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Territory, State and Nationalism Anglo-Iraqi Policy Toward the Kurdish National Movement, 1918-1932

ADEL SOHEIL


Adel Soheil 2018 Fรถrlag: BoD-Books on Demand, Stockholm, Sverige ISBN: 9789117855132


To My Parents


Contents

…..Introduction………………..……………………….……………….1 1…Nation and Nationalism……………………………….……………4 …..Miroslav Hroch and the Three-Phase Model of the Development …..of Nationalism………………………………………….…..….……..6 …..Print-Capitalism and National Consciousness…...…….…….…..…..8 ….The Principle of Nationality……….……...…………….…………. .11 2....Nation-State Formation in Iraq: Politicization and …..Homogenization of Ethnic Groups……………………...….…….15 3…National-Self-Determination: Its Meaning and Its …..Interpretation by Great Powers……………………..…...............21 …..Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points……………….…….…………26 4…Forging a New World Order: Anglo-American Program for …...the Middle East……………………………………………..…….29 …..Preconference Preparation…………………….……………..……..29 …..Franco-British Settlement of the Mosul Question….…….….……..32 …..The Paris Peace Conference…………………………….…….……35 …..The Mandates System………………………………….……..…….37 …..Faisal’s Position: Aspirations for Arab Unity……………..….…….46 5…The Emergence of Arab Nationalism: Arab Nationalism before 1914-The Tanzimat Reforms…………………..………….50 …..The Missionaries’ Work: Contribution to the Revival of Cultural …...Awareness………………………………………….…..…….……..52


…..Arab Nationalism Under the Young Turks, 1908-1914…..……..….54 …..The Arab Revolt of 1916…………………………………..……..…59 6…The Emergence of Kurdish Nationalism…………..………..……66 …..The Decline of the Kurdish Emirates and the Rise of the …..Shaikhs: The Tanzimat Reforms…………………………….……...71 …..The Rise of the Shaikhs………………………………………….….74 …..The Rebellion of Shaikh Ubaydallah of Nehri……………….……..76 …..Prelude to Kurdish Nationalism……………………………….……80 …..Kurdish Cultural and Ethnic Distinctiveness………………….……81 …..Foundation of Kurdish Cultural and Political Organizations…...…..83 …..Kurdish Nationalist Activities, 1908-1918……………………….....86 …..Kurdish Wartime Nationalist Activities…..…………………..…….88 …..Kurdish Activities During the Peace Conference of Paris….…...….90 7…Great Powers’ Interests in the Region: From Preservation …..to Partition of the Ottoman Empire………………………...…….95 …..The Significance of Iraq and its Oil in Great Britain’s Middle …..East Policy……………………………………………………..…..104 …..Great Britain’s Occupation of Iraq: Direct or Indirect Rule…..…...108 …..The Plebiscite of 1919: Preparation for the Making of Iraq…..…...112 8…The Occupation of Mosul and the Kurdish Question: From …..Shaikh Mahmud’s Revolt to the Lausanne Conference, …...1919-1922………………………………………………...……….117 …..Shaikh Mahmud’s First Rebellion………………………...……….123 …..Shaikh Mahmud’s Defeat and Capture……….……………..……..130 …..Circumstances Leading up to Reinstallation of …………..……….133 …...Shaikh Mahmud …..The Cairo Conference and the Future of Iraq……………..……….135 …..Nationalist-Religious Propaganda and Counter Propaganda: …..The Turkish Menace and Propaganda in South Kurdistan……..….140 …..British Nationalist-Religious Counter Propaganda………….….…146 …..King Faisal’s Position: Defending Iraq’s Unity…………….….….149


…..The Intensification of Turkey’s Activities in Kurdish Areas……...155 …..The Reinstallation of Shaikh Mahmud: His Plan and Cooperation …..with the Turks…………………………………………………..….157 …..Shaikh Mahmud’s Cooperation with the Turks……………..…......161 9…From the Lausanne Conference to the Mosul Question…….…166 …..The United States’ Open Door Policy……………………….…….176 …..Political Development in South Kurdistan During the Lausanne …..Conference………………………………………………….....…...184 …...Continued Turkish Threat and Islamic Propaganda….…….……..187 …..Shaikh Mahmud’s Second Rebellion…………………….………..188 …..Joint Anglo-Iraqi Efforts for the Incorporation of South Kurdistan …..into Iraq: The Subjugation of Shaikh Mahmud…………….….......193 …..Abd al-Muhsin’s al-Saadun’s Kurdish Policy…………….……….195 10...The Mosul Question: Territorial Settlement and …..Consolidation of the Iraqi State …..The Significance of Territory and Boundary……..…………..……209 …..The Constantinople Conference…………………………….……..213 …..The Mosul Question Before the League of Nations………….……216 …..The Work of the Mosul Commission of Enquiry……….…….…...224 …..Turco-Arab Nationalist Propaganda and Counter Propaganda…....226 …..Turco-British Continued Struggle for Oil…………..…………..…232 …..The Wirsén Report…………………………………………...……234 …..The Swedish Proposal………………………………………..……241 …..The Permanent Court of International Justice…………….…..…...244 …..The Enquiry of the Laidoner Commission……………….……..…245 …..The Decision of the Council of the League……………….…….....247 …..Reactions in Iraq, Britain and Turkey to the Council’s …..Decision…………………………………………………………....249 11..Anglo-Iraqi Kurdish Policy, 1926-1931…………..…………..…256 …..The Kurdish Question and the Iraqi Parliament………..……...…..261 …..Sati al-Husri: An Arab Nationalist Ideologue and Educationalist: …..His Kurdish Policy………………………………….………….….266


…..Toward Incorporation of Kurdistan into Iraq………..……..……...275 …..The Sulaimanya Uprising of September 6, 1930…….………..…...289 …..Shaikh Mahmud’s Third Rebellion, 1930-1932………..…….……297 12..The Barzani Movement, 1931-1932……………………...……...306 …..The Assyrian Settlement……………………………….………….309 …..Prelude to the Rebellion………………………………….………..311 …..The Outbreak of the Rebellion and the Military Actions Against …..Shaikh Ahmad, 1931……………………………….…….………..313 …..Conclusion…………………………..……….………..…………..317 …..Bibliography……………………….…….……….…………..…...320 …..Index………………………….……………...……...…...………..336


Introduction

Following the dismantlement of the Ottoman Empire after WW 1, the Allied powers forged individual states with no particular considerations to their ethnic, religious and social characteristics introducing an artificial state system into the Middle East. One of these countries was Iraq, which was created by the British through the unification of the three former Ottoman Wilayats (provinces) of Baghdad, Basra and Mosul. However, Britain did not employ direct rule in Iraq and was obliged to compromise with the U.S. non-annexation policy strongly advocated by President Wilson. The U.S. entry into WW1 against the Central Powers led to the Allied powers’ victory. Based on this contribution and its anti-colonial policy, the U.S. supported non-annexation of the former colonies and dependent territories of the German and the Ottoman Empires and stressed the principle of selfdetermination and set about to establish a mandate system under the supervision of the League of Nations. However, this policy did not rest on any “Wilsonian idealism” but was rather guided by Wilson’s realism. As this study will illustrate later, Wilson conditioned his approval of Iraq being under British mandate to the latter’s approval of the open door policy, i.e. equal political and economic opportunities for the U.S. and especially to have access to Iraq’s oil. On the other hand, Wilson’s concept of self-determination, which at the time had gained currency among the populations of the former Ottoman Empire, gave impetus to the national sentiments already ignited among the Kurds as well as the Arabs. However, the concept of national self-determination as a legal status was applied only in certain East European countries and was not really meant to be applied on countries in the Middle East. 1


Territory, State and Nationalism According to the treaty of Sèvres, concluded on August 10, 1920, between the victorious Allied powers and the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), the Kurds were entitled to an independent national state. But it was never realized partly due to the Kemalist military progress and subsequent British abandonment of the idea and partly due to the reluctance on the part of the Iraqi government to accommodate Kurdish wishes and instead to incorporate them into the structure of the nascent Iraqi state. The aim of this book is hence to examine the policy of the British and Iraqi political elites with the objective to create a homogeneous nationstate in Iraq from the time of king Faisal I’s installation in Iraq by the British in 1921 until the end of the mandate period in 1932. In doing so prominence is given to some Iraqi personalities in carrying out this policy. These were ex-Ottoman officers who participated in the famous Arab revolt of Hijaz under Emir Faisal and returned to Iraq when the latter ascended the throne there in 1921 to constitute his closest entourage such as Nuri alSa’id, Jafar al-‘Askari and Jamil al-Mifa’i (he joined the government later, in 1930). Others, included Abdul Muhsin al-Saa’dun, who embarked on a political career and served as Prime Minister four terms, and Sati al-Husri, who was Director General of Education from 1921 to 1927. These Sunni Arab personalities who occupied leading positions in several Iraqi governments were actually the new ruling elite of the country. This is of course not to diminish the forceful role of the British decision making in Iraq during the mandate period. Previous studies, despite their valuable information, have either belittled the role of these key figures or have mentioned them only in passing. By highlighting the actions of these men, often motivated by Arab nationalism, and by the idea of welding together different ethnic and religious groups into a cohesive Iraqi nation in a country that not even today has become a nation, this study will hopefully contribute to a better understanding of the factors that hampered, or fostered if there were any, the trajectory of nation-state formation in Iraq. As the largest ethnic group in the country, the Kurds with a distinct cultural and linguistic identity rejected this policy of ethnic homogenization and struggled for their national and cultural rights. However, unlike later Sunni Arab dominant groups, particularly during the reign of the Ba’thists from 1968 to 2003, who resorted to extreme measures and terror such as intensive Arabization, mass expulsion, and genocide of the Kurds in order

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Introduction to create a homogeneous nation-state, the rulers of the mandate period refrained from employing such methods. Although they also used military force in suppressing the Kurdish national movement, they sought primarily to incorporate the Kurdish region into the newly created Iraqi state and to impose cultural assimilation on the Kurds. Moreover, the British who as the mandatory power were obligated to supervise the implementation of minority rights in Iraq were reluctant to use extreme violence. Overall, the relations between the Anglo-Iraqi Authorities and the Kurds were characterized by hostilities and mistrust and on several occasions resulted in open armed conflicts. At the threshold of the occupation of Iraq, nationalism had been for decades a powerful political force in Europe with a pervasive influence on the peoples of the Middle East, among them the Kurds and the Arabs. Kurdish as well as Arab nationalists claimed to act in the name of their peoples for their national rights and many of them laid down their lives for their cause. In Iraq, Arab nationalists, in the government alongside King Faisal, despite their cooperation with the British to consolidate the Iraqi state, wanted independence and the end of the mandate rule. Those outside the government, largely consisting of Shiites, desired also independence, but without any foreign rule. On the other hand, the Kurdish national movement under the leadership of Shaikh Mahmud Barzanji and later the Barzanis, strongly inspired by the principle of national self-determination, struggled against the Anglo-Iraqi authorities in order to set up an autonomous government of their own, preferably under the auspices of Great Britain, refusing subjugation to the dominant Arab rulers. This study provides then a historical background of Kurdish and Arab nationalism and their development since their inceptions until the end of the mandate period. Finally, since this study concerns principally the Anglo-Iraqi policy toward the Kurdish national movement, emphasis will therefore be put on significant features of this movement.

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1 Nation and Nationalism

The prevailing belief among scholars of the modernist school is that nation and nationalism are modern phenomena, developing in Europe during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Anthony Smith summarizes the modernist perspective as follows: Nation and nationalism appeared in the last centuries, in the wake of the French Revolution, and they are regarded as the product of the specifically modern processes of capitalism, industrialism, bureaucracy, mass communications and secularism. 1 Thus, the modern social structure provided the context for the emergence of nation and nationalism. Eric Hobsbawm states that the nation is a changeable social entity which “belongs exclusively to a particular, and historically recent, period. It is a social entity only insofar as it relates to a certain kind of modern territorial state, the “nation-state”, and it is pointless to discuss nation and nationality except insofar as both relate to it.”2 In short, in his opinion nationalism precedes nations, and nations do not create states and nationalism, but the other way around.3 In addition, Hobsbawm focuses on components such as artefacts, inventions4 and 1

Anthon D. Smith, Nations and Nationalism in a Global Era (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995) , p. 29. 2 E.J.Hobsbawm, Nation and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth and Reality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp.9-10 3 Ibid., p. 10. 4 By invention Hobsbawm refers to the inventing of tradition in the process of nation- building. He uses the term “invented traditions” in a broader sense to mean “a set of practices normally governed by overtly or tacitly accepted rules and of a ritual or symbolic nature, which seek to inculcate certain values and norms of behaviour by repetition, which automatically implies continuity with the past.” See idem. The Invention of Traditions (Cambridge, 1983) p.1

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Nation and Nationalism “social engineering” that contribute to nation-building and refers in this connection to Gellner: Nations as a natural, God –giving way of classifying men, as an inherent though long-delayed political destiny, are a myth; nationalism, which sometimes takes pre-existing cultures and turns them into nations, sometimes invents them, and often obliterates pre-existing cultures: that is a reality. 5

Based on the assumption that prior to the modern time no explicit link between nation and state-territorial organization existed, Hobsbawm again refers to Gellner and uses the term nationalism in the same sense as defined by him, that is to imply “primarily a principle which holds that the political and national unit should be congruent.“ 6According to Gellner, due to the relationship between power and culture, nation and nationalism cannot emerge in agrarian societies. A common denominator of such societies is that the ruling class is composed of a small minority of the population, namely, warriors, priests, clerics, administrators and burghers, and is firmly divorced from the large majority of direct agricultural producers, or peasants, who generally have “inward-turned lives”, and are connected to their localities by economic necessities rather than political prescription. This horizontally stratified ruling minority emphasizes cultural differentiation rather than cultural homogeneity. In fact, the state in agrarian society, consist of, two kinds of political units; local selfgoverning communities and large empires, is more interested in, and benefit more from, extracting taxes and maintaining peace than in imposing cultural homogeneity between its subjects at the lower social stratum. Thus, in agro-literate societies “the two potential partners, culture and power, destined for each other according to nationalist theory, neither has much inclination for the other in the conditions prevailing in the agrarian age.”7 On the other hand, in industrial societies the relationship between 5

Ernest Gellner, Nation and Nationalism (New York, Cornell University Press, 1983), pp. 48-49. 6 Ibid., p.1. 7 Ibid., pp. 9-13. The idea of nationalism is originally developed in Gellner’s Thought and Change (London, 1964), pp.147-178.

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Territory, State and Nationalism power and culture is fundamentally different; “A high culture pervades the whole of society, defines it, and needs to be sustained by the polity. That is the secret of nationalism.” 8According to Gellner, hence, nation only can exist in industrial societies where the means for the homogenization of culture are available. He holds that “nation can be defined only in terms of the age of nationalism, rather than, as you might expect, the other way around...Rather, when general social conditions make for standardized, homogeneous, centrally sustained high cultures, prevailing entire populations and not just elite minorities.” 9 Similar to Hobsbawm, he takes the view that “it is nationalism which engenders nations, and not the other way around.” 10 Miroslav Hroch and the Three-Phase Model of the Development of Nationalism A path-breaking comparative analysis of national movements with the aspiration of establishing national states has been done by Miroslav Hroch. Hroch’s concern is the study of the social basis of the national movements of mainly oppressed and non-dominant East European nationalities. However, since the development of the national movements of the peoples of the Ottoman Empire in some important aspects are similar to the East European ones, it would also be appropriate to use Hroch’s three-stage process for this study. According to Hroch, during Phase A (the period of scholarly interest), the beginning of the national revival, groups of people or individuals and, above all, intellectuals felt affinity for and interest in the study of the 8

Ibid., p.18. Ibid., p. 55. 10 Ibid. However, Hobsbawm underlines at the same time the fact that Gellner's perspective of modernization is from above that is a perspective which only pays attention to the behavior and action of the political and cultural elite for a certain movement rather than the sentiments, wills and needs of the ordinary people, who constitute the object of the elite’s action and propaganda. Hobsbawm, (1990), pp.10-11. He points out that national identification of these people can shift in any time even within quite a short period of time. 9

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Nation and Nationalism language, culture, and history of the oppressed nation. Characteristic of this phase was the lack of will and interest on the part of the individuals for any organized political or social activity, and they did not even attempt to mount a patriotic agitation. They remained at the personal level of their agitation without any considerable influence on the people and were isolated from each other. They were motivated by patriotism of the “Enlightenment type” in that their affection and interest was confined to solely acquiring more knowledge about the region of their residence.11 This phase, Phase B, which he labels (the period of patriotic agitation) is the most important period for the formation of small nations. It was during this phase that the agitation of the patriots influenced and mobilized a great portion of the oppressed nationality in order to obtain nationalist ends. Language and establishment of various associations and networks occupied a central role in this phase. Hroch maintains that the national agitation was not destined to succeed in all cases and the transition of Phase B into Phase C was not certain, and in a number of cases, this transition did not take place. The transition from one Phase to the other did not occur at one stroke: “between the manifestations of scholarly interest, on the one hand, and the mass diffusion of patriotic attitudes, on the other, there lie an epoch which was decisive for the actual formation of the small nation, an epoch characterized by active patriotic agitation: the fermentation-process of national consciousness”12 In the concluding Phase, Phase C, (the rise of mass national movement), the national consciousness became the concern of the masses and the national movement was solid organized over the whole territory. In addition, nationalist programs normally achieved mass support and a basic level of vertical social mobility was created.13 Hobsbawm stresses the significance of the transition of Phase B to Phase C for the chronology of the national movements. In Europe the 11

Miroslav Hroch, Social Preconditions of National Revival in Europe (Cambridge, 1985), p.23. 12 Ibid. pp.22.24. 13 Ibid. p.23.

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Territory, State and Nationalism transition sometimes takes place before the establishment of a national state, and perhaps as a consequence of this establishment, it frequently takes place afterwards. On the other hand, in the so-called Third World, sometimes it does not occur even then.14 Although Hroch’s study focuses on the development of non-dominant nations in Central and Eastern Europe during the nineteenth century, he argues that the nation was the product of a long and complicated process of historical development in Europe. He traces the development of some of the “fully-formed“ state-nations in Western Europe back to the Middle Ages.In these countries the early modern state developed under the domination of one ethnic culture, either in absolutist form or in a representative-state system.15 For this reason his approach has been criticized to be close to primordialism. However, he contends that such critical views basically stem from misconceptions of his approach and explains that he does not perceive the nations as “eternal categories” and that he has employed the term “revival” in “metaphorical sense.”16 Print-capitalism and National Consciousness Similar to Hroch, Benedict Anderson attaches a crucial role to national consciousness in the creation of modern nations. According to Anderson, the print-languages laid the foundation for the national consciousness in three ways. First, they “created a unified field of exchange and communication below Latin and above the spoken vernaculars.” Second, print-capitalism gave “a new fixity to language... which helped to build that image of antiquity so central to the subjective idea of the nation.” Third, print-capitalism “created languages-of-power of a kind different from the older administrative vernaculars.” In other words, what, in a positive sense, made the modern nations, or as Anderson calls them, the 14

Hobsbawm, (1990), p. 12. Miroslav Hroch, From National Movement to the Fully-Formed Nation: The Nation-building Process in Europe, New Left Review (1/198, 1993), P.2. 16 Miroslav Hroch, Real and Constructed: the Nature of the Nation, in J.A.Hall (ed.), The State of the Nation: Ernest Gellner and the Theory of Nationalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 94. 15

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