Mutual suspicion, rivalry and intermittent wars
bedeviled the relations of the short-lived Transcaucasian
republics of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Conflicting territorial claims supplied the
dynamite for an explosive situation
which could not be defused by negotiation and compromise because of the rabid nationalism and fanaticism of the
republics' leadership. The most serious
dispute, one between Armenia
broke out over conflicting claims
to Mountainous Karabagh—a region comprising the mountainous parts of Jebrail, Shushi, Jevanshir
and Elisavetpol counties (uezdy) of the Elisavetpol province (gubemiia).
occupied Transcaucasia after World War I,
played a leading role in the struggle for Karabagh and for a resolution favouring Azerbaijan. The settlement
reached in the summer of 1919
remained basically unchanged after the Red Army took control of Azerbaijan and Armenia in 1920. The `Karabagh
Question', however, continues to exacerbate
the relations of Soviet Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan and poses the
problem of nationalist claims to the Soviet government.
motives governing British policy regarding Transcaucasian territorial disputes in general, and the Karabagh conflict in
particular, seem too complex to be explained by several recently
advanced theories.' Richard H. Ullman
argues that British officers favoured Christian Georgia and Armenia if they had previously served in Europe, whereas those British
officers who had been in India
supported Moslem Azerbaijan. Such an interpretation cannot account for every British decision on
territorial conflicts in Transcaucasia. However,
the pro-Moslem sympathies of British officers formerly serving in India did influence their
arbitration of the Karabagh dispute. This view is stressed but not documented by Richard G. Hovannisian. By contrast, Briton C. Busch argues that the
background of British officers played
no significant role in shaping British policy. The Karabagh case weakens his argument. Moreover, historians have
failed to emphasize the fact that
the British officers entrusted with the task of imposing law and order in Transcaucasia had insufficient troops
to control a hostile Azerbaijan. Thus, expediency played a very important role
in the shaping of policy towards
Karabagh, for nothing could have proved more ruinous to British efforts to keep Azerbaijan quiet than a decision in favour of Armenia.
The course of the Armeno-Azerbaijani
conflict over Karabagh has received previous
scholarly treatment .2 In the first, half of 1918,
Mountainous Karabagh was administered by a local bi-racial council and
enjoyed virtual autonomy. The Moslem Azerbaijanis (Tatars) outnumbered the
Christian Armenians in the Elisavetpol
province two to one but the Armenians constituted seventy per cent of the population of Mountainous
Karabagh. Following the declaration
of Georgian, Azerbaijani and Armenian independence in May 1918, the Azerbaijani government strove to bring Karabagh, the city of Baku (which was controlled
by local Russians and Armenians),
and the Zangezur county of Elisavetpol under its jurisdiction with the help
of the Ottoman armies. The Turks, who had already annexed parts of
Transcaucasia, rushed to Azerbaijan's
assistance. The first target of Turco-Tatar
forces was the oil rich city of Baku.
After entering it in September and
killing thousands of Armenian civilians, the Ottoman formations moved on Mountainous Karabagh. The
Armenians of Shushi, heavily
outnumbered and anxious to escape the fate of their Baku compatriots, submitted to the
The other districts of Mountainous Karabagh continued to
resist the Moslem forces and appealed to the
Turkish Armenian partisan leader General Andranik
Ozanian for assistance. Andranik and his irregulars had entered Zangezur in July, destroyed a number of Moslem
settlements and brought the
central region of the county under Armenian control. Andranik led his force towards Shushi in late November— almost a
month after the Turkish Armistice —and crossed the
Karabagh border on 2 December, after demolishing a number of Moslem
strongholds which blocked his route. The Karabagh
Armenians, elated with his successes and the departure of Ottoman troops in November, believed that they
would come under the jurisdiction
of the Republic
of Armenia in a matter
of days. However, their hopes were
soon dashed by the action of Major-General William M. Thomson, the commander of the British
expeditionary force which had entered Baku
from North Persia on 17 November 1918.
Thomson instructed Andranik to stop all military
operations and to return to Zangezur.
Since the World War was over, all local disputes were to be settled by the Paris Peace Conference, not by force of
arms.' Andranik complied; he was back in Zangezur on 4 December. A British
military mission informed the Karabagh
Armenians that Thomson himself would resolve, on a provisional basis, the
Armeno-Azerbaijani conflict. His decision, made public in mid-January
1919, was a notable victory for the Azerbaijani
government: both Zangezur and Mountainous Karabagh would be
administered by Azerbaijan
pending the final verdict of the Paris Peace Conference. Adding insult to the shattered hopes of Armenians, Thomson,
to the surpise of many British
authorities on the spot, approved the Azerbaijani government's choice of Doctor Khosrov Bek Sultanov, a notorious
Armenophobe, as the governor general of the two regions.'
The pro-Azerbaijani actions of the British commander
shocked the Armenians, who considered
themselves the 'Little Ally'. As proof to this claim they pointed to their resistance against the
Turks during the World War and to
numerous Allied wartime pledges on their behalf. Thus, they expected
the British forces to assist them in incorporating into the Armenian republic the territories disputed with Azerbaijan
whose government had co-operated with the Turks during the war.'
Karabagh Armenians and the government of Armenia objected to Thomson's decision.
They petitioned Thomson, Major-General George Forestier-Walker (the senior commander of British forces in Transcaucasia) and
the British government for the exclusion of Zangezur and Karabagh from
Azerbaijani jurisdiction. All appeals received the same response: the Armenians should accept the temporary
arrangement made by Thomson pending
the final resolution of all Transcaucasian territorial conflicts by the Paris
The British military command in Transcaucasia
consistently disregarded the Armenian
demonstrations. Armenian arguments that their case was based on
the principle of the self-determination of nationalities as well as on economic, geographic and historical
considerations fell on deaf ears. The British military authorities attempted to reason, coax and threaten
the Armenians into accepting the interim settlement decreed by Thomson
in mid-January. The British military
mission in Karabagh and the Baku
command did not take drastic measures necessary to stop Azerbaijani
military operations against recalcitrant Karabagh. Regular Azerbaijani
troops, in co-operation with
Azerbaijani-Kurdish irregulars, entered Shushi in early June 1919.
Hundreds of Armenian civilians were killed and many Armenian villages were
looted and destroyed.
The fate of Shushi demonstrated the superiority of
Azerbaijani forces to the remaining districts of Mountainous Karabagh. They
were disillusioned by the
inability of the Armenian government to render effective help to Karabagh or reverse the British policy. The Karabagh
Armenians were faced with a
choice between continued resistance—which would surely result in more defeats and deaths—or acquiescence in
Azerbaijani authority. Mountainous Karabagh chose the second course
in the absence of assistance from outside. Following lengthy and tortuous
negotiations, the Armenians of Karabagh
accepted Azerbaijani jurisdiction by an agreement signed on 22 August
The same month British forces began their withdrawal
from Transcaucasia and, as the Paris Peace Conference did not
seriously address itself to the territorial conflicts of the
Transcaucasian republics, the Armenians of Karabagh
rebelled in the spring of 1920. The Armenian government dispatched regular units to Karabagh's
assistance but the battle was interrupted
when the Eleventh Red Army marched into Baku
and Azerbaijan was declared a Soviet Republic.
The Republic of
Armenia, heeding the ultimatum delivered by the command of the Eleventh
Red Army in the name -of Soviet
Russia and Soviet Azerbaijan, withdrew its units from Karabagh, which
eventually became an autonomous component of Soviet Azerbaijan.
The British policy toward Karabagh
aroused general indignation in the Republic of Armenia. At the end of August 1919, Lieutenant-Colonel
John C. Plowden, the British military representative in Erevan, reported:
handing over of KARABAGH to Azerbaijan
was, I think, the bitterest blow of all. KARABAGH means more to the Armenians
than their religion even,
being the cradle of their race, and their traditional last sanctuary when
their country has been invaded. It is Armenian in every particular and the strongest part of Armenia, both
financially, militarily and socially.'
Armenians felt that their just cause had been betrayed by their British ally'.'
postwar intervention in Transcaucasia was triggered by the decision of David Lloyd George's War Cabinet, at the end
of October 1918, to establish
undisputed British control over the Caspian Sea
and to ensure Turkish
compliance with the terms of the Mudros Armistice. The occupation of Baku, and the disembarkation at Batum of the
27th Division of General George
Milne's Salonika Force at the end of December, was also part of a larger British plan to establish contact with
the anti-Bolshevik elements in the
Balkans, southern Russia and on the Volga front.' By the end of 1918 the British government had detailed about
23,000 men to Transcaucasia, but it had failed to formulate a comprehensive or
long-term policy towards the Transcaucasian
republics. While British troops proceeded to occupy the Batum-Baku line, the British Peace
Delegation left for Paris without clear guidelines regarding the recognition of
the Transcaucasian republics and the solution of their
conflicting territorial claims.'
directive Thomson received from London
regarding policy towards the
local republics reached him a week after his arrival in Transcaucasia.
The War Office instructed the British military command to proclaim that the British goal was to maintain order and
enforce the armistice terms until the future of the local
republics was decided by the Paris Peace Conference."
While the British government neglected the territorial conflicts of Transcaucasian republics, Thomson
was immediately faced with these
disputes upon his arrival in Baku.
As he realized that these conflicts had to be resolved if peace and
order were to be secured in Transcaucasia, he proclaimed his own convictions as government policy in the absence of guidelines
Fathali Khan Khoiskii, the Azerbaijani Premier, aware of
British concern to restore
peaceful conditions in eastern Transcaucasia,
accused the Armenians of perpetrating the
troubles in Zangezur and Mountainous Karabagh.
Thomson, in turn, authorized the Azerbaijani government on 29 November 'to use its troops defensively as a
protection against ARMENIANS. 112
Khan Khoiskii's powers of persuasion might have influenced Thomson, but other considerations were
responsible for his decisions to
demand Andranik's withdrawal to Zangezur and to place Karabagh under Azerbaijani jurisdiction.
Thomson's support of Azerbaijani claims was partly due to his
assessment that the small British force under his command could not maintain peace in this region. Ranald McDonell, the British
vice-consul at Baku who was personally involved in British efforts to resolve the Armeno-Azerbaijani territorial
disputes, admitted that 'the Armenians- certainly received some very
severe snubs [from Thomson], but feeling
against them [in Azerbaijan] ran so high that it is doubtful whether General
Thomson could have established any sort of order in Azerbaijan had he not taken up the attitude he did'."
Thus, Thomson ordered Andranik back to Zangezur mainly because he
wanted to stop all military operations in Transcaucasia and reestablish normality. Moreover, in
order not to arouse Azerbaijani hostility toward the British command, Thomson
advised against the military aid which the War Office proposed to give
to Andranik. The British government, he
said, 'would be misconstrued as arming Armenians against Tartars'. 11
The approval given by Thomson to the appointment of
Sultanov as governor general is more difficult to explain. Thomson was aware
of Sultanov's extreme pro-Turkish sympathies and undying
hatred of Armenians. These were not the right qualifications for quelling or moderating
the hostility of Zangezur and Karabagh Armenians towards the Azerbaijani government. Thomson was warned by
McDonell that Sultanov was much too
vindictive a type to keep peace for long'. 11 Perhaps he agreed to
the appointment of Sultanov because the latter, 'being related by birth or
marriage to most of the local Begs', had a very strong power base in Shushi.
The final, and an important, consideration accounting
for the favourable attitude of Thomson to Azerbaijani
territorial clams was his desire to see the establishment
of a large, strong and pro-British Azerbaijan. Having served in India,
he was keenly alive to the traditional Anglo-Russian rivalry in Asia and
was hostile to Russia.
Now that Russia
was in the throes of civil war, he wanted
to extend British protection to the Moslems living within the southern
borders of of Asiatic Russia. This view was shared by many British officers
in Transcaucasia who had served in India. The most extreme case for
this policy was made by Colonel Claude Stokes who was a political officer in Baku and was appointed British High Commissioner in Transcaucasia in September 1920. According to a Foreign
. . .
Colonel Stokes . . . strongly advocated the creation of a single Mahommedan State extending from the northern
frontier of Daghestan to the
Persian Gulf, and eastward from the Black Sea to beyond the Caspian, so as to include the Turkoman
Mahommedans of Russian Central Asia. Such a State would be peopled
chiefly by Moslems of the Shiah rite, and
... would be in enmity with any Turkish
State in Asia Minor.
It was expected that the Shiah State would lean upon Great Britain and provide a buffer between Russia and
the British Asiatic possessions ... 11
was hopeful that a sympathetic British attitude toward the claims of the
Azerbaijani government would deter it from pursuing a pro-Turkish orientation. Moreover, he considered such a
policy to be a propaganda asset for Britain,
whose empire had a large Moslem population. Thomson exhorted London:
stands on the edge of two problems. That of Russia, and the far more important one for us, the future of
Mahommedan Power. Two of the great Mussalman powers
have ceased to exist, Russia
and Turkey—we alone remain. Are we going to accept that
position? Are we going to support the temporal power of the Caliph in
that remains? Are we going to see Persia and the Arab Kingdom
through? Are we going to do
anything for the Mussalmans of the late Russian Empire? It must be remembered
that half of the population of Trans Caucasia
are Mussalmans. They have appealed to us. Also representatives of the Turkomans, Bakhara, Khiva and even
Bashkiria have come to Tiflis and Baku and asked for
British protection and help. Trans Caucasia therefore may be of importance
to us. . .
He admitted that continuous British military presence in
Transcaucasia would be a heavy
financial and military burden for Britain
and might earn her the hatred
of Russia and the jealousy
However, he preferred to keep this region
under British military control and warned London that the withdrawal of British troops 'will be looked upon,
in Trans Caucasia, as an act of perfidy'. 11
was not blind to the animosity between Armenians and various Moslem peoples in Transcaucasia.
He believed that as long as a large Moslem
community lived in Armenia
and a strong Armenian minority remained
the governments of both republics would be involved in continuous interracial conflicts and would not be able to
stabilize their administration and
finances. He was confident that the Peace Conference would decree the unification of the Transcaucasian
Republic of Armenia with Turkish Armenia. Thus, he saw no reason
for giving satisfaction to
Armenian territorial claims in Transcaucasia because of the large size the future integral Armenia would have. He wanted to
transplant. the Armenians of the
Elisavetpol province into Kars and Erevan
provinces of the Republic of Armenia
and repopulate their villages with Moslems living in Armenia."
This policy would benefit both republics:
Transplanting will be necessary but
not on a large scale. For example the Armenian
enclave in Karabagh can not remain, nor can the hostile Mussulman sit around the S.W. of Erivan as at
present. When the worst cases have
been dealt with the races will settle down quietly together as in the
past or will migrate voluntary [sic] to the country ruled by their
Thomson was not
alone in advocating these ideas. When he replaced Forestier-Walker
as divisional commander in Tiflis on 10 March 1919— thus becoming the
tactical commander of all British troops in Transcaucasia—his policy towards
Karabagh was followed to the letter by his successor in Baku, Lieutenant-Colonel
(later General) Digby Inglis Shuttleworth. Brigadier-General William
Beach (the head of the British military intelligence in the Caucasus), in
spite (or maybe because) of his concern for the well-being of Armenians went one step further than Thomson and
advocated the inclusion of the
Nakhichevan county of the Erevan province into the boundaries of Azerbaijan. His arguments for
this policy, and the methods suggested for implementing it, were
similar to those advanced by Thomson:
The South-Eastern corner of the Erivan province
contains a high percentage of Tartars and it is
proposed therefore that the district of Nakichevan should go to Azerbaijan: Armenians from the district thus
ceded (and also those from the Shusha and Gerusi districts) being transplanted- into Kars
province and being replaced by Moslems from Kars,
Erivan (and possibly Batoum) provinces.
support need be given to Armenia's
claims in the province of Elisavethpol nor to her claim for Akhalkalaki [in the Tiflis
province]: she should be amply
satisfied by receiving BORCHALA and by the territory which her nation
will presumably receive in Asia Minor."
Thomson, Shuttleworth and Beach received the unstinted
support of their military superiors. The successive
commanders of British forces in Transcaucasia—
General Forestier-Walker, Thomson himself and George Cory—remained unmoved by the numerous pleas of the Armenian government
and the Armenians of Karabagh to free the latter region from Azerbaijani
jurisdiction pending the final decision of the Paris Peace Conference." The Armenian government was also
unable to wrest concessions from
General George Milne, the commander of the British Army of the Black Sea, whose command included the British
forces in Turkey, Transcaucasia and Transcaspia. Milne stated that
questions pertaining to local affairs should be resolved with British
military authorities in Transcaucasia.'
Armenian petitions to the Foreign Office in London
and to the British Peace Delegation in Paris
proved equally unproductive.
Office and the political section of the British Peace Delegation—to which the Karabagh Armenians and the Republic of
Armenia Peace Delegation brought the question of
Karabagh—were isolated from Transcaucasian
developments during the first half of 1919. In a minute of 2 February 1919, Lord Curzon, the Acting Secretary
of State for Foreign Affairs,
complained that he had only 'a very small idea [about] what is going on'
in Transcaucasia. His information came mainly from copies of telegrams exchanged between the War Office and the
military commanders in the Caucasus, but these communications reached him mixed up
with other telegrams, so he could
not get a clear picture of the situation. His other sources of information consisted of 'a brief
daily typed summary sent me from the Military Department of the India Office
... [and] an occasional casual reference in the Foreign Office weekly
Eastern Reports, which hardly seem to be aware of the existence of the
The high ranking officials of the Foreign Office knew
even less than Curzon. George Kidston, the Chief
Clerk of the Eastern Department (which dealt with affairs pertaining to the
Balkans, the Middle East, Persia
and the Caucasus) stated on 6 February:
'For all practical purposes the Caucasus
has, until quite recently, been almost entirely outside the purview of the Foreign Office'. As Transcaucasia
was occupied by British troops, it was under the responsibility of the
War Office. There were no Foreign Office representatives
in the area and all information the Foreign Office received came from
the War Office. Kidston complained of the 'erratic' delivery of War Office telegrams regarding Transcaucasia. He also believed that many crucial items were withheld. As to the reports
that Curzon received from the India Office, Kidston claimed that he had never
seen them or 'even heard' of them.
He hastened to add that the weekly Eastern Reports were not written by
the Foreign Office but by the Secretariat of the War Cabinet."
The Foreign Office and the political section of the
British Peace Delegation were in the dark about the
motives underlying the decision of Thomson regarding
the provisional administration of Karabagh. They turned to the War Office for information when Armenian
protests reached Paris and London." The War Office did not divulge the
rationale for the Karabagh decision but questioned the credibility of
Avetis Aharonian, the head of the Republic
of Armenia Peace Delegation,
and his arguments.
War Office attitude is well illustrated by its response to the request of Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour (who as a
member of the British Peace
Delegation was being inundated by Armenian protests) to Curzon in London to obtain the full facts of the Karabagh
situation from the War Office."
In reply, Major-General William Thwaites,
the Director of Military
Intelligence Department (D.M.I.) of the War Office, forwarded the copy of a telegram from Thomson which
declared that 'the Armenian enclave
in Karabagh cannot be allowed to remain'. Thomson gave no reasons for
this policy. Instead, he unleashed a tirade against the Karabagh Armenians and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation
(Dashnaktsutiun), the dominant political party in the Republic of Armenia:
The fact is that
some Armenians are much disappointed that the
British occupation is not an opportunity for revenge. They are reluctant to accept it that [the] peace
conference are going to decide [the future of Karabagh] and not
carrying out of the policy of the British Government the most bitter opposition comes from Armenian society of
Dachnachtsoon [sic] and it has been necessary to deal with it.
Moderate Armenians are working well with us as is proved
[sic], the President of Local Armenian Council having at my request joined
the local Cabinet."
to mention that Dastakov (Abraham Dastakian) did not represent the majority view of his compatriots. He
belonged to the Baku
bourgeoisie and had a life-long association, on the
managerial level, with the local oil
industry. According to a British intelligence report, Dastakov was not very
trustworthy' and was 'liable to graft' .30
General Thwaites attempted to discredit further
Armenian criticisms of British policy
in Karabagh. In his reply to the Foreign Office he expressed doubt in Aharonian's good faith. The D.M.I. also stated
that Aharonian shared 'a
propensity frequently observed in Armenian communications to looseness
regarding details and dates' .31
Foreign Office was not satisfied with the War Office response. Louis Mallet, Assistant Under Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs and a member of the
political section of the British Peace Delegation, was already impressed'
by Aharonian's arguments for the inclusion of Karabagh in Armenia .32 In reference to Thwaites' reply,
Eric Forbes Adam, a junior Foreign Office member of the British Peace
The only point
which is not quite clear from this is why the Karabagh district, which is
admittedly preponderantly Armenian and, according to M.
Aharonian, belongs geographically to Armenia
as being the N.E. corner of the Armenian
'plateau', should not be attached to the Armenian republic or Erivan
instead of Azerbaijan."
Young Simpson, a colleague of Forbes Adam at the Foreign Office, vouched for the accuracy of Armenian statistics.
He minuted that Aharonian had placed
the Armenian population of Karabagh at 72 per cent, a figure which differed 'only by 1 or 2 per cent from the
Russian statistics of some years ago'."
efforts to elicit more information from the War Office regarding
the policy pursued in Karabagh were unsuccessful. 'I At the end of
June, Forbes Adam claimed that the
subordination of Karabagh to Azerbaijani
administration 'remains a mystery' .31 On 7 July, a Foreign Office minute stated: 'The D.M.I. has
consistently pooh-poohed the Armenian
complaints as to the Karabagh situation' .37 The War Office succeeded in preventing Foreign Office
involvement in the Karabagh question during the British occupation of
withdrawal of the bulk of British troops from Transcaucasia
in the summer of 1919, the British government lost its most
effective leverage in resolving the
territorial disputes of the local republics. The repeated assurances
of the Foreign Office and the British military commanders in Transcaucasia notwithstanding, the Peace Conference did
not address itself seriously to these
disputes. Even had the Peace Conference dictated resolutions to these
conflicts, it was evident in Paris and London that Allied
troops would be needed to implement its
decisions. However, no Allied govern- ment was willing to commit troops to Transcaucasia. Forbes Adam wrote privately to Oliver Wardrop, the British High
Commissioner in Transcaucasia, on 9 December 1919:
I don't know how
or when we [the Paris Peace Conference] shall come to the question of frontiers in Transcaucasia ... I have
gone over the Armenian frontiers with Aharonian
and while he makes out a good case ethnologically,
economically and militarily, I can hardly believe ... that it is
possible to include the Shusha area and the whole of Zangezur in Armenia (however desirable) merely because the
two latter seem untenable militarily in the face of Tatar hostility.
If only the three [local] governments can
definitely come to an agreement on the spot, however, our task here of frontier drawing may be
much lightened—may, indeed, become unnecessary ...38
This letter was an open admission that, in spite of the
strength of the Armenian case, Britain and the Peace Conference were
incapable—or unwilling—to change the status of
Mountainous Karabagh in favour of the Republic
of Armenia. The fate of Karabagh, and of the other disputed Transcaucasian
territories, was decided by force of arms, not on the basis of the high-sounding moral principles proclaimed by
the Allies during and immediately after the World War I.
struggle for Karabagh, however, did not end with the sovietization of Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1920. Mountainous
Karabagh remained an autonomous
region in Soviet Azerbaijan contrary to declarations by Stalin and the
Soviet government of Azerbaijan
in December 1920 that it would be ceded to Armenia. These promises were
presumably made to facilitate the sovietization
Both the Azerbaijani and Armenian leaders remained dissatisfied with the status quo; both desired
Mountainous Karabagh as an integral component of their respective
republics. The Armeno-Azerbaijani conflict
resurfaced after Stalin's death. In recent years the Karabagh Armenians, Armenian members of the
Communist Party and the Armenian
community in Moscow
have been vociferous in their demands.
In letters to the Central Committee of the Communist Party, as well as to Khrushchev and Brezhnev, they have
demanded the incorporation of Karabagh into Armenia. These letters, accusing
Azerbaijani authorities of pursuing the old Turkish policy of cultural and
economic repression towards Karabagh
Armenians, claim that Azerbaijani control over this region contradicts the spirit of Lenin's policy on
nationalities." Armenian demands persist in the face of the Soviet government's rebukes that they
contradict `the principle of Leninist friendship of the peoples and
Thus, historic Armeno-Azerbaijani distrust and rivalry still smoulder after sixty years of 'fraternal'
relations under the Soviet regime and indicate the staunch nationalism
of the peoples of Transcaucasia.
1. See Richard H.
Ullman, Anglo-Soviet Relations, 1917-1921, Vol. II, Britain and the Russian Civil War, November
1918-February 1920 (Princeton,
1968), pp. 223-4; Richard G. Hovannisian, The
Republic of Armenia, Vol. I, The First
Year, 1918-1919 (Berkeley, 1971), p. 157; Briton Cooper Busch, Mudros to Lausanne: Britain's
Frontier in West Asia, 1918-1923 (Albany,
N.Y., 1976), n. 13, pp. 113-14.
2. Hovannisian, I, pp. 79-90, 156-96, and 'The
Armeno-Azerbaijani Conflict Over Mountainous
Karabagh, 1918-1919,' Armenian Review, XXIV, no. 3 (1971), 3-39.
Detailed Azerbaijani and Armenian arguments
(demographic, historical, economic, geographic and Political) in support of their respective claims for
possession of Mountainous Karabagh are found in D616gation Azerbaidjanienne a la Confdrence da
la Paix, Revendications de la Delegation de Paix de la Republique de l'Azerbaidjan du
Caucase presentees 6 la Conference de la Paix a Paris, 1919 (Paris, 1919) and in the following three publications by
the Republic of Armenia
Delegation to the Conference of Peace: LArm9nie transcaucasienne:
Territories, J . rontieres, ethnographic,
1919), La Republique Arm9nienne et ses voisins: Questions territoriales (Paris, 1919), and Donnges statistique des
populations de la Transcaucasia
(Paris, 1920). See also Al. Khatisian, Hayastani
Hanrapetutian dsagumm u
zargatsume[The Creation and
Development of the Republic of Armenia], 2nd ed. (Beirut,
1968), pp. 161-169,177-184; Simon
Vratzian, Hayastani Hanrapetutiun [Republic
of Armenia], 2nd ed. (Beirut, 1958), pp. 158,
243-7, 309-35, 370-7, 445-7.
3. General Staff, Advanced Headquarters, North Persia
Force, War Diary, entry of 29 November 1918
and appendix 39 for the same month, W. O. [War Office Archives] 95/5045; G.O.C. in C. [General Officer Commanding in Chief,
Mesopotamia [General William Marshall] 'secret' telegram to W. O.
[War Office] (repeated to Delhi and Salonika, transmitting Thomson's telegram of 9 December), 10 December
1918, F. O. [Foreign Office Archives] 371/3405, 208033/55708/18.
4. Eric Forbes Adam (a Foreign Office Junior Clerk
attached to the political section of the British Empire Delegation to the Paris Peace
Conference), minute of 30 June 1919, F. 0. 608/82, 342/5/4/13508. The following description of
Sultanov, in India, General Staff, Personalities in Trans-Caucasia (Simla,
1920), pp. 160-1 (hereafter cited as Personalities in Transcaucasia), makes the vehement opposition of Karabagh
Armenians to Thomson's decision
more understandable: '. . . Azerbaijani subject. When the independence of Azerbaijan was
proclaimed, he occupied the post of Minister of War. Hates Armenians and all
Christians, President of Muhammadan
charitable institution . . . Went round the country in 1918, persuading the people to ask the Turks to come to
Shusha, promising looting of Armenians as a bait . . . Was in Baku
during the Armenian atrocities of September 1918. Absolutely unscrupulous and fiery temper. Fond of wine and
women. Cunning and brutal. . .'Dr Sultano~ was referred to as 'a notorious
monster' in the 18 June 1919 issue of Ashkhatavor ['Labourer']. Tiflis. This daily was the organ of the Georgian Central
Committee of the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation (Dashknaktsutiun), the ruling political party in the Republic of Armenia. At different times Ashkhatavor appeared
under the titles of Haradj ['Forward'] and Nor Ashkhatavor
5. F. O.
memorandum by W. J. Childs and A. E. Ranald McDonnell, 'Outline of Events in Transcaucasia from the beginning of the Russian
Revolution in the Summer of 1917 to April 1921,'31 May 1922, F. 0.371/7729, E8378/8378/58 (hereafter cited as F.
0., 'Outline of Events in
Transcaucasia'). This memorandum states: 'On the strength of British support
of the Armenian cause, and recent British statements of policy, they
[the Armenians] were supremely confident of being the chosen Transcaucasian
allies of Great Britain'.
6. For the texts of numerous protests made by Karabagh
Armenians, by the Republic of Armenia and by
the Republic of Armenia Peace Delegation to various British military and political authorities in Transcaucasia, London and
Paris see the Archives of the Republic of Armenia
Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference—now integrated into the Archives of Dashnaktsutiun, Boston, Massachusetts—Files 3/3,
8/8, 9/9, 62/2, 69a/a and 333/3 (hereafter cited as Rep. of Arm.
G.H.Q., General Staff, Army of the
Black Sea, Constantinople, 'Intelligence'
Report no. 36; for the week ending 2nd October 1919', Appendix D, 'An appreciation of the situation in ARMENIA at the time of
the departure of the British Mission from ERIVAN, 28th August, 1919, by Lieut.-Colonel J. C.
PLOWDEN', F.O. 371/4159, 145863/521/19.
8. For bitter Armenian attacks against the 'despotic',
'ill-reputed', 'hypocritical' and `perfidious'
British policy in Karabagh see: Haradj, 11 March 1919; Ashkhatavor,
15 and 18 June, 21 September and 17 October
1919; Nor Ashkhatavor, 24 August 1919 and 8 July 1920,
Henry Wilson (Chief of the Imperial General Staff, W.O.) memorandum of 14
October 1918, Adm. [Admiralty Archives] 1/8541, file 276, G.T. 5984; Captain
C.P.R. Coode (Director of Operations
Division of the Admiralty), minute of 3 October 1918, Adm. 116/1823. See also Richard H. Ullman, Anglo-Soviet
Relations, 1917-1921, Vol. II, Britain and the Russian Civil War, November 1918-February 1920 (Princeton, 1968), p. 7; Brigadier-General F.
J. Moberly (comp.), History of the Great War Based on Official Documents:
The Campaign in Mesopotamia, Vol. IV (London, 1927), p. 329; John M.
Thompson, 'Allied and American Intervention
in Russia, 1918-1921,' in Cyril E. Black (ed.), Rewriting Russian History,
2nd ed. (New York, 1962), p. 321.
10. The task
of formulating a British policy in Transcaucasia
was entrusted to the Eastern Committee of the War Cabinet. For the minutes
and verbatim notes of the deliberations of this committee see CAB. [Cabinet
Office Archives] 27/24.
(Director of Military Intelligence, W.O., Major-General William Thwaites) telegram to G.O.C. in C., Mesopotania (repeated to C.
in C. India and Salonika), 16 November
1918, CAB. 27/36, E.C. 2357. Marshall
received this telegram three days later and transmitted
it to Thomson on 24 November 1918. See G.H.Q., Q.S., Mesopotamia Expeditionary
Army, War Diary, appendix 4 for the month of December 1918, W.O. 95/4967: Wilber E. Post. 'Occupation of Baku
by British Forces', in Post et al., 'A Resume of Events in the Caucausus since the Russian
Revolution', (Typewritten MSS., Hoover
Inglis Shuttleworth, 'Second British Occupation of Baku', 21 January 1920,
minute of 11 June 1920, F.O. 371/4957, E6253/134/58. McDonell was appointed British Vice-Consul at Baku in 1907, and was
promoted to Acting Consul in September 1919. He was employed as a
Junior Clerk in the Foreign Office from October 1919 to August 1922. See also
F. J. F. French, From Whitehall to the Caspian (London, 1920) pp. 130-1.
G.O.C. in C., Mesopotamia, 'secret' telegram to W.O., 10 December
1918 (see note 3 above). The War Office wanted to assist Andranik and use his
partisan force as auxiliary to British troops in Transcaucasia.
A War Office memorandum of 1 December 1918 stated: 'the appearance of a British brigade at Baku has had
a stabilizing effect on the railway and oil situation, and the Armenian leader, Andranik, seems to have been
enabled to resume guerilla activity.
This, combined with the naval situation on the Caspian which may be called
satisfactory and the imminent
occupation of Batum by a British division ... should provide the required military support to carry out such policy
as seems best to H.M.G. astride the Batum-Baku
and Tiffis-Julfa railway'. See General Staff, W.O., `The Military Situation
in the Caucasus', CAB. 27/37, E.C. 2557. For further
correspondence between the War Office and Thomson regarding the question of British military assistance to
Andranik see CAB. 27/37, EC. 2421, E.C. 2455, E.C. 2514; CAB. 27/39,
E.C. 2818, E.C. 2949.
minute of 24 November 1919, F.O. 371/3660, 144757/512/19. See also F. J. French,
Personalities in Transcaucasia,
of Events in Transcaucasia'. See also James
Simpson (a junior Foreign Office member of
the British Peace Delegation), 'Minute of a Conversation with Colonel Stokes—just
returned from the Caucasus', Paris, 7 June 1919, F.O. 371/3662, 90450/1015/19.
[Major-General William M. Thomson], 'Appreciation of the situation [in Transcaucasia] as I
left it. May 13th 1919', CAB. 45/107.
18. Ibid. See also his
'Notes on General Situation in Caucasus', 6
December 1918, F.O. 371/3667, 5890/19.
W.M.T., 'Notes on Trans-Caucasia', 9
April 1919, CAB. 45/107.
21. Brigadier-General W. H. Beach, 'Report on
Transcaucasia', Tiflis, 3 March 1919, F.0...
72735/1015/19. Cf. Khatisian, op. cit., pp. 161-2, 168-9.
22. A. Chahnazaroff (President of the Armenian Council of
Karabagh) to Forestier-Walker, 24 February 1919; S. Tigranian (Armenian
Minister for Foreign Affairs) to the Commander of British Forces in Transcaucasia, 15 April 1919; General
Cory to the Goverment of the Republic of
Armenia, 19 June 1919, in Rep. of Arm, Archives, File 9/9; Tigranian to the Commander
of British Forces in Transcaucasia, 16 April 1919, Rep. of Arm. Archives,
File 3/3; Tigranian to General Thomson, 11
March 1919; Armenian Diplomatic Representative in Tiflis (L. Evanghulian) to the President of the
Republic of Armenia Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference (A. Aharonian), 23 June 1919, Rep. of
Arm. Archives, File 66/2. See also Khatisian, ibid., p. 168.
Hovannisian, The Republic of Armenia, p. 174.
Curzon, minute of 2 February 1919,
F.O. 371/3667, 19030/5890/19.
Kidston, minute of 6 February 1919, ibid.
protests and the reaction of the various members of the Foreign Office and the British Peace Delegation see: Sir Percy Cox
(British Minister in Tehran) telegrams to F.O., 6
February and 3 March 1919, F.O. 371/3657, 21632/22214/34899/512/19; Aharonian
to A. J. Toynbee (a junior member of the
political section of the British Peace Delegation), Paris, 4 April 1919, and Aharonian, memorandum to the
President of the British Peace Delegation, 17 May 1919, F.O. 608/80, 342/5/4/7743/10328; Simpson, minutes of an
interview with Aharonian, 17 June
1919, and Belfour to F.O. (transmitting a memorandum from the Delegation of Integral Armenia to David Lloyd George, 30 June
1919), 4 July 1919, F.O. 371/3659, 97452/115165/512/19; Kidston, minutes of a
conversation with Mikayel Varandian (a prominent Dashakist
intellectual), 19 June 1919,17.0. 371/3671, 90110/89370/19; Louis
Mallet, minutes of a conversation with Aharonian, 16 May 1919, F.O. 608/80,
342/1/13/10420; Mallet, minutes of a
conversation with Boghos Nubar Pasha (President of the Armenian National Delegation), 19 May 1919, F.O. 608/82,
342/5/4/10419. See also Avetis Aharonian, Sardarapatits minchev Sery ev Lozan (Kaghakakan oragir) [From Sardarabad to Sevres and Lausanne (Political Diary)] (Boston, 1943), pp. 20-1, 25, 28.
Balfour) to Curzon, 17 April 1919, F.O. 371/3658, 60616/512/19. See also Mallet,
minute of 19 May 1919, F.O. 608/22, 342/5/4/10419.