The Problem of MAKU in Turkish-Soviet Russia Affairs (1920-1921)

İbrahim Ethem ATNUR
Assistant Professor, Ataturk University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of History.
Annual 2004 - 4

Maku1 is accepted as a khanate in the region that today we call Southern Azerbaijan or Iran’s Azerbaijan. It survived as a khanate until 1923. Maku was under the control of Bayat Turks, who formed the majority of its population.2 The khanate witnessed the combat between nearby states in the World War I, as in the past, because of the fact that it was located where frontiers intersected. Turkish-Russian, Turkish-English and Turkish-Armenian struggles in the aftermath of the war as well as competition between the Turks, Russians and English gave rise to remarkably hot events of importance in the region.
Iran was weakened by the struggle, which began with the power treaty of 1907,3 overall, through the combat and the fact that the conquests were within the territory of Iran. Whilst the Turks and Russians withdrew, the English in part remained in the region. However, Iran began to lose its sovereignty over the area although the war had ended. It appeared to be incapable of protecting territory against enemies.4 The feudality started to gain more strength and influence. At that time the khanate of Maku, located on the frontier between Turkey and Iran, existed as semi-dependent on the government in Tehran.5
Withdrawal of the Ottoman armies to the frontiers of 1914 and the subsequent Armenian attacks caused the region from Igdır6 to Kars to be conquered with the support of the English.7 Batumi came under the control of the English and the Georgians8 removed Anatolia from the Caucasus almost completely. The needs of western Turkey will make it possible to understand the urgency and vitality of the situation. There was an urgent need for a door to make it easier for the operation to succeed in Anatolia, a route which could only pass through Doğubeyazıt and Maku, the land of Iran. The ‘defeated Turkey’, as Poidebard calls it, was in need of this route.9 Moreover, a weakened Iran could not prevent this route from being used.
That the Russians built a railway between Sahtahti-Maku-Doğubeyazıt and Karakilise (Agri) during the World War I was of importance in this sense.10 Even though the railway was damaged in the region of Maku due to the security reasons,11 it served as a significant means of transportation for Turkish- Nahcivan-Azerbaijan and Turkish-Soviet Russian affairs. For example, Yusuf Kemal Bey and Sami Bey first preferred this railway.12 In addition, the first Soviet Russian commission to Anatolia took this railway.13 Naturally, Turkish soldiers and civil authoritarians used this railway to go to Nahcivan-Azerbaijan and Soviet Russia. They were welcomed favorably in Maku by the Khan and his family.14
Another factor that made Maku attractive and important in this period was the fact that it had rich agricultural fields and large animal flocks.15 For example, the Hilal-i Ahmer Society, which came to Doğubeyazıt towards the end of 1918, had bought the required materials in Maku. The Khan was quite generous16, a case which would later attract the attention of Turkish and Soviet authorities.
There was no objection to the Khan of Maku supplying some food to the starving Armenians in return for arms, but he was strongly advised not to allow them to use the railway.17 Kazim Karabekir Pasha sent him a serious warning on 5th April 1920,18 once it had been heard that the Khan not only provided food to the Armenians but also protected their spies there. It was reported in the warning that he could keep his status, or position, with more honor forever only if he ceased to do what he had been doing for the Armenians; otherwise, he would be the cause of the destruction of himself and all his khanate.
Kazim Karabekir Pasha had already started not to trust Murtaza Kuli Han Ikbal al Saltana, the then Khan of Maku.19 Pasha decided to take a number of precautions because of the dominance of the Armenians during the Turkish- Armenian fights in Nahcivan in July 1920, the reaction of the khans of Nahcivan, who were already averse to the Turkish-Soviet closeness20, and the activities of the Khan of Maku, who was a relative of this khan, regarding the Armenians and Nahcivan21. In a telegraph dated 14th-15th July, he ordered that the Group Commander of the Right Front22 should keep the artillerymen and infantrymen in such a position as to keep Maku under threat.23
Left alone in the world of those days and besieged by the imperialist forces, Turks began to build strong relations with Soviet Russia following the foundation of the TBMM. That the Red Army was in the Caucasus was a great help to the TBMM. Good relations were to be built with Soviet Russia and at Turkish frontiers much-needed help could be provided without any concern about the way. The best way of securing this would be in Nahcivan, where there was a Turkish brigade at the time. The Red Army was invited to the region. The expected meeting of two “Red” forces on 1st August 1920 declared, in a sense, Nahcivan as the centre of Turkish-Soviet Russian affairs.24 As Mustafa Kemal expressed, there had started a “natural and inherent” friendship.25
Kazim Karabekir stated in a letter that he had sent to TBMM on 17th July 1920 before the Red Army forces arrived in Nahcivan that they could conquer Maku in collaboration with the Bolsheviks.26 Hence, Maku became a factor in within the mutual relations of Turkey and Soviet Russia. Maku had gained importance not only as a strategic transition point and a rich centre for food, but also because the Armenians who had conquered Sahtahti were in contact with the English regarding Maku. Accordingly, Halil Pasha, who organized the relations with the Red Army and Soviet Russia, mentioned the significance of the road in his telegraph dated 21st August 1920. The grain stocks of Maku were important for the Red Army, which was suffering from a scarcity of food. Also, it would be easier then to spread the Bolshevik Revolution to northern Iran, including Maku.27
The Commander of the Turkish Revolution Red Brigade in Nahcivan, Veysel Bey28, negotiated over the problem of Maku with the Commander and Commissioner of the 28th Division of the 11th Red Army that came to the region on 23rd September. Maku was a hindrance to transportation between Turkey and Soviet Russia and was aiding the Armenians under the influence of the English currently in Iran. The anti-Bolshevik forces were benefiting from the authority of the Khan of Maku. To prevent this, it was necessary to dispose of the English in Maku. The solution was to cut contact between Erivan and Maku. The solutions offered by Veysel Bey were as follows: to keep the frontier as strongly as possible; to prevent the passage of food and arms; to establish an organization of Turks and local people with the aim of learning about relations between the Khan and the Armenians and to provoke a civil war. The final step he recommended was that the Turkish Army should take the control of Maku, gain the possession of the belongings of the Khan or Maku should be directly conquered and Russificated. The Soviets, however, admitted the choice that the local people should revolt against the Khan and the armies should take side with them. This meant that there would be a brigade in Maku, including the Turkish soldiers as well. Any direct military intervention and a subsequent coup were to be negotiated with the superior authorities. The decision was to conquer Maku upon the inclusion of the Right Front Group Command.29 After all these negotiations, however, Maku was not conquered. The 1st Battalion and the artillerymen were charged with the security of the Beyazit- Maku-Nahcivan road on 7th September.30 This duty was to be fulfilled by the 1st Battalion of the 34th Regiment to be settled in Maku.31
Maku was a matter of much significance to Bahadir Velibekov, who was appointed by Dr. Neriman Nerimanov, the Soviet chairperson of the Azerbaijani Public Commissaries, to be the leader of Nahcivan Revkom32 and who arrived in Nahcivan on 7th September 1920. To him, the problem of Maku was to be solved within a month’s time. The Armenians were to be deprived of their ties or contacts with Maku and the extensive resources of the region were to be transferred to the soldiers and immigrants. That a battalion of Turkish soldiers would be launched in Maku was welcomed by Velibekov. She was thinking about the necessity of Bolshevism being adopted by the Turks in the East and the Russians not being involved in this process. The Islamic population would thus be enabled to trust the Muslim Turkish soldiers for such reasons as religion. Therefore, Bolshevism, or in other words the Revolution, was to be realized by Turkish soldiers in Maku.33 Velibekov was the political authority in the region on behalf of Azerbaijani Soviet and naturally Soviet Russia. His words or sayings were, therefore, of importance.
What seemed obvious from these projects was that the Bolsheviks were to have the Turkish soldiers control Maku and to utilize the food or material to be obtained from here for them. Veysel Bey informed34 the Right Front Group Command on 14th October 1920 that the Bolsheviks had an exaggerated knowledge of the wealth or resources of Maku, and that even Azerbaijan had the dream of gaining her bread in this way. They aimed to keep the Azerbaijan road open even throughout the winter for this purpose. What they appeared to ignore was the fact that not only were the Bolsheviks suffering from a food shortage, but Anatolia was also in urgent need of food.
Kazim Karabekir consulted Cavid Bey, the Group Commander of the Right Front on 17th November 1920. It was possible to maintain the control and reign in Maku and to establish an organization in the style of Revkom. As Cavid Bey did not answer him back, Pasha wrote another letter on 20th November. Any revolution led by the Communists in Maku would be to their own benefits. It was, therefore, important for the Turks not to remain indifferent to this revolution and to take things under control after the institution of a Turkish authority and reign at once. The animals and food to be obtained from Maku were, thereafter, to be transferred to Anatolia for the Turkish soldiers and people.35 The district of Doğubeyazıt was supplied with its requisites from Maku. Accordingly, with its decision dated 12th December 1920, Heyet-i Vekile enabled the inhabitants of Doğubeyazıt to pass across the frontier easily so that they could reach Maku within 8 hours.36 The existing thoughts were that Turks already had their own plans for Maku, that it would not take long to realize them and that Iran had no problems about its frontiers.
For the fast and comfortable transportation of the foods from Maku, it was necessary to use the railway. Cavid Bey requested this from the Khan of Maku in the early summer of 1920, but the Khan did not approve of it. Yet it was a troublesome period then and the issue was of utmost urgency and significance for the Turks, as well, who had launched a military operation against the Armenians on one hand and needed the food very much on the other. They were competing for it with the Bolsheviks. When Kazim Karabekir cut in, Cavid Bey talked to the Khan of Maku on the phone on 29th November. The following day he sent a long letter to the Khan. He first mentioned about the damage of not having the railway repaired and went on as follows:
1. Why didn’t the Iran government and the Khanate of Maku prevent this railway then, which the Russian Tsarist regime had built in Maku so as to defeat Turkey at the time? Why did the Khans of Maku object to the Sahtahti- Doğubeyazıt railway being used when the Ottoman Army entered Iran upon the dissemination of the Russian Tsarist regime? We have our exclusive rights for this railway. Though the Tsarist Russia built it, its heir is now Soviet Russia. This republic now aspires to regain her rights for her railway in Maku. We kindly ask for your permission to let us inform the Red forces about the case so that they will come to repair the railway.
2. Grains are going to be bought for the forces of People’s Republic of Russia in Nahcivan, the refugees in the region and the soldiers of the TBMM government in the east and west of Maku. The transportation of this requires the use of the railway. In case of not using it, many people are likely to lose their lives. It is just for this vital reason that we are obliged to repair and use the railway in two sides. The unnecessary and problematic opposition to this project in Maku should be eliminated. Otherwise, whatever is required is supposed to be done.37
Although this telegraph, indicative of alliance with Soviet Russia even when in competition with her on the issue of Maku, contained an obvious desire and warning, the Khan replied through the agency of one of his men the same day: The region belonged to Iran and she would most probably have the railway destroyed even if it was repaired. Cavid Bey sent back the following message with the same man:
1. The railway will be repaired on both sides and whoever destroys or damages the railway is to be hung, and the Khan is supposed not to make it public to the local people in order to avoid leading to such an event;
2. Should there appear any controversy on the issue of repair of the railway, an Arab village in a strategic location in Maku would be occupied. If there is any opposition or damage, the machine company of the battalion in Doğubeyazıt would be sent to the Maku station by an armored train.38 The military units had already been provided with the necessary orders and instructions. Cavid Bey also added that he had his own belief in the fact that the Khan would never lead to such an undesirable event.39
There is no evidence or proof of the answer the Khan of Maku gave to Cavid Bey. However, it is understood from the British records that he left the issue to the concern of the Iran government. According to the English, the Khan was quite adept at using the alternative of Iran against the Turks and Bolsheviks.40 The fact that the Khan was gaining time was a matter of disturbance for both the Turks and the Bolsheviks. Therefore, Bahadir Velibekov reported that the food problem was extremely urgent and recommended to Cavid Bey that the Red Army units should occupy Maku. Intending to prevent the Bolsheviks from entering Maku, Cavid Bey reported to the Bolshevik side on 5th December 1920 the probable handicaps or drawbacks that would emerge if the Red Army entered Maku.41 The intrusion of the Red Forces into Maku would cause the people, who were suffering for years, to rebel against the Khan. His wealth would be pillaged. If the people pillaged the food, resources and so on, the soldiers could never force them to deliver all those materials. If they did so, this would not conform to the purpose of the Bolsheviks. There might emerge a contrary revolution. For this very reason, threatening the Khan to deliver the food and materials would be more reasonable than sending soldiers to Maku.
The purpose of Turkish soldiers was to keep the Bolshevik soldiers away from Maku. The presence of the Bolsheviks in Maku would likely lead to troubles in the long term. Moreover, the experience of Nahcivan42 showed that Turks’ early image of the Bolsheviks was beginning to change.
The Bolsheviks were determined to realize their ambition to occupy Maku. However, they were also out to persuade the Turkish side. On 6th December 1920, Velibekov and the Russian commanders went to Cavid Bey; both red forces were suffering from scarcity of food. Also, some representatives from Maku were coming every day and saying that they were in favor of the Bolsheviks, and the Kurds were pillaging the vicinity of Nahcivan under the command of the Khan. The occupation of Maku seemed inevitable. This was possible only with the assistance and support of the Turkish military units. Kazim Karabekir stated that it was not reasonable or advisable at all for the Bolshevik forces to go to Maku.43 Both Cavid Bey and Veysel Bey were exchanging their views on the issue via telegraph. Being at the same place with the Bolsheviks, Veysel Bey was charged with persuading them and making political maneuvers. Even though there occasionally appeared some changes in the method to be applied, the main purpose was always to keep the Bolsheviks away from Maku.
There were five ways of attaining this target.
1- Solving the problem of food, which was the Bolsheviks’ urgent need. Cavid Bey wrote to Veysel Bey that a group of men of Nahcivan would be sent to Maku to solve this problem. They were entitled to buy food in the name of the Russians. In addition, he himself would send two officers to Maku to deal with the issue of food.
2- Informing Maku that any attack by the Bolsheviks would leave a negative and bad influence on the Islamic world and leave Turkey in a difficult situation, and that in case of a fight, the Turkish forces would not provide any aid.
3- Establishing grounds to prevent the Bolsheviks’ occupation of Maku. To that end Sefik Bey, who had been sent to Maku by Cavid Bey, reported to the Khan that the Turkish authorities were trying to prevent the Bolsheviks from entering Maku and, if necessary, they themselves could control the region.
4- Persuading the Red Army forces to go to Erivan44.
5- Occupying Maku with a battalion of soldiers after persuading the Bolsheviks on the matter of Maku without leading to any offence or trouble.
Here arose a serious question: What would happen if the Bolsheviks could not be persuaded and attacked Maku? Was the answer to respond to them with guns, to protest, or keep silent? On 6th December, Cavid Bey recommended that there should be a political representative in Maku to receive the required order from Kazim Karabekir Pasha. Also, Veysel Bey was asked about his opinions about the issue.45
Veysel Bey wrote an answer the following day: “If we dispatched a battalion to Maku, Red Liva would enter Maku then as though a comrade. They would not believe us even if we said that we were not intent on occupying Maku.” To Veysel Bey, both the propaganda and the revolution were to be fulfilled by the Turks here since they shared the same religion and race with the people of Maku. Turks were to stay here until the region was to become completely Marxist after the foundation of such institutions as Revkom. Otherwise, it was certain that there would emerge a sort of unrest.46
Having settled the Armenian problem and felling at ease in the region, the Turkish and Soviet parties attempted to persuade one another on the subject of occupation. Both parties sought ways of keeping control of Maku. Velibekov even charged the Turks with unifying Nahcivan and Maku to control them.47 Delicate balances prevented both parties from moving forward and occupying the territory. What seemed to be a reasonable compromise was the collecting and sharing of food without occupying Maku. This was, of course, possible with the abovementioned threat method of Cavid Bey.
Cavid Bey had threatened the Khan in outspoken and severe language. He also asked the Bolsheviks for the same procedure. Velibekov began to threaten Maku and Iran around the same time on behalf of Soviet Russia. According to an English report dated 5th December 1920, signed by Mr. Norman48 and sent from Tehran, the Turks and Soviet Russians threatened the Khan of Maku. The Khan of Maku then transferred the demands of Velibekov and the Turks who threatened him to the Prime Minister of Iran through the General Governor of Azerbaijan in Tebriz, Mukhber-es Sultanate.
Velibekov asked these questions to the Khan of Maku and made some demands: Was the Khan of Maku the friend of the Soviet government and would he work in collaboration with them? Would he give them everything that was needed? Why didn’t Iran, which declared herself as impartial, allow the Bolshevik forces to enter Iran and remain blind and deaf to the English in this sense? Would the Iranian government form commercial affairs and ties with the Soviets? Were the Bolshevik forces to be allowed to pass into Turkey over Maku by railway? Velibekov stated that Iran government would come to terms with the Soviets to expel the English from Iran and that they would expel the English from Turkey. If what they demanded was not given, the Bolshevik armies would enter the territory of Iran, which would then lead the way to Turks.49 This was an outspoken threat, which also meant the repair and operation of the Baku-Doğubeyazıt railway.
According to the English report, the second demand, full of threats, had come from the representatives of Mustafa Kemal, the Turkish nationalists. The General Governor in Tebriz was asking what kind of attitude he would adopt towards the representatives of Mustafa Kemal. Either good relations were to be established with the Turks or they were to be expelled from the country.50
England had patronized Iran through the treaty that she signed on 9th August 1919,51 and Mr. Norman, with this issue in mind, was trying to channel the Iran Prime Minister about the demands from the Turks and Bolsheviks. Mr. Norman stated to the Prime Minister about the Turks’ demand that they should be on good terms with the Turks and otherwise it would never be possible for them and Iran’s forces to expel the Turks from southern Azerbaijan (Maku and its vicinity). He then recommended that the Governor in the region should negotiate with the Turks under his responsibility.
It was recommended that Velibekov’s demands should be denied. Iranian and Soviet governments would solve the problem during their negotiations. There was another question to Velibekov at a time when Iran and Soviet Russia were on the verge of signing a trade treaty; this question was why the English were threatened. In addition, the Iranian government should protest against the Soviet government because of Velibekov’s attitude.52 The Iranian government did not deny the demands of the Bolsheviks and charged the Governor of Tebriz with saying that the problems could only be solved through negotiations.53 The Iranian government was already in trouble, with the Bolshevik forces in such regions as Astara, Erdebil54 and Gilan, and they were reluctant to manage a new problem. Also, not only the Governor of Tebriz but also the Khan of Maku acted alone in making their decisions and played the Iranian government55 against the Turks and Bolsheviks in cases in which such behavior would be to their own benefit.56
The Tebriz Governor’s demand for negotiation was welcomed by Turkey and Soviet Russia. Under the leadership of Velibekov, Hikmet Bey57 of the Turks, a Russian named Mikhail Yangviteh and a Bolshevik group of 12 attendants reached Tebriz on 9th December 1920. Velibekov explained the purpose of their visit, which was to open a representative office in Hoy and Maku and a Bolshevik consulate in Tebriz. Their purpose was also to solve the food problem and restore operation of the Sahtahti-Maku railway.58 They had brought rice, cotton and copper with them, a seeming effort to show their goodwill for their demands.
The Governor expressed that permissions to open consulates or representative offices were only granted in Tehran. However, he stated at the end of the negotiations that on account of the conditions in Iran, a consul could be appointed there as long as he remained away from or ignorant of the Communist ideas. Then he agreed to give 50 karvas of wheat and a certain amount of barley.59 According to an English report dated 31st December 1920, the local governor did his best to calm the Turkish and Russian party by promising grain and giving them presents so as to gain time. Then he gave them the brush-off.60 The Bolshevik committee left Tebriz on 13th December 1920. However, Sultanov was left in Tebriz so that he spread propaganda.61
Even though the English were of the opinion that the Bolshevik committee had been given the brush-off, this was not the case. Whereas the English had thought of taking security precautions against the Turkish-Soviet forces62, they failed to do much. It was believed that due to the existing threats, the Turks and Bolsheviks would occupy southern Azerbaijan. Accordingly, a sort of panic emerged in Tebriz. The European colony evacuated and left Tebriz almost completely in December 1920. The Pers Imperial Bank was closed. Its officials left there. The leader of the remaining English and French consuls and a few French nuns and the Catholic missionaries was Pere Francin.63
While the Turkish-Soviet threat aroused panic in southern Azerbaijan, Maku was one of the subjects tackled by the representatives of these two forces during the negotiations between them.
The Turkish committee stated that the Maku-Sahtahti railway was very important to reach Azerbaijan. Also, mention was made of the significance to the region of cutting the collaboration between the English in Iran and the Armenians.64 Although the negotiations between both parties were interrupted for a while, they restarted on 21st February 1921.65 They finally came to an agreement over the issue of Maku during the on 9th March 1921. Were Turkey to find it appropriate to take some measures within the Khanate of Maku, Soviet Russia would not interfere because of the power treaty of 1907. Soviet Russia conceded that right in to Turkey in Maku in return for Turkey’s renunciation of her right of protection over Nahcivan66. Cicerin even wrote a letter concerning the lands of Maku67 – a letter that was not found in a review of the records. However, we do not know whether it is among the minutes of Moscow Treaty because of the fact that we do not have the chance to make use of the archive of Foreign Ministry.
What is known to be true are Turkey’s gains on the issue of Maku during the negotiations in Moscow. In Yusuf Kemal Bey’s list of the issues over which an agreement was reached during the negotiations dated 17th March68, the name of Maku can be seen. Turkey could take measures for defense and protection in Maku whenever necessary.69 Being the representative of Azerbaijan in Moscow and organizing her affairs and relations with Turkey, Behbud Sahtahtinski sent a telegraph on 13th March, containing knowledge on Maku. Sahtahtinski was present during the Moscow negotiations and informed Mirza Davud Huseyinof, the Public Foreign Commissioner of Azerbaijan Socialist Soviet Republic, on 13th March 1921: If the Khanate of Maku were annexed by Turkey, Soviet Russia would not object to this annexation. Maku was left to the control of Turkish party for the compensation of the loss of Nahcivan.70 The same telegraph was transferred to the Eastern Front by the Red Army Command on 14th March and Kazim Karabekir reported it to the foreign affairs officer.71
The problem of Maku became a subject in the Moscow negotiations but it was not among the items of the Moscow Treaty. There are no records in Turkish archives72 and in Documenti Vnesney SSSR73 which contain the documents of the foreign affairs of Soviet Russia, probably because a region belonging to another country had been promised to the other side. It was determined through a secret protocol. The fact that a letter concerning Maku was given by Cicerin and the issue led to the Soviet correspondence does not make one think that the parties changed their minds at the moment of the treaty. That the issue kept the Turkish side busy and preoccupied for some more time must be regarded as more evidence of this fact.
The foreign affairs officer learned from Kazim Karabekir of the Turkish and Soviet Russian delegates’ decision concerning Maku on 14th March 1921. On that day he asked the Pasha what he was thinking about the annexation and occupation of the region.74 It seemed that Kazim Karabekir disapproved of the annexation and asked Veysel Bey for his opinions, though a bit late, as he knew the region well. Two deciphered telegraphs dated 23rd and 24th March 1921 said like that:
“What do you think about whether Maku should be occupied by our soldiers with the due termination of the charge of Sahtahti Detachment in Nahcivan, in order to prevent the Bolsheviks from extending their powers and to stop their activities? If you have a positive opinion, how should the occupation be realized? Express your opinion quickly!”75
Pasha sent the second command to Veysel Bey the same day. Following the Moscow Treaty, the expeditionary duty of the Eastern Front (Sark Cephesi) had ended and it was time for them to leave Nahcivan. Of the Sahtahti detachment, the 1st Battalion of infantrymen and one mountain cannon would be kept in Maku and the rest would be transferred to Nahcivan.76
Veysel Bey expressed his views of Maku in a long telegraph to Kazim Karabekir on 24th-25th March77:

It seems certain that the Bolsheviks will attack Maku, following the Bolsheviks’ occupation of Erivan. For the people of Nahcivan and Erivan, and the Reds are hungry.
1. The grains to be obtained after the occupation of Maku will enable the Reds to keep a larger force in the region and to proceed against Iran, Azerbaijan. Thus, they will find the chance to transfer the grains from Tebriz to Tiflis. In addition, there is a probability of them seducing the Kurds as they will reach the southern frontiers.
2. There appears a situation to threaten the back of the region of Maku. For this reason, the occupation of Maku is of use to us. However, when the Reds have occupied Iran later, the east of the Lake Urmiye will make the frontier between two sides. We cannot guess whether there appears any trouble after the occupation.
When it comes to the occupation of Maku:
1. We have to occupy the region as quickly as possible before the Reds launch a military operation on Erivan.
2. The annexation of the region should be declared with Aras as the frontier while the 1st Battalion and one detachment are kept in Maku. The shared control of Maku with the Bolsheviks, as in Nahcivan, is not appropriate: In this way, it is possible to keep this region from invasion as the old Turkish frontier. This threat of annexation that will coincide with the occupation days of Erivan will be welcomed with pleasure in Maku and the other parts of Azerbaijan due to the Bolsheviks’ threat. We can persuade the Reds by saying that the purpose of this activity is to realize a revolution.78 We can also threaten the English by saying that we will occupy the whole Northern Iran and march into central Iran together with the Reds.
On 4th April, Kazim Karabekir evaluated Veysel Bey’s opinions. He gave the required order.79 The idea of occupying Maku was appropriate, yet it was wrong to talk about annexation. To this end, a battalion of infantrymen and two cannons would be sent to occupy Maku and the commander of the battalion was expected to be perceptive, compact, skilful, and talented enough to control and protect the region under all conditions. The purpose of occupying Maku was to protect the sources of the country, to prevent the probable Bolshevik revolts in Nahcivan from reaching Turkey and to enable the continuation of the transport between Doğubeyazıt and Sahtahti.
Attracting a great deal of attention in Turkish-Soviet relations and leading to correspondences, Maku was finally occupied by the Turkish armies upon the abovementioned command of Kazim Karabekir.80 According to an English report, 250 Turkish soldiers were settled in the villages around Maku.81 Maku was occupied but it was not annexed in accordance with the agreement in Moscow negotiations. When a large part of Turkey was under occupation, it would not be welcome for it to annex the territory of another country. Moreover, it would not be reasonable to create a new friction with England, which was keeping Iran under control then. Keeping Maku under occupation and threat for a while could provide what was demanded in terms of security and food. It cannot be said that there appeared a serious problem in this sense.
Things were going well in Maku in April 1921 a Turk called Tahir Bey was appointed consul. He established a telephone line between Doğubeyazıt and Maku for a faster communication.82 He would conduct the political affairs in a previously unwanted previously. According to an English report dealing with southern Azerbaijan in 1921, the Khan of Maku had been disturbed by the presence of the Turkish soldiers and was protesting.83 It seemed contradictory that the Khan, threatened by the Kurdish tribe leader, Simko, and therefore had to be on good terms with Turkey84, would react seriously at such a crucial moment and that the Turkish authorities would also take him seriously. However, Kazim Karabekir dictated the evacuation of Maku with his order dated 14th April. The units in Maku and Sahtahti would go to Igdır, taking with them the required food and grains.85
The Turkish units left Maku the early May. According to the English report, the Turkish consul told the Khan of Maku that soon Maku would become worse than how it used to be. However, this threat did not come true.86
To our way of thinking, the Turkish authorities moved to evacuate Maku with consideration to the realities of Turkey87 and probably carried out political and economic activities in the region together with the Bolsheviks. The conciliatory policy led by two Turkish officers to stop the conflict between the Khan of Maku and Simko88 came to nothing, yet the Turks and Bolsheviks helped the Khan of Maku, as it was to their own benefits. At times, however, they threatened the Khan.89 A commercial committee of 40 people, the leader of which was a Russian, reached Maku on 10th May.90 The target was again the extensive stock of food of Maku.
As far as one can understand from the Turkish and English records, the Turks attained their ideals and targets concerning Maku to the utmost. This may be attributable to the ethnicity of Maku, its frontier with Turkey, the serious attempts and works of the Turkish authorities and even the local people’s and merchants’ participation in this activity. According to a telegraph sent on 2nd July by an English officer who was closely following Turkish and Bolshevik activities, the Turks were buying a large number of horses, sheep and cattle and sending them to Beyazit. Tahir Bey, the consul, was an influential person in this sense and his representative was inquiring about the relationship between them and the Bolsheviks.91
The early tension in Turkish-Soviet affairs that focused on Maku in 1920 and 1921 tended to disappear naturally later. Collaborative movements decreased, especially after the Turkish party came to know the Bolsheviks better. However, both parties got what they needed and wanted. The English authorities who did not have enough power in the region failed to prevent the Turkish-Soviet block, though they were anxious about this closeness.

1 Maku is in the northwest of the Islamic Republic of Iran today and surrounded by Dogubeyazit, Igdir and Van in Turkey and by Nahcivan in Azerbaijan. Turkish-Iran motorway passes across Maku.
2 V.Minorsky, `Maku’ Islam Ansiklopedisi, Vol. 7, Istanbul, 1993, p. 208-211; V.Minorsky, `Maku’ The Encylopaedia of Islam, Vol. VI; Leiden, 1991, p. 200-201; The Cambridge History Of Iran, Vol. 7, New York, 1991, p. 512; Ruhengiz A.Sultanova, `Maki Hanligi’, Turkler, Vol. 7, Ankara, 2002, p. 123-124.
3 Fahir Armaoglu, 20.Yuzyil Siyasi Tarihi 1914-1980, Ankara, 1983, p. 208; Richard Tapper, Iran’in Sinir Boylarinda Gocebeler Sahsevenlerin Toplumsal ve Politik Tarihi (Trans. F.Dilek Ozdemir), Ankara, 2004, p. 405-406, 410-441.
4 Veysel Unuvar, Bolseviklerle Sekiz Ay, 1920-1921, Istanbul. 1948. p. 4-6
5 British Documents on Foreign Affairs, Turkey, Iran, And The Middle East 1918-1939 (Editor: Robin Bidwell), Vol. 17, Persia II, University Publications Of America, 1990, Doc: 246, p. 301.
6 Basbakanlik Osmanli Arsivi (BOA), Dahiliye Nezareti Idareyi Umumiye Evraki (DH/I-UM), 20-17, 12-47; Richard Hovannisian, The Republic of Armenia Vol.I, The First Year 1918-1919, Los-Angeles, 1971, p. 229.
7 Askeri Tarih ve Stratejik Etud Dairesi Baskanligi Arsivi (ATASE), Istiklal Harbi (ISH)-3, 9/70- 3; Hovannisian, Armenia, I, p. 219-220.
8 Firuz Kazemzadeh, The Struggle For Transcaucasia (1917-1921), New York, p. 165; Akaby Nassibian, Britain and the Armenian Question 1915-1923, New York, 1984, p. 153.
9 Although the author reports the Trabzon-Baku route as the secondary route (Poidebard, Iran Yollari Multekasinda Seyahat (Trans. Binbasi Nazmi ve Emin), Istanbul, 1341, p. 62), it is invalid as the Black Sea and Georgia were under the control of the English at this time.
10 ATASE, A.5-5649, K.3933,D.36, F.2-157; United States of America (USA), National Archives (NA), Paris Peace Conferance, 184.02102/16; Tasvir-i Efkar, 11 Mart 1336/1920; Minorsky, Maku, IA, p. 210.
11 British Documents Persia II, Vol.17, Doc. 246, p. 301; Unuvar, Bolseviklerle Sekiz Ay, p. 6.
12 Yusuf Kemal Tengirsek, Vatan Hizmetinde, Ankara, 1981, p. 143-144.
13 ATASE, A.1/4282, K.587, D.6-1, F.36; British Documents on Foreign Affairs, Turkey; `Iran and the Middle East 1918-1939’, (Editor.Robin Bidwell), Persia I, Vol.16, University Publications of America 1990, Doc:368, p. 270; Bilal Simsir, British Documents on Ataturk (1919-1938), Vol.2, Ankara, 1975, No:90, p. 250.
14 Cihangiroglu Ibrahim Bey, El Yazmasi Hatirat, p. 27; Unuvar, Bolseviklerle Sekiz Ay, p. 6-7.
15 Sultanova, `Maki Hanligi’, p. 125; Minorsky, Maku, I.A., p. 208.
16 Tasvir-i Efkar, 3 Kanun-i Evvel 1335/3 Aralik 1919.
17 BOA, Bab-i Ali Evrak Odasi (BE0), 341351.
18 Kazim Karabekir, Istiklal Harbimiz, Istanbul, 1988, p. 572.

19 He was accused of conspiracy when (1863-1923) Shah Riza Pahlevi ascended the throne. He died in Tebriz prison where he was detained. An Iranian officer was appointed the Governor in place of him(Minorsky, The Encyclopedia of Islam, p. 203)
20 See. Ibrahim Ethem Atnur, Osmanli Yonetiminden Sovyet Yonetimine Kadar Nahcivan (1918-1921), Ankara, 2001, p. 301-325.
21 ATASE, 6/6686, K.923, D.1-2, F.59-2, 27.
22 When the decision for a military operation on Armenia was made, it was renamed as ‘Dogu Cephesi Komutanligi’ of XIV. Army-corps. The 11th Division in Doğubeyazıt affiliated to it began to be called ‘Group Command of the Right Front’ (Turk İstiklal Harbi III, Dogu Cephesi, (1919-1921), Ankara, 1962, p. 92).
23 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.1-2, F.25.
24 About the general structure of Turkish-Soviet Russian affairs and the dimension and state of Caucasian-Nahcivan centered affairs. See Atnur, p. 334-446.
25 Armaoglu, Siyasi Tarih, p. 47.
26 ATASE, A.1/4282, K.586, D.115-35; F.13, 13-1, 13-2.
27 This writing was transferred to TBMM by Kazim Karabekir on 23rd August. (ATASE, A.1/4282, K.586, D.115-35, F.25-19).
28 Atnur, Nahcivan, p. 367.
29 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.1-6, F.16. Kazim Karabekir transferred this information to Erkan-i Harbiye on 12th October 1920 (ATASE, A.1/4282, K.591, D.129-40, F.31, 31-1, 31-2).
30 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.1-6, F.16-9.
31 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.1-6, F.16-14. According to an English report, there were 200 Turkish soldiers in Maku as of 6th September. (British, Documents Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc: 368, p. 270).
32 Revolutsionny Komitet (Inkilap Komitesi).
33 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.1-6, F.16-12.
34 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.6-1, F.17-4.
35 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.1-6, F.18.
36 Basbakanlik Cumhuriyet Arsivi (BCA), Bakanlar Kurulu Kararlari (BKK), ek:88/2.
37 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.5-3, F:78-1.
38 The Khan of Maku had 1000 equestrians at this time. (British Documents Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 246, p. 300).
39 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.5-3, F.78.
40 British Documents, Persia II, Vol.17, Doc. 246, p. 301
41 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.6-1, F.23-8.
42 See. Atnur, Nahcivan, p. 368-438.
43 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.6-1, F.23-13.
44 In this period, Turkish armies defeated Armenia and signed the Gumru Treaty; the Red Army took Erivan under control on 4th-5th December 1920. However, the fights were going on with Tasnaks though not much frequent. (ATASE, A.6/6686, K. 924, D. 6-1, F.23-10; Atnur, Nahcivan, p. 401).
45 ATASE, A.6/6686, K. 924, D. 6-1, F. 23-10; 23-12, 23-13.
46 ATASE, A.6/6686, K. 924, D. 6-1, F. 23-11.
47 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.6-1, F.24-8.
48 It is understood from the English records that he was England’s ambassador for Tehran.
49 British Documents, Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 372, p. 276.
50 British Documents, Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 372, p. 276.
51 Armaoglu, Siyasi Tarih, p. 208.
52 British Documents, Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 372, p. 276-277.
53 British Documents, Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 372, p. 367.
54 According to an English report dated 31st May 1920, the Bolshevik forces in Erdebil were led by a Turk called Nasir Bey.
55 British Documents, Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 372, p. 277; British Documents Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 503, p. 368; British Documents Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc: 402; p. 294; Tapper, Gocebeler, p. 442-443. In this period, it is known that some Turkish officers fought in South Azerbaijan against Iran together with the Bolsheviks, were taken as prisoners and fell into a troubled state in Tehran. Therefore, the Ottoman charge d’affaires in Tehran demanded money from the Hariciye Nezareti on 1st February 1921 so as to eliminate their troubles and make it possible for them to be transferred. (ATASE, A.13, K.1318, D.3/26, F.10) The English documents also write that Turkish representatives contacted with the Sahsevens (British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 27, p. 34).
56 British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 246, p. 301.
57 The first-lieutenant Hikmet Bey was acting not only as liaison officer of the Turkish Red Brigade in Nahcivan but also as the commander of Trocki Regiment (Atnur, Nahcivan, p. 420).
58 Documents On British Foreign Poliscy 1919-1939 (Edited By E.L. Woodward M.A.F:B.A., Rohan Butler M.A), Vol. XIII, London 1963, No. 633, p. 683; British Documents Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 402, p. 294; Persia I, Vol.16, Doc. 483, p. 351; British Documents Persi I, Vol.16, Doc. 503, p. 367.
59 Documents On British, Vol. XIII, No. 633, p. 683-684; British Documents Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 402, p. 294.
60 British Documents, Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 483, p. 351.
61 Documents On British, Vol. XIII, No. 633, p. 684; British Documents, Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 402, p. 294; British Documents Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 503, p. 368.
62 Documents On British Vol. 13, No. 436, p. 490.
63 Documents On British, Vol. 13, No. 592, p. 647-648; British Documents Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 483, p. 351; British Documents, Persia I, Vol. 16, Doc. 503, p. 368; British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 246, p. 298.
64 Huseyin Cahit Yalcin, ‘Tarihi Mektuplar’, Tanin, 6 Aralik 1944; Yusuf Hikmet Bayur, ‘I.Genel Savastan Sonra Antlasmalarimiz III’, Belleten XXX/117-120, (Ankara , 1966), p. 142-143.
65 Atnur, Nahcivan, p. 438-439; Ali Fuad Cebesoy, Moskova Hatiralari, Ankara, 1982, p. 178; A.M.Samsutdinov, Turkiye Ulusal Kurtulus Savasi Tarihi 1918-1923 (Trans. Ataol Behramoglu), Istanbul, 1999, p. 204.
66 Turkey took over the control and protection of Nahcivan by means of Gumru Treaty. (Atnur, Nahcivan, p. 401).
67 Tengirsek, Vatan Hizmetinde, p. 212-213; 226.
68 Though the Moscow Treaty is known to have been signed on 16th March 1921, the signature was put on 18th March in reality. With the confirmation of and advantage to both parties, the Treaty was shown as signed 16th march 1921, the anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul. (Tengirsek, Vatan Hizmetinde, p. 217-218, Atnur, Nahcivan, p. 440-441).
69 Tengirsek, Vatan Hizmetinde, p. 216
70 Azerbaycan Cumhuriyeti Merkezi Devlet Siyasi Partiyalar ve Ictimai Hareketler Arsivi, Fond.609, Opis. 1, Delo. 15, List. 138.
71 ATASE, A.1/4282, K.590, D.37-123, F.89.
72 TBMM ZC, Devre: I, Vol. IX, Ankara, 1953 , p. 206-208; TBMM ZC, Devre I, Vol. XI, Ankara, 1954, p. 321-325; Hakimiyet-i Milliye, 23 Mart 1337/1921; Hakimiyet-i Milliye, 25 Mart 1337/1921, Karabekir, Istiklal Harbimiz, p. 900-904; Tengirsek, Vatan Hizmetinde, p. 277-287.
73 Documenti Vnesney SSSR, Vol. III, Moskova, 1959,p. 597-604.
74 ATASE, Al.1/4282, K.590, D.37-123, F.89.
75 ATASE, A.6/6663, K.720, D.27-26; F.56; ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.6-1, F.37.
76 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.61-1, F:38.
77 ATASE, A.6/6663, K.720, D.27-26; F.67.
78 It is evident from these expressions that Veysel Bey was unaware of the decisions concerning Maku, which were made during the Moscow negotiations.
79 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.924, D.1, F.42-1.
80 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.925, D.4-8, F.171; Unuvar, Bolseviklerle Sekiz Ay, p. 84, 86.
81 British Documents , Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 246, p. 301.
82 British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 533, p. 70; British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 246, p. 301.
83 British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 246, p. 301.
84 British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 246, p. 299-300.
85 ATASE, A.6/6686, K.925, D.4-8, F.171; Karabekir, Istiklal Harbimiz, p. 907.
86 British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 246, p. 301.
87 In May 1921, Dr Riza Nur sent two reports to Kazim Karabekir about Soviet Russia and Caucasus and recommended that a Turkish state should be founded in southern Azerbaijan with a revolution prior to the Soviets (Karabekir, Istiklal Harbimiz, p. 918-922). Considering the existing conditions of Turkey, it seems quite apparent that this idea is not realistic at all.
88 British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 516, p. 390.
89 British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 246, p. 299-301.
90 British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 43, p. 50. In the April-May period, Soviet Russia- Iranian affairs were quite active. M. Rothstein, a Soviet Russian minister, visited Tehran on 5th April 1921 and M. Balladian, 11th Red Army Commissioner and Unit Director of the Soviet Russian Republic in late May. (British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 246, p. 298).
91 British Documents, Persia II, Vol. 17, Doc. 53, p. 70

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