Turkish victory on Aug. 30 is a “resistance” to the European great powers who wanted to expel the Ottomans, who they described in the 1815 Vienna Congress as “the Sick Man”, a prominent Turkish historian said.
In an interview with Anadolu Agency, professor Hasan Babacan, head of the history department of Mehmet Akif Ersoy University in Burdur, said the Ottomans were placed in the center of the Eastern Question, in a bid to drive them out first from the Balkans and then from Anatolia.
Professor Hasan Babacan
“After 1815, Muslims in the regions such as present-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia were living under colonial rule, but not the ones in Anatolia including Kurds and Arabs.
“The Great Offensive launched on Aug. 26 and the Aug. 30 victory to counter the occupation of the enemy, were a revolt against the occupation of Anatolia, which we call the last castle of Islam and Turkish world. They were also a revolt against the Eastern Question, and against the colonial policy of the European States, and was a message that the people in this region will continue living there.”
The Eastern Question refers to political considerations of the European states about the future of Ottoman Empire from the late 18th to early 20th centuries.
Babacan said the victory on Aug. 30 was not just a fight for freedom but also a struggle by Turks to be able to practise their religion freely.
“In order to fulfil some of the tenants of religion, a society must be free and residing on a land, and if you do not have a land, you cannot live your religion freely.”
Turks helped army
He recalled the Turkish people volunteered to help the army, giving them clothing and animals, despite being poor themselves.
The historian said the Anatolians had been war-weary, especially since World War I and the invasion of Izmir and then western Anatolia by Greek troops was the last test of their patience.
“The attacks on not only Anatolia, but on the Balkans, Caucasus and other Ottoman regions had left the Turkish people in a very difficult situation,” Babacan said, adding that a lot of people from the Balkans and Caucasus sought refuge in Anatolia.
“They knew very well what and who the enemy was, what they were doing, and people were hearing their persecution stories. The Greek occupation of Izmir and then their ugly behavior in western Anatolia and the places they occupied, had been irritating the people of Anatolia. Therefore, the Anatolian people saw this not just as a physical attack but an attack on their honor, dignity, religion and flag, which provoked them a great deal.
“After that the Turkish people started resistance using whatever they had as they had no weapons at that time.”
Babacan said during the days of the Great Offensive, the final military operation of the Turkish Independence War, Anatolia did not only struggle with material shortages, but also with the scarcity of people.
He added that the Turks were successful at many fronts in WWI, however, the loss was also great, with the Turkish Army losing soldiers in the Battle of Canakkale, Sarikamis and Kut’ul Amare.
Mustafa Kemal harbinger of hope
Babacan said the freedom struggle of the Turkish people became a great example for the oppressed societies struggling under colonial rule in different parts of the world.
“Mustafa Kemal is a military genius,” Babacan said. “During the Dardanelles war, the Turkish Nation saw what Mustafa Kemal can do and Mustafa Kemal saw the fighting capacity of the Turkish nation.”
Quoting a speech by the founder of the Turkish Republic, he said: “The soldiers saw their friends had died a few seconds ago, but they fought valiantly in line with Mustafa Kemal’s orders ‘I am ordering you not to fight but to die’.”
He added that launching the offensive on Aug. 26 was not a coincidence, but it was chosen by Mustafa Kemal as most victories in Turkish history were won during the month.
Babacan said the Battle of Malazgirt on Aug. 26 opened up the gates of Anatolia to Turkish people while the victory of Aug. 30 legitimized Anatolia as a homeland for the Turks.
Turkish domination in Anatolia began with the Battle of Malazgirt in Aug. 26, 1071, which saw Seljuk Turks led by Sultan Alparslan defeat a Byzantine army.
The foreign occupation prompted Turkey’s War of Independence in 1919, in which Turkish forces — led by Gen. Mustafa Kemal — eventually drove the invaders from Anatolia.
From Aug. 26 to Aug. 30 of 1922, Turkish forces fought the Battle of Dumlupinar (considered part of the Greco-Turkish War) in Turkey’s western Kutahya province, where Greek forces were decisively defeated.
By the end of 1922, all foreign forces had left the territories which would collectively become the new Republic of Turkey one year later.
Source: Anadolu Agency