‘To come overnight all of a sudden’ or turning back from the referendum before it’s too late

The last Ottoman Parliament that gathered in Istanbul had accepted and announced the document known as the National Pact on Jan. 20, 1920. Occupation forces had reacted harshly toward the announcement of the document and the Parliament was dismantled. Shortly after, Istanbul was invaded. In addition to this, the violence and its tough policy did not eliminate the National Pact. The document became the political manifesto of the National Struggle. This document was presenting the minimum conditions the Turkish nation would accept for a peace pact.

The first article of the pact states that the invasion of the land that was invaded after the Armistice of Mudros is unacceptable, that when the Mudros Ceasefire Agreement was signed in Oct. 20, 1918, the lands under Turkish control were integral and indivisible. Invasion forces were most likely angered by this article and first Parliament was destroyed, then Istanbul was invaded.

So what was the reason behind this emphasis and the anger it caused? On Oct. 1918, in other words, on the date the cease-fire was signed, a large part of Mosul was under Turkish control. After Curzon said, “The Euphrates is the United Kingdom’s western border,” in the later period, revealing its strategic significance, as Mosul, which is like a lifeline due to oil generation, could not be taken, the military forces loyal to the U.K. continue to advance – in violation of international law – and started to invade Mosul on Nov. 2.

As a result of this behavior violating international law, there is a special emphasis in the National Pact on Oct. 30, 1918, the date the Mudros Ceasfire Agreement was signed.

One of the most important reasons why the Lausanne Conference that would end World War I for the Ottoman Empire (and its successor, the Republic of Turkey) following the National Struggle, was Mosul. The 14-article directives given to the negotiation committee, as İsmet Pasha was setting off to attend the Lausanne Conference, contained the Iraqi border as well. The committee was given the directive demanding the Sulaymaniyah, Mosul and Kirkuk brigades that were invaded by the U.K. in violation of international law.

When İsmet Pasha told Lord Curzon, “I will not return to Ankara without taking Mosul,” Curzon said that they signed an agreement with the Iraqi government (When the National Struggle succeeded, the British quickly made Faysal the king of Iraq and signed an agreement) in October 1922, that if they leave Mosul to Turkey they would be violating the agreement. This statement by Curzon as well as the agreement the U.K. signed with Iraq in October 1922 are important in terms of it showing that Mosul is a part of Iraq and that it cannot be divided. Keep this in mind as you continue to read.

The Mosul issue was excluded from the Lausanne Pact. After the Lausanne Pact was signed, the U.K. applied to Turkey and requested that something be done to solve the Mosul issue. Fethi Okyar, who led the Turkish committee at the Haliç Conference that gathered in Istanbul, similar to İsmet Pasha, advocated that Mosul, Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah should be left to the Turks.

As for the U.K. side, in order to create a diplomatic area of maneuver for themselves, just as they stated that Mosul and the other places would not be left to the Turkish side, they also demanded Hakkari for the Nestorians. The aim was to create certain dispute to take the matter to the National Assembly. Finally, the Mosul matter came to the National Assembly and they gave Mosul to Iraq, in other words, to the U.K.

Turkey first stated that it did not recognize the agreement, but with the Ankara Pact in 1926, it accepted that Mosul remain with Iraq. The matter that should draw your attention here is that both the U.K. and the Turkey side tacitly accepted that Mosul was considered as an integral part of Iraq.

This explanation briefly shows us that the referendum held in northern Iraq has no legitimacy whatsoever. If the stubbornness regarding its implementation continues, it means the 1926 pact is no longer valid in terms of neither the U.K., Iran, nor Turkey and, as by international law, Turkey has, as natural guarantor, the right to take all kinds of measures, including an intervention. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s, “We might suddenly come one night,” statement should be interpreted in this context. Our hope is that these guarantor countries of the Mosul matter gather soon at a conference and remedy the wrongdoing before it is too late.