Thursday, January 29, 2004

The forgotten Arabs of Gallipoli

Gallipoli, the peninsula guarding the Dardanelles, is one of the most amazing historical sites I've ever visited. The hero of the battle, which saw the Ottoman army turn back an ill-advised British invasion cooked up by First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, was Colonel Mustafa Kemal. Later known as Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal famously told his troops, "I am not asking you to attack. I am ordering you to die. In the time it takes for you to die, reinforcements will arrive to hold the line." And off they went.

I only today learned that two-thirds of Mustafa Kemal's division were not Turks at all, by Syrian Arabs.

(Cerny points out Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty, not.... what I wrote before. Corrected.)


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