Artsakh, starting from 14th century AD known also as Karabagh (“black vineyard “in Turkish), has been an integral part of Armenia for at least 2,700 years before the “creation” of Azerbaijan in 1918 and 10 centuries before the Turkic races put foot on the Caucuses and Armenia.
Artsakh is first mentioned in the inscriptions of Sardur II (764-735 BC), King of Urartu, son of Argishti I, who built the fortified city of Erebuni (Yerevan) in 782 B.C.
As part of Armenia, Artsakh is mentioned in the works of a number of Armenian and non-Armenian historians and geographers, such as Strabo (63 BC-23 AD), Pliny the Elder (died 79 AD), Plutarch (46-120 AD) and others. Strabo refers to Artsakh as “the area of Armenia famous for its horsemen (cavalry).”
The Armenian historian Pavstos Buzand (5th century AD) states in his work entitled “The History of Armenians”, how Artsakh heroically defended the fatherland, when in 387 AD Sassanid Persia invaded Armenia.
Ananya Shirakatsi, the 7th century AD Armenian geographer, in his “Ashkharatsuyts” (Geography) refers to Artsakh as one of the 15 provinces of Armenia.
Tigranes the Great, King of Armenia (140-55 BC) built a city in Artsakh and named it Tigranakert, which in Armenian means “built by Tigran”. Archaeologists established that the city was built during the first century BC, and lasted until the 14th century AD.
Armenia has a very ancient history, but I shall only refer to some of the important historical events related to the Christian period of the Armenian history.
Armenia became the first country to adopt Christianity as a state religion in 301.
In 387 the country was partitioned between Sassanid Persia and the Roman Empire. Eastern Armenia, which included Artsakh, came under the rule of Persia and Western Armenia became part of the Roman Empire. In Eastern Armenia, all attempts to force Armenians to convert to the Zoroastrian religion by Persia during the 5th century, failed. In fact, the first battle in history in defence of Christianity was fought between Armenia and Persia in 451).
During the 7th century both Persia and Armenia were conquered by the Arabs. Within a comparatively short space of time, the Arabs managed to force the Persians to accept Islam, but all their efforts to do the same in Armenia failed.
In the 9th century the Bagratid kingdom was established in Armenia, which lasted until the 11th Century, when the Seljuks, a Turkic race from Central Asia conquered Armenia. After the Seljuks, Armenia was invaded by Tatars, Mongols, Turkmens and eventually Ottoman Turks (all Turkic races) and devasted the country. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians left their homeland and settled in various parts of the Byzantian Empire.
In 1198 the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia was established in the Eastern Mediterranean region of the Byzantian Empire called Cilicia. With the invasion of the Mamluks from Egypt, the kingdom ended in 1375.
Armenia has often been ruled by super powers, such as the Roman Empire and Persia (1-3 centuries AD), the Byzantian Empire and Persia (c 4-7 AD), Byzantian Empire and the Arabs (c 7-9 AD) and as a result the names Eastern Armenia and Western Armenia were created.
Starting from the beginning of the 16th century, Armenia was divided between Persia (Eastern Armenia) and Ottoman Empire (Western Armenia). It was the aim of the Turks to enlarge their empire by conquering more territories in the East and of the Persians to extend their rule westward. As a result, during the 16-18th centuries many wars were fought between the above two super powers for the conquest of all of Armenia.
Exhausted by continuous wars, they decided to divide Armenia between themselves. Eastern Armenia, including Karabagh, representing 10% of Armenia remained under Persia; Western Armenia (90%) was allocated to the Ottoman Empire.
During the Ottoman-Persian War of 1603-1618 Shah Abbas defeated Ottomans, conquered Eastern Armenia and relocated by force an estimated 500,000 Armenians to an area of Isfahan called New Julfa. That is how the Persian-Armenian community was formed
After two Russo-Persian wars, with the Treaty of Gulistan in 1813 and the Treaty of Turkmenchay in 1828, Eastern Armenia was attached to the Tsarist Russian Empire and from that date onwards Armenians lived a relatively peaceful life in Eastern Armenia, free of persecutions and massacres. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Western Armenia, which continued to suffer under the Ottoman yoke.
During the 19th Century, Russia gained a number of victories over Persia and Turkey and by 1888 included in its Empire almost all of Georgia, the eastern part of Armenia and part of the territory, which in 1918 came to be known as “Azerbaijan.” Transcaucasia at that time constituted a mosaic of populations. The Georgians in the north and west, the Armenians almost everywhere with Muslim Turkic peoples, who were called “Caucasian Tatars” by the Russians.
Unfortunately, during the 19th Century, as well as after WWI a number of European powers, particularly Great Britain, was against Russia extending its influence southwards, and as a result adopted a pro-Turkish foreign policy; that is the reason why during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, when the Tsarist armies were about to occupy Istanbul, Great Britain demanded Russia to end the war ; as a result the war ended with the Treaty of San Stefano, which was signed in March 1878 between Russia and Turkey in a small village called San Stefano not far from Istanbul. It was agreed that the terms of the Treaty would be discussed and ratified at the Berlin Congress, which was convened in June-July 1878 (June 13–July 13, 1878) and attended by the major European powers. After making certain changes, the Congress ratified the treaty and renamed it “Treaty of Berlin”.
According to Article 16 of the Treaty of San Stefano, the Ottoman Empire undertook to implement reforms in the Armenian provinces. At the Berlin Congress Great Britain proposed that Article 16 be replaced by Article 61, as there were more pressing issues than “the reforms in the Armenian provinces”!
Needless to say, the Congress dissolved before Article 61 could be discussed!
A number of other important articles were included in the Treaty of San Stefano, such as the creation of an independent Bulgaria, which was vetoed on the ground that Bulgaria could become a Russian satellite and as such, a threat to Istanbul, as well as to British influence in the Eastern Mediterranean.
What price did Great Britain receive from Turkey for betraying the Armenians?
“The Cyprus Convention of 4 June 1878 was a secret agreement reached between Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire, which granted control of Cyprus to Britain, in exchange for its support of the Ottomans during the Congress of Berlin. This agreement was the result of secret negotiations that took place earlier in 1878.”
The readers can draw their own conclusion!
WWI AND THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
From the time of the rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid (876-1909) Turkey’s secret plan had been “to clear Turkish soil of Christian race” when opportunity presented itself. WWI created that opportunity and Turkey executed its premediated plan; out of approximately 2 million Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire, 1,500,000 men, women and children, together with hundreds of thousands of Greeks and Assyrians were killed or starved to death in the Syrian deserts by the direct order of Turkish Government.
According to Winston Churchill;
“In 1915 the Turkish Government began and ruthlessly carried out the infamous general massacre and deportation of Armenians in Asia Minor. Three or four hundred thousand men, women, and children escaped into Russian territory and others into Persia or Mesopotamia; but the clearance of the race from Asia Minor was about as complete as such an act, on a scale so great, could well be… There is no reasonable doubt that this crime was planned and executed for political reasons. The opportunity presented itself for clearing Turkish soil of a Christian race!”. (The World Crisis, vol. 5, “The Aftermath”(New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1929).
Britain, France and Russia called it a “crime against humanity” and promised to punish Turkey.
Great Britain not only did not punish Turkey, but, unlike Russia and France, up to now refuses to recognise the Armenian Genocide.
What motivated Turkey to plan and execute the extermination of the Armenians?
Turkey was convinced that in common with a number of other countries, Armenia would eventually gain her independence and as a result a strong Christian estate, with a territory of 300,000 square km, would dismantle Turkey, thus putting an end to the Ottoman dream of creating a Pan-Turkic Empire extending from Istanbul to China! The only way to put a permanent end to the above danger was to completely rid the Ottoman Empire from Armenians and other Christian races. As already stated, the opportunity to achieve this presented itself during WWI.
On 16.9.1915 Talaat Pasha, Minister Interior of Turkey, issued the following secret order;
“To the Government of Aleppo.
It was at first communicated to you that the Government, by the order of JAMIET [parliament A.G.} had decided to destroy completely all the Armenians living in Turkey. An end must be put to their existence, however criminal the measures taken may be, and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, nor conscientious scruples”. (“Memoirs of Naim Bay”, London 1920***)
***Naim Bey was a Turkish official, who had an important position at the Refugees Office of the Government in Aleppo. After the war he handed over to Aram Andonina, an Armenian intellect, Talaat Pasha’s secret telegrams kept by him. The English translation of “Naim Bey’s Memoirs” was published in London (1920) by Hodder & Stoughton with an introduction by Viscount Gladstone.
It is unfortunate that at the end of WWI the Allies did not bring Turkey to a Nuremberg style trial to account for its “crime against humanity.” Had they done so, it is most probably Adolf Hitler would not have dared to give the following order on 22.8.1939, (similar to the one Talaat had issued 24 years earlier) during a secret meeting attended by his “Death Units” and commanders.
“I have given orders to my Death Units to exterminate without mercy or pity men, women and children belonging to the Polish speaking race. It is only in this manner we can acquire the vial territory, which we need”.
At this point, one of his generals asked Hitler;
“What answer are you going to give to future generations?’
Hitler cynically replied;
“Who today remembers the extermination of the Armenians?”
When a premeditated act of a “crime against humanity”, such as the Armenian Genocide remains unpunished, it encourages evil people like Hitler to exterminate a race and proclaim: ““Who today remembers the extermination of the Armenians?”
Governments like Great Britain and America may “pretend” to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and “not remember” the Armenian Genocide, but the Armenians will always remember it and continue demanding their homeland of thousands of years sanctified with the blood of their forefathers and 1,500,000 victims of the Armenian Genocide.
It is sad that some so called “civilised” countries and organisations, motivated by economic and political interests prefer to ally themselves and strengthen their relations with countries, who have committed crimes against humanity, rather than recognise genocides, or defend truth, justice and human rights!
As far as they are concerned, Justice is a blind eagle with broken wings caged and kept in a dark room!
KARABAGH AND GREAT BRITAIN
Due to the October Revolution, the Tsarist Empire collapsed in 1917 and the Russian army left the Caucasian front. In May 1918 Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan had no other option, but to declare themselves independent republics. Of course, as part of Armenia, Karabagh also, de facto became independent.
In the summer of 1918, the Ottoman invasion to the Caucasus caused havoc throughout the area. It was imperative for Armenians of Artsakh to defend themselves against the Turkish army, Aziris-Tatar forces and prevent them occupying Karabagh. Against all odds Artsakh Armenians managed to resisted the invading forces until WWI ended in October 1918, and the defeated Ottoman army left the region.
The mandate for the control of the Caucasian region was assigned to Great Britain by Allied powers. On 17 November 1918, British Indian Army units entered Baku. The head of the British Expeditionary Force, General William Montgomery Thomson supported the local authority of the Azerbaijani government. On 7 December 1918, with the consent of General Thomson, the first ever Azerbaijani parliament convened.
When it came to the issue of drawing the boarders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Great Britain openly adopted a pro Aziri position. In spite of the fact that in numerous referendums (1918-1919) over 90% of the population voted in favour of being part of Armenia, General Thomson, following instructions received from London, included Karabagh in the territory of Azerbaijan. British Command had instructions to make sure that Karabagh was not included in the territory of Armenia.
The British historian Christopher J. Walker, a specialist in the history of the region, wrote:
“British was inspired by two aims, sometimes contradictory, but both anti-Bolshevik: to support Denikin’s White Army***forces in the north, and in the south to favour a strong and bro-British Azerbaijan. Many British officers, having served in India, were pro-Muslim. They disliked native Christians. And it must be remembered that the British Empire, thanks to its numerous colonies in Africa and Asia, was a great power in the Muslim world. When General Thomson entered Baku on 17 November, he quickly disappointed the Armenians, whose hopes had been raised by the signing of the armistice. The British command, with a force of 30,000 soldiers in Transcaucasia, began by calling on Karabagh Armenians, after the evacuation of the Ottoman armies, to submit to the Azeri authorities, which they refused to do.”
(“Armenia and Karabagh” C.J. Walker)
***During the months of March and April 1918, the Volunteer Army incorporated anti-Communist Kuban Cossacks into its ranks and made an abortive attempt to capture the Kuban capital of Yekateriodar from Red forces. The commander of the White Army was Anton Denikin).
On 26 March 1919, Colonel D I Shuttleworth, who was later to replace Thomson, made the following threat to a delegation of Karabagh Armenians;
“We are strong enough to force you to submit”. (C.J. Walker)
According to the same author, “the present (1991) problem of Karabagh is due largely to British diplomacy in the first half of the year 1919, the effect of which was to prevent Mountainous Karabagh from being permanently attached to Armenia. (“Armenia and Karabagh”)
Colonel J C Flowden, the British military representative in Yerevan, declared at the end of August 1919;
“The handing over of Karabagh to Azerbaijan was I think the bitterest blow of all…being the cradle of their race and their last traditional sanctuary, their last refuge when their country has been invaded. It is Armenian in every particular way and the strongest part of Armenia, both financially, militarily and socially.”
In 1920 Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan declared themselves communist states.
On 12-06-1921 Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a declaration confirming Mountainous Karabagh as part of Armenia.
In 1923 Stalin, the new Commissar of Nationalities was given the task of finalising the territorial map of the Soviet Socialist republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. After studying the background of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan (1918-1919), in spite of the above-mention declaration, Stalin decided to follow the example of Great Britain and include Karabagh, as an autonomous region under the rule of Azerbaijan. Stalin’s decision was based on the fact that, like Great Britain, the Soviet Union also had many republics with large Muslim population. Of course, one must not forget that the Baku oilfields played an important role in the decisions taken both by Great Britain and the Soviets Union.
It should be noted that the secret Turkish plan of exterminating the Armenians, also included “clearing” the territory of Karabagh and Nakhichevan of Christian Armenian population. The Turks were sure they could easily realise this with the help of their Aziri and Tatar “brothers”. Due to the determination and heroic resistance of the population, all attempts by Turkey and her allies to conquer Karabagh and execute their evil plan failed.
“The policy of Great Britain in Karabagh, more or less openly allied with the Musavats of Azerbaijan, was contemporary with the new French policy adopted in Cilicia, of closer relations with the Kemalist Turks. In both cases, the “allies” were contributing to drive the Armenians out of the area. This aim was achieved in Cilicia but not in Karabagh where, despite the lack of any outside aid, the population resisted all attempts to drive them out.”
(“Armenia and Karabagh” C. Walker).
KARABAGH CONFLICT AND TURKEY
Erdogan’s Turkey played a major role in the war Azerbaijan started against Karabagh in September 2020. It is not a secret that Turkey’s plan has always been to destabilize Caucasus in pursuit of its dream of establishing a Pan-Turkic Empire. Victory in the Karabagh War created favourable conditions for Turkey to expand its influence also to other regions, including Central Asia, Balkans and some countries under Russian rule, such as Crimea.
Turkey’s main intention in helping Azerbaijan during the Karabagh war was to establish a strong and permanent base in the Caucasus. It was important for Erdogan that Azerbaijan relied on Turkish military might and remained dependent on Turkey.
As mentioned, Ankara’s next target could be Crimea. It is a known fact that in the past, members of Erdogan’s “The Justice and Development Party” (Turkish: Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, abbreviated officially “AK Parti”), hinted that Crimea belonged to Turkey. Now the same slogan is being used by Erdogan.
A member of the Russian Parliament, Alexander Sherin’s view is that when unlawful and arbitrary actions of Turkey remain unpunished, Erdogan thinks he is the head of the strongest and most powerful nation capable of conquering all the lost countries and re-establishing the mighty Ottoman Empire. To that end Turkey’s aim is to have a strong military base in Azerbaijan, on the shores of the oil rich Caspian region for the purpose of;
- Countering the Russian military base in Armenia,
- Extending her military influence to the Turkic races of Central Asia.
Unless the ambitions and destructive policies of Erdogan are brought under control, the world will witness many more conflicts and wars, which eventually could start WWIII with tragic consequences for humanity.
It should be noted; knowing full well that one of its members, Turkey was using NATO military expertise and facilities during the latest Karabagh war, the Organisation “pretend” to be “deaf, dumb and blind. Why?
I leave it to the reader to find an answer!
If Hitler was given the title of “THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN OF THE 20TH CENTURY”, there is no doubt in my mind Erdogan would be one of the favourite candidates for the same title in the 21st century.
I would like to conclude this article by quoting Ahmed Davutoglu, the ex-prime minister of Turkey, who recently said during a meeting with the members of his political party;
“The biggest threat for the world is not “Corona Virus”, but Erdogan”.
London, November 2020