Britain’s Kurdish policy and Kurdistan 1918 -1923

Kilic, Ilhan (2018) Britain’s Kurdish policy and Kurdistan 1918 -1923. Masters thesis, University of East Anglia.

Download (3MB) | Preview


The Kurdish issue has remained in place on Turkey’s agenda and that of the world for almost a hundred years. This subject recently became a current issue again with the invasion of Iraq by the coalitions in 2003. Over time, Turkey has attempted to enact different policies in order to resolve the Kurdish problem that causes armed conflicts in some regions even now. Declaration of part of Iraq as Iraqi Kurdistan region in 2005 by some Kurds who benefited from the chaos in this region brought a new dimension to the subject. The Kurds managed to found an autonomous region on the border of Turkey. Civil war broke out along the southern border of Turkey and Syria in 2011. The balance of the Southern border of Turkey has changed with Kurdish communities actively taking a role in the civil war in Syria. On 16th of July 2014, ‘The law for ending terrorism and strengthening social integrity’ was published in Turkey, and the Democratic initiative process was legalized. All these factors brought the Kurdish problem back into question.

The archival documents show that the Kurdish-British relations became intense especially between 1918 and 1923. In this term relationships were established between some British officers and Kurdish leaders. Major Noel, Major Soane, Talbot Wilson and Percy Cox in Eastern Anatolia and in the Mesopotamia region; Admiral Webb and Admiral Calthorpe in Istanbul; Churchill and George Curzon in London played important roles in shaping the British – the Kurdish relations, and in negotiations on possibility of establishing a Kurdish state. The British officials met with Sayyid Abdulkadir in Anatolia, Serif Pasha in Europe, Sheikh Mahmud and Sheikh Taha in Iraq and undertook important negotiations.

A great majority of the Turkish historians and researchers see Britain as the main force behind the birth of the Kurdish problem in Turkey and the Middle East. Nevertheless Britain was accused of provoking the Kurds, living in Turkish regions, against Turks. According to general Turkish claims, Britain made promises to the Kurds to found a Kurdish State only as a way dominating over Mesopotamia, and used the Kurds as a tool for its own purposes. This thesis examines the extent to what rival these claims are valid and whether Britain really had a significant policy for Kurdish autonomy, or not, in the light of the Turkish and British archives.

In other words, it attempts to throw light on the questions of whether the promises for an autonomous or independent Kurdish State were given by the British to the Kurds. If the answer is yes; whether the claimed promises to Kurds were a result of British state policy or a result of personal initiatives of military officers who were acting in behalf of the Britain will be assessed. The study also investigates the progress of the Kurdish issue on international platforms, how it was shaped and which factors affected it, from the end of the First World War (1918) to the Treaty of Lausanne(24 July 1923). In addition to this, the claims made by British officials that autonomy promises were given to Kurds by the Turkish government in Ankara are evaluated in the light of the Turkish and British records.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Users 9280 not found.
Date Deposited: 07 Dec 2018 10:23
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 14:10


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item