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Kurdish separatism in Iran

Kurdish separatism in Iran

PJAK fighters in 2012 (VoA image)
Date 1918 (1918)–present[1][2]
(main phase 1943[3][4]-present)[3]
Location Iran, Iran-Iraqi Kurdistan border areas
Result Ongoing:
  • Several tribal revolts, including Simko's, suppressed
  • 1946 attempt to establish Republic of Mahabad failed
  • Political crackdown on Kurdish political associations in Iran[5]
  • Cease fire between Iran and PJAK established in September 2011, but fighting resumed in 2013
Imperial state of Iran

Council of the Islamic Revolution

Shikak tribesemen

Republic of Mahabad

supported by:
 Soviet Union

Commanders and leaders
Reza Shah Pahlavi

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi
Ali Razmara

Ayatollah Khomeini
Ali Khamenei
Mohammad Ali Jafari
Mohsen Rezaee
Ali Sayad Shirazi
Sadegh Khalkhali
Qasim Ali Zahir Nejad
Naser kazemi  
Mostafa Chamran
Mohammad Boroujerdi  
Mahmoud Kaveh
Hamid Bakeri
Mehdi Bakeri
Mohammad Vali Gharani

Ahmad Motevaselian
Simko Shikak

Qazi Muhammad 
Mustafa Barzani
Ahmed Barzani
Ja'far Pishevari
Ahmad Kordary #
Salahuddin Kazimov

Haji Ahmadi
Majid Kavian  

Murat Karasac  
Casualties and losses
4,000 killed (1980-2000)[6]
(According to the KDP-I)
2,000 killed 1946-7

30,000 civilians killed 1980-2000 (according to the KDPI)[6]
456-891 killed 2004-present

Total: 36,500+ casualties

Kurdish separatism in Iran[7] or the Kurdish–Iranian conflict[8][9] is an ongoing,[1][3][7][10] long running, separatist dispute between the Kurdish opposition in Western Iran and the governments of Iran,[7] lasting since the emergence of Pahlavi Reza Shah in 1918.[1]

The earliest Kurdish separatist activities in modern times refer to tribal revolts in today's

  1. ^ a b c d Benjamin Smith. Land and Rebellion: Kurdish Separatism in Comparative Perspective.P.10. "The Kurds of Iran: Opportunistic and Failed Resistance, 1918‐". [1]
  2. ^ AYLIN ÜNVER NOI. The Arab Spring – its effects on the Kurds and the approaches of Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq on the Kurdish issue. Gloria Center. 1 July 2012. "There is a long history of tension between the Kurds and the government in Iran. This began with Reza Shah Pahlavi recapturing the lands that Kurdish leaders had gained control of between 1918 and 1922."; "Iran fears that the creation of a semi-autonomous state in northern Iraq might motivate its own Kurdish minority to press for greater independence. However, Iran’s concern about Kurdish separatism does not approach the level of Turkey’s concern. Still, there have been repeated clashes between Kurds and Iranian security forces" [2]
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l University of Arkansas. Political Science department. Iran/Kurds (1943-present). Retrieved 09 September 2012. [3]
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ Iran: Freedom of Expression and Association in the Kurdish Regions. 2009. "This 42-page report documents how Iranian authorities use security laws, press laws, and other legislation to arrest and prosecute Iranian Kurds solely for trying to exercise their right to freedom of expression and association. The use of these laws to suppress basic rights, while not new, has greatly intensified since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power in August 2005." [5]
  6. ^ a b c Hicks, Neil. The human rights of Kurds in the Islamic Republic of Iran, April 2000. [6]
  7. ^ a b c d e Habeeb, William Mark; Frankel, Rafael D.; Al-Oraibi, Mina (2012). The Middle East in Turmoil: Conflict, Revolution, and Change. Santa Barbara:  
  8. ^ Bhutani, Surendra (1980), Contemporary Gulf, Academic Press, p. 32 .
  9. ^ Near East, North Africa report, 1994 .
  10. ^ a b c Elling, Rasmus Christian (2013). Minorities in Iran: Nationalism and Ethnicity after Khomeini. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.  
  11. ^ The Kurdish Warrior Tradition and the Importance of the Peshmerga (PDF), pp. 27–28 .
  12. ^ Shifrinson, Itzkowitz JR, The Kurds and Regional Security: An Evaluation of Developments since the Iraq War (PDF), MIT, More indicative of the PKK’s growing power was its 2004 establishment of the Party for a Free Life in Iranian Kurdistan (PEJAK or PJAK) as a sister organization with the goal of fomenting Kurdish separatism in Iran by fostering Kurdish nationalism therein. .
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Kreyenbroek, Philip G.; Sperl, Stefan (1992). The Kurds: A Contemporary Overview. London; New York:  
  14. ^ a b Romano, David (2006). The Kurdish Nationalist Movement: Opportunity, Mobilization and Identity. Cambridge Middle East studies, 22. Cambridge, UK; New York:  
  15. ^  
  16. ^  
  17. ^ Allen, William Edward David; Muratoff, Paul (1953). Caucasian battlefields: A History of the Wars on the Turco-Caucasian border, 1828-1921. Cambridge:  
  18. ^ Oberling, Pierre (20 July 2004). "Kurdish Tribes".  
  19. ^ a b Entessar, Nader (2010). Kurdish Politics in the Middle East. Lanham:  
  20. ^ a b c d e Kreyenbroek, Philip G.; Sperl, Stefan (1992). The Kurds: A Contemporary Overview. London; New York:  
  21. ^  
  22. ^ Izady, Mehrdad (1992). The Kurds: A Concise Handbook. Washington: Crane Russak. p. 58.  
  23. ^ a b Smith B. Land and Rebellion: Kurdish Separatism in Comparative Perspective. [7]
  24. ^ Jwaideh, W. The Kurdish National Movement: Its Origins and Development.:p.245.
  25. ^ Zabih, Sepehr (December 15, 1992). Communism ii.. in Encyclopædia Iranica. New York: Columbia University
  26. ^ Romano, David (2006). The Kurdish Nationalist Movement: Opportunity, Mobilization and Identity. Cambridge Middle East studies, 22. Cambridge, UK; New York:  
  27. ^ Chelkowski, Peter J.; Pranger, Robert J. (1988). Ideology and Power in the Middle East: Studies in Honor of George Lenczowski. Durham: Duke University Press. p. 399.  
  28. ^  
  29. ^  
  30. ^  
  31. ^ Yodfat, Aryeh (1984). The Soviet Union and Revolutionary Iran. New York:  
  32. ^ a b c Katzman, Kenneth (2009). Iraq: Post-Saddam Governance and Security. New York:  
  33. ^ a b Lovelace, Douglas C. (2009). Terrorism: Documents of International and Local Control 110. New York:  


  • PJAK website (in Persian, Sorani and English)
  • Extract from article about Kurdish Iranian militants 28 June 2006.

External links

See also

In one of the first actions of the [32][33] PJAK and Iranian government agreed on cease-fire, following the 2011 Iranian offensive on PJAK bases. After the cease fire agreement, a number of clashes between PJAK and IRGC took place in 2012,[10] and by mid-2013, the fighting resumed.

Iranian media and various Western analysts.[7][32][33] The PJAK goal is an establishment of a Kurdish autonomy and according to Habeeb they do not pose any serious threat to the regime of the Islamic Republic.[7]

PJAK insurrection

Insurrection by the KDPI took place in Iranian Kurdistan through early and mid-90s, initiated by assassination of its leader in exile in July 1989. The KDPI insurrection ended in 1996, following a successful Iranian campaign of targeted assassinations of KDPI leaders and crackdown on its support bases in Western Iran. In 1996, KDPI announced a unilateral cease fire, and has since acted at low profile.

KDPI insurgency

1979 Kurdish rebellion in Iran was an insurrection led by the KDPI and its allies in Iranian Kurdistan, which became the most serious rebellion against the new Iranian regime, following the Islamic Revolution. The rebellion ended in December 1982, with 10,000 killed and 200,000 displaced.[3]

1979 rebellion

In mid-1960s a series of Kurdish tribal disturbances erupted in Western Iran, fed up by the revival of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I).[1] In 1967-8 Iranian government troops suppressed a Kurdish revolt in Western Iran,[3] consolidating the previous Kurdish uprisings in Mahabad-Urumiya region.

1967 Kurdish revolt

PKK in Turkey.[14][20][30][31]

The danger of fragmentation in modern Iran became evident shortly after Second World War when Soviet Union's refused to relinquish occupied North Western Iranian territory.[13] Iran crisis of 1946 included a separatist attempt of KDP-I and communist groups[25] to establish the Soviet puppet government,[26][27][28] and declare the Republic of Mahabad in Iranian Kurdistan (today's southern part of West Azerbaijan Province). It arose along with Azerbaijan People's Government, another Soviet puppet state.[13][29] The state itself encompassed a very small territory, including Mahabad and the adjacent cities, unable to incorporate the southern Iranian Kurdistan, which fell inside the Anglo-American zone, and unable to attract the tribes outside Mahabad itself to the nationalist cause.[13] As a result, when the Soviets withdrew from Iran in December 1946, government forces were able to enter Mahabad unopposed.[13] Some 1,000 died during the crisis.[3]

Qazi Muhammad and Mustafa Barzani during the 1946 events

Mahabad crisis

Political separatism

Hama Rashid revolt refers to a tribal uprising in Pahlavi Iran, during the Second World War, following the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran.[24] The tribal revolt erupted in the general atmosphere of anarchy throughout Iran and its main faction was led by Muhammed Rashid, lasting from late 1941 until April 1942 and then re-erupted in 1944, resulting in Rashid's defeat. It is considered one of the factors to lead to the establishment of the Kurdish political independence movement in 1945-6.

Hama Rashid revolt

Jafar Sultan of Hewraman region took control of the region between Marivan and north of Halabja and remained independent until 1925. Despite the attempts to subdue him under the central rule, the tribal leader revolted in 1929, but was effectively crushed.

Jafar Sultan revolt

By 1926, Simko had regained control of his tribe and begun another outright rebellion against the state.[23] When the army engaged him, half of his troops defected to the tribe’s previous leader and Simqu fled to Iraq.[23]

1926 Simko rebellion in Iran

plunder.[19] Government forces and non-Kurds were not the only ones to suffer in the attacks, the Kurdish population was also robbed and assaulted.[20] Simko's men do not appear to have felt any sense of unity or solidarity with fellow Kurds.[20] Historian Ervand Abrahamian calls Simko as "notorious" for allegedly massacring thousands Assyrians and supposedly "harassing" democrats,[21] and Mehrdad Izady holds him responsible for killing Alevite Kurds.[22] Still, Kurdish ethnicists today revere Simko as a hero of independence.[10]

Simko's first revolt (1918–1922)

Tribalism and early nationalism




  • Background 1
  • History 2
    • Tribalism and early nationalism 2.1
      • Simko's first revolt (1918–1922) 2.1.1
      • 1926 Simko rebellion in Iran 2.1.2
      • Jafar Sultan revolt 2.1.3
      • Hama Rashid revolt 2.1.4
    • Political separatism 2.2
      • Mahabad crisis 2.2.1
      • 1967 Kurdish revolt 2.2.2
      • 1979 rebellion 2.2.3
      • KDPI insurgency 2.2.4
    • PJAK insurrection 2.3
  • See also 3
  • External links 4
  • References 5

The government of Iran has never employed the same level of brutality against its Kurds as did Turkey or Iraq, but it has always been implacably opposed to any suggestion of Kurdish separatism.[13] Unlike in other Middle Eastern countries with Kurdish populations, there are strong ethnolinguistical and cultural ties between Kurds and Persians as Iranian peoples.[13] According to Kreyenbroek, many Kurds in Iran have shown no interest in Kurdish nationalism,[13] especially Shia Kurds, who even vigorously reject idea of autonomy, preferring direct rule from Tehran.[13][14] Iranian national identity is questioned mainly in the peripheral Kurdish Sunni regions.[15]

Though Insurrection led by PJAK in Western Iran started in 2004 and is ongoing to this day.[12]

[6].KDPI insurgency and the consequent 1979 rebellion launched with KDPI support through 1966–7, Kurdish regions suffered a major blow. In the most violent episode of the conflict, more than 30,000 Kurds died starting with the [3],uprisings More than a decade later, peripheral tribal [11][3] The Soviet supported attempt to establish a Kurdish state in Western Iran failed.[3].1946 Iran crisis during the Republic of Mahabad (KDPI) to establish the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran began their political activities in Iran, aiming to gain partial or complete self-rule in Kurdish regions. Transformation from tribal to Kurdish political struggle in Iran took place in the aftermath of World War II, with the bold separatist attempt of the KDPI when Komala shortly afterwards [3]

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