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thehandsom 26 May 2010

Armenian Question -II - Mental state of Young Turks -Turkish nationalism-

Brief history from late 17Th century till 1914-young Turks.. ´kill or get killed´ type social Darwinists

Mental state of Young Turks -Brief history from late 17Th century till 1914-

Young Turks were the people who took the decision to deal with the Armenian problem at the time..In this part, I will try to explain their mental state and what they were thinking before taking those decisions which caused unprecedented level of catastrophy in those soils!!

Lets start this part 2 with some basic history:

As we all know, We, Turks, came from central Asia to Anatolia. And when we came the population was mainly Greek, Armenians, Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Jews etc..Mainly, Armenians + Kurds were in the east and Greek population was around the shores of Black sea, Aegean sea and in Istanbul. Of course all those cultures were mixed up throughout history..(We, Turks mixed with the those people as well, as according to the gene pool researchers, only 3% of the population are carrying the genes with central Asian origins)    

When Turks captured Anatolia, Kurds kept living as a semi autonomous state because of the geography and Armenians did cope well with the situation and were living happily there. I mean there were some Armenians in Istanbul such as  patriarchy, upper class and  fully integrated with Ottomans. And there were Anatolian Armenians who worked and paid their taxes (mostly to both Ottomans and -illegally to- Kurdish tribes). And the ones living in Anatolia were the farmers, local businessmen, dealing with arts and crafts etc..

But when they came to 1800s the things started to change..

-Evil west started to stop using Silk Road..

-The nationalism was on the rise..

-Nations which were living with Ottomans for hundreds of years started to win ´their independence´ wars.(Well they call theirs as the independence war, according to us they were "ingratitude people" who were persuaded to knife us on our back)

-in 1838 with the agreements Ottomans had to sign, cheaper goods flooded into Anatolia and local businesses got effected..

-in 1839 With reforms and with the first constitution, ´Tanzimat´ , non Muslims got equality with the Muslims.. (They were not considered as equal before that date)

-Because the local economy collapsed and Last Kurdish rebellion was crashed in 1847, Kurds started to get more lawless and ´bolder´ against Armenians.

-Seyh Shamil  lost his war against Russians (1859) and many Muslim refugees poured into Anatolia from Caucasus and they joined the Kurds in looting!! (I just remembered: there is also a dance called seyh samil in Turkey.. I used to have a girlfriend many years ago and she was one of the best seyh samil dancers I have ever seen:) )

Well of course, the time was the time revolting against Ottomans..Young and educated Armenians become revolutionists whereas Armenian in Anatolia complained their horrible situation to Istanbul.

When we came to 1890s, The peace treaty Ottomans signed with Russians in 1878 -after losing the war!-(then almost the same type of treaty was signed between Ottomans and UK in Berlin) and in that treaty, it said that ottomans will protect Armenians from Kurds and Caucasians-people from North  Caucasus..But with those treaties, Ottomans lost huge lands, especially in Europe..(Practically, it was the end of Ottomans In Europe..Serbia/Bulgaria/Bosnia etc..all gone).


Eastern Problem-Hamidiye Battalions

Now, what happened just after this treaty was also shows the clear indication about what was going to happen to Armenians in 1915 (if they continued to be a problem - or if they kept asking for independence).
Sultan Abdulhamid II established a new fighting force in the east consists of Kurdish tribes in 1890: ´Hamidiye Alaylari´ . These battalions were formed to deal with ´the eastern problem´.
According to Armenian sources approximately 300.000 Armenian were massacred during 2 years between 1895 and 1897. Although some historians tell us that they were backlashes against Armenian revolts but many massacres took places where Armenian population was not bigger than Kurds and Turks. Most of the atrocities took place after Cuma prayers and some historians say that Armenians attacked the mosques. But in many places in which these massacres took place, Armenians were actually minority!! (No one can comprehend the logic of attacking mosques knowing that every one will be butchered in the backlash)

Btw..in 1890s also two Armenian revolution/terrorist groups emerged into political arena :Hunchaks and Dashnaks..   . Hunchaks were more radical and their aim was a complete independence. Dashnaks were not as radical as Hunchaks because they were with Young Turks until 1908 (and being blamed by Hunchaks as ´you collaborated with the enemy and that was the reason why they so easily butchered us´)
But in 1897 Hunchaks were finished in east of Turkey by Hamidiye Alaylari..

These groups looked at how Bulgaria/Serbia etc gained their independence. The idea was as follows :

Create trouble..Attack Turkish villages and Turks come back with heavy forces and commit massacres and then Western governments interfere (that was almost the case with each successful independence in Balkans) .. But Armenians did not calculate the facts very carefully as a-East of Turkey was not in Europe. b- their population was not greater than the others in many areas..They were minority ..


Turkish Nationalism-Western Hatred

Now lets start to look at Turkish nationalism or the birth of Turkish nationalism at the time.:
First of all, as fact, we have to mention that Turkish nationalism was a delayed nationalism at the time (comparing to Greeks, Arabs, Bulgarians, Serbians, Armenians etc). Turkish nationalism came as a delayed one  ( and may be that was the reason it was more aggressive and trying to close the gap at the time?)

It was formed at the time when there was constant humiliation for Ottomans and losing the wars, land and its people..(btw..from 1870 till 1920, Ottoman empire lost 75% of her land and 85 % of its population)

It was developed at the times when Turkish people had fear of extinction..

End of the century, because of losing all those lands and wars, Turks accused non-Muslims.. (There were, of course, many good reasons for that..In Crimean war itself, around 1 million people were kicked out of Europe and had to come to Anatolia.. Of course, they did not tell Turks ´ah you go home then´. There were horrible massacres, shockingly dreadful ethic cleansings. The suffering was immeasurable!!).

There were capitulations for example..Powerful and rich European nations, dealing with Christians businessmen and ignoring the Turks and non-Muslim population who become capital holding class..Double standards of western powers against Turks -in many cases there were not christian massacres for example, but the western powers were persuaded that there was by christian minorities (at those times humanitarianism and human rights/democracy etc were associated with the west´s double standards and were seen as a way to carve Turkey. And as you can see, some of the Turks still believe this exactly with the same mentality today).....

And all of these created a huge bad feelings against the non-Muslims..During Balkan wars , when Greek and Bulgarian army were advancing towards Istanbul, minorities celebrated their victory in Istanbul for example..All those incidents created a kind of furious Turkish nationalism which can be said , in effect, got squeezed between the glory of the past and humiliation of the current days at the time...


Heros or murderers / Leaders of Ittihat ve Terakki

And the beginning of 20Th century was also the rise of social darwinism. The ´concept of living together with all other nations and all other religious groups were non existing in those soils at the time -despite the fact that they all lived together for centuries-. The idea of oppressing the other nations/groups or exterminating the others for your own survival, or kicking them out were the acceptable way of thinking for their social Darwinism..
And we come to Ittihat ve Terrakki (young Turks/Jon Turks ):

They took the government in 1908 (and at the time they were supported by Dashnaks!! Much later, when Young Turks adopted the ideas of Turkish nationalism and got rid of the idea of reforming the Ottomans and living together with everybody , Armenians left young Turks).

Enver, Talaat, Cemal were the leaders of Ittihat ve Terakkli and representing the new soldier elite..

They were born into blood in Balkans, they lived with the blood and died with it..

They had nothing to do with old Ottoman ruling class with its cavalier principles..

They were ambitious and  predatory..

They had no roots in the ottoman ruling engine, they went up the hierarchy with education and the army only.

They lived in violence and this violence was the violence what they saw in the Balkan uprisings or in the wars of Ottoman Empire..

They become nationalist so quickly without a serious theoretical back ground.,..

They were ´kill or get killed´ type social Darwinists..


Next part 3 :  Medz Yeghern-´Büyük Facia/Great Catastrophe´

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