Mahmud Barzanji revolts
Part of the Iraqi–Kurdish conflict

Mahmud Barzanji as Kurdish warlord (prior to 1919)
DateMay–June 1919; November 1922 – July 1924
Location
Result

Iraqi victory

Territorial
changes
Kingdom of Kurdistan reconquered by the British
Belligerents
Iraq Mandatory Iraq
United Kingdom RAF Iraq Command

Kurdish state

  • Barzinja tenantry and tribesmen
  • Hamavand tribe
  • Sections of the Jaf, Jabbari, Sheykh Bizayni and Shuan tribes

Kingdom of Kurdistan

  • Kurdish National Army
Commanders and leaders
Iraq Faisal I Mahmud Barzanji
Strength
United Kingdom Two British brigades 500

Mahmud Barzanji revolts were a series of armed uprisings by Kurdish Sheykh Mahmud Barzanji against the Iraqi authority in newly conquered British Mesopotamia and later the British Mandate in Iraq. Following his first insurrection in May 1919, Sheykh Mahmud was imprisoned and eventually exiled to India for a one-year period. When returning, he was once again appointed a governor, but shortly revolted again declaring himself as the ruler of the Kingdom of Kurdistan. The Kingdom of Kurdistan lasted from September 1922 – July 1924.[1] With British forces greatly exceeding his in ammunition and training, the defeat finally subdued the region to central British Iraqi rule in 1924. Sheykh Mahmud retreated into mountains, and eventually reached terms with the independent Kingdom of Iraq in 1932, over his return from the underground. Sheykh Mahmud revolts are considered the first chapter of the modern Iraqi–Kurdish conflict.

Background

Shortly after the final accords of World War I, the Sheykh of the Qadiriyya order of Sufis, the most influential personality in Iraqi Kurdistan,[2] was appointed Governor of the former sanjak of Duhok.

1919 Kurdish revolt

On 23 May 1919, a few months after being appointed governor of Sulaymaniyah, Barzanji raised 300 tribal fighters, expelled British supervisors and proclaimed himself "Ruler of all Kurdistan", initiating the first of the Mahmud Barzanji revolts.[3] Early in the rebellion, the Kurds saw some success with the successful ambush of a light British column that strayed beyond Chamchamal. On both sides of the border, tribes proclaimed themselves for Shaykh Mahmud.[3]

Using his authority as a religious leader, Sheykh Mahmud called for a jihad against the British in 1919 and thus acquired the support of many Kurds indifferent to the nationalist struggle.[citation needed] Although the intensity of their struggle was motivated by religion, Kurdish peasantry seized the idea of "national and political liberty for all" and strove for "an improvement in their social standing".[citation needed]

Tribal fighters from both Iran and Iraq quickly allied themselves with Sheykh Mahmud as he became more successful in opposing British rule. According to McDowall, the Sheykh's forces "were largely Barzinja tenantry and tribesmen, the Hamavand under Karim Fattah Beg, and disaffected sections of the Jaf, Jabbari, Sheykh Bizayni and Shuan tribes".[4] The popularity and numbers of Sheykh Mahmud's troops only increased after their ambush of a British military column.[citation needed]

Among the supporters of Sheykh Mahmud was also the 16-year-old Mustafa Barzani, who was to become the future leader of the Kurdish nationalist cause and a commander of the Peshmerga forces. Barzani and his men, following the orders of Barzani tribal Shekyh Ahmed Barzani, crossed the Piyaw Valley to join Sheykh Mahmud Barzanji. Even though they were ambushed several times on the way, Barzani and his men managed to reach Sheykh Mahmud's location, however were too late to aid the revolt.[5] The Barzani fighters were only a part of the Sheykh's 500-person force.

As the British became aware of the sheykh's growing political and military power, they were forced to respond militarily, and two brigades defeated the 500-strong Kurdish force in the Bazyan Pass[3] on 18 June, and occupied Halabja on the 28th, ending the Kurdish state and defeating the rebellion.[6][7]

Sheykh Mahmud's exile

Sheykh Mahmud Barzanji was arrested and sent into exile to India in 1921.[8] Mahmud's fighters continued to oppose British rule after his arrest. Although no longer organized under one leader, this intertribal force was "actively anti-British", engaging in hit-and-run attacks, killing British military officers, and participating in another – left the Turkish ranks to join the Kurdish army.

1922 Kurdish revolt

Main article: Kingdom of Kurdistan

After the Treaty of Sèvres, which settled some territories, Sulaymaniyah still remained under the direct control of the British High Commissioner. After the subsequent penetration of the Turkish "Özdemir" Detachment into the area, an attempt was made by the British to counter this by appointing Sheykh Mahmud, who was returned from his exile, as Governor once again, on 14 September 1922.[9][verification needed]

The Sheykh revolted again and in November declared himself King of the Kingdom of Kurdistan. Members of his cabinet included:.[10] The army of the Kingdom of Kurdistan was called the Kurdish National Army.

Barzanji was defeated by the British in July 1924. After the British government finally defeated Sheykh Mahmud, they signed Iraq over to King Faisal I and a new Arab-led government. In January 1926, the League of Nations gave the mandate over the territory to Mandatory Iraq, with the provision for special rights for Kurds.

Aftermath

Following the defeat Sheykh Mahmud retreated into the mountains. In 1930–1931, Sheykh Mahmud Barzanji made his last unsuccessful attempt to gain power.

He later signed a peace accord with the new Iraqi government, returning from the underground to the independent Iraq in 1932.[11]

See also

References

  1. ^ Prince, James M. (January 1993). "A Kurdish State in Iraq?". Current History. 92 (570):[page needed].
  2. ^ Eskander, Saad (2000). "Britain's Policy in Southern Kurdistan: The Formation and the Termination of the First Kurdish Government, 1918–1919". British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. 27 (2): 139–163. doi:10.1080/13530190020000501. S2CID 144862193.
  3. ^ a b c McDowall, David (1997). A Modern History of the Kurds. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 155–160. ISBN 978-1-86064-185-5.
  4. ^ McDowall, David (2007) [1996]. "The Kurds, Britain and Iraq". A Modern History of the Kurds (3rd ed.). I.B. Tauris. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-85043-416-0.
  5. ^ Lortz, Michael G. (2005). "Chapter 1: Introduction: The Kurdish Warrior Tradition and the Importance of the Peshmerga" (PDF). Willing to Face Death: A History of Kurdish Military Forces — the Peshmerga — from the Ottoman Empire to Present-Day Iraq (Thesis). Florida State University. p. 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2013.
  6. ^ Kilic, Ilhan (2018). Britain's Kurdish Policy and Kurdistan 1918 -1923 (PDF). School of History of the University of East Anglia. pp. 182–183.
  7. ^ Eskander, Saad. "Britain's Policy Towards The Kurdish Question, 1915-1923" (PDF). etheses.lse.ac.uk. p. 55. In summer 1919, this state was disposed of, after the British suppressed a Kurdish rebellion.
  8. ^ Lortz, Michael G. (2005). "Chapter 1: Introduction: The Kurdish Warrior Tradition and the Importance of the Peshmerga" (PDF). Willing to Face Death: A History of Kurdish Military Forces — the Peshmerga — from the Ottoman Empire to Present-Day Iraq (Thesis). Florida State University. p. 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2013.
  9. ^ Khidir, Jaafar Hussein (March 2004). "The Kurdish National Movement" (PDF). Kurdistan Studies Journal (11): 14. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 July 2004.
  10. ^ Fatah, Rebwar (12 April 2006). "The Kurdish resistance to Southern Kurdistan annexing with Iraq". KurdishMedia.com. Archived from the original on 18 April 2006.
  11. ^ Lortz, Michael G. (2005). "Chapter 1: Introduction: The Kurdish Warrior Tradition and the Importance of the Peshmerga" (PDF). Willing to Face Death: A History of Kurdish Military Forces — the Peshmerga — from the Ottoman Empire to Present-Day Iraq (Thesis). Florida State University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2013.