The National War of Independence was an effort to create a new state from the ruins of an Empire which had already completed its life. These efforts lasted for four years as the imperialist states wanted to bring to life a new order suitable for their own political aims and interests from the ruins of this empire.
Mustafa Kemal, who joined the Ottoman Army as a captain on 11 January 1905, proved his military talents on almost every front during the First World War. When the Ottoman Empire was considered to be defeated following the First World War, he was appointed Commander of the Thunder Armies. However, he returned to Istanbul as this army was abolished.
Mustafa Kemal decided to travel across Anatolia and carry on his struggle, and collect a new army as he understood that a political solution against the invaders who were oppressing the Istanbul Government was not possible.
The Turkish resistance movements were transformed into a complete war of independence when Mustafa Kemal landed at Samsun as the
Inspector of the 9th Army on 19 May 1919. It achieved success against the armies supported by the large countries of the world and under very difficult conditions.
The situation in Anatolia, as of May 19, 1919 when Ataturk landed Samsun was as:
- Southeastern Anatolia: invaded by the French and Italian.
- Central Anatolia: Left for Turks.
- Mediterranean: Invaded by the French, Italian, and the British.
- Aegean: Invaded by the Greeks.
- Marmara, straits and Istanbul: Invaded by the allies.
Mustafa Kemal immediately started to organize a national resistance and got in touch with all the army units and local resistance organizations in Anatolia. The first call was made in Amasya on Jun 22, 1919. Later on this resistance was recognized officially in Erzurum and Sivas Congresses. The National Pact program which reached its final form believed that the territories where the Turks lived could not be partitioned in any form and limitations; and limitations such as capitulations which would prevent the political, legal and financial development of the country would definitely not be accepted. When the Entente Powers officially occupied Istanbul and disbanded the Parliament on March 16, Mustafa Kemal declared that the sovereignty and life of the Ottoman Empire, which had lasted for six centuries, had ended.
On April 23rd, 1920, the Grand National Assembly gathered in Ankara, the headquarters of the national movement, and the authority to represent the nation was given only to the Grand National Assembly as of this day. The assembly unanimously elected Mustafa Kemal as the chairman, and started its studies.
The last connections between Ankara and Istanbul ended with the signing of the Treaty of Sevrès on Aug 12th, 1920. The agreement included oppressive and unacceptable conditions for the Turkish Nation. The Treaty of Sevres was announcing that only a small part of Anatolia would be given to Turks, and the Turkish State would be under the financial and military control of the foreign states. The efforts to set up an Armenian state in Eastern Anatolia, by using the Treaty of Sevrès were made ineffective by the forces of the Army Commander Kazim Karabekir in this region. After the armistice was signed on 18 November 1920, peace was obtained on the Eastern front by the Gümrü Agreement which was signed on 2 December 1920. This was the first international agreement signed by the Grand National Assembly.
On the Western front, the Greek Army who invaded Izmir on May 15th, 1919, and started spreading throughout the Aegean region, was stopped by the First and Second Inönü Battles between January – April 921. The Greek Army suffered a heavy defeat during the Sakarya Battles between August – September 1921.
The Sakarya Battle victory provided significant diplomatic successes and France withdrew from Adana and the surroundings following the Ankara Agreement signed by Turkey and France in October 1921. Thus, another front was eliminated. After that, all the forces and resources of the country were gathered for a great attack to be made on the Western front. In fact, the Greek forces were defeated heavily during the Great Attack and the Commander in Chief Battle between August-September 1922.
Izmir was liberated on Sep 9, 1922. This military success would accelerate the founding of the Republic of Turkey. The Mudanya Armistice was signed between the Ankara Government and the Entente States on Oct 11, 1922 and it was decided to hold a conference in Lausanne one month later to discuss the conditions for a permanent peace treaty. However, when the Entente States also invited the Istanbul Government to send its delegation to this conference along with the Ankara Government, the Turkish Grand National Assembly declared that the Caliphate was separated from the Sultanate and that the sultanate was abolished.
Mehmed VI (Vahdeddin), the last Ottoman Sultan, secretly fled aboard a British ship on Nov 17, 1922. The Lausanne peace treaty negotiations, at which the Ankara Government participated as the sole representative, started on Nov 21, 1922. The negotiations, at which Ismet Inönü presided over the Turkish delegation, were suspended in February 1923 due to disagreements especially on the future of capitulations.
The negotiations, which restarted in April 1923, resulted in the signing of the Lausanne Treaty on July 24, 1923. The treaty recognized the creation of a Turkish State with virtually the same borders as those of the National Pact of 1920 and guaranteed her complete independence. Thus, it marked the successful culmination of the National War of Independence. On October 29, 1923, the Grand National Assembly proclaimed the Republic of Turkey. Ataturk was elected as the new Republic’s first president unanimously.