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Celebrating the Centenary of Azerbaijan: The Battle for Baku

Celebrating the Centenary of Azerbaijan: The Battle for Baku

In 1918, the British-led local forces of Baku waged a defensive battle for control of the city, the oil-rich centre of Transcaucasia and hosting port of the Russian Empire’s Caucasian Naval Fleet. The British military mission, named ‘Dunsterforce’ after its eponymous commander Major-General L.C. Dunsterville, was tasked with organisation of the local defence in Baku against the incoming ‘Caucasus Islam Army’, a mix of Turkish and Azerbaijani forces. Bolshevik rule in the city under the Baku Commune did not last for long, and the pro-British Centro-Caspi Dictatorship, consisting of Armenian nationalists and Russian leftists, gained power and immediately called the Dunsterforce for help. The Battle for Baku ended with a Turkish victory on 15 September 1918, and General Dunsterville evacuated his forces from the city a day before. As a result of the success, the young Republic of Azerbaijan moved its capital from Ganja to Baku and established a government under Turkish protection. This presentation will be about the responsibility question in the Battle for Baku from the both sides, and will also commemorate the centenary of of the foundation of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Battle of Baku.

Turan Gafarli is a Master’s student at the School of History at University College London (UCL). He currently studies the MA Transnational Studies programme, and his dissertation will focus on the path of Turkey from 1996-2016 in the general context of the nation state’s relationship with globalisation. He is a graduate in BA History and Politics with Honours at from the Queen Mary University of London, where he specialised in the Russian Civil War (1917-21) and its effects on Transcaucasia. The dissertation titled ‘The Allied Loss of Baku in 1918: the Question of Responsibility’ was written as a part of his bachelor’s degree and dedicated to the founders of Azerbaijan. Turan has various internship and research experiences in various international and governmental organisations such as the Council of Europe, the Turkic Council, the House of Lords and the United Nations Office in Geneva.

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