Editor’s Pick

Editor’s Pick

Wikimedia Commons
30 April, 2022

MUSTAFA KEMAL—commonly called Atatürk—poses at the end of the First Battle of İnönü during the Greco-Turkish War, in January 1921. The Turkish War of Independence, fought between 1919 and 1923, was waged by Turkish revolutionaries in the aftermath of the Ottoman defeat in the First World War, which resulted in the creation of the Republic of Turkey. On 15 May 1919, Greece landed its forces in Smyrna, one of the largest cities in the Ottoman Empire, located at a strategic point on the Aegean coast of Anatolia.

The previous month, the last Ottoman sultan, Mehmed VI, had sent Kemal to organise troops in Anatolia. Much to his surprise, Kemal began a movement against both the Ottoman government and the Allied powers. The Greek army in Smyrna, backed politically and financially by the Allies, forayed into Anatolia to quash the nationalist Turks, beginning the Turkish War of Independence.

Kemal assembled a congress in the city of Sivas with delegates from across the country and established the Association for the Defence of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia. He became the chairman of an executive committee created to conduct the resistance. The First Battle of İnönü began with the Greeks targeting İnönü railway station. However, determined Turkish defence forced the Greeks to withdraw their forces from the vicinity.

The Greeks continued to attempt invasions of Anatolia until August 1921, when Kemal was granted the position of commander-in-chief of the Grand National Army of Turkey. Under his leadership, the army defeated the Greeks at the Battle of Sakarya, in September 1921, and eventually pushed them to the sea at Izmir. The Turkish republic was proclaimed on 29 October and Kemal became its first president. He stayed in the post from 1923 until his death, in 1938.