09 October 2006

1107) Rebellious as Armenians: Ottoman KURDS

You know how Armenian propaganda tells us the Turks and the Kurds were partners in crime against the Armenians? Actually, the main thing Turks and Kurds shared, in regards to the Armenians, is that both groups suffered monumentally under the Armenians' heartless ethnic cleansing policies.

Other than that, the Kurds were constantly a thorn in the side of the Ottoman Turks. In the word of a British consular agent, as you'll be reading below, the Kurds were " unmanageable."

Since the cash-poor Ottoman administration had their hands full with so many other problems and dangers, they never quite succeeded with controlling the Kurds (and as you'll also be reading below, it would be more correct to define this group as "Kurdish tribes" rather than "Kurds"; as opposed to Armenians, the problems these Kurds caused mainly did not derive from nationalism).

In reality, the reason why Sultan Abdul Hamid created the "Hamidiye" (Kurdish regiment) had nothing to do, as Armenian propaganda tells us (see, for example, Peter Balakian's "The Burning Tigris"), with making life hell for the Armenians. This was the sultan's idea in trying to control the Unmanageable Kurds, and also hope that a much-needed fighting force could be utilized for his constantly threatened nation, in the style of the Russians' Cossacks. (It was a short-sighted idea, of course, because such did not stop making the Kurds " unmanageable," nor did it help with making the lives of eastern Armenians and other Ottomans any easier.)

The Kurds, or these Kurdish tribes, surely did make life difficult for Armenians. But one of the many things Armenian propaganda neglects to tell us is that the Kurds made life miserable for everybody. Even an Armenian organization in Britain (back in 1878, before these propagandists became utterly unscrupulous and spoiled) paid grudging recognition to the fact that Muslims were also victimized by the Kurds. In their article, the Armenians also added:

This course of things has gone on for centuries, but has become sensibly worse during the last 30 or 40 years, as the Turkish Government has become weaker and fanaticism has increased. The Government is utterly powerless to control the Kurds, who follow their own chieftains and do not care for the officials of the Sultan. These officials seldom venture to interfere; but if they do, the Kurds take vengeance probably on them, and certainly on the village of the Armenian who has dared to complain.

Note what we are correctly being told: Ottoman control was weak, adding to the Armenians', and other eastern Ottomans', miseries. In areas of governmental strength, as Istanbul and environs, Armenians were prospering and had few causes for complaint.

In other words, aside from tax collection and perhaps the occasional other minor affairs, Armenians had little exposure to the "iron hand" of the Ottoman government. Propagandistic claims of "Turkish tyranny" fall by the wayside when there is barely any contact with the government. (And to stress the point, ironically, it was the lack of such contact that made these easterners so unhappy.) In short, as Prof. Richard Hovannisian has instructed us, Armenians enjoyed what amounted to an internal autonomy.

So, in fact, did the Kurdish tribes.

The idea of this page is to shed light on what horrible and disloyal citizens the Kurds of these tribes were. The idea is to break the myth that the Turks and Kurds always worked hand in hand.

(Yet, getting back to our favorite topic of Armenians, you will note below that if some Kurds operated as predatory lawless bands, so in fact did some Armenians... once again busting the commonly held belief that Armenians are always poor, defenseless victims.)

(Can't let go of our favorite topic, can we? The reader may now gain a better understanding — in these bleak "no man's lands" of eastern and southeastern Anatolia — as to why the poorly-guarded Armenian convoys, during the resettlement process, could easily fall victim to lawless bands who would swoop out of nowhere. Sometimes corrupt gendarmes were in cahoots with these Kurds; yet, most of the time, the gendarmes protected the Armenians. If they hadn't, the majority of Armenians could not have reached their destinations alive.)

Let us refer to Prof. Justin McCarthy's extremely scholarly book "Death and Exile: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ottoman Muslims, 1821-1922," on the issue of Ottoman Kurds. (This book is a must-have for any truthful party interested in this "genocide" matter.)


(pp. 40-47:)

The Ottoman Empire did not actually rule in much of eastern Anatolia. The state was an important and intrusive factor in the lives of only a portion of the eastern population, primarily the inhabitants of cities, rural areas close to cities, and border regions. In most rural areas, the Ottomans functioned as tax-collectors whenever possible and as an ultimate military force whenever absolutely necessary.

The main danger, and thus the main political factor in the Ottoman East, was the constant presence of marauding elements that lay in wait for situations that allowed them to operate with impunity. These were especially nomadic or seminomadic Kurdish tribes, and the main public security activity of the Ottoman government was to control these tribes. The Ottomans had neither the manpower nor the finances to constantly oversee the activities of the Kurds, so they controlled them by a typically Ottoman system of bribes coupled with force. Tribal chiefs were coopted to the Ottoman system with honors, posts, and money. During relatively quiescent times, Kurdish tribes were allowed to treat their own affairs by themselves. They kept lands farmed by Muslim and Christian tenant farmers, operated market "industries" in handicrafts and foodstuffs, kept extensive herds of animals—all without the intervention of the state. Only when the Kurdish tribes actually revolted or engaged in marauding campaigns did the Ottomans send troops.[66] When successful, such expeditions sometimes resulted in the hanging of a rebellious tribal sheyh. More often they resulted in the sheyh's being forcibly transferred to Istanbul or elsewhere with a sizeable pension, so that the Ottomans' troubles would not be complicated by an ongoing blood feud. The organic situation in the east remained unchanged. For real changes to have transpired, the army would have had to remain in the eastern provinces, constantly keeping the Kurds in check.

One must be careful when identifying the Kurds as a disruptive element. Those who were a disruptive force were tribal groups, and their loyalties were tribal. It would be an error to infer any "Kurdish" identification among them. If tribes cooperated, it was out of mutual benefit, not ethnic loyalty, for which there is no evidence. Also, most Kurdish-speakers were not at any time in rebellion. They were farmers and herdsmen with basically the same feelings toward religion and state as ethnic Turkish farmers and herdsmen. The rebellious tribes were as much an enemy to their lives and livelihoods as they were to those of Turkish-speakers. When disruptive Kurdish tribesmen are discussed here it is not these Kurds, surely the majority, who are being described.

While the Armenians of the east were often subject to Kurdish rule in the countryside and the Ottoman government in the cities, they also took advantage of Ottoman weakness to gain practical autonomy. Armenian villages in the mountainous regions of the southeast were often actually free of external control. This was particularly true in the Zeytun region. In Zeytun, Armenians sometimes grudgingly paid tribute to the Ottomans, as they had to the Arabs, Byzantines, and others before, but they ruled themselves. Throughout the nineteenth century, tension between the Zeytunlis and the Ottomans over tribute payments remained high. In armed confrontations, the Ottomans were only partially successful in gain- ing assessed taxes or tribute.[67]

Ottoman tolerance of Kurdish and Armenian quasiautonomy was symptomatic of the weakness of the Ottoman state. Occupied by life-threatening wars in the north and the west, the Ottomans were forced to be satisfied with relative calm in the east.

The defects in the system of government in the Ottoman East became especially obvious in times of war. During peacetime, Ottoman garrison soldiers and gendarmes were usually sufficient to guarantee something approximating civil order. They could enforce their authority because behind them ultimately stood the Ottoman army. With war, the situation was radically altered. Gendarmes (the police of the Ottoman East) were withdrawn to provide the backbone of the Ottoman armies battling the Russians. Thus the day-to-day security of the region was threatened. Moreover, there was now no army available to threaten ultimate force. Into this power vacuum came first Kurdish tribes and later Armenian revolutionaries.

Kurd Feast at Marash (Photo: Sir Mark Sykes)

Kurdish tribes contested with the Ottomans for control whenever they felt they had a chance of success. They battled Ottoman troops in major wars in 1834, 1836, 1847, and 1879, and in minor conflicts throughout the nineteenth century. Their inten- tion was not to set up a state, but simply to be free of central authority. At times, only the hostilities the Kurdish clans showed toward each other allowed the Ottomans to impress their authority by a policy of divide and conquer. During the Crimean War, Kurds of Mosul revolted against the government precisely because the Ottoman troops were at the front and unable to step in,[68] and in the later Ottoman-Russian wars the position of the Kurds was at best ambivalent. Some indeed fought on the Ottoman side, although they were of limited military benefit.[69] Others simply "sat out" the wars. Some even attacked and robbed Ottoman troops when the opportunity arose. Throughout the period, the Kurdish tribes as a group showed that their loyalties were to their tribes, not to any government, nor even to their brother Muslims.

The Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 was a watershed in eastern Anatolia. Its effect on both Muslims and Christians was great. Armenian aspirations of living under Christian sovereignty, and possibly even Armenian autonomy, were heightened. Part of what the Armenians considered to be their homeland, the Kars-Ardahan region, had been taken from the Ottomans, and there was good reason to expect that the rest of Armenia would soon be in Russian hands. There also was a deterioration in the Ottoman government's control of its eastern provinces. This was a direct result of the war, which broke the balance of power in the east. The Ottoman govern- ment, impoverished and now without many revenue-producing European provinces, found it impossible to pay for the security needs of the east. Many of the soldiers and gendarmes, who normally would have provided public security, had died in the war.

The following descriptions by an American missionary and a British consul of the city of Bitlis before and after the war describe the situation. In both circumstances the representatives of the Ot- toman government intended to protect their people and did what they could toward that end. Before the war, they were successful; after the war, they failed:

[Bitlis in 1876, before the war] At the commencement of this month, there was a plot maturing to massacre the Christians . . . some of the conspirators applied to a resident Sheigh [sic] for his approval and aid. The latter set his face against the scheme; and declared that, if they attempted to carry it out he would show his indignation by burning his house and leaving the city! This meant a great deal for he is held in reverent esteem by the Mussulmans. Then the plot was presented before another distinguished Turk—Alt Agha, who also showed his decided disapproval, and declared that, if they attempted to carry it into effect, he would call to his house five hundred of his vassals and arm them with guns and require the conspirators to confront them in deadly conflict.

Then the conspirators informed the Mufti of it, who showed as decided opposition to the scheme as the two I have mentioned.

At length the affair reached the ears of Avedis Effendi, the ex-azkabed of the Armenians who, accompanied by the governmental treas- urer presented the case before the Caimakam, and threw upon him the consequences of such a massacre if it should be allowed to take place. The Caimakam assured them that they need not entertain any fear; that he should see that no such plot be consummated.

My informant, Johannes Agha, Protestant Member of the Mejiis, tells me that the Caimakam patrols the streets, nights, with his armed bodyguard, to guard the city against plunderers and assassins.[70]]

[Bitlis in 1879, immediately after the war] Everyone, Mussulman as well as Christian, spoke well of the Kaimakam, Raschid Effendi, and said that he was always anxious to do what was right, to repress disorder and to have impartial justice administered. He is seconded in well-doing by Ahmed Effendi, a member of the Mejiis. But unfortunately he is able to effect very little. The force at his command is very small. He has only forty zaptiehs [gendarmes] with whom to escort travellers and the mails, collect the taxes and keep order. The result is that the Kurds commit crimes of robbery even within the limits of the town itself and the Kaimakam is unable either to prevent or punish them[71]

The Ottoman government found it difficult to police the east and southeast of Anatolia even in good times. During good times, the Ottomans were able to garrison regions threatened by Kurdish nomads with regular army troops and gendarmerie. In times of internal crisis and, especially, war with Russia, however, the Ottomans troops were drawn off and the civilian population was to a greater or lesser degree subjected to Kurdish raids and exactions.

As the Ottoman troops were drawn from the eastern provinces to fight the 1877-78 war, the force of Ottoman civil government in the east began to vanish.[72] Even in major towns such as Bitlis, as seen before, the Kurds had their way. In Bitlis, in 1877, the Motkanli Kurds simply marched to prison and released one of their own who had been awaiting sentence for killing an Armenian. They would have plundered the town, as well, but another tribe of Kurds rode in to rescue the townspeople. The rescuers acted because the town was the only outlet for the produce the tribe sold to the city merchants.[73] Tribal Kurds were an armed and mobile force, well-hidden in the mountains. They moved from one Ottoman provincial juris- diction to another with ease, as well as across the border and into Persia.[74] Later, after World War I, the British in northern Iraq, armed with planes and other modern military equipment, also found subduing the Kurds almost impossible.[75]

A good example of the situation all over eastern Anatolia is found in the Midyat region during and after the war of 1877-78, which was described by British Consul Trotter immediately after the war. According to him, before the war, the government had been able to keep the Kurdish chiefs in check. During the war, with the regular troops off at the front, there was no means of enforcing order.[76] Indeed, there was fear that the Kurdish tribes would rebel. The upshot was continual raid and counterraid among Kurdish tnbes and a general state of anarchy in the region. The region of Midyat was divided into various armed camps. Each village, including Christian villages, defended itself. No one was considered safe very far from his village. Christians and Muslims alike were armed and all defended themselves. Trotter mentioned particularly Teller- man. an Armenian village "of about 100 houses lying in the plain to the southwest ofMardin." The village was described as "well- armed and holding their own amongst their Arab, Kurdish, and Circassian neighbors."[77] Villages of settled Kurds were exactly the same, i.e., "well-armed and holding their own," and, of course, the continual state of readiness for battle led to battles between Muslim and Muslim and Muslim and Christian. Defending the need for arming themselves, the Kurdish aghas of one village declared "the whole police force for the protection of the district consisted of 4 men, a number manifestly ridiculously insufficent considering that they march with [adjoin] the Aleppo Vilayet, and are in contact with Arabs, Kurds and Circassians."[78]

With the gall typical of a British Consul, undoubtedly assuming that Ottoman officials had no idea of the state of things, Trotter brought the situation in Midyat to the attention of the Governor of Diyarbakir Vilayeti. The governor notified him bluntly that he had no men to send. Half of his already small force had deserted when they were paid in worthless paper currency, and "there will be found none foolish enough [to take] the place of those that are gone."[79] And this was the crux of the problem. There was no money to pay the police, no money to pay the soldiers. The situation was the same all over the east.[80] For example, there was so little money in the coffers of the vilayet ofErzurum that the vali (governor) was forced to borrow funds from wealthy Erzurum citizens to give the garrison troops their traditional bayram (holiday) gift. The gift he gave them was one month's pay, part of the four-years' pay that was in arrears.[81] It should be no surprise that soldiers so paid were inefficient and that there were few of them.

British ambassador Layard correctly stated that the Ottomans could not hope to improve the situation when all government funds were taken up by defense against "the still menacing attitude of Russia."[82] Little could be done as long as the Russians took Ottoman lands, caused great losses to the Ottomans in war, and made the upkeep of a large army essential.

Although all sections of the population suffered, many of the raids fell particularly hard on Armenians. For example, the Ottomans had always stationed a battalion of regular troops in (^emiskezek (near Harput) before the 1877-78 war. During the war, they could not do so. As a result, Kurdish tribes entered the area and plundered villages, primarily Armenian villages.[83] However, it would be a mistake to think that Armenians were the sole targets of Kurdish marauders; they were not so selective in choosing victims. As a British consular agent who was sent to investigate the Kurds reported:

From all I have heard and seen, all the highland Kurdish tribes, from Diarbekir to Solaimania, are more or less unmanageable. They not only refuse to pay any taxes, or conform to the law of conscription, but they plunder and kill at their pleasure, and anyone who dares to deny them anything, he is sure to lose his life and property. I must, however, not omit to mention that, in many instances which came to my notice during my travels, Mahommedans suffered as well as Christians from the ravages of the Kurds. The Rushkootan, Sheikh Dodan, the Sasoun and Mooktu tribes, who inhabit the mountains between Diarbekir and Moosh, spare neither Christian nor Mahommedan; and while I was in the Pashalic of Diarbekir, no less than three Mahommedan Chiefs were murdered by these robbers for the sake of their property.[84]

There is only small evidence at this point to indicate that the Kurds preferred to attack Christians over Muslims, although it is obvious that they preferred the pickings from the rich to those from the poor and preferred to attack the weak. The relative wealth of the Armenian community may explain why the Armenians seem to have been more often their targets. The Ottoman army and gendar- merie were not in the east solely to protect the Armenians from the Kurds. They were present, as is any police force, to protect citizens from each other. And the Armenians were not the only ones to be protected from the tribes. Turkish peasants and even other Kurds were the prey of Kurdish tribes.[85]

Before the 1880s, Kurdish tribes were actually a much greater military threat to the civil order of the Ottoman Empire than were Armenian rebels. During the Crimean War, for example, a Kurdish tribal chieftain in the Mosul Vilayeti volunteered to collect a large force of Kurds to fight against the Russians. He was given 50,000 kurus to pay and outfit his men. Once gathered together, his 1,500 men revolted, attacked Ottoman government officials in Jezireh, and raided throughout the region. Their revolt was not put down until after the war.[86] In 1878, during wartime, the Dersim Kurds revolted as well.[87]

In 1879, Kurdish revolts spread all over southeastern Anatolia and were a major threat to an empire weakened by the recent Russian War. The rebels showed little loyalty to anyone but mem- bers of their own tribes. Most of the villages destroyed by the rebels were Kurdish villages, which were loyal to the sultan or attached to rival tribes.[88] Kurds even raided rafts bringing food downriver to famine-stricken areas in southeastern Anatolia in 1879, causing starvation among untold numbers of Kurds (who were to receive the grain).[89]

The Ottomans, aided by loyal Kurdish tribes, were always able eventually to deal with the Kurds militarily,[90] something they were often denied, because of European pressures, when Armenians revolted. The same Europeans who complained bitterly whenever the Ottomans imprisoned Armenian rebels[91] voiced constant com- plaints that the Ottomans were not forceful enough in dealing with Kurdish tribes.

One should not think that only Muslims took part in robberies and civil disruption. British consul Biliotti, on an investigative trip in 1879, reported that Armenian attacks on Muslims were not unknown.[92] The Armenian community of Zeytun was particularly known for its raids.


(From pp. 183-184:)



The last decades of the Ottoman Empire saw a significant extension of Ottoman power in eastern Anatolia. Telegraph lines and new roads brought Ottoman administrative authority to Van, Diyarbakir, and the other eastern vilayets. For the first time in the modern history of the Ottoman Empire, government officials were able to penetrate to remote villages in the east and enumerate the inhabitants for census and conscription records.[10] Law and order were established through renewed Ottoman military power. When in World War I these military forces withdrew, civil order ended.

As the First World War began, Ottoman troops were with- drawn from garrisons in southeastern and central Anatolia and sent to fight the Russians on the Caucasian border. Significantly, all but a minimum of the gendarmerie, the police of the rural east, were withdrawn from public security duties and organized into gendar- merie units in the army.[11] These were desperately needed at the front, both for their fighting abilities and for their knowledge of the region. With the gendarmes gone and the Ottoman army dying on the Caucasian front, the Kurdish tribes were in a position to renew their raids on the civilian population.

In theory, Kurdish tribesmen should have been conscripted into the Ottoman army, but in fact they usually were not. Settled agricultural Kurds and Kurds in eastern cities were conscripted and went off to war just as did Turks; tribal Kurds did not. In order to conscript Kurdish tribesmen, the Ottomans would have been forced to send an army to first subdue the tribes-not a practical possibility in the midst of war. Many Kurdish tribes thus took what can best be called a neutral position in the war, working to their own advantage whenever possible. Kurdish tribesmen even fought against the Ottomans in the Van Vilayeti and in the Dersim region.[12] In southern Van, an entire gendarmerie battalion was needed to put to flight Bedirham Abdurrezzak, who attempted to set up a major Kurdish revolt.[13] The Dersim Kurds had contributed irregulars to the Ottoman army at the beginning of the war, but changed sides when the Ottomans began to lose. They attacked Ottoman convoys, slaughtered Turkish army units, and pillaged local villages.[14] Most of the tribesmen who were ostensibly fighting alongside the Ottoman army in the Ottoman campaign in Persia in 1915[15] deserted and joined in the pillage and murder being carried out by the tribes in the region between lakes Van and Urmiah.[16]

The Ottoman government recognized that many Kurdish tribesmen could not be considered loyal or compliant citizens. One month before the war began, the government attempted, unsuccess- fully, to organize loyal militia and to seize arms in Kurdish hands in order "to maintain the loyalty of Kurdish and other Moslem communities who could be misled because of ignorance," a typically understated Ottoman euphemism for treason.[17] In territories con- quered by the Russians in northeastern Anatolia, Kurdish tribes usually quickly made peace with the Russians, although their animosity toward Armenians smoldered. The Kurdish tribes were to be a major source of death for Armenians and, to a lesser extent, Turks and settled Kurds in the war.


66. For example, on the rebellion of Kurds in Hakkari in 1879, see F.O. 195-1237, no. 80, Trotter to Layard, Erzeroum, 5 September 1879. Also, F.O. 195-1237, Clayton to Trotter, Van, 19 August 1879, F.O. 195-1237, no. 83, Trotter to Layard, 12 September 1879, especially the two enclosures from Captain Clayton in Diyarbakir. F.O. 195-1238, no. 45, Biliotti to Mallet, Trebizond, 2 April 1878. F.O. 195-1237, no. 89, Trotter to Layard, Erzeroum, 17 September 1879 and 27 September including enclosures from Captain Clayton. F.O. 195-1237 contains many other communications on the Kurdish Revolt, which effectively ended when the Kurds were defeated by regular Ottoman troops and their leaders were exiled to Albania.

The position of the Kurds vis-a-vis the Ottoman Army and local Muslim and Christian populations is covered extensively by C. B. Norman in Armenia and the Campaign of 1877, London, 1878. However, one must allow for Norman's vehement anti-Turkish and pro-Russian sympathies, which cloud all he wrote. He believed, for example, that the Turks were guilty of starting the war of 1877-78. Norman particularly searched out examples of Kurdish depredations.

Occasionally, villagers took things into their own hands and planned and took revenge on their oppressors. (See F.O. 78-2992, no. 3, Biliotti to Salisbury, Trebizond, 18 January 1879.)

One of the best sources on the Ottoman East to 1890, and on the Kurds and the Armenians, is the first two-volumes of the work by Bilal N. Simsir, British Documents on Ottoman Armenians, Ankara, 1983, Vol. I ( - 1880) and Vol. II (1880- 1890), hereafter British Documents I and British Documents II. References here are to document numbers, not pages.

67. On the revolts, see Hassan Arfa, The Kurds: An Historical and Political Study, London, 1966, pp. 23-25, and Arshak Safrastian, Kurds and Kurdistan, London, 1948, pp. 45-62. Unfortunately, there is no adequate history of the Kurds. Arfa's short book often borders on the ridiculous, with many factual errors, and Safrastian's is distinctly anti-Turkish in orientation. Safrastian, for example, blames the Ottomans for stopping Kurdish raids on civilians. He sees such hindrance of Kurdish actions as an unjust assertion of Turkish authority.

68. Lynch (vol. II, p. 421) stated that the Kurds "played one Power against another" in the 1829 and 1854 wars.

69. Charles Williams was absurdly wrong, as he often was, on the events of the retaking of Bayazit by Ottoman forces. (For the actual history, see Caucasian Battlefields, p. 148, and F.O. 65-978, no. 121, Ricketts to Derby, Tiflis, 2 October 1877.) However, his analysis of the position of the Kurds and Circassians is worthy of note. He described the Circassians and Kurds in the Ottoman army as disruptive of soldierly discipline, but essential to the army, because they in effect provided the only cavalry available. (Charles Williams, "one of the special correspondents attached to the staff of Ghazi Ahmed Mukhtar Pacha," The Armenian Campaign, London, 1878, pp. 129-30.)

"Troop of Kurd Cavalry which the Turks are hurling against the Russians in the passes of the Caucasus Mountains." The New York Times, Jan. 24, 1915. Thanks to Gokalp.

70. F.O. 195-1100, no. 46, Zohrab to Derby, Erzeroum, 8 August 1876, enclo- sure, "Extract from a letter from the Reverend George Knapp to Consul Zohrab, dated Bitlis 25th July 1876."

71. F.O. 195-1237, Clayton to Trotter, Van, 19 August 1879.

72. To a certain extent this happens in any country at war. The Russian Caucasus showed a considerable increase in crime at the same time, although not approaching the gravity of the situation in the Ottoman Empire. See F.O. 65-928, Ricketts to Derby, Tiflis, 26 August 1877.

Even before the 1877-78 war, troops were far too scarce to properly protect the east. British consul Zohrab in Erzurum, who was solely concerned with the problems of the Armenian population, constantly complained of the poor situation there. In one exchange with the Ottoman Governor of Erzurum, he received a completely frank answer:

Samih Pasha told me very candidly that he could not spare troops to be stationed at Bitlis, for, he said if he gave soldiers to protect every town which was now menaced by Koords he would be left without an army to protect the frontier or garrison the fortresses. . .

(F.O. 195-1140, no. 13, Zohrab to Layard, Erzeroum, 3 January 1877.)

See also F.O. 195-1187, no. 109, Biliotti to Layard, Trebizond, 30 July 1878.

73. The rescuing Kurds said they had acted because the citizens of the town were "their customers." F.O. 78-2623, no. 58, Zohrab to Derby, Erzeroum, 12 July 1877, enclosure, "Extract from a letter from the Reverend G. Knapp, American Missionary at Bitlis." In tales such as this, the Reverend Knapp was a fairly reliable source, because Christians did not enter into the story. Where Armenians appeared, his prejudices stood in the way of his observational veracity.

See also: F.O. 195-1211, no. 33, Trotter (relaying letter of Captain Clay from Van) to Layard, Erzurum, 30 August 1879; F.O. 195-1140, Zohrab to Elliot, Erzurum, 30 January 1877; and other documents in F.O. 195-1140, in which wartime reports from the American missionaries in Van, Bitlis, and elsewhere are included. Interestingly, the missionaries' solution to the problems in the east, brought upon by the Russian invasion, was that the Russian should win! They openly stated their hopes that the Ottomans would be quickly defeated. (One wonders if they had any idea of how poorly the Russians traditionally received Protestant missionaries.)

74. Kurds often crossed across the Persian border in both directions to raid or to escape punishment. On at least one occasion, Ottoman gendarmes followed them across the border "to remonstrate with some of the more audacious Kurdish tribes" (P.O. 424-169, no. 2/1, Devey to Lloyd, Van, 6 December 1890, in British Documents II, no. 383).

75. The British, recently victorious in World War I, attempted to subdue the Kurds of southeast Anatolia so that they could take over the area as part of their Iraqi Mandate. They failed badly. (Paul C. Helmreich, From Paris to Sevres, Columbus, Ohio, 1974, pp. 26, 27, and 203-5.) The fact that the Ottomans and later the Turkish Republic managed to govern there shows a higher degree of loyalty than might be expected.

76. F.O. 195-1237, no. 22, Trotter to Malet, Diarbekir, 22 March 1879.

77. F.O. 195-1237, no. 22, Trotter to Malet, Diarbekir, 22 March 1879.

78. F.O. 195-1237, no. 22, Trotter to Malet, Diarbekir, 22 March 1879.

79. F.O. 195-1237, no. 22, Trotter to Malet, Diarbekir, 22 March 1879. Trotter had high hopes for the beneficent effects of a European presence: "The news of the arrival and location of a British consul in Diarbekir has done much to quiet these lawless tribes." No doubt.

80. On the financial condition of the empire, see Sevket Pamuk, "Foreign Trade, Foreign Capital, and the Peripheralization of the Ottoman Empire," Ph.D dissertation, University of California at Berkeley, 1978; Charles Issawi, An Economic History of the Middle East and North Africa, New York, 1982, chapter 1; Roger Owen, The Middle East in the World Economy, 1800-1914, London, 1981; and the bibliog- raphies in each.

81. F.O. 195-1237, Trotter to Layard, Erzeroum, 16 September 1879. See also F.O. 195-1237, no. 14, Trotter to Salisbury, Diarbekir, 28 December 1878.

82. Turkey No. 51 (1878), p. 12-16, no. 4, Layard to Salisbury, Therapia, 30 October 1878 in British Documents I, no. 111. Only 11.4 percent of the annual Ottoman budget was available for all the work of the Interior Ministry ca 1875. That ministry was responsible for all civil order and administration in the provinces (Shaw, p. 155).

83. F.O. 78-2844, no. 29, Biliotti to Derby, Trebizond, 25 February 1878. When reading European reports of Kurdish attacks, it is often difficult to tell whether Armenians were particularly picked out for Kurdish depredations or if the Europeans only reported on Armenian losses. For example, in the previous report, Consul Biliotti states that "there is panic among the Armenians" and cites numbers of deaths in various villages. He does not actually indicate that the deaths were deaths of Armenians. The only person selectively identified as being killed by the Kurds is described as a "philo-Armenian Mussulman." The truth probably is that all the sedentary population suffered, the Armenians perhaps worse than the others. Because the main activity of the marauding Kurds was robbery and the Armenians were by all accounts richer than the other groups, it would be odd if they did not suffer greater losses. Hatred against non-Muslims would have been a secondary cause for discrimination against Armenians, and a far lesser cause. On relations between Armenians and Kurds, see Lynch, vol. II, pp. 431-33.

84. Rassam to Layard, Van, 15 October 1877, in British Documents I, no. 43.

85. On the "normal" activities of the tribes against Muslims and Armenians, see Turkey No. 23 (1880), no. 147, Clayton to Trotter, Van, 25 May 1880, in British Documents II, no. 9.

86. F.O. 78-1017, no. 2, Holmes to de Redcliffe, Diarbekir, 7 November 1854.

87. F.O. 195-1187, no. 168, Biliotti to Layard, Trebizond, 25 October 1878. On other Kurdish revolts in the 1877-78 war, see F.O. 195-1237, no. 6, Trotter to Salisbury, Erzeroom, 28 November 1878.

88. F.O. 195-1237, Trotter to Layard, Erzeroum, 19 September 1879.

89. F.O. 78-3132, no. 7, Trotter to Salisbury, Diarbekir, 3 March 1879 and no. 9, 17 March 1879.

90. Consular records are full of the military moves against the Kurdish rebels. The Ottomans sent battalions of troops from all over the east to put down the 1879 revolts. Loyal Kurdish tribes were even used to fight disloyal ones. (See F.O. 195-1237, Trotter to Layard, Erzeroum, 2 October 1879.)

91. The reports of British diplomats contain numerous examples of European complaints over the imprisonment of Armenians convicted of treason, especially of convicted Armenian bishops and clergy.

92. F.O. 78-3137, Biliotti to Salisbury, Tripoli, 1 October 188t).

NOTES, pp. 183-184

10. See Justin McCarthy, Muslims and Minorities, New York, 1983, pp. 163-81.

11. Caucasian Battlefields, p. 289.

12. Ibid, p. 426.

13. Mahmut Kamil to Acting Supreme Commander, Karahisar, 22 July 1915. Belgeler III, no. 159.

14. Caucasian Battlefields, p. 438.

15. Ibid, p. 296.

16. Ibid, p. 299.

17. Third Army, "To All Units," Erzurum, 18 September 1914. Belgeler I, no. 1. "At the All-Armenian National Congress held in Tiflis in February 1915, it was revealed that the Russian government had given the Dashnaks over two hundred thousand roubles to arm the Turkish Armenians and provoke their uprising at an opportune moment" (Kazemzadeh, p. 26). Kazemzadeh states that the Russians repented their actions later, when they realized the Dashnaks had different plans for eastern Anatolia than did the Russians (pp. 26 and 27).

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