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A Master’s Thesis






September 2007



The Institute of Economics and Social Sciences of Bilkent University by


In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of






September 2007 I certify that I have read this thesis and have found that it is fully adequate, in scope and in quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Arts in History.

--------------------------------Asst. Prof. Oktay Özel Supervisor I certify that I have read this thesis and have found that it is fully adequate, in scope and in quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Arts in History.

--------------------------------Asst. Prof. Nur Bilge Criss Examining Committee Member I certify that I have read this thesis and have found that it is fully adequate, in scope and in quality, as a thesis for the degree of Master of Arts in History.

--------------------------------Asst. Prof. Evgeni Radushev Examining Committee Member Approval of the Institute of Economics and Social Sciences

--------------------------------Prof. Dr. Erdal Erel Director




Murgul, Yalçın M. A., Department of History Supervisor: Asst. Prof. Oktay Özel September 2007 The Ottoman expedition to Baku has central importance in Caucasus between the Bolshevik Revolution and end of the WWI. Since the Ottoman expedition to Baku was the most concrete action towards domination of the area, it served as the main determinant in the formation of relations between the Great Powers and the Caucasian people fighting for their sovereignty in the period until October 1918. This thesis based on a multi-sided bibliography, attempts to study the Baku Operation of the CaucasusIslam Army commanded by Nuri Pasha in the course of the First World War in detail by analyzing both political and military processes and international dimensions, with a detailed picture of the whole process. By placing the Ottoman Operation at the centre, it

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place to the issue of Pan-Turkism, this study argues that Ottoman Army’s Baku operation has a special place in Ottoman history as one of practical implementations of Pan-Turkist policies and it has an important role in the shaping of Azerbaijani National Movement in Transcaucasia. The thesis is divided into three parts. These are “The Ottoman State’s Caucasus Policy from the February Revolution to Batum Treaties”, “The General Situation in Transcaucasia before Baku Operation”, and “The CaucasusIslam Army’s Baku Operation”. In this context Germany, Soviet Russia and Britain’s strategies in the region will also be considered.

Key Words: Enver Pasha, Caucasus-Islam Army, Ottoman Army, Transcaucasia, WWI, Pan-Turkism, Nuri Pasha, Azerbaijani National Movement, Baku

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Bolşevik Devrimi ve Birinci Dünya Savaşı’nın sona ermesi arasında geçen dönemde Kafkasya’nın durumu söz konusu olduğunda Osmanlı Ordusu’nun Bakü seferi merkezi öneme sahip olan konudur. Kafkasya üzerine planları olan büyük devletlerin ve Kafkasya’da bağımsızlık mücadelesi veren halkların 1918 Ekim’ine kadar olan ilişkilerinin şekillenmesinde Osmanlı Devleti’nin Bakü’ye ilerleyişi bölgedeki hakimiyet mücadelesindeki en somut hamle olduğu için temel belirleyici olmuştur. Çok yönlü bir kaynakçaya dayanılarak yazılan bu tezin amacı Nuri Paşa’nın idaresindeki slam Ordusu’nun Birinci Dünya Savaşı esnasındaki Bakü Harekatı’nı tüm siyasi ve askeri süreci ve uluslararası boyutu analiz ederek açıklamaya çalışmaktır. Tez Osmanlı harekatını merkeze alarak Baku üzerindeki uluslararası mücadeleye katılan tüm tarafların bakış açısını çözümlemeyi hedeflemektedir. Enver Paşa ve ttihad ve Terakki üzerine çalışmalar söz konusu olduğunda Pan-Türkizm’e her zaman özel bir önem atfedilmiştir; bu bağlamda Osmanlı Ordusu’nun Baku harekatı’nın Pan-Türkist politikaların uygulanması meselesi ele alındığında Osmanlı Tarihi’nde özel bir yeri,

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bölümden oluşmaktadır. Bu bölümler “Şubat Devrimi’nden Batum Antlaşmaları’na Kadar Olan Dönemde Osmanlı Devleti’nin Kafkasya Siyaseti”, “Bakü Harekatı Öncesinde Transkafkasya’da Genel Durum” ve “ slam Ordusu’nun Bakü Harekatı” başlıklarını taşımaktadır. Tezde işlenen genel durum içinde Almanya, Sovyet Rusya ve Britanya’nın bölge stratejileri de ayrıca ele alınacaktır.

Anahtar Kelimeler: Enver Paşa, Kafkas- slam Ordusu, Osmanlı Ordusu, Transkafkasya, Birinci Dünya Savaşı, Pan-Türkizm, Nuri Paşa, Azerbaycan Milli Hareketi, Bakü.

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First and foremost, always lovely and “unforgettable” Professor Stanford Jay Shaw was the most important motivation source for me. I had started to do my research under the supervision of Stanford J. Shaw. His enthusiasm and his fanatical devotion to history always inspired me to explore. His existence in our lives was a gift for us. He can never be thanked enough.

I am grateful to Faruk Haksal and my parents their support and for their moral contributions.

I would like to thank especially to my dearest friends Özcan Ulaş Altunok, Onur Arpat and Ozan Örmeci for their patience and hospitality. I also want to express my sincere thanks to Alper Ersaydı and Lena Gasımova whose assistance helped me to complete my work.

I would like to express my gratitude to my advisor Oktay Özel for his tolerance and support while conducting this study. He provided me the necessary strategy to conduct the research.

I am indebted to Mustafa Akaydın for his assistance in writing this thesis. Like a comrade, he has taken place nearly in all steps of my research since the beginning of

2007. I spent hours with him during the Spring of 2007. He has also been a very important emotional support to me.

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Samir sgenderov,Elman Mustafa, Han Resuloğlu, Mahire Abdulla, brahim Köremezli,Birkan Duman, Harun Yeni, Cemal Alpgiray Bölücek, Nahide Işık Demirakın, Veysel Şimşek, Gökhan Tunç, Alphan Akgül Volkan Kantoğlu, Selman Biner,.Erhan Belgin and. Erbil Altunok for their invaluable friendship.

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ABSTRACT……………………………………………………………………...….iii ÖZET…………………………….…………………………………………………...v ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS……………………………………………………....vii TABLE OF CONTENTS………………………………………………………..…..ix CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION



II.1 Collapse of Tsarist Russia and Towards Brest-Litovsk Peace Conference.....11 II.2 Brest-Litovsk Peace Conference and Ottomans’ Caucasia Policy.................21 II.3 Ottoman Offensive on the Caucasus Front(Until May 1918)

II.4 Batum Conference and Ottoman-Armenian War

II.5 Vassalization of Georgia to Germany and the Start of Ottoman-German Competition in Transcaucasia

II.6 The End of Batum Peace Conference

CHAPTER III:TRANSCAUCASIA BEFORE THE. BAKU OPERATION............70 III.1 Russian Azerbaijan and Baku Before the First World War

III.2 First World War and Azerbaijan

III.3 Transcaucasia After the February Revolution

III.4 The Development of Bolshevik Dashnak-Coalition in Baku

III.5 Tension Between Bolsheviks And Azerbaijanis: Coming of March Events..94

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1918-OCTOBER 1918)

IV.1 Establishment of the Caucasus-Islam Army and Its Early Activities......... 113 IV.2 The General Situation of Baku’s Red Army Before the Battles and Stationing of Ottoman Force in Azerbaijan

IV.3 Battles Between the Caucasus-Islam Army and Caucasus Red Army(June 1918)

IV.4 Battles Between the Caucasus-Islam Army and Caucasus Red Army(July 1918)

IV.5 British Intervention

IV.6 First Ottoman Assault on Baku and the Reorganization of Azerbaijani Force After the Failure

IV.7 Arrival of Dunsterville (August 1918)

IV.8 German-Soviet Cooperation Against Ottomans

IV.9 Ottoman Capture of Baku

IV.10 The Aftermath




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World War I is the major event that triggered all the nationalistic and independence wars in Asia which still has significant influence on international relations. During and after World War I the multinational empires of the era started to dissolve and as a result, peoples under the rule of these empires were faced with the problem of surviving as sovereign nations. Following the fall of Romanov dynasty, the lack of authority enabled the Great Powers to intervene, and peoples of Caucasia faced a bloody process during which they understood the merciless reality of the struggle for survival.

In the beginning, the fall of the Russian Empire in 1917 caused enthusiasm for independence especially amongst the Azerbaijani Turks, Armenians and Georgians. The end of Russian despotism was deeply awaited by the revolutionary and nationalist groups in the Caucasus. However, the failure of Russia amid the tumultuous WWI was identical with the continuation of war in a more notorious way for the peoples of Transcaucasia. During WWI, Transcaucasia under Russian rule was not a place of great battles. For that reason, the fall of the Russian Empire meant that the battlefield would now be transferred to Caucasia.

Especially following the October Revolution the opposing sides of the war intervened in the Caucasus through diplomatic, military and economic means. Germans were hoping to gain access to the oil reserves of Baku; Great Britain was trying to keep Germany and the Ottoman Empire away from the Baku oil reserves and Central Asia, while the Bolsheviks sought to prevent all powers of WWI from capturing Baku.

However, since the Ottoman expedition to Baku was considered to be the most concrete step towards the control of Caucasia, it was the centre of attention.

The Ottoman expedition to Baku is of central importance during the period between the Bolshevik Revolution and the end of the WWI. Since Ottoman expedition to Baku was the most concrete action towards domination of the area, this event served as the main determinant in the formation of relations between the Great Powers and Caucasian people fighting for their sovereignty in the period until October 1918. Since many different forces intervened in this matter, the subject is too wide to be discussed from a single perspective.

One of the most important issues related with Ottoman State’s military actions towards the Caucasus was Pan-Turkism. Pan Turkism was a crisis ideology. Istanbul, political center of this ideology, was facing constant threats from the West. The Young Turks were aware that the Ottoman Empire, a traditional multi-cultural society, could not survive in the age of nation-states. The well-known cause, as explained in Andre Malraux’s “The Walnut Trees of Altenburg”s section on Enver Pasha, was to transfer the power of the empire to the lands occupied by the Turkic populations.

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