Israel Ori – The Ideologist of the Liberation War

Israel Ori – The Ideologist

It’s not a secret for any Armenian who Andranik Ozanyan and Drastamat Kanayan, Mkhitar Sparapet and David Bek, Monte Melkonyan and Mirza Abaev, Jangir Agha and Movses Silikov were. Of course, I did not forget and will emphasize that Garegin Ter-Harutyunyan (Nzhdeh) is a separate cult in the people. This is the “color” of liberation war, if you put it in a certain way.

Our young people sometimes overlook other ideologically very valuable personalities. Garegin Nzhdeh was nearly our contemporary. But who was engaged in the liberation ideology before him?

It was Israel Ori. You should know that he wasn’t only a governmental figure. He was the creator of one of the flags that were close to the spirit of Armenians. He was an ideologue of the liberation war not only of Armenians but also the Christian core of the South Caucasus (Transcaucasia in Russian sources).

As I have already said, his name is associated with the dawn of the Armenian-Georgian liberation movement, although it was doomed from nearly the beginning.

Ori was the son of Armenian melik (prince) Israel. He became a member of the delegation of seven people sent overseas by Catholicos Hagop IV in search of allies. But he was met cold indifference. Despite the efforts of Georgian King George XI who helped the delegation arrive in Constantinople in 1678, the independent visits to Venice, Paris, and Vienna, as well as service in the army of Louis XIV with contacts with the highest political circles of France were fruitless since the issue of the liberation of Armenians didn’t interest the Christian world.

In 1699, Ori together with melik Safraz gathered eleven Syunik meliks at a secret meeting in Angeghakot. An official decision was made to seek military assistance from European powers. In 1701, Ori realized that his plans for Europe were inexpedient without the assistance of Russia. Due to this, he went to Moscow to negotiate with Tsar Peter the First. The Tsar offered a plan.

For the liberation of Georgia and Armenia, it was necessary to send a 25,000-strong Russian army – including 15,000 Cossacks and a 10,000-strong infantry – to the Transcaucasia. The Cossacks were to pass through the Darial Gorge, while the infantry was to sail through the Caspian Sea from Astrakhan. On the spot, the Russian troops were to receive the support of the armed forces of Georgians and Armenians.

Ori convinced Peter that all 11 meliks viewed him as the only hope for alliance in the liberation war against Persia. The Russian Emperor promised to support the Armenians after the end of Russia’s war against Sweden.

First of all, Ori was to study the situation in Persia. Thus, he at the head of a special envoy was sent to Persia. However, French missionaries in Persia attempted to prevent Ori from arriving in Isfahan, trying to convince the Shah that Russia wanted an independent Armenia and that Ori wanted to become an Armenian king.

When Ori arrived in Shamakhi which lied along his route, he had to wait for permission to enter Isfahan for several days. In Shamakhi, Ori met the local leaders of Georgians and Armenians and strengthened their sympathy towards Russia. Perhaps the plans would have become a reality if it were not for the sudden death of Ori.

Below is the flag created by this politician, reflecting the traditional symbols (tricolor), the liberation idea (two swords), as well as the idea’s founders (11 meliks).

Source: Armenian books

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