Kurdish Nationalism and the State


The case of the Kurdish State in the Republic of Mahabad

Azad Haji Aghaie



In the political systems of the 20th century, states have been the only actors in the international community. In fact, states, as representations of nations, have not only brought about war and peace, they have consolidated the domination and authority of a class or an ideology. On the one hand, states are the driving forces behind the emancipation of none-state nations. On the other hand, they represent domination and totalitarianism. Within the ideology of Kurdish nationalism, the state has also been a subject of desire and utopia for the Kurds. This desire has been articulated through diverse rhetoric and ideologies. Undoubtedly, for the Kurds, the state is a manifestation of both domination and emancipatory ideology. Since the concept of Kurdish nationalism in itself is still controversial, the concepts used in Kurdish nationalism can also be contested and discussed. Considering these issues, this essay attempts to analyze the relationship between nationalism and the state through the rhetoric of the Republic of Kurdistan in Mahabad. To do so, this essay will consider the two main newspapers published at the dawn of attendance theory and practice in Rojhelat (Iranian Kurdistan).


Despite very different theoretical roots of nationalism, it seems that this ideology is tightly intertwined with other concepts such as state, identity, and nation-ness in everyday discourse as well as in academic studies. Nonetheless, the concomitance of the nation with the state as the most important consequence of the First World War, especially in the Middle East, is a modern phenomenon. Its roots in Europe can be traced back to the treaty of Westphalia, in which territorial sovereignty and sovereign equality of states were recognized by the international community. A brief glance at the modern history of nation-states and ideology of nationalism in Europe since the early nineteenth century and in the Middle East since the early twentieth century can clearly reveal the vital connection between the state and the rise of nationalism.

Despite many definitions and typologies of nationalism, it can be considered as a political concept. It is worth noting that most general studies of nationalism, by neglecting this focal point in many cases, do not mention its explicit political meaning and instead prefer a variety of cultural theories. Nevertheless, saying that nationalism is first and foremost a state of mind (Kohn, 1958, p. 10) does not reduce its political essence.

Nevertheless, it should be noted that nationalism has never been a unified school of thought. Without preferring one distinct approach to this ideology over another, conducting research can be a difficult task. Adopting a modernistic approach to nationalism, however, makes it possible to explain the later events with more precision in regards to awareness and imagination of the nation. From this perspective, nationalism is the highest order of identity of an individual in which they imagine themselves to be part of a greater whole, specifically the nation. Kohn notes that nationalities come into existence only when certain objective bonds delimit a social group. (Kohn, 1958, p. 13) These objective bonds are shared experiences, and they include such things as common descent, language, territory, political entity, customs and traditions, and religion. (Kohn, 1958, p. 15). They are are the tangible manifestations of a deeper level of consciousness.

The most important factor is the decision to form the nation, that is to say that while each characteristic lends nation-ness, it is the decision to become the nation whereby the imagined becomes the real community. According to Anderson, a nation ultimately exists in the minds of its citizens, who may never meet, but who live and die as part of one nation. (Anderson, 2006, pp. 6-7) This view of nationalism encompasses the belief among a people who are distinct from another nation because of particular attributes. In other words, the political boundaries are drawn in accordance with those who consider themselves as a singular national unit. In modern times, through the use of pre-modern elements such as language, culture, religion, memory, and customs, these characteristics are reproduced through modern technological means, which subsequently affect consciousness. Gellner in this regard asserts that a nation exists when two people share the same culture; this culture, in turn, means a system of ideas and signs and association and ways of behaving and communicating. To fit the condition they must also recognize each other as belonging to the same nation. (Gellner, 1983, p. 7)

This is describing the equation laid out by Hobsbawm whereby the nation = state = people. (Hobsbawm, 1990, p. 19) This equation finds its roots in both the American and French bill of rights, though it is more implicit in the French model. The French Declaration of Rights of 1795 states that each people is independent and sovereign, whatever the number of individuals who compose it and the extent of territory it occupies. This sovereignty is inalienable.  (Hobsbawm, 1990, p. 19)

Based on the principles that nations should have a state of their own; this ideology underlies the unification of states such as Germany and Italy, as well as a range of other nationalist and patriotic movements. The goal has been the establishment of sovereign nation states. The nation must be as independent as possible. This usually requires at least the attainment of political sovereignty. (Breuilly, 1993, p. 2) The legitimization of the existence of the nation-state is an important purport of this ideology. However, since nationalism is a holistic ideology, in dealing with popular sovereignty, it invests the final authority in an imagined community–the territory’s inhabitants imagined as a collective body rather than institutionally defined flesh and blood majority. (Yack, 2001) In the ideology of nationalism, creating this imagined community and collective body is so important that elites of the nation, using history, geography, language, race, memory, and common culture have tried to create it.

Emphasizing that Kurdish nationalism first and foremost can be understood as an intellectual phenomenon, which has served to create the collective imagination of Kurdish nation as a requirement for establishing a state, in this paper I will examine the relationships between this collective image and the creation of the state in Kurdish nationalism through the consideration of two newspapers of Nishtimanand Kurdistan. In this article, emphasizing the political form of nationalism, I have focused on the awareness and imagination of nationalism, and have sought to articulate the point that nationalism is a necessary condition for state development. Without a genuinely inclusive nationalism or national identity, the nation-state is either unrealized or failing. To start, I will focus on the emergence and objective contexts of the first signs of nationalist consciousness. Then, I will proceed with details, in an effort to show how the idea of the nation in two important newspapers at the beginning of 1940, Nishtimanand Kurdistan,were constructed, how the nation is produced and reproduced, and through it, nationalism. One of the political or philosophical questions raised by relating these two processes is the question of the necessity of the link between them: could you have the state without having the nation?

Prelude to Kurdish modern Nationalism

Despite the fact that adopting a modern approach to nationalism can lead to ignorance of a part of pre-modern realities associated with the appearance of Kurdish nationalism, as an inevitable issue, the roots of Kurdish nationalism can be traced back to the arrival of modernity and modernism in the Ottoman Empire, the transformation of tribal structures, the mode of production and the ultimate confrontation of Kurdish intellectuals with Turkish intellectuals. From this point of view, even before the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, many Kurdish intellectuals had begun to think about their Kurdishness. An overview of the published works of that era, and the intellectuals involved in Kurdish identity building, however, shows that by the time of the establishment of modern Republic of Turkey, awareness of Kurdishness was already transforming into nationalism.

This transformation, according to the words of Vail, can be explained as follows: Kurdish national identity has the mark of the political and cultural diversity of the “other;” it has been deeply fragmented since its inception. (Vali, 1998) These efforts can be seen in the form of periodical publications such Kurdistanand Roji Kurdand Jin, emphasizing Kurdishness as a new national identity that, at the same time, found Kurdish awareness fluctuating between Islam and Turkishness. Perhaps this may be considered as a basic step in the establishment of the ideology of Kurdish nationalism, which has close ties with perceiving Kurdish as the ‘other’. In this new ideology, representing the Kurd as a new body, like all other identities, Kurdish intellectuals have played the vital role.

In modern times, the inception of the Kurdish question in the framework of the territorial frontiers of Iran can be traced back to Shaikh Ubaidollah’s rebellion. Although this uprising was against the Ottoman Empire in the late nineteenth century, due to its affect on/engagement with parts of Kurdistan in Iran, it has been considered as planting the seeds of modern nationalism in Kurdish Iran. (Vali, 2011, p. 1) The scope of this uprising can be viewed from the geographic scale as well as by its contributors. Territories northwest of Uremia’s lake to near Bonab in East Azerbaijan and tribes such as Mamashs and Mangours were among the contributors. During this time, Kurdish social life was dominated by primordial relations, loyalties and values characteristic of the tribal landowning class, as Kurdistan either lacked the urban in the sense of its modern meaning or the urban was too small and therefore city dwellers were dependent on agrarian production and the landowning class.

In the nineteenth century, Iran was gradually entering the process of capitalism and in the early twentieth century, it succeeded in establishing a modern national state. The reign of Reza Shah and the establishment of a centralized national state was rooted in the aspirations of intellectuals and statesmen even before the Constitutional Revolution in 1905. Essentially, the new regime which came to power in 1921 was military in character. It was due to the wake of its modern institutions, only as a result of monotheistic measures, they could unite the dispersed Iranian communities and ethnic groups under the authority of the national government. At this time, according to Stephanie Cronin: various Kurdish tribes and their leaders… were on the verge of developing an ethnic, regional pan Kurdish and quasi-national identity. (Cronin, 2007, p. 22) By leadership of Ismail Agha Simko, in such a context, the Kurds’ confrontation with the Iranian national state emerged. In this regard, Gareth Stansfield, by referring to Farideh Koohi-Kamali, concludes that:

The emergence of Kurdish nationalist agendas could be correlated closely with the actions of the dominant nation, [led by Reza Shah]… and Kurdish aspirations for independence, economic progress, and cultural expression began to develop as a consequence of the political and economic processes of changing the lifestyle of tribes and nomads implemented by the central government of Reza Shah. (Stansfield, 2014, p. 68)

During this Kurdish uprising led by Simko and the events of its aftermath, however, the wishes of the Kurds in the form of a nationalist ideology lacked the explicit desire for the foundation of the nation-state and the acquisition of national sovereignty. Amongst the remaining few pages of Roji Kurdby the editorial of Torjanizade, one may find materials in this regard, but his uprising, among scholars and Kurdish nationalists, is still controversial. The conclusion by Farideh accepts that Simko relished power, authority, control, and glory. However, he expressed his demands in the language of nationalism, the language which was used by many ethnic groups at the time, the great powers and the newly established international bodies. (Koohi-Kamali, 2003, p. 88) The efforts of this period failed to a great extent due to lack of wider participation by agents of the elites, and the tribal structure of the participants, in line with the lack of expansion of capitalist relations.

The dawn of the ideology of Kurdish nationalism in The Rojhalat

In the aftermath of Simko’s death in 1930, Kurdish nationalism entered a new stage, influenced by new societal forces, especially emerging new and small-scale petty-bourgeoisie in Kurdistan, reactions against Reza Shah’s policies of centralization, and the promotion of a strategy of dominant nation-ness with the leadership of intellectuals. In this time, Komalay Azadixwazi Kurdistan (Society for the Liberation of Kurdistan) led by Aziz Zandi, which was a semi-clandestine organization, was founded in 1938 in Eastern Kurdistan in the Mukrian region. Although it is difficult to talk about the effects of this party, the party’s activities indicate a significant shift in political activities in this era. In the words of Cronin:

‘’By the 1940s, however, a national movement had begun to develop in Kurdistan, a movement based not on the tribal Aghas but on modern social forces and, in part at least, prompted by the aggressive Persification policies of the Riza Shah period. This movement emerged in Mahabad, the principal town of the region, was urban in its origin and composition and led by a Kurdish intelligentsia and middle class’’. (Cronin, 2007, p. 197)

The transitional stage era between tribalism and national consciousness, which is clearly identifiable in the new activities in Mahabad and the formation of Komalay JK (Komalay Jiyanaway Kurdistan), demonstrates the Kurdish agenda for nationalistic aspirations. The formation of Komalay JK was driven by several factors, among which a weakening central power and the relationship between Bashur and the East of Kurdistan, specifically the effect of the former on the latter. In his memoirs, Mohamad Amin Seraji, a Kurdish politician and one of the leaders of KDPI, argues that the revival of Kurdishness and the formation of Komalay JK are related to intellectual movement in Iraqi Kurdistan and the relationships between Iraqi and Iranian Kurdistan. Published works in Iraqi Kurdistan, such as Darkermagazine, entered Iran’s Kurdistan. Memories were transmitted and exchanged between the two. Mala Ghader Modaresi, one of the participants in the Kurdish Republic of Mahabad, recalls how in the time not long after Sheikh Ubaydollah’s uprising that people did not forget about the uprising. It still had an impact on them. (Haji aghaie: 2015:315) It seems that from this point onwards, from the formation of Komalay JK on 16 August 1942, Kurdish modern nationalism as an ideology continued having a presence on the political scene. But to analyze this paradigm shift in Kurdish political thought, we need to examine Nishtimantexts.

Nishtimanand the ideology of nationalism

The first issue of the Nishtiman(Motherland), which reflected the thoughts of JK, was published in July 1943. On the front page of its first issue were these sentences: Biji Serok u Kurd u Kurdistan u Hiwa[1].  From the second issue Nishtiman, this sentence, which refers to the party of Hiwa and its chairman, Rafigh Helmi, was removed. Without any mention to expanding aspects of Nishtimanas the official journal of Komalay JK in this section, due to the importance of this modern text, analyzing the relationship between Kurdish nationalism and state in the papers of this official organ is necessary. The first issue of Nishtimanwas published in July 1943 by Abdurrahman Zabihi, and last issue (10), with the cooperation of Sheikh Latif and Zabihi, was published in Sitak, near Sulaymaniye in Iraqi Kurdistan. The first issue of Nishtimanstarts with our goal. Stansfield argues that if the title of Komalay JK was not obvious enough an indicator of Kurdish nationalist thought, then the declaration in the first issue of the aim of Komalay JK, that of the creation of a greater Kurdistan, left no room for doubt. (Stansfield, 2014, p. 71)  In this declaration entitled our goal, Komalay JK states that:

Unlike any problems and difficulties such as internal hostility, hypocrisy, money worship and xenophilia which has become an obstacle to Kurdish victory, with all its strength and ability, Komalay JK tries to open the chain of captivity on the neck of the Kurdish nation, and establish in this ripped Kurdistan a great and unified Kurdistan so that every Kurdish can live in freedom. (Nisthiman: 4)

Nishtiman,by advocating a nationalist strategy that is totally civil-political, seeks to find the cause of misery and backwardness. By rejecting any militarism, the objective states that the only way to achieve liberation is through civilization; this leads directly to the paradise of freedom and liberation. (Nisthiman: 4)

In this regard, Vali argues that this radical break with the classical Kurdish military-political method hitherto prevalent in all parts of Kurdistan is highly significant. It demonstrates not only the Komala’s view of the futility of military action against numerically, logistically and technologically superior forces in a landlocked terrain, but also its radical assessment of the social structure, political organization and ideological orientation of military power in Kurdistan. (Vali, 2011, pp. 22-23) Due to lack of attention to political realities on the one hand and the absence of a clear vision in creating an institution for political sovereignty on the other hand, this political program can also be considered as a form of political dream.

Apart from this nationalistic rhetoric, invoking social and economic issues associated with the class structure of Kurdish society was another other part of the ideological rhetoric of Komalay JK. In this regard, Nishtimanaddresses the tribal heads and Kurdish Aghas, insisting that their hypocrisy and greediness have been causes of the current situation. Therefore, it can be argued that if opposition to tribal leaders and Aghas is in favor of national unity and solidarity, another side of this rhetoric has tried to represent social and political problems. But not using people’s word is remarkable. In the second issue of Nishtiman, this term, in reference to the domestic oppositions, has been used once; and in the wrappers, it is stated that we are not communists, and even if we are communists, people cannot protest. (Nishtiman: 39)

Generally, Nishtimanwas able to articulate nationalism on the axis of three elements: the internal enemy, the external enemy and the desire for liberation-independence. This newly born nationalism seeks to rebuild the soil as one of the elements of this new nationalism, but in its political vocabulary did not have an image of the state. Komalay JK in its short life and Nishtiman,with its 9 issues published in eastern Kurdistan, simultaneously resulted in the creation of two discourses in nationalism for the first time. Firstly, a discourse which, based on national elements, sought to unite people and gain independence, regardless of the concept of state and sovereignty, and a second discourse, which focused on socio-economic problems of Kurdistan and sought to create a socialist discourse.

Its references to the Soviet battle with the German army, (Nishtiman: 24), articles titled ‘We and the people’ (Nishtiman: 38), Great October Revolution (Nishtiman: 56) and (Nishtiman: 94), publishing a photo by Lenin (Nishtiman: 137) all point to references to the introduction of the socialistic discourse to the Kurdish nationalism, but the ideological discourse remained nationalized. Despite the fact that the ideology of JK could not provide an image of the future political situation of Kurdistan, nor go beyond the will of independence in the motto, it provided the necessary, but not sufficient, grounds for the legitimacy of Kurdish political nationalism. Employing concepts like independence and Kurdish political identity, and using history as a ground for nationalism, were elements that Nishtimanadded to the Kurdish political vocabulary.

Historically, the entry of Soviet forces into Iran and the vacuum of power therein led to new social forces, and, as a result of the progress of history and previous experiences of historical memory, a reaction to the central government.  Mahabad, in the early 1940s, enjoyed the freedoms that would allow its intellectual groupings and nascent political organizations to explore notions of nationalism that would facilitate broader and more coherent Kurdish nationalist thinking. (Stansfield, 2014, p. 70) In the same vein, it can be said that the coincidence of foreign interference in the territorial borders of Iran with the increase of petty-bourgeois awareness led to the fundamental transformation of Kurdish political practice, which revealed itself in the establishment of political parties.

Nevertheless, the birth of Komalay JK represents a deep turning point in Kurdish society and the discourse of Kurdish nationalism. But this shift should not be considered as a complete deviation from all previous structures. According to Vali the predominance of lineage and primordial loyalties in the social structure and political organization of Kurdish movements had proved detrimental to the development of national consciousness and modern nationalist political practice in Kurdistan. The painful realization of this structural feature of Kurdish society and politics was clearly reflected in the constitution and the political structure of the Komala. (Vali, 2011, p. 23)

For this reason, the abolishment and transformation of Komalay JK within the Democratic Party KDPI on 15 August 1945 should not be viewed as a normal event. Amir Hassanpour believes that the dissolution of Komalay JK within the Democratic Party and the establishment of KDPI led to a historic reconciliation between feudalism (Darabagayati) and Kurdish nationalism (Kurdayeti). (Ali Karimi: 27) Ghasemlou considers this transformation an indication of the existing fragmentation in Kurdish society and the nationalistic discourse of Komalay JK, which then especially manifested in the failure of the weak bourgeoisie and the dissolution of the existing situation in Kurdish society. (Ghasemlou: 44) The fate of the Komalay JK was a telling example of the perils of modern nationalism in traditional/pre-capitalist social formations. The organization laid the ideological grounds for a modern nationalist political process, but could not survive the pressures brought to bear by the political and institutional imperatives of this process. (Vali, 2011, p. 47)

State and Kurds: rhetorical analysis of the Kurdistan Newspaper

The desire for independence among the Kurds was not something that would remain hidden. Ann Lambton wrote of her visit to Kurdistan in 1944 the few Kurds I talked to … all spoke of Kurdish independence with enthusiasm. (McDowall, 2005, p. 239) In the same period John Cook, the British Consul in Kermanshah, in a report describes that: Among all the tribes [in Kurdistan], there is indescribable bitterness against the Persian officials, particularly the military and police and a firm determination at whatever the cost, death or banishment, not to have them back in the tribal areas under the same conditions as before. (Koohi-Kamali, 2003, p. 96) The performance of Nishtimanin April 1945 showed the peak of these emotions in the political public sphere in Mahabad.

The desire for independence and the establishment of the state is one of the most explicit measures undertaken during the period of the Republic of Kurdistan in Mahabad. This practice embodied the demands of a part of the elites of that period and the rational outcome of the demands written in Nishtiman. But pointing out the differences in the language choices of Nishtimanand Kurdistanis important. The Kurdistan, as the official organ of the Kurdish government in Mahabad, has a longer lifespan than Nishtiman. And unlike Nishtiman, it has been more pluralistic.

Kurdistanin its first issue, like Nishtiman, starts with the stated goal and argues that: At a time when all the nations of the world, besides their liberation and their homeland, have no other goal, which they are trying to hard to achieve, what do we do, and what is the ultimate goal? Further, pointing to the misery and dispersion of the Kurds due to the hypocrisy of the enemies, he added that, since September 1941, we had abandoned the bondage yoke and now we are no longer talking about the tribes and clans, but now we announce with unity that we are Kurdish and considered all citizens equal… all of they try to the nation. (Kurdistan: 1, January 1946)

One can say that the only significant concept in this text is the concept of citizenship. This concept, for the first time in political literature, can reflect the transformation of the intellectual foundations of that era, the disappearance of differences between peasants (vassals) and Aghas, equality between all Kurds, and representation of the transition from pre-modern principles to the definition of the modern concept of the Kurdishness.

As a result of plural voices of Kurdistan and religious differences, the definition of Kurdishness in these newspapers’ imagination has been contradictory. According to the Kurdistan: That time has passed which in the name of Shi’a, Sunni, Bakhtiari, Lor, Kalhour and Mamash, implant seeds of hypocrisy among Kurds. Since there are 9 million Kurds in Iran, Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, and each in their own land, with a sound and a spirit want their rights. (Kurdistan, 5, p: 20)

This definition of Kurdishness represents the gaps and obstacles to nation-ness: the gap between Sunni and Shiite Kurds, the gap between modern and pre-modern time and the geographical distribution of Kurds among four countries. But a large part of the texts published in this newspaper shows that Kurdishness is a matter of race and, given this, identity is not questionable. In this regard, reliance on history is of great importance; such discussions are followed by the newspaper’s No. 7 issue. This discourse clearly shows their hidden objectives. We need to be informed of the end and outcomes of the state of Meds so we can establish the link between the Kurdish ancestors to now. (Kurdistan 13, p: 54)

In this regard, notions of shared history are often promoted to legitimize nation-states. To this end, Kurdistan insists that history is not a product of the past but a response to requirements of the present. In doing and so by adopting this discourse, Kurdistan tries to highlight politics as the basis of history and from this angle legitimizes the demands of today. While history is a subject for analysis, it has entered into the linguistic and political game and is becoming a continuous process of life. This way of legitimizing depicted the main lines of the call for independence or autonomy in Kurdistan and Kurdish nationalism. But it seems to be one of the most complex and difficult issues of nationalism to the extent that even the accurate examination of the texts produced cannot lead to solving this complexity. It seems that this difficulty, while also one of the complexities of Kurdish nationalism, is also due to the pluralistic and heterogeneous nature of this newspaper.

In an interview published in the first issue of Kurdistan, Qazi Muhammad, in answering the question of Kurdish demands, whether autonomy or independence, argues that: no, it’s not true, we request Iran’s state to enforce the constitution (Kurdistan 1 p: 4) and continues: the Kurdish people in Iran have liberty to the administration and management of his internal affairs and live freely in the borders of Iran, can study in the Kurdish language, according to the constitution, guaranteeing establishment of Anjomanhaye-Eyalati ve Welayati, local residents will be appointed to government officials in the region and reconciliation between peasants and Aghas is possible. (Kurdistan 2, p: 6) To the question about the unity of Kurds in other parts of Kurdistan, Qazi Mohammad answers” that, no, in no way”. (Kurdistan 2, p: 6) While reflecting the official stance of the state, the interview reveals dichotomy of Kurdish nationalistic discourse in that time, and even today, too.

At the same time, in a decision on January 22 that nationalist sentiment in Mahabad had reached new highs and remarkable day that proclaim the founding of the Republic of Kurdistan, the Central Committee of the KDPI Party requested that the following six conditions be fulfilled: that the regions where the Kurds now live reach full independence; that national parliamentary elections are held; that Kurdish government and ministries are established; that a national army is established; that trade and economic relations with neighboring states are established; and that relationships with Azari’s are strengthened. (Kurdistan 8 p: 31) All of these six articles, which include the conditions for the establishment of an independent state, are said to have been mentioned several days earlier by the Kurdish leadership about the rejection of the state establishment.

This contradiction in the articulation of the issue of independence and the establishment of the state can be explained in words of Sheikh Ezadin as follows: The interval between the conversion of Komalay JK to KDPI and the establishment of the Republic was close to three months… That’s why there is a kind of turmoil in the Mahabad Republic. Thoughts like independence with the flag, the national army and the ministry, the official language in schools and schools and offices, on the one hand, can be seen; and on other, the form of the government, especially in the late stages of its life, goes to autonomy. In the literature of some party’s officials, the word autonomy can be seen. (Ali Karimi: 356)

An important result, which today also represents itself in the nationalist political discourse of Kurdish political parties, is the contradiction and fluctuation between the demand for independence and the establishment of the state and autonomy. This turmoil in the Kurdistan newspaper’s rhetoric can be explained from another point of view. In confronting the Kurdish people, by focusing on state and Kurdish demands for the state (Kurdistan 37 p: 151), this nationalistic rhetoric in order to become more legitimate tried to gain popularity at the domestic level. At the external level, however, it refused to accept issues of independence and the establishment of a Kurdish state. This contradiction can also be explained by trying to remove all of the signs that imply to Komalay JK. Republic in the discourse of Kurdish nationalism represented by Kurdistanwas the route through which Komalay JK and its founders entered national history and acquired a political identity. They have no history or identity prior to the formation of the Republic. (Vali, 2011, p. 85) In this regard, Ghasemlou emphasizes the lack of objective contexts and economic, social and cultural conditions for the establishment of Republic (Ghasemlou p: 111) Perhaps this duality of political demand from this period, which was embodied in Kurdish nationalism, reflected in the political rhetoric of Kurdish nationalism in Iran.


The myth of the Mahabad Republic, after more than seventy years, is still a powerful motif in the narrative of Kurdish nationalism. According to Vali: To the Kurds… the collapse of the Republic offers more than just a historical lesson. For them it is not only an event that has taken place in the past but also one that is living in the present, animating not only memories but also the discourses and practices that shape the present. Through this event, they think about their past, encounter their present and imagine their future. (Vali, 2011, p. 113)

Apart from memorial functions of this historical event and the external factors affecting the collapse of the Republic of Kurdistan in Mahabd, it is also important to emphasize the dimensions of nation-building and its relationship with the state. According to Ghasemlou, it is a fact that the objective, economic and social and cultural conditions for the establishment of the Republic were not available. Even its subjective contexts that include a political power that enables the establishment of the statist organization had not been fully established. (Ghasemlou p: 115)

The scope of these critiques can be extended to the non-theorizing of the ideology of nationalism and its close ties with state-making. In practical terms, however, mountainous regions, low population density, lack of development can be mentioned. In the subjective dimension, however, it can be argued that the trajectory of events shows that: by diminishing the power of the central government the desire for independence has become more intense; on the contrary, by increasing the power of the central government, this demand has been eliminated. In both cases, ironically, the state and the desire to establish a state in its modern sense, with concepts such as independence and autonomy, has been covered.  It may be possible today to show the historical trajectory of the Republic in Kurdish nationalistic rhetoric, wherein political demands were expressed humbly and with fear. This exclusivity, however, is one of the obstacles which makes finding a clear answer to the questions such as ‘’could the Kurds create a state without or prior to being a nation’’ even harder.


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[1]long live our leader and the Kurd and Kurdistan and Hiwa

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