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Kurds began to push for nationalist agenda in 1880s

About history of Kurdistan and middle east and the world.

Kurds began to push for nationalist agenda in 1880s

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Aug 07, 2019 7:55 pm

Kurds began to push for a nationalist
agenda and more rights in 1880s

Kurds are an ethno-religious minority group that has no country of their own

Kurds have varying levels of autonomy in regions of Turkey, Syria, Iraq but almost none in Iran.

They have played important roles in both Gulf Wars and more recently in the fight against ISIS. The ungrateful world has followed their substantial progress towards ending ISIS’ occupation of large parts of Syria and Iraq.

Since which time the plight of the Kurds themselves has been entirely ignored.

Despite their important role in Middle Eastern affairs, they are still a marginalized group, and are a cause celebré in the West. As with much of the modern Middle East, the modern Kurdish nationalist movement grew during in the mandate period.

As an influential minority in the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds began to push a nationalist agenda in the 1880s. That nationalism gained new vigor following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire; the Treaty of Sevres promised a new state of Kurdistan, carved mostly out of territory in modern day Turkey.

The Turkish War of Independence changed all of that and the Treaty of Lausanne, which replaced Sevres and ended the Turkish rebellion, did not include the Kurdish state. When the Middle East Mandates were finalized, Kurdish territory was spread across Syria, Iraq, and Turkey.

During the mandate period, treatment of Kurds varied from substantial autonomy to severe discrimination. Within Turkey, Kurdish nationalism continued to simmer, boiling over occasionally into revolts, which were put down in bloody fashion.

Kurds in Turkey saw their rights restricted, including prohibition of the use of the Kurdish language in government and business dealings. Also in schools, shops, businesses, cafes and open spaces where they might be overheard.

Kurdish homes were raided and Kurds imprisoned if they had any Kurdish music.

Kurds were stopped in their cars and similar searches were made for anything Kurdish.

Kurdish homes were also regularly search for extra food and supplies that Turks deemed could be of use by freedom fighters. This would lead to confiscation of food, torture and even imprisonment. Farm land/crops being destroyed and near starvation of the Kurdish population.

The success of Mustafa Kemal and the Turkish Republic proved disastrous for Kurdish hopes for independence. In efforts to promote a more secular, homogenized Turkey, the Republican regime cracked down on all expressions of “Kurdishness.” This included not only restrictions on the use of language, but also on dress, cuisine and celebration of holidays.

The forced relocation of thousands of Kurds was among the more drastic measures, part of what was known as “Turkification.” Not limited to Kurds alone, this program’s aim was to make Turkey more homogeneous in order to help build national unity and make it more “European”

Resistance to relocation led to violent repression by Turkish armed forces.

The most infamous such event was the Dersim Massacre, which occurred in the Dersim region in Eastern Turkey. This tragedy unfolded between March 1937 and December 1938 and resulted in the deaths of thousands of Kurds. Estimates of the final toll range from 7,500 to 13,000, with thousands more forcibly relocated.

Kurds fared somewhat better in Iraq and Syria; the British divided Iraq into Kurdish and Arab administrative areas, while Kurds benefitted from the “divide and rule” strategy the French enacted in Syria. In the latter case, this local autonomy persisted throughout the French mandate period.

French Syria also absorbed many of the Kurds who fled oppression and war in Turkey. In the Kurdish section of Iraq, the British dealt primarily with Kurdish leader Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji. After a hopeful start, relations between the two parties fell apart and Barzanji launched a short lived and futile rebellion in 1919.

Elsewhere in Iraq, the British continued to offer local autonomy to many of the rural Kurdish areas. Though the Kurds never received full autonomy, the British ensured that rights for Kurds were protected in the Iraqi constitution.

Kurdish regions served as pieces on the board of Britain’s Iraq policy; their status was altered a number of times due to diplomatic or military concerns in the region, including Britain’s negotiations with Iraq’s King Faisal.

When examining the history of the Kurds post-Ottoman Empire, it is easy to think of them as one of the groups Europe betrayed and left out of the remade Middle East.

However Europe is not entirely to blame; the most consequential event for Kurds was the success of the Turkish nationalists, which did far more to sink Kurdish aspirations than any actions taken by the European powers.

Kurds elsewhere benefited from the mandates; it was only after Arab regimes took over that Kurdish rights began to be eroded (perhaps most strikingly in the much-publicized atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein).
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Kurds began to push for nationalist agenda in 1880s



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