The Latest Jihad Against Armenia
It has been one week since fighting brokeup between Christian Armenia and the predominantly Islamic Azerbaijan — 85% of Muslims in the country are Shi’ites and 15% Sunnis — both were under Soviet rule until the break up of the U.S.S.R. in 1991.
The origins of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict can be traced back to the Kremlin’s decision to include the Armenian-majority region within Soviet Azerbaijan. When Moscow relaxed restrictions on popular mobilization in the late 1980s, ethnic Armenians began demanding Nagorno-Karabakh’s transfer to Armenia. Moscow refused, and when the Soviet Union collapsed a few years later, a full-scale war broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, leaving around 30,000 dead and over one million displaced.
Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence in 1991, although it and seven surrounding districts in the terrain remained under Armenian control — the Azeri government claims that the land as it’s own.
While events in Nagorno-Karabakh have largely been ignored by the West since then, what is taking place in the former Soviet terrain is a continuation of an 1,100-year jihad by the Muslim Turks to exterminate Armenians — the majority of them being Christian.
History of Jihad against Armenians
The extermination of one and half million Armenian (and Georgian) Christians by the Ottoman Turks during World War I was the completion of a jihad that began in 1071, when the Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantines at the Battle of Manzikert. Having overrun the Armenian provinces of the then-Byzantine Empire, they imposed sharia-based norms upon the Christians, since they collectively refused to convert to Islam.
The Armenian genocide, driven by the sharia-based tenets of Islam, sought to re-establish Turkish dominance after the Russians pulled out of Armenian-occupied lands during the late 19th century. As the power of the Turks continued to decline, Sasun Armenians — those from the Aghdznik province of Greater Armenia (present-day Turkey) — in 1904 fought against increasing violence and oppression against them. The growing anxiety of the Turkish elite propelled a search for internal adversaries as the explanation for the continuing Ottoman decline.
Early plans for eventually eliminating the Armenian population emerged during this period. This course of action was continued by the Young Turks — a political reform movement in the early 20th century that favored the replacement of the Ottoman Empire’s absolute monarchy with a constitutional government — whose planning on this matter resulted in the genocidal policy that was comprehensively perpetrated against the Armenians and other Christian populations.
In 1894, the Ottoman Sultan (Caliph) Abdul Hamid II (1876–1909), in an effort to secure and perpetuate Turkish rule in the remaining territories of the empire, recommenced a program of ethnic-religious cleansing by slaughtering vast numbers of Armenians.
The deliberate and systematic annihilation, dislocation and confiscation of the property of millions of Armenians by the Muslim Turks was officially called for when Sultan Mehmed V (in office from 1909-1918) proclaimed a jihad at the outbreak of World War I. Since the Ottomans needed total and uncontested support of its Muslim population to win the war against the great powers, religious fanaticism was instigated in order to achieve this goal.
Denial of Armenian Extermination
There have been thus far a total of only thirty countries, including the United States that have thus far recognized the Armenian genocide as an historical fact — in 2019, a resolution acknowledging the genocide passed in the House of Representatives by a 405-11 vote; the Senate passed it unanimously. The Turkish government, however, continues to deny it.
In June Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan convened a five-hour closed-door session of his High Advisory Board to discuss efforts to crackdown on activists and advocacy organizations engaged in securing the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Armenian National Committee of America Communications Director Elizabeth Chouldjian said:
Erdoğan’s denial and obstruction of justice of Turkey’s crimes are nothing else but a campaign against Armenia’s fight to exist as a sovereign and independent nation.
Present-Day Jihad against Armenians
Michael Taarnby, a researcher and consultant on terrorism, pointed out that Muslim jihadists have been trying to take the Nagorno-Karabakh territory since the 1990s. “The area, according to Taarnby, “is ripe with jihadi literature, speeches and online propaganda material with references to battlefields where the Mujahideen (holy warriors) and jihadist allies” proving the aforementioned.
Thomas de Waal, author of Black Garden. Armenia and Azerbaijan through Peace and War, tells us that Azerbaijan recruited anywhere between 1,500 to 2,500 Afghan Mujahideen. While the Azeri government denied their presence, sightings of out-of-place bearded and long-haired tribesmen, some of whom wore traditional Afghan robes, was so frequent that their existence could not be denied.
In 1994, Armenia filed a complaint to the United Nations Rapporteur of the use of mercenaries in the conflict. It was not so much that there were nationals of the Common Wealth of Indpendent States — a regional intergovernmental organization of nine members from the Soviet Union — like the Russians and Ukrainians fighting with the Azeri forces, in as much as there were mercenaries from Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey recruited by Azerbaijan.
Documents, however, of captured or killed Mujahideen during the fighting in south-western Azerbaijan provide sufficient evidence that Afghan “holy warriors” had indeed been hired and were directly involved in frontline activity.
Adding to the present-day conflict is the revelation that Turkey is redeploying its battle-hardened Muslim rebel proxies from Syria to fight on the side of the Azeris. These mercenaries were in Syria to topple Syria’s Bashar al-Assad but are now in Azerbaijan to carry out their jihad against Armenia.
On Thursday French President Emmanuel Macron affirmed that there are Syrian jihadist fighters operating in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region:
“We have information that indicates with certainty that Syrian fighters from jihadist groups have transited through Gaziantep to reach the theatre of operations in Nagorno-Karabakh. This is a very serious new fact, which changes the situation,” Macron said as he arrived for a summit with other EU leaders in Brussels.”
The Russian Interfax News Agency on Monday quoted the Armenian Ambassador to Russia, Vardan Toghanyan, as saying that “Turkey has relocated some 4,000 militants from northern districts of Syria to Azerbaijan,” to help Turkish and Azeri troops fighting Armenian forces in the Karabakh region.
Notwithstanding Turkey’s denial, to say nothing of certain nations that are trying to intermediate for a ceasefire, the want-to-be caliph Erdoğan called for a universal jihad against Armenia:
“While I call on the Armenian people to take hold of their future against their leadership that is dragging them to catastrophe and those using it like puppets, we also call on the entire world to stand with Azerbaijan in their battle against invasion and cruelty.”
Despite Kemal Mustafa Atatürk elimination of the caliphate in 1924, Erdoğan is subtly reinstituting that long-discredited regime. This can be seen in recent actions, such as his decision to turn both Hagia Sophia Basilica and the Chora Church, both in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) into mosques.
There are no limits to Erdoğan’s cruelty. In the early morning hours of March 21, 2014, al-Qaeda linked Islamic jihadists crossed into Syrian territory from the Turkish border and launched a jihad on the Christian/Armenian town of Kessab. Among other things, “Snipers targeted the civilian population and launched mortar attacks on the town and the surrounding villages.” Reportedly eighty people were killed.
Eyewitnesses said the jihadists crossed the Turkish border into Syria, “openly passing through Turkish military barracks. According to Turkish media reports, the attackers carried their injured back to Turkey for treatment in the town of Yayladagi.”
About 2,000 Armenians were evacuated to safer areas in neighboring Basit and Latakia. Several of these families are currently living inside the churches of these towns.
In October 2019, for example, it was reported that the Turks used chemical weapons against the Kurdish fighers who led the fight against ISIS; he also ordered the massacre of Kurdish civilian populations.
Given the past history of Armenian persecution under the Muslim Turks, it is imperative the world acts now to stop another potential genocide of the Armenians and any innocent people who seek to live in peace.
Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He has a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; he also holds a M. A. in Medieval History from Fordham University, as well as a B.A. in Government & Politics from St. John’s University. He is also author of Islam: Religion of Peace? – The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.