By Hussein Shobokshi
Armenian communities around the world recently marked an anniversary that is important to them all; the anniversary that marks the loss of large numbers of relatives in various battles at the end of the Ottoman Empire. The Armenians believe that the number of those killed by the Ottomans is one and a half million and they consider it “genocide” just like the Holocaust of the Jews at the hands of the German Nazis. However, the Turks insist that the number of Armenians who lost their lives is no more than 500,000 and that the Armenians also killed tens of thousands of Turks.
Over the past few years, the Armenians have intensified their campaigns against the Turks on the local level in Turkey and also in the US by having a law passed in US Congress to condemn Turkey and to declare that what happened to the Armenians was “genocide.” [In the past] the Armenians resorted to destructive violence and formed terrorist organizations that carried out bombings and assassinations. The most notorious organization was the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (Asala) that assassinated 42 Turkish diplomats in the 1970s and 1980s.
Present-day Turkey has taken important steps towards building bridges and having mutual interests with Armenia and improving the standard of living of the Armenian community in Turkey. Nevertheless, the doubts and concerns of the Armenians are still prevalent and Armenia failed to take similar steps towards Turkey in return. The historic step taken by the Turkish President Abdullah Gul by visiting Armenia and agreeing on some important treaties is still fresh in the memory of many people. Nevertheless, Armenia obstructed the implementation of the agreements signed when it reopened the age-old issue of genocide. Turkey is not the Ottoman State in the same way that Germany is not Hitler or Nazism to Israel. The problem today is that amid excellent Arab-Turkish rapprochement and the building of important and serious mutual interests, Armenian voices can be heard from the Arab world, particularly Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, condemning and warning against rapprochement.
Many Armenian politicians and businessmen make “odd” statements that cast doubt over the history of the Turks and their ties with others. There is no room for Armenian weeping in the Arab world. The Armenians have turned the issue into one with no ending. Turkey today is a responsible state that solves the problems of its factions and communities such as the Jews, Christians, and Kurds, in a balanced and rational manner and even the rational Armenians have testified to that. But to turn Armenian “lamentation” into a trench between the Arabs and the Turks and to exploit this before the international community in such a low manner (that will only benefit Israel) is completely rejected. The Armenian community in the Arab world is an honourable one that has integrated with its population and achieved successes in the fields of sport, literature, business, politics and arts. It has rightly gained people’s trust and respect. Yet today Arabs are apprehensive about the “timing” and the intensity of Armenian statements, as well as the audacity of such statements that were made in such an irresponsible manner. This is an issue that will definitely have an impact on intentions and objectives of the Armenians as a result, especially as they have long preferred to remain silent about the Israeli massacres against Arabs (even though they have a well known separate district in East Jerusalem and have been directly harmed by the oppressive Israeli occupation).
The Armenians should decide whether they are a deep-rooted part of the Arab world or not. Rapprochement with a respectful and strong country like Turkey is in the Arab world’s best interest.
Source: Assharq Al Awsat, 29 April 2010