Enver Paşa

▪ Ottoman general

born Nov. 22, 1881, Constantinople [now Istanbul], Turkey
died Aug. 4, 1922, near Baldzhuan, Turkistan [now in Tajikistan]
 Ottoman (Ottoman Empire) general and commander in chief, a hero of the Young Turk (Young Turks) Revolution of 1908, and a leading member of the Ottoman government from 1913 to 1918. He played a key role in the Ottoman entry into World War I on the side of Germany, and, after the Ottoman defeat in 1918, he attempted to organize the Turkic peoples of Central Asia against the Soviets.

      An organizer of the Young Turk Revolution, Enver joined General Mahmud Şevket (Şevket Paşa, Mahmud), under whose command an “Army of Deliverance” advanced to Constantinople to depose the Ottoman sultan Abdülhamid II. In 1911, when warfare broke out between Italy and the Ottoman Empire, he organized the Ottoman resistance in Libya, and in 1912 he was appointed the governor of Banghāzī (Benghazi; now in modern Libya).

      Back in Constantinople, he participated in the politics of the Committee of Union and Progress, leading the coup d'état of Jan. 23, 1913, which restored his party to power. In the Second Balkan War (Balkan Wars) (1913), Enver was chief of the general staff of the Ottoman army. On July 22, 1913, he recaptured Edirne (Adrianople) from the Bulgars; and until 1918, the empire was dominated by the triumvirate of Enver, Talât Paşa, and Cemal Paşa.

      In 1914 Enver, as minister of war, was instrumental in the signing of a defensive alliance with Germany against Russia. When the Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of the Central Powers (November 1914), Enver cooperated closely with German officers serving in the Ottoman army. His military plans included Pan-Turkic (or Pan-Turanian) schemes for uniting the Turkic peoples of Russian Central Asia with the Ottoman Turks.

      These plans resulted in the disastrous defeat in December 1914 at Sarıkamış, where he lost most of the 3rd Army. He recovered his prestige, however, when the Allied forces withdrew from the Dardanelles (1915–16). In 1918, following the Russian Revolution of 1917 and Russia's withdrawal from the war, he occupied Baku (now in Azerbaijan). After the Armistice in Europe, Enver fled to Germany (November 1918).

      In Berlin he met the Bolshevik leader Karl Radek, and in 1920 he went to Moscow. He proposed the idea of overthrowing the regime of Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) in Turkey with Soviet aid, but this plan received no support from Moscow. Though the Russian (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) leaders became suspicious of him, Enver was nevertheless allowed to go to Turkistan with a plan for helping to organize the Central Asian republics. In 1921, however, the revolt of the Basmachi (Basmachi Revolt) in Bukhara against the Soviet regime flared up, and Enver joined the insurgents. He was killed in action against the Red Army.

Additional Reading
E.E. Ramsaur, The Young Turks (1957, reissued 1970); Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, 2nd ed. (1968, reprinted 1979).

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Universalium. 2010.

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