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Kilikya ve Ermeni Faaliyetleri

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Kilikya ve Ermeni Faaliyetleri

Mesajgönderen TurkmenCopur » 30 Nis 2011, 15:48


The geographic designation Cilicia is as inexact as other terms used at the time, such as Palestine, Armenia, or Kurdistan. None designated a real administrative division, so their boundaries were to be found in the minds of those who used the names. Generally, the term Cilicia covered the Ottoman vilâyet of Adana, the sancak of Maraș, and nearby areas.

When dividing the spoils of war, the Allied Powers treated Cilicia as a northern extension of Syria and awarded it to France. Under the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 between England and France, the French zone included most of the Ottoman provinces of Adana, northern Haleb, Diyarbakir, Mamuretülaziz, and Sivas -an area that included the cities of Adana, İskenderun, Maraș, Antep, Mardin, and Diyarbakir. By the end of the war, however, it was obvious that such a wide area could never be controlled by the French. Only Cilicia was claimed. According to the terms of the Mudros Armistice, by which the Ottomans conceded defeat in the war, the Allies were allowed to occupy ports, "to occupy any strategic points in event of a situation arising which threatens the security of the Allies," and to occupy the Taurus railroad tunnel system. None of these points (or any others in the armistice) could be interpreted to include the Allied occupation of Cilicia, but the French did not feel constrained by armistice clauses.

According to Article 16 of the Mudros Armistice, all Ottoman forces except "those necessary to maintain order" were to withdraw from Cilicia. The Ottoman Second Army withdrew slowly and by the end of 1918 had moved west of Pozanti, in the direction of Konya, leaving behind only gendarmerie as representatives of Ottoman authority. In the place of the Ottoman armies came French forces. The French were poorly organized and in insufficient numbers to patrol Syria proper, much less Cilicia. They were at first led by officers who showed little interest in peaceful settlement of wartime conflicts. It was even alleged that the purpose of the French officers in Cilicia, such as Colonel Bremond, was the amassing of personal riches through confiscation and raids on the population. Worse, the French had very few French soldiers under their command, so the "French" forces in Cilicia were in reality colonial troops and Armenians; the latter were only nominally under the control of French officers. The first agents of the French occupation of Cilicia were battalions of the Armenian Legion. The Armenian Legion, a part of the French Légion d'Orient, consisted of four battalions, approximately 5,000 soldiers and officers, who had enlisted in Egypt. It was made up of Armenian refugees from Anatolia, Armenians from other parts of the Middle East, and Armenians who had come from Europe and even America. From the first, the aim of the legion was clear. As Armenian officials stated, the legion's members had not enlisted as regular French units, but as a special group enrolled expressly to fight Turks (and only that). French sources claimed that Armenian units were plagued by lack of discipline and refused to follow the orders of their officers. The Armenian troops were heavily influenced by Armenian revolutionary groups. Their anti-Muslim feelings were so strong that they even battled with French Algerian Muslim troops.

In November of 1918, the Armenian Legion fought the police in Beirut, greatly embarrassing the French. The Armenians were sent north to occupy Turkish lands immediately after the debacle in Beirut. In late November, they arrived in İskenderun (Alexandretta). Some remained there and others were sent on in late December to occupy the Adana Vilâyeti. Disorders followed upon their arrival in İskenderun, Baylan, and Dörtyol. In the Dörtyol region, Armenian villagers and Armenian soldiers combined to attack Muslim villages. The Turkish villagers took to the mountains. Property left behind was pillaged. When the French tried to repress their attacks on Muslim homes, the Armenian soldiers in Baylan mutinied. Others deserted and joined groups made up of legionnaires, local Armenians, and Armenian refugees, who attacked the towns of Arab-Deresi and Kirik Hane (January 1919).

The Armenian Legion on entering İskenderun invaded Muslim houses, ostensibly looking for Armenian girls who had been taken as captives by the Turks. There were a number of rapes attendant on such activities, and few of the women abducted by Armenians were, in fact, of Armenian background. Similar events took place in Adana Vilâyeti wherever Armenian troops appeared. The Ottoman government recorded the extensive use of rifle butts as tools of occupation policy. Murders of Turks were common, although murder was small-scale compared to the contemporaneous situation in western and eastern Anatolia and the Caucasus. Partisan (chetté) bands were formed from local Armenian villagers, returned Armenian refugees, and deserters from the Armenian Legion. These preyed on Turkish villagers throughout the area of occupation. Turkish villagers had no recourse to law or hope of assistance, since civil authority, while theoretically in the hands of the French, was actually in the hands of Armenians. The French contended that they and the British were unable to restrain the Armenians and unable to respond to Turkish complaints, which the French General Hamelin called "complaints, unfortunately most often well-founded, against all sorts of [Armenian] excesses against the population (robbery, armed attacks, pillaging, murders)."

While attacks on Turks were occurring, Armenians were migrating to Cilicia in great numbers. Most were probably refugees from various sections of Anatolia who had earlier either fled or been deported by the Ottomans. French and English authorities (the English were in charge of the region immediately after the war) assisted the migration. Eight thousand Armenians were sent to Mersin by ship, and many more arrived in Cilicia by land. Refugees from other areas of Anatolia and even Armenians who came from regions such as Kayseri, where they had remained throughout the war, went to Cilicia and what they thought would be a new Armenian land. The French and English assumed that wartime hatreds would be forgotten, or at least submerged, but they greatly miscalculated.

The effective end of the Armenian Legion came after events beginning on 16 February in İskenderun. There the Armenians attacked French Muslim soldiers, rioted, burned and pillaged Muslim homes, and murdered local Muslims, with untold casualties. Unlike their actions in the Cilician hinterlands, the actions of the Armenian Legion in İskenderun were done in full view of the outside world and caused an Allied reappraisal of the use of Armenian troops. The British Syrian Command, which still had overall authority over Syria and Cilicia, ordered the evacuation of Armenian troops and their replacement by British regulars. In the restrained summary of a French historian of the Cilician occupation:

Two days after the collective rebellion in Alexandretta, the [Armenian] battalions in Cilicia were replaced by British troops. . . . In Cilicia itself, the numerous acts of undiscipline -- thefts, various brutalities against Turks, kidnapping young girls to "rescue" them, abduction by force of arms -- were incompatible with the mission of the Legion.

In fact, Armenian troops were relieved between 18 February and 16 March 1919 and regrouped in Adana, Mersin, and Hamidiye, where their depredations continued for a time.

Despite the expulsion of the Armenian Legion, the situation in Cilicia remained volatile. Following Allied plans for division of the conquered territories among themselves, British garrisons were soon replaced by French soldiers, primarily colonial recruits from Senegal and Armenian auxiliary units. The attacks on Muslim civilians did not cease, particularly in the eastern part of Cilicia -- the Maraș Sancaǧi. There, Turkish bands and Armenian bands each engaged in murdering civilians of the other group. Turkish villages, some armed with captured French weapons, held off French and Armenian (locals, armed by the French) attacks. In the cities and villages of the southeast, French troops and local Armenians burned Turkish houses, pillaged buildings, raped Muslim women, and murdered Turkish civilians. Arms were confiscated from Muslims and given to Armenians. Nevertheless, the Turks as a group were armed and resisting. Events came to a head in March of 1920, when Turkish forces retook Maraș from the French. In the battles and massacres that accompanied the reconquest of Maraș, thousands of Turks and Armenians were killed. The city was largely destroyed, mainly by French bombardment and deliberate incendiarism. On their retreat, the French colonials and Armenians destroyed all the Turkish villages in their path.

In the words of American High Commissioner Bristol:

The majority of troops were made up of French colonial [sic] and of Armenians. They burned and destroyed many Turkish villages as punitive measures in their advance and practically all Turkish villages during their retreat from Marash.

The majority of the Armenians of the Maraș region fled with the French, but thousands of Armenians remained behind, guarded by the Turkish army. With the advent of Turkish Nationalist authority in the Maraș Sancaǧi, unrest virtually ceased and there were no further massacres there. 136 However, fighting continued in the rest of Cilicia, and the massacre of Muslims was a real fear for the Turkish forces. The British reported that Turkish Nationalist troops held back from occupying Adana and Mersin because they feared that, if they advanced, all Muslims in the towns would be massacred by local Christians, who were all armed.

Battles between the Turks and the French and murders by Armenian and Turkish bands continued until the French finally evacuated Cilicia in December 1921, taking with them approximately 30,000 Armenians. More Armenians, almost the entire Armenian population of Cilicia, soon followed. 138 The French, as their losses mounted, showed less and less commitment to the Armenians and were unwilling to pay the necessary price to install an Armenian minority in control in Cilicia. They became, in fact, extremely critical of Armenian actions in Cilicia. Asked by the British why he had lately refused to give arms to Armenians who said they would use the guns to relieve Armenians who were under Turkish siege in Hacin [Dörtyol], General Gourad, the French commander, responded:
Previously arms had been indeed distributed to the Armenians, either to defend their villages or so that they could form auxiliary units attached to French columns operating in Cilicia. In each instance, the Armenians have taken advantage of this to treat the Turks exactly as the Armenians claim they have themselves been treated, looting and burning villages and massacring unarmed Muslims.

The presence of Allied occupation armies and the swift organization by Turkish Muslims of Cilicia kept the situation there from developing in the same way as it had in Erzurum or Erzincan. In northeastern Anatolia, the Russians had occupied the land and relinquished control to the Armenians, who perpetrated the massacres of Muslims. In Cilicia, the Ottomans had been in control throughout the war and Ottoman institutions in the area remained. Remnants of the Ottoman army, along with Ottoman gendarmerie and local Muslims, organized resistance as soon as the Armenians appeared. Aided by Turkish Nationalists, these Turks began to resist first the Armenians, then the French. Although they were not able to decisively defeat the French, they were able to make the occupation of any part of southeastern Anatolia so expensive in lives and treasure that the French could not, or at least would not, continue it.

Kitap: Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922
Yazar: Justin McCarthy
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