Barzani, Mulla Mustafa

   Mulla Mustafa Bar-zani was the most famous Kurdish leader of the 20th century. His name became virtually synonymous with the Kurdish nationalist movement in Iraq, while his fame made him a legendary hero for Kurds everywhere. He was a natural leader, inspired emotional loyalty, and was physically strong and brave. Because of the stunted development of Kurdish nationalism, however, in some ways Barzani never exceeded the bounds of tribal chieftain. Some of his Kurdish opponents called him feudal and reactionary. Nevertheless, his career helped mightily to foster a nascent Kurdish national consciousness, which continues to grow in the 21st century.
   Mulla Mustafa and his mother were imprisoned by the Ottomans when he was an infant, and his elder brother Sheikh Abdul Salam II was executed by the Ottomans for disloyalty in World War I. Barzani eventually had three wives, 10 sons, and several daughters. Hamayl, his third wife, was a member of the Barzani tribe's hereditary Zibari enemy. She came to wield considerable power behind the scenes and is the mother of Massoud Barzani, the current Barzani and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader.
   Mulla Mustafa first emerged in the early 1930s when, with his elder brother Sheik Ahmad Barzani, he opposed a plan to settle Assyrians in Barzani tribal land. Fighting erupted, but eventually, the Barzani brothers surrendered and were imprisoned. During World War II, Barzani escaped from house arrest and soon renewed his opposition to the government and various pro-government tribes. Despite early successes, Barzani was eventually forced across the Iranian frontier, where he became a general in the short-lived Ma-habad Republic of Kurdistan. He also became the leader of the new Kurdish (later Kurdistan) Democratic Party (KDP) founded in Iraq on 16 August 1946.
   With the fall of the Mahabad Republic in late 1946, Barzani was forced into an epic retreat with some of his best fighters to the Soviet Union, where he became known by some as the "Red Mulla." However, he did not become a communist. With the fall of the Iraqi monarchy in 1958, Barzani returned to Iraq, where he quickly regained his former tribal prominence.
   By 1961, Barzani was in full revolt against the government. Given the weakness of the Iraqi government in those days, Barzani was able to achieve considerable success and maintain a de facto independence for many years. During his long period of ascendancy, Barzani mastered the art of guerrilla warfare in his mountainous homeland. Barzani also battled against and defeated the forces of the KDP Politburo led by two former associates, Ibrahim Ahmed and his son-in-law Jalal Talabani. By the late 1960s, Barzani was the undisputed leader of the Iraqi Kurds.
   The March Manifesto (1970) reached with the Iraqi government, now led by the Baath Party and increasingly Saddam Hussein, held out the promise of real autonomy for the Kurds. In the end, however, neither side really wanted a compromise. The growing strength of the Baathist government and the treachery of the United States and Iran in withdrawing their support, which Barzani had naively come to rely on, finally enabled the Iraqi government to quickly win the new round of fighting that began in 1974 and ended in March 1975 with Barzani's total defeat. Broken and in ill health, Barzani eventually went into exile in the United States, where he died in March 1979. He was initially buried in Iran, but in 1993 he was reinterred in his Kurdish homeland (the town of Barzan) amid much emotional demonstrations on the part of all Iraqi Kurds.
   Although he was not a religious figure, throughout most of his career Barzani was known by the religious title "Mulla." The origins of this are obscure, although one close observer said it came from a maternal uncle. Be that as it may, the name "Mulla" was a proper name and not a title. Today most Kurdish writers prefer not to use the word because of its religious implications, but this historical dictionary does, as it is how Barzani was known throughout most of his life.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Barzani, Ahmad — (Sheikh) (1896 1969)    Sheikh Ahmad Bar zani was the elder brother of Mulla Mustafa Barzani and the last Barzani to bear the title sheikh of Barzan. During the 1920s, Sheikh Ahmad earned a reputation among some for religious eccentricity… …   Historical Dictionary of the Kurds

  • Barzani, Massoud — (1946 )    The current leader of the Barzani family and president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Massoud Barzani was born in Mahabad, Iran, on 16 August 1946, the same day his father and others founded the KDP. Until his father, Mulla… …   Historical Dictionary of the Kurds

  • Mulla —    The mulla (in Kurdish mela) is the only clerical office in Sunni Islam. He leads religious services at the village level and instructs the children of the village in the Koran. In earlier times, the mulla was usually the most educated man in… …   Historical Dictionary of the Kurds

  • Barzani, Idris — (1944 1987)    Idris Barzani was one of the many sons of Mulla Mustafa Barzani. After the elder Barzani s defeat in 1975 and death in 1979, Idris and his half brother Massoud Bar zani emerged as co leaders of the revamped Kurdistan Democratic… …   Historical Dictionary of the Kurds

  • Mulla Effendi — Personal details Born 1863 Arbil, Ottoman Empire (present day Iraq) Died December 31, 1942 Arbil, Iraq Mulla Abu Bakr E …   Wikipedia

  • Idris Barzani — (links) mit seinem Vater Mustafa (mitte)und Bruder Masud (rechts). Idris Barzani (* 1944; † 31. Januar 1987; kurdisch: Idrîs Barzanî) war ein kurdischer Politiker im Irak. Er war der Sohn des KDP Gründers Molla Mustafa Barzani und der Vater von… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Peshmerga — Infobox Military Unit unit name = Peshmerga caption = Peshmerga emblem dates = 1890 Present country = Iraqi Kurdistan Region allegiance = branch = Army type = role = Domestic defense size = 270,000 [… …   Wikipedia

  • Chronology — 401 BCE Kardouchoi harass retreating Greeks, as recorded by Xenophon in his Anabasis. Mid 7th century CE Kurds are Islamicized. 1169 Saladin (most famous Kurd) establishes Ayyubid dynasty in Egypt and Syria. 1187 Saladin defeats Crusaders at the… …   Historical Dictionary of the Kurds

  • Talabani, Jalal — (1933 )    Jalal Talabani established the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in June 1975 and has been its secretary general ever since. Along with his rival Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Talabani has… …   Historical Dictionary of the Kurds

  • Republic of Ararat — This article is about the Kurdish independence movement. The same name was sometimes also used to refer to the Democratic Republic of Armenia, established in 1918. Infobox Former Country native name = Komara Agiriyê conventional long name =… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.