General William Montgomerie Thomson in the Caucasus and another Imperialist Hypocricy

  • 27/11/2023
Right after World War I ended with the ultimate victory of the Allies, the Allies settled in the regions abandoned by the Central Powers. The Caucasus was one of the places left under the control of the British. Major General Sir William Montgomerie Thomson became the military governor of the British Empire in Baku. For the North Caucasians, General Thomson was like the British version of the Germans' General von Lossow. The diplomatic relationship that the North Caucasian statesmen established with the German general for several months suddenly collapsed, and now they had to run the same process all over again with a British general. General Thomson, who was the commander of the British forces in Iran during the war, arrived in Baku on November 16 and immediately started to evacuate the Ottoman’s Caucasus Islamic Army from the region.

General Sir William Montgomerie Thomson (Click on the image to enlarge)
Abdul Medjid Chermoy and Pshemakho Kotse, representing the North Caucasian Mountaineers’ Government, visited General Thomson in Baku on 27 November 1918 and explained to him the independence cause of the North Caucasus. The British General, after listening to the North Caucasian statesmen, published the following announcement; [1]

(Click on the image to enlarge)
To the Government of the North Caucasus
This is a written confirmation of the statements made by me, the representative of the Entente, to you, the representatives of the North Caucasus, during our meeting yesterday.
1/ I don't want to repeat what the Allies' goals have been since they have been in the Caucasus. You are no doubt familiar with the proclamations issued by me, and from what you yourself observed in Baku, you can judge our attitude towards Azerbaijan.
2/ What interests you most is to become an independent republic. I can only tell you that all these questions will be decided at the Peace Conference by the Entente.
3/ Until that moment, you have all the faculties to demonstrate your abilities for self-government. And once you have a coalition government with representatives of all parties, I am ready to have the same attitude towards you that I promised to have towards the Government of Azerbaijan and all the principles announced by me in the proclamations I issued will be applied to the North Caucasus.
4/ I find that it would be essential to carry out the following orders and that you:
a) form a Coalition Government with representatives of all parties;
b) set aside all petty discords and form a Union against the Bolsheviks, and Govern the province you occupy fairly and impartially.
c) Drive out the Turks and suppress all Turkish and German propaganda, for they have come to the Caucasus not for your sake but for theirs, and have brought you nothing but misfortune,
d) replenish the means of transport by sea and railway, and provide for the material needs of the population caused by the supply crisis on the shores of the Caspian Sea of the Caucasus.
e) To assist the Allies in maintaining communications with General Denikin's Army and to persuade the Ingush to try to liberate the British Mission arrested by the Bolsheviks in the Vladikavkaz.
As for me, as Commander of the British Armies, and as a representative of the Entente, I come here to help the peoples of the Caucasus in every way possible to overcome the obstacles that stand in their way.

Commander of the British Forces in Baku
Major General Thomson.
Baku, November 27, 1918

The Announcement of General Thomson to the Government of the Republic of the North Caucasus (Click on the image to access the original document)
This announcement would later be denied by London as "an expression of the General's personal opinions". Warned by his government, the general would soon invite the North Caucasian statesmen to Baku again on December 10 and force them to sign an agreement with the Cossacks who were under the protection of the British; [2] 

In addition to the letter of General Thomson dated 27 November
Baku, December 10, 1918.
The Agreement between the Government of the republic of the North Caucasus and Terek Cossacks

We, the undersigned, representatives of the Republic of the North Caucasus, represented by Mr. Abdul Medjid Chermoeff and Mr. Pshemakho Kotzeff of the one part, and the representatives of the Provisional Government of the Cossacks and Peasants of the Terek District, Mr. Constantin J. Theodore N., and Kireef of the other part, have concluded the following treaty:
1/ The Cossacks and peasants of the Terek district, taking into view the community of the state, and economic and political interests with the mountain peoples of the Caucasus, must participate in the union of these peoples and proportion to the population in the work of the Government of the Republic of the Union.
2/ Taking into consideration that the greater part of the territory of this Union is occupied by the Bolsheviks and that the population, driven to extreme ruin, groans under the yoke of Bolshevik tyranny, violence, and anarchy. The two treating parties must immediately unite and mobilize all their available forces to fight against the Bolsheviks to restore order and peace on the territory of the Union and in Europe. At the same time, all the technical means of the treating parties must be placed at the disposal of the military organ of the Coalition Government, which in turn will provide them to the United Forces Command.
3/ The territory liberated from the Bolshevik yoke must submit to the Government of the Government Coalition, which is in the process of being reorganized and whose members enjoy the confidence of the people.
4/ The Commander-in-Chief of all the united forces shall be handed over to the representative of the Entente for the duration of the operations against Bolshevism.
5/ The treating parties must form an army composed of volunteers and also employ a regular mobilization of men of certain ages in proportion to the number of inhabitants.
6/ The appointment of senior military personnel and the internal organization of the United Forces shall be entrusted to the Military Ministry of the Union.
Observation): In the armies of Cossacks and peasants, this right belongs to the autonomous institution of Cossacks and peasants.
7/ The most important aim of the treating parties is to bring about a solid peace among the peoples of the Union, and with this in mind, after defeating the Bolsheviks, the Coalition Government must begin the elaboration of the agrarian question on the principles of social justice.
8/ If, for any reason, the Cossacks and mountaineers do not arrive at a possible solution to the agrarian question, the problem will be referred to the International Arbitration Commission, composed of representatives of the Entente States.
9/ The Coalition Government must also take strong measures to stop the brigandage that is ruining the population and causing conflicts among particular groups.
10/ This treaty becomes legal from the moment the representatives of the Agreement have signed it.

The Treaty between the Government of the Republic of the North Caucasus and the Terek Cossacks (Click on the image to access the original document)
Following this treaty, the real face of British politics would become more evident and they would start preparing all kinds of insidious plots to hand over the North Caucasus to the Cossack groups under the protection of Tsarist General Denikin...

Istanbul, 27 November 2023

[1] The National Archives (PRO), The Announcement of General Thomson addressed to the Government of the Republic of the North Caucasus, FO. 608/195, L.71-2
[2] The National Archives (PRO), The Treaty between the Government of the Republic of the North Caucasus and the Terek Cossacks, FO. 608/195, L.72-3