Nicholas Warndorf,Unconventional Warfare in the Ottoman Empire: The Armenian Revolt and the Turkish Counterinsurgency

Kemal Çiçek
2018 Osmanlı Araştırmaları  
Unconventional Warfare in the Ottoman Empire: The Armenian Revolt and the Turkish Counterinsurgency, Offenbach am Main: ManzaraVerlag, 2017, 159 pp., ISBN: 978-3-93979-575-9. Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in general and the Armenian revolutionary activities in particular have been the subject of heated discussions among the historians of the Ottoman Empire. Historians have also devoted numerous efforts to unfold the real causes of the Armenian rebellions that had intensified after the 1890s.
more » ... d after the 1890s. It is clear from all accounts that the Ottoman military did not have an easy time while putting down these rebellions. As a matter of fact, Armenian revolutionaries were able to defeat Ottoman forces during the Van revolt of May 1915, capture the city and hand it over to the invading Russian army. Nevertheless, a strong focus has been put by the historians of the Ottoman Empire on the methods of suppressing the Armenian uprisings. Evaluating the events in line with the Armenian official thesis, historians have since accused the Ottoman military of massacring thousands of Armenians without taking into account whether they were actively supporting the rebels. The casualty rate among the civilians has been particularly exaggerated to attract the attention of the western community to the Armenian cause then and now. Due to lack of statistics, we will probably never know the exact death toll during the Armenian rebellions between 1863 and 1914. Thus, in my opinion, any attempt to put out a more acceptable figure by opposing academic positions will be in vain. However, in his book, Nicholas Warndorf have done something extraordinary and saved his expertise from falling into a black hole in the study of the Armenian Question. Instead of arguing how many and why so many casualties occurred during the suppression of these revolts, he focussed on how the Ottoman military reacted to the insurgency and whether their counterinsurgency methods were unique. The book gives a kind of state of the art answer to this question and argues that counterinsurgency methods applied by the Ottoman military during the events of 1915 were not of their own invention, but actually derived from western military tactics prior to World War I. In short, the author claims that the Ottomans had learned and adopted, not invented relocation, or tehcir in Ottoman parlance (21).
doi:10.18589/oa.592194 fatcat:gcpc6cqiobfqliuhgol6o3y6cu