Kurdistan during the First World War
by Kamal Madhar Ahmad
Trans. from Kurdish by Akram Jaff. London: Saqi Books, 1994. 234 pp.
Reviewed by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
Translated from Kurdish? That's not the only unusual quality about this seemingly ordinary historical monograph. The author received his academic training in Moscow and, as the dust jacked delicately puts it, "was until recently Professor of History at Baghdad University." More: this is no ordinary monograph but a monument in the historiography of the Kurds, for it presents a detailed Kurdish nationalist perspective on the Kurds' first episode of coming close to independence in the aftermath of World War I.
But it's better to put all this aside and look only at the substance, by which standard Kurdistan during the First World War holds up quite well. While his Soviet background occasionally mars Ahmad's account (the Kurdish people, he writes, welcomed the Young Turk revolution of 1908 because it was "in full agreement with the logic of history") he has done original scholarship into such topics as the pre-World War I German-British-Russian competition for influence in Kurdistan, and Kurdistan's place in World War I.
Perhaps most interesting is the chapter on the Armenian massacres of 1915. While Ahmad does acknowledge their existence and the Kurd's leading role in them, he makes an impassioned argument to show that the Kurdish troops who carried much of the killings out were merely the tools of an ugly regime in Istanbul.
Related Topics: Kurds, Turkey and Turks | Daniel Pipes | March 1995 MEQ
receive the latest by email: subscribe to the free mef mailing list
This text may be reposted or forwarded so long as it is presented as an integral whole with complete and accurate information provided about its author, date, place of publication, and original URL.