The Turkish-Armenian War was a conflict fought between the Democratic Republic of Armenia (DRA) and Turkish Revolutionaries of the Turkish National Movement which lasted from 24 September to 2 December, 1920 and largely took place in present-day northeastern Turkey and northwestern Armenia.
The Armenian National Liberation Movement declared independence of the Democratic Republic of Armenia (DRA) before end of World War I. Tovmas Nazarbekian, who was the commander on the Caucasus front and also the governor of the Administration for Western Armenia, became the first head of state of the DRA. Andranik Toros Ozanian assumed control of the administration of Western Armenia from March 1918 to April 1918. He faced the Ottoman army during the concluding battles of the Caucasus Campaign and assigned the position of civil commissioner to Drastamat Kanayan.
The Ottoman-Russian friendship treaty (January 1, 1918) and the following Treaty of Brest-Litovsk (March 3, 1918) signed by the Grand Vizier Talat Pasha set the condition that all lands Russia had captured in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), namely Ardahan, Kars, and Batumi, were to be returned to the Ottoman Empire.
The new Armenian state was between Russia and the Ottoman Empire; more precisely it was the Armenian Congress of Eastern Armenians (a unified form of the Armenian National Councils) ruled by the Dashnak party which declared the DRA to be in between. In March 1918, before the advance of Ottoman forces, the DRA stabilized. It secured western support under the guidance of the Armenian Diaspora, and prepared to defend the regions of (Erzurum, Bitlis, and the Van Province). Those were highly important for the new country in its bid not to become a completely land locked state. On March 1918, Vehib Pasha moved the Third Army towards positions of the Armenian volunteer units, thus confronting the preliminary Armenian military for the first time. Under heavy pressure from the combined forces of the Ottoman army and the Kurdish irregulars, the DRA withdrew from Erzincan to Erzurum. The city of Van, which had been under Armenian control since the Van Resistance, was abandoned as well. The DRA also evacuated Erzurum and Sarıkamış after resisting in the Battle of Kara Killisse (1918), the Battle of Sardarapat, and Battle of Bash Abaran. Vehib Pasha was also reclaimed Trabzon to the north.
The border set in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was implemented. Some additional conditions were also forced on the Democratic Republic of Armenia in the Treaty of Batum. The signing of the latter treaty falls on the same day as the declaration of the establishment of the DRA.
The Ottoman Empire forced the DRA to abandon Western Armenia with the Treaty of Batum, although it was not recognized by Armenia. However the Ottoman Empire was later forced to fall back on the prewar borders in the Armistice of Mudros which was signed on October 30, 1918.
The period of time elapsed until the Armistice of Mudros did not leave the Ottomans sufficient time to re-establish their authority over the territories ceded in the Treaty of Batum. The ensuing administrative vacuum saw the emergence of a new state (South West Caucasian Republic) headed by Fakhr al-Din Pirioghlu, which was centered in Kars and officially constituted itself after the Armistice of Mudros. Its territory was to include the predominantly Muslim-inhabited regions of Kars and Batum, parts of the Erivan district in the province of the same name, and the Akhaltsikhe and Akhalkalaki districts of the Tiflis province. However, in practical terms the republic was confined to the provinces of Kars and Ardahan. It existed alongside the general governorship enacted by the British which had been created during the Entente's intervention in Transcaucasia. Pirioghlu's reign was abolished by the British High Commissioner, Admiral Somerset Arthur Gough-Calthorpe. Consequently the DRA was able to claim the territory for its own, which had been forced out of the Ottoman Empire before the armistice. Ardahan was occupied by Georgian troops.
The conflict began in June 1920 when Armenian border troops became involved in skirmishes with militant Turkish tribes in the district of Oltu, a territory which was formerly under the control of the Democratic Republic of Georgia but ended up in the hands of local Muslim warlords. On October 6, the tenuous DRA government ordered the partial occupation of the district. Olto was occupied by Armenians in June 16. Using the move as a pretext for war, General Kazım Karabekir led four Turkish battalions into the district on September 3 and drove the Armenians out. Karabekir then pushed into the DRA on September 20 prompting the Armenian government to declare war on Turkey four days later.
By September 28, Karabekir's forces had occupied Sarıkamış and the following day Kağızman. They then moved towards Kars but this assault was delayed by Armenian resistance. The advancing Turkish battalions devastated the area and reportedly committed acts of ethnic cleansing against the civilian Armenian population that did not have time or willingness to leave their homes. After the Turks captured the city of Merdeniq, Armenians launched pogroms against local Muslims in Yerevan and Kars in response.
In early October, the DRA government beseeched aid from the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and the rest of the Allied powers, but little was done in response. Most of Britain's available forces in the Near East were concentrated on crushing the tribal uprisings in the British Mandate of Iraq, while France and Italy faced similar difficulties in the French Mandate of Syria and Italian-controlled Antalya. Neighboring Georgia declared neutrality during the conflict. Only Greece provided some degree of support with its active operations in western Anatolia. However, Greek military support was not enough to ease Turkish pressure on the DRA.
On October 24, Karabekir's forces launched a massive campaign on Kars. Rather than fighting for the city, the Armenians abandoned Kars which by October 30 came under full Turkish occupation. Those who could not escape in time were faced with pillage, rape, and massacre.
Turkish forces continued to advance and soon captured and occupied the city of Alexandropol (present-day Gyumri, Armenia) one week after the capture of Kars. On November 12, the Turks also captured the strategic village of Agin, northeast of the ruins of the former Armenian capital of Ani and then planned to move towards Yerevan. On November 13, Georgia broke its neutrality after concluding an agreement with the DRA to invade the disputed region of Lori which was established as a Neutral Zone (the Shulavera Condominium) between the two nations in early 1919. Armenia feared the security of the Armenians in the region if the Turks were to invade.
The Turks, headquartered in Alexandropol, presented the Armenians with an ultimatum which they were forced to accept. However, this was followed by a more radical demand which threatened the existence of Armenia as a viable entity. The Armenians at first rejected this demand, but when Karabekir's forces continued to advance, they had little choice but to capitulate. On November 18, 1920, a cease-fire agreement was concluded.
However, as the terms of defeat were being negotiated between Karabekir and Armenian Foreign Minister Alexander Khatisian, Joseph Stalin, on the command of Vladimir Lenin, ordered Grigoriy Ordzhonikidze to invade the DRA from Azerbaijan in order to establish a new pro-Bolshevik government in the country. On November 29, the Soviet Eleventh Army invaded Armenia at Karavansarai (present-day Ijevan). Fearing the capture of Yerevan and Echmiadzin by Turkish forces in the case that the Bolsheviks should not arrive, the Armenians signed the Treaty of Alexandropol on December 2 with Turkey in which the DRA was to disarm most of its military forces, cede more than 50% of its pre-war territory, and to give up all the territories granted to it at the Treaty of Sèvres, which was not ratified by the Armenian Parliament as the Soviet invasion took place at the same time.
In late November 1920, there was yet another Soviet-backed communist uprising in Armenia. On November 28, 1920, blaming Armenia for the invasions of Sharur (20 November) and Karabakh (21 November), the 11th Red Army under the command of Anatoliy Hekker (Anatoli Gekker) crossed the demarcation line between the Democratic Republic of Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan. The second Soviet-Armenian war lasted only a week. Exhausted by the six years of permanent wars and conflicts, the Armenian army and population were incapable of any further active resistance.
When, on December 4, 1920, the Red Army entered Yerevan, the government of Armenian Republic effectively surrendered. On December 5, the Armenian Revolutionary Committee ("Revkom", consisting mostly of Armenians from Azerbaijan) also entered the city. Finally, on the following day, the December 6, the Cheka, Felix Dzerzhinsky's dreaded secret police, entered Yerevan. The existence of the Democratic Republic of Armenia was then, in effect, ended.
Soon afterward, the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, under the leadership of Aleksandr Miasnikyan, was proclaimed.
The violence in Transcaucasia was finally settled in a friendship treaty between TBMM (which was declared Turkey in 1923), and the Soviet Union. The peace Treaty of Kars, which was signed in Kars by the representatives of Russian SFSR, Azerbaijan SSR, Armenian SSR, Georgian SSR, and TBMM. TBMM had another agreement, "Treaty on Friendship and Brotherhood" also called Treaty of Moscow, signed on March 16, 1921 with the Soviet Union. By this treaty Turkey ceded Adjara to the USSR in exchange for the Kars territory (today the Turkish provinces of Kars, Iğdır, and Ardahan).