Yörük Ali Efe
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Yörük Ali Efe (1895 – September 23, 1951) was a Turkish warlord in the Ottoman Empire, and an officer in the Turkish Army during the Turkish War of Independence. He was an important leader in Kuva-yi Milliye of the Aegean Region. After the declaration of republic he resigned from his office and worked as a farmer and industrialist. He was one of the last Zeybeks in Turkish history.
Ali was born in Kavaklı, a village near Sultanhisar in Aydın, in 1895. His father İbrahimoğlu Abdi belonged to Sarıtekeli clan, and his mother Fatma, to Atmaca clan, both of which were Yörük clans. His father died when he was an infant. During his childhood, he was influenced by Atçalı Kel Mehmet Efe and wanted to become a Zeybek. In 1916, he was recruited into the Ottoman Army and participated in the Caucasus Campaign. Due to the inefficient leadership, he deserted the army after the disastrous Battle of Sarikamish, and returned to his village.
On the mountains
Yörük Ali joined a Zeybek group under the command of Alanyalı Molla Ahmet Efe and started to live in Aydın mountains. His courage, intelligence and talent assured him increasing popularity among group members and when Alanyalı died in an ambush in Kavaklıdere near Karacasu, he took the command of his group and became an "Efe".
Fighting for independence
On 15 May 1919, Greek forces captured İzmir and immediately set out to occupy a larger territory in Turkey's Aegean Region. Yöruk Ali organized meetings with the cooperation of other Efes in the region such as "Kıllıoğlu Hüseyin Efe" and grouped most zeybeks of Aydın region under his command. On 16 June 1919 he made a surprise attack on a Greek garrison based in Malgaç train station. The garrison was completely destroyed and great amount of ammunition and supplies were captured. This was the first victory for the Turkish side in Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922).
Following a decision made in common by all Efes of Aydın, Yörük Ali and the zeybeks under his command attacked Aydın to recapture the town. On 30 June, his militias entered the city and held it for four days. But the reinforced Greek Army re-occupied the city on 4 June. Yoruk Ali continued the guerilla warfare against the Greek Army until his forces were enrolled within the ranks of the re-organized Turkish Army. On November 1920,Yoruk Ali Efe was assigned by the Turkish National Assembly to form a battalion under his command and was given the colonel's rank. His group voluntarily joined the Turkish Army under the appellation, "Aydın National Regiment" ("Milli Aydın Alayı"). He served as a colonel in Turkish Army throughout the Turkish War of Independence.
After the war
He resigned from his office soon after the declaration of the Turkish Republic and lived in İzmir for 6 years. In 1928 he moved to Yenipazar, where he lived until his death. His name became "Ali Efe Yörük" after Surname Law, which was passed in 1934. He had lost his legs in a tragic accident in İzmir when he had fallen under a tram. He died in Bursa, where he went for medical treatment, and was buried in Yenipazar in compliance with his will.
He was one of the last Zeybeks and remain as a notable Efe. His contributions to Turkish War of Independence and to the establishment of the Turkish Republic were also remarkable. He is also remembered with his generous personality and his fight for justice under all circumstances. After his death, his house in Yenipazar was converted to Yoruk Ali Efe Museum in 2001. His grave is in the garden of that museum.
- "Some people believe that Turkish War of Independence was achieved by me and with some others. This is wrong. What can be the importance of one man or five men in such a great campaign? Any patriot who loved his motherland in those days had thought in the same way as ourselves, heard what we heard and then fought with us. It is a mistake to take the Lion's share in national resistance. How can one hand give a noise?"
Efe of all efes
He is a hero in modern Turkish history and was given the name "Efelerin Efesi" (Efe of all Efes), whereas an Efe is already the leader of a group of zeybeks. There is a folk song (türkü) written to his honour and carries his name. The lyrics of Yörük Ali's türkü are as follows (with English translation):
- Burhan, Sabahattin (1999). Ege'nin Kurtuluş Destanı Yörük Ali Efe Cilt: 1. Nesil Yayınları. ISBN 975-408-175-1
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