The outbreak of fighting in Nagorno Karabakh between the Armenians and Azerbaijani’s, are embers of an age-old conflict between the Armenians who are traditionally ‘Christian’, and the Azerbaijani’s who are traditionally adhere to the Islamic creed i.e. Muslims. The massacre and deportation of Turkey’s Armenian population took place against a background of fighting between Turkish and Russian forces, on the Caucasus front. It was described by some scholars, as the first genocide of the 20th century.
This post will focus on the events and socio-political, socio-cultural religious and ethnic differences that shaped, the Armenian and Azerbaijani conflict, making both ethnic groups the arch enemies that they are today.
Russia and Ottoman Turkey were multinational empires. Where their borders met in the Caucasus Armenians lived on both sides.
Armenian Nationalism: The Christian Armenians and their Turkish Muslim rulers in Turkey, had a history of conflict stretching back centuries. In the 1890’s Armenian nationalist agitation, served as a pretext for the Turks to slaughter thousands of Armenians. In August 1914, the Turkish government asked Armenian envoys gathered at Erzurum in eastern Turkey, to incite rebellion against Russian hegemony in the Caucasus. The Armenian refused, when Turkey entered World War I, the Caucasus and western Anatolia were turned into war zones. During Turkey’s ill-fated offensive in the winter of 1915, Armenians fought as conscripts in the Turkish and the Russian army. The Russian army also contained Armenians fighting, for liberation from Turkish rule. Russia encouraged an Armenian revolt against Turkey, likewise the Turks incentivized and fomented an uprising by Turkic peoples and Muslim Kurds living in Russia. The Turkish army was roundly defeated at the Caucasus front at Sarikamish between December 1914 and January 1915.
Ethnic Tensions: The situation in eastern Anatolia was unstable, ethnic tensions were acute. The majority of the population consisted of Muslims, who were displaced from the Russian ruled Caucasus in the 19th century and bitterly resented, the Christian pro-Russian Armenians.
- This post will be continued, the continuation will highlight the Armenian Genocide.
- It will highlight the history of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
- It will highlight the 1990’s situation in Nagorno Karabakh and will touch on the current situation in Nagorno Karabakh.
This is the continuation of the post: The Armenian Massacre.
Mass Deportations: On 24 April as the allies were beginning their landings at Gallipoli, the Interior Minister of Turkey Talaat Pasha, ordered the arrest of about 250 members of the Armenian urban elite, living in Constantinople. Turkey viewed the Armenians as an enemy within. More mass arrest’s followed with hundreds more prominent Armenians being detained. The Techir, deportation law authorized Turkish authorities, to engage in the arrest and mass deportation, of Armenians from Anatolia. During the mass deportations more than 600,000 Armenians died, the deportations were executed in a brutal and callused manner, resulting in a massive Armenian death toll. It should be noted that the Turks were and still are Muslims, and Armenians then and now are Christian. The typical clearance of an Armenian village by the Turkish military, began with the brutal slaughter of the male population, the deportees were force marched on the roads to Iraq and Syria. The deportees on the roads usually consisted of mainly of women young and old, as well as children. The deportees were not given an opportunity, to prepare most went on the forced marches, with the clothes on their backs and no food and water. Underway the defenceless Armenians were attacked by their primary nemesis the Kurds. Many Armenians from dehydration. For those who managed to reach the dismal camps in Syria and Iraq, their fate was even worse, they often died a slow and painful death, from starvation, disease, and the extremely harsh circumstances they were living in.
By 1916, the Russians under the command of General Nikolai Yudenich went on the offensive, in Anatolia (Turkey), capturing the fortress town of Erzurum and the port of Trabzon in February of 1916, by then the area’s Armenian population had been annihilated.
The war today being fought by Armenia and Azerbaijan is as a direct result of the many unrequited atrocities, perpetrated by both groups throughout, the years one against the other.