Agha Petros

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Petros Elia of Baz
ܐܝܠܝܐ ܦܹܛܪܘܼܣ
Agha-petros.jpg
Birth name Petros Elia
Nickname(s) Agha Petros
Born April 1880
Baz, Hakkari, Ottoman Empire
Died 2 February 1932
Toulouse, France
Allegiance Allies of World War I
Years of service 1914 - 1919
Commands held Assyrian Volunteers, later the Assyrian Levies
Battles/wars

World War I

  • Suldouze
  • Sauj Bulak
Awards

Croix de guerre (France)[1]
Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur (France)[1][verification needed]
Cross of St. George (Russia)[1]
Order of Saint Stanislaus (Rusia)[1]
Royal Order of the Lion (Belgium)[1]
Order of the Crown, Commander, (Belgium)[1]

Order of San Gregorio, Commander, (Vatican Pope Benoit XV) 1921

Petros Elia of Baz (Syriac: ܐܝܠܝܐ ܦܹܛܪܘܼܣ) (April 1880 – 2 February 1932), better known as Agha Petros, was an Assyrian military leader during World War I.[2]

Early years[edit]

Petros Elia was from the Lower Baz village, Ottoman Empire in 1880. There he received his elementary education before attending a European missionary school in the Iranian city of Urmia. After finishing his studies, he went back to his village of Baz and became a teacher there. It was thanks to his fluency in numerous languages, including Syriac, Turkish, Arabic, French, Persian, Kurdish, English, and Russian, he was appointed by the Ottomans as a secretary, and as a Consul in Urmia briefly in 1909.[1]

World War I[edit]

After the Russians Entered Urmia, Agha Petros was appointed as a general with a small Assyrian force under his command. He later successfully engaged forces of Ottoman and Kurds in a series of battles.[1] He was later approached by the Allies and was given command of the left wing of the army of Assyrian Volunteers (the right wing being commanded by Mar Shimun’s brother David Shimunaia, the center being under the command of Mar Shimun).[3]

His volunteers had quite a few successes over the Ottoman forces, notably at Suldouze where Petros’ 1,500 horsemen overcame the forces of Kheiri Bey's (8,000 men).[3] Petros also defeated the Ottoman Turks in a major engagement at Sauj Bulak and drove them back to Rowanduz.[1][4]

Agha Petros defeated the Turks in Sauj Bulak and drove them back to Rowanduz.[1] He sometimes had limited control over Armenians and other Assyrian forces, and was indeed mistrusted by quite a few of them. There was disunion in the ranks, and instead of posting a force to contain the Turks, whom he had defeated previously, he moved his forces to Sain Kala as encouraged by the British officials, who had promised him military help. Nevertheless, the British did not fulfill their promises. He reached Sain Kala seven days after the British detachment retired.[5]

Agha Petros also had some disagreements with Mar Shimun, The Partiarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, and was often mistrusted by his family.[6][7] The Allied military advisors reported that he schemed against Mar Shimun, by trying to dissuade the Allies to trust the Patriarch.[8] However, after the murder of Mar Shimun by the Ottoman Kurdish leader Simko, Agha Petros joined forces with Malik Khoshaba and others in defeating driving Simko from his stronghold at Koynashahr.[1]

Later years[edit]

Petros was the head negotiator for the Assyrians between 1919 and 1923. On July 24, 1923, he took part in the League of Nations Peace Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he approached the Turkish delegation for the resettlement of the Assyrians in and around Hakkâri Province in exchange for the loyalty of the Assyrians. The then secretary/minister of foreign affairs of Turkey, İsmet İnönü who was heading the Turkish delegation at Lausanne was in favor of the resettlement but a telegram received from the central government in Ankara destroyed the hopes of those Assyrian people that had lived in south eastern Anatolia for four thousand years of ever returning.[9]

During his last years Petros moved near Toulouse, France where he lived until his death of a cerebral attack at the railway station, on February 2, 1932.

Controversies[edit]

In his book The Cradle of Mankind, life in Eastern Kurdistan W.A. Wigram mentions that Petros was involved in fraudulent acts in British Columbia (Canada), where he resorted to collecting money purportedly for the building of an orphanage in Macedonia.[10] According to some historians[11] he fled the country as the Canadian police was about to arrest him. He was later to be found in Rome where he passed himself off as an Assyrian tribal chief desirous to bring his tribe from the Assyrian Church of the East over to the fold of the Roman Catholic Church (called « Chaldean Church »). Impressed and grateful for this decision, the Catholic authorities granted him an official decoration.[10][11] Petros then returned to the Ottoman Empire and displayed his decoration from the Pope to local authorities to ask for a job at an Ottoman Consulate. A job that he did get, as a secretary, and as a Consul in Urmia in 1909.[10]

Some historians believe Petros Elia was merely concerned by his own ambition.[12] The Allied military advisors reported that he schemed against Mar Shimun, by trying to dissuade the Allies from trusting him. He was also reportedly mistrusted by the Allies.[11] Lieutenant Gasfield and French Surgeon-Major Caujole have recorded his subordinates' low esteem in their reports.[11][13]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k آغا بطرس: سنحاريب القرن العشرين, نينوس نيراري
  2. ^ Zinda Magazine
  3. ^ a b Joseph Naayem, Shall this Nation die?, Chaldean Rescue, New York, 1920, p277 online version
  4. ^ استشهاد مارشمعون .ونزوح الاشوريين الى بعقوبة, Zahrira.net
  5. ^ The Tragedy of the Assyrians By R. S. Stafford online version
  6. ^ Ashur Giwargis,The Assyrian Liberation Movement And the French Intervention (1919 – 1922), AINA.org
  7. ^ Joseph Naayem, Shall this Nation die?, Chaldean Rescue, New York, 1920, p296 online version : "The cause of our flight was Agha Petrus who had written to Mar Shimun at Salmas, advising him to commence the attack on the Turks, who had retired on Kara Tepe, and promising that he would reinforce him with 3,500 men. The attack began. Agha Petrus came two days later with only 300 men. Arrived at Salmas from Schakar Yazi, he retook the road to Urmiah, whilst Mar Shimun’s men advanced steadily."
  8. ^ Viktor Shklovsky, Russian commissar in Urmia region wrote : " … he governed a certain locality in Turkey and ruined the populace with exorbitant taxes, while residing in America he was sentenced to a term of hard labor in Philadelphia. At the present time he sides with Russia and is our official dragoman. His services are to be used with extreme caution." Zindamagazine
  9. ^ Agha Petros and the Lausanne Telegraphs, atour.com
  10. ^ a b c Rev. W.A. Wigram (1922). The Cradle of Mankind, life in Eastern Kurdistan, Second Edition. London: A & C Black, Ltd. pp. 218–219.  online version
  11. ^ a b c d (French) Méthy Daniel, L'action des grandes puissances dans la région d'Ourmia (Iran) et les Assyro-Chaldéens: 1917-1918 in Studia Kurdica n°1-5, Paris,1988, ISSN 0765-1074, p86.. online version
  12. ^ Rev. W.A. Wigram (2002). The Assyrians and Their Neighbours. Gorgias Press LLC. ISBN 1-931956-11-1. 
  13. ^ Viktor Shklovsky, Russian commissar in Urmia region wrote: "… he governed a certain locality in Turkey and ruined the populace with exorbitant taxes, while residing in America he was sentenced to a term of hard labor in Philadelphia. At the present time he sides with Russia and is our official dragoman. His services are to be used with extreme caution." Zindamagazine

References[edit]