BY DR. HENRY ASTARJIAN
For centuries this has been the Turkish modus operandi. Since the middle ages when the central Asian invasion of their west began, a variety of Turkmens, Tatars, Mongols, Khazars, Seljuks, Kara Qoyunlu, Aq Qoyunlu, and the other lesser tribes have passed their techniques of conquering and governing to their inheritors, the Ottomans. Ya Vur Kurtul, Ya Ver Kurtul—either hit and be free, or pay and be free.
Throughout history, Turks have hit first without even asking questions later or talking, thus compounding the problem that prompted them to go to war in the first place. Turkish calculation indeed. They hit Armenians in genocide, thinking they would erase a whole nation from the face of the earth. Instead, they transformed a provincial nation into an urbanized, industrialized modern society akin to that of the West. They created a giant called the Armenian Diaspora with its highly educated and sophisticated communities which, like a pimple in their butt, hurts when they sit down and hurts when they stand up; it will never go away, until they pay. In this case the payment is not miniscule like opening the borders or exchanging ambassadors; it is colossal and requires them to make great concessions—land concessions—which is the ignorant Turk’s cancer and the fanatic Turkish government’s nightmare. They are cognizant of the fallacy of the Kars Treaty of 1921, and are scared of the legitimacy of the Sevres Treaty
of 1920, and the Wilsonian designs for Western Armenia. They know the payment is with that currency, not in peanuts.
I heard Suleyman Demirel, then the president of Turkey, on TRT ( Turkyenin Sesi Radiosu) radio begging the journalists “Allah Ashkina [for the love of God] do not raise the ‘Question of the minorities’ because it revitalizes the Sevres Treaty.” His concern, rather fear, is justified: That treaty deals with Armenian and Kurdish national rights and self rule, and shatters the state of Turkey into pieces.
I have seen posters and banners raised with the slogan “Sevres Olum, Lozan Hayat” (Sevres is Death, Lausanne is Life) alluding to the Lausanne Treaty, which Lord Curzon coined with Ismet Inonu, Kemal Ataturk’s deputy, replacing the Sevres Treaty. These are real issues! If they are not on the table now, they certainly will be in the not-so-distant future because it forms the nidus of the political game played in the political arena today. Sooner or later the cat will get out of the bag. Then the real struggle will begin, overtly.
Armenians are not Turkey’s only nemesis. There are 20 some million Kurds who inhabit southeastern Turkey who were so oppressed by the Turks, and the Turkish government, that they had no choice but to bear arms. History repeated itself: What the Turks did to the Kurds is almost a carbon copy of what the Turks and the Kurds had done to the Armenians. Ankara formed the Korujus (the Village Guards, the Kurdish version of the Hamidiya Alaylari who slaughtered us), paid them, and let them loose. My interlocutors of the Kurdish Parliament in Exile-Brussels, told me that the Korujus were formed of the same tribes that had formed the Hamidiya Alaylari. “Though they are Kurds, they are our enemies too,” they said.
They hit the Kurdish population so hard that the Kurds had no choice but to resist, then counterpunch. They might have learned from our fedayis. The circumstances led to forming the Kurdish Labor Party, the Party Karkarani Kurdustan (PKK), which launched guerilla warfare against the government of Turkey in 1984. Some 35,000 people have died, so far, and the armed skirmishes, though on a smaller scale, continue to date.
The government of Turkey has failed to tame the millions of Kurds who live partly on our land in Western Armenia, and partly on their own territory known as Northern Kurdistan (Iraqi Kurdistan being the southern part).
It is clear that the Turkish government’s classical, inherited Vur Kurtul (hit and be free) policy with the Kurds has failed, and now they are embarking on the Ver kurtul (pay and be free) path. To pursue the latter, Erdogan’s government has espoused a love fest with the Kurds, and will do whatever possible to bring the Kurdish bride into Turkey’s tent—a rather dishonest proposition.
Kurds and Turks do not mix. They have been at each other’s throat for centuries. The historic tripartite ethnic groups—the native Armenians, the native Kurds, and the invading Central Asian tribes—have always formed bilateral alliances with each other and against the third group. The most famous Armeno-Kurdish alliance was forged in 1845 by Prince Baderkhan who believed that the Armenians and the Kurds belonged to the same tribe, except one faction converted to Islam. He assembled a 40,000-men army of Armenians and Kurds, and fought a war against the Ottomans. The right wing of the front was led by the prince’s brother. They inflicted huge losses to the Turks who couldn’t kurtul by force, so they employed the Ver Kurtul option by bribing the prince’s brother. With the fall of the right wing of the advance, the entire expedition collapsed.
The complexity of the situation is obvious. If you don’t participate in the game, you stand no chance of winning. Are we capable of playing the game? Will we form alliances?
If there is Kurdish-Turkish rapprochement, then say goodbey to Western Armenia. More on this later.