Friends of England during the Occupation of Istanbul

Friends of England during the Occupation of Istanbul

The Society of the Friends of England represented the zenith of the pro-British attitude some Ottoman statesmen adopted. This organization was founded while Istanbul and Anatolia were under occupation and helped the British efforts against the independence movement. The book will examine later the particular activities of this society. However, for now, let’s see the politicians that were members of this group and the roles they played in the political arena of ‘occupied Istanbul’.

Tewfik Pasha, who succeeded another co-founder, Damad Ferid Pasha, as a grand vizier, was also an anglophile. In his first remark in office, he made it clear that his goal was ‘rebuilding our old friendship with Britain’.

On November 22, 1919, when he was in London as the Ottoman Ambassador, he explained his plan to build an Ottoman-British alliance on defense issues and continued saying that, Turkish nation, from the Sultan to the people trust Great Britain and wouldn’t be able to show that trust to any other nation.’ As he was uttering these words, Britain was drawing up the Treaty of Sèvres at the Paris Peace Conference and making plans to share the Ottoman lands.

Tewfik Pasha even once said to Lord Curzon, the British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, His Imperial Majesty [the Sultan] was deeply convinced that the only hope for his country and his throne lay in a revival of the old relations between Turkey and Great Britain, to which he was ready to agree in any manner that might be thought best….(British Documents regarding Turkish War of Independence I)

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Tewfik Pasha’s peace offer was as follows:

Britain and the Ottoman Empire will sign a treaty, according to which, Ottomans will leave the protection of the freedom of the Straits to Britain, to be in favor of all nations. For this purpose, Britain might use her own soldiers or Turkish security forces. Turkish government will put the Turkish gendarme at British disposal. Furthermore, it will transfer the management of the required land strip for the protection of the freedom of the Straits, to Britain. Such an alliance will dispel for good any thoughts prevalent in India and in other regions that Britain is hostile to the caliphate and that it wishes to destroy Turkey. The agreement will be strong proof that the opposite is true and will show to the whole Islamic world that Britain is the defender and ally of the caliphate.(Baki Öz, Atatürk’ün Anadolu’ya Gönderiliş Olayının İç Yüzü)

Ahmed Izzet Pasha, who formed the first government in Istanbul after the Armistice of Mudros, couldn’t provide necessary support to the Nationalist Forces, and despite his previous promises to Ankara government, he continued to serve in the Istanbul government. During his meeting with John Godolphin Bennett, one of the officers of the British occupying forces in Istanbul, he said that if he was convinced that Britain had friendly intentions towards Turkey, he could make Mustafa Kemal meet with the British commander in chief and would do everything in his power to find a common ground regarding the evacuation of Anatolia by the Greeks and that he would try to persuade Mustafa Kemal. It is clear that the occupation of Anatolia by the Greeks was a plan of the British deep state, and its members could have stopped it if they wished. This fact will be examined in greater detail in the chapters regarding the Treaty of Sèvres and the Treaty of Lausanne.

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