Page images

whole, and gave the necessary bably Askhabad also, and they driving-force and direction to thus have bases for propasuch military operations as ganda so much the nearer to were necessary to stem the Afghanistan and Persia, to. advancing tide of Bolshevism gether with direct railway pressing in from the east. communication right up to the This force was based on Merv, Afghan frontier: a situation and consisted roughly of a sufficiently alarming to any brigade of Indian troops. It one cognisant with the resident soon won for itself the con- people and the conditions now fidence and respect of all prevailing in Transoaspia. As parties; and so good & show- to the politioal wisdom or uning did the combined efforts of wisdom of withdrawing our workmen, volunteer army, and support, I cannot speak, but Tarkomans and British - In- it appears curious

ourious that it dian contingent make, that should have been deoided the Bolshevists were not able upon in face of the fact to establish themselves in that we were fighting the the Mery oasis, although a Bolshevists in North Russia small party had at one time and energetically supporting penetrated as far as Merv Admiral Koltohak and General and Askhabad. The opposing Denikin with supplies and foroes were in contaot in the material. From the domestio middle of the steppe, holding or home point of view there railheads about thirty miles was every reason for with. east of the Oxus, separated drawing our troops, who have from each other by about seven many of them spent two and miles of rolling grass and sand- more years fighting in Mesopo. dane through which the rail- tamia, and who were all due way runs. The Bolshevists and overdue for relief. I fear attaoked several times, were that the smaller consideration soundly beaten and had began outweighed the bigger one, and to lose heart, and it appeared that this error will cause us to be a simple matter to drive muoh trouble in the very near them definitely across the future. Bolshevism lives on Orus; but high politios stepped success, and fresh fields of loot in, and it was deoided to re- are continually necessary for move the British-Indian force it. These we have supplied by altogether from Turkestan. In throwing open the oases of my opinion this was a fatal Merv and the approaches to mistake politically. For it was the rich areas of Persia to their obvious to the men on the spot advance. The nature of the that, once the British went, the people we have abandoned does combination of workmen, vol. not fit them for a stout and anteers, and Turkomans must ansupported resistance, and I inevitably oramble. We went, take the view that Mery and

, and this has happened, and Askhabad and Southern TurkMerv is now in the hands estan as far as the Caspian of the Bolshevists, and pro- have definitely passed, or will

[ocr errors]

definitely pass under Bolshevist is an outline of the means to be control

adopted. How will this affect us? The Turkomans as & whole and how will it react upon had come to recognise_the the Turkomans?

solid benefits of Imperial RusWe are affected to the extent sian rule, although not entirely that the Bolshevists now have won over to Russia. Some of undisputed access to all the the older men still remember trade and caravan routes in the savage warfare that took to Balkh, Afghanistan, and place before Turkestan was Persia. They have, moreover, finally conquered by Skobeleff ; the use of all agrioultural and but Russia had handled them irriga ted land as well as the well and taotfully of late, and oil-wells on the eastern shores Turkoman chiefs beld high of the Caspian. They control positions in the Turkestan & well-built, broad-gauge line Army Corps. Russian educarunning right down to Afghan- tion had been brought to bear istan at Kushk, and they have upon the younger men, while become the overlords of the the development of agrioulture, Russian oolony, a timid self- especially that of cotton and seeking population who will silk produotion, has benefited willingly subsoribe to any pro- the Tarkoman enormously, and posals likely to save their own began to turn him from a skins and property. The ex- nomad into a keen business ports of Persia from the man and agriculturist, who northern territories will supply regards the atrooities and the them with food and many "I-take-all ” principles of the necessaries, and the oaravans Bolshevists with horror. that bring these supplies will Upon the collapse of Improve ready channels for Bol- perial Rassia, therefore, and Bhevigt propaganda. Only the outbreak of Bolshevism, recently we captured instruo- the Turkoman, at once formed tions issued by the Bolshevists, an army to defend their land, laying down the methods to but were unable to do this be employed in furthering entirely, and the Bolshevists their aims for world-revolu- penetrated as far as Bokhara, tion. All caravan halting. Tashkent, and Samarkand, lootplaces, and all passes through ing and destroying as they the mountains, were to be went. The Turkomans of those furnished with agents for the districts, deprived of all outspread of propaganda; pil- side support, retired to the grimages were to be sooom- oases and to old Bokhara, panied by preachers of Bol. where the Bolshevists could shevism; wells along the routes not follow for want of a were to have their Bolshevist railway; others withdrew into resident agents, and agents the desert and others again were to penetrate down to farther west to Merv and Meooa and waylay the pilgrims Askhabad, and joined themat all important centres. Such selves to the nucleus of the


[ocr errors]



Russian Volunteer Army. Here favour that the Turkomans had was colleoted a forse of Turko- over heard, and some four mans sufficiently formidable months' combined operations when backed by the Russian confirmed the reports and good Volunteer

Army and the opinions so formed : as long as Indian Brigade to oppose any our men were with them the force that the Bolshevists Tarkomans

perfeotly could send by the single line happy about the Bolshevist of railway available. It was situation, and great was their while acting in co-operation dismay when it was announoed with the British that the that the British troops were Turkomans learnt their respect to be withdrawn. A number and admiration for Great of the leading Turkomans as Britain-80 mueh 80,

that well & deputation from whenever trouble rose be- Bokhara came down to Askbatween the Allies, General bad to interview the Head of Malleson or General Beatty, our Mission, and to urge the respectively Head of the British retention of the British Indian Mission and Commander of force. the Indian Brigade, were al- The head-man, a gigantio ways able to adjust all diffi- Tarkoman some six feet eight onlties and hold the defence inohes in height, crowned with together. Out of the respeot a huge black sheepskin hat and so engendered arose the desire dressed in a long flowing silk of the Tarkomans to be in- robe, made a most striking corporated with the British figure as he urged and pleaded Empire.

for the continuance of our supThe British had long been port. “Leave us a thousand known to the Turkomans as men, only a thousand men, and the greatest Mahomedan em- we oan hold the enemy.” It pire, the rulers of India, Egypt, was pointed out that and a great portion of Man soldiers were due for rest and homedan Africa, and now the relief; and he continued, oonquerors of the Turks, and “Leave us 500 then: surely our reputation for justice and the great British Empire can broad-minded religious toler. spare 500 men to proteot ns. anoe was thoroughly appreci. "It is impossible to leave 500 ated and enlarged upon by the men” was the reply. He pilgrims who annually visit then made his final and most Meoos and who there meet touohing appeal: “Leave us Mahomedans from all over the at least one Englishman here; world, from whom they ob- then my people will know that tained this newg. Bat antil Great Britain will never abanthe Bolshevist menace pre- don them, and we will continue sented itself the Turkomans to oppose the Bolsheviste." had never actually como into On being told that even this touch with Great Britain. was impossible, and that orders Actual contact with the Brit- had been received for the withish verified everything in our drawal of all troops, the ohief


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


made a despairing gesture and tially civilised at present, but said, “In that case there very amenable to civilisation ; remains no hope for us Turko- and although not & great mans. We shall not be able fighter when left to himself, to hold out by ourselves, and he needs but direotion and we shall therefore return to moral support to render him our wandering life in the efficient ally in his steppes and the deserts as be- native country, where

where his fore the Russians first came.” physical hardihood and knowThis is aotually happening ledge of local conditions ennow, The Turkomans are able him to march and fight withdrawing from all oontact and live where other troops with civilisation and are re- would starve. I do not sugadopting their nomad life. gest that Great Britain should The Bolshevists will benefit by seek to

& suzerainty the great irrigation works and over Tarkestan; far from it. silk and cotton oultivation of All that would be necessary the Sarts, part of whom will would be to give him moral, no doubt become their helots, and it may be material, help while the more virile sections in developing himself and his will again beoome nomads. regouroes. Now that Russia One large horde, numbering is gone up in flames, Great some 300,000, is withdrawing Britain would have been in a in a body towards Persia, and position to influence not only will probably go over into

over into all Persia, but also Turkestan, Persia. Now what would have probably without employing a been the position had we been single soldier, bad she conable to support the Turkomans? tinued to back the Turkomans We should have had to the during those critical days. We north of Persia and Afghan- should have gained the lastistan Mahomedan buffer ing friendship of 2,000,000 State against Bolshevism, re- sturdy Mahomedans (against quiring a minimum of saper- whom we have never fought, vision and direotion, The and whom we should never 2,000,000 Tarkomans would need to fight). Their presence have been fully equal to the & nation to the north of task of keeping their frontier Afghanistan would have had intaot, and would have denied a most beneficial and steadyto Bolshevism all access to ing influence on the Afghans, Afghanistan from the north. who could not but fail to be So great was our prestige impressed by the cordial rewith the Turkomans that lations existing between Great it could not but have had Britain and their Mahom

most favourable influence edan neighbours - relations upon our dealings with Af- based apon no other foundaghanistan, for there is much tion than mutual goodwill and trade between Eastern Turk- confidence. estan and Afghanistan.

This opportunity is lost to The Tarkoman is only par. 08.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


As to the future of the Sarts, and that they and the Tarkoman race—I see three Amirate of Bokhara will oeage possible alternatives before it: to exist as political entities. a return to their original con- Already the wandering Turk. dition as it was before the oman has & contempt for the Russians came and conquered Sart, and should the latter the land, when the various submissively accept the rule hordes roamed the steppes of the Bolshevik, a cleavage according to the seasons, and of the nation is assured. were organised into separate The third alternative is an tribes or olans rather than a emigration of the whole race homogeneous nation.

east into Chinese Turkestan, If this happens, the ulti- or west into Persia, or even mate civilisation of the Turk. south into the foothills of oman will be put back to the Afghanistan, but this latter distant future, and will pro- contingenoy is improbable; in bably call for reoonquest by any case the existence of the whatever power, be it Russia Tarkoman race as one nation or China, who finally under. under one nominal ruler is now takes the venture; for by that doomed for many years, even time the Turkoman will have if it should ever come together definitely relapsed into his again, which is doubtful, primeval savagery, and will Thus the polioy of non-supnot readily yield himself to port of the Tarkomans has the suzerainty of others. resulted in a oleavage of the

Another possible outcome race, the strengthening of the may be the definite separa- Bolshevist at a point where tion of the race into two, the he was not strong, and the Sarts or sedentary hordes and gift to him of easy means the wandering hordes. The of access to territories where former, if adhering to their his frothy and dangerous cities and agrioulture and ir- propaganda cannot fail seririgated land, will inevitably ously to affeot our Indian and drift under the sway of the Mahomedan empires, Bolshevists and the successors Another point not to be of the Bolsheviste, who will overlooked is

i the loss of benefit by their industry; and prestige to ourselves in the it is possible that in the future eyes of the Afghans, Turkothey may be content to live mang, and Persians by our 29 & servile race without in- withdrawal, which no doubt dividuality or self-government, has been magnified and exalted the prey to any whim of their by the Bolshevists into a great masters, but content that it viotory for

viotory for themselves and should be so as long as they their principles. It is not themselves are safe. From unreasonable to prophesy that the little I have seen and the during the next meeting of much that I have heard, I pilgrims at Mecoa, one of the am inclined to the belief that principal topies of conversathis will be the fate of the tion over the evening meal or

« PreviousContinue »