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The best disguise for a spy is the uniform.

Reader comment on item: Can Islam Be Reformed?
in response to reader comment: A Window on Anatolia 1876

Submitted by Bertan Atalay (Turkey), Nov 14, 2013 at 14:22

Firstly about your resentment: F.G. Barnaby was a spy who was wearing the British uniform. That should not come as a surprise. That was and still is a very typical part of the duties of an officer: To serve the state with any means available and possible. I did read the book and do realise that it is was complementary and consistent with the position of the British at the time against the Russians. Do you suggest that Burnaby would be impartial and would report matters entirely with no bias? His reports can be found in the records of the British state, together with the Blue Book. His accounts can also be found in the Ottoman records, which are in the state library in Ankara, Turkey. You are welcome to ask for a special visitation appointment from the University of Ankara, which are provided with ease. I am not sure where you are getting that I inferred that he was a spy since he was wearing a uniform? All the Turks, who read history, knows he was.

In the second half of 19th century, well into the 20th, it is widely known that Istanbul (Constantinopole) was full of spies. In fact, it was refered to as the city of spies even during the second world war.

What is surprising is for you to note that F.G. Burnaby reported back that the Ottoman Armenians were loyal subjects of the Sultan. I am not at all sure how one can reach that conclusion on a horse back? That statement is entirely at odds with all the facts recorded by escaping Russian officers, reported in the references of the Ottoman Army, some of them can be found in the war academy in Ankara. In addition, there are Evangelical Christian Church groups and Anglican Church operants in Anatolia during second half of 19th century. These folks have also reported widely on the interraction between Russians and the Ottoman Armenians. The Dashnaks did indeed existed during the time of Burnaby acting as community groups funded by these curch organisations. Please check your sources, or perhaps, stop reading them. They were to become armed armies acting against their Ottoman Turkish and other muslim neighbours effectively ethnically clensing them; without needing much in the way of convincing, by the incitement of Russians and the brutal treatment of the Ottoman administration in return for Dashnaks and Hasnacks' disloyalty.

In that region, the general policy of Britian has always been a part of "the Great Game", which sought to control the routes to commodities. Oil is only a new entrant to the game. Therefore, you did not need to have the cars or the oil to continue to play. Today we see the same game played using the pipeline politics between the some of the same counterparts. To think that the works of likes of Burnaby is devorced form Lawrence is to believe that the Grate Game had no continuity and was dead during Lawrence's time, which would be naive. I, however, realise and appologise for being less than accurate in my above statements giving you a wrong impression, since I write these sentences in between playing with my children and helping them with their homeworks.


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