Turkey, officially the Islamic Republic of Turkey, is a nation that straddles between Europe and Asia. It is currently bordered on the European side by Greece and Bulgaria and on the Asian side to the East by Russia, the Southeast by Persia and the South by Palestine.
Ottoman Civil War and the Rise of the Republic
The Republic of Turkey was formed in 1917 amidst the chaos of the Ottoman Civil War, but was not officially recognized until 1919, when the last sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Abdülhamid II, at last abdicated and the western powers acknowledged the Republic. The occupation of Constantinople by the French Empire, Smyrna by the Kingdom of Greece and Belgrade by Pan-Slavic Nationalism led to the rise of Turkish Nationalism. During the conflict, the Turkish Grand National Assembly, led by Mustafa Kemal, fought against Greece, France and its puppet government in control of the former Ottoman Empire, as well as revolutionaries in the Balkans and Eastern Anatolia. Although the Grand National Assembly were successful in expelling the foreign armies in Anatolia (though France left voluntarily after international access to the Dardanelles was assured by Kemal) and putting down the Armenian Rebels, they were unsuccessful in putting down the nationalists in the Balkans, only barely maintaining its hold on Thrace and Constantinople. The Treaty of Lausanne and the Treaty of Bucharest that ended the war in Anatoia and the Balkans respectively revised some of the partition plans of the former Ottoman Empire, but was unable to keep the Balkans, which was an area coveted by Turkish Nationalists.
Mustafa Kemal became the first President of the new Republic of Turkey in 1922 following the close of the Ottoman Civil War. He attempted to pass many reforms over the new Republic, including the abolition of the Caliphate, the ban of Islamic Headgear and the forming of a secular Republic. These reforms were not well received by the pro-Islamic members of the Turkish National Assembly.
On June 5, 1926, while making a public speech in front of the National Assembly Building in Ankara, President Kemal was shot by gunman from an Islamist group. He was rushed to the hospital but died before he could be operated on. Kemal’s death would end Turkey’s path to secularism for the moment, as a series of weak presidents followed him, some of which were from other parties.
-Rise of Kazimâzım Karabakir and the Grey Wolves Party
The Period of successive governments, from 1926 to 1933, was marked by rapid inflation, worsened greatly with the combined Stock Market Crashes in New York and Paris, which irreparably damaged Turkish economy. The death of Mustafa Kemal in 1926, also contributed to the steadily growing rise of Turkish-ultranationalism. The secession of inept Presidents over the course of the late 20’s ended with the election of Kâzım Karabekir in 1931.
Karabekir was a member of the Grey Wolves Party, which advocated a Pan-Turk and Pan-Islam ideologically, calling for the freedom of not just the Turkish people persecuted in the Balkans and in French Palestine, but also for the freedom of Muslims from their Christian overlords.
Karabekir was a former Ottoman General during the Second Global War and was the one who led the campaign against the Armenian rebels during the Ottoman Civil War. During the 1920’s he began to look into Argentina’s revolution and the ideals of what became National Socialism. Karabekir realized that in order to restore Turkish pride after such horrific losses, and recover lost prestige it would require combining National Socialism with Islamic stylings in order to win the trust of the people. For this reason he sought to restore the Caliphate, despite the fact that the title originally belonged to the House of Osman of the Ottoman Empire.
Over the course of the early 1930's Karabekir gradually began subsidizing, and later nationalizing corporations,
banks and schools. He began to impose Sharia, or Islamic Law, throughout Anatolia and Eastern Thrace,
opposition parties were outlawed outright, and political leaders of such parties were exiled or jailed and either
sent to labor camps in Eastern Anatolia or secretly executed. Such was the case of Mustafa İsmet, a Sorelist
and supporter of President Kemal who fled to Jerusalem following Karabekir's rise to power. In 1933, Karabekir
had his supporters pass the Islamic Constitution in 1933, the official name changing to the "Islamic Republic of
Turkey" and returning the capital to Istanbul.
Turkey in the Late 1930’s
Turkey during the 1930’s was seen as the stereotypical National Socialist Dictatorship, with various leaders preaching on about the pride of the Turkish people, dating back to the Ottoman and Seljuk Sultans of Anatolia. The Armenians and Kurds, peoples who were blamed for the Ottoman’s defeat in the Second Global War were persecuted, and those groups were either removed or banned from holding office in Turkey. Those who sought freedom migrated to Russia, Persia and Arabia, hoping to avoid the harsh Turkish laws that kept them down.
The Turkish Military, devastated from eleven years of long lasting conflict had become a top priority for the Grey Wolves Party. Turkey would receive military aid and advisors from fellow National Socialist states, including Great Britain and the Confederate States. Conscription served to bolster military numbers while the acquisition of British and German tanks served to inspire confidence in the Grey Wolves party.
By the end of the 1930’s the Turkish military was able to field a total of a million soldiers, fielded into three Army Groups, in addition, Turkey would be able to field an additional half a million in reserve. These Army Groups would be positioned all across the country, one would be in Eastern Thrace “defending the capital”, the second Army Group would cover Southeastern Anatolia, and the Last Army group would “defend” from threats from the Caucasus and Persia.
Turkey during the Third Global War
Karabekir was initially reluctant to bring the newly rebuilt Turkish state to war on the side of the NatSo Alliance after fighting started in Europe. The French campaign, which dominated much of 1940 was to be the proving ground on whether or not it was feasible to commence their own campaign. Only when mainland France was finally “subjugated” in early 1941 did Turkey finally enter the war on the side of the National Socialists, engaging the French forces currently controlling the mandate in the Levant in what was to be called “Operation Suleiman.” The Turkish military made large advances in the region, successfully occupying Syria and Lebanon by the end of the year, while a subsequent campaign that brought Persia into the war successfully led to the capture of much of Persian Mesopotamia, including the capture of much of Persian Kurdistan and began advancing towards Baghdad.In 1942, by request of their German allies, Turkey began advancing into the Caucasus in support of Fall Lebensraum against the Russian Empire, and would move to occupy Russian Georgia and Armenia. But the combined campaigns in Mesopotamia, the Levant, the Caucasus and the Balkans (Turkish and Bulgarian armies fought against Greek and Balkan troops) took a heavy toll on Turkish supply lines, which were vulnerable to Allied aircraft during the middle of 1942.
Turkey would suffer a catastrophic loss to Russian forces in the Battle of Tsaritsyn on June 13, 1942, followed by a loss to French troops in the Battle of the Golan Heights a week later. Attempts to reverse these losses had failed, and by the end of 1942, a combined Russo-Persian force successfully pushed the Turks back to their borders in the Battle of Baku on November 19, 1942, while France struck at the soft underbelly, moving directly for Ankara.
With the Turks held down by Greece and the Balkan Confederacy, the French Empire, under General Henri Dentz launched an amphibious assault on the European side of Turkey, occupying Gallipoli on December 5, 1942. This was followed up by a siege of the Turkish capital the following week, which continued into the New Year. Germany and Bulgaria attempted to rescue the Turkish leader, but he was killed by partisans before they could be reached. Istanbul fell on February 28, 1943, and, with the fall of Ankara a week later, led to Turkey’s surrender and withdrawal from the conflict, with all troops order to disarm and disband. Only the Turkish Army of the Balkans refused, instead fighting for Bulgaria and later Romania for the remainder of the conflict.