«Edgar Elbakyan Edgar Elbakyan: Yerevan State University, Armenia. Email: elbakyan.edgar Abstract: The current research aims at proposing a ...»
International Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 3/No. 5/special issue/2014 be ultimately settled during the [Constantino]ple Conference, temporarily recognize the Azerbaijani governance, Reject the order of disarmament unless real and firm guarantees for the lives and property of Armenian people are created.
Before the new delegation managed to reach Agdam to convey the outcome of the Third Congress, Turks had begun the offensive. On 20th of September, Nuri gave order to 20 villages of Khachen to give up arms. Two days later, combined Turkish and Azerbaijani forces entered Karabakh. As postulated by a prominent Armenian daily “Mshak” – “the bloody history of Karabakh commences”. Turkish/Azerbaijani detachments attacked the Armenian villages of the heartland of Karabakh lying on the Askeran-Shushi road – Dahraz, Mirshalu, Varazabun, Pirdjamal, Khramort, Kyatuk, Nakhijevanik, Khanabad (Voskevaz), Karaglukh, Khlijbash. Three days later they entered Shushi. Armenians offered no resistance in order not to ignite inter-ethnic atrocities [Harutyunyan, 2013, 28-29]. After capturig Shushi, Turks dissolved the Armenian Government and arrested Yeghishe Ishkhanian - the president of the Armenian National Council of Karabakh [Nagornyj Karabax v 1918-1923: Sbornik dokumentov i materialov, 1992, 39].
Turks/Azerbaijanis managed to establish military and administrative control only in Shushi and its vicinities – Shosh, Ghaybalishen and Karaglukh villages. Armenians in Jivanshir, Varanda, Jraberd, Dizak provinces continued armed resistance against the occupants. After capturing Baku, Shushi and destroying the Armenian village of Gharaghshlagh, the Azerbaijani side resorted to the armed offensive against the Armenian Zangezur. Propaganda leaflets were spread in the frontier villages of Zangezur. The essence was to make the Armenians of Zangezur surrender by terrorizing them: “Agree, otherwise we will slaughter you as we did with Bakilis (the Armenian civilians and militia residing in and defending Baku – E.E.)”; “Don’t listen to Andranik, he has sold his soul in English Pounds” [Nersisyan, Harutyunyan and Muradyan, 1981, 245]. The day before the ultimate invasion of the Turkish troops to Karabakh – September 21 – Surkhay Bek, a Kurdish commander fighting on the Azerbaijani side, issued an ultimatum to the Armenian village of Gerenzur (also known as Kornidzor): “Your long-lasting disobedience to the Azerbaijani government … will lead the remaining (i.e. Armenian – E.E.) villages to the same lamentable fate as to Kaladarasi (also known as Gharaghshlagh – E.E.). As a representative of the lawful authorities empowered by the Turkish high patronage (emphasis mine – E.E.), I urge you to … give up arms and surrender. I give you no more than one day for the answer” [Simonyan, 1996, 377The Kurdish military camp was located in Kubatlu (nowadays Vorotan). Five days later, Turks/Muslims attacked the Armenian villages of Khoznavar, Khanatsakh, Tegh, Kornidzor, Maghanjugh, which was situated on the “borderline” between the soon-to-be Goris (Armenian SSR), Lachin and Kubatlu districts (Azerbaijani SSR). Fierce fighting erupted in Zangezur.
In Karabakh, Turks and Azerbaijanis intended to enhance the sphere of their military dominance to the southern parts of Artsakh – Dizak and Varanda. The newly appointed Tatar mayor of Shushi – Khosrov bey Poladov – went on a military shift from Shushi to the Tatar-inhabited village of Qajar, Varanda. The Armenians understood that the maneuver was to make them submit to the Azerbaijani rule. According to the intelligence data (October 7) dispatched to the commander of the territorial army of Dizak, the Turkish and local Muslim (i.e. Azerbaijani – E.E.) troops “armed with canons and machine guns are willing to transit to Kariagino via Varanda in order to disarm the central villages of Dizak” [Ibid., 427].
To prevent the blockade and further devastation of neighbouring Dizak, 300 armed Armenians from Varanda together with 100 compatriots from Dizak attacked the Turkish-Azerbaijani joint forces and defeated them (the battle of Msmna) [Vratsyan, 1993, 331]. An imminent threat to Dizak and Varanda villages was eliminated, however the village of Qajar – laying on the strategic road from Varanda to Dizak - remained as a firm stronghold for Azerbaijanis.
Before passing on to the next stage of the political history of Karabakh since the end of the WWI, some crucial points, worthy of notice, should be underlined, The Armenians of Karabakh had determined their will towards political reunification with Armenia.
That was a result of the same identity they shared with other Armenians as well as a political aspiration for “United Armenia”, i.e. all Armenian lands under the same title.
The then legal paradigm prevailing in Transcaucasia excluded the principle of self-determination as a means of re-shaping the national borders or exercising inalienable rights of peoples. The system of political processes in Transcaucasia was obviously underdeveloped compared to that in the western part of the world because of the colonial past and non-existence of the nation-states before 1918.
International Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 3/No. 5/special issue/2014 The only method of pursuing interests and accomplishing political will was war. That is the exact reason falling behind the actions of Armenians and Azerbaijanis/Turks in Karabakh as well as in Zangezur and Nakhijevan similarly contested by the sides. Azerbaijanis, trying to capture the heartland of Karabakh, were intentionally blocking the main roads of the land to cut the supply of Armenians. Besides, they launched a military campaign to disarm Armenians and demolish their villages. Consequently, the demographic composition was brutally changed with the Armenian population number getting decreased.
A foreign interference by Ottoman Turks considerably shifted the power ratio in favor of Azerbaijanis/Muslims. Defeated in the west, Turks were moving to the east, with an intention to capture vast territories and get undefeated out of the war. Thus, they were supplying Azerbaijanis with ammunition and using their anti-Armenian interests in the scope of their offensive. With the help of Turks, Azerbaijanis emptied Nakhijevan from Armenians and seized it (July, 1918). Two months later Karabakh underwent the Turkish and Azerbaijani joint offensive (see above).
Republic of Armenia, as stated above, was devoid of any real opportunity to claim the Karabakh territory under its title. However, during this phase it never recognized Karabakh and Zangezur as Azerbaijani territories. In an official telegram dispatched to the Azerbaijani government (September 2, 1918), the official Yerevan warned that “the [state] borders between republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan are not yet fixed and no peace agreement has been signed so far. Representatives of Armenia, taking into account the ethnic principle (nowadays acknowledged as “principle of selfdetermination of peoples” – E.E.), deem that the mountainous parts of Karabakh, that is parts from former Jivanshir, Shushi and Karyagino uyezds, as well as the northern part of the former Zangezur uyezd with its 70 per cent Armenian population … should be included within the Armenian borders.
However, representatives of Azerbaijan not refusing the need to exercise the ethnic principle in general, … finds that Karabakh and Zangezur … should be included in the borders of Azerbaijan” [Simonyan, 1996, 342-343]. In the same document, Armenia recognizes the above mentioned provinces as “contested ones, subject to unfinished negotiations” [Ibid., 343-344].
The Central Powers were defeated in WWI. Under the 16th clause of the Armistice of Mudros, the Ottoman troops had to withdraw from Caucasus (i.e. Transcaucasia). Moreover, the 15th article of the Armistice provisioned that the Allies could occupy Batum, Baku and other cities of Transcaucasia [Mehmet, 1990, 1]. Turks withdrew from Karabakh. British authorities and military replaced them. On the 17th of November British troops led by General Thomson landed in Baku [Abrahamian, 1989, 14].
Seven days later Thomson issued a decree posing martial law in the city. The British military representation declared that the political issues and territorial disputes are outside their competence. They used to refer to the soon-to-be Paris Peace Conference to settle the territorial matters [Harutyunyan, 2013, 30-31]. Generally the balance of power between Armenia and Azerbaijan (especially in Karabakh) had inclined in favor of Azerbaijan because of the interference of the Ottoman Empire. Consequently, the British authorities established in Baku sided with Azerbaijanis with an intention to preserve their dominance in the oil-rich city which also meant owning the strategic key to the Middle East. Despite the ostensible neutrality, the British authorities endeavored to constrain Armenians in Karabakh to submit to Azerbaijan, thus aiming at neutralizing any possible “hot spot” in the territories under their control.
Otherwise, the colonial rule could be undermined and disrupted by the remaining allies (e.g. France) or Bolshevik Russia. One of the historigraphs of that period Simon Vratsyan – the last Prime Minister of the First Republic of Armenia – notes, “For the English the fate of Karabakh, as well as Zangezur, was determined: they have decided upon giving those lands to Azerbaijan” [Vratsyan, 1993, 330].
A true exemplification of the aforesaid is the official stance the British occupational forces took against the military expedition of General Andranik’s Armenian Special Striking Division into Karabakh. The matter of the fact is that after the invasion of Turkish and Azerbaijani forces into Karabakh which resulted International Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 3/No. 5/special issue/2014 in the occupation of Shushi, the Armenian militia commanders of Dizak and Varanda5 appealed to Andranik for assistance [Hovhannisian, 1971, 88]. In a bid to hinder the expedition of Andranik, the opposite side restored fighting in Zangezur. Moreover, on the 28th (15th) of October, Nuri pasha issued a renewed ultimatum to the population of Zangezur ordering to give up arms and surrender to the Azerbaijani rule [Simonyan, 1996, 430]. The state in which the Armenians of Karabakh found themselves after the Turkish/Azerbaijani occupation, that is – blockaded from all sides – as well as the common threat to Karabakh and Zangezur propelled Andranik to move his troops to Shushi. As to the political system of Karabakh, we can easily behold a slight difference. Because of the armed incursion, there was diarchy in Karabakh both from military and administrative perspectives. The Armenians of Karabakh possessed military might, however that was not enough to defend the land from invasions. Neglecting the resolutions of the congresses of Armenians, Azerbaijanis were trying to establish a full control over the territory of not only Karabakh but also Zangezur. Thus, according to the modern-time paradigm of scientific realities, the struggle of Armenians in Karabakh may be regarded as an act of selfdefense/struggle for self-determination. In its turn, the expedition of Andranik can be viewed either as a humanitarian intervention or a self-defense measure. The latter option is reasonable if taking into account that Karabakh and Zangezur geographically comprise a single political area in addition to the fact that they were overwhelmingly populated by Armenians and shared common challenges and threats by the rival side. Thus, like the military activities in 1905-1907, the outbreak of mutual violence in 1918-1919 between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nakhijevan, Zangezur, Karabakh should be regarded as a fullscale war regardless of the fact that the Democratic Republic of Armenia that had proclaimed its sovereignty over the “Armenian districts” itself was not involved in military activities (it became involved both diplomatically (1919) and by military means (1920) in the conflict later). The scrutiny of the historiographic material points at the fact that Andranik held a competent military, as well as administrative authority over the Zangezur territory (Sisian, Goris, Kapan, Meghri), thus his actions is to be scientifically regarded as execution of power of supreme governor, rather than unorganized and sporadic acts of military campaign.
Starting his expedition, Andranik crushed the resistance of the Muslim and Kurdish chieftains headed by Sultan bey Sultanov, and took the village of Avdallar (also Abdallar, later Lachin, nowadays Berdzor) which is situated 20km away from Shushi. Local Muslim/Azerbaijani population fled from the battlefield.
However, the shift of balance against Azerbaijan was contrary to the British interests. Soon, Andranik received the telegram supposedly dispatched by General Thomson (signed as “British Commander”), threatening Andranik that the continuation of the military campaign would be regarded as “a hostile act against the British Empire” [Abrahamian, 1989, 14], “the terrible responsibility of which will lie with Andranik” [Simonyan, 1996, 456]. In his letter of response Andranik expressed suspicions that the telegram is forged or/and unofficial, having no proper signature and carried by a blind Armenian peasant rather than official representative. Then he deliberated on the substantial reasons he had undertaken a
military campaign from Zangezur to Shushi:
“Almost a year Tatars have cut any type of connection between the Armenians of Zangezur and i.
Karabakh”, ii. Hundreds of corpses of Armenian soldiers returning from the [WWI] front to Karabakh via Zangezur are thrown in the ravines of Zabugh and Hakaro rivers, Thousands of Turkish Armenian (i.e Ottoman Armenian – E.E.) refugees, eager to resettle in iii.
Karabakh, were barbarically murdered in July and August, iv. The complete destruction of the Armenian village of Kaladarasi, v. Attacks, plundering raids against the Armenians of Zangezur by Tatars, The two other Armenian provinces – Jraberd and Khachen – had lost regular communication with the outside world, since the troops of Sultan bey Sultanov had obstructed the roads.
International Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 3/No. 5/special issue/2014 vi. Concentration of Karabakh [Armenians] in Zangezur, deprived of the opportunity to return homeland, vii. [And finally] the hostile attitude of Muslims against the Armenian population of Karabakh [Ibid.