The Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism and the Sheikh Said Rebellion
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.