«Edgar Elbakyan Edgar Elbakyan: Yerevan State University, Armenia. Email: elbakyan.edgar Abstract: The current research aims at proposing a ...»
Mass unrest began on the Shushi-Evlakh and Shushi-Goris roads soon after the Baku fights. The clashes in the city of Shushi erupted on the 16th of August and lasted for 6 days. Despite the fact that the Armenians in Shushi enjoyed the advantage of position and were better accustomed to the military art, they did not manage to resist the main attack of the Tatars which caused the destruction and devastation of the Armenian market district [Karapetyan, 2004, 526]. On September 13, 1905, the Paris edition of the New York Herald published an article, entitled “Holy War Waged”. It reads, “… The districts of Zangezur and Jebrail are swarming with Tartar (Tatar – E.E.) bands under the leadership of chiefs, and in some cases accompanied by Tartar police officials. Green banners are carried and a ‘Holy War’ is being proclaimed. All Armenians, without distinction of sex or age are being massacred.
International Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 3/No. 5/special issue/2014 The anti-Armenian moods contributed to the political consolidation of the Transcaucasian Turks. One of the first organizations (if not the first) unifying the Muslim Tatars/Turks of Transcaucasia from the national-political aspect, was the “Qafqaz Ümummüsəlman Müdafiə Komitəsi – Difai” (“Pan-Islamic Defence Committee - Difai”). The main objective of the party was proclaimed fighting the Armenians (esp. the Armenian armed party of Dashnaktsutyun) [Əzizov, 2009, 84]. In March, 1907, hand in hand with the Transcaucasian, Northern Caucasus and Crimean Muslim organizations, the Difai convened a kurultai2 in Elisabethpol (nowadays Gence) [Ibid., 102]. The kurultai adopted a 5-point declaration which was sharply directed at the Armenians in Artsakh-Karabakh. It read, “1) To convene in the near future a suchlike convocation in Crimea intended to establish a Pan-Muslim union, similar to the Armenian “Dashnaktsutyun” and by means of terror to exact concessions from the government, as the mentioned Armenian organization has done; 2) to oppose the Difai against the Armenian “bastards” in Karabakh (Shushinsky uyezd), 3) to terrorize the representatives of the administration and courts, 4) to buy with the help of the Muslim capitalists of Baku all the lands from Agdam to the Khandjail station (Khojaly Station – E.E.) from Armenians in order to resettle them solely by the Muslims 3, and 5) To force the Shushans (Muslim dwellers of Shushi – E.E.) to live by all means in Shushi and as a whole make Karabakh a Muslim province [Əzizov, 2009, 102-103; Galoyan, 2002, 3]“. The Difai established its branch – Karabakh Union Assembly - in Shushi, also simply referred to as “Karabakh Committee”. Karabakh Committee was the strongest and most influential ramification of the Difai, with approximately 400 members enrolled [Əzizov, 2009, 102]. Soon they resorted to the above mentioned tactics and locked the Shushi-Evlakh road, essential for the supplies to Armenians [Galoyan, 2002, 4]. Besieging Armenians enabled to plunder and bombard/shell the local villages. In the middle of January, 1906, the Armenian villages of Askeran subdistrict - Khoramurt, Khanabad, Kyatuk, Kilechbagh, Shushikend, were shelled by the Turks. Breaching the truce in Autumn of 1905, Turks headed by one of the feudals from Baluja (at present Aygestan) attacked the road joining Khankend (formerly Vararakn, at present Stepanakert) to Khnatsakh (north to Khankend) and commenced fire on Armenians. Turks also attacked the Armenian village of Pahlul [Barkhudaryan, 1895, 152] and forced the inhabitants to leave for Khankend. Thus, the roads leading from Shushi to the north and north-east were blocked by Turks. On the same time, Turks attacked the Armenian population also in the north-eastern part of the nowadays Republic of Armenia (formerly Kazakhsky uyezd). That part of the history is left out of our study, however is a bright example that the struggle for new lands, communications and influence was not limited with the Karabakh front, but was peculiar to all the areas Armenians and Tatars lived in adjacency.
3. Post-colonial era and Soviet Russia interference (1918-1921): – After the collapse of the Russian empire in February, 1917, Russia underwent one of the memorable revolutions in the history of mankind – Socialist Revolution, headed by the Bolsheviks in October, 1917. With a firm intention to preserve the newly-established power and make the population side with them, the Bolshevik regime unilaterally decided to withdraw from the WWI adopting the Decree on Peace. Under the provisions of the Erzincan armistice, the Russian troops were withdrawn from the Caucasus front (Western Armenia and Persia).
The Ottoman leadership in its death agony seized the opportunity to occupy the evacuated territories. The Kurultai was a political and military council of ancient Mongol and Turkic chiefs and khans.
The denotation “Muslims” had more a unifying ethnic meaning for the Turkic tribes rather than religious. A Muslim residing, for example, in Ismailli could say, “I am a Muslim, and I have Talyshs in my neighborhood”, however, Talyshs are mostly Shia Muslims. The ethnonym “Muslims” was applicable to the Turkic tribes of both the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (1918-1920) and the Azerbaijani SSR until the adoption of the Constitution in 1936, when the ethnonym “Azerbaijanis” was forged for them [Melik-Shahnazaryan and Khachatryan, 2007, 19International Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 3/No. 5/special issue/2014 Armenian quasi professional – partisan guerillas remained as the only power resisting the Ottoman offensive into Transcaucasia. Secondly, the Ottoman Empire by any means was trying to constrain the Transcaucasian side to seceding from Russia, still legally keeping the title upon those territories.
The discrepancy among the Transcaucasian side was obvious especially in the matters of war and peace with the Ottomans. Finally, in the midday of the 26th of May, 1918 Seim adopted a resolution of selfdissolution, “Taking into account that the general disagreements among the three nations of the independent Transcaucasia arose concerning the issue of war and peace, making the existence of a single and authoritative power impossible for the whole Transcaucasia, the Seim thus ascertain the fact of the dissolution of Transcaucasia and depose its authority” [Vratsyan, 1993, 158-159]. The same day the Georgians proclaimed their independence. On the same day the National Council of Azerbaijan did the same [Mirza-Bala, 1938, 135-136]. Devoid of any potential to undertake the process of nation-building on one hand, left with no other choice on the other, the Armenian National Council declared its exclusive sovereignty over the “Armenian districts” [Vratsyan, 1993, 161]. It was uneasy for the Armenian then elite to clarify what territories are claimed by them to be under the Armenian title, because 1) significant parts of the Armenian-inhabited and historically Armenian lands (Nakhijevan, Zangezur, Karabakh) were those times out of the military control of the Armenian armed forces, 2) the Western Armenia, always claimed and regarded by Armenians as their fatherland was occupied by the Ottoman forces and devastated from the indigenous Armenian population, 3) in the Eastern/Russian Armenia, Armenians nowhere held the overwhelming majority over Muslims and other minorities which exacerbated the interethnic relations as well as state-building in Armenia. It is noteworthy, that the first and last points were equally applicable and can be easily ascribed to the neighboring Azerbaijan too, which had a challenge of not only state-building, but also nation-building. The Azerbaijani act of independence read, “Henceforth, the people of Azerbaijan has the right to self-government and Azerbaijan – encompassing the South and East Transcaucasia is a competent sovereign state” [Paşayev, 2006, 5-7]. The way to further territorial disputes was wide open.
However, compared to the Azerbaijani side, Armenia, as already mentioned above, was much weaker because of the total collapse of the state system. After stopping the Ottoman/Turkish invasion into Armenia in the vicinities of Yerevan (at a distance of 7kms), the Armenian delegation signed a peace and friendship treaty with the Ottoman representatives. The Treaty was signed in the wake of the Ottoman invasion as well as the concluding phase of the WWI. Thus, it was denounced and stopped being in force after the defeat of the Central Powers, especially after the withdrawal of the Ottoman Empire from the war (Armistice of Mudros). Regardless of the short life of the treaty, it changed a balance of power during the 5 months in force. First of all, Armenia was confined to a small territory of 9000-12000km squares essentially deprived of building a steady state. The third article of the treaty provisioned that the Ottoman government will be informed about the future agreement on mutual border regulation agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which put the Armenian foreign policy under the Ottoman control. According to the annexes of the treaty, the Ottoman Empire gained control over the Tbilisi-Yerevan-Julfa railway. It was also empowered to transport troops over the territory of Armenia [Vratsyan, 1993, 163]. Thus, at the first part of its existence Armenia was deprived of any opportunity to claim its right over the Armenian territories left outside the borders stated in the Treaty of Batum.
After the Russian revolution the situation in Karabakh deteriorated in summer when the Ottoman Turkish troops led by Nuri Pasha reached the Transcaucasian city of Gandzak/Genje. According to the military plan of the Ottoman commandment, the Turkish Ottoman troops would
- enter Nakhijevan via Sharur and Julfa, crush Armenian forces of those places,
- continue the offensive from Goghtan to Meghri and later via the river of Araks to Karyagino-Mughan-Kura River and Baku.
International Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 3/No. 5/special issue/2014 As in past, the local Turks/Azerbaijanis closed the Shushi-Evlakh road cutting supply to Armenians.
Besides, in the early September the Muslims attacked the Armenian village of Gharaghshlagh (also transliterated as Kharakhshlakh) located on the Shushi-Goris road and linking the Armenian Zangezur and Karabakh [Vratsyan, 1993, 328]. The blockade of the two main roads leading to the heartland of Karabakh, Shushi, entailed a financial and economic collapse. Famine began to hold sway in Karabakh [Harutyunyan, 2013, 24]. In order to terminate the clutter and anarchy as well as to restore the economic life, the Armenians in Karabakh convened the First Congress of the Armenians of Karabakh which proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh an independent administrative-political unit, elected the National Council as well as the People’s government made up from seven persons. On July 24, the Declaration of the People’s government of Karabakh was adopted which set forth the objectives of the newly established state power. The National Council made significant endeavors to preserve peace with the Tatar/Muslim population of Karabakh: a special governmental circular letter was devoted to the Armeno-Tatar relations in Karabakh [Harutyunyan, 2013, 24-25]. After this Congress the Azerbaijani government was trying to incorporate Karabakh into the Azerbaijani territory with the help of the Turkish troops. Nevertheless, the situation around Karabakh was deteriorating. The second Congress of the Armenians of Karabakh came shortly after the above mentioned demolition of the strategically important village of Gharaghshlagh. The communication between Armenian Karabakh and Zangezur was cut. The Turkish troops led by Jamil Jahid (also spelled as Jemil Javid) had got an order from Nuri Pasha to advance regiments upon Shushi.
The point is that the Armenian detachments defending Baku from the Ottoman Turkish invaders had been discomfited and subsequently more Turkish troops were free to attack Karabakh [Hovhannisian, 1971, 85]. Shortly after the capture of Baku, Jamil bey, located in Agdam – doorstep of Karabakh – issued letters to the Karabakh Armenians urging to “1) open the roads to the … nomads and never obstacle them hereinafter, 2) immediately give up arms and obey to the Azerbaijani government, 3) cease contacts with Andranik, based in Zangezur, and “stay away from him””. The second Congress of the Armenians of Karabakh, convened on September 6, discussed two main issues. The first was related to the humanitarian state of the Gharaghshlagh Armenians, while the second was connected to drawing a response to the Turkish commandment. The National Council of the Turks of Karabakh, however, rejected the Armenian proposal to mediate to help the Gharaghshlaghians go back to the village, thus the first task remained unaccomplished and suspended [Simonyan, 1996, 384]. As to the second point of the agenda, then the Congress rejected the demand of the Turkish commandment and the government of Azerbaijan. The Congress expressed the will of the Armenians of Karabakh to unite with the Republic of Armenia [Harutyunyan, 2013, 27]. The Congress also decided on not resorting to arms the first thus getting prepared for an exhaustive resistance. The Congress decided to assemble a delegation to head for Agdam for negotiating with the Turkish4 commandment over the issue of resettlement of Gharaghshlaghians.
Upon reaching Agdam the delegation found itself squeezed by new ultimatum by the Ottoman/Turkish commander Jamil Jahid, rejecting to discuss any question unless the Armenians of Karabakh met the demands of the Turkish ultimatum. The third Congress of the Armenians of Karabakh was convened from September 17/18-22 to discuss the renewed ultimatum [Vratsyan, 1993, 328-329]. Heated discussions took place over whether to surrender to the Turkish militia, or to take the risk of resisting the occupants.
Amidst the tense continuation of the Congress, Nuri Pasha - the commander of the Caucasian army (The Army of Islam) of the ailing empire - arrived in Agdam from Gandzak, presenting a new 24-hour ultimatum to the Armenians/third Congress [Simonyan, 1996, 385-386]. In these circumstances, the Congress agreed on the underwritten Taking into account the existent power ratio as well as the Treaty of Batum, co-signed by the representatives of the Armenian National Council of Tiflis, according which the problem of Karabakh will As mentioned above, Azerbaijanis did not have a single ethnonym those times and were often being called “Turks” with respect to their linguistic affiliation. Until now, in non-official language Armenians commonly refer to “Azerbaijanis” as “Turks”.