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کۆماری مەهاباد
Komarî Mehabad
Republic of Mahabad



Ey Reqîb
(English: "Hey Guardian")
Approximate extent of the Republic.
Capital Mahabad
Language(s) Kurdish
Religion Muslim
Government Republic
President Qazi Muhammad
Prime minister Haji Baba Sheikh
Historical era Cold War
 - Independence Declared January 22, 1946 1946
 - Soviets withdraw June, 1946
 - Iran establishes control December 15, 1946
 - Leaders executed March 30, 1947 1947
 - 1946 37,437 km2 (14,455 sq mi)
Currency Iranian rial
This article is part of the
Kurdish history and Culture series
Early ancestors
Ancient history
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Modern history

The Republic of Mahabad (Kurdish: Komarî Mehabad/کۆماری مەھاباد, Persian: جمهوری مهاباد ), officially known as Republic of Kurdistan and established in Iranian Kurdistan, was a short-lived, Kurdish government that sought Kurdish autonomy within the limits of the Iranian state.[1] The capital was the city of Mahabad in northwestern Iran. The state itself encompassed only a small territory, including Mahabad, and the market towns of Piranshahr, Sardasht, Bukan, Naqada and Ushnaviya. [2] The republic's founding and demise was a part of the Iran crisis during the opening stages of the Cold War.



Iran was invaded by the Allies in late August 1941, with the Soviets controlling the North. In the absence of a central government, the Soviets attempted to attach northwestern Iran to the Soviet Union, and promoted Kurdish nationalism. From these factors resulted a Kurdish manifesto that above all sought autonomy and self-government for the Kurds in Iran within the limits of the Iranian state. [1]

In the province of Mahabad, inhabited by Kurds, a committee of middle-class people supported by tribal chiefs, took over the local administration. A political party called the Society for the Revival of Kurdistan (Komeley Jiyanewey Kurdistan or JK) was formed. Qazi Muhammad, head of a family of religious jurists, was elected as chairman of the party. The republic was not formally declared until December 1945, Qazi's committee administered the area with commendable efficiency and success for over five years until the fall of the republic [3].

Soviet attitude

The Soviets were generally ambivalent towards the Kurdish administration. They did not maintain a garrison near Mahabad and also did not have any civil agent of sufficient standing to exercise any great influence. They encouraged Qazi's administration by practical benevolent operations such as providing motor transport, keeping out the Iranian army, and buying the whole of the tobacco crop. On the other hand, the Soviets deeply resented the Kurdish administration's refusal to be absorbed into the larger Democratic Republic of (Persian) Azerbaijan. They also opposed the declaration of a separate independent Kurdish republic [3].


In September 1945, Qazi Muhammad and other Kurdish leaders visited Tabriz to seek the backing of a Soviet consul to found a new republic, and were then redirected to Baku, Azerbaijan SSR. There, they learned that the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan was planning to take control of Iranian Azerbaijan. On December 10, the Democratic Party took control of East Azerbaijan Province from Iranian government forces, forming the Azerbaijan People's Government. Qazi Muhammad decided to do likewise, and on December 15, the Kurdish People's Government was founded in Mahabad. On January 22, 1946, Qazi Muhammad announced the formation of the Republic of Mahabad. Some of their aims mentioned in the manifesto included: [2]

  1. Autonomy for the Kurds within the Iranian state.
  2. The use of Kurdish as the medium of education and administration.
  3. The election of a provincial council for Kurdistan to supervise state and social matters.
  4. All state officials to be of local origin.
  5. Unity and fraternity with the Azerbaijani people.
  6. The establishment of a single law for both peasants and notables.


On March 26, 1946, due to pressure from the western powers such as the United States, the Soviets promised the Iranian government that they would pull out of Northwestern Iran. In June, Iran reasserted its control over Iranian Azerbaijan. This move isolated the Republic of Mahabad, eventually leading to its destruction.

The Republic of Mahabad depended on Soviet support. Archibald Bulloch Roosevelt, Jr., grandson of the former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, wrote in "The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad" that a main problem of the People's Republic of Mahabad was that the Kurds needed the assistance of the USSR; only with the Red Army did they have a chance. However, this close relationship to the USSR alienated the republic from most Western powers, causing them to side with Iran. Qazi Muhammad did not deny that his republic was funded and supplied by the Soviets, but did deny that the KDP was a Communist party. He claimed that this was a lie fabricated by the Iranian military authorities, and added that his ideals were very different from the Soviets'. [4].

Qazi Muhammad's internal support eventually declined, especially among the Kurdish tribes who had supported him initially. Their crops and supplies were dwindling, and their way of life was becoming hard as a result of the isolation. Economic aid and military assistance from the Soviet Union was now gone, and the tribes saw no reason to support Qazi Muhammad. Many tribes began to leave. The towns people and the tribes had a large divide between them, and their alliance for Mahabad was crumbling. As previously stated, the tribes and their leaders had only supported Qazi Muhammad for his economic and military aid from the Soviet Union. Once that was gone, many didn't see the purpose in staying with Qazi Muhammad. Other tribes resented the Barzanis, since they didn't like sharing their already dwindling resources with them. Some Kurds deserted Mahabad, including one of Mahabad's own marshals, Amir Khan. Mahabad was economically bankrupt, and it would have been nearly impossible for Mahabad to have been economically sound without harmony with Iran[5]

Those who stayed began to resent the Barzani Kurds, as they had to share their resources with them. On December 5, the war council told Qazi Muhammad that they would fight and resist the Iranian army if they tried to enter the region. On December 15, Iranian forces entered and secured Mahabad. Once there, they closed down the Kurdish printing press, banned the teaching of Kurdish Language, and burned all Kurdish books that they could find. Finally, on March 31, 1947, Qazi Muhammad was hanged in Mahabad on counts of treason [6].


Mustafa Barzani, with his soldiers from Iraqi Kurdistan, had formed the backbone of the Republic's forces. After the fall of the republic, most of the soldiers and four officers from the Iraqi army decided to return to Iraq. The officers were condemned to death upon returning to Iraq and are today honored along with [[Qazi Muhammad |Qazi]] as heroes martyred for Kurdistan. Several hundred of the soldiers chose to stay with Barzani. They defeated all efforts of the Iranian army to intercept them in a five-week march and made their way to Soviet Azerbaijan[3].

In October 1958, Mustafa Barzani returned to Northern Iraq, beginning a series of struggles to fight for an independent Kurdish state under the KDP party, carrying the same flag that was used in Mahabad.

Massoud Barzani, the current President of Iraqi Kurdistan, is the son of Mustafa Barzani. He was born in Mahabad when his father was chief of the military of the Mahabad forces in Iranian Kurdistan.

See also


  1. ^ a b Allain, Jean (2004). "International Law in the Middle East: Closer to Power than Justice. Ashgate Publishing Ltd. pp. 27-28. 
  2. ^ a b McDowall, David (2004). ["" "A modern history of the Kurds"]. "I.B. Tauris". pp. 244-245. ISBN 1850434166. "". 
  3. ^ a b c C. J. Edmonds, Kurdish Nationalism, Journal of Contemporary History, pp.87-107, 1971, p.96
  4. ^ Meiselas, Susan (1997). Kurdistan In the Shadow of History. Random House. p. 182. ISBN 0-679-42389-3. 
  5. ^ McDowall, David, A Modern History of the Kurds, I. B. Tauris, 1996 (Current revision at May 14, 2004). ISBN 1-86064-185-7. pp.244-245
  6. ^ McDowall, 2004. pp.243-246


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