The Ottoman Armenian Tragedy is a Genuine Historic Controversy
Malcolm Yapp
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

Professor Emeritus of the Modern History of Western Asia, University of London.

Malcolm Yapp is (1995) a professor Emeritus of the modern history of Western Asia at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.

major publications

  • The making of the modern Near East, 1792-1923 (London; New York: Longman, 1987)
  • The Near East since the First World War: a history to 1995 (London; New York: Longman, 1996)
  • Political Identity in South Asia - edited by David Taylor and Malcolm Yapp (London: Curzon Press; Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1979, c1978)
  • Strategies of British India: Britain, Iran and Afghanistan, 1798-1850 (Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1980).
  • War, Technology and Society in the Middle East - edited by V. J. Parry and M. E. Yapp (London; New York: Oxford University Press, 1975)

relevant publications

  • The making of the modern Near East, 1792-1923 (London; New York: Longman, 1987)
  • Review article: The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus by Vahakn N. Dadrian, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Oct., 1996), pp. 395-397

Source: The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus by Vahakn N. Dadrian, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Oct., 1996), pp. 395-397

"The question is: has Dadrian produced sufficient new evidence to turn the debate decisively in favour of the view that the massacres were planned by the Ottoman government with a view to the extinction of the Ottoman Armenians?

There was one major difference between eastern Asia Minor and most of the Balkans; in eastern Asia Minor the Armenians were a minority in a Muslim majority region. Moreover among the Armenians only a small minority wished for independence; it's a weakness of this book that there is no adequate analysis of the very varied Armenian population of the Empire.

Considering the indiscriminate terrorism of the Hunchaks in Van in 1896 and the Dashnak raid on the Ottoman Bank in the same year he reframes his comments: "One may assume that the nature of revolutionary idealism is such that it creates its own norms and that in this sense terror is a means of making a statement for which other channels are long denied"

"It is not quite the sort of statement one expects from a writer so insistent on obedience to international law.

Although Dadrian produces many reports tending to suggest that members of the Ottoman government wanted to destroy the Armenian, he fails to find any document which constitutes a definite order for massacre.

Despite the numerous documents cited and the careful assembly of information about individuals and organizations, there is no decisive evidence to support Dadrian's case.

The author's approach is not that of an historian trying to find out what happened and why but of a lawyer assembling the case for the prosecution in an adversarial system. What he wants are admissions of guilt from the defendants, first Germany as the easier target and then Turkey . What is missing is any adequate recognition of the circumstances in which these events took place; the surge of Armenian nationalism, the ambitions of Russia , the fears of the Ottomans and the panic and indiscipline of war. The 1915 massacres took place when the Ottomans were being driven back by the Russians (supported by many Armenians) in the east and were being threatened by the operations in the Dardanelles in the west. Dadrian is so obsessed by his theory of the long plan that he too often overlooks the elements of the contingent.

To question whether Dadrian has made out his case and to suggest that he has given insufficient weight to the share of responsibility to be attributed to Armenian terrorists and to the flow of historical events is not, of course, to deny that Ottoman Armenians were murdered on a vast scale. It is indeed the dimensions of that tragedy which have led many to feel that the massacres must have been planned by government. But the scale of the horrors doesn't necessarily point to genocide. Some mass murders of the twentieth century have indeed been the result of deliberate government action; some have been the result of panic, indifference, ignorance or a combination of circumstances. To which category the Armenian massacres belong is still unknown." Pp. 395-397

Source: Yapp, M. E. (1987). The Making of the Modern Near East 1792–1923. New York: Longman.

During the Russo-Turkish War Armenian volunteers had fought with Russian troops and hopes of an independent Armenian state in eastern Asia Minor had been raised and disappointed. Hitherto the Armenians had been seen as a loyal Ottoman community. Henceforth they were regarded with suspicion by the Ottoman authorities and with a mixture of fear and hope by others. P.81

Nevertheless, Muslim Arab nationalism was a new phenomenon which complicated the Eastern Question, while Armenian nationalism, in itself a Christian movement of a familiar type, was nevertheless novel in that it had not appeared before 1878 and that it was a Christian movement in the Asian territories of the Ottoman empire, comparable in that respect to Maronite nationalism in the Lebanon, although distinguished from it by several features. Armenian nationalism was essentially a product of the work of Armenian radicals in the Russian empire and was imported into the Ottoman empire, notably during the 1877-8 Russo-Turkish War when bands of Armenians fought for Russia. Thereafter, Armenians were suspect in Ottoman eyes and as nationalist propaganda increased so the Ottomans responded with repression leading to the massacres of 1894-6 which shocked Europe and brought more pressure for reform in the Ottoman territories. P.87

The Armenians also looked to Russian support and many committed themselves to Russia during the invasion of 1828-9 so that when the Russian Armies retired some Armenian peasants from the Erzerum region accompanied them. The Russian successes, as indicated in Chapter 2, had a powerful effect in rousing Armenian expectations and in promoting Muslim hatred towards Christians in the region. The forces released were a significant factor in establishing the base for the greater unrest which overtook the region after 1878. By that time the scene was set for a major confrontation between Kurds and Armenians, a clash similar in kind but far greater in scope than the conflict in Lebanon between Druze and Maronite. P.127

The Armenian population was spread throughout Anatolia, as well as including a substantial part of the inhabitants of Istanbul. In every town there was an Armenian element and there were also areas where Armenians were settled in large numbers as cultivators. One such area was Cilicia in western Anatolia, but the largest single concentration was in the six eastern provinces of Erzerum, Van, Bitlis, Kharput, Diyarbakr and Sivas. Of the total Armenian population of Anatolia of about 1.5 million in 1914 rather more than 860,000 or about 58 percent, lived in the east. In none of the six provinces, however, did Armenians constitute a majority. P.197

To some extent Armenian nationalism was simply reactive. Paul Cambon, the French foreign minister, once commented that “the Armenians were told for so long that they were plotting that they finally plotted; they were told for so long that Armenia didn’t exist that they finally believed in its existence”. Apart from the suspicions of the Ottoman authorities the Armenians were subjected to attacks by Kurds. In the later nineteenth century the story of massacres unfolded; in 1877-8 massacres accompanied the Russian invasion; in 1890 there was the Erzerum affair; in 1894 that of Sasun in the south where Armenians worked as sharecroppers on Kurdish land. In 1895-6 major massacres took place and following the attempt by Armenian revolutionaries on the Ottoman Bank in Istanbul on 26 August 1896 there were massacres of Armenians in Istanbul. In April 1909 there was a massacre of Armenians in Adana in obscure circumstances but in some way linked with the anti-CUP coup in Istanbul in the same month. The Adana massacre may have destroyed Armenian hopes temporarily elevated by the 1908 revolution. P.199

The war and the call for a jihad undoubtedly led to an increased sense of Muslim solidarity and an antipathy to Christians who were believed to support the Entente. The Greeks, concentrated in Izmir, and protected by Rahmi Bey, escaped the worst effects of this animosity, but the Armenian population experienced the full force of Muslim resentment and suspicion caused by the disasters in eastern Asia Minor at the beginning of the war and the calls by Russian Armenians for Ottoman Armenians to join them in a struggle for freedom. Armenians were deported en masse from the eastern provinces and many (probably between a quarter and a half million) died, either from starvation and hardship or from massacre mainly at the hands of Kurdish tribesmen. No direct documentary evidence has ever come to light to show that the Armenian massacres of 1915 were the deliberate policy of the Ottoman government but local officials connived at the murders and took few steps to protect the Armenians. Possibly there was little the Istanbul government could have done to control events, but it is also possible that it believed that the Armenian presence in the eastern provinces was a constant threat to the integrity of the empire and was not sorry to see it removed. Pp.269-270




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