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Kurdish rebellions during World War I

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kurdish rebellions during World War I
Kurdish rebellions during World War I is located in Turkey
Kurdish rebellions during World War I (Turkey)
DateAugust 1914 – August 1917

Ottoman victory

  • Rebellions suppressed
  • Territorial concessions given to Kurds in 1920, reversed in 1923
 Ottoman Empire
Roj emblem.svg
Kurdish rebels
Limited support:
 Russian Empire (1917)
Commanders and leaders
  • Ottoman Empire Unknown mayor of Dersim 
  • Ottoman Empire Galatalı Şevket Bey
  • Roj emblem.svg
    Unknown Ferhatuşağı chieftain 
  • Roj emblem.svg
    Ali Ağa

During World War I, several Kurdish rebellions took place within the Ottoman Empire. These revolts were encouraged by the western allies, particularly Britain, who promised the Kurds an independent state.[1] Nonetheless, the allies provided only limited military support.[2] British promises of an independent Kurdistan were included in the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres, which assigned a small amount of territory for a planned Kurdish state, but these plans were abandoned in 1923 with the Turkish victory in the Turkish War of Independence and the ensuing Treaty of Lausanne.[1]



Initial revolt (1914)

The first Kurdish rebellion during World War I took place prior to the Ottoman entry into World War I. In August 1914, the nephew of the mayor of Dersim was killed by a member of the Ferhatuşağı tribe, and in response to Ottoman reprisals the Ferhatuşağı tribe rebelled. The Ferhatuşağı were joined by the Karaballı, Lower Abbas, Abbasuşağı and Koçuşağı tribes. The murder of the chieftain of the Ferhatuşağı tribe ended the rebellion.[3]

Uprising in Botan (1915–1916)

In spring 1915, a Kurdish revolt broke out in Botan.[2] The revolt drove out the Ottoman troops entirely and as a result, the locals would govern the region for over a year.[4]

Uprising in Dersim, Ottoman deportations (1916)

The Dersim uprising of 1916[5] was an Alevi Kurdish uprising[6] led by Ali Ağa[3] in the region of Dersim.[6] Its causes laid in the Kurdish fear that they would suffer the same fate as the Armenians, as well as the desire to remove the state control in Dersim.[7] In a bid to gain Kurdish support, Russian emissaries promised to local chieftains that Dersim would be given independence after Russian occupation.[8]

The uprising began in early March 1916.[8] Kurdish rebels occupied and destroyed the towns of Nazimiye, Mazght, Pertek, and Charsandjak,[6] and then marched towards the residence of the province governor (vali), Mamuretülaziz (modern day Elazığ).[9][6] As the Kurds advanced, they captured many weapons from Turkish soldiers.[10] Turkish officials in Mezere and Harput felt extremely threatened by the Kurdish revolt, since the Russians at the time occupied the area between Erzurum and Erzincan which adjoined Dersim to the north.[11] The Ottoman army would likely to be incapable of resisting a coordinated Kurdish-Russian advance on Harput,[11] leading the Muslim population of that settlement to make preparations to escape.[11]

In response to the Kurdish rebellion, Ottoman authorities launched an operation to clear Dersim from Kurdish rebels on 1 April.[8] Involved in this operation was the Ottoman 13th division, led by Galatalı Şevket Bey.[11] This division included a contingent of troops led by Hasan Khayri Bey,[5] as well as Shafi’i Kurds.[6] On the day following the start of the operation, Kurdish rebels launched an unsuccessful counterattack on Pertek.[8] Kurdish rebels were defeated at Kayacı, Mazgirt [tr] (13 April) and Şimaligarbî (16 April).[8] By 16 April, the rebels had been reduced to an area between Nazimiye and the Ohi stream.[8] On 18 April, after defeating 500 rebels in the area, Ottoman troops looted Kavaktepe [tr] and the surrounding villages.[8] The next day, they burned down the village of Lemit.[8] As Ottoman troops advanced, they clashed with Kurds at Şeyhin, Kopik (22 April), Gökerik Hill, Sinevartaşı (23 April),[8] and Zelbaba Hill (28 April).[8]

On 2 May, the Kurdish rebels surrendered.[8] The operation had concluded with the defeat of the rebels, who had suffered heavy casualties.[10] With the situation now having come under Ottoman control, the preparations of the Muslim civilians of Harput to escape had been rendered obsolete.[11] After the defeat of the uprising, entire populations of the responsible tribes were deported from Dersim.[9]

Uprisings in Botan, Dersim, and Kharput (Summer 1917)

In summer 1917, Kurdish rebellions took place in Botan, Dersim, and Kharput.[2]

Last rebellions (August 1917)

In early August 1917, Kurdish rebellions took place in Mardin and Diyarbekir,[12] followed by Bitlis.[2] While the other Kurdish uprisings received no military support by the Allies of World War I, the uprisings of August 1917 received limited Russian support.[2]


See also

  • Dersim uprisings [tr]


  1. ^ a b Armstrong, Mick (28 October 2019). "The Kurdish tragedy". Archived from the original on 17 March 2020. Retrieved 2020-05-04.
  2. ^ a b c d e Eskander, Saad. "Britain's Policy Towards The Kurdish Question, 1915-1923" (PDF). p. 45.
  3. ^ a b Yılmazçelik, İbrahim. "Dersim Sancağının Kurulmasından Sonra Karşılaşılan Güçlükler ve Dersim Sancağı ile İlgili Bu Dönemde Yazılan Raporlar (1875-1918)" (PDF). (in Turkish). p. 186.
  4. ^ Aḥmad, Kamāl Muẓhar (1994-01-01). Kurdistan During the First World War. Saqi Books. p. 122. ISBN 978-0-86356-084-2.
  5. ^ a b Küçük, Hülya (2002). The Role of the Bektās̲h̲īs in Turkey's National Struggle. BRILL. p. 216. ISBN 9789004124431.
  6. ^ a b c d e Kieser, Hans-Lukas (2002). "The Alevis' Ambivalent Encounter With Modernity. Islam, Reform and Ethnopolitics In Turkey (19th-20th cc.)" (PDF). University of Zurich: 9. S2CID 26294288.
  7. ^ Bloxham, Donald (2005). The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians. Oxford University Press. pp. 108. ISBN 978-0-19-927356-0.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ozkok, Burhan (1937). Osmanlilar Devrinde Dersim Isyanlari (in Turkish). Askeri Matbaa.
  9. ^ a b Kieser, Hans-Lukas. Muslim heterodoxy and protestant utopia. The interactions between Alevis and missionaries in Ottoman Anatolia. p. 105.
  10. ^ a b Kaya, Yakup (2016). "Osmanlı Devleti'nden Türkiye Cumhuriyeti'ne Geçiş Sürecinde Dersim Sorunu". (in Turkish).
  11. ^ a b c d e White, Paul Joseph; Jongerden, Joost (2003). Turkey's Alevi Enigma: A Comprehensive Overview. BRILL. p. 183. ISBN 9789004125384.
  12. ^ Aḥmad, Kamāl Muẓhar (1994-01-01). Kurdistan During the First World War. Saqi Books. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-86356-084-2.

Further reading

Aḥmad, Kamāl Muẓhar (1994-01-01). Kurdistan During the First World War. Saqi Books. ISBN 9780863560842.

External links

This page was last edited on 16 October 2020, at 16:36
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