20 сентября 2013 г.

Journal Regionplus № 30 (194), September 19, 2013

The liberation of Baku became a symbol of brotherhood between the Turkish and Azerbaijani peoples

    Author: Rizvan HUSEYNOV Baku

    Parade of the Army in Baku - 1919
    A joint feat - this is how we can describe the liberation of Baku from the Bolshevik-Dashnak junta and British invaders in September 1918 by Turkish and Azerbaijani soldiers who formed the Caucasian Islamic Army led by the young Turkish General Nuri Pasha. 

    Three years earlier - in 1915, at the time of tsarist Russia, thousands of Azerbaijani Turks left for Turkey during World War I to fight shoulder to shoulder with their Turkish brothers. During the Battle of Canakkale (Dardanelles Campaign of 1915, as it is called in the West), 3,000 Azerbaijanis died. In the Battle of Canakkale and the further defence of this strategically important point, the seizure of which would lead to the complete fall of the Ottoman Turkey, Europe suffered a crushing defeat. For example, the losses suffered by the UK in this battle amounted to one third of its losses in World War I. In those years, Azerbaijani patriots carried out a lot of work to raise money and collect everything necessary for the needs of the Turkish army. Azerbaijani women handed over their valuables, jewellery and personal savings to help support the Turkish army. 

    Three years later, the young Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR), the first republic in the Muslim world proclaimed on 28 May 1918, faced with genocide committed by the Bolsheviks and the Dashnaks. Almost throughout the entire territory of Azerbaijan, Armenian armed detachments massacred innocent civilians in order to clear the land for creating the mythical "Great Armenia". In this situation, the Turkish army, despite the difficult situation in World War I, deployed some of its forces to the Caucasus to help brotherly Azerbaijan. On 4 June 1918, a friendship treaty was signed between the Ottoman Empire and the Azerbaijan Republic. It was the first treaty of the Azerbaijan Republic with foreign countries. According to Point 5 of the treaty, the Turkish government pledged to disarm and expel the armed gangs created in the border areas of the Azerbaijan Republic. The inclusion of a point on military aid in the treaty meant that Armenian gangs operating in the mountainous part of Karabakh would be eliminated and peace and security would be established in Baku cleansed from foreign enemies. 

    Offensive Turkish and British troops in the Caucasus, 1918
    Thus, Turkey undertook to aid the young Azerbaijan Republic towards the full restoration of its territorial integrity and political power over the whole of the republic, part of which, as is known, was in the hands of the Bolshevik dictatorship at that time. In accordance with the treaty, two divisions of the Turkish Army were sent to assist the Azerbaijan Republic: the 5th and then 15th divisions of up to 15,000 people. The 5th division, which was considered one of the best in the Turkish army, arrived first. As it defended the Dardanelles during World War I, it was called the Canakkale division. At the end of May 1918, the Turkish troops entered the Yelizavetpol province and began to move towards Yelizavetpol (Ganja), where their headquarters headed by Nuri Pasha arrived. The Azerbaijani population greeted the allied Turkish troops with great warmth and joy. 

    On 16 June 1918, the government of the Azerbaijan Republic moved from Tbilisi to Yelizavetpol. The allied Azerbaijani and Turkish troops were integrated into the Caucasian Islamic Army, the command of which was entrusted to Nuri Pasha. In an order to his troops, Nuri Pasha said: "Our target is Baku." At the same time, in June 1918, the Turkish forces under the command of Kazim Karabekir Pasha took Naxcivan, which was threatened by Dashnak gangs. On 16-18 June, fighting raged on the Kurdamir front near the village of Qaramaryam located 20 km east of Goycay, which was seized by the enemy. At this difficult time, the Caucasian Islamic Army was joined by Azerbaijani volunteers. With their arrival, the command of the army began to prepare an offensive. On 30 June, the Bolshevik troops were driven back to their original positions - east of Qaramaryam. 

    The victory of the Caucasian Islamic Army in the battle of Goycay became a turning point in the course of the armed struggle for the reunification of Azerbaijan and liberation of Baku. On 10 July, Turkish and Azerbaijani soldiers liberated Kurdamir. On 14 July, a Turkish regiment took the Karar station. In July, the forces of the Caucasian Islamic Army were deployed on the front as follows. Turkish units acted on the left flank (Shamakhi direction) and on the right flank (Seldi direction). In the centre (Kurdamir direction) mainly Azerbaijani troops were on the offensive. The share of Azerbaijani troops in the Caucasus Islamic Army had increased significantly by that time. The counter-offensive of the Caucasian Islamic Army exacerbated the political and economic crisis in Baku, which was in the hands of the Bolsheviks and the Dashnaks. In the highly tense political atmosphere, the Baku Council held a meeting on 25 July 1918 and decided to invite British troops to Baku. 

    The Baku Council People's Commissar refused to submit to this demand and resigned, announcing the fall of the Bolshevik regime in Baku. Power in Baku was taken over by a bloc of right-wing Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and Dashnaks, which formed the government of the "Central Caspian Dictatorship and the Presidium of the Provisional Executive Committee of the Council of Workers 'and Soldiers ' Deputies" on 1 August. On the same day, the dictatorship sent its representatives to the headquarters of the British command in Iran. On 4 August 1918, the first British force under the command of Colonel Stokes, who arrived by sea from the Iranian port of Anzali, landed in Baku. On 9-17 August, the British landed with three battalions, a battery of field artillery and several armoured vehicles. But these forces were not enough to stop the Caucasian Islamic Army, which fought its way to Baku and began a decisive assault on the city on 15 September. By the end of the day, the British randomly left Baku on their ships. Following them, Dictatorship members and tens of thousands of Armenian emissaries also fled. 

    Memorial to the Turkish soldiers, Baku
    The liberation of the capital allowed the government of Azerbaijan to fully move to Baku. On this occasion, the German newspaper Volkspherbeobachterin wrote about Azerbaijan in those days: "15 September 1918 is of utmost importance for the history of Azerbaijan. At that time, voices were raised in Europe about the need to assist the Azerbaijan Republic and give it a chance to live. (But at the same time Europe planned to recognize Azerbaijan without its capital - R.H.). However, it was nothing but giving Azerbaijan to Azerbaijan without Baku. This view was like a puppet show with a headless doll. Just like it is impossible to imagine the life of the body without the head, Azerbaijan is inconceivable without Baku. The fall and rise of Azerbaijan are connected with the fate of Baku." 

    These words could not better describe the difficult situation faced by the young Azerbaijan Republic and the historical importance of the liberation of Baku in September 1918. Therefore, the date of the liberation of Baku can be considered a symbol of the brotherhood and festivity of the Azerbaijani and Turkish peoples.