More than 20 countries – including France and Russia – say the deportations of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire in WW1 was ‘genocide’. Turkey denies there was a systematic attempt to wipe out a population.
NAGORNO- KARABAKH – CHRISTIAN Armenia claims the mainly Christian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh which is part of Muslim Azerbaijan. There have been violations of a ceasefire signed in 1994 with the worst outbreak recently. Talks to take place in Vienna.
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ANALYSIS – Russia’s long and bloody history with the people of the Caucasus can be traced back to one event and date – the fall of Crimea in 1789 to Catherine the Great. Before that there were numerous attempts to seize this territory including one by Peter ‘the Great’ that resulted in humiliating surrender and imprisonment. And each time the fighting followed a pattern first set by Ivan the Terrible when he conquered the Muslim lands now known as eastern Ukraine. For the Russians who were the original ‘ethnic cleansers’ carried out a military doctrine that exists to this day – the harder you hit them the less likely they are to come back. This was true in Crimea in 1789, and the long and unrelenting wars in the Caucasus that have followed to this day. So, it doesn’t come as a surprise to hear Vladimir PUTIN’s Russia mediated a truce between Azerbaijan and it’s Christian ally Armenia over the latest flare up in the northern Caucasus region of Nagorno-Karabakh. What will surprise the people of the Caucasus – Chechnya, DAGESTAN, Ingush Setia and Georgia – and Ukraine for that matter is how quickly and responsibly Moscow acted to end the fighting. Perhaps, Russia is seeking a new role in world affairs – after its welcome actions in Syria – one based and mediation and tolerance built on trust with powerful allies such as China and Iran as well as accommodating Europe. Let’s hope so because the other reading into its actions in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is that PUTIN’s Kremlin is simply lining up for an inevitable war with Turkey, the once great Ottoman Empire whose armies Catherine defeated to seize Crimea.
BAKU – Azerbaijan says it will shell the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert, if separatists rebels don’t stop firing into civilian areas. Azerbaijan says it has lost soldiers despite calling a unilateral truce. Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan and the UN says it supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. Despite this the mainly Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh want to be independent. Armenia which is pursuing its goal of a greater Armenia has warned the conflict could spill into the wider south Caucasus. The US and Russia have called for an end to the fighting.
NAGORNO-KARABAKH – In the most serious fighting since 1994, at least 30 soldiers were killed after Azerbaijan and Armenia fought over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan says it has responded to international calls from world powers including Russia and Germany to end the fighting with separatist rebels. Turkey has backed Azerbaijan’s calls for a ceasefire. Armenia says fighting is still happening. Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan – but the mainly ethnically Armenian population want to part of Armenia. Both neighbours fought a war over the south Caucasus region in 1994 and there have been sporadic outbursts of violence since.
ANALYSIS – As the First World War began to turn on the Ottoman empire, Armenian nationalists pursued their dream of a Greater Armenia stretching all way to the Caucasus. They committed unspeakable acts against the Muslim civilian population whilst under Russian and French tutelage.
Here are some accounts ..
“I arrived at Bayburt on August 8 1917. What I saw was terrifying,” observed Tatiana Karamel, a nurse Russian Red Cross. “Armenians under the Russian administration were carrying out horrifying wild atrocities against the Turks in Bayburt and Ispir.
“The rebels named Arshak and Antranik slaughtered the children in the orphanage, I worked at, with their daggers. They raped young girls and women.
“They took away 150 children with them, while they were withdrawing from Bayburt and killed most of them while they were still on the way.”
Old men and women, who had made it past a century of living, recounted some of the horrors they witnessed in their youth, when Armenian rebels committed atrocities in the eastern and southern Anatolia, all the way through to modern-day Azerbaijan.
Sirri Huseyinoglu, from Alacain, in Erzurum, remembered: “I was 19 during the period of Armenians atrocities. The Armenians had established an organisation.
“An Armenian general called Antwon-ich led them. They started atrocities in the villages
“At Erzurum they massacred 6 or 7000 people. They imprisoned them in huts
They tied a quilt on a water buffalo then they poured gasoline on the quilt and set it o on fire, They closed the buffalo in the hut. It went wild in the hut killing people.
“Makes a man go out of his mind to remember it.”
Mehmet Ackal , 106, Sambeyli, Adana : “Not one Muslim man was left they were imprisoned and killed. Children were boiled in water. They said ‘We are serving you lamb’ and made women eat their husbands.”
On Russian commander wrote on Jan 29, 1915 that the Armenian rebels were behaving in an “undisciplined and immoral” manner, “subjecting the civilians to violence” during the takeover of Van.
To this day, the stories of these people is ignored, written out of history as an irrelevance.
Europeans prefer the version offered by Jewish writer and poet Franz Werfel.
Fearing for the fate of Jews in Nazi Germany, he wrote an allegory called ‘The 40 Days of Musa Dagh,’.
In this work, Werfel substituted the Nazis with the Young Turks, and the Jews with the Armenians.