Mahabad Republic of Kurdistan


Mahabad Republic of Kurdistan
   Also known as the Democratic Republic of Kurdistan, the Mahabad Republic of Kurdistan in northwestern Iran was a rump Kurdish state that was proclaimed on 22 January 1946, received considerable aid from the Soviet Union, but collapsed by December 1946. Its much revered leader Qazi Muhammad was hanged on 31 March 1947, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) he headed virtually ceased to exist.
   During the republic's brief tenure, its schools began to teach in Kurdish, while scholars also began to translate texts into that language. A printing press provided by the Soviet Union produced a daily newspaper and a famous monthly journal called Nishtiman (Motherland). Limited amounts of Soviet military aid also arrived.
   There is debate over whether Qazi Muhammad actually sought complete independence or simply autonomy. During its brief existence, the miniscule entity extended no further than the small cities of Mahabad, Bukan, Naqada, and Ushnaviya in a part of what is now the Iranian province of Western Azerbaijan. Thus, not even all of Iranian Kurdistan supported the experiment, let alone the Kurds in other states. On the other hand, the Mahabad Republic had pan-Kurdish ambitions and attracted such non-Iranian Kurds as Mulla Mustafa Barzani, who served as one of the republic's generals. There also can be no doubt that the Mahabad Republic became a symbol of forlorn Kurdish nationalism and statehood in the 20th century. The Mahabad Republic collapsed due to Iran's vigorous response, the Soviet Union's unwillingness to offer more support, and the usual Kurdish divisions.
   Mahabad acquired its current name during the 1920s in the time of Reza Shah Pahlavi. Previously it was known as Sawadj or Sawdj-Bulak. The city has long boasted a purer Kurdish culture and more intense Kurdish nationalism than the larger cities of Urumiya (Rezaiya) to the north and Sanandadj to the south, both of which have important non-Kurdish minorities. Thus, Mahabad has earned the premier role in the development of Iranian Kurdish nationalism.
   See also J.K.; Komala (1942-1945).

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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