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Jihad, Genocide, and Flawed Peace from Ottoman Empire to Turkish Republic

Muslims did not attempt to build a mosque near the remains of the Twin Towers in New York, because they wanted to demonstrate genuine good will to non-Muslims and certainly not to offer any apology or genuine regret for the 911 atrocity. Such motivation would have been a violation of the teaching of the Koran and Muhammad, which does not permit genuine friendship with non-Muslims. This is commanded in 13 separate passages of the Koran. Muslim relationships or alliances with non-Muslim persons, peoples, or nations are expedient, temporary, and revocable, depending on whether it advances the cause Allah and Islam. The doctrine of Taqiyya may be used to justify any deception or lie to non-Muslims to advance Islam. Islamic ethics are completely dualistic. The treatment of human beings is dependent on whether they are a Muslim or a non-Muslim. As Muhammad put it in Bukhari Hadith 1,2,12: “A Muslim is a brother to another Muslim.…”

In 1876, under pressure from European powers, the Ottoman Empire became a nominal constitutional republic, but the constitution lasted only two years. By 1889, there was widespread resentment of the despotism of Sultan Abdul Hamid as well as dissatisfaction with social, economic, and administrative policies. This resulted in a conspiratorial organization called the Committee for Union and Progress (CUP) that first grew in the universities. They were calling for social and political reform and nationalism. They also had the sympathy of many Turkish Army officers, who were concerned about the continuing loss of Ottoman territory to revolutions and Austrian annexations in the Balkans and colonial expansions by Britain and France in the Middle East and North Africa. In 1908, the 3rd Army in Salonika (Thessalonika, now in Greek Macedonia) backed a coup to remove Abdul Hamid as the Ottoman Sultan/Caliph. Since he could not depend upon Army support, Abdul Hamid was forced to resign and was replaced by Mehmed V. The 1876 Constitution was restored, and a unicameral legislature was elected. The Turkish Army officers involved became known as the “Young Turks.” One of the officers who played a role was Mustafa Kemal (later Mustafa Kemal Ataturk).

Almost everybody was hopeful and enthusiastic about the prospect of new democratic changes, including the various Christian minorities, the universities, and the Army. Hopes for truly democratic government, however, turned out much like the recent “Arab Spring” of 2011 in Egypt. Hope quickly vanished with reality. There would be no Constitutional rights for non-Muslims. Moreover in 1912, the Italians easily defeated Ottoman forces and occupied Libya.

In 1913, there was another Army coup, after which the Ottoman government was essentially run by three cabinet ministers: Talaat Pasha, Cernal Pasha, and Enver Pasha. Pasha is not a surname; it is a title of high military or government rank. The nationalism of the Young Turks turned out to include plans for making Turkey a nation for Muslim Turks only, including ethnic cleansing of Christians, the largest groups being the Armenian Orthodox and the Greek Orthodox but also Assyrian Christians, Maronite Catholics, Roman Catholics, and Protestant missionaries within the Ottoman Empire.

The Young Turks planned to begin their genocide campaign with the Armenian Christians who were mostly located in northeastern Turkey. According to George Horton, who was the U.S. Consul General in Smyrna in 1922 and had served 30 years in consulate duties in the Middle East, genocide and ethnic cleansing had considerable past precedents in Turkey. Between the extermination of 50,000 Greek Christians on the Island of Chios in the Aegean Sea just off the west coast of Turkey in 1824 and the massacre of 30,000 Armenian Christians in the Province of Adana in 1909, the Turks exterminated over 358,000 Christians in 17 major slaughters from 1824 to 1909.

The first step of the Young Turk Administration’s genocide plan was to disarm the Armenians and other Christians in eastern Turkey. They first called for people to turn in their weapons at provincial police stations. The non-Muslim Dhimmi class had never been allowed to own or carry weapons in the first place. They could be killed for any offense or attitude. Sharia Law has no rule or penalty against a Muslim killing a non-believer or a Muslim raping or assaulting a non-Muslim. The rule in Islam is to love your Muslim brothers and hate your enemies, just as Allah hates them. Descriptions of widespread rape and robbery seem always to accompany the killing.

At the beginning of World War I in 1914, Sultan and Caliph Mehmed V declared Jihad against Great Britain, France, Italy, and Russia. The Ottoman Turks sided with the Germans in the hopes of getting back some of the territories they had lost. One of the Turkish officers who distinguished himself at Gallipoli in 1915 was Mustafa Kemal. Kemal’s dogged resistance held off a massive British offensive on the Dardanelles, the narrow straight that connects the Mediterranean, Aegean, and Marmara seas and divides Europe and Turkey. This straight also connects to the Black Sea via the Bosphorus. The British suffered heavy casualties in a nine-month campaign before having to withdraw, when Bulgaria entered the war on the side of the Germans and Ottoman Turks.

British, ANZAC, and other Commonwealth casualties totaled 131,000 dead and 262,000 wounded. Turkish and Arab casualties totaled 87,000 dead and 251,000 wounded. First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, had advocated the Gallipoli strategy, saying that the Allied powers needed to try something better than “chewing barbed-wire in France” to win the war, Following failure of the Gallipoli campaign, Churchill was forced to resign from the Cabinet and took charge of an Army battalion.

Both the Gallipoli campaign and the Ottoman extermination of 1.5 million Armenian Christians in eastern Turkey began in May 1915. The Armenian genocide lasted through 1916.

Although the Turks were victorious at Gallipoli, the heavy casualties, strain on resources, and distraction from other fronts may have fatally weakened them and the cause of the Central Powers. Gallipoli made Mustafa Kemal the most respected leader in Turkey. In less than a decade, he would become the first President of the new Turkish Republic. Churchill would rebound from his “disgrace” at Gallipoli to become Britain’s Prime Minister in May 1940 and one of the most respected and admired statesmen of the 20th Century.

Realizing that the war was lost, Ottoman Grand Vizier Talaat Pasha and his cabinet resigned on October 13. 1918. A new Grand Vizier was appointed to negotiate peace terms with the British, and the Treaty of Mudros was signed on October 30, with a cease-fire beginning the next day.

Negotiations soon began to determine the fate of Turkey’s territories on the Anatolian Peninsula, with the British, French, Italians, and Americans dividing up the territorial spoils. Greed and distrust among the Allied Powers would have unfortunate consequences. To be continued.

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