Turkey And Azerbaijan Want To Unite And Become One Country. Now They Are Building A Railway System To Connect Turkey And Azerbaijan. Could This Railway Be Used To Transport Armenians To Their Deaths?

By Theodore Shoebat

When Azerbaijani soldiers were fighting Armenian soldiers, they were wearing not only the Azerbaijani flag on their uniforms, but the Turkish flag as well. The language of the Azeris is Turkish, their culture is very Turkish, and they hold up high the Turkish flag. Their phrase regarding their relationship is “one nation, two states”, for they see themselves as being one with Turkey. Azerbaijan’s victory in the war against Armenia, is ultimately a victory for Turkey. It was Turkish-NATO military technology that won Azerbaijan the war. The Armenians did not have the means to assail the drones that the Azeris were using, and such weaponry is what determined the end result of this decades long conflict. Now that the most significant parts of Nagorno-Karabakh have and are being given back to Azerbaijan, these lands can be used for the strategic advantage of Turkey. Turkey wants to use Nagorno-Karabakh for the acquiring of natural gas and to extend the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway system.

For years Turkey has purchased gas from Russia, but this changed significantly in 2020 when its importing of Russian gas dropped by almost 62%. Moreover, in the first half of 2020, Turkey imported 20.4% more cubic meters of Azerbaijani gas than it had in the first half of 2019. By May of 2020, Azerbaijan officially became Turkey’s top natural gas provider. Turkey is importing 70% less natural gas from Russia in comparison to this time last year. Turkey buying less Russian gas and relying more on Azerbaijan for its energy needs should have been a presaging sign: Turkey does not want to rely on Russia, but rather is pursuing to consolidate its power within its sphere of influence, and what better way to do this than to take from a fellow Turkish nation as opposed to a country which has been an enemy of Turkey for centuries? Turkey acquiring natural gas from Azerbaijan is thanks to the Trans-Anatolian pipeline (TANAP) which goes back to 2011 when the two countries agreed to start a project for a pipeline and which was eventually put into operation in 2018. The Trans-Anatolian pipeline is just one part of the Southern Gas Corridor, a series of pipelines that provide gas to European countries from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan.

The purpose of these pipelines is to reduce Turkey’s and Europe’s reliance on Russian natural gas. The project of the Southern Gas Corridor has its origins in the year 2008 when the European Commission put out an initiative called “Second Strategic Energy Review – An EU Energy Security and Solidarity Action Plan”. The project came into fruition in June of 2018 with an open ceremony occurring in Eskisehir, Turkey with the participation of the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Ukraine. The project was backed by Washington; President Trump sent a letter to the International Caspian Oil & Gas Exhibition and Conference in Baku, stating:  “The U.S. remains strongly committed to the Southern Gas Corridor [project], and welcomes the efforts of Azerbaijan and its international partners to complete it.” 

The Acting Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs at the State Department, Sue Saarnio, stated: “Europe’s efforts to diversify energy supplies are critical to ensuring the existence of a strong Europe”. The Southern Gas Corridor has the ability to provide 16 billion cubic meters of Caspian natural gas per year; 10 billion of those to Europe and six billion to Turkey.  With such an immense supply of energy, it is no wonder that the Turks and Europeans are looking to Azerbaijan to further eschew their dependence on Russia. Turkey is especially wanting to be independent from Russia’s energy empire because it is in competition with the Kremlin.

Be it in Syria, where Russian and Turkish soldiers have already killed each other; in Libya where Turkey is supporting the Government of National Accord against the power of the Russian military and its Libyan proxies; in Crimea where Turkey and Russia are rivaling over the Black Sea, and now in the South Caucasus where Turkey’s proxy, Azerbaijan, has defeated a Russian ally, and where Russian troops have been deployed, the Crescent and the Slavic bear are positioning themselves for major conflict. By using Azerbaijan as a satellite for Ankara, and facilitating an Islamic victory over their Christian Armenian enemy, Turkey has shown that it is not afraid to use force in the expansion of her political influence and leverage for resources and supremacy. Even after the Azeri victory, the Muslims did not hesitate to do the Call to Prayer in the middle of a Christian city — Shushi — that they had just taken over (the defeat of the Armenians in this city determined the end of the war).

Looking at this video we see a Muslim soldier making the Call to Prayer after victory over the Christians. It is an expression of Islamic domination over those who worship the Trinity. Here we see not only Islamic supremacy being demonstrated, but the victory of Turkey over a Christian land, the expansion of Turkish power and thus the revival of the Ottoman Empire. This is not just about resources, but about the domination of ideology. Resources are only a means to power, the essence of that power is expressed through ideology.

The United States has immense control over resources, and a military might that terrifies the world, but these are simply means to the power of the United States, which is expressed through the ideology of American exceptionalism. Turkey is expanding herself through her military might; we are seeing this already in Syria, Libya and Azerbaijan,— a fellow Turkish nation (really, an extension of Turkey) — Turkey is widening her sphere of influence in the will to power and empire, and the expression of that power will be the sound of the mizmar and the drum, the crimson flag emblazoned with the crescent, and the call of Turkish and Islamic superiority. This empire will be impossible without resources, hence Ankara is fixated on Azerbaijan’s natural gas enough to demonstrate military force. In the words of Emil Avdaliani: “Turkey wants an unhindered flow of Azerbaijani gas and is willing to show that it will defend that supply chain politically and even through the use of a limited military force if necessary.”

Now that the war is over (for now), Turkey is demonstrating its assertiveness as the victor by announcing the construction of a railway connecting Turkey with Azerbaijan. This railway will be an extension of the already existing Baku-Tbilisi-Kars (BTK) railroad which went into operation in October of 2017 and which goes from Baku all the way through Georgia and then through Turkey where it ends in Ceyhan. Erdogan wants the railway to connect Turkey with the autonomous Azeri region of Nakhichevan which, while not being contiguous with Azerbaijan, is a landlocked enclave of the country and borders right with Turkey. The current capacity of the BTK railway system is around 5 million tons of cargo and 1.5 million passengers per year. The Turks want to increase this capacity to 20 millions tons of cargo a year. Turkey’s Transport and Infrastructure Minister, Adil Karaismailoglu, stated:

“We aim to increase the capacity there [on Divirigi-Kars phase] from 5 million tons to 20 million tons … After the new developments in Azerbaijan, we are planning to build a railway toward Nakhchivan, as well. The planning work is currently underway.”

The idea of a railway connecting Turkey with Nakhchevan was not something that just popped up from the Turkish government, but has been being planned out for years. In 2012, there was a joint press conference between President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the plan to build a railway between Nakhichevan and the Turkish city of Igdir. Erdogan declared

“Having laid the Nakhichevan-Igdir railway, we, Inshallah, will speed up the work, allowing to directly connect Turkey and Azerbaijan by rail”

The Deputy for the AK Party in Kars, Ahmet Arslan, stated that the railway project was being prepared when he was serving as the Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications, which was from 2016 to 2018:

“Not only Baku-Tbilisi-Kars, but also the Kars Logistics Center in our region, but also the KarsIğdır Nakhçıvan Railway, as we have stated before, the project was prepared on the time of my ministry. Now, its production processes are being discussed with Azerbaijan ”.

Now that Armenia was defeated, the Turks are taking the opportunity to execute the plan. As Arslan stated: “The connection of Nakhchivan to Azerbaijan as a railway with the liberation of Karabakh will accelerate this process.” Since both Turkey and Azerbaijan are Turkish countries, the victory over Armenia and the building of a railway system further connecting the two countries is seen as a step towards uniting the Turkish world as part of the pan-Turkist paradigm. There has been talk amongst Turkish nationalists in the media on the formation of a Turanian army, or even a Turkish NATO, in which Turkish nations will unite under Ankara. For example, in an article published on October 27th, 2020, by the Turkish daily Türkiye,  professor Cemalettin Taşkıran, speaks of how “the Central Asian Republics” are closer now to Turkey than in any point in the history of the Ottoman Empire, stating: “In Turkish history, the periods in which the Central Asian Republics got as close [as they are today] to the Ottoman state, and later to the Republic of Turkey, and in fact, gave each other such close support, are so few as to be non-existent.” He then goes on to say that

“the regaining of nearly all of the land [Azerbaijan] had lost… pleased the entire Turkic world. It would not be wrong to say that the support that Turkey gave changed the balance in the region. Will this go on to [the formation of] a Turan Army? Inshallah it will.”

The introduction of this article speaks of how the Azeri and Turkish victory over the Armenians bolsters the position in favor of a pan-Turkish military force. Its subheading reads: “It Will Be A Global Power – It Is Early But Definitely One Day.” And before this it reads:

“The success in Karabagh has brought once again to the agenda one of the West’s greatest fears: the Turan Army. Azerbaijan, which has become stronger with the military training, joint drills, and support with armed drones that Turkey has provided, has broken Armenia’s back. This picture of success that has appeared has once again brought to life the hopes concerning a Turan Army, that would be the joint military power of the Turkic states. The Turan Army, which will be a unique option for disrupting the plots in the region, will become a leading actor on every issue.”

In an article published on October 28th of 2020 by Yeni Çağ, nationalist Ahmet Gürsoy described this Turan army as “a kind of Turkic NATO,” and said that:

“Can it be? Yes. If we want it and we decide [to do it], it will be. Should it be? Yes to that too, it should be. It should be established, and the Turkic union should be wrapped up in a military organization and a concrete legal identity. This way all Turks will come under one single army umbrella and one single military personage. The dream, without beginning or end, of Turkish nationalists, is the great homeland: the Turan homeland may not be realized geographically. For this reason, we may not be able to geographically unite all of the Turks under a single flag as they were in their imperial periods. However, socially, by forming a legal identity, we can unite the whole Turkic union under a single flag, just as multinational companies are represented by the same flag in every corner of the world. The most striking and possible way to do this is the Turan Army.”

So with Turkey beginning to build a railway to further link itself with Azerbaijan and leading a war effort against Armenia to establish Turkish power in the Caucasus (part of Ankara’s goal of reviving the Ottoman Empire), we see that the hatred against Armenians is still strong within the nationalist and Islamist government of Turkey. And what of this railway system? When the Turks butchered over a million Armenians, they used a railway system — the Berlin-Bagdad railway (which was created by German engineers) — to transport people to their deaths in the Syrian desert. Genocide is impossible without industrialism, and this train system — although its initial purpose is the transportation of goods — could be one day used to transport humans to the slaughter.

It was in the spring of 1915, when the Committee of Union and Progress, the ruling party of Turkey that was ran by the nationalist Young Turks, commenced the extermination of the Armenians within the Ottoman Empire. The inhabitants of the town of Zeitun were the first to be transported. They were crammed inside of the train, with eighty-eight Armenians being jammed into each freight car. At times pregnant women gave birth in these containers of death, and the Ottoman guards would simply grab the new born and throw it out of the train.

The Ottoman government kept meticulous attention on the numbers of Armenians being moved in the trains, with Talaat Bey, the minister of the interior, constantly receiving messages on how many Armenians were being deported, and on which location they were at.

The Berlin-Bagdad railway was efficient in moving large amounts of people, in a short amount of time, so that they could be annihilated. On October 9th and 10th, 1915, 11,000 Armenians in Konya, were transported by train; between October 13th and 16th, 9,600 Armenians were deported to their deaths by train. In the following three days, 5,000 Armenians were sent out of Konia, and another 4,854 in just the next two days. On October 23rd, 1,050 Armenians were crammed into fourteen train cars and shipped out to be executed.

As we learn from the historian Richard G. Hovannisian, almost all of the railway stations for the Berlin-Bagdad railway were “detention camps where thousands died.” Right next to the railway station in Konia, the Ottomans built a concentration camp to imprison their victims. And this was not the only one. This was just one concentration camp out of a series of camps that were built alongside the railway heading towards the Syrian desert.

Armenians were kept in these camps until they were moved on to the next camp. Thousands would die in these camps just from the sheer exhaustion of having to march long distances between camps. Thousands more died in these camps from disease. Ottoman authorities would at times cruelly dehydrate the Armenians by deliberately withholding water. Many times camps were attacked and the people butchered.

These concentration camps were not small either. The camp in Katma, for example, would hold 40,000 people. The camp near Osmanieh imprisoned between 20,000 and 70,000 victims.

In November of 1915, the Berlin-Bagdad Company was given orders to move 50,000 Armenians from Katma to the Ras-ul-Ain camps to be slaughtered, starved to death and even buried alive. The German vice-consul, Hermann Hoffman reported that in Tell Ermen, “Everything had been destroyed, except for 15 to 20 people who were able to flee. Vice-Consul Holstein even discovered remains, such as dismembered heads and limbs, in the church.”  (See Gust, The Armenians Genocide: Evidence from the German Foreign Office Archives)

But this mass killing of people in such a short amount of time, would not have been possible without the German engineers and bankers who produced and financed the technology by which to kill in such high numbers. While there were Germans who were disturbed by the killings, and who even made efforts to stop it, such as Franz Gunther who reported on how the Turks were slaughtering with “bestial cruelty”, the German government did much work to cover up the crimes.

During the summer of 1915, the German Foreign Office made efforts to deny the genocide that was taking place. Ernst Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, who represented the German diplomate Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim, wrote that while the slaughter was happening, Germany must keep the Ottomans as allies and thus do nothing for the Armenians. “All of our thoughts with regard to the decisions of the Turkish government to eliminate the indigenous Christians in the eastern provinces”, he wrote, “have proved to be ineffective. Therefore, for the time being I must refrain from taking further steps, particularly in favour of the Armenians.”

Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim, in a meeting in Constantinople with the American ambassador, Henry Morgenthau, explicitly said that he would do nothing to help the Armenians, stating as his justification: “Our aim is to win the war.” He also said: “Germany is not responsible for this”.  Wangenheim’s callousness to the suffering of the Armenians was not entirely based on a cold pragmatism for German interests, but also on a social Darwinistic mentality. Wangenheim said:

“I think the Turks are entirely justified. The weaker nation must succumb . . . I do not blame the Turks for what they are doing to the Armenians . . . They are entirely justified”

His words, “the weaker nation must succumb,” echo the wicked as they are described by the Book of Wisdom: “But let our strength be the law of justice: for that which is feeble, is found to be nothing worth.” (Wisdom 2:11)

This violent sentiment of German elites towards the Armenians was widespread enough that Germany did not care about the evils being done by their Ottoman ally. Hans von Humann, the German naval attaché in Constantinople, and a very close friend of Enver Pasha, one of the main orchestrators of the genocide, said regarding the killings: “because of their conspiracy with the Russians, the Armenians are being more or less annihilated. This is hard, but useful.”

Enver Pasha also shared this Darwinistic view of Armenians, and Greeks, calling them “unreliables,” worthy of only being put into work camps. Once the Ottoman Empire joined Germany in the First World War, Pasha confided to von Humann that “all the unreliables: Greeks, Armenians, etc.,” would be put into amele taburları or labour battalions.

Nationalism played a large role in Turkey’s involvement in the war effort, with Pasha telling von Humann that it would “advance the people’s national identity,” a motive that would fuel the Armenian genocide, since the Ottoman Young Turks desired for a “homogenous” society. 

Pasha praised Germany, stating that he witnessed in the country “the tireless willingness of all to sacrifice, commitment of the whole person to the fatherland.” Pasha wanted Turkey to become more like Germany because, as he saw his country, everyone thinks of themselves, “no one of the fatherland.” 

The effort to cover up for the Ottoman atrocity was also taken by the German chancellor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, who wrote: “The proposed public reprimand of an ally in the course of a war would be an act which is unprecedented in history … Our only aim is to keep Turkey on our side until the end of the war, no matter whether as a result Armenians do perish or not.”

Germany, in the upper echelons of its power, was in favor and in support for the transportation, through its Berlin-Bagdad railway system, and extermination of the Armenians. There is a 1916 letter from Paul Wolff Metternich, German ambassador to Constantinople, addressed to the Chancellor, in which he expressed Germany’s support for Turkey’s relocation, and liquidation, of the Armenian population:

“The Turkish government supports the view that resettlement measures were justified in the entire country for military reasons. Both the present government as well as those that follow, unless there is a complete change in the system, will hold this view doggedly.”

On the letter there is a postscript written by Otto Goppert, who was in charge of economic matters at the German embassy in Constantinople, stating: “resettlement measures were not only justified in the eastern provinces, as we have acknowledged, but also in the entire country”, showing that the support for the Armenian Genocide was not limited to a few politicians, but encompassed the government as a whole. 

The letter was then signed by Konstantin von Neurath, a German diplomat in Constantinople who would later serve as the Foreign Minister for the Third Reich. One cannot talk about the Armenian Genocide without talking about Germany’s role in it.

People like to make the Armenian Genocide out to be that a bunch of Turks decided to kill people, and that it was just them who did it. We tend to isolate the Turks when it comes to the Genocide. But this perspective is missing half of the picture. You cannot have genocide without technology and innovation. The extermination of peoples required trains, and who built them? The Germans, and they were just as responsible for the Genocide as were the Turks. In the words of historian Wolfgang Gust, “the German Empire was jointly responsible for the genocide because it approved of the deportation.”   (Gust, The Armenians Genocide: Evidence from the German Foreign Office Archives, p. 91)

When the Ottomans justified their extermination of the Armenians, they did so by simply stating that it was done for “military reasons.” The Germans adopted this term and used it when they themselves justified the Armenian Genocide. “It must also be admitted”, wrote Paul Wolff Metternich, “that the evacuation of parts of the Armenian population was justified by military interests and can be considered as having been an act of self-defense”.

Genocide is always justified under a pretext of “self-defense.” Turkey’s war against Armenia is also being done under the pretext of defending Azerbaijan. But this is the same Turkey that still denies the Armenian Genocide. Turkey is reviving her empire, and leading a war against a people that it was committed genocide against. It is not a lot to question what sort of evil they will do with a railway system.