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Friday, July 25, 2014

Kasab Taburu (Butcher Brigade), Part Eighteen

         "By the fall of 1919, as the Kemalists were taking on the Greeks, Damad Ferid's government fell, and the Kemalists accrued more influence in government in Constantinople and throughout the country.  In the coming years there were three Greco-Turkish battles, and in September 1922 the Turks would burn Smyrna to the ground after killing tens of thousands of Greeks and Armenians and expelling the Greeks and remaining Armenians from the city and the region.
        As Kemalist nationalism found its footing and assumed unofficial political leadership, the nationalist stance against Armenia became increasingly virulent.  Procrastination by the Entente in Paris gave the Turks the time they needed to invade Armenia.  But before that happened, politics at the peace conference and in the United States made Armenia's situation tenser and even more complex.  In April 1920 the Allies asked President Wilson to draw a boundary line for the western part of Armenia;  but in May the United States rejected a proposed American mandate for Armenia.
        And on August 10, 1920, the Allies brought Damad Ferid Pasha and his government to the conference table with a treaty they had been preparing for months.  Like the Greek occupation of Smyrna, the Treaty of Sevres came as an affront to the Turks and especially to the Kemalists.  Because the Ottoman Empire had been a multicultural empire comprising numerous ethnic groups, many of which were living on their historic lands, the Treaty of Sevres in some ways was aimed at decolonizing the empire.
        Section VI, articles 88-93, of the treaty dealt exclusively with Armenia:  1)Turkey was to recognize Armenia as a free and independent state;  2) the president of the United States would determine the boundary between Armenia and Turkey, a boundary that would pass through the provinces of Erzurum, Trebizond, Van, and Bitlis;  3)the boundary was to include an outlet for Armenia on the Black Sea;  4)Turkey must renounce any claim to the ceded land;  5)although Armenia had been crippled by massacre and deportation, the European powers were asking Armenia to assume financial obligations for the former Turkish territory that was awarded to it;  6)Armenia would agree to protect the interests of minorities in its new state.  The treaty was at least a fair settlement for Armenia, but by the time it was signed, the politics in Turkey and the military advances against Armenia had made it almost obsolete.  Now the Kemalists were determined to revoke the Treaty of Sevres with its awards of territory not only to Armenia, but to Kurdistan and Greece.
        The 'National Pact' the Kemalists had drawn up in 1919 demanded all of Turkish Armenia, including areas that had been in Russia (Kars and Ardahan) that were now part of the Armenian Republic.  The Armenians desperately clung to the promises of the Europeans at Versailles and in the Treaty of Sevres, but the tide was turning.  The Kemalists were solidifying Turkey, and no foreign power was willing to accept a mandate for Armenia, even though the Europeans were agreeing to ask the League of Nations to consider the idea.  In the West the commitment to Armenia, in the wake of postwar fatigue, was dying fast."   The Burning Tigris by Peter Balakian, pgs. 324-325. 

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