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Maghreb, dimensions de la complexité

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Anne-Marie Planel

III. Anciens et nouveaux acteurs

Echoes of National Liberation : Turkey Viewed from the Maghrib in the 1920s

Odile Moreau

Texte intégral

  • 1 Cf. ‘Entre histoire culturelle et histoire politique : la Tunisie des années vingt’, Watha’iq, n° (...)

1The distant aim towards which this article hopes to contribute is that of elucidating the emergence of ideas of the nation, and the structures of the ‘nation’ state, in North Africa, a process of which the beginnings, I argue, ought to be situated in the early 1920s. This decade has long been considered as encompassing the ‘hollow years’ (les années creuses) of the history of Maghribi nationalism, a lull preceding the stormy nationalist agitation of the 1930s, and there has thus been a tendency for the study of this period to be somewhat neglected. This has largely remained the case despite the evident effervescence which the 1920s saw throughout North Africa.1

2Nationalist politics took shape from the early years of the decade in Tunisia, with the founding of the Destour (Hizb al-hurr al-Dustur al-Tunisi, the Independent Tunisian Constitutional Party, often referred to as the ‘Old’ Destour), on 4 June 1920.

  • 2 See C. R. Pennel, Morocco since 1830. A History (London, Hurst, 2000), pp. 192-193 and the same au (...)

3Contestation took a very different form in Morocco, with the emergence of the armed resistance movement in the Rif led by Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd al-Krim al-Khattabi in 1921, and his ‘Republic of the Rif’ which expressed both wholly modern desires for statehood – at least on the part of its architect – and an older-established style of authority.2

4In Algeria, there was an unprecedented flowering of the Arabic language press, the coalescing of the Islamic reformist movement (‘Abd al-Hamid ben Badis’ first journal al-Muntaqid appeared in 1925), and massive labour migration to France, where the Étoile Nord-Africaine, first expression of revolutionarypopulist nationalism, was formed in 1926.

  • 3 See, in this regard, Julia Clancy-Smith, ‘Introduction’ in idem (ed.), North Africa, Islam and the (...)

5The emergence of images and ideas of the nation in the Maghrib, however, for too long considered in isolation from the rest of the world3, ought also to be situated in a wider context – that of the epochal events occurring during the 1920s elsewhere in the Mediterranean, and most particularly in Turkey, where Mustafa Kemal’s movement first prosecuted a successful war of independence against the Western powers, the only Muslim society to do so, and then proceeded to abolish those multisecular symbols of Islam, the Ottoman Sultanate and the Caliphate. The more immediate goal of this article is to investigate some of the ways in which North Africans saw, and responded to, the Turkish nationalist movement, and the radical institutional transformations undertaken by the young Turkish republic. I hope in this way to contribute to an understanding of the links – which had by no means been entirely severed in the early twentieth century – between the Maghrib and, initially, the Ottoman empire, and later Turkey, as well as to an appreciation of some of the overlooked complexities of the formation of nationalism in North Africa itself.

The war of independence

  • 4 The formally Ottoman regencies of Algiers and Tunis were lost, of course, in 1830 and 1881 ; Egypt (...)

6The 1920s in Turkey witnessed the end of a world, or at least, the end of a world in itself, in the Braudelian sense of that phrase, with the collapse of the Ottoman empire. Despite its weakened presence on the international stage, the Ottoman state had continued, after the Berlin Congress of 1878 (at which the empire lost some two-fifths of its territory), to play a role in world affairs. Its engagement in the First World War alongside Austria-Hungary and Germany both testified to this and, as it turned out, brought about the end of the empire, with the central powers’defeat bringing about the end of Ottoman dominion in its remaining Arab provinces and eventually in Anatolia as well4. The armistice of Mudros (30 October 1918) announced the partition of the defunct empire and simultaneously opened the question of succession to its rule. The ensuing events, between the Mudros agreement and that of Mudanya almost exactly four years later (11 October 1922), aroused the interest of an international public, including that of ‘French’ North Africa.

  • 5 Greek troops were landed at Izmir on May 15, 1919.

7The Turkish national movement led by Mustafa Kemal was most immediately a response to the allied occupation of Anatolia and the Diktat of Mudros, which were quickly followed by apparent steps towards the establishment of a Greater Armenia in the east and of a Greek state of Pontus in the west5. The call to ‘save the nation’ was expressed through various nationalist congresses. The Protocol of Amasya (21 June 1919), a revolutionary manifesto, asserted the integrity and independence of the endangered fatherland and the incapacity of the existing government to exercise its functions. Thereafter, local congresses met in Anatolia, at Erzurum, Balikesir, Alasehir… during the months of July and August, 1919. The Istanbul government was declared incompetent, independence was demanded and the establishment of any foreign mandate refused outright. These meetings culminated in the National Congress at Sivas in central Anatolia (4-11 September), which confirmed the resolutions taken at Erzurum and amplified them into a call for national mobilisation, the National Pact (Misak-i millî), which defined the national territory to be liberated and was adopted on 17 February 1920, by the Ottoman parliament in Istanbul. By voting the Pact, the assembly thus adopted the positions taken at Erzurum and Sivas, the Kemalist election victory in November 1919 having produced a nationalist majority in the parliament. This last assembly of the old state went on to vote itself out of existence on 18 March, 1920, and the very next day, Mustafa Kemal addressed a circular to the civil and military authorities in which he announced the forthcoming meeting, in Ankara, of a new assembly which would assume extraordinary powers. The new National Assembly met for the first time on 23 April. This insurgent parliament immediately set about the procurement of hard currency from Soviet Russia, an alliance which caused alarm among the Entente powers and served to heighten their concern about the nationalist movement, whose early victories over the Greek army, and over French detachments in Cilicia, accentuated the perception of its posing a serious threat.

  • 6 See O. Kologlu, Türk çadaslasmasi, 1919-1938, Islama etki, islamdan tepki [Turkish Modernisation : (...)

8With open conflict now engaged between a rump Ottoman government under allied control and the insurgent nationalists based in Ankara, the Treaty of Sèvres, an agreement for the empire’s dismemberment, was nonetheless signed on 10 August 1920, but the nationalist victories won by the movement now under Mustafa Kemal’s overall leadership, climaxing with the armistice of Mudanya between victorious Turkish nationalist, and defeated Greek and British, forces, opened the way for the new negotiations with the allies which resulted in the Treaty of Lausanne (24 July 1923). Its terms were virtually concordant with the demands expressed in the National Pact. The Turkish victory produced a shock wave in the west and in the Arab and Muslim worlds, at a time when almost half of the world’s Muslims lived under British rule.6

9Certainly, the links which had subsisted between the Ottoman world and the Maghrib had become ever more tenuous. To French control in Algeria and Tunisia was added, with the Treaty of Ouchy of 15 October 1912, the annexation of Tripolitania and Cyrenaica by Italy (Italian domination of Libya was thus recognised by the Ottoman government, although the caliph retained a nominal, spiritual authority over these territories’Muslim populations), while Morocco had of course never been under Ottoman authority. But nothing that occurred in the eastern Mediterranean left the Maghrib indifferent, and the reverse was also true. Certain symbolic, spiritual ties persisted to connect North Africans (at least Algerians and, perhaps more particularly, Tunisians) to the Ottoman seat of the Caliphate. And the example of victorious Turkish nationalism could hardly be ignored by North African societies under French domination. Indeed, the seismic events centred in Anatolia radiated throughout the Mediterranean basin.

  • 7 Cf. O. Kologlu, Gazi’nin çaginda Islam dünyasi [The Islamic World at the Time of the Gazi], (Istan (...)
  • 8 Cf. O. Moreau, ‘La dimension religieuse de la guerre d’indépendance’, in M. Bazin, S. Kançal, R. P (...)
  • 9 Notably in India, where a congress on the Caliphate met on 17 February 1920 and published a manife (...)
  • 10 Service historique de la Marine, (French Naval Archive), Château de Vincennes, Paris (hereafter SH (...)

10Maghribi views of Turkey’s nationalist movement, and of its emblematic hero, Mustafa Kemal in particular, shifted significantly over time. With the victories of the war of independence, between 1920 and 1923, he was considered, throughout the Arab world, as a hero of Islam, an archetypal warrior-chief (ghazi), and indeed as a candidate for the Caliphate. After the abolition of the Caliphate, he was attacked and vilified7. The discourse of the independence movement assumed, in its early stages, a specifically Islamic character8. It was addressed to ‘Muslim compatriots’, and aimed to wrest ‘Islamic lands’ and ‘Islamic peoples’ from foreign domination. Mustafa Kemal’s supporters, in Turkey and elsewhere9, envisaged the reconstitution and liberation of the Caliphate, rather than its suppression. In his speech at Ankara in January 1920, the Turkish nationalist leader laid out the projected reforms necessary ‘so that Turkey may take her place among the civilised nations, extending her hand to all her Muslim brothers so as to ensure the success of the Islamic world, of whose revival there can be no doubt’.10

11The fetva (religious ruling of opinion) issued on 11 April 1920 by the sheykh ul-islam (Istanbul’s senior religious official), pronouncing the double – civic and spiritual – ‘excommunication’ of the nationalist ‘rebels’, contested this religious dimension of the struggle. From then on a state of civil war existed between the nationalists and the socalled ‘army of the Caliphate’. In response, the muftis (officials competent to issue rulings on questions of law) of Anatolia riposted with counter fetvas which declared the nationalist insurgency to be a legitimate jihad.

  • 11 Le Temps, 22 March 1920.
  • 12 Belag, 11 october 1920, quoted in O. Kologlu, Gazi’nin çaginda, Islam dünyasi, (n° 7), p. 232.

12Such contests over the Islamic legitimacy of rule and struggle could hardly be without echoes among other Muslim populations, (to whom they were also, in any event, addressed) living under foreign occupation beyond Anatolia. In the Maghrib, they found a particularly ready audience. A certain sympathy for the centre of the former empire could exist here, untroubled by the particular forms of Arab nationalist expression which had emerged in the Mashriq (particularly in Syria) in opposition to Turkish rule during the last years of the Ottoman state. The example of Turkey at war in defence of Islam and liberty was received as an encouragement in local struggles against other occupiers. In 1920, demonstrations in Tunis in favour of the territorial integrity and independence of Turkey aroused concern among the French authorities. Placards were posted on the walls of the Great Mosque, calling for protests against the occupation of the Ottoman capital, seat of the Caliphate, and summoning the population of Tunis to demonstrate outside the palace of the Bey at one o’clock in the afternoon11. A delegation issuing from this meeting was received at the French Residency. When Kemalist victories were reported, Turkish flags were flown from houses, prayers were said in mosques and processions, bearing flower-bedecked portraits of Mustafa Kemal, marched through the streets. It was reported that it was a very long time since such displays of joy had been seen in Tunis.12

  • 13 B. Stora, in I. Gökalp & F. Georgeon, (eds.) Kemalizm ve Islam Dünyasi [Kemalism and the Islamic W (...)
  • 14 Agence et Consulat général de France à Tanger, Afrique, n° 429 : L’Agent diplomatique de France, T (...)
  • 15 Ibid., And Agence et Consulat de France à Tanger, Afrique, n° 447 Le Chargé d’Affaires de France à (...)

13In Algeria, news of Turkey circulated in cafés and popular opinion rejoiced at Turkish victories. After the nationalist victory over Greek troops at the Sakarya river (September 1921), Messali Hadj, later the leader of populist Algerian nationalism, was arrested for shouting vivats to Mustafa Kemal Pasha13. Similarly, in Morocco, the success of Turkish arms aroused popular enthusiasm throughout the country, including in the Spanish zone. The French consul at Tangier reported his ‘impression of a great satisfaction’ felt by the Moroccans at news of the nationalists’progress14. More evidently visible solidarity was sought from the Maghribi population through the collection of funds – but the support thus garnered for the Turkish cause was, again, of local, symbolic significance rather than a participatory effort in aid of the war itself. The sheykh of the Derqawiyya order in Morocco organised a collection intended to finance a celebration, to be held among the members of the order, of ‘the defeat of the infidels.’ It turned out to be a huge picnic in a garden near Tangier, attracting some 500 participants15. Similar fundraisers were held in Algeria.

  • 16 Résidence générale de la République française au Maroc, Rabat : Direction des Affaires politiques (...)
  • 17 Le Matin, Le Temps, 3 October 1922. Cf. also Délégué de la Résidence générale, Rabat to Maréchal L (...)

14The reaction of Maghribi opinion to events in Turkey was not monolithic, however, nor was it necessarily felt that it must be prejudicial to France. The Muslims of Morocco apparently considered Mustafa Kemal’s victories as ‘the revenge of free Turkey against its Greek and British oppressors’ ; and they were said to express open satisfaction with the ‘moral support’ offered by France to the government in Ankara16. In the blossoming inter-war competition of empires, the French attempted to draw advantages from events in Anatolia. The Moroccan press reported on an exchange of telegrams between the Sultan of Morocco and Poincaré, the French President. It was reported that French policy regarding the war in Anatolia had produced a favourable impression on the population, who ‘saw the reassertion of those ties that bind France and Islam’.17 At the end of the war, France had indeed been numbered among the powers expecting to share in the dismemberment of the empire, and anticipated territorial gains which would increase French influence in the region. However, by the time of the new armistice, signed in October 1922, relations with the emerging Turkey had greatly changed. A first Franco-Turkish armistice was agreed in Cilicia as early as 30 May 1920. A French envoy, Franklin-Bouillon, was sent for a secret meeting with Mustafa Kemal himself in the summer of 1921. By directly negotiating with the delegates at Ankara, the French government offered the nationalist insurgents an implicit recognition. Franklin-Bouillon left Anatolia on 1 August without having reached agreement with the Ankara government, but new negotiations took place between 24 September and 20 October, culminating in a Franco-Turkish accord signed in Ankara on 20 October. France was thus presented in the metropolitan press as the prime mover for peace in the Middle East, a new stance which did not leave indifferent the temporal and spiritual authorities of the colonised Maghrib. The discourse of ‘French Islamic policy’ invoked at this time was no doubt intended to recall the privileged relations which had previously bound France to the Sublime State since the sixteenth century, through the diplomatic efforts maintained under François I, Louis XIV, Napoléon III… In the aftermath of the Ankara Accord, France was presented as having established herself, or rather, as having re-established herself, as a reliable friend of Turkey. The French press sought to present the agreement with Ankara as a reconciliation of the French Republic with the whole Muslim world, via the normalisation of her relations with the people of Turkey.

  • 18 Ministère des Colonies, service des Affaires musulmanes : le ministre des Colonies to ministre des (...)
  • 19 Ministère des Affaires étrangères, direction des Affaires politiques et commerciales : Commandemen (...)
  • 20 Ambassade de France en Suisse, Berne, to ministère des Affaires étrangères, n° 520, 22 December 19 (...)

15Of course, all of this was intended to bolster French prestige, and French domination, in North Africa, not to encourage Maghribi links with the east. More substantial efforts at harnessing Maghribi solidarity undertaken by the Red Crescent in aid of ‘Muslim populations of Asia Minor, victims of the war’ were actively discouraged by the French colonial authorities. It was thought, in fact, that there could be nothing but difficulties arising from the opportunity which might be given to the populations of North Africa of establishing new links with the formerly Ottoman Mashriq. The prospect of such new relations between Turkey and the Muslims of the Maghrib was regarded by North Africa’s rulers with alarm18. In fact, however, if the new government in Ankara did dispatch a secret mission to Tunisia in the spring of 1923, led by one Ahmed el Karaï, its subversive potential was probably quite limited19. The mission apparently intended to link up with the Destour, but the policy of the new Turkey was in no way given to involvement in external anticolonial struggles – except in speech making. Indeed, Turkish representatives, approached by young Tunisian nationalists, would declare themselves strictly disinterested in the affairs of France’s Muslim colonies20. The 1923 mission was more likely concerned with gathering support and Islamic legitimacy for its own cause at home.

The Sultanate and Caliphate

16The institutional transformation of the young Turkish state developed through three key moments : first came the abolition of the Sultanate (the Ottoman dynasty’s institution of temporal power) by the Grand National Assembly, in November 1922, shortly after the armistice of Mudanya. In consequence of this destitution of the monarchy, the Turkish Republic was proclaimed on 29 October 1923, with Mustafa Kemal as President and Ankara as the new state’s capital. Finally, on 3 March 1924, the Assembly voted to completely remove any remaining Ottoman authority by legislating the spiritual institution of the Caliphate out of existence.

  • 21 Army of Occupation in Western Morocco, region of Fez : service des Renseignements, n° 315/R. C., c (...)
  • 22 Ibid., folio 59. Cf. Résidence générale de la République de France au Maroc, Afrique, n° 1016 : le (...)

17The initial impression produced in the religio-intellectual circles of the Maghrib by the deposition of the Sultan was unfavourable. The lettered élites of Fez were disturbed by so unexpected an event, considered a kind of ‘religious revolution.’ Reported sentiments were of disconcerting surprise, a certain ‘malaise’, and disquiet21. The opinion of younger, modernist groups, of intellectuals like Allal al-Fasi, on the contrary, was all in favour of Mustafa Kemal, whose separation of spiritual from temporal authority was viewed with approval as an essential element of progress in civilisation.22

  • 23 Protectorat de la République française au Maroc, Gouvernement chérifien, direction des Affaires ch (...)

18In direct contrast to this response, the announcement of the reduction of the Caliphate to a purely spiritual power caused profound dismay and stupefaction within the makhzen. The evident example thus set in Turkey was, the Moroccan court clearly feared, liable to spread – including among the subjects of the alawite Commander of the Faithful.23

  • 24 Résidence générale de France à Tunis, direction des Affaires politiques et commerciales, n° 435, A (...)

19At the other end of the Maghrib, the Bey of Tunis, struck by the irregular election of the new caliph, and remarking that the title of ‘Highness’ now borne by Abdülmecid II was analogous to his own, apparently entertained the idea of having himself proclaimed caliph of Tunisia’s Muslims. With prayers in some mosques of Tunis being said in the name of the new caliph while others continued to be pronounced in the name of the deposed sultan Vahideddin, the Bey considered summoning the shaykh al-islam to resolve the question24. The French authorities discouraged the notion. Worried about possible repercussions on relations with the Ankara government, they further observed that such a new investiture of the Bey could only contribute to his own authority vis-à-vis the protecting power, while simultaneously signalling, to Muslim audiences and the other European powers, an intrusion into the religious domain on the part of the French government which could only damage French Islamic policy. The shaykh al-islam was apprised of the government’s position, and an audience with the Bey was sought by the Resident General to dissuade his ambition.

  • 25 Ministère des Affaires étrangères, direction des Affaires politiques et commerciales, Asie : minis (...)
  • 26 Ibid.
  • 27 Ibid., and ministère de l’Intérieur, service des Affaires algériennes, 1er bureau : ministre de l’ (...)

20The suppression of the Caliphate itself, when it came, provoked an outburst of emotion in Tunisia. A meeting in the courts of the Great Mosque in Tunis assembled a number of students and leading personalities of the city in what was seen as a demonstration of the solidarity of Muslims with their nominal head and their attachment to the caliphal dynasty25. In the wave of competing claims to the title which followed the divestiture of the last Ottoman caliph, Algerians and Tunisians were generally supportive of Abdülmecid’s case for reinstatement26. Moroccans, who of course considered their own sultan as the only amîr almu’minîn (Commander of the Faithful) who mattered, were nonetheless hostile to the pretensions of the ageing King of the Hijaz, the Hashemite sharif Husayn ibn ‘Ali, to supplant the sultan of Constantinople. Maghribi religious authorities were not, however, free to engage fully in these turbulent discussions beyond the borders of the Maghrib itself : when the Islamic congresses of Ankara and Jeddah (1921) were announced, Resident General Lyautey did not consider it appropriate for a Moroccan delegation to attend, and although the authorities in Algiers and Tunis anticipated the dispatch of representative ‘ulama from the communities under their control, and no instructions were given them from Paris on the position they should endeavour to impose relative to the question of the Caliphate, it was eventually decided that the presence of Algerian ‘ulama at the congresses would be ‘inopportune’27. Despite this, however, it appears that certain North African delegates did attend these gatherings, having made their way to the Mashriq by clandestine means.

  • 28 Ministère des Affaires Étrangères, Quai d’Orsay, note for the directeur politique sur la politique (...)

21What, in fact, did the French hope would be the repercussions in North Africa of the Kemalist policies unfolding in Ankara ? In sum, it was anticipated that many Muslims, particularly in Tunis, who had nothing but sympathy for Constantinople and who had retained a symbolic tie of solidarity with the seat of Islamic power in the east, would be disaffected by the apparently anti-religious swing of this ‘country where, in their minds, they situate the heart of their faith.’ The hoped for antipathy against revolutionary Turkey was expected to result in a net gain for French imperial policy in Africa.28

22What role did North Africa play in the mobilisation of the Islamic world around the issue of the Caliphate ? A Committee for the Caliphate was created in Tunis by a group of young, modernist bourgeois associated with the Destour. Its president was Tawfiq al-Madani, an enthusiast for Mustafa Kemal known to the protectorate authorities as a turcophile, and who had welcomed the nationalists’separation of political from caliphal authority. The protectorate’s police mused that :

  • 29 Résidence générale de France à Tunis, direction des Affaires politiques et commerciales, Afrique, (...)

« According to him [i. e. Madani], the Destour cannot show itself hostile to the government of Mustafa Kemal which has abolished the Sultanate and Caliphate ; but, given the reaction of the Tunisian population to the Kemalists’violations of what they consider a inviolable religious dogma, the Committee of the Destour has allowed the creation alongside it of a group for the re-establishment of the Caliphate, which it intends thereafter to merge into itself. This Committee for the Caliphate is in contact with similar bodies in Egypt, and has become at the same time a centre for pan-Islamic activity. »29

  • 30 Résidence générale de France à Tunis, Direction des Affaires politiques et commerciales, n° 435, A (...)
  • 31 Telegram ‘au nom du peuple tunisien’ from the Destour to Chargé d’affaires, Turkish Legation in Pa (...)

23In fact, it appears that the Tunisians also attempted to employ French diplomatic pressure to negotiate a new role for the reestablished caliph, while at the same time orchestrating their usual, anti-French campaigns. Madani intervened with the French authorities to request a modification of the Treaty of Lausanne, which would stipulate that the caliph should renounce his rights to any political, legislative or administrative action over the countries which had been separated from Turkey at the partition of the empire. The committee simultaneously engaged in a kind of non-governmental diplomacy of its own, although its action was minimised by the protectorate government. Madani himself corresponded in person with Abdülmecid, and the Committee dispatched a telegram to the Turkish chargé d’affaires in Paris, in protest at the caliph’s deposition30. Only months before this, the Destour – and notably Madani had been responsible for the telegrams of congratulation dispatched by Tunisians to the Kemalist government on the occasion of the signature of the Lausanne treaty in July 1923.31

24While undeniably supporting Mustafa Kemal and the symbolism of liberation he represented, the Destour diverged from Turkey’s radical policy on the question of the Caliphate and pursued its own agenda on the matter. Events in Turkey, indeed, were not simply of great significance in themselves, but acquired entirely new importance as they were worked into independent agendas and instrumentalised in other contexts, in the Maghrib as elsewhere, by colonial powers, emerging nationalist movements and public opinion in the colonised Muslim world at large.

25But before long it would no longer be possible to draw on Turkey for such inspiration. In September 1923, Jilali Ben Ramdan, a member of the Tunisian Bey’s Grand Council, visited the caliph, and was joined by ‘Abd al-Aziz al-Tha ‘alibi, founder and leader of the Destour, who had gone to Turkey to represent ‘the Tunisian people’ at the Islamic Congress which was to take place after the entry of Mustafa Kemal’s troops into Istanbul in October. The abolition of the Caliphate would force a change of strategies, as it finally eliminated the possibility of finding in Turkey a platform from which, and an audience by whom, such ‘representatives of the Tunisian people’ could make themselves heard. It appears, in fact, that this moment (October 1923) marks the last occasion on which such representations could take place in the old heart of the empire. The Caliphate was the last embodiment of a link to Islamic sovereignty which North Africans could still hold on to, beyond the political frame imposed by France and her empire, and it was perhaps in this that the old Ottoman monarchy had retained its importance. It was this tie, however tenuously symbolic, to a spiritual sovereignty that the young, modernist nationalists in Tunisia, for example, sought to maintain in their notion of a re-established Caliphate divested of temporal authority. The Kemalist government, through the radical reforms adopted in the domestic sphere and its position of neutrality in foreign policy, resolutely turned its back on these other, external, demands from its ‘Muslim brothers’ and set itself to the construction of a new nation state oriented towards Europe.

  • 32 Cf. O. Moreau, «  La Dimension religieuse de la guerre d’indépendance » (n° 8).

26The religious dimension of Turkey’s own war of independence, and its previous openness towards the Islamic world, were thoroughly erased. The disappointments of the Libyan shaykh al-Sanusi, who had been mobilised at the side of Mustafa Kemal, may be taken to summarise this change of tack on the part of the young Republic. The sheykh, a leading figure in the Italo-Turkish war of 1911-12 and then during the First World War, had been employed, along with his spiritual authority, to bring together the Arab and Kurdish tribes of the east and south-east of Anatolia. The mirage of his eventual accession to the Caliphate, in the event of his successfully carrying out this charge, had even been conjured up before him. He would be greatly disillusioned to discover that, in fact, he was to have no place at all in the new Turkey, and left the country to end his days in exile in the Hijaz.32

Conclusions

27Views of Mustafa Kemal, in North Africa as elsewhere, were strongly affective. The figure of the nationalist-insurgent General, the President of the Turkish Republic, is above all understood – in contrast to the images dominant in Turkey itself – in terms neither of specifically national liberation nor of republican politics but in the register of Islam. Recognised as ghazi during the war of independence, he would be condemned for the abolition of the Caliphate, although after his death in 1938 there reemerged something of a posthumous celebration of him, again as ‘Hero of Islam’.

  • 33 Ministère des Affaires étrangères, sous-direction d’Afrique : Note to sous-directeur des Relations (...)

28The controversial nature of his policy perhaps only added to his personal aura, and among Maghribi populations he commanded great popularity as an iconic figure, a conquering hero in times of crisis. This can be seen clearly in the popular imagery of which he was the subject in the Arab world. Images – on tea-caddies, for example – were produced particularly in Egypt ; when these were banned as subversive in the Maghrib33, locallyproduced illustrations took their place. Postcards bearing Mustafa Kemal’s portrait and celebrating the successes of the nationalist armies were introduced to Algeria from Tunisia, and circulated in cafés and through newspaper distributors.

29The French authorities, as ever extremely suspicious, attempted to limit and neutralise as much as possible any contact between the populations of the colonial Maghrib and the eastern Mediterranean – forbidding fund raising for aid efforts, hindering travel and preventing participation in the assemblies held to discuss the issue of the Caliphate. North Africans were clearly not indifferent to the drama being played out in Turkey, and the relative isolation of ‘ French North Africa’from the Mashriq was by no means total. In the Maghrib, Turkey was a country at once distant and familiar. Events there during the 1920s were at the centre of the preoccupations of Maghribi elites, who engaged, in religious, intellectual and political terms, in debates and action provoked by the stimuli of news from the east. Intellectuals in exile, like Tha ‘alibi, attempted to represent the Maghrib in debates taking place in the Mashriq relative to the destinies of the Islamic world.

30It may be, however, that the opportunities opened up by the nationalist victory for this kind of effort were eventually suppressed by the subsequent destitution of the Caliphate, and the turning of Kemalist Turkey away from the Arab world and its ‘Muslim brothers’, towards its own program of radical reform, designed to produce a new Turkish nation state decisively cut off from its Ottoman past. At the same time, events in Turkey had local, symbolic significance in North Africa quite independent of actual, personal connections between the two extremities of the Mediterranean.

31The institution of Caliphate was North Africans’last point of identification with a sovereignty outside, and independent of, the French empire. Its importance, particularly for modernist elites who wholeheartedly approved the abolition of the Sultanate, was perhaps derived from this aspect. The re-establishment of the Caliphate as a purely spiritual centre of authority in liberated, modern Turkey might have been a way to safeguard this connection, however tenuous, that held the Maghrib to an Islamic figurehead beyond the boundaries and control of French influence. And if imperial France had hoped to benefit both from her own involvement in Anatolia, and from the Maghribi reaction to Kemalist policies, Maghribis themselves (at least in Tunisia) were not averse to attempting to enlist French diplomatic support in the service of their own aims, while continuing to see in Anatolia an example of successful liberation, a motivating factor in the development of their own nationalist movements. This model was, if not exactly an example to follow, at least one from which inspiration might be drawn, and one which, in its tumultuousness, provoked new, effervescent activity.

Notes

1 Cf. ‘Entre histoire culturelle et histoire politique : la Tunisie des années vingt’, Watha’iq, n° 24-25, 1998-1999, published by the Institut supérieur d’Histoire du Mouvement national, University of Tunis.

2 See C. R. Pennel, Morocco since 1830. A History (London, Hurst, 2000), pp. 192-193 and the same author’s A Country with a Government and A Flag : The Rif War in Morocco, 1921-1926 (Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, MENAS Press, 1986).

3 See, in this regard, Julia Clancy-Smith, ‘Introduction’ in idem (ed.), North Africa, Islam and the Mediterranean World, (London, Frank Cass, 2001), originally published as a special issue of the Journal of North African Studies 6,1 (Spring 2001). The isolation of Maghribi history from that of the rest of the Mediterranean, a tendency dominant until very recently, is itself a complex fact of historical scholarship which deserves some attention. (Editor’s note).

4 The formally Ottoman regencies of Algiers and Tunis were lost, of course, in 1830 and 1881 ; Egypt had been effectively autonomous since 1811 and was occupied by Britain in 1882, and the Libyan provinces were lost to Italian colonialism beginning in 1911. The remaining Syrian and Iraqi provinces were occupied by British troops at the end of the war, with the Arabian peninsula having risen in the Arab revolt from 1916.

5 Greek troops were landed at Izmir on May 15, 1919.

6 See O. Kologlu, Türk çadaslasmasi, 1919-1938, Islama etki, islamdan tepki [Turkish Modernisation : Influence on Islam, Reaction of Islam], (Istanbul, Boyut kitaplari, 1995), p. 13.

7 Cf. O. Kologlu, Gazi’nin çaginda Islam dünyasi [The Islamic World at the Time of the Gazi], (Istanbul, Boyut kitaplari, 1994), p. 9.

8 Cf. O. Moreau, ‘La dimension religieuse de la guerre d’indépendance’, in M. Bazin, S. Kançal, R. Perez, J. Thobie (eds.), La Turquie entre trois mondes, (Paris, L’Harmattan, 1998), pp. 381-395.

9 Notably in India, where a congress on the Caliphate met on 17 February 1920 and published a manifesto favourable to Turkey. The Muslim population of India in general was an important source of support for the Kemalist movement.

10 Service historique de la Marine, (French Naval Archive), Château de Vincennes, Paris (hereafter SHM), 1 BB7, 25, n° 1580, rapport établi par les autorités militaires françaises, 13 January 1921.

11 Le Temps, 22 March 1920.

12 Belag, 11 october 1920, quoted in O. Kologlu, Gazi’nin çaginda, Islam dünyasi, (n° 7), p. 232.

13 B. Stora, in I. Gökalp & F. Georgeon, (eds.) Kemalizm ve Islam Dünyasi [Kemalism and the Islamic World], (Istanbul : Arba, 1990), pp. 177-178.

14 Agence et Consulat général de France à Tanger, Afrique, n° 429 : L’Agent diplomatique de France, Tanger, to Ministre des Affaires étrangères, 16 September 1922. Microfilm archives, Institut supérieur de l’Histoire du Mouvement national, Tunis ; microfilmed documents of the Archives du Ministère des Affaires étrangères (French Foreign Ministry Archives, Quai d’Orsay, Paris), (hereafter A. E.), bob. 528, C. 2, folio 231.

15 Ibid., And Agence et Consulat de France à Tanger, Afrique, n° 447 Le Chargé d’Affaires de France à Tanger to Ministre des Affaires étrangères, 12 October 1922. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528, C. 2, folio 275.

16 Résidence générale de la République française au Maroc, Rabat : Direction des Affaires politiques et commerciales, Afrique, n° 1683 : Le Maréchal de France, Lyautey, to Ministre de Affaires étrangères, 15 November 1922. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528, C. 2, folio 34.

17 Le Matin, Le Temps, 3 October 1922. Cf. also Délégué de la Résidence générale, Rabat to Maréchal Lyautey, Paris, (coded), n° 4.349S. G. P ; personal communication to Maréchal Lyautey from His Majesty the Sultan. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528, C. 2.

18 Ministère des Colonies, service des Affaires musulmanes : le ministre des Colonies to ministre des Affaires étrangères, Paris, 8 November 1922. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528, C. 3, folio 2.

19 Ministère des Affaires étrangères, direction des Affaires politiques et commerciales : Commandement de Constantinople du gouvernement de la Grande Assemblée nationale turque, bureau privé n° 718, to direction de la Police de Constantinople. s. d., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 533, C. 19, folio 166.

20 Ambassade de France en Suisse, Berne, to ministère des Affaires étrangères, n° 520, 22 December 1921. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 623, C. 319, folio 1. (Editor’s note).

21 Army of Occupation in Western Morocco, region of Fez : service des Renseignements, n° 315/R. C., confidential, general Maurial, commandant la région de Fez to Monsieur le Commissaire, Résident général de la République française au Maroc (direction du service des Renseignements) : Fès, 18 November 1922. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528, C. 3, folio 55 ; ‘Note sur la répercussion des événements d’Orient dans l’opinion publique Fassi’ by Paul Marty, Fez, 18 November 1922, attached to Ibid., A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528, C. 3, folio 57 ; Résidence générale de la République française au Maroc : direction des Affaires politiques et commerciales, Afrique, n° 1683 : le maréchal de France Lyautey to ministre de Affaires étrangères, Rabat, 15 November 1922. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528, C. 2, folio 36.

22 Ibid., folio 59. Cf. Résidence générale de la République de France au Maroc, Afrique, n° 1016 : le ministre Plénipotentiaire, délégué à la Résidence générale de la République française au Maroc to ministre des Affaires étrangères, Rabat, 28 october 1924. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 529, C. 5, folios 195-197.

23 Protectorat de la République française au Maroc, Gouvernement chérifien, direction des Affaires chérifiennes : note by Monsieur Marc, Conseiller chérifien, to Monsieur le maréchal de France, Résident général, Rabat, 10 November 1922. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528, C. 3, folio 13.

24 Résidence générale de France à Tunis, direction des Affaires politiques et commerciales, n° 435, Afrique : le Résident général to ministre des Affaires étrangères. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528, C. 3, p. 74, Affaires étrangères, (decoded telegram), Tunis, 25 November 1922, also bob. 529, C. 4, folio 173.

25 Ministère des Affaires étrangères, direction des Affaires politiques et commerciales, Asie : ministre des Affaires étrangères to Monsieur le Haut-Commissaire à Constantinople, à Beyrouth : Paris, 20 July 1921. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528, C. 2, folio 75.

26 Ibid.

27 Ibid., and ministère de l’Intérieur, service des Affaires algériennes, 1er bureau : ministre de l’Intérieur to ministre des Affaires étrangères, Paris, 29 July 1921. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528., C. 2, folio 84.

28 Ministère des Affaires Étrangères, Quai d’Orsay, note for the directeur politique sur la politique en Orient, 8 november 1922. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528, C. 3, folios 5-8.

29 Résidence générale de France à Tunis, direction des Affaires politiques et commerciales, Afrique, n° 303 : le résident de la République française à Tunis to ministre des Affaires étrangères : Tunis, 17 February 1923. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 528, C. 3, folio 206.

30 Résidence générale de France à Tunis, Direction des Affaires politiques et commerciales, n° 435, Afrique : Le Résident général to Ministre des Affaires étrangères, (undated). A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 529, C. 4, folio 173.

31 Telegram ‘au nom du peuple tunisien’ from the Destour to Chargé d’affaires, Turkish Legation in Paris. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 529, C. 4, folio 47.

32 Cf. O. Moreau, «  La Dimension religieuse de la guerre d’indépendance » (n° 8).

33 Ministère des Affaires étrangères, sous-direction d’Afrique : Note to sous-directeur des Relations commerciales, Paris, 20 August 1924. A. E., Quai d’Orsay, bob. 529, C. 5, folio 111.

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