Army of Islam (Ottoman Empire)
|Army of Islam|
Ottoman artillery bombing Baku
|Active||July 10, 1918 - October 27, 1918|
|Type||Corps (although named as an army)|
|Part of||Eastern Army Group|
|Engagements||Battle of Baku|
|Ceremonial chief||Enver Pasha|
|Nuri Pasha (Killigil)|
The Army of Islam (Azerbaijani: Qafqaz İslam Ordusu; Turkish: Kafkas İslâm Ordusu) (both names literally mean the Caucasian Army of Islam or the Army of Islam in the Caucasus) was a military unit of the Ottoman Empire formed on July 10, 1918. Its creation was ordered by Enver Pasha who could not resist the lure of Pan-Turanism, and it played a very major role during the Caucasus Campaign of World War I.
During 1917, due to the Russian Revolution and subsequent Civil War, the Russian army in the Caucasus had ceased to exist. The Russian Provisional Government's Caucasus Front formally ceased to exist in March 1918. Meanwhile, the Committee of Union and Progress moved to win the friendship of the Bolsheviks with the signing of the Ottoman-Russian friendship treaty (January 1, 1918). The exclusion of German officers from this army was deliberate. By the end of 1917, Enver Pasha concluded that the Germans and the Ottoman Empire did not have compatible goals after the Russian Empire had collapsed. This feeling was confirmed by the terms of the treaty of Treaty of Brest-Litovsk which was very favorable to the Germans. Enver looked for victory where Russia left in the Caucasus. When Enver discussed his plans for taking over southern Russia, the Germans told him to keep out.
The purpose of this military unit was to mobilize Islam supporters in Transcaspian and Caucasian regions, to advance toward Shatt al-Arab through Persia and to entrap British forces in Mesopotamia for establishing a Pan-Turanic Empire. Nuri Pasha came to Yelizavetpol (present day: Ganja) on May 25, 1918 and began to organize the Army of Islam.
Order of Battle, 1918
- Army of Islam HQ (Yelizavetpol, Baku)
- Commander: Mirliva and Fahri (honorary) Ferik Nuri Pasha
- Chief of Staff: Kaymakam Edip Bey
- Staff: Mülâzım-ı evvel Asaf Efendi (Kılıç Ali)
- Staff: Mülâzım-ı evvel Muzaffer Efendi
- Chief of the division of operations: Binbaşı Tevfik Bey
- Staff: Binbaşı Naim Bey
- Officer at HQ: Yüzbaşı Sami Bey
- Artillery officer: Binbaşı Kemal Bey
- Inspector: Kaymakam Şefik Bey
- Adviser: Ağaoğlu Ahmet
- 5th Caucasian Infantry Division (commanded by Miralay Mürsel Bey, as reinforcement from II Corps of Third Army)
- 15th Infantry Division (commanded by Kaymakam Süleyman Izzet Bey)
Chief of the British Military Mission to the Caucasus Major General Lionel Charles Dunsterville reached Bandar-e Anzali in mid-February and organized a small military force called "Dunsterforce" of Cossacks, Russians and Azeris. The British authority worried by the advance of the Ottoman forces to the Baku oil fields and began to send reinforcements to the "Dunsterforce" in June 1918.
The Ottoman Army of Islam began to attack Hill 905 on July 31 to the northwest of Baku, but failed to get the hill and halted their attack on August 2. Major General L.C. Dunsterville coordinated future combined operations with the Cossack forces commended by Colonel Lazar Bicherakhov, and sent about 300 British soldiers to Baku and they arrived there on August 5. The Army of Islam launched second attack to Hill 905 on August 5. This attack failed again and they lost 547 officers and soldiers. The main body of "Dunsterforce" debarked in Baku on August 20.
The last attack of the Army of Islam on Baku began at 1:00 A.M. on September 14. The Ottoman 15th Division attacked from the north and the 5th Caucasian Division attacked from the west. British Major General Dunsterville decided to withdraw about 11:00 A.M. because of the failure of the defense. "Dunsterforce" loaded its personnel and equipment and set sail for Bandar-e Anzali by 10:00 P.M. on September 14.
After the withdrawal of British forces, chaos broke out in Baku and throughout the night the Ottoman artillery continued the bombardment of Baku, the Ottoman infantries advanced to Baku and massacre broke out. By the next day, many Armenians, most of them were refugee civilians, were killed by Azeris. According to the General Staff of the Republic of Turkey, the massacre of Armenians in Baku was regarded as just punishment for the massacres of Turks happened when the Armenian National Army retreated from the Erzurum Province The Army of Islam took Baku on September 15 and sent a telegraph announcing the capture of Baku to Enver Pasha on September 16.
The Army of Islam sent the 15th Division to North Caucasus after its reorganization. The 15th Division advanced northwards along the Caspian coast, encountered the local resistance in front of Derbent and spotted advance on October 7. The division restarted attack on Derbent on October 20 and occupied the city on October 26. The division continued to advance northwards and arrived at the gate of Petrovsk (present day: Makhachkala) on October 28 and occupied the city on November 8.
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- Edward J. Erickson, Order to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War, Greenwoodpress, 2001, ISBN 0-313-31516-7, p. 189.
- Zekeriya Türkmen, Mütareke Döneminde Ordunun Durumu ve Yeniden Yapılanması (1918-1920), Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi, 2001, ISBN 975-16-1372-8, p. 31. (Turkish)
- Ajun Kurter, Türk Hava Kuvvetleri Tarihi, Cilt: IV, 3rd edition, Türk Hava Kuvvetleri Komutanlığı, 2009, p. 92. (Turkish)
- Nâsir Yücer, Birinci Dünya Savaşı'nda Osmanlı Ordusu'nun Azerbaycan ve Dağıstan Harekâtı: Azerbaycan ve Dağıstan'ın Bağımsızlığını Kazanması, 1918, Genelkurmay Basım Evi, 1996, ISBN 978-975-00524-0-8, p. 75. (Turkish)
- Nâsir Yücer, Birinci Dünya Savaşı'nda Osmanlı Ordusu'nun Azerbaycan ve Dağıstan Harekâtı: Azerbaycan ve Dağıstan'ın Bağımsızlığını Kazanması, 1918, p. 177. (Turkish)
- Edward J. Erickson, Order to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War, Greenwood Press, ISBN 0-313-31516-7, p. 191.
- Edward J. Erickson, Order to Die: A History of the Ottoman Army in the First World War, p. 192.
- T.C. Genelkurmay Başkanlığı, Birinci Dünya Harbi'nde Türk Harbi Kafkas Cephesi: 3 ncü Ordu Harekâtı, T.C. Genelkurmay Başkanlığı Basım Evi, 1993, p. 592. (Turkish)
- Fromkin, David (1989). A Peace to End All Peace, pp. 354–355. Avon Books.
- Süleyman İzzet, Büyük Harpte (1334-1918) 15. Piyade Tümeninin Azerbaycan ve Şimali Kafkasyadaki Harekât ve Muharebeleri, Askerî Matbaa, 1936.(Turkish)
- Rüştü Türker, Birinci Dünya Harbi'nde Bakû yollarında 5 nci Kafkas Piyade Tümeni, Genelkurmay Askerî Tarih ve Stratejik Etüt Başkanlığı, 2006.(Turkish)