The development of the Kurdish national movement in Turkey from Mahmud II to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Authored by: Ahmet Serdar Akturk

Routledge Handbook on the Kurds

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138646643
eBook ISBN: 9781315627427
Adobe ISBN:


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The modern history of Kurds in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey dates back to the first half of the 19th century. In the 1830s, the Ottoman central government reconsidered the status of autonomous Kurdish hereditary principalities (emirates) that had been ruling Ottoman Kurdistan since the early 16th century. The Ottomans had integrated the greater part of Kurdistan as a result of their pivotal victory over Persia’s Safavid dynasty in the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514. Many Kurdish chiefs had sided with Ottoman Sultan Selim I against his Safavid counterpart, Shah Ismail. Sunni Kurdish chiefs had naturally allied with Sunni Ottomans tackling Shia Safavids in Anatolia and Mesopotamia. They had also resented the Safavids for replacing the Kurdish chiefs with Turkoman and Persian governors. Idris Bidlisi, an Ottoman Kurdish statesman, arranged the historic deal between hereditary Kurdish chiefs and the Ottoman imperial government which would last for over three centuries. Contrary to its centralist tendencies, the Ottoman government rewarded Kurdish chiefs with various degrees of autonomy. For the Kurdish emirs, Ottoman rule meant a long era of stability and recognition. For the Ottomans, autonomous Kurdish principalities served as vassals in a buffer zone with Persia, which ruled a small portion of Kurdistan. 1

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