ANALYSIS In the year 1915, the Ottoman government headed by Enver Pasha made a decision the ramifications of which are still contested to this day. They deported the civilian population of Armenians from Anatolia to Syria and it is claimed by Armenian nationalists, as well as Western governments such as France and Britain, that this horrific act was genocide, a precursor to the Nazi holocausts of the second world war.
In deed even Hitler himself referred to this cruelty with the equally cruel words – who remembers the Armenians?
However, the Ottoman government, and later the Turkish government have always claimed that this was an act of self defence as Armenian leaders who had pledged their allegiance to Istanbul, quickly switched sides to favour Russia once the fighting had begun. So today’s offer of condolence by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan the Armenian people for that dark event is a positive step towards both nations reconciling their past. But that is not enough – the West of which Britain, France and Russia were its spearhead need to own up to their part in this episode, as well as others, that resulted in destroying an empire that had been built on racial, religious and ethnic tolerance and which had for centuries functioned without any trouble to speak. When the West sponsored a rebellion with little support from the Greek community inside the Ottoman empire they opened a pandora’s box of claims the implications of which we are still living with in the Balkans and Middle East. When Serbs spoke bitterly of being mistreated by their fellow Christians during the Yugoslav wars of the nineteen eighties they were referring to the time period that began with the Greek war of Independence and ended with the conclusion of the First World War. In short, for them killing Muslims in the eighties was no different to killing them a century before when the West turned a blind eye to the countless real atrocities committed by their fellow Christian cousins and reeled in horror to any often false accounts of ‘Muslim butchery and barbarity’. The so-called Bulgarian horrors were an exaggerated account of a massacre committed by Ottoman irregulars in a small village, in response to the horrendous act committed by Bulgarian nationalists against Muslim peasants living in the hills of eastern Europe. Of course that did not matter to the Russian Czar since he and his forefathers had got away with massacring Muslims from the moment Ivan the Terrible had seized Kazan in 1552. And did it did not matter when Armenian nationalists under Russian tutelage committed appalling savage acts against Muslim civilians in eastern Anatolia and modern day Azerbaijan, a year after the ‘Armenian genocide’, what mattered was that the West got its way in the Balkans which it eventually did. Trouble is of course that getting your own way doesn’t mean that you are right – it just means that you got your own way, regardless of the consequences for every one, those who perished through no fault of their own and those who continue today in a world built on lies and ‘recovered’ memories. And for that Britain, France and Russia need to hold their hands up and admit what they had done, and explain the reasons for it – extreme racial hostility to a Muslim entity they regarded as racially beneath them.