Sykes-Picot: An Agreement That Should Never Have Been (Part II, Eastern & Southern Kurdistan)

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Proclamation of the Republic of Mehabad, 1946

By Hiwa Nezhadian:

In Part I the Sykes-Picot agreement and its impact in Northern Kurdistan was discussed

Eastern Kurdistan (Iran):

In 1917 Serdar of Maku, who established the first Kurdish school in 1913, was invited to Tabriz for negotiations but was poisoned and killed. His abundant wealth was confiscated by the Iranian parliament.

By summer 1918, Simko had established his authority over the regions west of Lake Urmia, later he expanded his reign of authority over the cities of Mahabad, Khoy, Miandoab, Mako, Piranshahr, Baneh and Serdesht with his administration was centered in Urmia. Simko also encouraged the Lurs in south western Iran to join the revolt. At this time, the government in Tehran tried to reach an agreement with Simko on Kurdish autonomy, and therefore in June 1930, the commander of the Iranian Armed Forces invited him for a meeting in the town of Shino (Oshnaviyeh) where he was ambushed and killed.

In 1945 the Kurds established a democratic republic under president Qazi Muhammad in Mehabad. The new Kurdish administration initiated a number of economic and cultural developments, brought peace and security to the region, in the midst of World War II. However, the Iranian authorities couldn’t tolerate the light of freedom in Kurdistan and, with help from the US, after eleven months the imperial army entered Mehabad. Although they promised not to harm the president, the Tehran regime executed the president and a number of other leaders, and imprisoned hundreds more from the surrounding cities.

In July 1989 Dr. Qhassemlou, secretary general of the Kurdistan Democratic Party was invited by the Iranian regime to Vienna, Austria for a peace settlement, but the Iranian diplomats assassinated him at the scene.

In September 1992 Dr. Sharafkandi, successor to Dr. Qhassemlou was killed by Iranian agents in Munich, Germany.

One might ask: are the Iranians trustworthy?

Kurds in Iran who number over fifteen millions are discriminated against for being mostly Sunni Muslims or believers in ancient faiths like Kakai, Yarasan, Ezidi, etc… and for being Kurds. There is not a single commercial institution, no schooling in Kurdish language and no economic development. The struggle for liberation continues to this day.

Southern Kurdistan (Iraq):

In May 1919 Mahmud Barzanji led the first Kurdish revolt in British-controlled Iraqi Kurdistan. Outnumbered by modern, well-trained British forces, his reign only lasted through September 1922. 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”. The British reacted ferociously by bombing and burning towns and villages, inflicting casualties on the inhabitants and crops.

In 1931 Ahmed Barzani and his brother Mustafa Barzani’s led a revolt. The Barzani forces were eventually overpowered by the Iraqi Army with British ground and air support, forcing the leaders of the revolt to go underground and inflicting horrific losses on the people and towns, ultimately forcing the leadership to join their brethren in Iranian Kurdistan.

After the fall of Iranian Kurdish revolt in 1946, Mustefa fled to exile in Russia. In 1958, Mustafa Barzani and his fighters returned to Iraq, and an attempt was made to negotiate Kurdish autonomy with the new Iraqi president, General Karim Qassem. The negotiations ultimately failed and the first Iraqi–Kurdish War after King Faisal erupted in September 1961, lasting until 1970 and resulting in 105,000 casualties.

The Second Kurdish–Iraqi War was an offensive, led by Iraqi forces against rebel KDP troops of Mustafa Barzani during 1974–75. The war came in the aftermath of the First Iraqi–Kurdish War (1961–70), as the 1970 peace plan for Kurdish autonomy had not been implemented by 1974, and it ended in the quick collapse of the Kurds. Until 1975 the Shah’s regime in Iran, guided by the CIA, had helped the Barzani movement only in order to weaken then Iraqi regime; however as a result of the Algiers Agreement the Shah stopped helping the Kurds and allowed the Iraqi army to encircle the Kurdish forces. The war ended with 20,000 deaths and about half a million people fled to Iran as refugees under severe, inhumane conditions.

In 1986 the Iraqi leadership began a genocidal campaign known as Al-Anfal in order to oust the fighters, suppress the strengthening Kurdish entity, and take revenge on the Kurdish population. The campaign started with chemical bombing of cities and villages, with the most lethal operation in the city of Helebjeh, where 5,000 people died in minutes. Anfal is known as the second genocide, totaling an estimated 185,000 casualties.

A number of assassinations were carried out by the Baghdad regime to eliminate Kurdish leaders and hundreds were executed. The struggle continued until March 2003 when the coalition forces led by the US toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime.

…continues in Part III.

Hiwa Nezhadian – Kurdish American Education Society, USA

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