Enver Pasa as an expatriate

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Peter H
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Enver Pasa as an expatriate

Post by Peter H » 29 Jun 2007 05:21

Article by Suhnaz Yilmaz:


Of interest:
As a young general staff captain, he was now ready to assume his first military post in the Third Army in Macedonia. He worked for three years in the military operations against Macedonian bands fighting against the Ottoman rule. These operations, which were simply called `brigand chase' (eskiya takibi), entailed much more than following and fighting with random brigands, since these groups were actually well-organized and well equipped Serbian, Macedo-Bulgarian, Greek and sometimes even Albanian nationalists who often received support from the small Balkan governments. At this post, Enver Pasa performed outstandingly, taking part in one successful chase after another.

In 1909, Enver was sent as a military attache to Berlin, where he established personal contacts with some German academics, journalists, high level government officials and even the Kaiser himself. This period was also significant in that it was during Enver's posting in Berlin that the seeds of his lifelong admiration for German culture and military power took root.12 His adoration of things German is clearly reflected in a postcard which he sent to his sister Hasene Hanim from Germany: 'Yesterday I watched the parade of one of the German army corps with 33,000 soldiers marching. It is so excellent that it makes one's mouth water".
In 1918, the activities of Teskilat-i Mahsusa were supplemented by the formation of another organization, namely the Guard (Karakol). The Guard, which sheltered former Unionists, benefited greatly from the resources and expertise of Teskilat-i Mahsusa. It played a crucial role for the national resistance movement by smuggling men and materials to Anatolia and establishing clandestine resistance networks. In addition to this, in the provincial centres of Thrace and Anatolia, the local branches of the CUP instigated the national agitation. In their struggle, the national activists made extensive use of the secret depots of arms and ammunitions, which had been established by Teskilat-i Mahsusa.

Enver tried very hard to maintain his contacts with these organizations and a group of former Unionists in Anatolia, who were supportive of him. At the initial stages of the nationalist struggle, Mustafa Kemal's position seemed far from being secure, especially since Enver was very willing to be in charge of Anatolian developments once again. There were reports that `Baku, the Unionist stronghold, at the center of the Oriental intrigue' was becoming `the rival of Angora'. The US High Commissioner in Constantinople was stating that Enver, who was cast out of Turkey, was regaining his prestige and influence. The British at this point even considered Enver and his followers to pose a more serious threat than the Kemalists. According to them, there were '...two parties in Anatolia, not only one. The weaker is that of Mustafa Kemal and the Nationalists... They have failed and their adherents are going over to the other far more dangerous party, that of Enver, Talat and the CUP-Jew-German-Bolshevik combination'. About one third of the Nationalist Assembly of Ankara was inclined towards or supportive of Enver. Even if Enver might not have been as powerful as the British sources indicate, it is certain that he was making intense efforts to capture the Nationalist movement and was steadily gaining strength.

At this period, when it was still unclear who would eventually capture the leadership of the Nationalists, the Bolsheviks maintained their contacts with and provided support for both sides. On the one hand, Nationalist delegations were visiting Moscow and Mustafa Kemal was corresponding with the Soviet Foreign Commissar Chicherin. On the other hand, the Soviets were said to be `finding the money for the Unionist campaign'. Mustafa Kemal was seriously disturbed by the challenge presented by Enver to his authority at home and abroad. To prevent Enver's return, the Turkish Grand National Assembly issued a decree on 12 March 1921 to the effect that Enver and Halil Pasa were prohibited from returning to Anatolia `since this would be detrimental to the internal politics and external relations' of the Ankara government. Enver, however, had no intention of giving up.

The peak of Enver's efforts and expectations to regain control in Anatolia occurred at a time when the Greek offensive towards Ankara was in full progress. Nationalists were withdrawing and were even considering temporarily moving the Turkish Grand National Assembly to another city further away from the war zone. Enver's letter written on 16 July 1921 to Mustafa Kemal is very significant in indicating his intentions. He wrote:

If you consider us [the Unionists] as a rival, you are making a big mistake....We are not after any titles or positions. As far as I am concerned, I will follow my ideals. That is to incite the Muslims to struggle against the European beasts which trample upon Islam.... By the news which you have been sending through my friends I understand that you do not want us to return.... For the time being since we are being helpful to our motherland in Moscow, we are not coming back.... However, when we start to feel that... our staying abroad becomes useless and even dangerous for Turkey... and the Islamic world, we will return to Anatolia.

There is a lot of insight that Enver's expatriate years can provide. Although Enver was out of his country, during this quite neglected chapter of his life he was definitely not out of the political scene. His activities were influential at the initial stages of Turco-Russian relations and to a certain extent for Russian-German relations as well. Moreover, Enver presented a serious challenge to Mustafa Kemal as the leader of the nationalist struggle, which was mostly shaped around and built on Unionist organizations and initiatives. Enver's close ties with the former Unionists both in Anatolia and abroad enhanced his position and determination to regain control of the nationalist struggle, an idea which he would only give up after Mustafa Kemal's decisive victory against the Greeks at Sakarya.

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