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Armenia under the Ottomans
In World War I, Armenia rebelled against the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans attempted genocide to stop the rebels. With no major attacks on the Turkish coast, Turkey effectively quelled the rebellion, resulting in the deaths of 1.7 million Armenians. Many Armenians joined the invading Russian forces, but it was to no avail. After the Russian Revolution, the Ottomans pushed the invaders back. Even more Armenians were killed. But with the Ottoman Empire facing attacks elsewhere, it withdrew from Armenia, leaving a devastated nation in their wake.
The Lodgian Mandate - American Armenia
Even after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Armenia was far from safe. Nearby nations such as Azerbaijan, Turkey and the Russian Republic threatened to expand into their territory. Also, Armenia laid in desperate poverty. It appeared that starvation would finish what Ottomans could not. The weak Armenian government sought foreign help.
The British Empire saw Armenia as a buffer against the Russians, whose inner turmoil they feared would spread to the Middle East, threatening oil supplies and British dominance. Furthermore, the British sought to limit remaining Turkish influence. Occupied in other parts of the world, the British did not want to control Armenia. Instead, in the Treaty of Versailles, the British gave a mandate for Armenia to the United States, whose President, Henry Cabot Lodge, was seeking territory abroad. Armenia, weak from years of struggle, did not resist.In 1919, American troops from the Western front landed in Anatolia and marched to Armenia. Supplied by the British and Greeks, the Americans quickly established a base in Yerevan. They gave out food and basic necessities to the Armenians. Despite some limited guerrilla warfare, the Americans quickly established control of the country. Future treaties would delineate the western border of Armenia in Western Anatolia. American Armenia inherited all of the Armenian government's claims to Anatolia. With Armenia's economy in ruins, Lodge sought to show the situation as a humanitarian mission rather then an Imperialist takeover. He appointed James Harbord as Military governor.
Under Harbord, a massive amount of American aid was sent to rebuild the nation. For the first time in its history, Armenia had modern infrastructure. With tariff free goods coming in from American farmers, the Armenians did not have to starve. American troops provided protection from nearby nations. The unorganized Turkish nationalists tried to seize Western Armenia, but were defeated easily by the Americans. Devoid of any centralized leadership, the Turks were forced to flee the area and eventually surrendered to the Allies.
Before the Americans had come, Azerbaijani soldiers had been crossing the border for raids, seeking to expand into Armenia and seize control over disputed regions. Now, American troops invaded Azerbaijan with aid from a few Armenian militias. Overcoming local garrisons, Americans seized the temporary capital at Ganga, and the Azerbaijani government agreed to surrender to the Americans, seeking to avoid large casualties. Azerbaijan was then totally assimilated into Armenia. This solidified American support for the Armenians. A similar war occurred with Georgia in 1921, which also resulted in an American takeover.
Armenia's western border was further secured by the defeat of the Turkish nationalists. The Treaty of Sevres partitioned the Anatolian Peninsula among the allied powers. With American support, the Turks were forced to accept the Treaty. Although the Sultan still ruled over a rump Turkish state in northern Anatolia, Turkish independence was effectively dead. This gave the Armenians an enormous political and economic advantage. By the late 1920s, some Armenian politicians were agitating for complete independence, noting there were few remaining threats to Armenia. The Americans eventually drew plans for the establishment of a Trans-Caucasian Federation in the near future.
In 1923, after four years of American military rule, the Commonwealth of Armenia was formally established. A weak national legislature was created, giving Armenia a form of limited democracy. In reality though, the appointed governor, Henry Morgenthau, and the Federal government in Washington held the real power. An uneasy peace came over the nation. Refugees from Russia and Turkey came to settle in the country, which became a beacon of stability, as the British had hoped. As a result, the population began to recover. American businesses moved in, giving many Armenians jobs in construction projects, and factories, as the Armenians were willing to work for low wages. Like their rulers in the United States, Armenia went through an economic boom. The average Armenian's lifestyle became, if not modern, then at least adequate. This modernization of Armenia was most obvious in the cities. Yerevan became well known for its nightlife, including in some quarters, jazz. Many in the country flocked to Yerevan for jobs. In the country, life largely remained as it had for centuries, with a few more conveniences, such as radio. The major tensions came between traditionally Orthodox Christian Armenians and American protestant missionaries, who managed to convert many Armenians. The Azerbaijanis were more resistant, and most kept Islam as their faith. American troops in Armenia occasionally married the locals, creating half American-Armenians loyal to the United States.
Unfortunately, like the United States, Armenia was hit by the Great Depression. Armenian workers low wages kept them from being laid off, but their benefits were cut. Armenia's relative security was also threatened. In 1931, a revolution in Russia led to a certain Grigori Rasputin bringing back the Russian Empire. One of Rasputin's closest advisers, Josef Dughashvili, was a native of Georgia, which convinced him to invade Georgia shortly after he took power. Rasputin calculated that the United States, over 5000 miles away, would be unable to ship soldiers and supplies at the rate he could. On July 4th, when the Americans were celebrating Independence Day, he sent 40,000 troops into Georgia. But Rasputin had underestimated both the Americans, and domestic opposition. The United States invoked its alliance with Greece, sending thousands of more troops to reinforce Armenia and retake Georgia. Rasputin raided Armenia, but could not occupy the country. He had to keep most of his army inside Russia to quell leftist radicals, who spoke of creating a Soviet Union. Each side kept escalating the amount of troops in the Caucasus. The Americans, particularly Armenian Governor Franklin Roosevelt, were able to rally a surprising amount of manpower from their Greek allies and the native Armenians. It appeared that this war would take longer then expected. Unwilling to risk thousands of lives in the middle of a Depression, both sides agreed to hold talks mediated by the French. In the Treaty of Sofia, the United States agreed to sell Georgia to the Russians, but keep Armenia. The idea of a Trans-Causasian Federation was scrapped as the Americans maintained their presence as a buffer against the newly imperialistic Russia. Some Armenians felt betrayed, but most felt grateful to be protected from Rasputin.
Budgetary issues meant that Armenia received little from the Americans. As a result, Armenia slid into poverty. The slums of Yerevan became notorious for mobsters, including the Armenian Mafia, whose corruption spread to all levels of the country. Still, American Armenia had the best lifestyle in the Near East. Dissent slowly grew, and the Armenian Liberation Army was established. In 1937, an American soldier shot looters in Yerevan. The locals grew angry, and massive scale riots broke out. Armenia felt ready for independence. However, American troops managed to hold back the riots, and would occasionally use heavy firepower against the Armenians rioting for food and water. Eventually, the riots dissipated, and Armenia fell back into its slumber.
Armenia in World War II
Despite its inner turmoil, Armenia was relatively isolated from the troubles of the rest of the world. This would not remain the case. in 1937, a German backed revolution established the Italian Socialist Republic. This Communist nation had holdings in Western Anatolia, and sought to expand its control over all the Middle East. For now, its main objectives were Egypt and Anatolia. When World War II broke out between Communist Germany and the Western European powers, Italy sided with the Germans. In 1940, Turkish rebels under Italian command attacked British and French holdings in Anatolia.
Although America was not at this point participating in the war, it was supplying aid to the Allies. The governor of Armenia, Patrick Hurley, ordered a draft of all young Armenian males into defensive militias. It was expected that the United States would enter on the side of the allies, so preparation was necessary. Slowly, Armenia began to turn into a wartime economy. When the United States was attacked by the German allies Japan and Argentina, Governor Hurley sent these Armenian militias into British territory to fight the Communists. Unfortunately, the Allies were occupied elsewhere, so sufficient military aid was forthcoming. The Communists seized control of Greece, cutting off Armenia from a valuable ally. American troops were sent to reinforce Constantinople, which was under Communist attack. The city remained under Allied control due to Russian supplies.
In 1942, the combined Italian and Turkish rebel army mounted a major offensive through British territory to attack Armenia. Thousands of refugees fled east, into Azerbaijan. The French, with their homeland occupied by Communists, surrendered and went home. British Turkey was on the verge of falling, when they hired mercenary bands of local Kurds, who hated the Turks. The Kurds managed to prevent the Communists from heading south into Iraq, but they could forever hold back the advancing tide. The Kurds won the Battle of Mosul, but in the rest of Iraq Arab rebels were threatening British dominance. The Allies placed their hopes that the Communists would waste energy on blockading Constantinople.
But by January of 1943, Italian troops had occupied nearly all of Anatolia, and were marching toward Yerevan. But in North Africa, the Communists were being pushed back, so the Italians halted the offensive to send more troops to Libya. This is what the Allies had been waiting for. As the Italians withdrew their troops, a combined force of British, Kurds, Armenians and Americans led a blitzkrieg through Anatolia and attacked the fledgling Turkish People's Republic capital at Ankara. At the same time, British troops stationed in Syria lead an offensive northward into former French Turkey. The Italians, overextended and under supplied, were routed and forced west. The Turks, disillusioned with the Communists, offered little resistance. Conservative Turks even succeeded in leading a major revolt against the Italians, who were viewed by Turkish peasants as military occupiers. The Communists solidified Italian Anatolia, and stationed most of their soldiers around Denizili. With Italy under Allied attack, Anatolia was sure to fall. When Denizili fell in March of 1944, it marked the end of the Italian Empire. Armenian and American militias then went onward to liberate Greece and much of the Southern Balkans before the war ended.