserted the 
need for the Turkish Communist Party to act openly and 
freely to convince Moscow that TBMM is actively anti- 
imperialist. By means of examples, Opmal painted a picture 
of government-owned means of production and command economy.
Simultaneously, Bolshevik propaganda began its assault on 
the XV. Army Corps personnel.160  Next day, the shipment of 
gold arriving from Moscow reached Erzurum, where 200kg of 
which was retained by the XV. Army Corps. The remainder was 
forwarded to Ankara.  
     
On 20 September 1920, Mustafa Kemal instructed 
Karabekir to establish contact with the Georgians, and begin
reclaiming the territories lost to the Russians during 1877 
and again in 1914. Having prepared for the occasion 
previously, Karabekir moved his headquarters out of Erzurum.
Domestic intrigues once again required immediate attention, 
in this instance, in Erzurum itself. Karabekir had to rush 
back and investigate. This time it proved to be an easily 
soluble problem. After a series of personnel reassignments, 
Karabekir invited the 3rd Division (Trabzon) Commander Col. 
Rst Bey to become the Acting Commander, XV. Army Corps, 
while he himself was Commanding the Eastern Front. Karabekir
asked Col. Rst Bey to transport the one million gold 
rubles brought from Moscow by Lieutenant Ibrahim Efendi, 
from Trabzon to Erzurum. On 7 October, Karabekir returned to
his field headquarters at the front. On 30 October, 
Karabekir entered Kars and found there an officer reporting 
to Admiral Bristol.161 On 3 November 1920 the Bolshevik 
Plenipotentiary [a Georgian, later Ambassador to TBMM] 
Mdivani162, indicating he has received a cable from the 
Commissar of Foreign Affairs, asked Karabekir whether the 
Mutual Friendship Treaty arrived, and when the Bolshevik 
side could expect a TBMM Delegation. In response, Karabekir 
cabled that Treaty had been received. Yusuf Kemal Bey had 
returned to Ankara and information on the Delegation would 
be forwarded. On 21 November 1920 TBMM Acting Foreign 
Minister Ahmet Muhtar163 wrote to Karabekir, asking him to 
establish contact with the TBMM Plenipotentiary Bekir Sami 
Bey in Moscow to determine if Bekir Sami was in receipt of 
the telegrams sent from Ankara. On 16 November [sic], Bekir 
Sami Bey arrived in Kars from Baku.164 Four days later 
General Ali Fuat and Staff Officer Major Saffet Bey reached Kars.
They were appointed by TBMM Ambassador and Military 
Attache, respectively, to Moscow.165 
     
On 11 December, the Turkish communists Mustafa Subhi 
and Ethem Nejat paid a visit to Karabekir. They outlined 
their plan to travel to Ankara with their retinue, via 
Tbilisi [sic], because they feared a plot against their 
lives in Erzurum [sic]. Karabekir suggested they journey via
Erzurum to Ankara, because gossip to the effect they were 
going to conduct Bolshevik propaganda had begun. They agreed
and left altogether. They did not arrive at their proposed 
destination.166 
     
On 16 December, the TBMM Embassy Delegation left for 
Moscow167 by train via Kars, Tbilisi and Baku, after 
conferring with Karabekir on the 15th.168 On 22 December 
1920, Mdivani, the Bolshevik Ambassador left by train for 
Ankara via Erzurum. Karabekir observed that, during his 24 
days in Kars, Mdivani worked to establish secret Bolshevik 
organizations in the vicinity, including and especially in 
the Malakite villages, and managed the affairs of the 
Mustafa Subhi group.  
     
On 2 February 1921, Mrs. Hertz, working in an American 
Relief institution in Kars, visited Karabekir.169 She 
reported that Admiral Bristol had requested, by letter, she 
learn the actual conditions on the ground from an 
authoritative source. Mrs. Hertz asked Karabekir if he could
relay her letter to Admiral Bristol. Karabekir agreed, but 
personally censored the information pertaining to his own 
troop strength (by way of cutting the component Division 
identification numbers of the XV. Army Corps out of the 
letter handed him unsealed).170  On 16 February, TBMM 
Tbilisi Representative Kazim Bey sent a long cypher to 
Karabekir concerning the fighting between the Georgians, 
Armenians and Russians, while the Georgian General Staff 
informed Karabekir of their own conditions and plans. 
Karabekir observed that this still was the continuation of 
earlier Bolshevik efforts to draw the XV. Army Corps to the 
East, and have the TBMM participate in a "Caucasian 
Confederation." The primary aim of the related invitation 
was to involve the TBMM forces under Karabekir's command in 
the ongoing fighting, to cause attrition, to reduce its 
fighting capacity and morale. That, in turn, the Bolsheviks 
hoped, would make the TBMM leadership more malleable to the 
Bolshevik demands.171 The "lure" used by the Bolsheviks, of 
course, was that TBMM was going to "acquire more land." 
Perhaps the Bolsheviks chose to ignore the "National Pact" 
drawn at the Erzurum Congress delineating the TBMM National 
Borders, which did not include Caucasia but stopped at 
"Elviyei Selasiye."172 It appears that the value of the XV. 
Corps, as a unit, was even higher by simply remaining 
stationary. However, the officers and the Staff of the XV. 
Corps were by no means idle. Karabekir warned the 
appropriate authorities in Karakilise and Yerevan that he 
wished to receive reports directly from his Liaison 
Officers, Tevfik Efendi and Captain Bahattin Efendi, 
respectively.173 The reports arrived.  
     
Three Liaison Officers from the Red Army arrived in 
Karabekir's headquarters on 1 March 1921, "bringing the 
regards of the Red Army to the XV. Army Corps." On 9 March, 
Karabekir received an urgent order from Ankara to occupy 
Batum and environs. The same day, Keker, the Red Army 
Commander in Tbilisi, sent his congratulations to Karabekir 
on the occasion! It appeared that the TBMM Foreign Ministry 
and the General Staff had not coordinated their actions, 
leaving Karabekir to sort out the tangled affairs related to
the occupation of Batum by TBMM troops. A long cyphered 
cable flowed from Karabekir to the General Staff.174 With 
the Menshevik Georgians leaving Batum, the Mdivani brothers'
era in Ankara came to an end. On 18 March 1921, Orjonikidze 
wrote to Karabekir, asking him to evacuate Batum. Two days 
later the TBMM Delegation in Moscow sent a cypher announcing
the signing of the Friendship Treaty. Karabekir ordered his 
troops be withdrawn from Batum. The border between the TBMM 
and the Bolsheviks was taking shape.  
     
On 21 March 1921, a letter from Col. Ibrahim Tali 
[during the First World War, Commander of Karabekir's 
Medical units] arrived.175  On 27 March 1921, TBMM ratified 
the Moscow Treaty.176 The TBMM designation as an 
appellation was taking a firm hold. 
     
Keker, Commander of the 11th Red Army in Caucasus, 
requested a meeting with Karabekir. They agreed to meet in 
Gmr. Keker turned out to be 34 years of age, Russian, 
nervous, and a chain smoker. He was in the continuous and 
ever present company of two Commissars, a Russian and a 
Georgian. Karabekir notes that Keker was especially 
resentful of the Russian Commissar. Keker also insistently 
requested that Karabekir evacuate Gmr, not always 
successfully veiling his implied threats.177 Karabekir 
agreed to contact Ankara for permission. Before a response 
was received from Ankara, Keker cabled, using crass 
language, setting deadlines. Karabekir was also aware of 
Chicherin's harsh words to the TBMM Ambassador Ali Fuat 
[Cebesoy]. Furthermore, on 21 April 1921 Bolsheviks forcibly
entered the TBMM Embassy facilities in Moscow, ransacking 
office files, beating embassy personnel.178 Therefore, 
Karabekir ordered his units to go on alert. Finally, TBMM 
ordered Karabekir to evacuate the region in one week. 
Karabekir informed Keker, relaying his regrets for Keker's 
foul words. On 29 April 1921, Yusuf Kemal Bey, a member of 
the TBMM Plenipotentiary Delegation arrived in Kars from 
Moscow, in the company of four million gold rubles, on his 
way to Ankara.  
     
Karabekir began to redirect his attention to the 
detention of spies and provocateurs in his territory. Once 
again refugees began to pour into TBMM lands, this time from
Armenia, where fighting between various factions of 
Armenians, Georgians and Russians was continuing. Bolshevik 
propaganda was also reaching a crescendo. The Ankara 
government established a new department to enlighten the 
population and counter Bolshevik efforts. Enver and other 
CUP leaders were also beginning to make plans to return and 
play a role in the TBMM movement. Dr. Riza Nur179 sent 
voluminous reports and analyses on the political conditions,
with which Karabekir disagreed on the basis of his own 
intelligence information.180 A copy of the Bolshevik 
Ambassador Mdivani's briefing to the Revkom (Revolutionary 
Committee) also arrived. Karabekir did not place much import
on this text, skeptical of its authenticity since it was 
purchased from the Menshevik Georgians by Hsamettin Bey, 
the TBMM Tbilisi Representative. Nonetheless he recorded the
text, in which Mdivani suggested "...dictating Bolshevik 
objectives to the peoples of the East via the control of the
TBMM mechanism....therefore no sacrifice is too great on the
part of Moscow to realize this plan..."181  
     
Conditions in the Eastern territories of the TBMM were 
gradually being transformed from war-time military 
operations into peace-time politics. New Societies of all 
types were being organized daily. Karabekir hinted at his 
desire to become the Civilian Governor General of the 
territory, devastated in terms of economics and 
infrastructure, to continue to serve in the region which he 
came to love. TBMM was reluctant, at least silent on the 
matter. Fighting on the Western Front was reaching a climax.
Karabekir began transferring munitions and troops to the 
Western Front, wher they were to play crucial role in later 
fighting. 
     
On 20 September 1921, a Bolshevik Delegation brought 
the ratified Moscow [friendship] Treaty to Kars, which was 
greeted with military honors. The ratified TBMM copy was 
also at hand, having been sent from Ankara. On 22 September,
copies were exchanged with due ceremonies. Now, the Ankara 
government directed Karabekir to sign the Kars Treaty as the
Lead TBMM Plenipotentiary. On 26 September 1921 the 
Bolshevik Plenipotentiary Delegation charged to participate 
in the Kars Treaty arrived. The work of the Conference 
lasted until 10 October 1921 when the Kars Treaty was 
signed. Recovery of the lands lost to tsarists in 1877 and 
1914 was completed by Karabekir and the TBMM-Bolshevik 
border formally recognized.182 The Turkish War of 
Independence formally continued until the ratification of 
the Lausanne Treaty. The British troops, the last of the 
occupying forces, saluted the Turkish flag and evacuated 
Istanbul on 2 October 1923. 
 
AFTERWORD 
 
The Russians seemed content with the Kars Treaty and 
the related arrangements until the Second World War. The day
after the 1945 San Francisco Treaty was signed by some fifty
states (the founding document for the United Nations),183 
including the Turkish Republic and the USSR, the USSR 
demanded land from the Turkish Republic, precisely in the
same region covered by the Kars Treaty.184 The Soviet 
demands finally prompted the Truman Doctrine, a military aid
program to the Turkish Republic and Greece proposed to the 
U. S. Congress on 12 March 1947. Military Aid and 
Cooperation agreement between the Turkish Republic and the 
U. S. was ratified by the Ankara government on 1 September 
1947, which is still in force as amended  --apart from a 
multitude of additional secret protocols over time--  but 
suspended for a period beginning in 1975 over the dispute 
regarding joint treaty obligations concerning Cyprus. 
Turkish Republic was also a beneficiary of the Marshall 
Plan. When Mustafa Kemal Ataturk died at the age of 57 
during 1938, Ismet Inonu became the Turkish President.185   
     
The full rapprochement of the Turkish Republic with the
British, French and the Italians came with the onset of the 
Second World War, when the Allies sought to involve the 
Turkish Republic against Germany. Inonu kept the Turkish 
Republic out of the World War186 and remained in office 
until his Republican People's Party (CHP) was voted out in 
1950.  
     
As a Charter Member of the U. N., the Turkish Republic 
sent troops to join the U. N. Command in Korea from June 
1950 and her admission into NATO followed on 18 February 
1952. Turkish membership in the U. S. led CENTO and RCD 
treaties rounded out the political and strategic agreements 
in the region, in line with the U. S. "Containment Policy" 
aimed at the Soviet Union. Ismet Inonu was the Prime 
Minister of the Turkish Republic, to whom President Johnson 
wrote his Letter of 5 June 1964, related to the Cyprus 
issue.187 That event was also a turning point in the 
Turkish Republic and USSR economic and diplomatic relations.
Accounts of the circumstances encompassing the terrorism 
waves in the Turkish Republic during the 1970s, its external
origins, sources and economic implications, began to emerge 
on the heels of the 1980 military coup, the third in as many
decades.188  

Continued with the
NOTES


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