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Military Confrontation Eclipsed

The example of the Anatolian insurgency remained potent, but by the end of 1922, the prospects for armed struggle receded. International diplomacy and colonial rule had left many Ottoman Great War veterans unemployed and at a loose end.18 The emerging colonial state identified its enemies and exiled or jailed them. During a period of a year or so after the armistice, many Ottoman soldiers and state civil servants had found it possible to flee and relocate to Anatolia. Such people had then been able to maintain Ottoman citizenship, and claim citizenship in the new republic as it emerged. Those who tried to later claim citizenship in the Turkish Republic found the door shut in the new age of exclusive national membership.19 Mustafa Kemal busily sidelined, and eventually purged, many of his old officer comrades from the Great War, especially those who had claims to heroic status in their own right, as Yasin al-Hashimi had discovered earlier than most when he tried to rejoin his fellow officers in Anatolia early in 1922.20

Most “Arab” Ottoman officers who survived the war fought in the Anatolian war and became citizens of the Turkish Republic.21 Damascus- born Sami Sabit Karaman was among the most prominent of such people, and upon his release from a British prison camp in 1919 he made his way to Istanbul and commanded a division in the Anatolian war. He was able to retire in Istanbul on a general’s pension in 1931.22 Certainly, continued service was equally appealing to Muslims who hailed from the Caucasus, Crete, Bulgaria, Albania, or other parts of the Balkans. In their case however, the Treaty of Lausanne, the League of Nations, and the new national governments had already declared them “Turks,” based on their religious identity. It seems likely that no more than a plurality of the Ottoman officer pensioners of the War of Independence could have hailed from regions that eventually were part of the Turkish Republic,

Salonica-born Mustafa Kemal, obviously foremost among them. For those who did not or could not become Turkish citizens, exile in Hashemite Iraq or Transjordan was usually the best choice among limited options.

By the early 1920s, ex-Ottoman officers outside Anatolia accepted temporary defeat and made the best of the situation as the mandate states emerged. Necessity dictated similar arrangements among many less prominent former Ottoman officers. Jacfar al-cAskari was far luckier than most, and was rewarded for his loyalty and service to King Faysal. Upon returning from attending and observing the Lausanne Conference, in November 1923, Faysal appointed Jacfar al-cAskari prime minister for the first of several terms. By 1921, Sacid al-cAs was an overqualified police constable in the desert principality of Transjordan.23 He fled the French Mandate after Maysalun and went to work for Amir cAbdallah as a policeman in Amman. For al-cAs the decade between 1913 and 1923 must have been unimaginably tumultuous and bitter, starting as an important officer and school director in a cosmopolitan and exciting provincial capital, followed by years of war, prison, defeat, a return to Damascus under Faysal, life on the run, exile, and finally a job as a policeman in a remote desert town.

Ramadan Shallash was another ex-officer turned trans-border insurgent forced to become a refugee in cAbdallah’s Transjordan. Ramadan Shallash had been a central figure in the early stages of the Iraq Revolt of 1920, and continued to attack British outposts until June 1920, when Faysal managed to send the perennial troublemaker as an emissary to cAbd al-cAziz al-Saud.24 After Maysalun, he took up residence in Transjordan, a fugitive from the French Mandate.

Taha al-Hashimi, younger brother of Yasin, spent 1919 traveling from Yemen to Istanbul, where he arrived in late October. He left Istanbul in March 1920 and traveled to Damascus to join Faysal’s government, where he became chief of general security. After Maysalun he returned to Istanbul, and received an appointment in military history in the Ottoman Staff. In February 1921, he left (official) Ottoman service, joined the insurgency, and returned to the upper Euphrates region, where he coordinated guerilla operations for the next three years. In late 1923, he received an appointment as a staff officer in the Iraqi army.25

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