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Let's Talk Turkey

Part I_Cilicia

Let's talk Alexandretta and before that Cilicia. Let's talk Armenian genocide. Let's talk Cyprus 1974. Let's talk Syrian and Armenian displacement from Kassab in Syria in 2014. Let's talk Hasekeh, Kamishli and Idleb October 2019. In short let's talk Turkey.

 The sad story of Alexandretta and how it was stripped off Syria by Turkey and France is a lesson taught in history to every child attending Syrian schools.

 It all started with Cilice early on. Cilice was in the region of north Syria. At the start of WW1 and in a correspondence between Sherif Hussein and Mac. Mahon Sherif Hussein asked that Cilicia be returned to Syria after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. That request was denied.

 In 1921 and in a reconciliatory gesture by France to the Ottoman Empire one hundred and sixty thousand square Kilometers (approximately the area of Syria now) was ceded to Turkey. Syrian land given to Turkey by French authority.

 Possibly a rehearsal of what was to happen later in Palestine when the British gave Palestine to the Jews (the Balfour declaration 1917).

 The inhabitants of Cilicia then were Arabs, Armenians (who were the original inhabitants) Kurds and Circassians. Previously the Armenians had been forcefully evicted from Cilicie and massed in camps in Aleppo, Damascus and Beirut.

 Under the French mandate Armenian return to Cilicie was facilitated and offices were established solely concerned with the return of Armenians to Cilicie. This was done not because the Armenians had a right to return to Cilicie (and they did) but because the French wanted to weaken the Ottoman hold on the area by returning its original ethnicities to it. By July 1919, very few Armenians remained in Damascus. The situation of Armenians in Cilicie improved because the French were able to see the possibility of using them to solidify French hold on the area- and the Armenians at that point were convinced that they had French sympathy and had hopes of establishing a self rule area there.

 In 1919 a Colonel Bremond was posted to the area of Cilicia and in a celebration hosted in his honor he said that he had come to put his skill to use as "jurisdiction organizer" of to the area and put it under the control of the Armenians-that Armenians will form the backbone of the army in Cilicia.

 Sadly the contrary happened and hardly a year passed before France dismantled the Armenian volunteers and lost its control over the area and it fell again under Turkish power (the Ankara agreement 1921where Turkey also acknowledged the French mandate over Syria).

 France did that in a gesture of goodwill towards Kemalist Turkey in the hope that it would win them over from forming any kind of bond with Soviet Russia.

 It is that particular agreement that resulted in great misfortunes for Syria later on. By giving Cilicia to Turkey, Henry Franklin Bouillon (who had no idea of course of the exact geographical location of Cilicia or what ethnicities inhabited that area), Syria's natural northern borders were pushed southward 50 km thus giving Syria a fluid border with Turkey, a very difficult border to protect against a very dangerous neighbor.

 The Ankara Agreement is also illegal because it is illegal for a mandate power (France) to cede any part of the country under its mandate to a foreign country (Turkey) without even a representative from Syria. By losing Cilicia, Syria lost a greatly productive area its own size. It also lost its own solid natural borders with Turkey.

Turkey's promises of protecting different ethnicities were fake as Turkey forced displacement upon them and committed genocide. By 1923 all different ethnicities were uprooted, their land and money seized by Turkey.

Most important of all, water remained in Turkey's hands and from that time until the present day Turkey has used this issue politically to pressurize both Syria and Iraq.  

And it is through these very borders that Erdogan today has sent his mercenaries and terrorists to wreak havoc and destruction on Syria.

Editor in Chief

Reem Haddad

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