Melaye Mula Mehmud
The Assassination of the Leader
By: Ayoub Barzani
Translated By: Mazhar Mohammadi
In June 5th, 1927, a trilateral meeting among Iraq, Turkey and United Kingdom, later known as Ankara Pact followed the endorsement by the League of Nations of a decision taken by the committee of drawing up border between Turkey and Iraq in December 16 1926. Per Ankara Pact, Iraq was responsible to provide 10% of its national income generated from natural resources. During this stage, i.e. The early periods of the Nation-States, the occupational authorities cooperated militarily with countries now conquering Kurdistan to curb Kurdish upraising.
Due to the lack of social, cultural and linguistic homogeneity and historical basis for the
borders of the Iraqi state, the government resorted to its armed forces to impose a forceful placement on people. King Faisal, the Iraqi monarchist, and the British advisors realized that the durability of the Iraqi state will first and last depend on its armed forces, so they found it important to develop and increase the size of their forces. They were convinced that upraising and revolutions will erupt. The mainstream and ignorant political mentality of authorities in Baghdad was only willing to resolve the Kurdish question through the use of force. Therefore, the Army of Iraq became a tool for the despotic authorities by which to genocide the people of Kurdistan throughout the twentieth century.
In Northern Kurdistan, a Kurdish revolution lead by Sheik Seid Jibrani covered third of Kurdistan’s area (1). The Kemalists sent 80,000 soldiers to suppress the revolution. During this decisive period, the Kurdish forces were surrounding the city of Diyarbekir, but the external factor intervened in favor of the Turkish chauvinism: The French administration in Syria allowed the Turkish forces to use the railroad which cuts through northern Syria, a tactic which enabled the Turkish army to surround the Kurdish forces. During mid-April in 1925, the Kurdish resistance collapsed, which lead to a massive cross-border, an artificial border, migration to Iran and Iraq. A British report regarding these refugees states the following: “On the northern frontier the problem of the Iraq Government has been chiefly how to deal with the Kurdish refugees from Turkey. After the execution, at Diyarbekir, by the Turkish government, of one of the best known Kurdish nationalist, Sheikh Abdul Qadir of Nehri, one of his sons, Sheikh Abdullah, made a temporarily successful stand against the Turks in June. In July, he contrived to send a letter to the High Commissioner, through his cousin, Sayid Taha, who is the mayor of Ruwandiz, asking for help against the Turks or permission to seek asylum in Iraq.” (2)
The former enemies, Turkey and England, agreed to use a common approach in dealing with the Kurdish people. The Sami representative responded by saying, “The High Commissioner instructed Sayid Taha to reply that the Iraqi government was not at war with Turkey and could not encourage any hostilities against the Turks, and that if Sheikh Abdullah took refuge in Iraq he could not be permitted to remain in the neighborhood of the frontier.” The report continues as follow: “The Turkish Government was also informed of this reply and at the same time it was pointed out to the British Government expected reciprocal action on the part of the Turkish frontier officials” (3). The report clearly explains the cooperation between Turkey and England to curb similar Kurdish upraising in Iraq.
Sheik Abdullah along 200 relatives were obligated to seek refugee in Iraq in the August of 1925. Afterwards, his son and brother followed the same path. The Turkish army was leading a wide-spread campaign of persecution after the failure of the Kurdish upraising. For this reason, many other people crossed the artificial border to seek refugee in Iraq. In the February of 1926, Nayif Beg arrived with 1200 tents and announced the impossibility of living under the Turkish oppression. His arrival was followed by the Goyani tribe, which exceeded 7000 people by April. Also, 1500 Christians and 9000 Ertoshi reached Bahdinan, and the displacement included many other people. Eventually, the region of Bahdinan was packed with refugee, escaping the Turkish oppression. Regarding the Hevirki tirbes, lead by Hajo Agha, the Iraqi government set before them a number of difficult conditions to reach (5). Apart from these refugees, the Assyrians from the northern parts of the Tiyari region and Tikhoma tribes were living in Duhok and Umadiya, while the tribes from southern parts of Tiyari region settled in the valleys of Berwari Bala. The tribes of Jil and Baz settled in the plains of Musil, and others from Shemdinan, Gever, and Wan settled in between Duhok and Musil (6).
In the October of 1926, during a convention held in Zakho by the permanent Committee of Border between Iraq and Turkey, the Turkish delegation refused to grant the Kurdish refugees a reentry-permit to return to their homes, and the same delegation accused the refugees of being rebellious tribes. During the spring of 1927, the tribes, which were depending on grazing, were refused to return to their homes. (7). The Iraqi government finally disarmed the armed men of these tribes. The division of Kurdistan and the enforcement of the artificial border destructed the agricultural economy and the Kurdish society was set apart.
Regarding the Assyrian refugees, a decision taken by the Committee of Borders ended in a disappointment their hopes to return to their homelands. It became impossible for two-thirds of the refugees to return home, ruled by Turks, although the larger portion of their lands were within Turkey after the creation of the artificial border (8).
A report by the British Government points to a visit paid by a special committee to the region of Biradost during the summer to help the resettlement of the Assyrians. The members of the committee included Assyrian representatives and British agricultural experts to check on the feasibility of abandoned villages and provide enough lands in support of the return of 800 families. Though, the report does not specifically mentions any villages, and there lacked abandoned villages with a capacity to accommodate such a large number of families. There report also emphasizes the lack of financial support to resettle those families. The initial stages of the plan focused on the resettlement of 100 vanguard families during the spring of 1927. There was a similar plan to take advantage of the abandoned villages in Berwari Bala for the resettlement of the Assyrians. (9)
The report also pinpoints the difficulties facing the implementation of the plan as follows: “It was estimated that the villages selected by the committee would accommodate 473 families or about 2.365 souls. It was hoped that it would be possible to put this settlement scheme into operation during 1927, but apart from the question of finding funds to finance the settlement, difficulties arose in regard to the ownership of the village sites. Neighboring Kurdish chiefs claimed a number of the selected villages as their property. And it was impossible to proceed with the scheme until such claims had been settled. As preliminary measures to deal with these claims were undertaken, it became that they were the product of a political movement among the neighboring Kurdish chiefs, encouraged by Sheikh Ahmad of Barzan, who sought to embarrass the Government for his own ends by fostering local opposition to the settlement scheme. A legal settlement of the claims therefore would not have removed the root of the trouble and there was no alternative but to postpone operations until the political situation had cleared.” (10)
The Sheik of Barzan (referring to Sheik Ahmed Barzani) was unreceptive to the plans of King Fayisal’s administration to extend their authority to the region of Barzan. His relations with the British authorities were in crisis because they accused Barzan of providing the safe-haven for those who rejected the British authority. According to a British report, “In November, Ahmed Begok, a chief of the small Baliki tribe which inhibits the Ruwandiz district, came under the influence of the troublesome Sheikh Ammad of Barzan, whose intractable behavior is described more fully in the following section, and openly defied the local Government. In December a small force of Levies was sent to arrest him, but he made good his escape from the Ruwandiz district and took refuge with Sheikh Ahmad in the Barzan area. There, exiled from his own village, a refugee in an area not under close control, he is necessarily a menace to the peace of the western portion of the Ruwandiz district.” (11)
On their part, Barzanis took advantage of the semi-stable environment, which extended from 1920 to 1926, to organize their internal structure and affairs. However, they were unable to play any rule outside of their region during this peaceful period. Yet; they used the clam environment to focus their efforts on spiritual revitalization in a precisely-studied manner. Melay Mela Mahmoud was the axis of spiritual activities. The Sheik of Barzan became more familiar throughout these years with the Naqshabandi Order, and there appeared other able religious scholars within Barzani tribes. There was a complete and coherent team of scholars to consolidate the teachings of the Naqshabndi Order and organize the structure of the society. Their efforts focused on the following:
1- Educate every individual on the basics of the Naqshabandi Order to become more helpful to their society.
2- Family organization and focusing on voluntary marriage based on mutual understanding and satisfaction apart from financial temptations.
3- The organization of the society as a complete and coherent unit.
4- The organization of the agricultural and livestock productions and distributing the Takiya revenue on destitute and needy people,’
5- The literacy project. It was the most important and courageous project adopted by the spiritual leadership. It was mandatory for men and women, without exception, to learn reading and writing in all villages of the Barzani region. The people were provided with the necessary materials for this project, starting with Quarn and adhering to their prayers, fasting.
6- The people of Barzan were afraid of future battles against the Iraqi government, and there were enough historical lessons from which to learn. Barzanis agreed that the current peaceful and calm environment was only provisional. There was a plan to establish an army and buy the necessary equipment. The majority of the weapon was delivered from Northern Kurdistan, particularly after the collapse of Sheik Seid’s rebellion.
7- The importance of a popular attention to poems by Ahmede Khani, which cover spirituality and nationalism, particularly the Ahmede Kahni’s call on Kurdish people to unite, and the mystical poems of Melaye Jeziri, which were memorized by people.
The mosque of Barzan became a buss (Qibla) for pupils, and Melaye Mele Mehmud was able to inspire the enthusiasm of people. When the followers of the Neqshebendi Order entered the mosque, they customarily lined up in front of the buss, which was a rock, and then were lectured by the spiritual leader, Melaye Mele Mahmud, to become matured Sofists and reach the next spiritual levels. In deed, the tribes of Barzan were transformed into a homogeneous society, spiritually, morally and culturally united, difficult through which to penetrate. The approval rating of Melaye Mele Mehmid was rising among Barzanis, and he became the axis of the Sofist movement. He led Barzani tribes to ideological homogeneity, internally able to reach the highest degree of organization and hit the way to reach their goal (moving toward God, that is). Throughout this period, Barzan was never harassed by it neighboring tribes, and Barzanis directed their attention to their internal matters and never acted outside of their region.
The neighboring chieftains felt threatened to the activities taking place in Barzan. They filed complains to the authorities in Musil, knelling the alarm of the growing and expanding influence of Barzan in other areas outside of the region. On their grounds, The British authorities were aware of the on-going religion activities in Barzan.
The British and Iraqi authorities were satisfied with the settlement that dominated the border dispute with Turkey. They thought that the external threat to the Iraqi state, established based on the Brtish agendas, has faded. The relationships between Iraq and Turkey improved to an extent that both cooperated with each other to respond to the instabilities in the Kurdish region, along the artificial border. The main purpose behind their cooperation was to forcefully impose the authority of the government to the furthest corner of Kurdistan. However, Sheik Mehmud Hefid was an obstacle on the plans of the occupational authorities, and he maintained he national demands. The other obstacle was the independent status that Sheik of Barzan maintained from the authority of the government. The British and the Baghdad government were waiting for an opportunity to arrest them but without simultaneously facing them.
As they were observing the region, the British authorities mobilized the surrounding tribes in the region against Barzan. They publicized a false and malicious propaganda among the Kurdish tribes, suggesting that Barzanis have embraced Christianity, and the Sheik of Barzan has ordered his follower to eat pork. This was apparently a British plan to instigate the neighboring tribes against Barzan (i.e. encouraging a fratricidal war to impose their authority). A British report regarding this matter goes as follow: “Sheikh Ahmad has a record of continuous and obstinate hostility towards the Government. In June two small columns were send to Barzan as a demonstration of authority and when they later withdrew a garrison of one company was left at the village of Bilih, on the Great Zab a few miles south of Barzan and a police post was established in Barzan village. Sheikh Ahmad resented the presence of the garrison but offered no active opposition.” (12)
The authorities of the British occupation were resentful of the independent status which Barzan gained and their ability to run their matters without receiving support from the authorities. The British report continues as follow: “He began to correspond widely with kindred turbulent spirits and to buy arms and ammunition. His influence and subversive propaganda created unrest in Bradost (Ruwandiz)” (13)
The internal situation in Barzan was on the verge of a serious turning-point, affected by a conflict over power in 1927. As we mentioned, the Sheik of Barzan (Sheik Ahmed) had three younger brothers ( Mihemed Sadiq, 32 years old, Babo (Mihemed), 27 years old, and Mula Mustafa, 26 years old). They were married and living in Barzan. The Sheik of Barzan was careful to educate his brothers, particularly after the departure of their parents in their early years. The three sons never had the opportunity to receive the needed care from their parents. The Sheik, however, desired to transfer this responsibility to Melaye Mele Mehmud, who was the spiritual leader of the Neqshebendi Order and well-received by the Sheik and the army of the Order.
Melaye Mele Mehmud was the grandson of the first Sheik of Barzan, Sheik Abdurrahman. After his departure, the responsibility of the Sheikdom was inherited by his brother, Sheik Ebulsallam, who was a renowned religious scholar. Later, Sheik Ebdulsallam’s son and then grandsons continued to bear the responsibilities of the Sheikdom. Sheik Ebdulsallam was well-received and admired by people for his heroic rules during the attacks of the Ottoman army on Barzan. He in fact shone during more than one occasion. He managed defeating the oppressors in the battle of Qorebeg, when ambushed by the mercenaries on his way to Birakepra to hold talks with the Turkish authorities. Conscious of the exigencies of the Neqshebendi Order, he studied religious science. With an impeccable reputation, he was especially capable of organizing tribes and winning the hearts of people. So Sheik Ebdulsalm granted the benefit of the doubt to Melaye Mele Mehmud. Since Sheik Ebdulsalam was aware of the dangers facing his life, he commended Melaye Mele Mehmud to look after his brothers, particularly Ahmed, and children after passing away.
Melaye Mele Mehmud was accompanying Sheik Ebdulsalam during tours, and he was renowned for his special capabilities in gun-firing. During a tour, Sheik Ebdulsalam was on his way to resolve an internal dispute within the Mizuri Tribe, and he ordered his accompany to shoot at a target which was located on the top of a rock. Melaye Mele Mehmud successfully hit the target, and the Sheik was impressed.
“Admit that you belong to the Mizuri Tribe,” the Sheik said.
Melaye promptly responded, saying: “No! I am your son.”
Melaye was deputizing the Sheik in the process of educating the followers and supporters. This duty rested on him until the execution of the Sheik in Musil by Turks. Later, the fifth Sheik of Barzan, Ahmed, followed the same path of his predecessor, i.e. allowing Melaye Mula Mehmud to deputize him within the followers of the Neqshebendi Order.
A wing lead by Mihemed Sadiq and Mula Musta envied the wide popularity Melaye Mula Mehmud managed to establish within the masses. In fact, there were controversial thoughts between the two wings:
To Melaye Mula Mahmud, the ruling family should NOT enjoy special privileges, per the norms of the Neqshebendi Order and the heritage of Barzan. Individuals must refrain controlling the income generated from “Takiya” as a personal belonging; the ruling family must not be classed above ordinary people; equality and justice among people are the goals. To have extra rights and social privileges will create a ground for the coincidence and struggle for power, and it will destruct the poor class of the society. Eventually, the family will be separated from the people, and Barzan will be an ordinary sheikdom similar to the existing sheikdoms. The Sofi teachings do not privilege the rich class over the poor class. The impetus to the power of Barzan is equality and justice. The individual must be a mean of the Sofi teachings, and diversion from such norms appears when a human desires to exploit the Sheikdom to reach their personal goals.
The Sheik of Barzan was fully aware of the materialistic inclination in his brothers and their failure to solidify the teachings of the Neqshebendi Order, so he assigned Melaye Mula Mehmud as their spiritual teacher. As part of spiritual practice training, the three brothers (Mihemed Sadiq, Babo and Mula Mustafa) were isolated in the main mosque of Barzan to learn asceticism in life, eliminate arrogance, hatred and harmful inclinations and replace them with the spirit of tolerance and modesty to serve human beings. After the completion of their training, they were dismissed from the mosque and returned to their families.
In the summer of 1926, a massive popular meeting was held on the mountain of Sere Muska, to the north of Mountain Shirin. The majority of the women and men of the Barzani tribes attended the meeting, and Melaye Mula Mahmud was well-received by the attendees. He was the second person in-charge after Sheik Ahmed. As a matter of fact, the Neqshebendi Order was spreading quickly among people. Had the same trend continued, it would spread across the Badinan Region, and it could possibly reach Soran.
The opposing party had an entirely different view. They accused Mulaye Mula Mahmud of being disloyal the Sheik of Barzan and is promoting his personal agendas to become the spiritual leader of Barzan. They started an alarming campaign against Melaye, but it did not statisfy their personal ambitions because they hardly found anyone to believe them,including the Sheik of Barzan, who always supported Melaye Mula Mahmud.
The decision to murder Melaye Mula Mahmud came after the failure of the two brothers, Mihemed Sadiq and Mula Mustafa, to marginalize Melay and establish a determent between him and Sheik of Barzan. This incident was the first of its type in the history of the family.
September 1st, 1926. Mula Mustafa and Mihemed Sadiq were heading to Tatok Resort, located on the top of Shirin Mountain, at where Mulaye Mula Mahmud was spending the stifling summer days. They respectfully presented a request to Mulaye and asked him join them to go to Barzan. They claimed that there was a serious legal matter that requires his personal intervention to settle. Unaware of the trap, the faithful Mulay positively responded to their request. In the afternoon of that day, everyone was heading to Bazan. On their way to Barzan, at a farm called Zivya Kinishte, Mulay Mula Mahmud excused himself to pray. As Mulay stood up and walked a few feet, Mula Mustafa and Mihemed Sadiq fired their evil guns at him. At this moment, Mulay tuned his face and looked at them but they continued firing at him and quickly lost his life in the farm. Despite Mihemed Sadiq’s refusal, Mula Mustafa persisted to raid other houses in the village to murder Miqdad Ismail and Abdullah Ibrahim Haj. They raided their houses and murdered them in front of their families, who were shocked and have not a clue about the reason. After the completion of their evil mission, they immediately run away and disappeared among Shirawani Tirbes, leaving behind themselves three dead people.
Thus, a natural movement with political, social and national dimensions was aborted. They overthrew a legitimacy that dated back to 100 years, starting from the period of Mawlana Khalid. This assassination, which took place in September 1st, 1926, was the second of its type (i.e. assassinating the leader of the Neqshebendi Order), after the execution of Sheik Abdulsalam by the Turks in 1914 in Musil. This event incarnated a dangerous turning-point on the struggle in Barzan.
When a regime is toppled and replaced by another one, every positive aspect and achievements of the first will be buried and distorted. Thus, with the assassination of the Mulaye Mula Mahmod, his heritage was demolished and the later generations of Barzanis were unaware of it. It became difficult to learn his services for Barzan which lasted for three decades. Many Barzanis who lived during that period simply admitted that Mulaye Mula Mahmod was the individual who transferred Barzan to center of power. Yet; all of this was hidden, not to mention the poems advocated to his courage and leadership. The popular shock was large, and regarding the moments of the assassination, a Barzani wailful says:
Li nav Zeviye – In the Middle of the Farm
Li Bin Tuye – Under the Berry tree
Bere Tivinga – They pointed their guns
Da Eniye – To his forehead
The Sheik of Barzan was shocked due to this incident, and it left him with a negative impression on his brothers. He, in fact, lost trust in them for the rest of his live. The Sheik was spending his summer in the Hori Mountain resort, which is located away from Barzan. As he received the news about this incident, he called the son of Mulaye Mula Mahmud and asked him to join him for a walk. As they started walking toward the mountain, the Sheik ordered his bodyguard to leave them alone. They kept walking toward the mountain, until they disappeared and were invisible to the eyes of the bodyguards. According to the son of Mulaye Mula Mahmud, the Sheik stopped walking and handed his gun to the Mulay’s son and said: “Consider me as the killer of your father. I order you to kill me to revenge for the blood of your father.” Mulay’s son refused to take the gun, but the Sheik intensively insisted. The son could not resist and burst crying loud. “I know exactly who is behind the murder. I did not lose my brain to carry your orders,” said Mulay’s son. The two stayed on the mountain until the late hours of the night but later returned to Hori. As shocked he was, the Sheik spent his winter in a Shirwani village of Rawasha. Mula Mustafa and Mihemed Sadiq did not dare returning to Barzan and hid in the mountains. With the deterioration of the relations with the government, a number of dignitaries intervened and appealed to the Sheik to allow the two brothers to return to Barzan.
The Sheik was deeply hurt. He ceased his spiritual activities and decided to live in isolation in Sheikhan. He was afraid to fill Mulay’s vacancy, fearing of a similar fate for the candidate.
Many trustworthy sources, some of them are still alive, confirm that the Sheik of Barzan said: “Yousif Sifti came to me and asked me hand over to him the duties of Mulay Mula Mahmud, but I told him that I feel responsible before God and I can not accept his request. Later, he came back to me, and he was very scared and felt that his life is in danger. He said, ‘Mula Mustafa is threatening to kill me if I disobey his orders. He is demanding me to launch a campaign within Barzanis to foster Mula Mustafa’s personality and encourage Barzanis to entrust with Mula Mustafa as the spiritual leader. So I hope you protect me,’ said Yousif.”
Barzanis felt very weak and had no clue how to handle these crises. To them, it reflected a dangerous turning-point, which could have negative impact later. The incident is a clear example of the chieftain mentality, in which priorities are set for self-interests. It is very difficult to overcome materialist trend of certain individuals in the Barzani family who are disguising in religion and devotion.
After the military coup of July 14th, 1958, the monarchy regime was overthrown, and the Sheik of Barzan was released from prison. Upon his release, the Sheik returned to his stronghold in Barzan and continued his yearly summer journeys. He usually climbed to the top of Mountain Shirin, and then crossing many well-known resorts, such as: Sarke, Dola Berkira and Hore. He usually followed the same path upon his return in autumn. In every journey, he would stop at the Hesne Cemetery to pay a tribute to Melay Mele Mehmud. The Sheik would stand in front of a peripheral wall around the grave, contemplate for a few moments and with a deep heartbroken voice would say, “He was a great hero.
On the other hand, Mula Mustafa continued to demonstrate to the Sheik of Barzan his devotion to the Neqshebendi Order, as if he is the sole servant of the Sheik. Many Barzanis believed him and entrusted with him because the Barzani society was nurtured on trust and integrity, so they was unable to recognize hidden agendas from reality. It was possible to win their hearts by adopting the religious logic, so they stood around Mula Mustafa, trusting his loyalty to the Order and the Sheik.
Forty years after the assassination of Mulay Mula Mahmud, Said Ahmed Nadir, who was the first Barzani to receive a Doctorate Degree in the Soviet Union, returned in 1970. The subject of Mulay Mula Mahmud became taboo, and people were forbidden to talk about it. Unaware of the situation, Said Ahmed Nadir brought with him two pictures, and he presented them to Mula Mustafa. The first picture depicted Sheik Abdulsalam, surrounded by a number of followers. The second picture depicted the same setting of the first picture; yet, with an unidentified man sitting on the place of Sheik Abdulsalam. Dr. Said A. Nadir was unable to identify this man, who happened to be Mulay Mula Mahmud. With Wahid Ibrahim, the grand son of Sheik Abdulsalam, being present, Mula Mustafa and his brother Babo immediately recognized Mulay Mula Mahmud, but he hid the picture to avoid it being printed and circulated.
 Chalian, Gerard. People Without a Country. London: Zed, 1980. P.62
 British Report to the League of Nations. 1925. P.22
 Ibid. P.22.
 Ibid. 1926. P.16.
 Ibid. 1926. P.16.
 Ibid. 1926. P.16-17.
 Ibid. 1926. P.18.
 Ibid. 1926. P.20.
 Ibid. 1927. P.30-31.
 Ibid. 1927. P.30-31.
 Ibid. 1927. P.23-24.
 Ibid. 1927. P.25.
 Ibid. 1927. P.25-26.
 Ibid. 1927. P.26.
By: Mazhar Mohammadi
The initial impetus to this work was the desire to expose the people of Kurdistan to the history of their leaders. As we continue to flip through the pages of history that are written by balanced and independent sources, we realize that our leaders are only and overly glorified. Now that Iraq is liberated by the United States and Ba’ath Party is dissolved, the worst forms of Ba’athist-style propaganda are in S. Kurdistan. Writers, journalists, historians, poets and even ordinary citizens are required only to acclimate their leaders, portraying their evil as virtue and dark history as clean history. By controlling and monopolizing present, they may succeed in controlling the past as well, but the extent of their control over the past is limited. There are always objective and ethical pens that will emerge and expose the people of Kurdistan to the history of their leaders. The incumbent leaders must be clear on a fact: The people of Kurdistan have the full right to know the history of their leaders, and they also have the right to challenge their leadership.
The Ottomans massacred 1.5 millions of one the Armenians people in early 1900s. Today, even with the elapse of hundred years after the massacre, the secular “Turkish state” is being challenged for the brutal decision of their ancestors to genocide the Armenian nation. And it is unquestionable that Turkey will pay the full price and Sultan Abdulhamid’s name will be recorded in the dark pages of the Turkish history. The current leaders of S. Kurdistan must know that no matter how much wealth they steal from Kurdistanis, or how well they try to gloss over their dark history, justice will prevail and their names will eventually be recorded in the dark pages of history.
It is undeniable that Barzanis have taken a leading rule within the Kurdish Liberation Movement. The enemies of Kurdistan and certain beneficiaries have distorted the history of Barzan for different purposes. The intension of the former was to retaliate from the leading rule Barzanis have taken in the Kurdish Liberation Movement, but the later were intending to maintain their interests within Barzan’s struggle. Both modes of distortion described coupled with the shortcomings of a set of both incumbent and late Barzani leaders and politicians have put many Kurdistanis, including myself, until reading Ayoub Barzani’s “Kurdish Resistance to Occupation (1914 - 1958)”, in a difficult position to recognize facts about Barzan’s history.
It turns out that the quality of the Kurdish leaders of Barzan has changed dramatically after the departure of the late Sheik Ahmed Barzani in 1969. The late Kurdish leadership of Barzan is in fact innocent of the rampant corruption amongst many of the current Barzani leaders. The late generations adhering to the principals and norms of the Neqshebeni Order with a spirit of self-sacrifice and placing a high value on truth and integrity were replaced with mongering generations prioritizing wealth, empowering their authority and raising majestic palaces in an environment brimming with widows and orphans!
My desire to expose English-speaking Kurdistanis to the history of their leaders was the impetus to this work. Melaye Mula Mahmud was one of the leading scholars of the Neqshebendi Order in Barzan. He belongs to the Sheik linage of Barzan and is the second-cousin of Mula Mustafa. The assassination of Mulay Mula Mahmud by Mula Mustafa had a palpable effect on the society of Barzan. On one hand, it satisfied the ambitions of Mula Mustafa to gain power. On the other hand, Mulay had different intentions: A central part of his dedication was to reform society and restructure the norms of the Neqshebendi Order. However, he became a victim of his success and the Machiavellian ambitions of Mula Mustafa.
Mulay Mula Mahmud was very active in Barzan. He had won the blessing of both Sheik Abdulsalam and Sheik Ahmed. He was too out and basically became the public face of the Sheikdom, and at the same time, he gained traction as a spiritual leader in Barzan. A central part of his duty was crisis management: Every tribal dispute in the region was turned over to Mulay, and he successfully settled their differences, a task that increased his popularity. On the other hand, Mula Mustafa was unsatisfied and viewed Mulay Mula Mahmud as threat to his ambition. Mula Mustafa started a campaign trying to talk Mulay down and distort his image in Barzan, but his efforts were unsuccessful. Therefore, he resorted to the last option, i.e. to murder Mulay Mula Mahmud.
Reading the points of focus in Mualy’s effort to reform the society in Barzan, one can note his philosophic approach to reforms. He places a high value on the rule of the individual and encourages it in process of developing the society in Barzan. Thus, he seems to understand the harmfulness of subjective concepts, such as tribalism, relating to collectivism, that hinders the society from developing. Had this effort been successful, the society of Badinan as a whole would have advanced to a great extend, and the idea of tribalism would have been diminished. However, this idea worked against Mula Mustafa’s interest. He preferred to contain the people of Barzan within the Sheikdom, having the ambition to become the heir apparent of Sheik Ahmed.
Voluntary marriage is another topic on which Mulay emphasizes in his points of focus. This topic is also related to the concept of individualism, leaving every individual with the freedom to select his/her mate. Being a basic civil right of the individual, the society of Kurdistan in fact suffers in this regard. While being emphasized by Mulay in early years of the 20th Century, only recently did Massoud Barzani stressed its importance publically. Even in now days, the blessing of the tribal chieftain is mandatory for a marriage in certain areas of Kurdistan and many individuals in Kurdistan are forced into “arranged marriages.”
It was mandatory for men and women to learn reading and writing. Had it continued, this initiative would have pleasantly affected the region of Badinan. It would encourage people to pursue education further and ultimately contribute to their community. It would have been far more difficult for our enemies to deceive us had the level of education among us been higher. In fact, literacy and the lack of interest in education continue to be a problem in Kurdistan.
The success of Mula Mustfa to gain traction as a national leader is a story of ruthlessness, power and luck. Ayoub Barzani presents detailed historical accounts in his “Kurdish Resistance to Occupation (1914 - 1958).” The study is well-sited and trustworthy, providing a historical and an analytic insight to the development of Kurdish nationalistic theories in Barzan, a fact incorrectly stated in Massoud Barzani’s “Mustafa Barzani and the Kurdish Liberation Movement,” a historical if rather misleading book.
Recently, the Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government invited Ali Badirkhan to S. Kurdistan to film a movie featuring Mula Mustafa Barzani. The financial resources allocated to this project will likely be deducted from KRG’s budget, and doubtlessly, the movie will present a distorted image of Mula Mustafa, featuring him as a hero. Fortunately, current study of Mr. Ayoub Barzani will be followed by another sequence, covering the periods of 1958 to 2000. It will uncover many other facts which will doubtlessly be distorted in the planned movie.
I have spent countless time translating this important chapter of Ayoub Barzani’s “The Kurdish Resistance to Occupation 1914-1958.” It is my hope that readers will find this effort beneficial in learning the history of Kurdistan’s leaders.