Fakhri Pasha

Last updated

Ömer Fahrettin Türkkan [1]
1304 (1888)-SV. 1 [1]
Yasli Omer Fahreddin Pasa.jpg
Nickname(s)The Defender of Medina (Tr.: Medine Müdafii)
The Lion of the Desert [2]
The Tiger of the Desert [3]
Born1868 (November or December)
Rusçuk, Ottoman Empire (now Bulgaria)
Died22 November 1948 (aged 7980)
Istanbul, Turkey
Allegiance Flag of the Ottoman Empire.svg Ottoman Empire (1888–1919)
Flag of the Ottoman Empire.svg Ankara Government (1921–1923)
Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey (1923–1936)
Service/branchFlag of the Ottoman Empire.svg  Ottoman Army
Flag of the Ottoman Empire.svg Army of the GNA
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkish Land Forces
Years of service1888–1919, 1921–1936
Rank Lieutenant general
Commands held 31st Division, XII Corps, Fourth Army (deputy), Hejaz Expeditionary Force
Battles/wars Italo-Turkish War
Balkan Wars
World War I
Turkish War of Independence
Other workTurkish ambassador to Kabul

Fakhri Pasha or Fahreddin Pasha (1868 – 22 November 1948), known as Ömer Fahrettin Türkkan after the Surname Law of 1934, was a Turkish career officer, who was the commander of the Ottoman Army and governor of Medina from 1916 to 1919. He was nicknamed "The Lion of the Desert" and "The Tiger of the Desert" [3] by the British and Arabs for his patriotism in Medina [4] [2] and is known for defending Medina in the Siege of Medina during World War I. [5]


Early life

Fakhri Pasha in his early days. Young Fakhri Pasha.jpg
Fakhri Pasha in his early days.

He was born in Rusçuk (present day Ruse) to mother Fatma Adile Hanım and father Mehmed Nahid Bey. He had a younger sister Sabiha Hanım, who was married to ‘Alī Ḥaydar Pāshā. Due to the Russo-Turkish War his family moved to Istanbul [6] [7] in 1878. He joined the War Academy and in 1888 graduated from it. His first posting was on the eastern border with Armenia in the Fourth Army. In 1908 he came to Istanbul and joined the First Regular Army. In 1911–12 he was sent to Libya and when the Balkan War broke out, he was the commander of the 31st Division stationed at Gallipoli. His unit recaptured Adrianople (present day Edirne) from Bulgaria and he entered into the city along with Enver Pasha.[ citation needed ]


He married Ayşe Sıdıka Hanımefendi (1884-1959) in 1900, who was the daughter of Ferik Ahmet Paşa. They had five children:

World War I

In 1914, before the Ottoman Army was mobilized, Staff Colonel Fahreddin Bey was appointed the commander of the XII Corps stationed in Mosul. He was promoted to the rank of Mirliva on 12 November 1914 and appointed to the Deputy Commander of the Fourth Army stationed in Aleppo. [8]

Defender of Medina

During World War I, after Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, started preparing for a revolt against the Ottoman Empire, [5] Fahreddin, upon the orders of Djemal Pasha on 23 May 1916 moved toward Medina in Hejaz to defend it; he was appointed the commander of the Hejaz Expeditionary Force on 17 July 1916. [8]

Medina was besieged by the Arab forces who revolted against the Ottoman Sultan and sided with the British against Fahreddin Pasha, but he stood his ground and defended the city. He also protected the single-track narrow gauge Hejaz Railway from sabotage by the Hejazi army [9] Turkish garrisons of the isolated small train stations withstood the continuous night attacks and secured the tracks against increasing number of attacks (around 130 major attacks in 1917 and hundreds in 1918, including more than 300 bombs on 30 April 1918).

With the withdrawal of the Ottoman Empire from the war with the Armistice of Mudros between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies of World War I on 30 October 1918, it was expected that Fahreddin would also surrender. But he refused to do so and rejected the armistice.

During the siege of Medina, Fahreddin sent the sacred artefacts and manuscripts of Medina to Istanbul in order to protect them from seizure. Most of the manuscripts were returned to Medina by the Ottoman Empire and are now in libraries in the city, [5] while the rest remain in the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. [10]

According to eye-witness memoirs of Turkish author Feridun Kandemir, who was a Red Crescent volunteer of that time in Medina, one Friday in the spring of 1918, after prayers in Masjid al-Nabawi (also known as the Prophet's Mosque), Fahreddin addressed the troops: [11]

"Soldiers! I appeal to you in the name of the Prophet, my witness. I command you to defend him and his city to the last cartridge and the last breath, irrespective of the strength of the enemy. May Allah help us, and may the prayers of Muhammad be with us.

"Officers of the heroic Turkish army! O little Muhammads, come forward and promise me, before our Lord and the Prophet, to honor your faith with the supreme sacrifice of your lives."'

Fahreddin Pasha had said that he had a vision in a dream that the prophet Muhammad had ordered him not to submit. In August 1918, he received a call to surrender from Sharif Husain of Mecca. Fahreddin Pasha replied him in these words: [11]

"Fakhr-ud-Din, General, Defender of the Most Sacred City of Medina. Servant of the Prophet.

"In the name of Allah, the Omnipotent. To him who broke the power of Islam, caused bloodshed among Muslims, jeopardized the caliphate of the Commander of the Faithful, and exposed it to the domination of the British.

"On Thursday night the fourteenth of Dhu'l-Hijja, I was walking, tired and worn out, thinking of the protection and defense of Medina, when I found myself among unknown men working in a small square. Then I saw standing before me a man with a sublime countenance. He was the Prophet, may Allah's blessing be upon him! His left arm rested on his hip under his robe, and he said to me in a protective manner, 'Follow me.' I followed him two or three paces and woke up. I immediately proceeded to his sacred mosque and prostrated myself in prayer and thanks [near his tomb].

Omar Fahreddin Pasha during the Defense of Medina DRjGz4lWAAUn9R4.jpg
Omar Fahreddin Pasha during the Defense of Medina

"I am now under the protection of the Prophet, my Supreme Commander. I am busying myself with strengthening the defenses, building roads and squares in Medina. Trouble me not with useless offers."

He refused to hand over his sword even upon the receipt of a direct order from the Ottoman minister of war. The Ottoman government was upset at his behavior and the Sultan Mehmed VI dismissed him from his post. He refused to do so and kept the flag of the Ottoman Sultan flying in Medina until 72 days after the end of the war. After the Armistice of Mudros the closest Ottoman unit was 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) from Medina. [12]

He replied to an ultimatum from British General Reginald Wingate on 15 December 1918 with the words:"I am a Muhammadan. I am an Osmanli. I am the son of Bayer Bay. I am a soldier." [13]

Fahreddin was arrested by his own men and brought to Abdullah on 9 January 1919 at Bir Darwish. [14] [15] Abdullah entered Medina shortly after the surrender, followed by Ali who entered the city on 2 February 1919. [15]

Life after war

After Fahreddin Pasha's arrest, he was brought to the military barracks at Cairo, Egypt. Later he was transferred to Malta, where he lived as a prisoner of war until 1921. [16] After his release, he joined the Turkish forces under the command of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and fought against the Greek and French armies occupying Anatolia. After the Turkish War of Independence, he was Turkey's ambassador to Kabul, Afghanistan from 1922 to 1926. [17] In 1936, he was promoted to the rank of Ferik (lieutenant general) and retired from the army. Fahreddin Pasha died on 22 November 1948, after suffering a heart attack during a train trip in the vicinity of Eskişehir. [16] According to his wishes, he was buried in the Aşiyan Cemetery in İstanbul. [16]

Omar Fahreddin Pasha, known for his two years and seven months of Medina Defense, which he ruled in Medina under difficult circumstances during the Sharif Hussein rebellion during World War I. Omer Fahreddin Pasa.jpg
Omar Fahreddin Pasha, known for his two years and seven months of Medina Defense, which he ruled in Medina under difficult circumstances during the Sharif Hussein rebellion during World War I.
Fahreddin Pasha in the 1930s. Fahreddin Pasa.jpg
Fahreddin Pasha in the 1930s.


In December 2017 Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, sparked a diplomatic rift with Turkey by sharing a post on his personal social media account aimed at exposing Fahreddin and his forces for stealing manuscripts from Medina among other crimes against the local population during the siege. [18] In response, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called the Foreign Minister ignorant and said, "Some impertinent man sinks low and goes as far as accusing our ancestors of theft... What spoiled this man? He was spoiled by oil, by the money he has. When my ancestors were defending Medina, you impudent (man), where were yours? First, you have to give account for this." [19] A few days later, the Turkish government changed the name of the Ankara street where the UAE Embassy is located to Fahreddin Pasha. [20]

See also


  1. 1 2 Harp Akademileri Komutanlığı, Harp Akademilerinin 120 Yılı, İstanbul, 1968, p. 19. (in Turkish)
  2. 1 2 Defence Of Medina Archived 9 September 2012 at the Wayback Machine , İsmail Bilgin, ISBN   975-263-496-6, Timas Publishing Group.
  3. 1 2 S. Tanvir Wasti
    The defence of Medina, 1916–19, Middle Eastern Studies
    Vol. 27, No. 4 (Oct., 1991), Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. pp. 642-653
  4. "President, opposition continue reaction to UAE FM's retweet targeting Turks, Ottomans". DailySabah. 21 December 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  5. 1 2 3 "Fahreddin Pasha: Ottoman officer who defended the holy lands with all he had". Daily Sabah. 22 December 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  6. The Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol.7, Edited by Hugh Chisholm, (1911), 3; Constantinople, the capital of the Turkish Empire...
  7. Britannica, Istanbul:When the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, the capital was moved to Ankara, and Constantinople was officially renamed Istanbul in 1930.
  8. 1 2 "Fahreddin Paşa (Türkkan)" Archived 20 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine , Turkey in the First World War.
  9. Mesut Uyar, Edward J. Erickson: A Military History of the Ottomans: From Osman to Atatürk, ABC-CLIO, 2009, ISBN   0275988767, page 253.
  10. "Money spoiled you: Erdoğan slams UAE FM in Ottoman Pasha row". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  11. 1 2 Medine Müdafaası, Feridun Kandemir, Nehir Yayınları, s. 530, İstanbul, 1991
  12. Başbakan Erdoğan'ın sır konuşması, Sabah, 24.03.2012 (in Turkish)
  13. Peters, Francis E. (1994). Mecca: A Literary History of the Muslim Holy Land. Princeton University Press. p. 375. ISBN   9781400887361.
  14. Peters, Francis. (1994). "Mecca: A Literary History of the Muslim Holy Land". PP376-377. Princeton University Press. ISBN   0-691-03267-X
  15. 1 2 Wilson, Mary. (1987). "King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan". P36. Cambridge University Press. ISBN   0-521-39987-4
  16. 1 2 3 Fahreddin Paşa exhibition commemorates hidden jewel in Turkish photography Archived 22 November 2015 at the Wayback Machine , Today's Zaman, Ömer Faruk Șerifoğlu, 14.12.2008
  17. Bilal N. Șimșir, "Cumhuriyetin İlk Çeyrek Yüzyılında Türk Diplomatik Temsilcilikleri ve Temsilcileri (1920–1950)", Atatürk Araștırma Merkezi Dergisi, Sayı 64-65-66, Cilt: XXII, Mart-Temmuz-Kasım 2006. (in Turkish)
  18. "Turkey plans to change embassy street name in row with UAE: report". Reuters. 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  19. "Turkish President calls UAE minister impertinent in Ottoman looting ro". Reuters. 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2017.
  20. "UAE embassy street in Turkish capital to be named after Ottoman pasha amid row". Hürriyet Daily News. Retrieved 24 December 2017.

Related Research Articles

Ahmed I Sultan of the Ottoman Empire (1590-1617) (r. 1603-1617)

Ahmed I was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1603 until his death in 1617. Ahmed's reign is noteworthy for marking the first breach in the Ottoman tradition of royal fratricide; henceforth Ottoman rulers would no longer systematically execute their brothers upon accession to the throne. He is also well known for his construction of the Blue Mosque, one of the most famous mosques in Turkey.

Mehmed VI 36th and last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire

Mehmed VI Vahideddin, also known as Şahbaba among Osmanoğlu family, was the 36th and last Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, reigning from 4 July 1918 until 1 November, 1922 when the Ottoman Empire was dissolved after World War I, and was replaced by the Republic of Turkey, on 29 October 1923. The brother of Mehmed V, he became heir to the throne in 1916 after the suicide of Abdülaziz's son, Şehzade Yusuf Izzeddin, as the eldest male member of the House of Osman. He acceded to the throne after the death of Mehmed V. He was girded with the Sword of Osman on 4 July 1918, as the thirty-sixth padishah. His father was Sultan Abdulmejid I and his mother was Gülüstü Hanım She was an ethnic Abkhazian, daughter of Prince Tahir Bey Çaçba and his wife Afişe Lakerba, who was originally named Fatma Çaçba. Mehmed stepped down when the Ottoman Sultanate was abolished in 1922, and the secular Republic of Turkey was created, with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk as the first president.

Kara Mustafa Pasha

Merzifonlu Kara Mustafa Pasha was an Albanian Ottoman nobleman, military figure and Grand Vizier, who was a central character in the Ottoman Empire's last attempts at expansion into both Central and Eastern Europe.

Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca Sharif and Emir of Mecca and King of Hejaz (1854-1931)

Hussein bin Ali Al-Hashimi was an Arab leader from the Banu Hashim clan who was the Sharif and Emir of Mecca from 1908 and, after proclaiming the Great Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire, King of the Hejaz from 1916 to 1924. At the end of his reign he also briefly laid claim to the office of Caliph. He was a 37th-generation direct descendant of Muhammad, as he belongs to the Hashemite family.

Arab Revolt Uprising in 1916 against the ruling Ottoman Turks during World War I

The Arab Revolt or the Great Arab Revolt was a military uprising of Arab forces against the Ottoman Empire in the Middle Eastern theatre of World War I. On the basis of the McMahon–Hussein Correspondence, an agreement between the British government and Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, the revolt was officially initiated at Mecca on June 10, 1916. The aim of the revolt was to create a single unified and independent Arab state stretching from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen, which the British had promised to recognize.

Fevzi Çakmak

Mustafa Fevzi Çakmak was a Turkish field marshal (Mareşal) and politician. He served as the Chief of General Staff from 1918 and 1919 and later the Minister of War of the Ottoman Empire in 1920. He later joined the provisional Government of the Grand National Assembly and became the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of National Defense and later as the Prime Minister of Turkey from 1921 to 1922. He was the second Chief of the General Staff of the provisional Ankara Government and the first Chief of the General Staff of the Republic of Turkey.

Nureddin Pasha Ottoman Army general

Nureddin Ibrahim Pasha, known as Nureddin İbrahim Konyar since 1934 and often called Bearded Nureddin, was a Turkish military officer who served in the Ottoman Army during World War I and in the Turkish Army during the Western Front of the Turkish War of Independence. To distinguish him from namesakes, he was called Beard Nureddin because he was the only high-ranking Turkish officer during the Turkish War of Independence sporting a beard. He is known as one of the most important commanders of the War.

Ahmet Tevfik Pasha

Ahmet Tevfik Pasha, known as Ahmet Tevfik Okday after the Turkish Surname Law of 1934, was an Ottoman statesman of ethnic Crimean Tatar origin. He was the last Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire.

Wehib Pasha Ottoman general

Wehib Pasha also known as Vehip Pasha, Mehmed Wehib Pasha, Mehmet Vehip Pasha, was a general in the Ottoman Army. He fought in the Balkan Wars and in several theatres of World War I. In his later years, he acted as a military advisor to the Ethiopian army in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War.

Medina, an Islamic holy city in Arabia, underwent the longest siege during World War I. Medina was at the time part of the Ottoman Empire. In the war, the Ottoman Empire sided with the Central Powers. Sharif Hussain of Mecca revolted against the caliph and the Ottoman Empire which, under the leadership of the nationalistic Young Turks, had ignored the wishes of the Caliph and sided with the Central Powers. Hussain instead sided with the British Empire. T. E. Lawrence was instrumental in this revolt. Hussain occupied Mecca and besieged Medina. It was one of the longest sieges in history that lasted until even after the armistice. Fahreddin Pasha was the defender of Medina. Some celebrated him as "the Lion of the Desert" despite the suffering of those who remained in Medina. The siege lasted two years and seven months.

Ali Rikabi

Ali Rida Pasha Rikabi, was the First Prime Minister in modern Syria and was also the Prime Minister of Jordan.

Military career of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was a field marshal, revolutionary statesman, and founder of the Republic of Turkey as well as its first President. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's military career explains his life between graduation from Ottoman War College in Istanbul as a lieutenant in 1905 to his resignation from the Ottoman Army on 8 July 1919, as well as his military leadership throughout the subsequent Turkish War of Independence.

Mehmed Namık Pasha

Mehmed Emin Namık Pasha was a prominent Ottoman statesman and military reformer, who is considered to be one of the founding fathers of the modern Ottoman Army. He served under five Sultans and acted as counsellor to at least four of them. He founded the Mekteb-i Harbiye, was twice Viceroy of the province of Bagdad, was the first ambassador of the Sublime Porte at Saint-James's Court, was appointed Serasker, he served as Minister of War, became a Cabinet minister, and was conferred the title of Şeyh-ül Vüzera. During a long career that spanned a long lifetime, he was one of the personalities who shaped, as well as were themselves shaped by what historian İlber Ortaylı called “the longest century” of the Ottoman state.

Hafiz Hakki Pasha

Hafiz Hakki Pasha, was a general of the Ottoman Army.

Sharifate of Mecca

The Sharifate of Mecca or Emirate of Mecca was a state, non-sovereign for much of its existence, ruled by the Sharifs of Mecca. A sharif is a descendant of Hasan ibn Ali, Muhammad's grandson. In Western sources, the prince of Mecca was known as Grand Sherif, but Arabs have always used the appellation "Emir".

Hejaz Expeditionary Force

The Hejaz Expeditionary Force of the Ottoman Empire was one of the expeditionary forces of the military of the Ottoman Empire. Its commander had the authority of an army commander. It was formed during World War I for the defense of Medina.

Mehmet Esat Bülkat

Mehmed Esad Pasha, known as Mehmet Esat Bülkat after the 1934 Surname Law, was an Ottoman general active during the First Balkan War, where he led the Yanya Corps, and in World War I, where he was the senior Ottoman commander in the Dardanelles Campaign.

ʿAlī Ḥaydar Pāshā ibn Jābir was an Ottoman politician who served as Emir and Grand Sharif of Mecca from 1916 to 1917 during the Arab Revolt and the First World War.

Mehmet Şerif Pasha was an Ottoman civil servant who served as Vali of Jeddah Eyalet and Shaykh al-Haram of Mecca from 1845 to 1848.

Rumbeyoğlu Fahreddin Bey

Fahreddin Reşad Bey, also known as Rumbeyoğlu Fahreddin Bey and Rumbeyoglu Fahr al-Din Bey, (1867–1943) was a Turkish diplomat and politician, who served as minister of education and minister of justice in the last Ottoman government.