Atatürk Military and Political Life
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (indeterminate, 1881-10 November 1938) was a Turkish army officer, revolutionary statesman, writer, and founder of the Republic of Turkey as well as its first President.
Atatürk became known as an extremely capable military officer by being the only undefeated Ottoman commander during World War I. Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, he led the Turkish national movement in the Turkish War of Independence. Having established a provisional government in Ankara, he defeated the forces sent by the Allies. His successful military campaigns led to the liberation of the country and to the establishment of Turkey. During his presidency, Atatürk embarked upon a program of political, economic, and cultural reforms. An admirer of the Age of Enlightenment, he sought to transform the former Ottoman Empire into a modern, democratic, and secular nation-state. The principles of Atatürk's reforms, upon which modern Turkey was established, are referred to as Kemalism.
Following graduation, he was assigned to Damascus as a lieutenant. He joined a small secret revolutionary society of reformist officers called Vatan ve Hürriyet ("Motherland and Liberty"). In 1907, he was promoted to the rank of captain and assigned to Manastır. He joined the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP, 'Young Turks'). However, in later years he became known for his opposition to, and frequent criticism of, policies pursued by the CUP leadership. In 1908, he played a role in the Young Turk Revolution which seized power from Abdülhamid II. In 1910, he took part in the Picardie army maneuvers in France. In 1911, he worked at the Ministry of War for a short time. Later in 1911, he was posted to the Ottoman province of Trablusgarp (present-day Libya) to fight in the Italo-Turkish War. He returned to the capital in October 1912 following the outbreak of the Balkan Wars. During the First Balkan War, he fought against the Bulgarian army at Gallipoli and Bolayır on the coast of Thrace. In 1913, he was appointed military attaché to Sofia and promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1914.
Mustafa Kemal in Gallipoli with his soldiers, 1915
In 1914, the Ottoman Empire entered European and Middle Eastern theatres of World War I on the side of the Central Powers. Mustafa Kemal was given the task of organizing and commanding the 19thFifth Army during the Battle of Gallipoli. Mustafa Kemal became the outstanding front-line commander after correctly anticipating where the Allies would attack and holding his position until they retreated. Following the Battle of Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal served in Edirne until 14 January 1916. He was then assigned to the command of the XVI Corps of the Second Army and sent to the Caucasus Campaign. The massive Russian offensive had reached the Anatolian key cities. On 7 August, Mustafa Kemal rallied his troops and mounted a counteroffensive. Two of his divisions captured not only Bitlis but the equally important town of Muş, greatly upsetting the calculations of the Russian Command. On 7 March 1917, Mustafa Kemal was promoted from the command of the XVI Corps to the overall command of the 2nd Army. The Russian Revolution erupted and the Caucasus front of the Czar's armies disintegrated. Mustafa Kemal had already left the region and was assigned to the command of the 7th Army at the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. He returned to Aleppo on 28 August 1918, and resumed command. Mustafa Kemal retreated towards Jordan to establish a stronger defensive line against the British forces that won against the German commander Liman von Sanders' troops at the Battle of Megiddo, whom Mustafa Kemal served under as commander of the ill-fated Ottoman Seventh Army. Afterwards he was appointed to the command of Thunder Groups Command (Turkish: Yıldırım Orduları Grubu), replacing Liman von Sanders. Mustafa Kemal's position became the base line for the Armistice of Mudros. Division attached to the
Kemal's last active service in the Ottoman Army was organizing the return of the troops who were left behind south of his line. Mustafa Kemal returned to an occupied Constantinople (present-day Istanbul), the Ottoman capital, on 13 November 1918. Along the established lines of partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, British, Italian, French and Greek forces began to occupy Anatolia. The occupation of Constantinople along with the occupation of İzmir mobilized the establishment of the Turkish national movement and the Turkish War of Independence
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