Insightful newsletter of Drishtikone: Issue #138 - Detailed History of the Armenian–Azerbaijan Conflict

(Williamsburg Bridge, New York, United States \ Photo by Leonardo Burgos on Unsplash)

“I love mankind, he said, "but I find to my amazement that the more I love mankind as a whole, the less I love man in particular.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov


A war is underway as we speak. Between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Every power around the world is looking at it closely. The US, Turkey, Russia, and France are actively engaged.

But the question that many will ask while reading this newsletter in India is - Why should what happens in Armenia or Nagorno-Karabakh in particular, impact someone sitting in India?

Imagine someone asking a similar question - Why should what is happening in Turkey or Kyrgyzstan relevant to someone in India? - more than a thousand years back in say 900AD.

Or someone asking in 650 AD about what was happening in the desert sands of Arabia?

What do you think would have been the answers? A big laugh making a mockery of such an “idiot”.

However, it is also a fact that by the beginning of the 900s, the Samanid empire had reached Afghanistan and modern Peshawar. These were Hindu kingdoms until then. Samanids were Sunni Iranians who were replaced in Afghanistan by the slave dynasty started by Abu Mansur Sabuktigin, father of Mahmud of Ghazni - both of Turkish origin. Sabuktingin was born in Kyrgyzstan.

Even earlier, in 711 AD, Mohammad Bin Qasim - of the Ummayad Caliphate, the second of the Caliphates created after the death of Mohammad - attacked and defeated Raja Dahir in Sindh!

The ideological malaise that was being spread from Arabia to Turkey to Central Asia and finally to the Indian shores was the same. The Sunni aggressive religiosity.

How is it that no one in India was prepared when tyrants like Mohammad bin Qasim, Mahmud of Ghazni, and the Khiljis showed up on our borders?

Why is it that no one understood the fundamental fanaticism of that creed?

Because the person who would have even ventured to ask that initial questions would have been mocked!

What we should ask ourselves is -

If someone sitting in Arabia or Kyrgyzstan or Turkey had a plan for unleashing massacres in India, why is it that Raja Dahir or those in Afghanistan had no plan for taking on the menace in Arabia or Turkey in 650 or 800 AD?

That is why we must know about the fanaticism that is taking root thousands of miles away and make plans to counter them, for one day they may end up unleashing massacres of untold scale!


The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Turkey (the real instigator) is a story of religious and civilizational clash. It is not two ethnicities which are fighting, but two large religious groups - Muslims and Christians. The raison d'etre for this conflict which has perpetrated at least two large massacres of the Armenian Christians is religion and ideological domination and annihilation of the other - the victims being the Armenian Christians.

Armenia and Turkey - a historical context

Western Armenia is the eastern part of Turkey, which was also known as Byzantine Armenia.  It was created when the Greater Armenia was divided between the Byzantine Empire (Western Armenia) and Sassanid Persia (Eastern Armenia) in 387 AD. During the Ottoman–Safavid War between 1532-1555, this area was conquered by the Ottomans.

This region was always sandwiched between several forces - the Ottoman Empire, the Iranians, and the Russians. They, however, preferred the Russians.

(Source - Binghamton Journal of History)

It was during the Russo-Iranian Wars between 1804-1813, that Russians annexed the parts of Eastern Armenia and Turkish Armenia.

But the Armenians were subjected to their first major massacres/genocide between 1894-96. It is said that between 80,000 to 300,000 Armenians were slaughtered and 50,000 children were orphaned.

These massacres were orchestrated by Sultan Abdul Hamid II, who wanted to save the imploding Ottoman Empire by installing a fanatic Pan-Islamic ideology. The massacres he started were initially targeting Armenian ethically, who were Christians, but soon it expanded to all Christians. In the Diyarbekir massacre, 25,000 Assyrians were massacred.

That is why these have been called as the Hamidian massacres, after Sultan Abdul Hamid, the main architect of this genocide.

Armenians have comprised of Armenian Catholic, Armenian Protestant, and Armenian Apostolic. Apostolic is the main Church of most Armenians.

The Armenian genocide by the Turks between 1915-1923

On 24 April 1915, the Islamic Ottoman forces arrested and deported between 235 to 270 Armenian (Christian) intellectuals and leaders, most of whom were eventually tortured and killed.  The deportation of these Armenian leaders is referred to as the Red Sunday. They were taken from Constantinople to Angora, now Ankara.  The order for this was given by Talaat Pasha.

April24Victims.jpg

(Some of the Armenian intellectuals who were detained, deported, and killed in 1915 - Wikimedia)

The Turkish government wanted to deprive the Western Armenians of their leadership. Mass atrocities began in April 1915 throughout the territory of Ottoman Turkey.  The scale of violence was especially terrible in Constantinople from 24 to 29 April 1915.

More than 800 influential representatives of the Armenian intelligentsia - doctors, teachers, art critics, writers, and political figures - were arrested and subsequently exiled. Ottoman rulers specifically focused on the clergy.

Through this strategy, the Turkish authorities were able to almost completely destroy the intellectual and ruling elite of the Western Armenians, thus eliminating any kind of opposition in the way of implementing their barbaric plans - the genocide of the Armenian population of Ottoman Turkey. (Source - translated via Google)

In the Spring of 1915, started large scale killings of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjecting them to forced labor as army conscripts. The women, children, the elderly, and the infirm were sent on death marches to the Syrian desert.

<p>Ottoman military forces march Armenian men from Kharput to an execution site outside the city. Kharput, Ottoman Empire, March 1915-June 1915. [Courtesy of the Armenian National Institute.]</p>

Ottoman forces leading Armenian Christians to an execution site (Source)

These large groups were deprived of food and water and subjected to rape, killings, and torture.

(Extract from A shameful act: the Armenian genocide and the question of Turkish responsibility by Akçam, Taner - Pages 111-112 - Source)

After the first World War, a major attempt was made to resolve this conflict, albeit by an artificial alliance - Transcaucasian Federation.

However, the Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic or the Transcaucasian Federation was a short-lived state that included Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia including eastern parts of Turkey and some Russian regions.  It lasted for a month between April 22 and May 28, 1918.  Georgia announced freedom and then both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Between 1918 and 1920, both Armenia and Azerbaijan engaged in conflicts known as the Armenian–Azerbaijani War.  This was mainly after the Russian Revolution.

the takeover by the Soviets

In May 1920, the Soviets took over Azerbaijan, and in December 1920, they took over Armenia.

On October 13, 1921, the Treaty of Kars was signed in Kars, and it basically established the borders between Turkey and the three Transcaucasian republics of the Soviet Union - Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.

The main area of contention between Armenia and Azerbaijan was the Nagorno-Karabakh region.  This is a land-locked region without Azerbaijan.  Its history of conflict was sowed by Joseph Stalin.

Nagorno-Karabakh is a highly contested, landlocked region in the South Caucasus of the former Soviet Union. The present-day conflict has its roots in the decisions made by Joseph Stalin when he was the acting Commissar of Nationalities for the Soviet Union during the early 1920s. In April 1920, Azerbaijan was taken over by the Bolsheviks; Armenia and Georgia were taken over in 1921. To garner public support, the Bolsheviks promised Karabakh to Armenia. At the same time, in order to placate Turkey, the Soviet Union agreed to a division under which Karabakh would be under the control of Azerbaijan. With the Soviet Union firmly in control of the region, the conflict over the region died down for several decades.(Source)

Once the USSR collapsed, the Armenians within the Nagorno-Karabakh area wanted to join with Armenia. The battle over this area started, once both Armenia and Azerbaijan got freedom from the Soviet Union in 1991.

By May 1994, the Armenians were in control of 14% of the territory of Azerbaijan. At that stage, for the first time during the conflict, the Azerbaijani government recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as a third party in the war, and started direct negotiations with the Karabakh authorities. As a result, a cease-fire was reached on May 12, 1994 through Russian negotiations. Unfortunately, tensions heated up yet again in April 2016 when Azerbaijan claimed to have killed and wounded more than 100 Armenian soldiers.(Source)

That violent conflict has never really ended despite the efforts by many regimes in Russia and in the West.

Artsakh Occupation Map.png

The animosity has remained ingrained in the region ever since until now.

the current war in 2020

Now, in 2020, renewed fighting has started between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Renewed fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Sunday threatened to reignite a three-decade-old conflict over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. It was the worst outbreak of fighting in the region since 2016 when four days of clashes left 200 dead. Each side blamed each other for the crisis Sunday; both declared martial law as tensions escalated. At least one Azerbaijani helicopter was shot down Sunday. Armenia announced the full mobilization of its military as the situation threatened to spiral out of control. (Source)

This war is now bringing in several powers such as Russia, Turkey, and France, and could escalate into something really big. That is why it is imperative that we understand what is going on here.

NOTE: Also, remember - that the Armenian massacres happened around the same time that the Khilafat Movement was going on in India in support of the Ottoman Empire. A movement that was strengthened by an alliance between Khilafat leaders and the Indian National Congress! It was backed fully by Gandhi!

And that is why when in April 2020, a proposal was made to install Gandhi’s statue in Yerevan, it was strongly opposed in Armenia. Why? Because Gandhi actively rejected the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman Empire and chose to side with that empire. (Source)

Here is a great video to learn about the history of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

nota bene

Exodus from Afghanistan: Afghanistan’s dwindling community of Sikhs and Hindus is shrinking to its lowest levels. With growing threats from the local Islamic State affiliate, many are choosing to leave the country of their birth to escape the insecurity and a once-thriving community of as many as 2,50,000 members now counts fewer than 700. (Source)

Vaccinating all Indians will cost 80k crore: Days after he warned that there won’t be enough vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) for everyone in the world till the end of 2024, Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of Serum Institute of India (SII) said a vaccine for each Indian could cost whopping Rs 80 thousand crores which will be spent over the next one year on purchase and distribution. (Source)

India may surprise feels ex-Chinese general: China should stay alert as India can launch a surprise attack, said a retired Chinese general. In an article published on Li Jian, a defense-related social media account, Wang Hongguang issued the warning saying the danger of conflict has increased and with “incidents” in the Taiwan Strait and the upcoming US presidential election might present India with an opportunity to “do something big”. “India only needs 50,000 soldiers at the Line of Actual Control, but now, instead of withdrawing troops before the winter comes, India has added 100,000 more soldiers in Ladakh,” SCMP quoted Wang as saying. (Source)

Planting ideas during Dreams: Scientists have figured out how to plant ideas into other people's dreams. Researchers at MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces have been testing a new technique called targeted dream incubation (TDI), which allows them to insert certain topics into someone's dreams. Past studies have shown that when sleepers enter a rare dream state known as lucid dreaming, they gain awareness that they're dreaming and can thus have some control over what happens in their mind. TDI achieves a similar result by targeting people during hypnagogia, a semi-lucid dream state that occurs as someone is falling asleep. (Source)

Jail in Thailand for Negative TripAdvisor review: An American has been sued by an island resort in Thailand over a negative TripAdvisor review and could face up to two years in prison if found guilty. Domestic tourism is still happening in Thailand, where coronavirus numbers are relatively low, with locals and ex-pats heading to near-empty resorts -- including Koh Chang island, famed for its sandy beaches and turquoise waters. But a recent visit to the Sea View Resort on the island landed Wesley Barnes in trouble after he wrote unflattering online reviews about his holiday. (Source)

the collapse of the American Empire

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and best-selling author, Chris Hedges, to discuss how in his current book, America: The Farewell Tour, Hedges takes a close look at the array of pathologies that have arisen out of a profound malaise of hopelessness as the society disintegrates due to the "slow-moving [corporate] Coup d'état" instituted by the ruling classes in the '70s in reaction to the activist movements and reforms of the '60s. And how this disintegration has resulted in an epidemic of diseases, despair, and a civil society that has ceased to function.

Chris lays out an interesting tale of what is going wrong in the US. Worth a listen!

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