History of Modern Turkey!
Turkey had fought the World War I on the side of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Like her Allies, she was also defeated and the Treaty of Sevres of 1920 was imposed on her.
By this Treaty the Arab State of Hedjaz was nominally freed but put under British control.
Armenia was created into a Christian Republic and put under an international guarantee. Mesopotamia, Trans-Jordan, Syria and Palestme were taken away from Turkey. Syria was given to France under the Mandate of the League of Nations. Palestine, Mesopotamia and Trans-Jordan were given to Britain under the Mandate System.
Galicia was recognised as a French sphere of influence. Southern Anatolia was recognised as an Italian sphere of influence. Adrianople, Gallipoli, the Islands of Ambros and Tenedos, Smyrna and the territory on the coast of Asia-Minor were given to Greece which also got the Dodecanese Islands with the exception of two Islands. Dardenelles and the Bosphorus were internationalised. Turkey was required to pay huge war indemnity.
Ominous signs began to appear soon after the signing of the Treaty of Sevres. The United States, Yugoslavia and the Arab King of Hedjaz refused to sign at all. Turkey had signed under protest.’ But Turkish army in Asia-Minor began to look dangerous. There was no one to execute the Treaty. Venizelos, Prime Minister of Greece, undertook to do so. The Greeks defeated the Turks and captured Brusa.
Soon after, Venizelos fell from power in Greece and ran away from the country. The Ex-King Constantine came back to Greece and took charge of the affairs of the country. However, the fall of Venizelos deprived Greece of the favour of the Allies.
At this time, Mustafa Kemal appeared on the scene. He had all the patriotic Turks behind him. The people of Turkey had not approved of the signing of the Treaty of Sevres by the Sultan of Turkey who lived at Constantinople beneath the guns of the British fleet.
The presence of the Greeks at Smyrna aroused the feelings of the patriotic Turks against the Treaty of Sevres. Mustafa Kemal took advantage of the situation in the country and openly revolted. In 1920, he had been defeated in the first round by Venizelos and driven into the interior.
However, early in 1921, he summoned a National Assembly at Angora which was later on named Anakra, and drew up the Angora Pact, which demanded complete independence for the Sultan and Constantinople and the union under Turkish sovereignty of all parts of the Ottoman Empire inhabited by an Ottoman Muslim majority.
The manifesto amounted to a defiance of the Treaty of Sevres. It was a declaration that Mustafa Kemal and his followers would conquer by force any part of Turkey that they could.
King Constantine decided to crush Mustafa Kemal and his followers. His plan was to penetrate to Ankara and dictate peace in the highlands of Asia-Minor. It is true that Constantine was himself a distinguished general, but his project was declared impossible by the best military experts including Sir Henry Wilson and Field Marshal Foch. In spite of this, Constantine decided to attempt the impossible. Mustafa Kemal was confident of his victory.
He is stated to have declared that the Greeks might beat him but he did not mean to be rounded up. He would retire to regions where the Greeks could not get at him and would continue the war until the Greeks gave in. In 1921, the Greek offensive began. In spite of all gallantry shown by the Greek soldiers, they were not able to penetrate into the stony and waterless plateau around Ankara.
The Greeks found themselves in a very difficult position. They could not go forward for geographical reasons and they dared not go back on grounds of prestige and the end was inevitable. In August 1922, Mustafa Kemal attacked the Greeks and penetrated into the Greek lines and routed them. It was a complete and colossal disaster. In September 1922 Smyrna fell and was given to the flames. Mustafa Kemal expelled not only all the Greek soldiers but every Greek inhabitant of that territory.
After that Mustafa Kemal led his troops towards the Straits which were held by British, French and Italian troops. The British troops still garrisoned Constantinople and British warships were in the Sea of Marmora. The French and Italian troops withdrew but not the British.
Prime Minster Lloyd George thought he would defend the “Freedom of the Straits” and prevent Mustafa Kemal from crossing into Europe. Mustafa Kemal wisely did not attack the British forces and thereby did not involve himself in a war with Great Britain. Instead, he entered into negotiations which led to the Treaty of Lausanne which was signed on 24 July 1923. Turkish sovereignty in Asia-Minor was recognised.
The boundary of European Turkey as it existed after the Treaty of Bucharest, 1913 was restored. Greece had to give up Eastern Thrace and Adrianople. The Dardanelles remained under Turkish control, but the same was not to be fortified without the consent of the League of Nations. Mustafa Kemal refused to submit to any limitation of his armaments.
Turkey was the only ex-enemy powers which were not restricted in the manufacture or use of armaments or in the number of her Troops. The Treaty of Laussane was humiliating to the great Powers of Europe. In everything except demilitarising the Straits, Mustafa Kemal was strong enough to defy them. He shifted his capital from Constantinople to Ankara which was difficult to reach.
Mustafa Kemal was a man of great courage and determination. He introduced sweeping reforms in his country. He completely overhauled the administrative machinery of the country. He introduced and enforced new legal codes. He improved the means of communication and transport. He improved agricultural and industrial methods. He emancipated women.
There was to be no purda for women. Women got not only the right of vote but also became members of the Assembly. The Sultanate was abolished and Turkey became a Republic with Mustafa Kemal as its President. Islani was not to be the State religion and all religions were to be equally tolerated. He Europeanised the dress of the people.
He introduced the Latin characters in place of old Turkish script. Polygamy was prohibited. A national system of education was introduced. The calendar which was in use in Western Europe was adopted. A law of 1934 compelled all Turks to adopt a surname and Mustafa Kemal himself took up the name of Ataturk or father of the Turks.
Ataturk was ruthless in the suppression of all opposition. This was particularly so in the early days of his regime. His methods were those of a dictator. In 1932, he is said to have observed. Let the people leave politics alone for the present. Let them interest themselves in agriculture and commerce. For ten or fifteen years more I must rule. After that perhaps I may be able to let them speak openly.
Although Ataturk was a dictator, he was not aggressive. He was very scrupulous in observing international obligations. In 1936 he wanted to refortify the Dardanelles and he applied to the League of Nations for permission and actually got the same.
He was on very good term with other states. Although there had been fighting between Turkey and Greece in 1921-2, the relations between the two countries became cordial. There was great friendliness between Turkey and Great Britain and the two countries entered into a treaty of alliance in 1939.
Ataturk died in November 1938 but before his death he had built up a Turkish state which gave to his citizens, both men and women, greater freedom and security than any of their forefather had enjoyed. He had transformed Turkey into an independent sovereign state free from foreign interference. Ataturk was succeeded by Ismet Inonu. He was also a dictator. Turkey remained neutral during the World War II.