Syria in WWI; Alawites/Nusayris, Syriac Christians and local perspectives

Discussions on the final era of the Ottoman Empire, from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 until the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
UncleBourbon
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Syria in WWI; Alawites/Nusayris, Syriac Christians and local perspectives

Post by UncleBourbon » 04 Apr 2021 17:08

I'm really interested in learning detailed history on the end of the Ottoman Empire from within what is now modern Syria.

In particular, one thing I'm curious about is what role Alawites/Nusayris played during WWI; I'm aware of their broad persecution by the Ottomans as a heretical sect of Islam prior to the 20th century, however from what I'm able to garner this treatment began to turn in the 20th century with the increase of Christian missionaries proving a larger threat than 'heretical' sects of Islam.
Were there any Alawite Units or commanders for the Ottomans or Allies during WWI? Was there any form of Alawite uprising or dissent against the Ottomans as it became clear the Empire was coming to a close? Were there any noteworthy Arab Revolt members who were Alawites? It's very difficult to find anything on this subject, especially since search terms will often conflate inquiries into it with the Alawite State formed by the French in the aftermath of WWI, as well as various other post-WWI developments in Syria.

I'm also interested in what happened regarding native Christians within the modern borders of Syria, such as the Syriac Christians/Assyrians and Maronites. I'm aware of the Assyrian genocide/Seyfo and general increased persecution of Christians within the Ottoman Empire during and after WWI, however nearly all accounts I've read only seem to cover this in modern Turkey, modern Iraq, and Persia. Likewise the main Assyrian military commanders I've found have been from modern Turkey.
I'm having a lot of difficulty finding any accounts on the experience of native Christians within modern Syria, and would appreciate any recommendations in this regard, since as with above search terms are conflated for this as well; either likewise with post-WWI developments or with the general Armenian genocide outside of modern Syria.

Lastly, I'd be interested in any memoirs by Syrian-born members of the Ottoman Army that participated in the Syrian theater of the Sinai and Palestinian campaign; Capture of Damascus, Battle of Aleppo and Charge at Haritan. Likewise accounts of this theater that put emphasis on the perspectives of the local population and Ottoman forces/local Arab Revolt members would be greatly appreciated, as largely the material I've come across has been Anzac-centered.

Tosun Saral
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Re: Syria in WWI; Alawites/Nusayris, Syriac Christians and local perspectives

Post by Tosun Saral » 05 Apr 2021 11:29

First of all there is no armenian genocide. It is a long tale. Those armenians living behid the Turco-russo front was deported to inland because they colleborated with russians ambushing turkish wounded and supply columns. Under the conditions of those days many died on the way during transportation. It is not genocide while armenians living other parts of Turkey stayed safe.

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Re: Syria in WWI; Alawites/Nusayris, Syriac Christians and local perspectives

Post by UncleBourbon » 05 Apr 2021 12:40

Tosun Saral wrote:
05 Apr 2021 11:29
First of all there is no armenian genocide.
First of all this thread isn't for discussion on the Armenian genocide; the Armenian genocide was only mentioned once in passing in the original post in reference to it's conflation with the Assyrian genocide. Please do not derail the thread.
Second of all, when you use "First of all" it is typically for the first of two or more things you intend to address, and used incorrectly if it's the only thing addressed.

Tosun Saral
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Re: Syria in WWI; Alawites/Nusayris, Syriac Christians and local perspectives

Post by Tosun Saral » 06 Apr 2021 08:05

Uncle, I just wanted remind you that there is no armenian genocide but transportation of armenians to safer places behind the frontline. Before searching material for your article or your book ect you must learn that there is no armenian genocide.

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Waleed Y. Majeed
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Re: Syria in WWI; Alawites/Nusayris, Syriac Christians and local perspectives

Post by Waleed Y. Majeed » 06 Apr 2021 09:13

I guess it depends on difference of opinions of what genocide is. Unsafe transportation to a safe area of a few 100 or 1000 could be excused but hundred of thousands...

Waleed

stevebecker
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Re: Syria in WWI; Alawites/Nusayris, Syriac Christians and local perspectives

Post by stevebecker » 07 Apr 2021 01:24

Mate,

Of cause the Australian LH picked up a large number of these surviors (men women and children) outside Amman in March 1918.

While a march from North-Eastern Turkey to Amman may seam like transportation to a safe area for them, is was not for the people being marched with little rest or food, being taken advantage of by many local officals, who abussed these people along the way.

While it may not be condoned by all Ottoman Officals in Istanbul, there is little doubt that it happened, as much as we say it didn't, there are accounts by many who say different (German accounts) with Ottoman units who did it.

While the present Turkish state may not seam say it was the "G" word, the world seams to think differently.

But your right this is not to place for this as we all have different views?

But to call the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people, "Transportation to a safe area" is not what happened and a distortion of the facts?

In Australia, like many countries in the world fighting against the Central Powers, we interned them for most of the war, many of my relatives who came from Germany were interned here, and suffered under British propergander as baby killers in Belguim.

Any look at the Ottoman Army in 1914 will find the poor relations of Commanders like Enver and hate against these people who wanted to disband the the Four Reserve Cavalry Divisions formed from these peoples in the East, there poor performance blamed by Ottotman commanders (again Enver) led to there disbanding over a number of months

Sorry I went a bit far here.

S.B

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Re: Syria in WWI; Alawites/Nusayris, Syriac Christians and local perspectives

Post by UncleBourbon » 07 Apr 2021 19:37

Thank you S.B and Majeed for your contributions; however I don't think it's worthwhile to engage with Saral on this matter, given he and the modern Turkish State seem pretty stuck in their narrative, and debate would only serve to derail the thread.

On that note, I found some interesting info on Alawites/Nusayris in the Ottoman Army; many served in the 77th Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division. This according to Mesut Uyar in Ottoman Arab Officers between Nationalism and Loyalty during the First World War.
An article on the Regiment by Al-Jazeera can be read here at The forgotten Arabs of Gallipoli.

stevebecker
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Re: Syria in WWI; Alawites/Nusayris, Syriac Christians and local perspectives

Post by stevebecker » 08 Apr 2021 01:02

ate,

Yes sorry it upsets many from all sides when this subject is broched.

The Ottomans took a number of these fringe groups into their forces, the sufees (if I am saying it right, the men who do that wonderful spinning prayer) formed their own band and medical group, and were well known for there looking after the men.

Here are some I have on record as part of the Gonullu Sistemi (volunteer System)

Circassian Cav Regt shown Jan 1917 Allied reports Mirza Bey Gonullu Sistemi (volunteer System) raised from local Circassian Turks around Amman and the Jordan river later formed as Honor Guard to the King of Jordan 1921 - shown 1915 Circassian Cav unit (200 - 270 men) shown June 1915 1st Canal Exp Circassian Cav Regt 200 men - shown March to May 1918 Allied reports - 4th Army Troops (200 cav 200 men) - shown Sept 1918 Allied reports 4th Army Troops (Foot 100 men Cav 300 men)

Kurdish Cav (200 men) Gonullu Sistemi (volunteer System) religious and political influences the following volunteer system was organized

Nurettin Volunteer Detachment including verious volunteers and mucahidin (270 men) Gonullu Sistemi (volunteer System) religious and political influences the following volunteer system was organized

Sekip Arslan Detachment from Cebelilubnan Druzes (Lebanese Druzi) (150 men) Gonullu Sistemi (volunteer System) religious and political influences the following volunteer system was organized

Trablusgarb Volunteer Detachment (Libyan) (200 - 300 men) Seyid Idris of Trablusgarb Gonullu Sistemi (volunteer System) religious and political influences the following volunteer system was organized

Sorry but I don't remember seeing the men you mentioned?

Of cause the 77th Regt was a Arab Regt and was raised with the 72nd (Arab) Regt in Palestine

I am sorry I have no idea where they were formed or of the Arabs who formed them, but I am interested in what you can find on them.

I do know these Regt were formed for;

The 77th Regt was formed for the 26th Div around Aleppo Syria pre war (76th, 77th and 78th Regts)

The 72nd Regt was formed for the 24th Div in Syra/Palestine pre war (2nd, 3rd and 72nd Regts)

A number of Ottoman/Turkish writers have down played there fighting at Anzac and Chanakke battles, but I think there worth was more then what we can find in the known records, some Turkish writers are trying to correct the record of the 77th and 72nd Regts in 1915.

Cheers

S.B

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Re: Syria in WWI; Alawites/Nusayris, Syriac Christians and local perspectives

Post by UncleBourbon » 08 Apr 2021 22:02

stevebecker wrote:
08 Apr 2021 01:02
Sorry but I don't remember seeing the men you mentioned?
I'm unsure what men you're referring to; if you mean the Alawites/Nusayris, the citation I mentioned on their enlistment in the 77th Regiment is here:
Alawites WWI.png
stevebecker wrote:
08 Apr 2021 01:02
I do know these Regt were formed for;

The 77th Regt was formed for the 26th Div around Aleppo Syria pre war (76th, 77th and 78th Regts)
Definitely, given the Regiment's formation in Aleppo, it makes sense there would be Alawites/Nusayris enlisted.


Some further updates on sources I've found for the thread subject, for those interested;
The Famine of 1915-1918 in Greater Syria by Linda Schatkowski Schilcher, in Problems of the Modern Middle East in Historical Perspective details a famine within Syria during WWI, and this scan is available online, albeit in poor quality.
There's also Safarbarlik, Ottoman Syria and the Great War by Najwa al-Qattan, in From the Syrian Land to the States of Syria and Lebanon, detailing conscription within Syria by the Ottomans during WWI. This I'm particularly interested in and intend to read in short time; the full book is available on Z-library.
Lastly, unavailable digitally is The Fragments of Memory. A story of a Syrian Family by Hanna Minna, translated by Olive Kenny and Lorne Kenny, detailing the experiences of a Syrian family during and after WWI.
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stevebecker
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Re: Syria in WWI; Alawites/Nusayris, Syriac Christians and local perspectives

Post by stevebecker » 08 Apr 2021 22:34

Mate,

Thank you

Yes I believe the 77th Regt was one of those misunderstand Regts in the Ottoman Army.

Accounts mentioned in the works you refer to, are as I know are correcting to service of the this unit.

I have run into it before of Anzac, where it held the line next to the 2nd Australian Light Horse Bde on the right flank of the line near Ari Bunu.

We had a number of fights with the Ottoman units defending here, mostly with the 77th Regt, and they held the line well and gave as well as giving.

Not the push overs that Ottoman/Turkish writers tell about the Arabs in there Army.

The Ottomans took in a number of groups into their Army from this area (Syria/Palestine) Christians and Jews, like is said I have not heard of these groups "Alawites/Nusayris".

My knowage of the country here come from a few months service attached to the Fijian Army on UN service in the Lebernon in 1979, the highlight of which was an Israili invasion chasing Hisbulla.

I will have to check but the Food crisis is an old story, where like Germany they took most of there workers into the Army leaveing few to work the land. The Ottomans likewise took most of there workers (transportation to a safe area) thus one one to work the land and the Ottoman empire starved.

Thus they caused there own problems.

Cheers

S.B

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Re: Syria in WWI; Alawites/Nusayris, Syriac Christians and local perspectives

Post by stevebecker » 24 Apr 2021 02:03

Mate,

Sorry inquires in other areas failed to find any mention of these groups.

If there so called Christian groups suffered under ottoman rule, I can find no record of it?

At the time a number of groups started to aline themselves with the Allied cause, some Jews and others, along with Arabs, became aware of there search for freedom from the Ottomans.

That meant that these groups became mixed with each other, and Ottoman rule was not good for all, and to anyone not with them.

Many Jews left some records of Ottoman retaliation against them, when they did nothing, so christian s groups in the Syria/Lebernon would possibly not be left out.

Much like the Germans in France and other places, where a German was killed, so they murdered the village. Like wise the Ottomans appear also did this if not to whole village at lest parts of them.

But as stated I can find no record of these groups, other then those Kurds and others, "being sent to safe areas"? were slaughtered or abussed by local Ottomans in town areas in Northen Syria or Southern Turkey. The accounts are many of this happening.

Did the violence spill over to other groups during this time, as those who tried to help the Kurds and others from the local Ottomans were attacked themselves.

Accounts by German / and others, such as nurses and doctors in Ottoman hospitals are full of stories.

Sad time for many from both sides.

S.B

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