TBR News April 18, 2015

Apr 18 2015

The Voice of the White House

        Washington, D.C. April 17, 2015:”Massive, and growing, global overpopulation coupled with increasingly limited natural resources, like water, is producing massive die-offs among the Third World peoples. Drowning refugees in the Med, starvation and AIDS in Africa, the strong probability that some disease like smallpox will start up and decimate crowded cities and the rising sea levels throughout the world are the ingredients for major disasters.”


Thousands dead, few prosecuted


Among the thousands of fatal shootings at the hands of police since 2005, only 54 officers have been charged, a Post analysis found. Most were cleared or acquitted in the cases that have been resolved.

April 11, 2015

by Kimberly Kindy, Kimbriell Kelly

Washington Post

          On a rainy night five years ago, Officer Coleman “Duke” Brackney set off in pursuit of a suspected drunk driver, chasing his black Mazda Miata down rural Arkansas roads at speeds of nearly 100 miles per hour. When the sports car finally came to rest in a ditch, Brackney opened fire at the rear window and repeatedly struck the driver, 41-year-old James Ahern, in the back. The gunshots killed Ahern.

Prosecutors charged Brackney with felony manslaughter. But he eventually entered a plea to a lesser charge and could ultimately be left with no criminal record.

Now, he serves as the police chief in a small community 20 miles from the scene of the shooting.

Brackney is among 54 officers charged over the past decade for fatally shooting someone while on duty, according to an analysis by The Washington Post and researchers at Bowling Green State University. This analysis, based on a wide range of public records and interviews with law enforcement, judicial and other legal experts, sought to identify for the first time every officer who faced charges­ for such shootings since 2005. These represent a small fraction of the thousands of fatal police shootings that have occurred across the country in that time.

In an overwhelming majority of the cases where an officer was charged, the person killed was unarmed. But it usually took more than that.

When prosecutors pressed charges, The Post analysis found, there were typically other factors that made the case exceptional, including: a victim shot in the back, a video recording of the incident, incriminating testimony from other officers or allegations of a coverup.

Forty-three cases involved at least one of these four factors. Nineteen cases involved at least two.

In the most recent incident, officials in North Charleston, S.C., filed a murder charge Tuesday against a white police officer, Michael T. Slager, for gunning down an apparently unarmed black man. A video recording showed Slager repeatedly shooting the man in the back as he was running away.

“To charge an officer in a fatal shooting, it takes something so egregious, so over the top that it cannot be explained in any rational way,” said Philip M. Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green who studies arrests of police. “It also has to be a case that prosecutors are willing to hang their reputation on.”

But even in these most extreme instances, the majority of the officers whose cases have been resolved have not been convicted, The Post analysis found.

And when they are convicted or plead guilty, they’ve tended to get little time behind bars, on average four years and sometimes only weeks. Jurors are very reluctant to punish police officers, tending to view them as guardians of order, according to prosecutors and defense lawyers.

The definition of “officers” used in the analysis extends beyond local police to all government law enforcement personnel who are armed, including sheriff’s deputies and corrections officers. The analysis included some shootings that officers described as accidental.

There is no accurate tally of all the cases­ of police shootings across the country, even deadly ones. The FBI maintains a national database of fatal shootings by officers but does not require police departments to keep it updated.Over the past year, a series of controversial police killings of unarmed victims — including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Eric Garner on Staten Island — has raised questions over what it takes for officers to face criminal ­charges. Often, the public is divided over whether the police went too far. Only in rare cases­ do prosecutors and grand juries decide that the killing cannot be justified.

Such cases include a Michigan state trooper who shot and killed an unarmed homeless man in Detroit as he was shuffling toward him, the man’s pants down past his knees. The incident was captured on video, and the officer, who said he thought the man had a gun, was charged with second-degree murder. A jury accepted the officer’s account and found him not guilty. He remains on the job.

They also include a police officer in Darlington County, S.C., who was charged with murder after he chased an unarmed man wanted for stealing a gas grill and three U-Haul trailers into the woods, shooting him in the back four times. A jury, believing that he feared for his life, found him not guilty.

Two Atlanta plainclothes officers opened fire and killed a 92-year-old woman during a mistaken drug raid on her home. As they pried the bars off her front door, she fired a single warning shot with an old revolver. The police responded by smashing the door down and shooting at her 39 times. One of the officers tried to disguise their error by planting bags of marijuana in her basement. The two officers pleaded guilty and received unusually stiff sentences of six and 10 years in a federal prison.

A rap musician, Killer Mike, wrote a song to memorialize the death of this African American grandmother at the hands of white officers, comparing her killing to “the dream of King when the sniper took his life.”

After the death of Michael Brown last summer, concerns about racism in policing have exploded in public debate, in particular whether white officers use excessive force when dealing with minorities and whether the criminal justice system protects the victims’ rights.

Among the officers charged since 2005 for fatal shootings, more than three-quarters were white. Two-thirds of their victims were minorities, all but two of them black.

Nearly all other cases­ involved black officers who killed black victims. In one other instance, a Latino officer fatally shot a white person and in another an Asian officer killed a black person. There were a total of 49 victims.

Identifying the exact role of race in fatal shootings and prosecutions is difficult. Often, prosecutors pursued charges against a backdrop of protests accusing police of racism. Race was also a factor in court when federal prosecutors stepped in and filed charges­ against officers for allegedly violating the victims’ civil rights. Six officers, all white, faced federal civil rights charges for killing blacks.

In interviews with more than 20 prosecutors across the country, they said that race did not factor into their decisions to bring charges against officers. The prosecutors said they pursued cases­ based on the legal merits.

But defense lawyer Doug Friesen, who represented a white officer convicted in 2013 for fatally shooting an unarmed black man, said that “it would be naive” for prosecutors to say race isn’t a consideration.

“Anytime you have politicians that have to make charging decisions, realistically that is part of their decision-making process,” Friesen said. “They are asking themselves, ‘Is there going to be rioting out in the streets?’ ”

Both Officer Coleman “Duke” Brackney and his victim James Ahern, shot dead in his Miata, were white.

Brackney, 32, recalled in an interview that he believed Ahern was about to back his car up andrun over him. The engine was racing and the backup lights flashed, Brackney said.

A video, captured by a camera mounted on his cruiser’s dashboard, indicated that the sports car was not not moving when the officer opened fire. The existence of that video was the key reason why prosecutors decided to bring charges, they said.

“In my mind, it was the third time he tried to run me over,” Brackney said in an interview with The Post. “His right hand came up in this sweeping motion, and I thought he was going for a gun. I don’t know what a jury would have believed — and that’s the problem. There was this risk, so entering a plea, I viewed it as a business decision.”

After pleading to a reduced charge of negligent homicide, a misdemeanor, Brackney served 30 days in jail as part of a plea agreement. The judge deferred the conviction, and if Brackney fulfills the terms of his probation, the case will be dismissed.

“No one wants to take a life, but at the end of the day, I realize that I’m the one who got to go home,” he said, adding, “I wouldn’t change what I did.”

He was fired by the Bella Vista Police Department, where he worked at the time, but was given another chance by the city of Sulphur Springs, Ark. Two years ago, city officials hired him to run the police department, where he manages a force of four officerswho spend much of their time patrolling quiet streets and arresting small-time drug dealers.

Most of the time, prosecutors don’t press charges against police — even if there are strong suspicions that an officer has committed a criminal. Prosecutors interviewed for this report say it takes compelling proof that at the time of the shooting the victim posed no threat either to the officer or to bystanders.

Jay Hodge, a former South Carolina prosecutor, said the question boils down to this: Can the evidence disprove the officer’s story that he was defending himself or protecting the public. Hodge recounted one case he had prosecuted in which a sheriff’s deputy said he had opened fire on an unarmed suspect who grabbed for his gun. The autopsy report, Hodge said, told a different story.

“You don’t shoot someone in the back four times and then claim self-defense,” he said. “They can’t be going for a gun if they are running away.”

In half the criminal cases­ identified by The Post and researchers at Bowling Green, prosecutors cited forensics and autopsy reports that showed this very thing: unarmed suspects who had been shot in the back.

Not that long ago, police had wide latitude to shoot fleeing felons. But a 1985 Supreme Court decision changed that. In Tennessee v. Garner, the justices ruled that it was not justifiable for officers to shoot simply to prevent a suspect’s escape. The suspect had to pose a significant threat of death or serious harm to either law enforcement or innocent bystanders for the shooting to be legally justified.

Court decision changed that. In Tennessee v. Garner, the justices ruled that it was not justifiable for officers to shoot simply to prevent a suspect’s escape. The suspect had to pose a significant threat of death or serious harm to either law enforcement or innocent bystanders for the shooting to be legally justified.

In a third of the cases­ where officers faced charges, prosecutors introduced videos into evidence, saying they showed the slain suspects had posed no threat at the moment they were killed. The videos were often shot from cameras mounted on the dashboards of patrol cars, standard equipment for most police departments.

In nearly a quarter of the cases, an officer’s colleagues turned on him, giving statements or testifying that the officer opened fire even though the suspect posed no danger at the time.

Such testimony carries almost unequalled weight with judges and juries because police officers are considered highly credible eyewitnesses as well as experts in the proper use of force, according to prosecutors and defense attorneys. Moreover, because officers so rarely cross the “thin blue line” to testify against a colleague, their evidence can be especially powerful.

And in 10 cases, or about a fifth of the time, prosecutors alleged that officers either planted or destroyed evidence in an attempt to exonerate themselves — a strong indication, prosecutors said, that the officers themselves recognized the shooting was unjustified.

It was late one South Carolina evening 10 years ago, when Darlington County Sheriff’s Deputy Tim Robertson finally caught up with William Sheffield, a 45-year-old white man wanted for stealing a gas grill and three hauling trailers. Under the dim porch light of a mobile home, Robertson, who is white, urged the man to surrender, forcing him to spread his hands against the cab of his GMC pickup truck.

But as Robertson prepared to put the handcuffs on, the suspect lunged to the right, turned and then tried to grab the deputy’s gun, Robertson recounted in an interview with The Post. Robertson, who said he feared for his life, fired two shots. Sheffield broke away and ran for the woods. Robertson gave chase, opening fire again. According to prosecutors, the deputy gunned down the unarmed suspect in the back.

“There was no threat because there was no one around who could get hurt. There was a trail of shell casings that showed the deputy chased him and shot at him as he ran away,” said J.R. Joyner, the lead prosecutor in the case. “One shot was point-blank — an execution shot.”

Joyner said the forensics evidence was “the strongest of any case in my career.”

Prosecutors successfully indicted Robertson on a murder charge, citing the law that bars an officer from shooting a fleeing suspect in the back.

“There was no threat because there was no one around who could get hurt. There was a trail of shell casings that showed the deputy chased him and shot at him as he ran away,” said J.R. Joyner, the lead prosecutor in the case. “One shot was point-blank — an execution shot.”

Joyner said the forensics evidence was “the strongest of any case in my career.”

Prosecutors successfully indicted Robertson on a murder charge, citing the law that bars an officer from shooting a fleeing suspect in the back.

But at trial, jurors would go on to acquit Robertson, believing his account that he was forced to fire the final, fatal shots because the suspect turned back during the chase, attacked him and grabbed for his gun a second time. Robertson would keep his job at the sheriff’s department and be put in charge of training deputies in firearms and use of force.

n Cleveland, Officer Michael Brelo, who is white, was indicted for killing a pair of black suspects after a grand jury reviewed a wide range of evidence, including nearly two dozen video recordings from dashboard cameras, traffic cameras and surveillance cameras mounted at businesses and a school.

The deadly encounter began when the pair, Timothy Russell, 43, and Malissa Williams, 30, drove past the Cleveland police headquarters on a November night in 2012 and their Chevy Malibu fatefully backfired. Officers mistook the sound for gunfire and went in pursuit. Soon, 62 police vehicles were chasing the Chevy through city streets at speeds of up to 110 mph.

The cameras captured the furious pursuit with officers’ Dodge Chargers rocketing past repeated red lights and weaving through traffic at breakneck speed, tires squealing as panicked drivers peeled onto the shoulders.

The suspects, later found to be under the influence of drugs, came to a stop in a middle school parking lot. Eleven officers got out of their cars and formed a semicircle around the Chevy, court records show. Although two police radio broadcasts had reported that the pair was unarmed, according to transmissions compiled by state investigators, the officers opened fire, shooting 139 times.

Brelo himself fired 34 shots at the car and then climbed onto the hood of the Chevy and fired 15 more times “at close range” through the windshield, state investigation records show.

In a statement to investigators with the Ohio attorney general’s office, Brelo did not deny firing the shots but said he believed gunfire was coming from inside the vehicle. “I’ve never been so afraid in my life,” he said. “I thought my partner and I would be shot and that we were going to be killed.”

A grand jury indicted Brelo on two counts of voluntary manslaughter, saying he acted in a “fit of rage” and “under the influence of sudden passion.”

A lawyer for Brelo, whose trial began Monday, declined to comment.

Stinson, the Bowling Green criminologist, said it is often the case that questionable police shootings are an act of passion. Sometimes, he said, the encounters start with something as simple as a traffic stop and escalate when someone fails to obey the officer’s directions.

“They are used to giving commands and people obeying,” said Stinson, who previously worked as a police officer. “They don’t like it when people don’t listen to them, and things can quickly become violent when people don’t follow their orders.”

Levi Randolph, a black police officer in Gary, Ind., fatally shot a black 16-year-old robbery suspect in the back of the neck after the fleeing teen climbed a fence to escape, court records show.

Prosecutors charged Randolph with reckless homicide.

But when the case went to trial, his attorney told jurors that Randolph had felt threatened by the 6-foot, 200-pound teenager, Vince Smith Jr. Twice during the chase, Randolph said in a deposition, Smith turned around to confront him, both times reaching into the front pocket of his black hooded sweatshirt. He said he thought the teen was going for a gun.

Although Smith turned out to be unarmed, it took jurors only two hours of deliberation to acquit Randolph. Randolph could not be reached for comment.

“Jurors tend to be sympathetic toward police officers,” said Randolph’s attorney, Scott King. “For every movie like ‘Training Day,’ there are 10 movies where cops are underpaid, hard-working, struggling against insurmountable odds and on the side of good.”

The outcome of Randolph’s case is more the rule than the exception and demonstrates the daunting task facing prosecutors in those rare instances when they do charge officers in connection with fatal shootings.

Of the 54 officers who were charged for fatally shooting someone while on duty over the past decade, 35 have had their cases resolved. Of those, a majority — 21 officers — were acquitted or saw their charges dropped.

Jurors usually see the officer as “the good party in the fight,” said David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor and expert in police use of force. “To get them to buy into a story where the officer is the bad guy goes fundamentally against everything they believe.”

Most jurors, experts say, view officers as those who enforce laws, not break them. And unlike civilians, police officers are allowed, even expected, to use force.

“It’s a question of whether it was too much force,” Harris said. “It’s a very flexible standard that has to be interpreted in every case. All this makes it very difficult to convict an officer.”

Most laws that apply to on-duty shootings require jurors to essentially render a verdict on theofficer’s state of mind: Was the officer truly afraid for his life or the lives of others when he fired his weapon? Would a reasonable officer have been afraid?

          That’s what Clay Rogers says he was asked to do when he served as a juror for the 2009 trial of a Hartford, Conn., narcotics officer charged with fatally shooting a fleeing black suspect.

“It’s difficult to prove an officer is not justified beyond a reasonable doubt, because you almost have to get inside their head to know what he was thinking and feeling,” Rogers said in an interview with The Post.

          The officer, Robert Lawlor, who is white, had fired five shots at a car as it sped away. Two bullets struck a passenger, 18-year-old Jashon Bryant, in the back of the head, killing him.

The officer, Robert Lawlor, who is white, had fired five shots at a car as it sped away. Two bullets struck a passenger, 18-year-old Jashon Bryant, in the back of the head, killing him.

The officer testified before a grand jury that he had initially approached the car, a black Nissan Maxima, because it matched the description of a vehicle used in a homicide. He said he opened fire at the car because he believed that Bryant had a gun and that the vehicle was barreling toward another officer.

Although no weapon was found, Rogers said he and his fellow jurors had to take seriously the officer’s claim that he believed his life and that of his partner were in jeopardy.

Rogers said the jury was also influenced by the tough questions directed at the car’s driver on the witness stand. The officer’s attorney grilled the driver about his criminal past, bringing up the cocaine found in the car and marijuana he had in his jacket on the day of the incident.

“The way the defense made it look was there were these two gangsters out there, riding around, and selling crack,” Rogers recounted. “You had an officer using deadly force, but he was up against dangerous drug dealers. It worked.”

The jury acquitted Lawlor.

His attorney, Michael Georgetti, said in an interview that he worked to build what he sees as a natural alliance between jurors and officers to win the case. “You don’t get people on a jury with a criminal record,” Georgetti said. “If a police officer says stop, they stop. They don’t put their car in drive and speed away.”

As hard as it is for prosecutors to win a conviction or an admission of guilt, it’s even harder to persuade a judge or jury to give an officer significant prison time.

For the nine officers convicted in state prosecutions, sentences ranged from six months to seven years, The Post analysis shows. One of the other cases, the shooting death of the 92-year-old woman in Atlanta, was taken up by federal prosecutors, who added civil rights violations to manslaughter charges and won stiffer sentences, ultimately sending the two convicted officers to prison for six and 10 years.

Six of the officers who faced state prosecutions were convicted after going to trial. On average, they got 31/2 years.

But prosecutors were eager at times to dispense with cases without a trial by negotiating a plea agreement. Winning a conviction against an officer is tough. And the cases can come with bruising headlines and strained relations with the very police department that prosecutors rely on daily to help build other criminal ­cases.

In at least six cases, lawyers for the officers were able to get the charges reduced, resulting in lighter sentences. These cases included convictions as well as instances in which judges deferred convictions and put officers on probation for their actions. These officers on average did about 21/2 years behind bars.

Antonio Taharka, a former police officer in Savannah, Ga., fatally shot a probation violator as he scrambled over a fence, trying to escape arrest. He ended up spending three months in a county jail.

The grand jury that indicted Taharka on voluntary manslaughter charges, which can bring up to 20 years in prison, said the officer had killed the suspect “while acting solely as the result of a sudden, violent and irresistible passion.”

But members of the local African American community rallied around Taharka, recalled former prosecutor David Lock, who had presented the case to the grand jury. “He was an African American officer and was beloved,” Lock said. “There was more of an outcry about why he was being charged versus why not.” At the same time, Lock said, there was little public sympathy for the 41-year-old victim, Anthony Smashum, a black man who had a long rap sheet, including convictions for rape and assault.

Lock said he believes these factors delayed the prosecution and ultimately contributed to lessening the charge against Taharka.

Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap, who replaced Lock in the elected post, downgraded the charges from voluntary manslaughter, agreeing that Taharka could plead guilty instead to the less-serious charge of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of 10 years. Heap said in an interview that the lesser charge was a better fit for the facts of the case. But she said her office made no promises about a reduced sentence, leaving that up to the judge.

At sentencing in 2009, Superior Court Judge John E. Morse Jr. said he had to strike “the most delicate balance.” In assessing the fatal incident, he said, “All I can glean from what I have read and heard up to this particular point is that it was not malicious and ill-wanton.” He told Taharka moments later, “What you have to deal with from a day-to-day basis as an officer of the law, no one can stand in your shoes other than you.”

Morse ordered Taharka to spend three months in jail and nine months confined to his home except when he was working. If he follows the terms of his probation of nine years, his record will be wiped clean.

Messages left for Taharka’s lawyers were not returned, nor were a series of e-mails requesting comment. Taharka resigned from the police department about a year after the 2007 shooting.

Georgia Ferrell’s daughter is a police officer. Her son was shot dead by one.

“My daughter loves being a police officer, but she knows that the uniform doesn’t make you a good person,” she said.

Officer Randall Kerrick of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police department is scheduled to face trial this summer on charges of voluntary manslaughter arising from a fatal encounter with Ferrell’s son in September 2013.

It was well after midnight when Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M football defensive back, crashed his Toyota Camry, rolling it into a ditch, according to the police report. Dazed, he kicked out the rear window, crawled from the vehicle and made his way to a nearby house to seek helps.

But when he started banging on the door, the woman who lived there panicked and called 911. The officers who responded to the call told investigators that they believed that Ferrell was a threat, records show. When Ferrell, who was black, did not follow their orders to get on the ground, Kerrick, who is white, shot him 10 times, police officials said.

After Police Chief Rodney Monroe saw the 15-second dashcam video of the incident, he arrested Kerrick within the day,day, saying the officer “did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter.”

Kerrick’s attorney Michael Green said the video tells a different story. “Officer Kerrick did his job that night. Although the shooting was a tragedy, it was justified,” Green said. “On the video, you hear the officer telling him multiple times to get down on the ground . . . and at trial, I think you’ll find folks who say [Ferrell] wasn’t necessarily looking for help that evening.”

Georgia Ferrell worries that jurors will believe that account. As someone who has personal reasons to hold most police in high regard, she recognizes how difficult it is to convict and punish an officer.

“Society has put it into our heads that the officer is always right,” she said. “That has to change.”

          Alice Crites and Steven Rich contributed to this report.



2044 or Bust: Military Missions Reach Record Levels After U.S. Inks Deal to Remain in Africa for Decades

by Nick Turse


For three days, wearing a kaleidoscope of camouflage patterns, they huddled together on a military base in Florida. They came from U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and U.S. Army Special Operations Command, from France and Norway, from Denmark, Germany, and Canada: 13 nations in all. They came to plan a years-long “Special Operations-centric” military campaign supported by conventional forces, a multinational undertaking that — if carried out — might cost hundreds of millions, maybe billions, of dollars and who knows how many lives.

Ask the men involved and they’ll talk about being mindful of “sensitivities” and “cultural differences,” about the importance of “collaboration and coordination,” about the value of a variety of viewpoints, about “perspectives” and “partnerships.”  Nonetheless, behind closed doors and unbeknownst to most of the people in their own countries, let alone the countries fixed in their sights, a coterie of Western special ops planners were sketching out a possible multinational military future for a troubled region of Africa.

From January 13th to 15th, representatives from the U.S. and 12 partner nations gathered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa for an exercise dubbed Silent Quest 15-1. The fictional scenario on which they were to play out their war game had a ripped-from-the-headlines quality to it.  It was an amalgam of two perfectly real and ongoing foreign policy and counterterrorism disasters of the post-9/11 era: the growth of Boko Haram in Nigeria and the emergence of the Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL.  The war game centered on the imagined rise of a group dubbed the “Islamic State of Africa” and the spread of its proto-caliphate over parts of Nigeria, Niger, and Cameroon — countries terrorized by the real Boko Haram, which did recently pledge its allegiance to the Islamic State.

Silent Quest 15-1 was just the latest in a series of similarly named exercises — the first took place in March 2013 — designed to help plot out the special ops interventions of the next decade.  This war game was no paintball-style walk in the woods.  There were no mock firefights, no dress rehearsals.  It wasn’t the flag football equivalent of battle.  Instead, it was a tabletop exercise building on something all too real: the ever-expanding panoply of U.S. and allied military activities across ever-larger parts of Africa.  Speaking of that continent, Matt Pascual, a participant in Silent Quest and the Africa desk officer for SOCOM’s Euro-Africa Support Group, noted that the U.S. and its allies were already dealing with “myriad issues” in the region and, perhaps most importantly, that many of the participating countries “are already there.”  The country “already there” the most is, of course, Pascual’s own: the United States.

In recent years, the U.S. has been involved in a variety of multinational interventions in Africa, including one in Libya that involved both a secret war and a conventional campaign of missiles and air strikes, assistance to French forces in the Central African Republic and Mali, and the training and funding of African proxies to do battle against militant groups like Boko Haram as well as Somalia’s al-Shabab and Mali’s Ansar al-Dine.  In 2014, the U.S. carried out 674 military activities across Africa, nearly two missions per day, an almost 300% jump in the number of annual operations, exercises, and military-to-military training activities since U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) was established in 2008.

Despite this massive increase in missions and a similar swelling of bases, personnel, and funding, the picture painted last month before the Senate Armed Services Committee by AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez was startlingly bleak.  For all the American efforts across Africa, Rodriguez offered a vision of a continent in crisis, imperiled from East to West by militant groups that have developed, grown in strength, or increased their deadly reach in the face of U.S. counterterrorism efforts. 

“Transregional terrorists and criminal networks continue to adapt and expand aggressively,” Rodriguez told committee members. “Al-Shabab has broadened its operations to conduct, or attempt to conduct, asymmetric attacks against Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and especially Kenya.  Libya-based threats are growing rapidly, including an expanding ISIL presence… Boko Haram threatens the ability of the Nigerian government to provide security and basic services in large portions of the northeast.”  Despite the grim outcomes since the American military began “pivoting” to Africa after 9/11, the U.S. recently signed an agreement designed to keep its troops based on the continent until almost midcentury.

Mission Creep  

For years, the U.S. military has publicly insisted that its efforts in Africa are negligible, intentionally leaving the American people, not to mention most Africans, in the dark about the true size, scale, and scope of its operations there.   AFRICOM public affairs personnel and commanders have repeatedly claimed no more than a “light footprint” on the continent.  They shrink from talk of camps and outposts, claiming to have just one base anywhere in Africa: Camp Lemonnier in the tiny nation of Djibouti.  They don’t like to talk about military operations.  They offer detailed information about only a tiny fraction of their training exercises.  They refuse to disclose the locations where personnel have been stationed or even counts of the countries involved.

During an interview, an AFRICOM spokesman once expressed his worry to me that even tabulating how many deployments the command has in Africa would offer a “skewed image” of U.S. efforts.  Behind closed doors, however, AFRICOM’s officers speak quite a different language.  They have repeatedly asserted that the continent is an American “battlefield” and that — make no bones about it — they are already embroiled in an actual “war.”

According to recently released figures from U.S. Africa Command, the scope of that “war” grew dramatically in 2014.  In its “posture statement,” AFRICOM reports that it conducted 68 operations last year, up from 55 the year before.  These included operations Juniper Micron and Echo Casemate, missions focused on aiding French and African interventions in Mali and the Central African Republic; Observant Compass, an effort to degrade or destroy what’s left of Joseph Kony’s murderous Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa; and United Assistance, the deployment of military personnel to combat the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

The number of major joint field exercises U.S. personnel engaged in with African military partners inched up from 10 in 2013 to 11 last year. These included African Lion in Morocco, Western Accord in Senegal, Central Accord in Cameroon, and Southern Accord in Malawi, all of which had a field training component and served as capstone events for the prior year’s military-to-military instruction missions.

AFRICOM also conducted maritime security exercises including Obangame Express in the Gulf of Guinea, Saharan Express in the waters off Senegal, and three weeks of maritime security training scenarios as part of Phoenix Express 2014, with sailors from numerous countries including Algeria, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey.

The number of security cooperation activities skyrocketed from 481 in 2013 to 595 last year.  Such efforts included military training under a “state partnership program” that teams African military forces with U.S. National Guard units and the State Department-funded Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance, or ACOTA, program through which U.S. military advisers and mentors provide equipment and instruction to African troops.

In 2013, the combined total of all U.S. activities on the continent reached 546, an average of more than one mission per day.  Last year, that number leapt to 674.  In other words, U.S. troops were carrying out almost two operations, exercises, or activities — from drone strikes to counterinsurgency instruction, intelligence gathering to marksmanship training — somewhere in Africa every day.  This represents an enormous increase from the 172 “missions, activities, programs, and exercises” that AFRICOM inherited from other geographic commands when it began operations in 2008.

Transnational Terror Groups: Something From Nothing

In 2000, a report prepared under the auspices of the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute examined the “African security environment.”  While it touched on “internal separatist or rebel movements” in “weak states,” as well as non-state actors like militias and “warlord armies,” there was conspicuously no mention of Islamic extremism or major transnational terrorist threats.  Prior to 2001, in fact, the United States did not recognize any terrorist organizations in sub-Saharan Africa and a senior Pentagon official noted that the most feared Islamic militants on the continent had “not engaged in acts of terrorism outside Somalia.”

In the wake of 9/11, even before AFRICOM was created, the U.S. began ramping up operations across the continent in an effort to bolster the counterterror capabilities of allies and insulate Africa from transnational terror groups, namely globe-trotting Islamic extremists.  The continent, in other words, was seen as something of a clean slate for experiments in terror prevention. 

Billions of dollars have been pumped into Africa to build bases, arm allies, gather intelligence, fight proxy wars, assassinate militants, and conduct perhaps thousands of military missions — and none of it has had its intended effect.  Last year, for example, Somali militants “either planned or executed increasingly complex and lethal attacks in Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, and Ethiopia,” according to AFRICOM.  Earlier this month, those same al-Shabab militants upped the ante by slaughtering 142 students at a college in Kenya.

And al-Shabab’s deadly growth and spread has hardly been the exception to the rule in Africa. In recent testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, AFRICOM commander Rodriguez rattled off the names of numerous Islamic terror groups that have sprung up in the intervening years, destabilizing the very countries the U.S. had sought to strengthen.  While the posture statement he presented put the best gloss possible on Washington’s military efforts in Africa, even a cursory reading of it — and under the circumstances, it’s worth quoting at length — paints a bleak picture of what that “pivot” to Africa has actually meant on the ground. Sections pulled from various parts of the document speak volumes:

“The network of al-Qaeda and its affiliates and adherents continues to exploit Africa’s under-governed regions and porous borders to train and conduct attacks. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is expanding its presence in North Africa. Terrorists with allegiances to multiple groups are expanding their collaboration in recruitment, financing, training, and operations, both within Africa and trans-regionally. Violent extremist organizations are utilizing increasingly sophisticated improvised explosive devices, and casualties from these weapons in Africa increased by approximately 40 percent in 2014…

“In North and West Africa, Libyan and Nigerian insecurity increasingly threaten U.S. interests. In spite of multinational security efforts, terrorist and criminal networks are gaining strength and interoperability. Al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, Ansar al-Sharia, al-Murabitun, Boko Haram, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and other violent extremist organizations are exploiting weak governance, corrupt leadership, and porous borders across the Sahel and Maghreb to train and move fighters and distribute resources…

“Libya-based threats to U.S. interests are growing… Libyan governance, security, and economic stability deteriorated significantly in the past year… Today, armed groups control large areas of territory in Libya and operate with impunity. Libya appears to be emerging as a safe haven where terrorists, including al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant-affiliated groups, can train and rebuild with impunity. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is increasingly active in Libya, including in Derna, Benghazi, Tripoli, and Sebha…

“The spillover effects of instability in Libya and northern Mali increase risks to U.S. interests in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, including the success of Tunisia’s democratic transition…

“The security situation in Nigeria also declined in the past year. Boko Haram threatens the functioning of a government that is challenged to maintain its people’s trust and to provide security and other basic services… Boko Haram has launched attacks across Nigeria’s borders into Cameroon, Chad, and Niger…

“…both the Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of the Congo are at risk of further destabilization by insurgent groups, and simmering ethnic tensions in the Great Lakes region have the potential to boil over violently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

All this, mind you, is AFRICOM’s own assessment of the situation on the continent on which it has focused its efforts for the better part of a decade as U.S. missions there soared.  In this context, it’s worth reemphasizing that, before the U.S. ramped up those efforts, Africa was — by Washington’s own estimation — relatively free of transnational Islamic terror groups.

Tipping the Scales in Africa

Despite Boko Haram’s pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State and scare headlines lamenting their merger or conflating those or other brutal terror outfits operating under similar monikers, there is currently no real Islamic State of Africa.  But the war game carried out at MacDill Air Force Base in January against that fictional group is far from fantasy, representing as it does the next logical step in a series of operations that have been gaining steam since AFRICOM’s birth. And buried in the command’s 2015 Posture Statement is actual news that signals a continuation of this trajectory into the 2040s.

In May 2014, the U.S. reached an agreement — it’s called an “implementing arrangement” — with the government of Djibouti “that secures [its] presence” in that country “through 2044.”  In addition, AFRICOM officers are now talking about the possibility of building a string of surveillance outposts along the northern tier of the continent.  And don’t forget how, over the past few years, U.S. staging areas, mini-bases, and airfields have popped up in the contiguous nations of Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and —  skipping Chad (where AFRICOM recently built temporary facilities for a special ops exercise) — the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia.  All of this suggests that the U.S. military is digging in for the long haul in Africa.

Silent Quest 15-1 was designed as a model to demonstrate just how Washington will conduct “Special Operations-centric” coalition warfare in Africa.  It was, in fact, designed to align, wrote Gunnery Sergeant Reina Barnett in SOCOM’s trade publication Tip of the Spear, with the “2020 planning guidance of Army Maj. Gen. James Linder, commander of Special Operations Command Africa.” And the agreement with Djibouti demonstrates that the U.S. military is now beginning to plan for almost a quarter-century beyond that.  But, if the last six years — marked by a 300% increase in U.S. missions as well as the spread of terror groups and terrorism in Africa — are any indicator, the results are likely to be anything but pleasing to Washington.

AFRICOM commander David Rodriguez continues to put the best face on U.S. efforts in Africa, citing “progress in several areas through close cooperation with our allies and partners.”  His command’s assessment of the situation, however, is remarkably bleak.  “Where our national interests compel us to tip the scales and enhance collective security gains, we may have to do more — either by enabling our allies and partners, or acting unilaterally,” reads the posture statement Rodriguez delivered to that Senate committee.

After more than a decade of increasing efforts, however, there’s little evidence that AFRICOM has the slightest idea how to tip the scales in its own favor in Africa.

          Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch.com and a fellow at the Nation Institute.



From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2015, Issue No. 27

April 14, 2015



The government will no longer refuse to confirm or deny that persons who are prevented from boarding commercial aircraft have been placed on the “No Fly List,” and such persons will have new opportunities to challenge the denial of boarding, the Department of Justice announced yesterday in a court filing.

Until now, the Government refused to acknowledge whether or not an individual traveler had been placed on the No Fly List and, if so, what the basis for such a designation was. That is no longer the case, the new court filing said:

“Under the previous redress procedures, individuals who had submitted inquiries to DHS TRIP [the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program] generally received a letter responding to their inquiry that neither confirmed nor denied their No Fly status.”

“Under the newly revised procedures, a U.S. person who purchases a ticket, is denied boarding at the airport, subsequently applies for redress through DHS TRIP about the denial of boarding, and is on the No Fly List after a redress review, will now receive a letter providing his or her status on the No Fly List and the option to receive and/or submit additional information.”

If the individual traveler chooses to pursue the matter, DHS “will provide a second, more detailed response. This second letter will identify the specific criterion under which the individual has been placed on the No Fly List and will include an unclassified summary of information supporting the individual’s No Fly List status, to the extent feasible, consistent with the national security and law enforcement interests at stake.”

The new redress procedures were developed in response to legal challenges to the No Fly List procedures, which argued that the procedures were constitutionally deficient or otherwise improper. The notice of the new procedures was filed yesterday in the pending lawsuit Gulet Mohamed v. Eric H. Holder, Jr., which is one of the ongoing lawsuits over the No Fly List.

“A number of travelers who dispute any connection to terrorism have alleged that they have been denied boarding on commercial aircraft,” a recent Congressional Research Service report noted. “A denial of entry can occur, for example, when a person’s name and/or date of birth correspond or are similar to the identity of someone in the government’s watchlist database.”

          The CRS report, which predates the newly announced procedures, reviewed many of the legal issues involved. See The No Fly List: Procedural Due Process and Hurdles to Litigation, April 2, 2015.


Russian naval ship evacuates over 300 people stranded in Yemen

April 13, 2015


          The Russian Navy vessel Priazovye has helped to evacuate 308 people from war-torn Yemen. The Russian Defense Ministry stated citizens from 19 countries had been rescued, including Russian, Ukrainian, US and Yemini nationals.

The Russian warship departed the southern Yemeni port of Aden on Sunday night and is due to arrive in Djibouti, on the east coast of Africa on Monday morning.

“Among those evacuated from the zone of hostilities in the Aden area, were citizens of 19 countries, including 45 Russian nationals,” Igor Konashenkov, a Defense Ministry spokesman said on Sunday.

There were also a number of foreign citizens aboard the Priazovye, including 18 Americans, 14 Ukrainians, nine Belorusians, five UK citizens, as well as 159 Yemeni nationals.

The Russian warship had been based in the Gulf of Aden to help carry out anti-piracy missions, before it was sent towards Yemen to aid the evacuation. It follows weeks of Saudi-led airstrikes against Houthi anti-government rebels.

This is not the first Russian-led evacuation in Yemen. Earlier in April, Moscow organized flights and ship to help evacuate its own citizens, as well as a number of foreigners, from the conflict area. So far, Russian aircraft have made five rescue missions into Yemen to airlift people caught in the war-zone to safety.

At least eight other countries, including China, India and Pakistan, have also been actively working on evacuating people from Yemen, both by sea and by air.

Meanwhile, the US has been criticized for failing to evacuate its own citizens from Yemen, where up to 4,000 American nationals are believed to be stranded.

US citizens currently in Yemen have lashed out against Washington for failing to act. “Nobody will help us evacuate. The reply [of the US government] was an automated message that they do not have any evacuation plans. Basically we are left on our own,” Arwa Al-Iraine, a US citizen trapped in Yemen told RT.

Three Arab and Muslim human rights groups filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration, which includes dozens of cases of American citizens who have been unable to leave Yemen.

Towards the end of March, Saudi Arabia, along with several other Arab states, including Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, launched airstrikes targeting Shia Houthi rebels, who had seized the Yemeni capital and large areas in the west of the country.

The Saudi-led coalition has taken over Yemen’s airfields and seaports, and bombed the Houthi stronghold of Saada in the north, the capital Sanaa and the port city of Aden in the south.

According to some of the latest reports, up to 1,042 people have died in the fighting, the International Federation of the Red Cross reported on Thursday.


Trapped in Yemen, Americans File Lawsuit Against US Government

April 10,2015

by Murtaza Hussain

The Intercept

          Khalid Awnallah, a Yemeni-American, is safe today in Michigan, but his wife and four children are among the thousands of American citizens believed stranded in the midst of an escalating civil war in Yemen.

“They are in a bad situation there, they are hearing bombs all the time and are scared to go out,” said Awnallah, whose family is in the Rada’a district of southern Yemen, a site of frequent battles between Houthi rebels and members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Despite the ongoing danger to their lives, Awnallah says that his family has received no assistance from the U.S. government. “[My family] has tried to get in touch, but no one is helping them,” he said. “They are asking me all the time if they are going to die here.”

On April 9, the Council on American-Islamic Relations filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government on behalf of Awnallah’s family and dozens of other Yemeni-Americans trapped in the country. Citing Executive Order 12656, which obligates “protection or evacuation of U.S. Citizens and nationals abroad” in times of danger, the lawsuit further alleges that the U.S. government’s refusal so far to conduct evacuation operations in Yemen represents the continuation of longstanding policies that effectively deny full citizenship rights to Yemeni-Americans.

“The U.S. has conducted dozens of evacuations of its citizens over the past decades from situations even more precarious than this,” said Gadeir Abbas, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the suit. “Many countries with far less capabilities have evacuated their citizens. The fact that Yemeni-Americans are being left without help leaves the impression that they’re viewed as expendable, second-class citizens.”

While countries such as China, Russia, India, Pakistan and even Somalia have all conducted operations to rescue their citizens still in Yemen, the United States has so far declined to launch similar efforts on behalf of Americans in the country. On April 3, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf announced that despite the deteriorating security situation in the country, there was “no plan” to develop efforts to evacuate American citizens there.

Given the lack of government action, the 55,000 Americans believed to be in Yemen have been left to make their own plans to flee the country. One 26-year-old Yemeni-American man from San Francisco had to engineer his own escape by driving across the country, passing through dangerous checkpoints, and even experiencing temporary kidnapping, before escaping on a small rented fishing boat out to the Red Sea.

Less fortunate was Jamal al-Labani, a 45-year-old father of one from California, who last week became the first American citizen known to die in the conflict when he was killed by a mortar strike in the southern city of Aden.

Lena Masri, another lawyer representing American citizens and their families trapped in the conflict, told The Intercept that threats to Americans have increased, with U.S. citizens specifically being threatened with violence by extremist groups. “The father of one my clients last week went into hiding after receiving a death threat from a member of ISIS,” he said. “They told him that they knew he was an American, and that they were going to kill him.”

For many Yemeni-Americans, their predicament is compounded by what they allege to be systematic denial of their citizenship and consular rights by the U.S. government. “A lot of Yemeni-Americans have been stranded like this since before the conflict even started; the U.S. embassy often declines to renew their passports or simply confiscates them when brought for renewal,” Masri said. “Many Yemeni-Americans have been subjected to extrajudicial exile. They’re not treated as full citizens.”

A 2010 State Department Office of the Inspector General report stated that “a large number of Yemeni-Americans reflect local standards of illiteracy and lack of education,” while characterizing Yemeni-Americans as having a tenuous or incomplete connection with the United States, despite their citizenship there. It has long been alleged that Americans living in Yemen are at risk of having their citizenship documents confiscated by American officials while seeking consular services, so much so that in 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union released a pamphlet advising Yemeni-Americans to be cautious when attempting to obtain such services while abroad.

Contacted by The Intercept for comment about the lawsuit, the State Department stated that it was not their policy to comment on pending litigation. Advisory messages posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a have suggested American citizens could seek help from the Indian government, while also stating that they “have no contact information for [Indian] vessels” and “cannot guarantee all citizens [can] be accommodated.”

The conflict in Yemen recently escalated when a regional coalition of countries, including several U.S. allies, began conducting military operations against Houthi rebels in the country. The U.S. military is reported to be offering intelligence and logistical support to these forces. Three U.S. Navy ships are also believed to be stationed near the southern port of Aden as part of these operations, but they have not been offered for evacuation assistance.

In response to questions in an April 6 press briefing about the ongoing decision to deny evacuation services to Yemeni-Americans trapped in the conflict, Harf said: “It’s not that we can’t. There’s always a decision — different factors are weighed. … If we have any changes to whether or not we’ll evacuate people, we will certainly let folks know.”

That same day, the State Department posted a notice that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) was planning a flight to evacuate U.S. citizens from Yemen, though it’s unclear if any flight actually departed. “The Department of State cannot guarantee that all U.S. citizens seeking to depart via an IOM flight can be accommodated,” the notice read.


Putin Lifts Ban on Russian Missile Sales to Iran

April 13, 2015

by Neil MacFarquahar  

Mew York Times

           MOSCOW — President Vladimir V. Putin on Monday approved the delivery of a sophisticated air defense missile system to Iran, potentially complicating negotiations on Tehran’s nuclear program and further straining ties with Washington.

The sale could also undermine the Obama administration’s efforts to sell Congress and foreign allies on the nuclear deal, which Iran and the United States are still struggling to complete. It might also reduce the United States’ leverage in the talks by making it much harder for the United States or Israel to mount airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure if the country ignored such an agreement.

“It is significant as it complicates the calculus for planning any military option involving airstrikes,” said David A. Deptula, a retired three-star general who served as the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

           President Vladimir V. Putin is cultivating ties with countries hostile to the United States. Credit Pool photo by Mikhail Klimentyev No timetable was announced for delivering the weapons, S-300 surface-to-air missiles. The sale was suspended five years ago amid a flurry of United Nations sanctions against the Islamic republic.

Sergey V. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, said that far from complicating the continuing negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program the missile sales would help them along.

“It was done in the spirit of good will in order to encourage progress in the talks,” Mr. Lavrov said in a televised statement. “We believe that the need for this kind of embargo, indeed a separate, voluntary Russian embargo, has completely disappeared.”

The missile deal does not pose a threat to Israel, Mr. Lavrov said, emphasizing that the S-300 is a defensive weapon.

The five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany have been negotiating with Iran for years to try to make sure that its nuclear program remains peaceful.

          The broad framework of a deal reached in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 2 was preliminary, with several difficult issues still to be resolved by a June 30 deadline, including the pace at which sanctions should be lifted. The last thing proponents of the deal want to see is a rush to shower benefits on Iran before the final agreement is reached.

Along with congressional Republicans, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been sharply critical of the nuclear deal, saying that although it would free Iran from debilitating economic sanctions, it would do nothing to stop the country from getting a nuclear weapon.

On Monday, his intelligence minister, Yuval Steinitz, issued a statement saying the deal showed that “the economic momentum in Iran that will come in the wake of lifting the sanctions will be exploited for armaments and not used for the welfare of the Iranian people.”

  Iran, he added, “is being allowed to arm itself with advanced weapons that will only increase its aggression.”

White House officials repeated the administration’s objections to the missile sale, noting that Secretary of State John Kerry had expressed those concerns recently to Mr. Lavrov.

“I’m not in a position to speculate on the decision-making process that Russia is engaged in right now,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary. “But I do think it’s safe to say that Russia understands that the United States certainly takes very seriously the safety and security of our allies in the region.”

Mr. Earnest also said the administration was concerned about the possibility that Russia could enter into a deal with Iran to barter food for oil that could raise “potential sanctions concerns.”

“We’ll obviously evaluate these two proposals moving forward,” Mr. Earnest said. “We’ve been in direct touch with Russia to make sure that they understand — and they do — the potential concerns we have.”

Mr. Lavrov, alluding to recent airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and others against Iranian allies in Yemen, suggested that Iran needed a more robust air defense system. “For Iran, which is located in the volatile Middle East region, a modern air defense system is very important, especially now that tensions have run high in the surrounding environment,” he said.

Mr. Lavrov also noted that Moscow could use the money. The Russian economy, battered by a steep drop in the price of oil and by Western sanctions imposed over Moscow’s actions on behalf of separatists in Ukraine, is expected to fall into a recession this year.

Russia has been aggressively seeking new trade partners to prove that Western sanctions have not isolated it from the global economy. Although the full details have not been disclosed, the Russian news media reported that Moscow had negotiated an oil-for-goods exchange with Iran that would involve acquiring some 500,000 barrels of Iranian oil a day in exchange for Russian equipment and goods. Iran has long been one of the main buyers of Russian wheat, for example.

          Since resuming the presidency in 2012, Mr. Putin has worked to restore some of the great-power status Russia lost with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, not least by cultivating relations with countries hostile to the United States, like Venezuela and, to some extent, China. Cultivating Iran fits into that pattern.

For Russia, “it is always good to have some third world countries hostile to the West, hostile to America,” said Georgy I. Mirsky of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, who is one of Russia’s leading Middle East analysts.

Even if an eventual nuclear agreement drives some degree of reconciliation between the West and Iran, the early lifting of the missile deal signals that “Russia will always be a really loyal partner and, if not an ally, at least a friend of Iran,” he said.

Not surprisingly, Iran praised the move as an important step toward improved relations.

“If Russia fulfills its commitment to deliver the S-300 missile system to Iran, it will be a step towards boosting the relations and collaborations between the two countries,” Iran’s deputy defense minister, Reza Talaei-Nik, told the semiofficial Tasnim News Agency on Monday. “It will be a step forward.”

There was some debate as to just how much the missiles would improve Iran’s military capabilities.

The five S-300 squadrons cannot shield all of Iran’s nuclear facilities, said Simon Saradzhyan, an expert on arms control and Russia at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, while noting that Russia just sold China the more sophisticated S-400 system. The official Tass news agency reported that in February Moscow offered Tehran an air defense system more modern than the S-300, but that no decision had been made.

Still, military experts said the highly capable S-300 system would make it much harder for the United States or Israel to stage airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Although Iran denies that it is using its civilian nuclear program to mask efforts to build a bomb, many Western countries are dubious. And Israel has made no secret of its willingness to consider a military strike to halt Iran’s progress, though it is not known to possess bunker-buster bombs powerful enough to destroy all of Iran’s bomb-making capacity.

More than missile systems, what Iran really needs is to escape the principal financial and economic sanctions, the ones that cut off substantial trade and access to much of the world’s banking system, Mr. Saradzhyan said.

Reporting was contributed by Andrew Roth from Moscow, Jodi Rudoren from Jerusalem, Thomas Erdbrink from Tehran, and Michael R. Gordon and Michael D. Shear from Washington.


‘Submarine’ in Sweden was only civilian boat

April 13 2015


          A suspected submarine spotted in the Stockholm archipelago a week after Sweden’s extensive hunt for Russian underwater vessels last autumn was only a civilian boat, Sweden’s Armed Forces have now said. But they remain convinced that the first sighting was a small foreign sub.

On October 31st 2014, retired naval officer Sven Olof Kviman snapped a picture of what looked like a 20-30 metre long, black submarine in waters just outside Lidingö in Stockholm. The incident has remained unconfirmed, but has been classed by the military as a “potential” submarine.

But Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad has now told Swedish newspapers that the Armed Forces reported to the Swedish government last Wednesday that the suspected underwater vessel was in fact only a civilian “working boat”.

“The analysis has shown that the photograph taken in Stockholm’s inner archipelago was of a smaller boat,” Grenstad told Dagens Nyheter on Monday.

According to Grenstad, the picture instead showed the boat “Time Bandit”, a 10.5 metre long, white plastic boat. But the boatman using the vessel on October 31st claimed the Swedish military had not been in contact with him.

“The navy hasn’t spoken to me. My boat is visible in the picture – but not where the Armed Forces say it is, but further away,” he told Dagens Nyheter.

And Kviman, who participated in Sweden’s Cold War submarine hunts in the 1980s and 90s, remains convinced of what he saw.

“It is completely impossible that we have got this wrong, it would mean both my wife and I were colour blind. ‘Time Bandit’, at a length of 10 metres, is of a completely different size to the submarine. I saw the submarine above water: the bow, stern and tower. It is always difficult to determine the size, but it was around 20-30 metres long,” he told Dagens Nyheter.

Between October 17th and 24th, Sweden launched an extensive naval search operation after a suspected foreign mini-sub – widely thought to be Russian – in the Stockholm archipelago. Grenstad confirmed that the Armed Forces’ view is still that this incursion took place, although the military has never confirmed that the vessel came from Russia.

“The assessment that Swedish territory was violated in October 2014, remains in full,” he told Dagens Nyheter.

The Swedish Armed Forces said in a statement on their website late on Sunday that an inquiry into the October 17th-24th submarine incursion is ongoing and is expected to be completed later this spring.


Oil-rich nations are dumping US assets at a record pace

April 14, 2015

by Javier Blas


          In the heady days of the commodity boom, oil-rich nations accumulated billions of dollars in reserves they invested in U.S. debt and other securities. They also occasionally bought trophy assets, such as Manhattan skyscrapers, luxury homes in London or Paris Saint-Germain Football Club.

Now that oil prices have dropped by half to $50 a barrel, Saudi Arabia and other commodity-rich nations are fast drawing down those “petrodollar” reserves. Some nations, such as Angola, are burning through their savings at a record pace, removing a source of liquidity from global markets.

If oil and other commodity prices remain depressed, the trend will cut demand for everything from European government debt to U.S. real estate as producing nations seek to fill holes in their domestic budgets.

“This is the first time in 20 years that OPEC nations will be sucking liquidity out of the market rather than adding to it through investments,” said David Spegel, head of emerging markets sovereign credit research at BNP Paribas SA in London.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, is the prime example of the swiftness and magnitude of the selloff: its foreign exchange reserves fell by $20.2 billion in February, the biggest monthly drop in at least 15 years, according to data from the

Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency. That’s almost double the drop after the financial crisis in early 2009, when oil prices plunged and Riyadh consumed $11.6 billion of its reserves in a single month.

The International Monetary Fund commodity index, a broad basket of natural resources from iron ore and oil to bananas and copper, fell in January to its lowest since mid-2009. Although the index has recovered a little since then, it still is down more than 40 percent from a record high set in early 2011.

Oil futures in New York traded at $52.78 a barrel today, 49 percent lower than a year ago.

Reserves Drop

A concomitant drop in foreign reserves, revealed in data from national central banks and the IMF, is affecting nations from oil producer Oman to copper-rich Chile and cotton-growing Burkina Faso. Reserves are dropping faster than during the last commodity price plunge in 2008 and 2009.

In Angola, reserves dropped last year by $5.5 billion, the biggest annual decline since records started 20 years ago. For Nigeria, foreign reserves fell in February by $2.9 billion, the biggest monthly drop since comparable data started in 2010.

Algeria, one of the world’s top natural gas exporters, saw its funds fall by $11.6 billion in January, the largest monthly drop in a quarter of century. At that rate, it will empty the reserves in 15 months.

Sales Decline

Excluding Iran, whose sales are subject to some sanctions, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are expected to earn $380 billion selling their oil this year, according to U.S. estimates. That represents a $350 billion drop from 2014 — the largest one-year decline in history.

“The shock for oil-rich countries is enormous,” Rabah Arezki, head of the commodities research team at the IMF in Washington, said in an interview.

Oil-rich countries will sell more than $200 billion of assets this year to bridge the gap left between high fiscal spending and low revenues, Spegel said.

The drawdown reverses a decade-long inflow into the coffers of commodity-rich nations which helped to increase funds available for investment and boost asset prices. Bond purchases have helped to keep interest rates low.

Oil producers recycled a large portion of their petrodollars — a term coined for the dollar-denominated oil trade — by buying sovereign debt of the U.S. and other countries. As they draw down reserves, Middle East countries are likely to sell “low-yielding European assets,” George Saravelos, strategist at Deutsche Bank AG, said in a note to clients.

Potential Effects

The potential impact of the selloff has divided analysts and officials.

One argument is that petrodollars and other commodity- linked foreign reserves are not a large enough force in an ocean of investments from pension funds, asset managers, insurers and individuals to make a real impact in asset prices and overall liquidity. Plus, bond purchases by central banks involved in so- called quantitative easing mitigates the impact of sales.

The other school of thought, broadly backed by the IMF, says that petrodollars matter because they’re significant enough to turn market sentiment as flows switch direction.

Market Sentiment

The change in commodity-related foreign reserve flows will have “an impact around the margins” in global markets, said Albert Edwards, global strategist at Societe Generale SA.

The disagreement is partly due to a lack of transparency. Tracking the change in commodity-driven savings is difficult because not all countries release timely data and some don’t disclose the size of their sovereign wealth funds.

Nonetheless, available data shows foreign savings by commodity-rich nations are dropping across the board. In Chile, the world’s top copper exporter, foreign savings fell $1.9 billion in February, the biggest drop in three years.

Analysts and officials anticipate that commodity-rich countries will continue selling off foreign assets through the year.

The IMF’s Arezki said that unless they cut spending, resources-rich nations “have no choice but to draw on their financial assets when available” as oil prices are well below the fiscal break-even needed by many exporting nations. The IMF estimates that many oil countries would only balance their budgets if crude prices recover to $75 or higher.

Saudi Arabia’s finance minister said in February that the world’s largest oil exporter had enough reserves to to last for “quite some time.”

“We have learned from the past,” Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al- Assaf told CNBC. “The oil market, everybody knows, goes through ups and downs and peaks and valleys.”




Lawmakers Press Top Officers for Arctic Plans

March 20, 2015

by Joe Gould


           WASHINGTON — For weeks on Capitol Hill, lawmakers have been peppering Pentagon officials about their plans in the Arctic. Russia, it seems, is winning in the Arctic while the US military hasn’t even got its snow boots on.

Lawmakers in most instances referenced the testimony of Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who with Defense Secretary Ash Carter, acknowledged the region as strategically important. Russia had just decided to reactivate six brigades, four of them in the Arctic, Dempsey said in response to questions from Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska.

It was a factoid that appeared long after Dempsey’s mention of it at that March 3 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, bolstered by an Associated Press report March 12 that the Russian military had launched sweeping military maneuvers in the Arctic and other areas, a show of force ordered by President Vladimir Putin amid spiraling tensions with the West over Ukraine. The five-day Arctic drills involved 38,000 servicemen, more than 50 surface ships and submarines, and 110 aircraft.

The combination fueled a push and pull in budget hearings that seemed to produce little beside agreement between lawmakers and military officials that the Arctic is important. Between the Navy and Coast Guard, some lawmakers were confused about who is responsible for the region.

It is US Northern Command, which took responsibility for the region in October. Its ambitious mandate — in line with DoD’s 2013 Arctic Strategy — includes persistent domain awareness, robust communications, deployable forces and infrastructure in the Arctic.

Yet the US cannot reliably navigate, communicate or sustain its forces in the Arctic, NORTHCOM’s commander Adm. William Gortney said at a March 12 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

NORTHCOM is studying requirements that would inform its operational plans, with a report due in the spring, he said.

At the hearing, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., expressed concern over Russia’s icebreaker fleet, its bomber runs in the region, and “that we’re well behind the Russians in terms of this, not only as an opportunity, but also as a growing area of military competition, that they’re clearly making it out to be.”

“We need to figure out what are the capabilities that we need, because it’s a very harsh place,” Gortney told Sullivan at the hearing. “I mean, I love visiting your state, but it’s a hard place to live and operate.”

Sullivan, the most vocal on the issue, lamented while questioning a Navy official at a SASC hearing on March 11, “We have a 13-page Arctic strategy that nobody seems to be paying attention to in my view.”

Sullivan had been asking about the Arctic and icebreakers in hearings all week and not getting the answers he wanted. The chief of naval operations, at a different hearing would not comment about about the need for new icebreakers, Sullivan said, because they fall under the purview of the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security.

Sullivan then asked Thomas Dee, the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for expeditionary programs and logistics.

“You don’t have to answer here, but I’d like the Navy collectively to get back to us and just answer the simple question — is it in the national interest of the United States given the developments in the Arctic, to have an additional heavy icebreaker. I’m not interested in whose budget it is or ‘sorry, that’s not my [issue].’ National security is everybody’s issue.

Land forces did not get a pass. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, noted in a March 11 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing that Alaska’s congressional delegation had written a letter to Army leadership suggesting that instead of drawing down the Army presence in Alaska, which was the subject of listening sessions there earlier in the month, the Army do the opposite.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, at the hearing, said he would develop the Army’s strategy based on the prescription of NORTHCOM’S coming strategy. In response to questions from Murkowski about the wisdom of troop cuts in Alaska, Odierno repeated a theme of his testimony: The Army’s budget is stretched to the limit.

“I believe it’s an important piece of what we do in the Pacific,” he said of Alaska. “There’s lots of areas I could make that same comment [about]. And that’s the problem. We now have to make difficult decisions that impact our security. And that’s somewhat distressing, frankly.”

At a SASC hearing on Wednesday, Odierno gave Sullivan a similar response, that the Army is not large enough to meet an Arctic threat and that there are other contingency plans it cannot meet.

To at least make a point about the value of soldiers in Alaska, Sullivan asked if the Army could have participated in recent Army-Air Force exercises in the region with anyone by Alaska-stationed troops.

“In the Arctic environment, no, because they are specifically trained to operate in Arctic weather,” Odierno said. “It would take months of training for them to be prepared to operate in such a harsh environment.”​

One of the most charged exchanges came on Wednesday at a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., grilled Vice Adm. Charles Michel, the Coast Guard’s deputy commandant for operations, over the service’s deliberative approach to fielding an icebreaker.

Coast Guard’s only active heavy icebreaker is the 40-year-old Polar Star. Its sister ship, the Polar Sea, was cannibalized to get the Polar Star underway; it has to undergo an 15- to 18-month survey, and could take up to 10 years to reactivate. There is also a medium icebreaker, the Healy.

These icebreakers are not warships. They largely conduct research missions in the Arctic and, including an annual mission, called Operation Deep Freeze, to break through the Antarctic ice to resupply McMurdo Station, a US research facility in Antarctica.

Asked about a new icebreaker for the US, Michel said the service is in the early stages of an acquisition. While it was clear that it would be expensive to build, requiring special steel and construction techniques, it was unclear who might do the building.

“The problem is, sir, is that we have not built a heavy Polar-class icebreaker in this country for over 40 years. The Polar-class were the last that were done,” Michel told Garamendi.

“And these are exceedingly complicated ships. Just because they exist in one of the most challenging environments in the earth, and they’re basically designed to collide with blocks of solid ice.”

Garamendi replied, “We know that we buy our rocket engines from Russia. Maybe we can buy a ship from Russia. Since you seem not to be too anxious to get about the task.”

When Garamendi pressed Michel for information to fuel a decision about fielding, Michel said he would provide it as soon as he could get it. That set Garamendi off.

“I think I had best stop because I am about to climb up and down your back,” Garamendi said. “That answer is not a satisfactory answer: As soon as you can get it.”

Sen. Randy Forbes, R-Va., stepped in with an olive branch. The Navy is looking at multibillion-dollar funding gaps for submarines, ships and ballistic missile defenses, he said. That is to say, it’s up to Congress.

“Last year the Marine Corps had to fight to get its amphibious ship, which we wouldn’t have gotten if it hadn’t been for [Virginia Republican Rep. Rob Wittman’s] hard work on his subcommittee,” Forbes said. “We realize you can’t build it without dollars.”

E-mail: jgould@defensenews.com




Russia To Build ‘Self-Sufficient’ Arctic Military Force By 2018 In Latest Sign Of Buildup

April 1, 2015

by Thomas Barrabi

International Business Times

          Russia plans to develop a “self-sufficient” standing military force based in the territory it owns in the Arctic, according to a report. The military force will include Air Force and air defense subunits. Russia will also create a new training center in the Arctic.

“The Russian military group in the Arctic will be built up on the mainland and on the islands. This buildup is already in progress. By 2018 there will emerge a self-sufficient group incorporating radio reconnaissance companies, the way it was in the past,” a senior member of Russia’s Defense Ministry told TASS, a Kremlin-owned news agency.

The Arctic buildup is the latest byproduct of strained relations between Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders in the West. Tensions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year and conflict between government soldiers and pro-Russian separatist rebels in Ukraine have seen both Russia and NATO forces vow to build up their forces.

Russia’s military sent 38,000 soldiers, more than 100 aircraft and approximately 50 naval vessels to carry out five days of military drills in the Arctic last month, according to the Associated Press. The training exercises were reportedly meant to test the Russian military’s ability to rapidly deploy forces from the mainland and to test the combat readiness of its Northern Fleet.

“New challenges and threats to military security require the armed forces to further boost their military capabilities. Special attention must be paid to newly created strategic formations in the north,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Russian television on March 16, according to Reuters. Shoigu said Putin personally ordered the drills.

Russia extended long-range bomber patrols last November to reach as far as the Arctic circle and the Gulf of Mexico. Again, Putin was said to be responsible for the measure. The Russian president has purportedly vowed to spend $340 billion on military advancement by 2020.


The FBI Informant Who Mounted a Sting Operation Against the FBI

April 15, 2015

by Trevor Aaronson

The Intercept

When you’re introduced to Saeed Torres in the new documentary (T)ERROR, you hear him bickering with the filmmaker, Lyric Cabral. The screen is black.

“I told you I didn’t want my face in that shit,” he says.

“Even if your face is shown, how would somebody come after you?” Cabral asks.

“You’d be surprised who knows me,” Torres insists.

The blackness lifts. Torres is dressed in a chef’s apron and a white headscarf, making hot dogs at an amateur basketball game, as if he were an all-American guy.

“I might not even make no fucking independent film,” he says, irritated.

Torres isn’t an all-American guy. He’s an FBI informant, one of more than 15,000 domestic spies who make up the largest surveillance network ever created in the United States. During J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO operations, the bureau had just 1,500 informants. The drug war brought that number up to about 6,000. After 9/11, the bureau recruited so many new informants — many of them crooks and convicts, desperate for money or leniency on previous crimes — that the government had to develop software to help agents track their spies.

Torres agreed to participate in that independent film, of course. In (T)ERROR, which has its New York premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 16, he offers the rest of us an unprecedented look inside an FBI counterterrorism sting as it unfolds. The documentary is compelling for its intimate portrayal of a single informant who has played a key role in several major terrorism cases.

Informants represent the manpower behind the FBI’s controversial stings, which are intended to find would-be terrorists before they attack. In the decade after 9/11, 158 defendants were prosecuted following these undercover operations, which are usually led by an informant and provide the means and opportunity for someone to attempt to commit an act of terrorism. A Human Rights Watch report in 2014 criticized the FBI for targeting “particularly vulnerable people, including those with intellectual and mental disabilities and the indigent.” Late last week, for example, the FBI arrested a mentally troubled 20-year-old in Topeka, Kansas, after he allegedly attempted to bomb Fort Riley with the help of two undercover FBI informants.

          While there are more than 15,000 FBI informants, most are low-level operatives who provide scraps of information or tips about people in their community. Only a few of them at any time are high-level operators like Torres — professional liars who travel the country as agents provocateur in elaborate stings. They can make $100,000 or more for every case they work. Torres, a former Black Panther and convict who robbed New York City transit booths, is one of these operators, a freelance agent who portrays himself as a “radicalized Muslim,” as the government’s terminology puts it.

“I don’t like the word informant,” Torres says in (T)ERROR. “I consider myself a civilian operative.”

Torres was the informant behind FBI stings that targeted Tarik Shah, a Bronx jazz pianist who was convicted of providing material support for terrorists in 2007, after he pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in front of an undercover agent, and Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, a Yemeni cleric in Brooklyn who bragged about his connections to Osama bin Laden. Al-Moayad pleaded guilty to conspiring to raise money for Hamas, and after he served six years behind bars, an appeals court overturned his conviction, ruling that he did not receive a fair trial. He then was deported to Yemen, where he received a hero’s welcome. Shah is in federal prison, serving a 15-year sentence.

(T)ERROR picks up Torres’s story after these stings (warning to readers: spoilers ahead). Living in a rundown apartment somewhere in the Northeast, he gets a call from the FBI. They want him to go to Pittsburgh to get to know a terrorism suspect — a 34-year-old white Muslim convert named Khalifah al-Akili.

“I need the money,” Torres tells Cabral and her filmmaking partner, David Felix Sutcliffe.

He packs up his car and his dog and moves into an FBI safe house around the corner from al-Akili’s apartment building. The cameras follow Torres for months as he struggles to gather any evidence that al-Akili poses a threat to national security. One of the remarkable aspects of this documentary — and of the way the FBI conducts its stings — is that Torres flatly admits that the target of his FBI operation isn’t dangerous. He isn’t on his way to becoming a terrorist.

“That dude ain’t going to bust a grape,” Torres tells his FBI handler in a phone conversation. “He ain’t going to throw rice at a wedding, believe me.”

And here’s where (T)ERROR brings viewers into a previously unseen world — as the FBI sting unravels.

The agents, apparently frustrated that Torres couldn’t build a case on al-Akili, bring in a second informant, Shahed Hussain, and tell Torres to make the introduction. Hussain is a con artist from Albany, New York, who was convicted of participating in a scam to give driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants. He came to the U.S. from Pakistan in 1994, after being arrested in Karachi on a murder charge. Hussain had been used by the FBI before — he was the bureau’s undercover informant in an Albany terrorism case as well as in a sting that targeted the so-called Newburgh Four — four poor black men who plotted with Hussain to bomb synagogues in the Bronx and to fire Stinger missiles at airplanes, though only after Hussain had offered the lead defendant, a mentally troubled man named James Cromitie, $250,000 if he participated in the plot. (The four suspects received lengthy prison sentences.)

There’s no shortage of embarrassing moments for the FBI in its dozens of counterterrorism stings since 9/11. In Boston, an FBI informant who was working a counterterrorism case was caught on an FBI camera purchasing heroin, which wasn’t part of his assignment. In case after case, the FBI experiences so-called “recorder malfunctions” — usually at the most unfortunate time for the defendant, such as at the very beginning of the sting or, as in an operation involving a Baltimore teenager, when the target was attempting to back out of the plot. More recently, FBI agents accidentally recorded themselves calling the subject of their undercover investigation a “retarded fool” whose terrorist ambitions were “wishy-washy.”

As soon as Hussain is introduced into the al-Akili case, the FBI’s work is revealed as similarly ham-handed. Hussain blows the introduction by being overeager, giving al-Akili reason to suspect Torres and Hussain are government agents. Hussain hands al-Akili his business card, and a suspicious al-Akili subsequently Googles the phone number. His search brings up an FBI document from the Newburgh Four case — one that I had obtained and posted online as part of a story for Mother Jones. The FBI had never bothered to change Hussain’s cell phone number. Al-Akili discovers the story I wrote about Hussain — “The Making of an FBI Superinformant” — and realizes he’s the target of an FBI investigation.

Instead of cowering, al-Akili emails dozens of lawyers and journalists, including me.

I would like to pursue a legal action against the FBI due to their continuous harassment, and attempts to set me up,” al-Akili wrote in the March 9, 2012 email.

What no one knew — not even the FBI — was that Cabral and Sutcliffe began filming al-Akili’s side of things after he sent the email, which a lawyer who received it happened to forward to them. The documentary then becomes a house of mirrors, with each side of the FBI’s counterterrorism operation being reflected onto the other, revealing a mash-up of damaged people being exploited by overzealous government agents, with no sign at all of anything resembling terrorism or impending danger to the public.

“I felt I was almost obligated to expose these guys,” al-Akili told the filmmakers.

(T)ERROR becomes an intense spy game that plays out on screen, with each person double-crossing someone: Torres lying to and attempting to set up al-Akili for the FBI, and Cabral and Sutcliffe, in turn, turning the tables on the very subject of their film by approaching the subject of his investigation.

Cabral and Sutcliffe were even there when the FBI arrested al-Akili — not for terrorism but for having posed for a picture, in 2010, holding a rifle at a gun range. Since al-Akili had two previous felony drug convictions, he’d committed a crime by holding that gun. At his bond hearing, an FBI agent said Al-Akili had told informants that he wanted to join the Taliban in Pakistan. Al-Akili is now serving eight years in prison.

Near the end of (T)ERROR, Torres looks back on his work with the FBI agents in Pittsburgh.

“I told ’em,” Torres recalls. “I said, ‘I’m not here to entrap nobody.’ They’re trying to make me force this dude into saying something to support terrorism. I said, ‘This dude is not a fucking terrorist, man. He’s not even a pseudo-terrorist. He’s nothing but an oxymoron.’”

(T)ERROR would be disturbing enough if the case it followed were an isolated one. But it’s not. The announcement of a FBI sting like the one that targeted Khalifah al-Akili happens almost weekly now.


Pope’s genocide comments spark indifference, frustration among Turks

April 13, 2015

by Tuvan Gumruku and Ece Toksabay


 ANKARA/IZMIR |- When Pope Francis became the first pontiff to publicly call the 1915 Armenian massacre a genocide this weekend, the reaction from Ankara was swift and irate: it summoned the Vatican ambassador for a dressing down and recalled its own envoy.

Reaction in the Turkish media on Monday ranged from indignant to indifferent, depending on how close the newspaper is to the government. The response on Turkish street corners was muted, with many Turks dismissing the spat as empty politics and voicing a desire to leave history in the past.

Francis sparked the diplomatic row on Sunday by calling the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians “the first genocide of the 20th century”, prompting Turkey to accuse him of inciting hatred.

Muslim Turkey agrees that Christian Armenians died in clashes with Ottoman soldiers beginning in April 1915, when some Armenians lived in the empire ruled from Istanbul, but denies hundreds of thousands were killed and that this amounted to genocide.

“The pope’s statements, which are far from historical and judicial facts, cannot be accepted,” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Twitter. “Religious offices are not places to incite hatred and revenge with baseless accusations.”

The fact that Vatican City is the world’s smallest state may have precluded further repercussions. When France’s parliament voted in 2011 to make Armenian genocide denial a crime, Turkey withdrew its ambassador, suspended joint military maneuvers and stopped political contacts for a while.

Sitting on a ferry off the western port of Izmir, a man who declined to give his full name said it was time to stop bickering about the past.

“Every year, it’s the same thing. April comes and all the Western politicians are talking about genocide. There is no such animosity between the people of these two countries,” said Ibrahim, 48, taking a sip of tea. “We must leave history behind us and focus on the future.”

Armenia and its large diaspora in the United States argue that Turkey has not fully owned up to its wartime past.

“If you ask any ordinary Armenian or Turk, I am positive we do not care about this as much as people think we do,” said Dursun Okan, a 27-year-old banker.

Still others saw the pope’s remarks as interference by foreigners and wondered whether the United States, a traditional ally of Turkey, would eventually use the word “genocide”.

Unlike almost two dozen European and South American states that use the term, Washington avoids it and has warned legislators that Ankara could cut off military cooperation if they voted to adopt it.

“I believe Obama will call it a genocide as well, considering the influence of the Armenian population in the United States,” said Serhat, a university student in Ankara. “It would surprise me if no one else called it a genocide.”

Pope Francis appeared to refer to his use of the term “genocide” on Monday, saying in a sermon that “today the Church’s message is one of the path of frankness, the path of Christian courage.”

(Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Tom Heneghan)


Turkey cannot accept Armenian genocide label, says Erdoğan

President says any decision by European parliament qualifying 1915 killings as genocide would go ‘in one ear and out from the other’

April 15, 2015

The Guardian/ Agence France-Presse in Ankara

           Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has said Turkey will ignore any decision by the European parliament qualifying the 1915 killings of Armenians in the first world war as genocide, saying such recognition would go “in one ear and out from the other”.

The European parliament is due to vote on Wednesday on a “motion for resolution on the commemoration of the centennial of the Armenian genocide”.

“Whatever decision the European parliament makes today would go in one ear and out from the other because it is not possible for Turkey to accept such a sin or crime,” Erdoğan told reporters at an Ankara airport before leaving for Kazakhstan.

“I don’t know right now what sort of decision they will make … but I barely understand why we, as the nation, as well as print and visual media, stand in defence. I personally don’t bother about a defence because we don’t carry a stain or a shadow like genocide.”

After Pope Francis used the word “genocide” at the weekend to describe the killings of Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman empire in Turkey, Erdoğan summoned the Vatican’s ambassador in Ankara and recalled the Turkish envoy to the Holy See in a show of protest.

On Tuesday the US called for a “full, frank” acknowledgement of the mass killings while shying away from calling it a genocide.

Armenia and Armenians in the diaspora say 1.5 million of their forefathers were killed by Ottoman forces in a targeted campaign to eradicate the Armenian people from Anatolia, in what is now eastern Turkey.

Turkey takes a sharply different view, saying hundreds of thousands of both Turks and Armenians lost their lives as Ottoman forces battled the Russian empire for control of eastern Anatolia during the first world war.

Erdoğan said there were 100,000 Armenian citizens working in Turkey, some illegally. “We could have deported them but we did not. We’re still hosting them in our country. It is not possible to understand such a stance against a country which displays hospitality,” he said.

Turkey is also still home to a small Turkish-Armenian community, mostly based in Istanbul, who number about 60,000.

Armenians around the world will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the tragedy on 24 April, the same day as Turkey is planning commemorations of the first world war battle of Gallipoli.


The Armenian Holocaust of 1916

A compilation by Germar Rudolf

Forword by Rabbi Baruch Schur, Researcher at Vad Vachim Center, Israel

          The term Armenian Holocaust (also known as the Armenian Massacre) refers to the deportation and murder of Armenians by the Young Turks government in 1915-1916.

           The Armenian Holocaust is not agreed to by everyone; the term “holocaust” generally defines a state-sponsored extermination plan but it is the position of Turkey and some academics that the majority of losses were a result of clashes between the two-sides, and causes such as famine and disease claiming the lives of all Ottomans. Armenians and other academics state at least 1.5 million Armenians perished in Turkey. France is among the countries which have officially recognized the Armenian Holocaust. One of the prime sources of information regarding the Armenian Holocaust is U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau to Turkey from 1913-1916. Ambassador Morgenthau published a book in 1919 entitled Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story which details the atrocities committed against the Armenians by the Turks. Others are aware Morgenthau was not a neutral observer, anxious to get the United States into war, and primed by Armenian assistants; frequently cited as an “eyewitness,” the diplomat never left Istanbul and revealed his racism with statements describing the Turks variously as “inarticulate, ignorant, and poverty-ridden slaves,” “barbarous,” “brutal,” “ragged and unkempt,” (within his book) and as having “inferior blood.”

First Armenian Massacres

In 1890 there were possibly around 1.3 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, of whom the vast majority were of the Armenian Orthodox or Roman Catholic Christian faith. Until late 19th century, the Armenians were called “millet-i sadika” (fidel nation) by the Ottomans, as they were living in harmony with the muslim Kurds and Turks in Eastern Anatolia, without any major conflict with the central authority despite religous and ethnic differences. While the Armenian population in Eastern Anatolia was large and clustered, there was also a considerably large community of Armenians on the west, mostly living in the capital city of Istanbul, of which a substantial community remains to this day.

In the 1890s, apparently in an attempt to gain international attention, Armenian revolution seized the Headquarters of the Ottoman Bank in Istanbul. Mobs mostly of Muslim Turks are then alleged by some to have killed 50,000 Armenians. The level of Ottoman government involvement with the mobs is not well known and debatable.

           Armenian-sympathizing estimates of the total killed run from 100,000 to 300,000; one of the greatest pro-Armenians, Johannes Lepsius, estimated less than 89,000. Some felt differently, such as British Captain C. B. Norman who wrote (The Armenians Unmasked) that “only five lives were lost” in a town (Berecik) where 2,000 Armenians were supposed to have been murdered,” further adding “none of these (massacre) stories have been corroborated by a single European eye-witness.”

 Turkish estimates run from 20,000 to 30,000. These events are recalled by the Armenians as the “Great Massacres” and believe the Hamidian measures verified the capacity of the Turkish state to carry out a systematic policy of murder and plunder against a minority population. Others are aware there would have been no valid reason to massacre Armenians who were allowed to prosper for centuries and of the formation of Armenian revolutionary groups beginning roughly around the end of the Russo-Turkish War of 1878. As some diplomats observed, the aim of these groups were to commit massacres so as to incite counter-measures, and to invite “foreign powers to intervene,” as Istanbul’s British Ambassador Sir Philip Currie observed in March 1894. 5,000 Turks were massacred by Armenian terrorist activities.

The Armenian Holocaust

Before World War I the Ottoman Empire came under the Young Turks government. At first some Armenian political organizations supported the Young Turks in hopes that there would be a real change from Abdul Hamid’s policies towards the Armenian population. There were Armenians elected to the Ottoman Parliament, where some remained throughout the ensuing world war. However they were later to be disappointed. Other parliamentarians such as Muradyan and Garo would go on to lead Armenian rebels in ethnic cleansing campaigns against Muslim and Jewish Ottoman villagers. The Young Turks feared the Armenian community, which they had believed was more sympathetic to allied powers (specifically Russia) than to the Ottoman Empire.

          In 1914 Ottomans passed a new law that required all adult males up to age 45, to either be recruited in the Ottoman army or pay special fees in order to be excluded from service. Most of the Armenian recruits were later turned into road laborers and the executed. Those who escaped joined the Russians on the east.

In early 1915, simultaneously with a disastrous Ottoman defeat at the hands of Russia at Sarikamish, with the loss of over 80% of a huge military force, battalions of Russian Armenians organized the recruiting of Turkish Armenians from behind the Turkish lines. In response the Young Turk government executed 300 Armenian nationalist intellectuals, although a partisan source as Peter Balakian’s “The Burning Tigris” tells us most were imprisoned and there were even survivors. The fact that most Armenian men were also butchered in the army and many influential figures arrested and killed, places a question mark over certain arguments that Armenians organized revolts and that there was a civil war, given that Armenians were outnumbered, outmanned and outgunned. On the other hand, there were articles in the New York Times as early as November 7, 1914, days after Russia had declared war, attesting to Armenian uprisings (“ARMENIANS FIGHTING TURKS — Besieging Van—Others operating in Turkish Army’s Rear”), and accounts from Armenians themselves, such as Boghos Nubar’s 1919 letter in the Times of London stressing Armenian belligerence. In addition, there is evidence of Russian financial support, testimony from even those such as Ambassador Henry Morgenthau to the effect of “…In the early part of 1915… every Turkish city contained thousands of Armenians who had been trained as soldiers and who were supplied with rifles, pistols, and other weapons of defense,” and even accounts from Armenian newspapers hailing the rebellion. Chronology here is important and not incontestably established.

          After the recruitment of most men and the arrests of certain intellectuals, widespread massacres were taking place throughout Ottoman Empire. In desperate attempts at survival, upon hearing of massacres of nearby villages, Armenians in Musa Dagh and Van organized their self defense. In Van, they handed over control of the city to advancing Russians. After waves of massacres and countermassacres, the Ottoman government ordered the deportation of over 1 million Armenians living in Anatolia to Syria and Mesopotamia though this figure has not been conclusively established. Indeed, there is another consensus this number did not exceed 700,000, and Arnold Toynbee reported in his Wellington House (British propaganda division) report of “The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire” that 500,000 were alive in 1916. Although the word deportation seems pretty innocent (some would prefer the word “relocation,” as the former means banishment outside a country’s borders; Japanese-Americans, for example, were not “deported” during WWII), things were not, because the deportations themselves were a silent method of mass execution that led to the death of many of the Armenian population, by forcing them to march endlessly through desert, without food or water or enough protection from local Kurdish or Turkish bandits.

          In the process several hundred thousand died in the resulting death marches from starvation, dehydration, disease or exhaustion. Several hundred thousands more were massacred by Kurdish militia and Ottoman gendarmes (while other gendarmes gave up their lives defending the Armenians), giving an estimated total under certain counts of 1,500,000 Armenians dead. Then again, the Armenians contend one million survived, and even the Patriarch Ormanian provided a pre-war population figure of 1,579,000. Sympathetic sources as Le Figaro, prompted by Armenian terrorism in 1977 France, figured only 15,000 Armenians as having died from shootings, sickness and deprivation on the march. It also must be borne in mind that of the 2.5-3 million Turkish mortality, many succumbed to the same factors as famine and disease.

 Mr. Hovhannes Katchaznouni, first Prime Minister of the Independent Armenian Republic, describes this part of history as follows in his 1923 Manifesto: “At the beginning of the Fall of 1914 when Turkey had not yet entered the war but already been making preparations, Armenian revolutionary bands began to be formed in Transcaucasia with great enthusiasm and especially with much uproar… The Armenian Revolutionary Federation had active participation in the formation of the bands and their future military action against Turkey… In the Fall of 1914 Armenian volunteer band organized themselves and fought against the Turks because they could not refrain themselves from fighting. This was an inevitable result of psychology on which the Armenian people had nourished itself during an entire generation; that mentality should have found its expression and did so….The Winter of 1914 and Spring of 1915 were the periods of greatest enthusiasm and hope for all Armenians in the Caucasus including of course the Dashnaktsutiun. We had no doubt the war would end with the complete victory of the Allies; Turkey would be defeated and dismembered and its Armenian population would be liberated. We had embraced Russia wholeheartedly without any compunction. Without any positive basis of fact we believed that the Tzarist government would grant us a more-or-less broad self-government in the Caucasus and in the Armenian vilayets liberated from Turkey as a reward for our loyalty, our efforts and assistance. ”

Statistics of the Second Massacre

Statistics regarding the number of Armenians living in Ottoman Anatolia and the number killed are disputed. The lowest numbers are given by Turkish sources and the highest by Armenian sources.

In 1896 the Ottoman government recorded 1,144,000 Armenians living in Anatolia. Professor Justin McCarthy, U.S. historian and expert in Ottoman history, whose books are published by a Turkish organization as well as prestigious university presses such as the Oxford University Press, estimated that there were 1,500,000 Armenians in Anatolia in 1912. According to the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, there were between 1,845,000 and 2,100,000 Armenians in Anatolia in 1914. Estimates range from 1,000,000 given by some Turkish sources to more than 3,500,000 given by some Armenian sources. Arnold J. Toynbee, who served as an intelligence officer during World War I, estimates there were 1,800,000 Armenians living in Anatolia in 1914. Encyclopaedia Britannica took 1,750,000 Armenians living in Anatolia as their estimate, in certain later editions. In 1911, the encyclopedia had figured 1.1 million, and Toynbee estimated less than one million in his 1915 book, “Nationalism and the War,” before his services were enlisted in Wellington House.

 Estimates for the numbers of Armenians who died during the Second Massacre vary even more. Some Turkish sources claim that 200,000 Armenians died, whereas some Armenian sources number the dead at well over 2,000,000. Talat Pasha, a prominent Young Turk and Grand Vizier from 1917-1918, claimed that the total was 300,000. Toynbee put the number at 600,000 in his 1916 “Treatment” propaganda report. McCarthy independently arrived at the same figure.

Later assessments

Armenians around the world recognize April 24 as marking the start of holocaust at the hands of the Young Turks.

 Turkish historians and foreign Ottoman history scholars deny that an event classifiable as state-organised holocaust occurred, because there has been no evidence of Ottoman state involvement . Instead, it is claimed that many of the Armenian deaths resulted from armed conflict, civil-war, disease and famine during the turmoil of World War I, when Armenian citizens of Ottoman Empire joined Russian armies to invade eastern provinces of Ottoman Empire. In the same period, 2.5 million other Ottoman citizens have perished as a result of civil-war and disease.

It is undisputed that many opponents of the Armenian view of history have been threatened by Armenian groups, with a wave of assassinations and terrorist actions initiated in the 1970s and 1980s by such groups as the internationally recognized notorious ASALA terrorist organization and the so-called Justiciers of the Armenian Holocaust. Furthermore, United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio sentenced Armenian activist and former chairman of the Armenian National Commitee of America, Mourad Topalian, to 37 months of imprisonment for two counts of terrorism-linked federal crimes. Specifically, Topalian was convicted of storing over one hundred pounds of high explosives and possessing machine guns.

The Armenian Holocaust is the subject of a 2002 film by Armenian-Canadian director Atom Egoyan, Ararat.

The American rock band System of a Down, whose members are Armenian in ancestry, wrote the song P.L.U.C.K. (Political Lying Unholy Cowardly Killers), about the Armenian Holocaust and its denial as holocaust.

On April 21, 2004, the Canadian House of Commons voted to officially recognize and condemn the Armenian Holocaust. The motion passed easily by 153 to 68, however, the Liberal-controlled Cabinet was instructed to vote against it. The federal government, in opposing the motion, did not express a position on whether the holocaust took place, but rather cited a desire to avoid reopening old wounds and to maintain good relations with Turkey.

In the past, many prominent American politicians have made statements in support of formal recognition of the Armenian holocaust. While president Ronald Reagan publicly referred to the events of 1915 as a ‘holocaust’, a major feat in and of itself, nonetheless to this day no formal resolution recognizing the holocaust has been passed by the US government. The Armenian side speculates that fear of retribution from Turkey, a US ally and NATO partner, is behind the lack of formal recognition, whereas the Turkish side speculates that the only reason for the possibility of such a recognition would be the strength of

On April 24, 2004, in marking the 89th Anniversary of the holocaust, John Kerry issued a statement calling for international recognition of the Armenian Holocaust.

President Bill Clinton issued a news release on April 24, 1994, to commemorate the “tragedy” that befell the Armenians in 1915, yet he bowed to political pressure and refused to refer to it as “holocaust.”

Also breaking a campaign promise, the subsequent President George W. Bush did not acknowledge the Armenian holocaust in 2001, due to extreme pressure from Turkey.

Currently, only a few countries officially recognize the Armenian Holocaust, which include Argentina, Canada, France, Greece, Russia, Slovakia [1], Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay and Vatican City. Many US states and cities also recognize the Armenian Holocaust. Recently Sweden has changed its official position quoting the historical accuracy, and currently does not recognize Armenian holocaust.

Certain countires, notable for their involvement in the affairs of the Ottoman Empire at this time and with substantial archival evidence of first rate importance, refuse to legislate recognitions of any deliberate, state-planned holocaust. A major example is that of the UK, whose lawyers were eager to try alleged Ottoman War Criminals on the charge of crimes against humanity after the war (a policy announced during the war), but who released the accused on discovering that there was no conclusively safe evidence in British, Ottoman or American archives that could establish a sound verdict of guilt.

The Turkish government, in their new 2004 Penal Code, added a penalty of ten years in prison for any person that confirms that the Armenian Holocaust took place. [2] The U.K. Parliament suggests, however, that “There is no mention of … the Armenian holocaust” in this penal code.

Armenian Holocaust memorial

The idea of the memorial arose in 1965, at the commemorating of the 50th anniversary of the holocaust. Two years later the memorial (by architects Kalashian and Mkrtchyan) was completed at the Tsitsernakaberd hill above the Hrazdan gorge in Yerevan. The 44 metre stele symbolizes the national rebirth of Armenians. 12 slabs postioned into a circle, represent 12 lost provinces in present day Turkey. In the centre of the circle, in depth of 1.5 metres, there is an eternal flame. Along the park at the memorial there is a 100 metre wall with names of towns and villages where masacres are known to have taken place. In 1995 a small circular museum was opened at the other end of the park where one learn about basic information about the events in 1915. Some photos taken by German photographers (Turkish allies during World War I) and some publications about the holocaust are also displayed. Near the museum is a spot where foreign statesmen plant trees in memory of the holocaust.

Each April 24th (Armenian Holocaust Commemoration Holiday) hundreds of thousands of people walk to the holocaust monument and lay flowers (usually red carnations or tulips) around the eternal flame. Armenians around the world mark the holocaust in different ways, and many memorials have been built in Armenian Diaspora communities.

Primary Documents: Talaat Pasha’s Alleged Official Orders Regarding the Armenian Massacres, March 1915-January 1916

Reproduced below are official telegrams allegedly despatched by Turkish Minister of the Interior Talaat Pasha authorising ongoing massacre of Armenians from March 1915 onwards.  All were purportedly signed by Talaat himself other than the first.  The first telegram is signed by the “Djemiet”, i.e. the executive committee of the ‘Young Turk’ organisation; given that Talaat was himself chairman of the organisation the telegram was necessarily issued with his authorisation.

Note that the authenticity of the telegrams has long been debated, dismissed as clear propaganda fakes by many and regarded as genuine by others.  Talaat himself strenuously denied writing the telegrams.


 Talaat Pasha’s Official Orders Regarding the Armenian Massacres, March 1915-January 1916

March 25th, 1915

To Djemal Bey, Delegate at Adana:

The duty of everyone is to effect on the broadest lines possible the realization of the noble project of wiping out of existence the well-known elements who for centuries have been the barrier to the empire’s progress in civilization.

We must, therefore, take upon ourselves the entire responsibility, pledging ourselves to this action no matter what happens, and always remembering how great is the sacrifice which the Government has made in entering the World War.  We must work so that the means used may lead to the desired end.

In our dispatch dated February 18th, we announced that the Djemiet has decided to uproot and annihilate the different forces which for centuries have been a hindrance; for this purpose it is forced to resort to very bloody methods.  Certainly the contemplation of these methods horrified us, but the Djemiet saw no other way of insuring the stability of its work.

Ali Riza [Note: the committee delegate at Aleppo] harshly criticised us and urged that we be merciful; such simplicity is nothing short of stupidity.  We will find a place for all those who will not cooperate with us, a place that will wring their delicate heartstrings.

Again let me remind you of the question of property left.  This is very important.  Watch its distribution with vigilance; always examine the accounts and the use made of the proceeds.



September 3rd, 1915

To the Prefecture of Aleppo:

We advise that you include the woman and children also in the orders which have been previously prescribed as to be applied to the males of the intended persons.  Select employees of confidence for these duties.

Minister of the Interior, TALAAT.


September 16th 1915

To the Prefecture of Aleppo:

You have already been advised that the Government, by order of the Djemiet, has decided to destroy completely all the indicated persons [Armenians] living in Turkey.

All who oppose this decision and command cannot remain on the official staff of the empire.

Their existence must come to an end, however tragic the means may be; and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, or to conscientious scruples.

Minister of the Interior, TALAAT.


November 18th, 1915

To the Prefecture of Aleppo:

It appears, from the interventions which have recently been made by the American Ambassador [Note: Mr. Morgenthau] at Constantinople on behalf of his Government, that the American Consuls are obtaining information by some secret means.  They remain unconvinced, despite our assurance that the deportations will be accomplished in safety and comfort.

Be careful that events which attract attention shall not occur in connection with those who are near cities and other centres.  In view of our present policy, it is most important that foreigners who are in those parts shall be convinced that the expulsion of the Armenians is in reality only deportation.

Therefore it is necessary that a show of gentle dealing shall be made for a while, and the usual measures be taken in suitable places.

All persons who have given information to the contrary shall be arrested and handed over to the military authorities for trial by court-martial.  This order is recommended as very important.



December 11th, 1915

To the Prefecture of Aleppo:

We are informed that some correspondents of Armenian journals are acquiring photographs and letters which depict tragic events, and these they give to the American Consul at Aleppo.

Dangerous people of this kind must be arrested and suppressed.

Minister of the Interior,



December 29th, 1915

To the Prefecture of Aleppo:

We are informed that foreign officers are finding along the roads the corpses of the indicated persons, and are photographing them.

Have these corpses buried at once and do not allow them to be left near the roads.

This order is recommended as very important.

Minister of the Interior,



January 15th, 1916

To the Government of Aleppo:

We are informed that certain orphanages which have opened also admitted the children of the Armenians.

Should this be done through ignorance of our real purpose, or because of contempt of it, the Government will view the feeding of such children or any effort to prolong their lives as an act completely opposite to its purpose, since it regards the survival of these children as detrimental.

I recommend the orphanages not to receive such children; and no attempts are to be made to establish special orphanages for them.

Minister of the Interior,




From the Ministry of the Interior to the Governor of Aleppo:

Only those orphans who cannot remember the terrors to which their parents have been subjected must be collected and kept.

Send the rest away with the caravans.

Minister of the Interior,


Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. III, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923


1915 Legends and Realities

 One of the main subjects that the “Turkish thesis” insists upon in discussions of the events of 1915, is the exaggeration of the number of slain people in Armenian circles. How many people died or were actually murdered? In a world, where Generals responsible of the murder of 7,000 people in Bosnia were sued for having committed the crime of holocaust, this is a very weird argument. In addition, those taking part in this argument don’t seem to be aware of the simple reality that the 1948 definition of holocaust by the United Nations doesn’t consider the principle of “killing” as a necessary condition. That’s why claiming that the number of casualties is from 50,000 to 600,000, rather than 1 to 1.5 million, has no importance, and for this reason [this claim] is not taken seriously. It’s perceived and interpreted as an indication of the panic of being guilty. This is a reality that our people don’t see and don’t want to see. What we need to know is that all the numbers given about Armenians – dead or alive – are conjectural, including in the first place the number of 600,000 given by A. Toynbee in the year 1916 when deportations and deaths still continued. The only official statistics were provided by the Ottoman Government after the war. After the fall of the Union and Progress party from power, one of the first tasks of the newly formed cabinet was to investigate this matter. In December 1918, a Commission was formed upon the initiative of the Interior Minister Mustafa Arif (Deymer). The Commission worked about 3 months, and the conclusions were made public by the Interior Minister of that time, Cemal Bey, on 14 March 1919. According to the Ottoman State Archives, the number of Armenians slain during the period 1914-1918 is 800,000 (Vakit, Alemdar, Ikdam, 15 March 1919). The fact that during the deportations and killings 800,000 Armenians lost their lives is a well-known and repeated fact by everybody during an entire period of time. At the head of people using that figure is Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk]: Mustafa Kemal said during a meeting with the American General Harbord that 800,000 Armenians were killed. (Memories of Rauf Orbay, “Our Recent History”, Vol. 3, Pg, 179)

How Should the Turks be Punished?

Concerning this subject, the second source is a book published in 1928 by the General Staff about the losses of World War I. The book, published by Lieutenant-Colonel Nihat, is the translation of a French book, and the figures related with Turkey are provided after modification and correction. According to the numbers given by the General Staff “800,000 Armenians and 200,000 Greeks died because of massacres and deportations, or in labor battalions” during the First World War. Y. H. Bayur, who transmits this information, says that “these figures should also be considered correct by our official sources”. (Y. H. Bayur, The History of Reforms, Vol. III, Part IV, pg. 787). It may look amazing, but the reality that what happened in 1915 was a mass murder was accepted by everybody having lived in that period, and was never the object of an argument. Of course the word soykirim [holocaust] (being a term belonging to the post World War II period) was not used in those days. To describe what had happened in 1915, words such as “katliam” [massacre], “taktil” [killings], “teb’id” [taking away, expulsion, expelling], “kital” [massacre] were used. Mustafa Kemal has dozens of speeches in which he defines the treatments reserved to Armenians as “cowardice”, or “barbarity”, and names these treatments “massacre”. In September 1919, the American General Harbord, who visited Mustafa Kemal in Sivas, says “he, too, disapproved the Armenian Massacre.” According to Mustafa Kemal, “the massacre and deportation of Armenians was the work of a small committee who had seized the power” (see the above mentioned work of Rauf Orbay.) Again during the same period, in an interview given to the USA Radio Newspaper, he says, “we have no expansionist plan…we can give the guarantee that there will be no new barbaric deeds against Armenians.” (Bilal Simsir, British Documents on Atatürk, Vol. I, pg. 171, Ankara 1973) In a telegram sent to Kazim Karabekir on 6 May 1920, he directs Kazim Karabekir to abstain from any initiative, meaning a new “Armenian Massacre”. (Kazim Karabekir, Our War of Liberation, pg. 707) In a speech made on 24 April, he describes the treatments reserved to Armenians in 1915 as “cowardly”. (Atatürk’s speeches in public and secret sessions of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, vol. I, pg. 59), etc.

          Not only there was no argument of the fact that the treatments of Armenians was a massacre, on the contrary it was openly defended that the guilty persons should be punished. There were a series of correspondences between the Cabinet of Ali Riza Pasha and Mustafa Kemal in September 1919. The War Minister Cemal conducting the correspondence on behalf of the Istanbul Government required that Mustafa Kemal make a declaration stating “the perpetrators of all sorts of crimes committed during the war will not avoid legal punishments.” In his reply, Mustafa Kemal says, “our most special desires are the exposure and punishment of misgovernment during the war, to understand that in our fatherland the responsibility is shared equally by the ordinary people and the leaders alike, as well as to understand that the era of law has started in an impartial manner and with justice”. He adds that he considers “more appropriate and useful” that this punishment “be shown to friends and enemies by putting it into practice, rather than be made of publications on paper in the advertisement style, which would lead to many arguments”. That is, the punishments expected by Mustafa Kemal were not to be left on paper for advertising purposes, but they were in the form of concrete actions. (Speech, Vol. III, Documents, Document 141-2, pg. 164-6) The trial of those guilty of massacres was also discussed in the deliberations of Amasya. During the deliberations, decisions were made about five protocols, three of them being public and two being secret. In the first protocol dated 21 October 1919, the punishment of the criminals was considered in two separate articles: “1- The resurgence of the Unionism, of the idea of the Union and Progress, and even the appearance of certain signs of it are politically harmful. 4- It’s judicially and politically necessary to legally punish those who committed crimes during the deportations”. The third protocol was about the elections which would take place, and the necessity of hindering the participation in the elections of those unionists sought for because of their participation in the Armenian Massacre was agreed upon. For this reason, Anatolia reserved itself the right to intervene in the elections and it is said “The presence at the Delegation of Deputees, to be convened, of those whose personalities and Unionism are connected with their wicked acts, and those sullied with issues of deportations, massacres, and other wicked acts incompatible with the real interests of the nation and country, is unacceptable and that presence must be hindered by all possible means.” (Speech, Vol. III, Document 159-160, pg. 193-4)

           It is possible to quote examples over several pages. What I want to explain is the following: the fact that what happened in 1915 was a mass murder was not even the subject of an argument in any manner from the viewpoint of the actors of that period, with Mustafa Kemal at their head. The main discussion of that period was organized around the axis of the deliberations of Paris, and it was about how the “Turks” should be punished for the Armenian Massacre. To put the criminals on trial was one form of punishment. Another form was the partition of Anatolia. That is, the Western Powers were hiding their imperial ambitions mainly behind the reality of Armenians having been killed. Mustafa Kemal and his friends accepted the reality that those responsible of the massacre should be punished, but opposed that this punishment be in the form of the partition of Anatolia. Today, rather than producing lies and legends, if we make the position of Mustafa Kemal on this subject our departure point, and continue our discussion from there, we shall have covered a fairly long distance.



          1875 December 1 By order of the Turkish government, the Armenian market district at Van is destroyed by fire with great loss to Armenian property, goods, and businesses.

1878           Russia victorious in Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878. Russo-Turkish Treaty of San Stefano (February 19, 1878) provides for protection and reforms for Armenians. Great Britain negotiates a secret Cyprus Convention with Turkey (June 1978) to allow British to establish bases on Cyprus and to administer Cyprus. In return, Britain insists Russo-Turkish issues be decided, instead, by an international conference. The resulting Congress of Berlin (June 1978) replaces the protective measures of San Stefano under Article 16 with unsatisfactory and ineffective provisions for Armenian people under Article 61, and returns Garin (Erzerum) to Turkey. Russia retains Kars and Ardahan.

1879           Armenian performances are forbidden in Constantinople. The urban Armenian population of Garin and Arabkir come out against the government.

1880 August By special order of the Turkish government, the word “Armenia” is forbidden for use in official documents.

1884 June Armenians “rebel” in Zeitun against oppressive Turkish taxes.

1886           The Turkish government divides Western Armenia administratively into separate vilayets of Erzerum, Garin, Kharput, Diarbekir, Dersim, Bitlis (Baghesh), Van, Hekyari and Sivas (Sebastia).

1888           The Turkish government orders that all Armenian periodicals and magazines in Constantinople and Western Armenia be discontinued.

1890 June 15          An Armenian demonstration in the district of Gum-Gapu in Constantinople is drowned in Armenian blood.

1890 June 18-20 Alleging provocative actions by Armenians, Turkish armed forces and Turkish mobs attack Armenians in Garin (Erzerum). Hundreds of Armenians are killed.

1891 January           The Armenians of Vardenis in Taron are robbed by Turks and their village is destroyed.

1893           Sultan Abdul Hamid II, known as the Bloody Sultan, suspends the Armenian National Constitution, and also discontinues the national parliament in Constantinople, which includes some Armenian representatives.

1894 August 20-27           Sassun’s Gelie-guzan village massacre, known as the “Gelie-guzan Hole Carnage” takes place. Here, Turks inaugurate the system of slaughtering unarmed people, which later was the prototype for Hitler’s concentration camps.

1894 August 25-30          Sassun’s Gebin Mount carnage is inflicted when the Turkish army manages to force Armenian women, children and old men to leave Andok for the forest on the bottom of mountain. The army ignites the forest and burns the Armenians alive. Note: This is a harbinger of the extermination of future victims by burning them alive in stables and other large storage facilities.

1894 August 10,000 Armenians are killed and 74 Armenian villages are destroyed in Sassun.

1894 August-October          Armenians refuse to pay illegal taxes to Kurdish irregular forces in Sassun. Unrest in the vilayet of Bitlis, near Mush. Revolt in Sassun. Attempted uprising against Kurdish oppression is followed by massacres in Sassun. A joint report published on July 28, 1895 by the Commission of Inquiry created by the initiative of the Great Powers, estimates the number of victims at 5,000.

1895 May 11          Governments of six countries present the Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II a special note describing the disastrous conditions of Armenia and demand the Turkish government to carry out improvements.

1895 August            Joint memorandum presented by Britain, France and Russia to the Sultan, pointing out the disastrous situation in the Armenian provinces and urging him to proceed with the reforms. The Imperial Turkish Government replies in August 1895 and promises to carry out the reforms specified in Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin (1978).

1895 September 30          Carnage of Armenians in Baberd at the hands of the Turks.

1895 September 30, October In the Bab Ali section of Constantinople, Armenians carry out a peaceful demonstration. The Turks set upon killing Armenians. 2000 Armenians die. Protests by the Great Powers by joint note from three ambassadors (French, British and Russian) on October 13-15 demand reforms. On October 31 a decree is issued, providing for reforms.

1895 October 5 Mass obliteration of Armenians takes place in Trebizond and its villages. Armenians of Sassun share the same fate.

1895 October 7 Armenians of Derjan province are slaughtered by the Turks.

1895 October 8 Massacres of Armenians by Turks begin in the vilayet of Trebizond as confirmed by the report of Gillieres, the French Consul in Trebizond.

1895October 9 The carnage of Armenians at Erzingan and Kamakh by the Turks.

1895 October 10 In Kghi province more than 1000 Armenians are killed, and dozens of villages destroyed. In Bitlis, 102 villages are destroyed. On the same day the carnage of Armenians at Charsanjak and in its villages begins, taking almost 700 lives. In Balu, the body count of Armenian victims reaches 1200, Arabkir – 2800, Torgom – 500

1895 October 13 Most of the Armenians in Baghesh are killed by the Turks.

1895 October 16 Urfa in Yedesia is attacked and in spite of persistent defense, the Turkish army and the Turkish mob succeed in slaying around 10,000 Armenians. On the same day, the Turks inflict similiar carnage in Shapin-Garahisar. 2000 Armenians are slain in the town and 3000 in 30 villages.

1895 October 21 The Armenian population in Erzingan, a town of Erzerum vilayet, is slaughtered by the Turks. 1000 Armenians are killed.

1895 October 23 3000 Armenians of Malatia are killed. 1000 houses are burned.

1895 October 25 Massacres follow in Bitlis, in the vilayet of Bitlis.

1895 October 26 Almost the entire Armenian population of Kharput is slaughtered by the Turks. The body count exceeds 4000. Mass massacres take place in Bayburd, vilayet of Erzerum. 165 villages are destroyed.

1895 October 27-28          Massacres in Urfa, vilayet of Aleppo, the first by the Hamidie Kurdish regiments organized by the Turks for this purpose, confirmed by the report of the British consul, Fitzmaurice, dated March 16, 1896.

1895 October 30 Massacres in Erzerum, vilayet of Erzerum. 400 killed by the Turkish mob and soldiers.

1895 October 31 Massacres occur in Garin and in the vilayet of Erzerum. Around 2000 Armenians are killed; 43 villages are destroyed.

1895October          Organized massacres of Armenians by Turks in Constantinople and Trebizond.

1895 November 1 Diarbekir carnage begins. 1000 Armenians are killed in the town and 30,000 more in the villages. 119 villages are destroyed. Massacres in Arabkir, vilayet of Kharput. 2,800 dead. Massacres in Diarbekir, vilayet of Diarbekir. Confirmed by a telegram of Meyrier, the French consul in Diarbekir, sent on November 3 to P. Cambon, the French ambassador in Constantinople. He estimates incorrectly: 5000 dead. 119 villages are pillaged and set on fire.

1895 November 3 Almost the whole Armenian population in Marzvan, around 700 people, are killed by the Turks.

1895 November 4 3,800 killed in the vilayet of Kharput by the Turks.

1895 November 10          Systematic Turkish army attacks on Van take place. The city of Van, in the vilayet of Van, is attacked by the Turkish Hamidie forces. Forced conversions to Islam in Kharput, vilayet of Kharput.

1895 November 11          Turkish army attacks the town of Balu, in the vilayet of Kharput. It results in 1680 Armenian deaths. Turkey proclaims a holy war (Djihad).

1895 November 12          Turks kill 1,500 Armenians in the vilayet of Sivas, and an equal number in Gurun.

1895 November 15-17 Armies of Sultan destroy Aintab in the vilayet of Aleppo and kill 1500 Armenians.

1895November 18 Massacres in Marash, vilayet of Aleppo. 1,000 Armenians are killed.

1895 November 18-20 160 villages around the city of Van are robbed and pillaged.

1895 November 28 In Zklus, 200 Armenians are killed; in Amasia, 100; and in Aleppo, 1000.

1895 December Armenians of the villages of Norduz, Hayots Dzor, Gavash and Karchevan in the vilayet of Bitlis are set upon by fire and sword. 100 villages are destroyed. On December 28 in the town of Ourfa (Yedesia), 8000 Armenians are slaughtered. 100 villages around Mush, vilayet of Bitlis, are destroyed.

1895 December 28          A battalion of Turkish-led Hamidie forces, proceeding from Aleppo, encircles the town of Urfa. Massacres on the following day kill 8,000 Armenians. This is confirmed by the above-mentioned report of the British consul, Fitzmaurice, dated March 16, 1896, as well as by the French consul.

Global Estimates Most of the figures mentioned through 1895 come to a total of 150,000 to 300,000 dead, to which must be added some 150,000 forced conversions and some 100,000 emigrants forced to flee. The report written by the agents of the European Powers estimate 28,000 killed just in the localities where representatives of foreign nations were present.

1896June 8-15  The population of Van and nearby villages is destroyed. The major Armenian population of Sgherdi is decimated and survivors are forcibly converted to Islam. In 40 villages of Khizan, 400 people, and in 20 villages of Mamrzank 160 people are slain, and the others are converted to Islam forcibly. All Armenian villages of Shatakh are devastated and turned to ruins. 11 villages of Gyumushkhane are destroyed and most of their population slain.

1896 Middle of June          Turks break their vow and near St. Bartholemew Church, attack Armenians in Van seeking to defend themselves, murdering 1500 people. The survivors flee to Persia.

1896 August 26 A group of Armenian militants of the Dashnak Party occupies the Ottoman Bank in Constantinople in order to gain the attention of foreign powers to the oppression of the Armenians. Achieving their purpose, they leave the bank in the evening and are picked up by boat and taken to France. Much attention is aroused in the Western capitals. However, this action results in a massacre in Constantinople, on August 27, killing approximately 7,000 Armenian victims.

1896 August 28 Representatives of the Great Powers send a telegram of protest to the Ottoman authorities.

1896 September 2 Armenian population of Agn is destroyed. Half the houses in the city are burned. Joint verbal note of protest issued by the Great Powers, accusing the Sublime Porte directly.

1896 September 3 In the city of Mush and its villages, 250 Armenians are killed by the Turks.

1896 November 10 In Agn’s Binkaya village, 250 Armenians are killed. Of the 250 houses there, only 12 houses remain standing.

1894-1896 300,000 Armenians become the victims of the carnages inflicted by the Turks. In addition, almost as many flee the country.

1900 August          Mothers and children are cut down by sword in Sassun’s Spaghanak villages by sudden attacks late at night.

1904 May 7500 Armenians are slain in Sassun by the Turks.

1908 April 14          Violent outbreaks in Adana (in Cilicia) and in near-by towns, in an attempted counter-revolution by Turks supporting the Sultan. They are soon squelched.

1908 July Military coup in Salonica by the Young Turk movement (the Union and Progress Party). There begins a brief period of collaboration among Turks, Armenians and other minorities. The subsequent massacres in Adana do not shake this new-found cooperation.

1908 J uly 24  The Ottoman Constitution is proclaimed.

1909 April 15-25 30,000 Armenians are slaughtered in Adana, Tarsus and other towns of Cilicia. The Turkish army bears direct responsibility, but the Armenian community is willing to consider it as an isolated incident, and to continue to trust the Young Turks until further events prove otherwise.

1913 January 29 In Turkey, the triumvirate of Enver, Talaat and Jemal Pasha heads the government.

1914 February 8  Under the combined influence of Russia and Great Britain, the Turkish authorities sign the Armenian Reform Project and agree to take certain measures in favor of the Armenian population.The Dutch, Westemeck, and the Norwegian, Hoft, are appointed as General Inspectors of the Armenian provinces, but they are rendered ineffective. The promised measures are not implemented.

1914- beginning of 1915 The Armenian Patriarchate in Constantinople estimates the Armenian population in Turkey at 2,100,000. World War I begins July 1914. Loyally, the Armenians participate in the war effort. Mobilization of the entire population, including Armenians, is decreed and the Armenians of Turkey take part in the war on the Caucasian and Western fronts. Immediately preceding the war, the Armenian population is neutral because a number of Armenians in Russia is mobilized on the Russian side, and a natural desire to avoid a fratricidal war. Some Armenian presence in the Russian Army will become an argument used by the Turkish authorities in their attempt to justify the measures they took later to destroy the Armenian people.

1915 January           Enver is disastrously defeated in Sarikamish at the hands of Russian troops, marking a failure of his Pan-Turanian plans. The Turkish authorities decree the demobilization and disarmament of the Armenians. The Armenians are grouped into small work battalions used for garbage details and similar tasks. The Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army, under the pretext of work details, are marched and killed in cold blood or used for target practice.

1915 January 13 A.F. Kerensky, a member of the National Council of Russia and later briefly to be the leader of Russia, in a report, describes the astounding plight of Armenian refugees. He declares that when the Turkish attacks on Russian territory began, rivers of Armenian refugees stretched to the North… “That was not an escape, it was the great demise of a whole nation”.

1915 February 13 Two Armenian deputies of the Ottoman Assembly submit a note concerning the massacres and executions of several such battalions.

1915 February 26 War Minister Enver convenes 75 top ranking Ittihadists. This secret meeting finalizes the details of the plan to carry out a holocaust of the Armenians. Evidence indicates that the decision to carry out the Holocaust was made some years earlier.

1915 April 8 The process of removing the Armenian population of Zeitun commences. Taking advantage of the defense staged by a group of young Armenians, the Turkish army invades Zeitun, with the assistance of local Turks, to re-establish control. The mass deportation and massacres of Armenian inhabitants of the entire region is immediately organized. This mountainous region had always preserved a quasi-autonomy.

1915 April 15          Talaat, Enver and Nazem send a secret order to the local governments for the removal and extermination of Armenians in Turkey.

1915 April 15-18 While the Armenian population of Van is fleeing to Russia because of the evacuation of the Russian army, the Turkish forces attack villages of the vilayet. They destroy 80 villages and slay 24,000 Armenians in the vilayet and city of Van. The Turks accuse the Armenians of collaboration with the Russian troops.

1915 April 20          At the news of the massacres, the mostly Armenian population of Van takes to the barricades. The Turkish authorities will also use this incident on the Caucasian front and the resistance of the Armenians as a pretext to justify the measures of deportation (and massacre) they are about to inflict.

1915 April 20- May 19 The remaining Armenians of Van try to defend themselves from the overwhelming Turkish forces.

1915 April 24          800 Armenian leaders, writers and intellectuals are arrested in Constantinople and murdered. The barbaric Armenian holocaust begins. This is a most important date for all Armenians today. It represents the date for commemorating the Armenian Holocaust each year throughout the world.

1915 April 27-30 The forced removal and deportation of Dyurt Yol’s Armenian population begins.

1915 May 15          Turkish forces begin the process of removal and deportation of the Armenian population from villages in the vilayet of Erzerum.

1915 May 16          Law of May 16, 1915 is enacted with “instructions pertaining to property and real estate abandoned by the deported Armenians, consequences of the war and unusual political circumstances”. This law provides for the installation of Turkish refugees in the homes and on the lands belonging to the Armenians.

1915 May 24          The governments of England, France and Russia jointly warn the Turkish government publicly that “They will hold personally responsible… all members of the Ottoman government and those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres”. This is the first time in the international arena three large countries publicly characterize the Turkish actions against Armenians as crimes against “humanity and civilization” for which “personal responsibility is laid on every member of the Turkish government who participated in the carnages”. The communique of the Allied Powers of the Entente, published by the Havas news agency, accuses the Ottoman Turkish government directly for the massacres against the Armenian population.

1915 May 27          The law of May 27, 1915 is enacted concerning the “displacement of suspected persons.” This law empowers army officers to relocate populations upon the simple suspicion of treason or for military reasons.

1915 June 1 12,000 Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army are massacred in Balu, vilayet of Diarbekir.

1915 J une 10 A supplementary law is enacted regarding reporting property of deportees. See entry under September 26 as to supplementary law adopted September 26, 1915.

1915 June 12 – July 3 Turkish armies slay or remove Armenians of Shapin Garahisar, who tried to defend themselves.

1915 June 15          21 leaders of the Hnchukyan Party are hanged publicly in Constantinople.

1915 June 24          Massacres and deportations of the inhabitants of Shabin Karahissar begin.

1915 June 25          The removal and deportation of the Armenians of the city of Sivas begin.

1915 June 26          The removal of the Armenian population of Kharput and Trebizond vilayets are commenced by the Turkish army. Photocopy of the original deportation order (written in old Turkish with Arabic characters) is to be found in the Archives of the United States State Department in Washington, DC.

1915 June 27          Mass removals and deportations of Armenians begin in Samsun.

1915 July 1          Assyrians and Armenians are deported from Medzpin (Nisibe), Tel-Ermen (Hill of the Armenians), Bitlis, vilayet of Bitlis, Mardin and surrounding regions.

1915 July 3  The massacre begins of the Armenian population of Mush, Sassun and Bitlis vilayets begins.

1915 July 10 The Armenian population of Malatia is deported.

1915 July 13 Self-defense of Musa mountain begins. The heroic band of Armenians is later vividly depicted in the best-selling novel “Forty Days of Musa Dagh” by Franz Werfel.

1915 July 27 The Armenian population of Cilicia and Antioch is deported.

1915 July 28 The removal of the Armenian population of the Cilician cities, Aintab and Qilise, is carried out. In Great Britain’s House of Lords, in answer to Viscount James Bryce’s question concerning the slaughter of Christians in Armenia, the president of the Military Council, Lord Grew declares that the information received by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows that the Turkish crimes are increasing both in numbers and in violence. Lord Grew declares that “all those mass carnages and violent removals are engaged under the pretext of forced transmigration”.

1915 July 29          Deportations begin from Aintab and Kilisse, in Cilicia.

1915 July 30          Deportations begin from Suedia, in Cilicia.

1915 August 16Deportations begin from Marash in Cilicia and Konia in western Asia Minor.

1915 August 10- 19 Removal and deportations begin of Armenians from Smyrna (Nikodemia), Brusa, Bartizak, Adabazar and surrounding areas.

1915August 19 Removal and deportation begin of Armenian population of Urfa in Yedesia.

1915 September 15          Turkey’s Minister of Interior, Talaat Pasha, cables to the Aleppo Prefecture the confirmation of the previously transmitted order for removal of Armenians and their final elimination. The original of this cable is reproduced in the book of A. Andonian “The Memoirs of Naim Bey (The Holocaust of the Armenians by the Turks). With a New Preface by the Armenian Historical Association”, Documentary Series, Vol. I, Great Britain, Reprint 1964, 83 pp. Exhibit No. 3 at the trial of Soghomon Tehlirian, authenticated by the German Court. (At a trial before a Berlin court in 1921, following the assassination of Talaat by Tehlirian, Tehlirian was acquitted by the Court because of the circumstances.)

1915 September 15          Rashid, Governor of Diarbekir, sends cable to Talaat, the Minister of the Interior, announcing that the number of Armenians “expelled” from Diarbekir has reached 120,000.

1915 September 26          “Provisional law concerning the property, debts and receivables of persons relocated elsewhere” is adopted. This law provides for the liquidation of debts and receivables of displaced persons (Armenians). A special commission is “charged” with holding the proceeds of sales in escrow. The German Foreign Office summarized this law as compressed to provide “1. All goods of the Armenians are confiscated. 2. The governments will cash in the credits of the deportees and will repay (will not repay) their debts”.

1915 September 30 and October 7          In Bern, Switzerland, at its Central Hall, public meetings are held deploring the ongoing Armenian tragedy.

1915 October          110 famous German and Italian civilians in Switzerland, including scientists, journalists and public figures publish “The Call” both in French and German, in defense of the Armenian people.

Note          As in Switzerland, in many other places all over the world, there were many, many public meetings of protest and countless public statements by various heads of state and other officials condemning the Turkish massacres and deportations of the Armenians, threatening the Turks responsible with appropriate punishment and promising justice and territorial and/or monetary restitution for the Armenians. The statements and meetings referred to in this chronology are but a tiny sample.

1915 October 6 In Great Britain’s House of Lords, Lord James Bryce denounces the Turkish murderous campaign against the Armenians. He declares the time has passed when any harm could be caused by public statements and the more complete the statements, the more good it may bring, because it remains the only chance of preventing these carnages from continuing, if they are not over yet. It is a pity, he says, that his information from several sources indicates that the number of victims is very large. It is considered to be 800,000 as of then. He states that there is no commandment in Islam that can justify such slaughters. He urges every effort be made to send help for the poor, wretched survivors, hundreds of which are dying of starvation and disease. “That is all that we can do now in England and let us do it and do it swiftly”.

1915October 12In Great Britain’s House of Commons, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edward Grey declares “All the information concerning the carnages of Armenians in Turkey became public. Only two feelings can describe it – horror and disturbance.”

1915 November 16 As the government spokesman for questions from members of the House of Commons, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lord R. Cecil declares that Turkey intended not to punish the Armenian race, but to destroy it. That was the only goal.

1915 November 18 In Paris at the “American Club”, a public meeting urges help to alleviate the Armenian suffering.

1915 December 12 Talaat, Minister of the Interior, sends a telegram to the Prefecture of Aleppo. He states that in view of the rather compassionate attitude of certain valis with respect to orphans, the order is given that the orphans be sent away with the caravans, with the exception of the very young ones unable to remember the atrocities. The original cable is reproduced in said Andonian’s book “The Memoirs of Naim Bey (The Holocaust of the Armenians by the Turks)”.

1916 January 11  In Germany’s Reichstag, deputy Karl Libknecht, an international socialist figure, directs a question to the Vice Chancellor, as to whether he is aware that in Turkey, their ally, thousands of Armenian citizens have been removed from their homes and exterminated. He demands that the German government forbid the Turks from further terrifying actions against the remaining Armenian population.

1916 February 9 The United States Senate votes (with the concurrence of  the House of Representatives) to ask the President of the United States of America to set a special day when citizens of this country can help Armenians with financial support, considering that many of them, being in the country that was at war, were forced to leave their houses and belongings without any opportunity to care even for their primal needs, are afflicted with hunger, disease and untold sufferings. President Wilson designates August 21 and August 22 for making contributions for the suffering Armenians.

1916 February 9 In the Russian Duma, Minister of Foreign Affairs S.D. Sazonov declares “I have mentioned before about the awful sufferings of that wretched race. Under the tacit assent of its ally, Germany, the Turks hoped to bring alive their desire to exterminate the entire Armenian race…”

1916 March 7          Talaat, Minister of the Interior, sends a cable to the Aleppo Prefecture, ordering the extermination of children at military installations.

1916 April 9          “Homage to Armenia” gathering takes place in Paris’ Sorbonne University, attracting thousands of people. Speaking at that gathering, France’s Minister of Education declares that “For more than a year carnages paint Armenia red in blood and have surpassed other crimes in scale and in violence. Germany can be proud of its horrid deeds”. At the same program, the opening words of the president of the National Council of France, Paul Deshnanel, firmly condemns the slaughter of Armenians at the hands of the Turkish executioners.

1916 July 29          “France-Armenia” company is formed in Paris, members of which are ministers of the French government, senators, deputies, Georges Clemenceau, writer Anatole France and other dignitaries.

1916 August 19 Decree abolishes the national Armenian constitution of 1863, in violation of Article 61 of the Treaty of Berlin concerning religious freedom.

1916 November 16 In Berlin’s Missionary Union, Doctor Karl Accenfeld sends a statement to the German Chancellor Bettman-Holveg in which he asserts “In neutral countries large accusations are spreading against Germany about not only calmly watching, but also helping to realize the extinction of a whole Christian race”. Note: In the bibliography in this web-site is listed a volume by Dadrian dealing with the German involvement.

1917 January 1 By a special decree/law the government of Turkey condemns the 1978 Treaty of Berlin and especially Article 61.

1917 March 29 In Stockholm, a large meeting takes place dedicated to repudiation of the mass murder of Armenians. The members of the meeting deplore the insensitivity of Sweden towards Armenians.

1917 November 6  In Great Britain’s House of Commons, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arthur Balfour declares “Do we need to ignore that Armenia should be given back, as respected gentlemen wish to give it back with their formula, under the reign of Turkey. I don’t want to ruin the Turkish community – consisting of Turks, in Turkish fitting style, commanding the Turks. No, our constant goal is the emancipation of non-Turks from Turkish governance. What is imperialistic in wishing to see Poland independent, Armenia liberated from Turks, Alsace Lorraine rejoined to France, to see Italy having its own population, language, area and civilization”.

1917 December 4 Speaking in the Congress of the United States, President Wilson states “We hope to provide the right and opportunity for people living in the Turkish Empire to make their lives safe and their fate secure from aggression and injustice, orders of foreign courts and parties.

1918 January 6 In the name of the “Germano – Armenian community”, Paul Rorbach, Edward Kir and Martin Rade urge the government of Germany to promote autonomy for Armenia.

1918 January 8 President Wilson’s Declaration of Fourteen Points is published. The 12th Point extends promise to the Armenians of security of life and an unmolested opportunity for autonomous development.

1918 March  Treaty of Brest-Litovsk is signed between Russia and Turkey after Russia’s withdrawal brought about by the Russian Revolution. Turkish invasion of Russian Armenia causes more killings of Armenians including those fleeing from Turkish Armenia. Fighting continues on the Caucasian front involving Armenian units.

1918 May 28  The Armenian National Council, of necessity to fill a vacuum, announces itself  the supreme and only administrative body for the comparatively small remaining territory in what was Russian Armenia. Such words as “independence” or “republic” are intentionally avoided pending the outcome of a nearby battle with the invading Turkish forces (which the Armenians do win).

1918 June 4 In Batum, the Treaty of Peace and Friendship is signed between Ottoman Turkey and the Republic of Armenia, proclaiming, hollowly, peace and eternal friendship. It provided, among other terms, detailed provisions dealing with conduct at or near their common boundary.

1918 mid-October United States Congressman Edward Little presents a resolution to the Congress advocating that the “Armenian people have the right to be free and independent, have an outlet to the sea and be the masters of the Christian culture for which their sons had been sacrificed”.

1918 October 30 The armistice of Moudros ends the war between the Allies and Turkey. Global estimates of the campaign of extermination: close to 1,500,000 Armenians dead.

1918 November Defeated Turkey recognizes the small Armenian Republic whose territory consists only of a small fraction of former Armenian lands. Turkey also cedes to it the vilayets of Kars and Ardahan the following year. This transfer proves to be only temporary.

1918 November 13          In Great Britain’s House of Lords, James Bryce, speaking about Armenia and Cilicia, severely criticizes the Turkish government. He states in part: “As Your Highness and Lords already know, the present Turkish government includes people that were involved in the astonishing carnages (that happened in 1915). Every respected Lord that wants to refresh his memory can read the Blue Book published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1916, in which you’ll find the description of the awful massacres that are written in history everywhere, in spite of all the attempts not to allow or justify them. Not only is Talaat Pasha in the group of criminals that created the Union and Progress Committee, but also others who still are active in the present Turkish government must take the responsibility for those carnages”.

1918 December 10          United States Senator Henry Cabot Lodge presented a proposal for the Senate to express the view that Armenia, including the six vilayets in Turkey and Cilicia should be independent and the peace conference should help Armenia to create an independent republic. While Lodge was very sympathetic to the Armenian cause, he later opposed the United States accepting a mandate of Armenia to avoid possible military involvement.

1919 January 8 By the order of Sultan Mahmed VI it was ordered that the First, Second and Third Military Tribunals prosecute criminally the leaders of the “Young Turks” and other implicated members of the government.

1919 April 8 A Military Tribunal finds a number of Turkish leaders guilty of carnages in the Yozkhat area. The Court finds that Kemal Bey ordered the Moslems of the area to eliminate all the Armenian population, and sentences him to death.

1919 April 27          In Constantinople, the trial begins of members of the Union and Progress Party, and other leaders of the Turkish government. The trial continues until June 26, 1919.

1919 May 22          The special Military Court tries the organizers of deportations and slaughter in Trebizond and punishes eight as criminals.

1919 May 28          By secret order of the British Military Government, 77 Turkish criminals are transferred from a prison at Constantinople to Malta and their convictions are expunged.

1919 June 25          In the name of the the Supreme Allied Council, Georges Clemenceau declares at the Peace Conference that Turkey officially has accepted guilt for the Armenian massacres.

1919 July 5           Following the trial of the Unionists (these were the members of the Union and Progress Committee, in power since 1909), Talaat Pasha, Enver Pasha, Djemal Pasha and Dr. Nazim “are adjudged to be the principal criminals and their guilt has been decided by unanimous vote”. All four are sentenced to death in absentia. It is to be noted that this trial took place during the period Constantinople was occupied by the Allied armies.

1919 October 17 The Supreme Council of the Allies, at the San Remo Conference, proposes that the United States accept a mandate over Armenia.

1920 January 13 and for months following          Various other trials take place in Constantinople and a number of Turkish officials and Young Turks are convicted and sentenced to death for their involvement in the crimes against the Armenian people.

1920 February French forces in post-war occupation of Cilicia unexpectedly withdraw. Turks take advantage of the opportunity and kill 30,000 Armenians.

1920 May 24          The President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, asks the Congress to give him the right to accept a mandate over Armenia and send troops there. Ultimately, the United States decides not to accept a mandate because of the inherent risks, even though still widely sympathetic to the Armenian cause.

1920 August 10 The Treaty of Sevres, signed by Turkey, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Armenia, Belgium, Greece, Lebanon, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbian-Croatian-Slovenic Republic and Czechoslovakia, recognizes the Armenian Republic and ordains that the borders between Turkey and Armenia in the vilayets of Erzerum, Trebizond, Van and Bitlis be determined by President Wilson. According to the peace agreement, Turkey accepts its responsibility for the crimes against the Armenians during the war and undertakes the obligation to compensate for the losses sustained by the Armenians. It also agrees to hand over to the Allies the persons responsible for the massacres. President Wilson appoints a commision which sets the boundaries of a much expanded Armenia, including significant seacoast, but all to naught. The Treaty of Sevres is never carried out. It was repudiated by Turkey and eventually replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne, which had no provisions dealing with Armenia.

1921 May 16           The independent Armenian Republic, in existence since May 28, 1918, is tranformed into the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia.

1922 September Kemal Ataturk’s forces seize and set fire to the city of Smyrna and engage in a rampage, killing Greeks and Armenians. 150,000 perish.

1923 April 25          Unrepentant Turkey enacts the law of “abandoned property” which provides for the confiscation of all property abandoned by Armenians absent from the country, regardless of the date, reason or conditions of their departure.

1923 July 24 The Treaty of Lausanne is signed by the new Republic of Turkey and the Great Powers. The Treaty recognizes full Turkish sovereignty over all its territory, and contains no provisions about Armenia. Winston Churchill has written: “In the Treaty of Lausanne, which re-establishes peace between Turkey and the Allies, history will search in vain for the word Armenia”.

1923 September Turkey adopts a law which prohibits the return of Armenians who left Cilicia or any of the eastern vilayets whether or not they had left voluntarily.

Armenian massacres

The killing of large numbers of Armenians who lived within the Ottoman Empire and its successor Turkish state in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From 1915 to 1920, more than a million Armenians died as the result of executions, massacres, starvation, and other repressive measures, and many fled to the United States and other countries.

Armenian Holocaust

The Armenian Holocaust (also known as the Armenian Massacre) is a term which refer to the forced mass evacuation and related deaths of hundreds of thousands or over a million Armenians, during the government of Young Turks from 1915 to 1917. Several facts in connection with what is called the Holocaust, is a matter of ongoing dispute between parts of the international community and Turkey. Although it is generally agreed that the events said to comprise the Armenian Holocaust did occur, the Turkish government reject that it was holocaust, on the alleged basis that the deaths among the Armenians, was not a result of a state-sponsored plan of mass extermination.

Despite this theses, most Armenian, Western, and some Turkish scholars believe that the Amernian Holocaust was in fact a case of what is termed holocaust. For example, most Western sources point to the sheer scale of the death toll, maintaining that there were probably a million or more deaths. What is referred to as the Armenian Holocaust is the second-most studied case of holocaust, and often draws comparison with the Holocaust. A growing list of countries, as discussed below, have officially recognized and accepted the authenticy of the Armenian Holocaust.

Armenians in Anatolia

In 1914, before World War I, there were an estimated two million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the vast majority of whom were of the Armenian Apostolic, with a small number of the Armenian Catholic and Protestant faiths. Until the late 19th century, the Armenians were referred to as millet-i sadika (loyal nation) by the Ottomans, as it is said they were living in harmony with other ethnic groups across the Empire without any major conflict with the central authority — this despite religious and ethnic differences and the Christian Armenians being subject to Islamic dhimmi laws, which gave them fewer legal rights than Muslims. While the Armenian population in Eastern Anatolia was large and clustered, there was also a considerable community of Armenians in the West, most of whom lived in the capital city of Istanbul, where a substantial community remains to this day. The communities in Eastern Anatolia suffered the heaviest human losses. As a result of the massacres, thousands of Armenians fled to independent and semi-independent muslim countries such as Egypt, Lebanon and Iran in what is known as the “Armenian Exodus”. There are still large Armenian communities/minorities in these countries today.

Before the holocaust

During the second half of the 19th century, along with the other minority groups of Anatolia such as Greeks and Bulgarians, Armenians started embracing nationalism. Despite pressure on the sultan Abdul Hamid by Western European countries about the Armenian Question, massacres only increased: according to Western accounts, 100,000 to 300,000 Armenians were killed within the Empire between 1894 and 1897.

Before World War I, the Ottoman Empire came under the government of the Young Turks. At first some Armenian political organizations supported the Young Turks, in hopes that there would be a significant change due to a variety of Abdul Hamid’s policies towards the general and the Armenian population. In this respect, many Armenians were elected to the Ottoman Parliament, where some remained throughout World War I.

In 1914, the Ottoman government passed a new law to support the war effort that required all enabled adult males up to the age of forty-five to either be recruited in the Ottoman army or to pay special fees in order to be excluded from service which would still be used in the war effort. By this law, most able-bodied men were removed from their homes, leaving only the women, children, and elderly by themselves. Most of the Armenian recruits were later turned into road laborers, and many were executed.

Following the Ottoman Empire’s entry into World War I, Imperial Russia invaded Eastern Anatolia, where the Armenian and Muslim communities were interleaved. Taking advantage of common religion and the recent discomfort of the Armenian community in the Ottoman Empire, Russia promoted Armenian nationalism, and there were many Russian-Armenians in the Russian army. At the same time, some Armenians had begun advocating an independent state.

Starved Armenian children

On April 24 1915, the Young Turk government arrested several hundred – or, according to Turkish records, over two thousand – Armenian intellectuals. It is believed that most of these were soon executed. This was quickly followed by orders for the forced evacuation of hundreds of thousands – possibly over a million – Armenians from across all of Anatolia (except parts of the western coast) to Mesopotamia and what is today Syria. Many went to the Der El Zor Desert. Most historians believe that the government did not provide any facilities to care for the Armenians during their evacuation, nor when they arrived. Rather, records suggest that the Ottoman troops escorting the Armenians as a matter of course not only allowed others to rob, kill, and rape the Armenians, but often participated in this activity themselves. The forseeable consequence was a significant number of human losses. Most Western sources maintain that a million or over Armenians lost their lives as a result.

After the recruitment of most men and the arrests of certain intellectuals, widespread massacres have been reported taking place throughout the Ottoman Empire. In Van, it is said that the governor Djevdet ordered irregulars to commit crimes and force the Armenians to rebel to justify the encircling of the town by the Ottoman army. The Ottoman government ordered the evacuation or deportation of many Armenians living in Anatolia to Syria and Mesopotamia. It is believed that over a million were deported, though this figure has not been conclusively established. The word “deportation” could be considered as misleading (and some would prefer the word “relocation”, as the former means banishment outside a country’s borders; it is said that Japanese-Americans, for example, were not “deported” during World War II). Some historians believe that the deportations were, in practice, a method of mass execution which led to the deaths of many of the Armenian population by forcing them to march endlessly through desert, without food or water or enough protection from local Kurdish or Turkish bandits, and members of the special organization were charged to escort the convoys (which meant their destruction).

Armenians hanged in Aleppo, 1915

The Ottoman Empire set up a recorded twenty-five to twenty-six of what are often called major “concentration camps” (Deir-Zor, Ras Ul-Ain, Bonzanti, Mamoura, Intili, Islahiye, Radjo, Katma, Karlik, Azaz, Akhterim, Mounboudji, Bab, Tefridje, Lale, Meskene, Sebil, Dipsi, Abouharar, Hamam, Sebka, Marat, Souvar, Hama, Homs and Kahdem), under the command of Şükrü Kaya, one of the right hands of Talat Pasha. The majority of the camps were situated near the Iraqi and Syrian frontiers, and some were only temporary transit camps. Other camps were only used as temporary mass burial zones—such as Radjo, Katma, and Azaz—that were closed in Fall 1915. After reports of deaths, the camps Lale, Tefridje, Dipsi, Del-El, and Ras Ul-Ain were built specifically for those who had a life expectancy of a few days. The majority of the guards inside the camps were Armenians.

Even though nearly all the camps, including all the major ones, were open air, according to records, some were not. Other camps existed, according to the military court, that were irregular Red Crescent camps used to kill by morphine injection (two Saib (health inspector) colleagues, Dr. Ragib and Dr. Vehib, testified during the court) and from which bodies were thrown into the Black Sea. In other instances, according to records, there were some small-scale killing and burning camps where the Armenian population was told to present itself in a given area, and was subsequently burned en masse. Other records from the military tribunal suggest that gassing installations existed as well. Other tribunal testimonies put forth that Dr. Saib and Nail, an Ittihadist deputy, were heading two school buildings used as extermination camps for children. Both Saib and Nail were allegedly in charge of providing the list of children who were to be distributed among the Muslim populace; the rest of the children were to be sent to the mezzanine floor to be killed by a mass gassing installation. The children were sent there under the pretext of taking baths but were poisoned instead.

While the total number of victims that perished in all such camps is hard to establish, it is estimated by some sources at close to a million. This excludes Armenians who may have died in other ways, but may include the special organizations’ participation in the events; the majority of the excluded losses are recorded in Bitlis and Sivas.

The special organization (Teshkilati Mahsusa)

While there was an official special organization founded in December 1911 by the Ottoman government, the second organization that participated in what led to the destruction of the Ottoman Armenian community was founded by the lttihad ve Terraki. It technically appeared in July 1914 and was supposed to differ from the existing organization in one important point; according to the military court and other records, it was meant to be a “government in a government” (without needing any orders to act). Later in 1914, the Ottoman government decided to influence the direction the special organization was to take by releasing criminals from central prisons to be the central elements of this newly formed special organization. According to the Ottoman commissions attached to the tribunal (for example the Mzhar commision in Sivas) as soon as November 1914, 124 criminals were released from Pimian prison. Many other releases followed; in Ankara a few months later, 49 criminals were released from its central prison. Little by little from the end of 1914 to the beginning of 1915, hundreds, then thousands of prisoners were freed to form the members of this organization. Later they were charged to escort the convoys of Armenian deportees. Vehib, commander of the Ottoman third army, called those members of the special organization, the “butchers of the human specy.” This organization was led by the Central Committee Members Doctor Nazim, Behaeddin Sakir, Atif Riza, and former Director of Public Security Aziz Bey. The headquarters of Behaeddin Sakir were in Erzurum, from where he directed the forces of the Eastern vilayets. Aziz, Atif and Nazim Beys operated in Istanbul, and their decisions were approved and implemented by Cevat Bey, the Military Governor of Istanbul.

Armenians killed during the Armenian holocaust

According to the same commissions and other records, the criminals were chosen by a process of selection. They had to be ruthless butchers to be selected as a member of the special organization. The Mazhar commission, during the military court, has provided some lists of those criminals. In one instance, of 65 criminals released, 50 were in prison for murder. The lists all gave a disproportionate ratio of those condemned for murder; others imprisoned for minor crimes constituted a clear minority. This selection process of criminals was, according to most Western researchers, clearly indicative of the government’s intention to commit mass murder of its Armenian population. It must also be noted that, according to records, physicians participated in the process of selection; health professionals were appointed by the war ministry to determine whether the selected convicts would be fit to apply the degree of savagery of killing that was required.

It is estimated that the members of the special organization have killed hundreds of thousands of Armenians.

Military trials, Istanbul, 1919

Many of those responsible for the holocaust were sentenced to death in absentia, after having escaped their trials in 1918. The accused succeeded in destroying the majority of the documents, that could be used as evidence against them, before they escaped. The martial court established the will of the Ittheadists to eliminate the Armenians physically, via its special organization. The Court Martial, Istanbul, 1919: “The Court Martial taking into consideration the above-named crimes declares, unanimously, the culpability as principle factors of these crimes the fugitives Talat Pasha, former Grand Vizir, Enver Efendi, former War Minister, struck off the register of the Imperial Army, Cemal Efendi, former Navy Minister, struck off too from the Imperial Army, and Dr. Nazim Efendi, former Minister of Education, members of the General Council of the Union & Progress, representing the moral person of that party;… the Court Martial pronounces, in accordance with said stipulations of the Law the death penalty against Talat, Enver, Cemal, and Dr. Nazim.”

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