The Ottoman Armenian Tragedy is a Genuine Historic Controversy
Brendon J. Cannon
Feroz Ahmad
Arend Jan Boekestijn
Brendon J. Cannon
Mary Schaeffer Conroy
Youssef Courbage
Paul Dumont
Bertil Duner
Gwynne Dyer
Edward J. Erickson
Philippe Fargues
Michael M. Gunter
Paul Henze
Eberhard Jäckel
Firuz Kazemzadeh
Yitzchak Kerem
William L. Langer
Bernard Lewis
Guenter Lewy
Heath W. Lowry
Andrew Mango
Robert Mantran
Justin McCarthy
Michael E. Meeker
Hikmet Ozdemir
Stephen Pope
Michael Radu
Jeremy Salt
Stanford Shaw
Norman Stone
Hew Strachan
Elizabeth-Anne Wheal
Brian G. Williams
Gilles Veinstein
Malcolm Yapp
Thierry Zarcone
Robert F. Zeidner

Assistant Professor at The Institute of International and Civil Security (IICS) at Khalifa University

relevant publications

Source: Legislating Reality and Politicizing History: Contextualizing Armenian Claims of Genocide, Manzara Verlag, 2016.

"This book does not classify what happened to Ottoman Armenians as genocide. This is because the term does not apply to the horrific massacres, slaughters, injustices and murders of 1915. This is an uncomfortable position to take and one that is unpopular in places ranging from Los Angeles to Paris to Beirut. Though the events of 1915 are not, and indeed (legally) cannot be referred to as genocide, this book does not shy away from the need to describe, fully acknowledge and therefore, in some way honor all of the victims (Muslims and Christians) who suffered unspeakable horrors, shame, disgrace, and injustice in 1915." Pp. 7 and 8

"Importantly, the vast majority of scholars who dispute the Armenian Genocide narrative do not dispute the tragedy and deaths that occurred beginning in 1915. It is the number of deaths and the circumstances surrounding the murders, massacres and deportations that are in question." Pp. 32-33

"This book posits that Armenian diaspora communities, in large part, rely on and gain sustenance from the traumatic events of 1915 because these tragic events provide the only glue that bonds disparate linguistic, religious and geographically atomized communities. Thus, the common perception of the Armenian diaspora as a cohesive force speaking with a unified voice quickly falls apart when issues are broached outside the purview of the campaign for Armenian Genocide recognition. Though views of how genocide recognition should be achieved and what should come afterward vary, little dissent exists or is tolerated – at least publicly – within the diaspora. This is particularly true in regards to relations between individual ethnic Armenians and ethnic Turks, regardless of their citizenship. Because contact is discouraged and, very likely, unwanted by the diaspora, relations between the two groups at almost every level remain non-existent outside of Turkey and, importantly, the Republic of Armenia." P. 21

"Because recognition of the events of 1915 as genocide only adversely affects outsiders (Turks), and correspondingly ‘helps' insiders (Armenian-Americans for example), many unquestioningly support such ad hoc legislative moves. It should be pointed out, however, that many of these same supporters become squeamish when issues such as reparations for slavery or colonial excesses are raised. These issues are closer to home, so to speak, and therefore the historical record and accompanying narratives appear more complicated, involved and potentially expensive." Pp. 5 and 6

The historical record of the Caucasus and Anatolia demonstrates that Armenians and Turks are not age-old enemies. Neither are the Armenians the enemy of Muslim peoples inhabiting the region, such as the Kurds, Persians, Chechens, Laz, and others." P. 25

"From its earliest beginnings, but particularly after the conquest of Istanbul (Constantinople) in 1453, Armenians played important roles in the Ottoman government, trade and manufacturing and were often described as the most loyal community in the Empire by Ottoman court historians. Armenians and Muslims rarely suffered effects of inter-communal violence until well into the nineteenth century. When conflict arrived, it did so largely because of the advent and wide dissemination of outside ideas, the promulgation of a new Ottoman constitution that was favorable to minority communities in the Empire and the increasingly forceful meddling in Ottoman affairs by foreign powers." P.26

"Recognition of these events as an Armenian Genocide constitutes the first step towards the end goals of recognition: indemnity payments and right of return of property and land in Turkey." Pp. 33-34

"Although the constitution of the Republic of Armenia makes explicit reference to the events of 1915 as the Armenian Genocide, thus furthering the diaspora's goal of worldwide genocide recognition, many Armenians in Armenia and Turkey have grave misgivings regarding the semantics employed by the diaspora and their allies in Armenia's governments over the years. Specifically, the act of genocide recognition, though highly symbolic, is also legal in nature and carries with it the possibility of reparations to and the return of survivors to lands and properties lost in events deemed genocidal in nature. Furthermore, a serious rapprochement between the Republic of Armenia and Turkey is unthinkable, whilst the campaign's demands for reparation, return of territory and properties continue." Pp. 34-35

"The trauma that was 1915 for Armenians is now the bond that unites worldwide Armenian diaspora communities. Their holy grail, constituted as the goal of genocide recognition, constantly disputed and thwarted by the Ottoman Empire's successor state Turkey, continues to stoke the flames of mistrust, hurt and antipathy that constitute diaspora identity." P. 36

"The Armenian diaspora – viewing the power of the Nazi Holocaust narrative of victimhood, victim nation and survival and the outpouring of monetary and strategic resources it has brought Israel – specifically tailors its campaign for Armenian Genocide recognition based on a specific argument: the incidents of ethnic cleansing, deportation, exile and massacres that befell Ottoman Armenians in 1915 were the precursor to the Nazi Holocaust. In other words, the events of 1915 constituted the template or blueprint containing the instructions, means and methods that were later used by the Nazis in their attempted extermination of European Jews. According to this interesting yet unsubstantiated narrative, the Nazi Holocaust would not, indeed could not have occurred without being first informed by the events of 1915. The connecting of two disparate tragedies that occurred within 25 years of one another is significant in that it demonstrates the willful ignorance and blatant politicization of the Armenian campaign for genocide recognition. The two events were unconnected." Pp. 56-57

"In stark contrast to the premeditated, proactive and exhaustively planned and executed capture, deportation and extermination of Europe's Jews, the deportation of Ottoman Armenians was performed as part of a reactive strategy on the part of the Ottoman government in the face of massive insurrections and almost certain defeat during World War I." P. 62

"The slaughter and exile of Armenians of Eastern Anatolia occurred against the backdrop of a cataclysmic world war and the mutual massacres that accompanied it as multiple empires collapsed. To ignore this as well as the fundamental impact of Great Power policies vis-à-vis the Ottoman Empire, particularly those of Russia, France, and Great Britain, is tantamount to divorcing the events from the contextual history of which they were part. The retreat of the Ottoman Empire over the previous two centuries, the ethnic cleansing of Muslims and the mass influx of Muslim refugees from the Crimea, Balkans, and elsewhere, as well as the Balkan Wars are of extreme importance in understanding the context in which the expulsion and murder of Armenians occurred." Pp. 138 and 139

"As ideas of nationalism, self-determination and the example of homogeneous nation-states spread, they were accompanied by waves of forced migrations made by displaced Muslims from former Ottoman territories in the Balkans, Crimea, Transcaucasia and elsewhere. These Muslim refugees fled to the shrinking Ottoman Empire. Many were not so lucky. From 1864 until 1912-13, several million Ottoman Muslims, mostly Turks, were massacred or died as victims of ethnic cleansing in former Ottoman territories. When the Ottomans lost Crete in 1897, much of the Muslim population, which is estimated to have constituted forty-five percent of the population, was forced to leave." Pp. 164 and 165

"It was Russian policy to destabilize and dismember the Ottoman Empire. One of the ways Russia implemented this policy was to not only allow, but encourage the Dashnaks and Hunchaks to organize and mobilize in order to foment armed attacks in the Ottoman Empire using both Russia and Russian-controlled Transcaucasia as a springboard." P. 171.

"Both the Hunchaks and Dashnaks advocated and carried out armed struggles, other forms of violence and assassinations to achieve their aims. However, they were split along theoretical lines regarding the actual form Armenian independence should take. The Hunchaks demanded a fully independent Armenia. Dashnaks opted for the vaguer notion of what they termed ‘free Armenia.' This is important because these apparently minor divisions, as distilled over time, continued to inform, shape and galvanize Armenian diaspora identity. However, these ideological lines blurred when it came to confronting the Ottoman state. Members of both groups attacked Ottoman army units, posts, Kurdish villages and executed ethnic Armenians who cooperated with the Ottoman state. In these acts, the Dashnaks and Hunchaks often acted in concert with one another." P. 173.

"The tense situation in eastern Anatolia in the mid-1890s was a result of a number of factors: continued Armenian revolutionary violence and the often-violent Ottoman responses; the overall weakness of the Ottoman state; multiple refugee crises that resulted in the resettlement to eastern and southern Anatolia of uprooted, impoverished and traumatized Muslims from the Balkans, Crete and Transcaucasia; the raids and slaughter of Armenians by nomadic, Kurdish tribes in eastern and southern Anatolia; and the lack of overt European support – military or otherwise – for an independent Armenia." P. 177.

"The provocations, assassinations, murder of Ottoman Muslims and sabotage performed by Armenian revolutionaries were coldly calculated to provoke the reactive slaughter and murder of fellow Armenians for the consumption of Europeans and Russians via lurid press articles informed by knee-jerk sympathies for Christians and racist views of Turks, in particular, and Muslims, in general." P. 179.

"By underlining the highly complex and volatile situation that existed in the Ottoman Empire, but particularly in eastern and southern Anatolia, this book calls attention to the plight and horrific demise of many innocents, both Muslim and Christian. It also underscores the direct links between the often-violent actions of Armenian revolutionaries and the reactive, Ottoman massacres that ensued in the 1890s. These purposefully provocative, often murderous Armenian actions and the reactions they provoked represent a startling prelude of what was to befall the Empire and many of its Armenian citizens in 1915." P. 179.

"What is not debated by most scholars and, importantly, what is not questioned in this book, is the fact that the vast majority of Ottoman Armenians were gone from Anatolia at the end of World War I in 1918 and the subsequent nationalist struggles that followed into 1922. Rather, it is the questions of how, when, how many and under what circumstances these vibrant, centuries-old Armenian communities disappeared – men, women, and children – that are subject to such relentless and mordacious debates." P. 198.

"The reactions by…Turkish governments to veiled or overt claims that involve reparations and territory can be characterized as vehement, even paranoid. This is in large part because Turkey's own traumatic relationship with the events of 1915, the Treaty of Sevres, and the corresponding, deep-seated fear of territorial loss the Treaty spawned. Indeed, the Turkish government's stance vis-à-vis the campaign for Armenian Genocide recognition and that of Turkish public opinion mirror the development of their own large group identity in relation to the Ottoman Empire and the massive trauma that accompanied its demise." P. 277

"Indeed, the issue of borders rather than the Armenian claims of genocide are perhaps the biggest obstacle in the normalization of ties between Turkey and Armenia." P. 285

"For diaspora Armenians, Armenia is more of an idea rather than a country full of living, breathing people. This is not to imply that diaspora Armenians do not care deeply about Armenians and the Republic of Armenia, to include the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. However, the near-century of Armenia's isolation under Soviet rule as well as time and space have led to a diaspora construction of what the Republic of Armenia and its inhabitants should be, rather than what or who they really are. The disparate identities that emerged between diaspora communities and their counterparts in Eastern Armenia have, in some cases, led to confusion and an emphasis on very different goals. Indeed, the diaspora's attempts to influence events based on its ‘imagined' Armenia have had interesting consequences for the Republic of Armenia, its inhabitants and its future." P. 296

"Simply put, the campaign for Armenian Genocide recognition is historically inaccurate because it is based on ideological representations of events that occurred over one century ago. These ideological representations are then packaged in a highly politicized manner for political purposes." Pp. 335-336

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