Monday, 16 September 2013


The first landing took place on 17 November 1918 at Mersin with roughly 15,000 men, mainly volunteers from the French Armenian Legion, accompanied by 150 French officers. The first goals of that expeditionary force were to occupy ports and dismantle the Ottoman administration. On 19 November, Tarsus was occupied in order to secure the surroundings and prepare for the establishment of headquarters in Adana.
After the occupation of Cilicia proper at the end of 1918, French troops occupied the Ottoman provinces of AntepMaraşand Urfa in southern Anatolia at the end of 1919, taking them over from British troops as agreed.
At the eastern tip of the occupation zone in the south, the city of Mardin was also occupied for one day (on 21 November 1919) until the evening, when the French thought it better to abandon the occupation attempt.
France designated Édouard Brémond governor of the French occupation zone in the south from January 1, 1919 – September 4, 1920, and Julien Dufieux from September 1920–23 December 1921.
In the regions they occupied, the French encountered immediate resistance from the Turkish majority, especially because they had associated themselves with Armenian objectives. The French soldiers were foreign to the region and were using Armenian militia to acquire their intelligence. Turkish nationals had been in cooperation with Arab tribes in this area. Compared to the Greek threat, the French seemed less dangerous to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who suggested that, if the Greek threat could be overcome, the French would not resist, especially as they wanted to settle in Syria.
The resistance of the Turkish forces was a big surprise to France. They blamed the British for their failure to curb the power of the local forces to resist. The strategic goal of opening a southern front by moving Armenians against the Turkish National forces was a failure after the defeat of the Greek-British forces to the west.
On 1 November 1919, two days after the French take-over of Maraş, the Sütçü İmam Incident sowed the seeds of tension in the city. This incident is named after the defender of three Turkish women who were being harassed and molested in the street by auxiliaries of the French Armenian Legion. Sütçü İmam shot one of the molesters in the skirmish and had to go into hiding. The incident triggered a series of events that led the Turkish majority of Maraş to rise against the occupation forces and culminated in wholescale urban warfare two months later. On 11 February 1920, after 22 days of the Battle of Maraş, the French occupation troops, followed by the local Armenian community, found themselves forced to evacuate Maraş by the resistance and assaults of the Turkish revolutionaries.
Maraş militia forces contributed further to the war effort by taking part in the recapture of other centers in the region, forcing the French forces to retreat gradually, town by town.

Cilicia Peace Treaty[edit source | editbeta]

The Cilicia Peace Treaty between France and the Turkish National Movement was signed on 9 March 1921. It was intended to end the Franco-Turkish war,[11] but failed to do so and was replaced in October 1921 with the Treaty of Ankara.

End of hostilities[edit source | editbeta]

The conflicts officially ended with the Treaty of Ankara signed by representatives of the French government and the Turkish Grand National Assembly on 20 October 1921, and finalized with Armistice of Mudanya.

Withdrawal and population movements[edit source | editbeta]

The French forces withdrew from the occupation zone in the first days of 1922, about ten months before the Armistice of Mudanya. Beginning on 3 January, French troops evacuated Mersin and Dörtyol. On 5 January they left AdanaCeyhan and Tarsus. The evacuation was completed on 7 January with the last troops leavingOsmaniye.
In the early stages of the Greco-Turkish War, French and Greek troops jointly crossed the Meriç River and occupied the town of Uzunköprü in eastern Thrace and the railway route from there to the station of Hadımköy near Çatalca on the outskirts of Constantinople. In September 1922, at the end of that war, during the Greek pull-out after the advance of Turkish revolutionaries, French forces withdrew from their positions near the Dardanelles, but the British seemed prepared to hold their ground. The British government issued a request for military support from its colonies. This was refused, and the French leaving the British on the straits signaled that the Allies were unwilling to intervene in aid of Greece. Greek troops and the French withdrew beyond the Meriç River.

Aftermath[edit source | editbeta]

French medal for the Cilician campaign
France had better relations with the Turkish nationals during the Turkish War of Independence, chiefly on account of breaking Triple Entente solidarity and signing a separate agreement with the Turkish National Movement.[according to whom?] The Treaty of Ankara did not resolve the problems[clarification needed] in connection with the sanjak of Alexandretta. However, positive Franco-Turkish relations were maintained, at least until the question of Alexandretta was solved, by applying the principle of defending territorial integrity and national independence. French policy supporting the Turkish independence movement were set back during theConference of Lausanne on the abolition of the Capitulations of the Ottoman Empire. French objections during the discussions on abolition were perceived as contravening full Turkish independence and sovereignty. Furthermore, the fact that the sanjak of Alexandretta remained under French control also contributed to the tension between the two countries; according to the Misak-ı Millî, they should have been included within Turkish national borders. The positive attitude developed with the Treaty of Ankara remained friendly, if limited.
The Ottoman debts were cleared by the young Republic of Turkey in line with the Treaty of Lausanne. Attempts at modifying the ethnic structure of the region in favour of the Armenian minority by introducing new settlers also played a role.[clarification needed (role in what?)]

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