ADR Aid to Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus

ADR Aid to Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus

The Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR) provided financial, economic, diplomatic and military assistance to the Mountainous Republic of the Northern Caucasus (MRNC) after it gained independence. Regardless of the tight situation in 1918-1919, the ADR government provided nearly 50 million manats in financial assistance to MRNC, equal to one-eighth of ADR's state budget.   

Centuries-long economic, political and moral relations between ADR and MRNC became stronger and multilateral in the struggle for independence in 1917-1920. The then progressive intellectuals and political figures in Azerbaijan followed with sympathy and interest the national liberation movement of the Caucasian mountain peoples (Caucasian highlanders) and provided aid through a variety of means. And after the establishment of ADR and MRNC, Azerbaijan rendered systematic and continuous financial, economic and military assistance to the highlanders. The multilateral relations between ADR and MRNC, ADR's foreign policy and Caucasian mountain peoples' liberation struggle were touched in monographs and academic editions, but it is impossible to confirm that the mutual relations between the two countries had been entirely and thoroughly investigated. This article aims to clarify the main and significant aspects of mutual relations between the two republics. 

Following the October Revolution in 1917, the Soviets supporting Bolsheviks in the North Caucasus, Terek Cossacks military units and the national councils of mountain peoples started to struggle for power. The Petrograd revolution was also condemned in Dagestan in late October and it was proposed to establish a Terek-Dagestan government. 

On November 8, 1917, representatives of this government held their joint meeting in Vladikavkaz. In order to ensure the governance system in the region, A. Chermoyev, Chairman of the MRNC Central Committee, R. Kotsev, Chairman of the Terek Province Executive Committee, M. Karaulov, Ataman of Terek Cossacks and the province leadership established specialised commissariats. A declaration on establishing the Union of North Caucasian Peoples was adopted on December 2, 1917. The provisional government under the leadership of Rashid Khan Gaplanov was established. M. Karaulov, Deputy Head of the Government was appointed the Justice and Financial Commissioner; General Kh. Talishkhanov - Military Commissioner; General Polovtsov, Commander of the North Caucasus "Wild Division" - Commander of Terek-Dagestan military units. The Bolshevik propaganda and the Russian soldiers' violation against local inhabitants caused national clashes in the North Caucasus. Soldiers influenced by Bolshevism killed M. Karaulov on December 13 and this accident brought to murdering and wide plunder action among the mountain peoples by Russian-Cossacks militaries. Relying on the Soviets, Russian military forces seized the power in Grozny and Vladikavkaz in the early 1918. The Terek Council of People's Commissioners was established in Pyatigorsk on March 17, 1918. So, the establishment of the Bolshevik government started in the North Caucasus.   

Islamic forces under Najmaddin Bey Gotsinski and Uzun Haji became active in Dagestan. Bolsheviks were ousted from Petrovsk (Mahachgala - G.A.) U. Buynaksk, Chairman of the Military Revolutionary Committee fled away to Astrakhan and asked the Russian Bolsheviks to send troops into Dagestan. N. Gotsinski proclaimed his own power as an Imam of Dagestan and all North Caucasus, and in early April he started a military campaign to prevent the genocide of Armenian-Bolsheviks against Muslim population in Baku. In the military campaign with the participation of Dagestan cavalry the Armenian-Bolshevik forces were defeated near Khachmaz. On April 10, the Dagestan military volunteers led by N. Gotsinski reached the Bilajari-Khirdalan fire line built by the Baku Soviet. But the information on sending the Bolsheviks troops into Petrovsk from Astrakhan by sea forced them to return to Dagestan.

The Terek-Dagestan government remained paralyzed and collapsed. Leaders of the Caucasian mountain peoples' national forces together with members of the Transcaucasian Seym gathered in Tiflis to achieve the creation of a structure to represent all Caucasian peoples. In March 1918, Muslim faction deputies of the Sejm supported the appeal of the representatives of the Mountainous Republic to join the South Caucasus Sejm and jointly fight against the Bolshevik threat.  However, as the Armenian and Georgian members of the Sejm opposed this proposal, it remained ineffective. In that case, with a view to establishing bilateral relations with representatives of the North Caucasus, members of the Muslim fraction created a special commission comprised of Fatali Khan Khoyski, Nasib Bey Yusifbeyli, Aslan Bey Safikurdski, Muhammad Ghazi Dibirov, Haydar Bammatov, Adulmajid Chermoyev. Through strenuous efforts of Azerbaijan's public figures, representatives of Mountainous Republic could participate in peaceful negotiations in Trabzon.  

At the request of the Muslim faction Ibrahim Bey Heydarov, the representative of the Mountainous Republic, was included in the list of the delegation to participate in Trabzon peace conference, where representatives from Azerbaijan and MRNC proposed to unite the Northern and Southern Caucasus in an independent State.

However, Georgian and Armenian representatives, as well as a representative of the German command, frightened by the domination of the Muslim-Turks in the region, the strengthening of the Ottoman State, did not agree with this proposal.

At a meeting of the South Caucasus Sejm on April 13, 1918, the situation in the Caucasus front was discussed; the Supreme Defence Council comprised of the Georgian and Armenian representatives was established, the war was declared against the Ottoman State, and the activity of the Sejm was suspended for two weeks. On the same day, the Muslim faction met in the evening, and evaluated the decision as the act of violation of the rights of Muslims. H. Mamadbekov, a member of the Muslim faction, in his statement went further, proposing to leave the Sejm, and come together with the representatives of the North Caucasus and think on the fate (perspectives) of the Muslim population.  However, the majority of the representatives of the faction heard the representatives of the Trabzon peace conference and considered it expedient to refrain from drastic steps.

Having experienced a failure in Trabzon, the representatives of the mountain peoples, went to Istanbul and entered into a direct contact with the Government of the Ottomans.  On the eve of the Batumi peace conference they met Enver Pasha, the Minister of Defence of the Ottoman Empire and asked him for help. On May 11, 1918, the representatives of the mountain peoples adopted a Declaration of Independence to establish the Northern Caucasus Mountainous Nations' Union (the Mountainous Republic). They sent an official note to the Ottoman Government and its allies concerning the Declaration.

The documents signed by Abdulmajid Chermoev and Heydar Bammatov were welcomed by the Ottoman State.  However, German representatives were opposed to the idea of the entire North Caucasus to be part of this formation and therefore gave preference to Kuban Cossacks. The Government of the Mountainous Republic headed by A. Chermoev moved to Ganja on May 24, 1918.  The delegation of the Mountainous Republic signed a Treaty with the Ottoman State on friendship and cooperation on June 8, 1918 in Batumi. According to this Treaty, the Ottoman State pledged to militarily assist the Mountainous Republic and defend them from a foreign encroachment.

Then for detail clarification of Ottoman State's military assistance, R. Kotsev and V.G. Jabagiyev, the members of the Mountainous Government conducted negotiations with Yusif Izzat Pasha in Tiflis. Haydar Bammatov, the first Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Mountainous Republic, went on a diplomatic mission to Europe. In June 1918, Commander of the Caucasian Islamic Army Nuru Pasha, at the request of the head of the Mountainous Government A. Chermoyev sent a military squad to Dagestan through Sheki-Ahti road. This Ottoman detachment of 74 officers and 577 soldiers headed by Ismayil Haggy came to help to volunteer squads led by Nuh Bey Tarkovscky and colonel Jafarov fighting against the Bolsheviks in the mountainous regions of Dagestan.

On June 21, 1918, Ismail Haggy Bey, Cherkes by nationality, with his headquarters settled in the village of Gunib, addressed all Muslims of the Northern Caucasus to unite and lead irreconcilable struggles against the Bolsheviks.


Gabil Aliyev,

Doctor of Sciences, Professor