Turkish bravery during the Battle of Gallipoli completely humiliated the British deep state in the international arena. They were convinced that if they occupied the capital of the Islamic world, they would have taken their revenge. The truth is, all the politicians involved in the planning, declaration and implementation of the Gallipoli campaign, were following the orders of the British deep state and naturally, after the defeat, they fell from grace with the public. They hoped that the occupation would gain them their lost influence and power. This had been their main goal.
Istanbul was not only the capital of the Ottoman Empire, but also the capital of the Islamic world. It was a city where the Caliph of the Muslims lived. To the British deep state, an occupied capital would be a tour de force of British prowess, especially in terms of influencing the Muslims living under British rule, most notably in India. They hoped that the occupation would stem any potential anti-British sentiment or independence movements, as well as preventing Muslims from uniting under a single flag, and that British rule would be further cemented.
The decision to occupy Istanbul involved the control of two straits, the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. The British navy anchored in the Bosphorus Strait supervised exits from Marmara, and the Dardanelles Strait was also kept under the control of the British. In other words, the British had the control of the entrance and the exit to the Marmara Sea, and consequently to the Black Sea. Thus, they could keep the Russian warships under control and impose taxes on Russian trade. This meant having the upper hand of the newly established Bolshevik Russia. St. Petersburg, or Leningrad as it was known during Soviet times, was the only Russian port close to Europe. It was frozen for 6 months of the year and lacked the geographical or strategic infrastructure wanted by the Russian navy. The Russians always wanted to have access to warmer waters. Although the Black Sea was under Russian control, any state that controlled the Straits could easily override that control. The British, through the occupation of Istanbul and the Straits, also wanted to keep post-revolution Russia under control.
The British deep state was anxiously watching the growing affinity between the Bolsheviks and the Turkish independence movement. They feared the Russians could get stronger again and pursue an imperialist policy and believed that if it could control the Straits and Istanbul, it would be able to prevent such an expansion.
Another objective of the British occupation of Istanbul was undermining the authority of the Caliph over British colonies to give the impression that British rule had now taken the place of the Sultan; the Caliph and the entire Ottoman Empire was now under British control. The British hoped they could dishearten the Muslim subjects and intimidate the regional tribal leaders, religious leaders and minority leaders. They wanted to give a clear message to everyone that there is no coming back for the Ottoman Empire. The occupation marked the peak of the British Empire. Through occupation, they wished to suppress the Islamic awakening and find new prospective colonies.
The most important symbolic message of the Istanbul occupation was the removal of the Turks from Europe, whereby the Ottoman Empire would no longer be considered a part of Europe. Istanbul had always been the ‘Eastern Capital‘ of Europe. Ancient Greeks, Venetians, Romans, Genoese and Byzantines had chosen this beautiful city as their home. The 600-year Ottoman rule in Istanbul made the Ottoman Empire European. An occupation would, therefore, mean the removal of the Turks from Europe.
The British public considered the Ottoman alliance with Germany in WWI as a betrayal and wanted this ‘betrayal’ to be punished. However, as reviewed in the previous pages, this alliance was somehow forced by the British deep state, but various circles voiced that this so-called betrayal should not be left unpunished. The British deep state was convinced that the occupation of Istanbul would give the Ottoman Empire the harshest punishment and would make the Turks pay the heavy price of betrayal. Indeed, many believed that Istanbul being taken from the Turks would be the surest sign of their defeat and the Islamic world would stop viewing the Turks as the ‘victorious soldiers of Islam’. According to the British deep state, this occupation had to be extremely humiliating and conclusive so that everyone would be convinced that the Turks were irreversibly defeated. The British deep state believed that this was essential for the purposes of its domination policy, yet another display of its twisted mentality regarding the Ottoman Empire.
However, the British plans wouldn’t work because they didn’t take Anatolian people into account. The Anatolian independence movement led by Mustafa Kemal and his colleagues reminded the whole world once again why the Turks were considered the victorious soldiers of Islam. Over the next three years, the victors of the WWI completely retreated from Ottoman lands, having suffered a humiliating defeat. French, Italians, Greeks and British, one by one, conceded defeat, signed peace treaties and sent their troops back home.