Whichever book on Kurds I grab from my library, they all open with a short prologue on history. All books recount how the Kurdish revolts began and how they were oppressed and massacred.
What is worse is the revelation later on of how the rebelling Kurds were actually tricked and used by other states.
Unfortunately, Kurds, despite knowing the way all states used them and later abandoned them to suffer deep pain, with new excitement, they have once again fallen into the trap of another state.
Russia, the first state to trick Kurds
Kurds had their last "Golden Age" in the Ottoman era. Like all nations, Kurds also had freedom of language, religion and culture under Ottoman reign.
With the weakening of the Ottoman Empire, Russia supported intense separatist movements in three regions in an attempt to wear out the empire. It provoked the Slavs in the Balkans, Armenians in Caucasus and the east, Kurds in the east and southeast and tried to lead them to revolt against the Ottoman Empire.
The first Kurdish revolt began with the Abdurrahman Pasha revolt in 1806. Twelve different revolts took place until 1912, each one of them harshly suppressed.
The Russian tsar made the same promise of an independent ethnic state which he had made to the Serbs in the Balkans to Kurds, too. Russia was actually pursuing the Caucasus and Balkans. It used Kurds to push the Ottomans into a tight corner and then abandoned them, leading them to experience the greatest tragedies.
The British using Sevres to trick Kurds
Kurds were used again in World War I in the plans made to divide the Ottoman Empire. This time they were used by the British. In articles 62 and 64 of the Treaty of Sevres, Kurds were promised an independent Kurdish state.
In 1922, Sheikh Mahmoud, an Iraqi Kurd in Sulaymaniyah, based on this article, declared himself "Ruler of Kurdistan" and had money and stamps printed. The British suppressed this declaration of independence in Iraq, which had become its own mandate, by bombing Sulaymaniyah.
Simultaneous revolts began in Turkey as well, with 25 Kurdish revolts taking place between 1924 and 1940. The Republic used the Law on the Maintenance of Order and Independence Courts to heavy-handedly suppress these revolts. Kurds were denied both in terms of identity and culture, and hence started the great debate that would last years.
The UK did not allow these revolts, which it underhandedly provoked and encouraged, to ever take place in its own mandate, Iraq. The British slaughtered all Kurds, primarily the Barzani family, who got close to the oil area. Seeing the bombs fall from British planes, Kurds realized Sevres was a trick, but they were too late.
The real objective of the UK was to take control of the oil regions in Iraq, like Mosul and Kirkuk. It used the Kurdish revolts to pressure Turkey and get what it wanted. And that, it did.
The tragedy of the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad
The name of the first and last state established by Kurds is Mahabad. The lifespan of this state established on Iranian territory in 1946 was 11 months. To invade Iran, the UK and Russia tricked Kurds again with the promise of an independent Kurdish state. Russia used the Kurdish state as a means of threat to tear off the northeast of Iran, which it invaded.
When Iran was forced to reach an agreement with the UK and Russia, both countries abandoned the Kurds. Then, Iran entered Mahabad, ousted the Kurdish state with blood, hanged members of the declared government and slaughtered hundreds of people.
The US using Kurds
Following the instabilities that started after the military coups in Iraq in the 1960s, Kurds took action again for autonomy and independence. This time it was the US that encouraged and provoked them to revolt. Mustafa Barzani, also known as Mullah Mustafa, ended the alliance with Russia which failed to keep any of its promises, and reached an agreement with the US. Upon this, Russia shook hands with then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein against the Kurds.
The US provided all kinds of arms and ammunition to Kurds against the Baath regime through Iran's shah. By this point Kurds were certain they would achieve independence with their 120,000-strong army.
While Iran was giving arms to Kurds against Iraq, it was also holding secret meetings with Saddam. Turkey was the mediator. The Iranian shah told then Turkish Foreign Minister İhsan Sabri Çağlayangil that they will stop backing the Kurds if Iraq ceases to insist on Shatt al-Arab. Iraq, being in a bind, accepted Iran's demand.
Iran immediately stopped helping Kurds. Barzani wrote dramatic letters to then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger asking the US not to abandon them. Yet this did not change anything.
The US had helped Kurds for the Iranian shah, the shah got what he wanted and the Kurds were deceived once more. Barzani surrendered in the 1970s, dissolved his army and gave the weapons to Saddam.
A people always deceived
The surrender of Barzani led to the division of the Kurdish movement in the 1970s. The Talabani took the stage in Iraq and Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan in Turkey.
From then onward, it becomes impossible to follow who used the divided Kurds and for what reason. Germany, France, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Syria, the US, Russia and China all used Kurds throughout history for different aims and then abandoned them.
Kurds, who have undergone hundreds of revolts, wars and exiles since the first revolt against the Ottoman Empire in 1806, have never been able to reach the promised Kurdish state. However, thousands of Kurds died, thousands of others were exiled and displaced from their homeland. The 1988 Halabja massacre of Kurds whom the US used against Saddam was the most unforgettable pain of all.
Now, Russia and the US are back on stage and again they are tricking Kurds with an independent Kurdish state in Rojava. Let's discuss the details tomorrow.