After the Young Turks revolution and the second Constitutional Era, in the Empire major reforming attitudes were shown, the Cretans declared union with Greece, the Albanians declared the Latin Alphabet as the standard script and the Italians declared war. It happened in 1919.
Seeing how easy it was, the Balkan League attacked the Empire in 1912. In 1913, Kuwait was ceased under British protectorate, Albania as well (the Principality of Albania was created). Before the First World War, in 1914, three Consulates were important in Istanbul, three military missions: The British (led by Admiral Limpus), the French (led by General Moujen) and the German (led by General Goltz). Now, Russians intervene, imposing what was called the Armenian reform package, a reform solution by which an inspector general would be appointed to oversee Armenian issues. Capitulations were stipulated. As a result, almost all the business of the country was in the hands of non-Muslim people — Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Italians, French, Germans, and English, which were under non-ottoman jurisdiction. Wherever something have been developed, railroads or irrigation works or civil buildings constructed, foreign capital and foreign brains have been chiefly responsible. This system produced an environment in which the Muslim’s of the Empire stayed poor, and the standard of education for this group never increased (the roots of what is happening nowadays as well, the Muslims aren’t encouraging education beneath the Qur’an, at all). Ottoman public debt was part of a larger schemes of political control, through which the commercial interests of the world had seek to gain advantages that may not be to Empire’s interest. France had 60 percent of the total, Germany had 20 percent, and the United Kingdom had 15 percent. At the outbreak of the war, Ottoman government declared neutrality on August 18, 1914. The Porte was inclined to the British side, but they were distrustful, they made buddies with Russia, so an Ottoman – German alliance was negotiated. In exchange for money and future control over Russian territory, the Ottoman Government abandoned a neutral position and sided with Germany.
(The Ottoman Navy at the Golden Horn in Istanbul, with the image of Sultan Mehmet V at top left. German postcard from the beginning of World War I.)
The Triple Entente’s military burden was tripled. Russia had to fight alone on the Caucasus campaign and along some British troops in the Persian campaign. So the best idea to come to Armenians, was to desert en masse to the czar’s armies (the Russians were their “protectors”, weren’t they?), leaving the families behind. This was considered an act of treason, by the Ottoman officials. As a punishment, they arrested 250 prominent figures in Istanbul and they ordered the remaining Armenians to leave the Empire all together. Because Armenians were situated in the south east, center and east, actually in the vilayets of Erzurum, Van, Bitlis, Diyarbakır, Harput (today’s Elaziğ) and Sivas, where also Kurdish tribes settled, the departure became nasty. The deportees death number (which is something in between a hundred thousand, exaggerated to one and a half million) is the subject of reparation the Armenians from France or elsewhere, demand from the actual Turkish post Atatürkish state as payment for the “Armenian Genocide”, following the example and precedence of their “brother in sufferance” nation as William Saroyan (author of 34 More Great Stories) called the Jews, took from modern Germany. Turkish claims of the forced deportation era, were that the convoys were attacked by Kurdish riding hordes, raping all people and taking every goodie. I think that gold and jewelry were already taken by the Turks, but, anyway, it was WAR. And they were PUNISHED. They were deported. They weren’t refugees from another country, they were traitors of the state they were citizens, to an enemy state. They weren’t protected, so anything can happen.
Let’s come back to the Turks. They were fighting with Russians. They were attacked by the British and the French. Armenians organized the Armenian Resistance. The Arabs revolted as well in 1916, Sharif Hussein ibn Ali was convinced (persuaded actually) that his assistance on the side of the Triple Entente would be rewarded by an Arab empire encompassing the entire span between Egypt and Persia, with the exception of imperial British possessions and interests in Kuwait, Aden, and the Syrian coast (of course), so they revolted. All in all, the WW1 years were a disaster for the Ottomans. The initial peace agreement was the Armistice of Mudros. This was followed by Occupation of Constantinople. The partitioning of the Ottoman Empire brought international conflicts which were discussed during the Paris Peace Conference, 1919. The peace agreement, Treaty of Sevres, was signed by the Ottoman Empire and Allies.
You may click on the map, see what happens, but I think you’ll be driven to an attachment page where clicking a second time, you’ll have also the multiplier to check better the territory left for Turks and all the rest except Armenians and Kurdish tribes.
Nothing is simple. Turks don’t agree to this. They still don’t agree with a lot of things, sometimes with proudly good intentions, sometimes not. A new figure comes on the political scene, and remains there, as well as on any other scene in Turkey today, on every school and office wall, and more… If Turks were Christians, this one would have been officially sanctified by now.
Speaker of the Parliament (it is said he invented it, actually he “ordered” the constitution of Turkish Parliament), Prime Minister and after that, President, the first President of the Republic of Turkey, the new country made after a lot of fights and compromises. But as Germans came back better than they ever were, after general defeat and severances paid to Holocaust survivors, so will be the Turks. By the way, they were always on the German side, even neutral in the second World War, they were actually helping Hitler. What they got in exchange? The right to be enslaved in modern industrial Germany during the seventies and eighties, helping Germany to become the second economical power in the world (at a moment when the first economical power was Japan, another great loser or better said, defeated power in a World War). But they made some economies and came back in Turkey. I recommend Turkey Unveiled: A History of Modern Turkey, a good read, by a British and an American. A little syrupy and overpraising the soul of simple Turkish and Kurdish people who helped the authors when visiting their villages, otherwise good with chronology. And, there is more time to say, tomorrow or in another day, 🙂
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