Ottoman Empire
World War I

Turkey in the years 1918-1923

The Ottoman Empire had asked for an armistice on Oct. 30th 1918. The Arabian provinces were lost (already partitioned between Britain and France by the secret Sykes-Picot-Agreement of 1917); France proceeded not only to occupy Syria and Lebanon, but also Cilicia. The Italians claimed the coast opposite the already Italian Dodekanese Islands; the Greeks desired the Smyrna region and Eastern Thrace.
Entente troops occupied the Straits area including Istanbul, which they demanded demilitarized. The powers contemplated the establishment of an Armenian State in northeastern Anatolia (under British protection) and a Kurdish State in southeastern Anatolia (under French protection); there was little room left for a Turkish state.

Sultan Mehmed VI. Vahiheddin, who had ascended to the throne only in July 1918, soon found himself unable to lead the affairs of his Empire, his own capital being occupied by Entente forces.
An energetic officer, the hero of Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal (now commonly referred to as Kemal Atatürk) organized Turkish organizations in the Ankara region, establishing a provisorical administration and reorganising the Ottoman forces into a Turkish army.
In 1920 the Entente offered harsh conditions in the Treaty of Sevres, a treaty Turkey's parliament never ratified.
In 1921, France withdrew from Cilicia; the united front of the Entente disintegrated. Atatürk's forces defeated the Greeks in the Battle of Sakarya in 1922; in 1923 the Greeks were expelled from Smyrna. The Italians withdrew. The war had been decided militarily. The hitherto provisorical Turkish Republic gained international recognition in the Treaty of Lausanne (1923).

DOCUMENTS Treaty of Sevres 1920, from World War I Document Archive and from ANN, from WCDP, from HR-net
Map : Asia Minor after Treaty of Sevres, from Univ. of San Diego, History Dept.
Ataturk Speech Documents, from Internet Ataturk Library, texts in English translation, speeches 1919-1920
Treaty of Kars, 1921, from ANN
Treaty of Lausanne, 1923, from ANN
Map featuring Turkey after Treaty of Sevres (zones of influence), from Kemal Ataturk and Modern Turkey
Map of Istanbul in 1923, from The Hellenic Genocide (a tendentious site, to be used with caution)
Republic of Turkey, bilateral international agreements, from Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Request for asylum by Mehmed Vehideddin, Caliph, to the British, 1922, posted by Denizli 2000
REFERENCE A.L. MacFie, Profiles in Power : Atatürk, Harlow : Pearson 1994 [G]
Article : Turkey or the Ottoman Empire, in : New International Year Book 1919 pp.681-685, 1920 pp.678-681, 1921 pp.702-707, 1923 pp.751-756 [G]
Article : Turkey, in : Statesman's Year Book 1919 pp.1303-1322 [G]
Stephen Graham, Europe - Whither Bound ? Being Letters of Travel from the Capitals of Europe in the Year 1921 (Toronto 1922), chapters II, III : Constantinople, posted online by Gutenberg Library Online

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on May 29th 2002, last revised on October 17th 2007

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