He was definitely father of modern Turkey. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was born in Salonica in 1890. One of Turkey’s greatest modern military minds and the saviour of Gallipoli. After the end of the first world war like many of Turkey’s generals he saw their country being carved up like a roast dinner. France got the leg, England the breast, Greece the ribs, The Russians were happy that Istanbul was an international city, the Armenians were praying for the scraps. And in 1919 at the Treaty of Sevres, Turkey was ultimately humiliated and all that remained was inner Anatolia. This was a bitter pill to swallow for 11 million proud Turks.
In the meantime elsewhere in the empire there were more deals being made. In Palestine there was an apparent agreement made between Lawrence of Arabia and the Arabs that they would receive their own independent state if they assisted the British in fighting off the Turks. In Arabia an even sinister plot had hatched by the Saud clan.
There is a great misconception that Ataturk was the architect behind the abolition of the caliphate. After the war ended in 1918 the Arabs were rewarded for their treachery against the Turks (fellow Muslims) after siding with the British. They were promised Palestine and the Hejaz. Sherif Hussain was made the Emir of the Mecca and Medina. However, Hussain made a hasty error by declaring himself Caliph of the Muslim world. To the chagrin of the British.
Sayyid Hussein bin Ali, (1854-1931) was the ruler of the Hejaz and of Mecca from 1908 until 1917, when he proclaimed himself king of Hejaz, which received international recognition. In 1924, he further proclaimed himself Caliph of all Muslims. He ruled Hejaz until 1924, when, defeated by the Abdul Aziz al Saud and he abdicated the kingdom and other secular titles to his eldest son Ali.
The British were not expecting Hussein to announce himself as Caliphate after all the plan had been from the start to destroy it forever. They had partially succeeded by partitioning the Ottoman empire and placing the Middle East under British and French control. When the Turks had finally announced that the Caliph in Turkey was no more Hussein saw this as an opportunity to proclaim the title. He controlled both Mecca and Medina and in effect was the new caliph.
The problem with this is that the Caliph should be an elected position. Nonetheless, the British had no intention to tolerate such a brash move, especially after they had installed Hussein into power in the first place. They then pushed the Abdul Aziz Al-Saud to lead a campaign, reinforced with british weapons to oust Hussein and take control. The only condition was that Abdul-Aziz was not to proclaim himself Caliph nor were any of his descendants. To this day, we have never ever heard of a Saudi King declaring himself Caliph.
In the meantime, the nasty Palestinians placed all the blame on Mustafa Kemal. They said that he hated the Arabs and he abolished the Arabic script, he secularised Turkey and abolished the caliphate.
What Ataturk did was remove the Caliph as an obstacle his grab for power, having already lost the Hejaz which was a fundamental requirement for holding the title of Caliphate. Officially the Caliphate was declared over in Turkey as the last known Caliph was actually Sultan Mehmet Vahdettin who abdicated in 1922 and was exiled to Malta. His successor Abdul Mecid II was briefly Caliph until 1924 when it was formerly abolished by parliament.
However, the real architects of the end of the caliphate were the Saudis. They had already made a deal with the British to fight the Turks in return for their military aid. The Saudis came near to extinction until they were saved by the British. In 1924 the Saudis made another deal to take over control of the Hejaz and depose of Sherif Hussein.
Bearing in mind all along the British were planning to create a new “Jewish Homeland” under the agreement of the Balfour Declaration. The Arabs were tricked into believing that they too would receive their own homeland which would include Jerusalem and most of the Westbank.
It was foolish to have trusted the British for in the end not only did Hussein lose all his power, the Arabs were placed under British and French mandates. They lived under colonial rule for almost half a century until one by one they gained independence but only to be ruled by puppet regimes chosen by the British and French.
In the end it was the House of Saud that abolished the last Caliph of Islam. In return for taking power the British were promised that they would never claim the caliphate themselves. And to this day it is as so. The Muslims have no leader, and as long as Arabia is called Saudi Arabia we will never see another caliph lead the Muslims out of the depths of darkness.