Thursday, May 20, 2021

US Recognising Armenian Genocide - More to do with Turkey than to do with Armenia

Russian soldiers pictured in the former Armenian village of Sheykhalan -1915. Photo courtesy: Wikipedia
rmenian genocide happened during World War I; more than a century back - in 1915. In those days, Middle-East was under Ottoman rule. Russian Empire was part of Allied Powers while Ottomans were part of Central Powers. During the war, Ottomans took their army to conquer Caucasus from Russia. They fought agaisnt Russian Caucasus army in the harsh winter conditions. We already know what happened to, two other powerful armies which tried to fight against Russia in Russia in winter. Well, Ottomans lost more than 60,000 men and retreated. While retreating Ottoman army destroyed Armenian villages (there were some massacres as well). Ottomans blamed Armenians for their defeat, stating that they sided with Russians. By the way, imperial Russian army had a contingent of Armenians, made up of Armenians lived in Russian empire.

Ottoman empire passed a temporary law called - Tehcir Law, and thus started the genocide. Armenians who were living in the front line areas (remember WW1 was still going on) were killed and others were deported. Able bodied males were killed; women and children were forced to death marches to remote Syrian desert. Deprived of food and water those people were robbed, raped and massacred en-route. Number of deaths during the deportation is estimated to be in between 800,000 to 1.5 million. 

Armenian Genocide Map. Courtesy: Wikipedia

For a very long time Armenians demanded the wholesale ethnic clensing to be declared as genocide. US was reluctanct to do that. There were multiple reason for that. Turkey is an ally and one of the biggest NATO member; in fact US uses Turkish bases in various operations. Turkey also has considerable influence in Middle Easten wars; especially in Syria. For Europeans, Turkey holds the flood gate of refugees to Europe. Another mass refugee flow to Europe might destablize the relations between EU nations. 

Over a period of time all that got changed. Turkey under Erdogan is more autocratic. Despite US warnings, Turkey went ahead and bought s-400 missile defence systems. Integrating Russian hardware and software with NATO equipments was a nighmare for US. Later US excluded Turkey from F-35 fighter program, citing the same reason. Turkish intervention in Libya which was followed by Libya-Turkey maritime deal didnt go down well with another NATO partner Greece. US and Turkey also found themselves at opposite ends in Syrian civil war. During this time, Turkish economy was crashed and islamization reached a new level. 

It is at this time, US president declared the killing of more than a million Armenians as a genocide. US recognition hardly has any weightage in internation law. However timing is interesting; for a long time, US didn't recognize the tragic event as genocide (despite requests from Armenians), but it did when the relation with Turkey reached an all time law. Another proof that in international politics, countries always act based on their self interest. 


PS: Last year(2021) Armenia fought a war with Azerbaijan over disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. It lasted for 44 days, from 2020 September 27 to 2020 November 10. This was one of the most brutal wars of 21st century. Drone led warfare by Azerbaijan crushed Armenian military. Any idea who provided those drones? a good protion of that was from Turkey - Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs!!!

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