3675) Book Review: The Great War in the Middle East

Review Article: The Great War in the Middle East

by Fikriye Karaman

The First World War in the Middle East By Kristian Coates Ulrichsen
Hurst & Co, 2014, 320 p. UK

The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East By Eugene Rogan
Basic Books, 2016, 512 p. USA

A Land of Aching Hearts: The Middle East in the Great War By Leila Tarazi Fawaz
Harvard University Press, 2014, 416 p. USA

The Great War and the Middle East By Rob Johnson
Oxford University Press, 2016, 354 p. UK . . .

..In 1915, the Caucasian front also witnessed a chain of events that culminated in the deportation of all Armenians of the Armenian Apostolic Church living close to the Ottoman-Russian war zone. In mid-April the Armenians revolted at Van. Already tense due to the provocations of Russia and the Armenian Revolutionary Committees, and to some extent due to poor governance, the Anatolian Armenians’ relations with the state and Muslim communities had deteriorated under wartime strains. The divided loyalties of the Armenians had shaken many Muslims’ confidence, as thousands of them “materially assisted the Russian forces and harassed the Ottoman Third Army as it retreated from Sarikamis” (Ulrich-sen, p. 59). At the onset of the Gallipoli campaign, many Armenians openly celebrated their forthcoming delivery from Turkish rule (Rogan, p. 166). Furthermore, as Sean McMeeken (2015) notes, in April 1915, the Hunchak revolutionaries and in July Boghos Nubar Pasha, the Egyptian-born head of the Armenian National Delegation, promised an armed collaboration with tens of thousands of ..
. .

..Exploiting the uprising, the Russians occupied Van on May 19, formed an Armenian administration in the town and appointed Aram Manukian, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation leader, as governor. In the summer of 1915, Van changed hands three times before it was finally captured by Russia. The instability of the frontiers be -tween the Ottoman and Russian Empires over the course of WWI brought about confusion, opportunities, double-crossings, penalties, and suffering for the people on the ground. ..

..Confronting the prospect of the total collapse of the Caucasian front, the Ottoman government approved the Temporary Law of Deportation on May 30, 1915. In the absence of sufficient railroads, security, and medi-cal facilities and amid conditions of widespread disease, famine, extreme weather, wartime violence, lawlessness, banditry, and mob attacks, the deportation of the Armenians (to Dayr al-Zawr in Syria) led to heavy losses of life. 5 Rogan, Fawaz and Ulrichsen choose to adopt the language of ‘genocide’ ... Rob Johnson, on the other hand, contends that this would not be an accurate and fair attribution to account for the complexities of the developments on the ground in wartime...



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