La bibliothèque numérique kurde (BNK)
Retour au resultats
Imprimer cette page

The Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism and the Sheikh Said Rebellion

Auteur :
Éditeur : University of Texas Press Date & Lieu : 1989, Austin
Préface : Pages : 230
Traduction : ISBN : 0-292-77619-5
Langue : AnglaisFormat : 155x235 mm
Code FIKP : Liv. Ang. Ols. Eme. Gen. 1494Thème : Politique

Table des Matières Introduction Identité PDF
The Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism and the Sheikh Said Rebellion

The Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism and the Sheikh Said Rebellion

Robert Olson

University of Texas Press

“Having done considerable research into the background, nature, and results of the Sheik Said rebellion myself, I can assure you that Professor Olson’s conclusions are new, grounded in the evidence, and very important!”
—William F. Tucker, University of Arkansas

The last quarter of the nineteenth century was crucial for the development of Kurdish nationalism. It coincided with the reign of Abdulhamid II (1876-1909), who emphasized Pan-Islamic policies in order to strengthen the Ottoman Empire against European and Russian imperialism. The Pan-Islamic doctrines of the Ottoman Empire enabled sheikhs (religious leaders)— from Sheikh Ubaydallah of Nehri in the 1870s and 1880s to Sheikh Said in the 1920s—to become the principal nationalist leaders of the Kurds. This represented a new development in Middle Eastern and Islamic history and began an important historical pattern in the Middle East long before the emergence of the religious-nationalist leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran.

This is the first work in any Western language dealing with the development of Kurdish nationalism during this period and is supported with documentation not previously utilized, principally from the Public Record Office in Great Britain. In addition, the author provides much new material on Turkish, Armenian, Iranian, and Arab history and new insights into Turkish-Armenian relations during the most crucial era of the history of these two peoples.

The Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism and the Sheikh Said Rebellion demonstrates categorically that the Kurds are most emphatically a people with a “history,” in spite of the efforts of many countries at various times to “deny” the Kurds their political and national development.

Robert Olson is professor of Middle East and Islamic history at the University of Kentucky and the author of several books on Middle East history.


I first became aware of the Sheikh Said rebellion when I was studying Middle Eastern and Islamic history at Indiana University from 1965 to 1973 with Wadie Jwaideh. Professor Jwaideh was the first historian to write a comprehensive history of the Kurdish nationalist movement and his students were the first beneficiaries of his research. My fellow student and friend Bill Tucker first wrote a graduate paper on the rebellion. Because I knew Turkish and Bill did not, he asked me to collaborate with him; we co-authored an article that was subsequently published in Die Welt des Islams. This article appeared before Martin van Bruinessen published his Agha, Shaikh and State.

While I was on sabbatical in Great Britain in 1979-1980, I decided to see if there were any documents concerning the Sheikh Said rebellion as well as British policy toward the Kurds during the years 1921 to 1925. To my amazement, I found literally thousands of documents, especially in the Air Ministry files. The Air Ministry files concerning the rebellion have never been used before. Air Ministry files 23/236, 237, 238, and 239 were, in fact, ensconced in four manila files entitled "Shaikh Said Rebellion." These four folders alone included some 304 enclosures covering the period 26 February 1926 to January 1927. As the notes indicate, these documents were only the core of a substantial amount of documents and materials concerned with the rebellion in the Air Ministry files.

The Colonial Office records were also very rich. It should be pointed out that the Colonial Office records and documents concerned directly with the rebellion, in most instances, originated within the Air Ministry. Air intelligence in Iraq was the main source of information on the Kurds, Iraq, and eastern Turkey from 1922 until the rebellion in 1925. In turn, many Foreign Office records dealing with the rebellion were based on reports to the Colonial Office, which had received them from the Air Ministry.

These records provide the basis for the publication of this book, which is the first account of the rebellion based on contemporary sources. The Air Ministry records are enriched further by the fact that British intelligence in Iraq and French intelligence in Syria and Lebanon exchanged information regularly with regard to the rebellion. There are numerous French intelligence reports incorporated into the Air Ministry records. This compensates partially for my inability, because of lack of funds and teaching duties, to investigate the French archives, which are undoubtedly rich in data concerning the rebellion other than those provided to the British. There is also, I am sure, much information concerning the rebellion in German and Soviet archives. I hope that my book will encourage other scholars to investigate these records. The archives of Turkey, when they are opened to scholars, will also provide rich information. In the meantime, I hope this book will contribute to our knowledge of the Sheikh Said rebellion and to the historiography of the post-World War I Middle East.

Robert Olson
Lexington, Kentucky


Even the dedication of this book cannot indicate my debt to Wadie Jwaideh not only for his teaching, friendship, and encouragement, but also for his "The Kurdish Nationalist Movement: Its Origins and Development." After nearly thirty years, it still remains unsurpassed in its treatment of the early stages of the development of Kurdish nationalism. This book also would not have been possible without the work of Martin van Bruinessen, as the notes make clear. I am also grateful to Dr. van Bruinessen for giving me permission to adapt a version of the map on p. 157 of his "Vom Osmanismus zum Separatimus: Religiose und ethnische Hintergründe der Rebellion des Scheich Said," in Jahibuch zur Geschichte und Gesellschaft des Vozderen und Mittleren Orients 1984, ed. Martin van Bruinessen and Jochen Blaschke (Berlin: Express Edition, 1985). It has been a deep and profound pleasure for me to know and work with Wadie Jwaideh and Martin van Bruinessen, two of the foremost scholars of Kurdish history and society of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. From them I have learned that great scholarship produces generous people.

I wish to thank the Public Record Office, Kew Gardens, Great Britain, for allowing me to quote from documents in its archives and for providing a comfortable place to do research during my stay in 1979-1980. Professors Stefan Wild and Werner Ende, editors of Die Welt des Islams, kindly granted permission to use portions of my "The Second Time Around: British Policy towards the Kurds (1921-1922)" (27 [1987]). Kemal Karpat, editor of the International Journal of Turkish Studies, graciously permitted me to use material from "The Churchill-Cox Correspondence Regarding the Creation of the State of Iraq: Consequences for British Policy toward the Nationalist Turkish Government from 1921-23," which will appear in volume S, number 1, of that journal. I also wish to thank Paul Dumont, editor of Turcica, for permitting me to use material from "The Sheikh Said Rebellion in Turkey in 1925: Estimates of Troops Employed," which will appear in a forthcoming issue in 1989.

A book such as this that is dependent on foreign-language materials can only be done at a university such as the University of Kentucky that has no Middle Eastern language holdings with the stellar performance of the Interlibrary Loan staff. Roxanne Jones, head of Interlibrary Loan Services, and her staff were helpful beyond the call of duty although sometimes amused by my requests for publications in such "weird" languages. But they always managed to procure the requested books. Jennifer Marie Geran was especially adept, persistent, and expeditious in obtaining the books that I needed. I also wish to express my appreciation to the Interlibrary Loan Services at the University of California, Los Angeles, which managed to fulfill all of the requests that I made.

Pat Howard performed the laborious task of putting the manuscript on a word processor in her usual extremely capable and efficient manner. Despite her hectic schedule, she managed to ferret out spelling, grammatical, and other needed changes along the way. She also did all of the work necessary for printing the manuscript on a laser printer.

Gyula Pauer, director of Cartography Laboratory at the University of Kentucky, somehow found time in his busy schedule to make the maps personally. He was insistent that the book have at least "two good maps."

Professor William F. Tucker, gentleman and scholar that he is, did not waive his right to anonymity as one of the readers of the manuscript and as a result I prevailed upon him to write the introduction. He agreed to do so by abandoning his own research for several weeks, not to mention shortening his summer vacation. One of the pleasures of being a Middle East historian is to be the constant recipient of the generosity of one's colleagues. I am grateful to Professor Tucker.

Frankie Westbrook, humanities editor of the University of Texas Press, was most gracious in extending advice to an excited author and in expediting the production of the book. I am most grateful to Kathy Lewis, my copy editor. She found errors that I am convinced no one else could have. The helpfulness of the entire University of Texas Press staff made it a real pleasure to have a book published in Austin.


In his masterful study of relations between Europeans and non-European peoples (Europe and the People without History), Eric Wolf refers to Western concepts of so-called primitive peoples as "without history," that is, populations supposedly isolated from the external world and from one another (a fallacious view as he goes on to show). One might also speak of peoples with "denied history." The application of such a phrase and idea to the peoples of western Asia in fact makes a great deal of sense when one thinks of the Palestinian Arabs, Armenians, and especially the Kurdish people in the last hundred years. The modern history and political struggles of this last group form the subject of this book.

As Middle East specialists are well aware, the Kurds are a separate and distinctive nationality living, except for exiles, in an area often referred to as Kurdistan, in which they make up the majority of the population—a region comprised of eastern Anatolia, extreme northeastern Syria, northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, and parts of southern and southeastern Soviet Armenia. In addition to having occupied this area for centuries, the Kurds also share a common language, which, although related to modern Persian, is a separate Indo-European tongue; the majority of its speakers speak three dialects: one variously known as Kurmanci or Kirmanci, another as Sorani, and the third as Kurdi. A minority of Kurds speak another dialect most often called Zaza. Whatever the dialect, the Kurdish language is distinct with respect to its grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. In addition, the Kurds possess a folklore and literature of long standing, including chronicles, poems, and, since the late nineteenth century, journalism.

Although it is impossible in a brief examination of this sort to devote a great deal of attention to the early history of the Kurds, which is in any case complex and even controversial, it should be emphasized that they have resided in a fairly compact and ...


Fondation-Institut kurde de Paris © 2022
Informations pratiques
Informations légales