«Edgar Elbakyan Edgar Elbakyan: Yerevan State University, Armenia. Email: elbakyan.edgar Abstract: The current research aims at proposing a ...»
The next day Andranik received the “reconciliation delegation” by the British commandment, which handed to him the second telegram by Thomson. The latter reiterated the same threats. Consequently, under the British pressure Andranik decided on taking his troops back to Zangezur. In accordance with the gentleman agreement with the British delegation, Andranik took up his duties of reinforcing the truce with the opposing side. On the proposal of Andranik, the president of the National Council of Zangezur, Mikayel Paronyan, headed a delegation to Haji Samlu to negotiate with Sultan bey Sultanov. The agenda of the talks was comprised of issues related to the region as well as strengthening the shaky cease-fire.
Sultan bey accepted all the points suggested by the Armenian side. It was conditioned by the fact that Sultan bey, as mentioned above, had been defeated by the Armenian troops of Andranik before the negotiations. Besides, inspired by the military shift of Andranik, the Armenian military detachments of Khachen province had attacked Haji Samlu region approaching the center thereof – Pichan village (currently Vakunis). The local militia of Dizak had also activated, committing military demonstration around the bottom of Kirs Mountain, strategically important point in the heartland of Karabakh [Ibid., 464]. On the whole, regardless of the temporary armistice, Andranik had his own vision of the Karabakh issue regulation. At an official dinner in Goris with the representative of Allied Forces, Major Gibon, Andranik expanded on the knotty problem of Karabakh. Andranik and his comrades-in-arms proposed that approximately 300,000 Armenians of mountainous parts of Zangezur, Karabakh and Gandzak under no circumstances could be subdued to the Azerbaijani rule. Andranik substantiated that thesis quoting the statistics according which the Turkic-inhabited areas in those mostly Armenian-inhabited territories were resembling oases: 15,000 Turks (they meant “Azerbaijanis” – E.E.) residing in Shushi, 20,000 Turks and Kurds in Haji Samlu and Kelbajar. Andranik concluded that it would be abnormal and illegal if 35-40000 Turks of the region gained a right to subdue remaining 300,000 Armenians. He added that Azerbaijan could get the title over the territories stretching from Agdam to Baku [Ibid., 477-478].
The cease-fire did not last long. Inspired with the withdrawal of Andranik to Goris as well as the British policy of appeasement, the Azerbaijani forces attacked and devastated the Armenian villages of Harar, Spitakashen, Petrosashen, Arpa-Gyaduk, Tez-Kharab, Khtsaberd, Dudikchi, Khandzadzor (Dizak province), Chertaz, Mashadishen, Sos (Varanda province). The first three ones were situated between Zangezur and Karabakh, thus the devastation thereof put Karabakh in a final blockade by Azerbaijan [Vratsyan, 1993, 329].
On the 29th of January during its session the Government of Azerbaijan, with the ultimate approval of the British occupational administration, appointed Khosrov bey Sultanov on the post of General Governor of Shushi, Zangezur, Jebrayil, Jivanshir uyezds (former Armenian-inhabited uyezds of Elisabethpol) [Nəbibəyli, 2011, 118]. The post was established а fortnight before. In the official announcement, the British authorities stated that the General Governorate carried a temporary character, as well as reestablished the fact that “… the issue of the title over those territories among the two units6 should be settled in the framework of the peace conference” [Nagornyj Karabax v 1918-1923: Sbornik dokumentov i materialov, 1992, 62]. On the 6th of March, the British Representation in Shushi in the person of major Monck-Mason officially informed Armenians about the assignation of Sultanov and ordered to unconditionally fulfill the orders and resolutions of the latter [Simonyan, 1996, 490].
Two units – Armenia and Azerbaijan. The term “units” intended to underline the fact that British authorities had not recognized the Transcaucasian states as sovereign ones.
International Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 3/No. 5/special issue/2014 The Azerbaijani government itself designated and apprehended the mission of General Governorate in a different way. According to the report by the Ministry of Internal Affairs sent to the Government of Azerbaijan, the interim General Governor had to tackle the issue of “reunifying” the respective uyezds to Azerbaijan by “fighting and totally exterminating the Armenian movement” [Doklad pravitel’stvu, 1919].
Sultanov himself sketched out his objectives to the Muslim population of Shushi as well as to his inner cyrcle during a speech in the Tatar part of the city. Crushing the Armenian resistance by military means as well as subduing Karabakh and Zangezur to Azerbaijan were declared by Sultanov as his main goals [Simonyan, 1996, 491]. A contemporary study by an Azerbaijani scholar Ziyadxan Nəbibəyli based on the Azerbaijani archive documents, asserts that “an essential factor (concerning opting for the candidacy of Khosrov bey – E.E.) [was that] Khosrov bey was from … Zangezur region, thus well-acquainted with those places. Still, the most determining factor was that Sultan bey - Khosrov’s brother – was an authorized (sic!) bey in the Hacısamlı district of the Upper Zangezur. He could uphold [Khosrov bey] by his populous armed groups against the Dashnak-Armenian General Andranik who led a disciplined and well-trained army supplied with arms and ammunitions” [Nəbibəyli, 2011, 118]. Thus, it can be summarized that real destination for Khosrov bey Sultanov was occupying Karabakh and Zangezur and subduing those regions to Azerbaijan.
Seizing the opportunity of British connivance, Azerbaijan went on a new aggression. The Azerbaijani (ir)regular troops, headed by Turkish officers fortified in strategically important points of Karabakh such as Askeran, Khankend, Shushi [Harutyunyan, 2013, 31-32]. Azerbaijani militants from Aliyanli, Musulmanli and neighboring villages surrounded Armenian villages of Khtsaberd, Hin Taghlar and Khandzadzor in Dizak province. The operation was directly coordinated by the Minister of Defense of Azerbaijan, Samad bey Mehmandarov. He proceeded to building new military barracks in Shushi, as well as sent troops to Zabugh and Zangelan. By his order local Azerbaijanis transferred ammunition to Zangelan via Karyagino [Simonyan, 1996, 487-488].
Karabakh Armenians decided to convene the fourth Congress of the Armenians of Karabakh keeping the two main issues on the agenda – the policy of the British authorities and Khosrov bey Sultanov. The representatives expressed their objection to the British policy, strictly ruling out any possibility of submitting to Azerbaijani/Sultanov rule. Reporting on the outcome of the fourth Congress, Yeghishe Ishkhanian wrote to Andranik, “The Armenian people of Karabakh wishes never to surrender to Azerbaijan and join the Araratian Republic7, the political center of all Armenians. This is the final desire and decision” [Ibid., 492]. The Congress established a National Council as a primary executive power.
Azerbaijanis retaliated by triggering the British authorities to oust two prominent Armenian leaders from Shushi – Gerasim Balayan and Levon Zarafyan. Major Monck-Mason ordered the newly-established National Council to submit to the Azerbaijani rule until the peace conference take place. Otherwise, “any kind of resistance will be cut by severe measures” [Abrahamian, 1989, 17]. By the end of March Sultanov multiplied the number of Azerbaijani armed forces in Karabakh, raising it to 2000 soldiers in Khankend and 1000 in Shushi. Armenians appealed to the British authorities asking them for permission to dislocate some militia from the provinces in the above mentioned cities (esp. Shushi), however their petition was rejected [Simonyan, 1996, 493-494].
It is noteworthy that not only Karabakh Armenians were objecting against the de-facto endeavors to annex Karabakh-Zangezur to Azerbaijan, but also the government of the Republic of Armenia. A week after the assignation of Khosrov bey Sultanov, the Armenian MF Sirakan Tigranyan sent a note of protest to the Azerbaijani government, stating that Karabakh and Zangezur were indispensable parts of Armenia During its two-year long existence The First Republic of Armenia was denoted by Armenians in Armenia and Diaspora differently (e.g. Yerevanian Republic, Araratian Republic etc.).
International Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 3/No. 5/special issue/2014 [Vratsyan, 1993, 330] and even the temporary Azerbaijani rule over those territories was inacceptable for the official Yerevan [Harutyunyan, 2013, 33].
In response to the objections by Armenia, as well as Karabakh National Council, the British occupational administration on the 3rd of April announced that Khosrov bey enjoyed the full support of the British authorities, adding that “every single movement in Karabakh-Shushi against Azerbaijan will be considered as addressed to the British Government” [Abrahamian, 1989, 16]. This time the government of Armenia sent a letter of protest to the British Caucasian Commandment, underlying that “neither local [Armenian] population, nor Our Government can’t accept that Zangezur and Armenian Karabakh submit to Azerbaijani-appointed authorities” [Vratsyan, 1993, 332].
Shuttleworth himself left for Karabakh. Armenians had to convene the fifth Congress in his presence. The declaration of the Congress reaffirmed the will of the Armenian people of Karabakh to restore the order in the region, as well as, to leave in peace “with the neighboring Turkish (Azerbaijani – E.E.) people”.
Touching the issue of the proposals made in the report of Shuttleword, the declaration read, “… the current program does not correspond with the wishes and vital interests of the Armenian people of Karabakh… The Congress regards inacceptable any administrative program related with Azerbaijan, deeming that bringing such a program into effect by coercive means will inevitably entail inter-ethnic clashes and bloodshed. The fifth Congress of Karabakh Armenians will by no means take responsibility for such actions” [Vratsyan, 1993, 333]. Fortnight later Shuttleworth ultimately left the highland region, thoroughly convinced of the incorrigible nature of the Armenians [Hovhannisian, 1971, 193].
Henceforth, Sultanov decided on taking more “effective” measures against Armenians. On the 20 th of May he ordered to blockade the roads of Lower Karabakh. Varanda and Khachen were exposed to famine. Plague took lives of hundreds of Armenians. As a next step, Sultanov’s forces closed the ShushiGoris road, June 3, 1919. On the 4th and 5th of June armed clashes occurred in Shushi between Armenians and Azerbaijanis and Sultanov began a blockade of the town's Armenian quarters. The same day, June 5, Azerbaijani and Kurdish troops led by Sultanov looted the Armenian village of Ghaybalishen located near Shushi. Approximately 100 men survived from the population of about 700 people. Villages of Pahlul, Krkjan, Nakhijevanik, Jamillu, Khanatsakh, Dashushen were also attacked and either partly or thoroughly devastated and deprived of the indigenous Armenian population [Vratsyan, 1993, 331-335]. The members of the presidium of the Armenian National Council of Baku, discussed the events in Karabakh with the newly-appointed PM of Azerbaijan, Nasib Usubbeyov. The latter clarified the official stance of Azerbaijan: “It doesn’t matter how sorrowful the latest events in Karabakh were. Be informed that those won’t be the last ones unless the Armenian provinces of Karabakh stop their resistance against Azerbaijan” [Harutyunyan, 2013, 36-37]. This quotation makes evident that the Azerbaijani government had decided to annex Karabakh regardless of the political will of the local Armenian inhabitants. Taking into account the resistance of the indigenous Armenian people, the Azerbaijani government decided on committing ethnic cleansings to azerbaijanize the region. In his report (“The condition in Karabakh related with the English policy and necessary means to tackle it”) presented to the Azerbaijani government as well as in his negotiations with Shuttleworth, Sultanov also provisioned his plans regarding the Karabakh issue. Sultanov underlined the geostrategic importance of Karabakh to Azerbaijan. He deemed that the loss of Karabakh will entail the subsequent occupation of Nakhijevan, Ordubad and even the overall territory of Karabakh by Armenians, because the Armenians located between Baku and Genje could put the existence of the Azerbaijani state under danger. That is the very reason the occupation of Zangezur by Azerbaijani forces was a focal point in Sultanov’s plan. General Governor believed that Armenians will never recognize the Azerbaijani rule unless coercive means were brought into effect. Thus, he was inclined to present a 6-day ultimatum to the Armenians of Karabakh after which he envisioned starting military actions. Moreover, Sultanov was pondering over suggesting the Armenians of Karabakh to leave their living areas of the region [Musayev, 2002, 1].
International Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 3/No. 5/special issue/2014 Օn the 7th of August, Karabakh Armenians convened the seventh Congress of Armenians of Karabakh.
Sultanov did not participate at the Congress, however, he has surrounded the city of Shushi and blockaded the Shushi-Evlakh road. The deputies of the Congress were under both physical and moral pressure. Sultanov issued a 48-hour ultimatum urging the Congress to recognize the Azerbaijani rule.
Under the Azerbaijani intimidation as well as after the June massacres, the seventh Congress decided to yield to Sultanov‘s threats and temporarily agree to submit to Azerbaijan in order to evade from further bloodshed. On the 22nd of August, in Shushi, Armenian representatives signed a 26-article agreement with Sultanov. The first article read that the Agreement was in force until the Peace Congress. The second article stated that the Armenian-inhabited mountainous parts of Karabakh’s Shusi, Jivanshir and Jibrayil uyezds (Dizak, Varanda, Khachen, Jraberd) temporarily recognized themselves in the territories of Azerbaijan. They preserved their local autonomy within the Karabakh governorate [Vratsyan, 1993, 338Although it was an interim agreement, it was welcomed in Azerbaijan as the final act of annexing Karabakh to Azerbaijan.