New Internationalist



Secretly negotiated by Britain and France, the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement draws up plans for the modern Middle East. After World War One, the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres dissolves the defeated Ottoman empire and proposes the creation of an autonomous Kurdish state. But Turkey’s new leader, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, rejects Sèvres. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, negotiated by the Allies with Turkey, makes no refence to a Kurdish homeland. The opportunity is lost and the Kurds are dispersed over the newly delineated states of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. A major Kurdish rebellion around Mount Ararat is crushed in 1930.


In January 1946, Iranian Kurds establish the Republic of Mahabad, a short-lived independent state in the Kurdish-inhabited areas that came under Soviet control during World War Two. While in exile in Mahabad, the Iraqi tribal chief Mustafa Barzani – dubbed the ‘father of Kurdish nationalism’ – creates the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iraq (KDP). After the Soviet withdrawal in December 1946, Iran reoccupies Mahabad.


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