Posted by Ashkan Alidi on Friday, March 27, 2015
Posted by Ashkan Alidi on Wednesday, March 25, 2015
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Posted by Ashkan Alidi
Ṣalāḥ ad-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb (Kurdish: سەلاحەدینی ئەییووبی/Selahedînê Eyûbî; Arabic: صلاح الدين يوسف بن أيوب; Turkish: Selahaddin Eyyûbî) (1137/1138 – 4 March 1193), better known in the Western world as Saladin, was the first Sultan of Egypt and Syria and the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. A Muslim of Kurdish origin, Saladin led the Muslim opposition to the European Crusaders in the Levant. At the height of his power, his sultanate included Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Hejaz, Yemen and other parts of North Africa.
Originally sent to Fatimid Egypt by his Zengid lord Nur ad-Din in 1163, Saladin climbed the ranks of the Fatimid government by virtue of his military successes against Crusader assaults on its territory and his personal closeness to the caliph al-Adid. When Saladin's uncle Shirkuh died in 1169, al-Adid appointed Saladin vizier, a rare nomination of a Sunni Muslim to such an important position in the Shia Muslim-led caliphate. During his term as vizier Saladin began to undermine the Fatimid establishment, and following al-Adid's death in 1171 he took over the government and realigned the country's allegiance with the Baghdad-based Abbasid Caliphate. In the following years, he led forays against the Crusaders in Palestine, ordered the successful conquest of Yemen and staved off pro-Fatimid rebellions in Upper Egypt.
Not long after the death of Nur ad-Din in 1174, Saladin personally led the conquest of Syria, peacefully entering Damascus at the request of its ruler. By mid-1175, Saladin had conquered Hama and Homs, inviting the animosity of his former Zengid lords, who had been the official rulers of Syria. Soon after, he defeated the Zengid army in battle and was thereafter proclaimed the "Sultan of Egypt and Syria" by the Abbasid caliph al-Mustadi. He made further conquests in northern Syria and Jazira, escaping two attempts on his life by the Assassins, before returning to Egypt in 1177 to address issues there. By 1182, Saladin completed the conquest of Syria after capturing Aleppo, but ultimately failed to take over the Zengid stronghold of Mosul.
Under Saladin's personal leadership, the Ayyubid army defeated the Crusaders at the decisive Battle of Hattin in 1187, leading the way to the Muslims' re-capture of Palestine from the Crusaders who had conquered it 88 years earlier. Though the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem would continue to exist for an extended period, its defeat at Hattin marked a turning point in its conflict with the Muslim powers of the region. Saladin has become a prominent figure in Muslim, Arab, Turk and Kurdish culture. In 1193 he died in Damascus, having given much of his wealth to his subjects. Saladin is buried in a mausoleum adjacent to the Umayyad Mosque.
Nizami Ganjavi (Persian: نظامی گنجوی, Nezāmi-ye Ganjavi; Kurdish: Nîzamî Gencewî; Azerbaijani: Nizami Gəncəvi) (1141 to 1209) (6th Hejri century), Nizami Ganje'i, Nizami, or Nezāmi, whose formal name was Jamal ad-Dīn Abū Muḥammad Ilyās ibn-Yūsuf ibn-Zakkī, was a 12th-century Persian poet. Nezāmi is considered the greatest romantic epic poet in Persian literature, who brought a colloquial and realistic style to the Persian epic. His heritage is widely appreciated and shared by Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kurdistan region and Tajikistan.
Sharaf Khan Bidlisi
Sharaf Khan Bidlisi or Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi (Kurdish: شەرەفخانی بەدلیسی, Şerefxanê Bedlîsî; Persian: شرفخان بدلیسی) was a medieval Kurdish emir and a politician from the Emirate of Bitlis.
But he is more known as a historian, writer and poet. He wrote exclusively in Persian. Born in the Garmrood village, in central Iran, between Arak and Qom, at a young age he was sent to the Safavid's court and obtained his education there.
He is the author of one of the most important works on medieval Kurdish history, written in 1597, Sharafnama. He created a good picture of Kurdish life and Kurdish dynasties in the 16th century in his works. Outside Iran and Kurdish-speaking countries, Sharaf Khan Bidlisi has had an impact on Kurdish literature and societies through the translation of his works by other scholars.
He was also a gifted artist, and a well-educated man excelling as much in mathematics and military strategy, as he did in history.
Qazi Muhammad (Kurdish: Qazî Mihemed) (1893–1947) was a Kurdish leader and the Head of the Republic of Kurdistan (Republic of Mahabad), the second modern self-declared Kurdish state in the Middle East (after the Republic of Ararat). Contemporary theorists believe that Qazi Muhammad was one of the most advanced Kurdish leaders in history.
Said Nursî (Ottoman Turkish: سعيد النُّورسی; 1877 – 23 March 1960), also spelled Said-i Nursî, officially Said Okur and commonly known with the honorific Bediüzzaman (بديع الزّمان, Badī' al-Zamān), was a Kurdish Sunni Muslim theologian. He wrote the Risale-i Nur Collection, a body of Qur'anic commentary exceeding six thousand pages. Believing that modern science and logic was the way of the future, he advocated teaching religious sciences in secular schools and modern sciences in religious schools.
Nursi inspired a faith movement that has played a vital role in the revival of Islam in Turkey and now numbers several millions of followers worldwide. His followers, often known as the "Nurcu" movement or the "Nur cemaat", often call him by the venerating mononymic Üstad ("the Master").
Ihsan Nuri, also known as Ihsan Nuri Pasha (1892 or 1893, Bitlis – March 25, 1976, Tehran) was a Kurdish soldier and politician, Former officer of the Ottoman and Turkish Army. One of leaders of the Ararat rebellion as the generalissimo of the Kurdish National Forces .
Simko Shikak (also known as "Simitquh"; born Ismail Agha Shikak in 1887; died 1930) was a Kurdish chieftain of the Shakak tribe. He was born into a prominent Kurdish feudal family based in Chihriq castle located near the Baranduz river in the Urmia region of northwestern Iran. By 1920 parts of Iranian Azerbaijan located west of Lake Urmia were under his control. He led Kurdish farmers into battle and defeated the Iranian army on several occasions. The Iranian government had him assassinated in 1930. Simko took part in the massacre of the Assyrians of Khoy and instigated the massacre of 1000 Assyrians in Salmas.
Mustafa Yamulki (25 January 1866 – 25 May 1936), also known as "Nemrud" Mustafa Pasha, was a Kurdish military officer, chairman of the Ottoman military court, minister for education in the Kingdom of Kurdistan and a journalist. Mustafa was born in the city of Sulaimaniyah which was then in the Mosul Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire.
Husni al-Za'im (1897 – August 14, 1949) (Arabic: حسني الزعيم) was a Syrian military man and politician. Husni al-Za'im, whose family is of Kurdish ancestry, had been an officer in the Ottoman Army. After France instituted its colonial mandate over Syria after the First World War, he became an officer in the French Army. After Syria's independence he was made Chief of Staff, and led the Syrian Army into war with the Israeli Army in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. The defeat of the Arab forces in that war shook Syria and undermined confidence in the country's chaotic parliamentary democracy.
On April 11, 1949, al-Za'im seized power in a bloodless coup d'état. The coup, according to declassified records and statements by former CIA agents, was sponsored by the United States CIA. Syria's President, Shukri al-Kuwatli, was briefly imprisoned, but then released into exile in Egypt. Al-Za'im also imprisoned many political leaders, such as Munir al-Ajlani, whom he accused of conspiring to overthrow the republic. The coup was carried out with discreet backing of the American embassy, and possibly assisted by the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, although al-Za'im himself is not known to have been a member. Among the officers that assisted al-Za'im's takeover was Adib al-Shishakli and Sami al-Hinnawi, both of whom would later become military leaders of the country.
Al-Za'im's takeover, the first military coup in the history of Syria, would have lasting effects, as it shattered the country's fragile and flawed democratic rule, and set off a series of increasingly violent military revolts. Two more would follow in 1949.
While his rule was relatively mild, with no executions of political opponents and few arrests of dissenters, al-Za'im quickly made enemies. His secular policies and proposals for the emancipation of women through granting them the vote and suggesting they should give up the Islamic practice of veiling, created a stir among Muslim religious leaders (Women's suffrage was only achieved during the third civilian administration of Hashim al-Atassi, a staunch opponent of military rule). Raising taxes also aggrieved businessmen, and Arab nationalists were still smouldering over his signing of a cease-fire with Israel, as well as his deals with US oil companies for building the Trans-Arabian Pipeline. He made a peace overture to Israel offering to settle 300,000 Palestinian refugees in Syria, in exchange for border modifications along the cease fire line and half of Israel's Lake Tiberias. Settling the refugees was made conditional on sufficient outside assistance for the Syrian economy. The overture was answered very slowly by Jerusalem and not treated seriously.
Lacking popular support, al-Za'im was overthrown after just four and a half months by his colleagues, al-Shishakli and al-Hinnawi. As al-Hinnawi took power as leader of a military junta, Husni al-Za'im was swiftly spirited away to Mezze prison in Damascus, and executed along with Prime Minister Muhsin al-Barazi.
Nur Ali Elahi
Nur Ali Elahi (or Ostad Elahi var. Nūr ‘Alī Ilāhī, Nour Ali Elahi, Persian: نورعلی الهی - استاد الهی) (September 11, 1895 - October 19, 1974) was a spiritual thinker, musician and jurist who dedicated his life to investigating the metaphysical dimension of human beings. From August 5, 2014 through January 11, 2015, an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, entitled The Sacred Lute: The Art of Ostad Elahi, presented under the patronage of UNESCO, explores the parallel between his transformation of the art of tanbur and his innovative approach to the quest for truth and self-knowledge.
Mustafa Barzani (Kurdish: مستەفا بارزانی Mistefa Barzanî) (March 14, 1903 – March 1, 1979) also known as Mullah Mustafa was a Kurdish nationalist leader, and the most prominent political figure in modern Kurdish politics. In 1946, he was chosen as the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to lead the Kurdish revolution against Iraqi regimes. Barzani was the primary political and military leader of the Kurdish revolution until his death in March 1979. He led campaigns of armed struggle against both the Iraqi and Iranian governments.
Jalal Talabani (Kurdish: جەلال تاڵەبانی Celal Tallebanî, Arabic: جلال طالباني Jalāl Ṭālabānī; born 12 November 1933) is a leading Kurdish politician who served as the sixth President of Iraq from 2005 to 2014. He was the first non-Arab president of Iraq, although Abdul Karim Qasim was of partial Kurdish heritage. He is known as "Mam Jalal" meaning "uncle Jalal" among Kurdish people.
Talabani is the founder and has been secretary general of one of the main Kurdish political parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). He was a prominent member of the Interim Iraq Governing Council, which was established following the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime by the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Talabani has been an advocate for Kurdish rights and democracy in Iraq for more than 50 years. Apart from his native Kurdish, Talabani is fluent in Arabic, Persian, and English. Talabani is a member of the Socialist International.
Masoud Barzani (Kurdish: مەسعوود بارزانی or Mesûd Barzanî; born 16 August 1946) is a Kurdish politician who has been President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region since 2005, as well as leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) since 1979.
Masoud Barzani succeeded his father, the Kurdish nationalist leader Mustafa Barzani, as the leader of the KDP in 1979. Working closely with his brother Idris Barzani until Idriss' death, Barzani and various other Kurdish groups fought Baghdad during the Iran-Iraq War. For much of this time, the Kurdish leadership was exiled to Iran.
Posted by Ashkan Alidi
A largely Sunni Muslim people with their own language and culture, most Kurds live in the generally contiguous areas of Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Armenia and Syria – a mountainous region of southwest Asia generally known as Kurdistan ("Land of the Kurds").
Before World War I, traditional Kurdish life was nomadic, revolving around sheep and goat herding throughout the Mesopotamian plains and highlands of Turkey and Iran. The breakup of the Ottoman Empire after the war created a number of new nation-states, but not a separate Kurdistan. Kurds, no longer free to roam, were forced to abandon their seasonal migrations and traditional ways.
During the early 20th century, Kurds began to consider the concept of nationalism, a notion introduced by the British amid the division of traditional Kurdistan among neighboring countries. The 1920 Treaty of Sevres, which created the modern states of Iraq, Syria and Kuwait, was to have included the possibility of a Kurdish state in the region. However, it was never implemented. After the overthrow of the Turkish monarchy by Kemal Ataturk, Turkey, Iran and Iraq each agreed not to recognize an independent Kurdish state.
The Kurds received especially harsh treatment at the hands of the Turkish government, which tried to deprive them of Kurdish identity by designating them "Mountain Turks," outlawing their language and forbidding them to wear traditional Kurdish costumes in the cities. The government also encouraged the migration of Kurds to the cities to dilute the population in the uplands. Turkey continues its policy of not recognizing the Kurds as a minority group.
In Iraq, Kurds have faced similar repression. After the Kurds supported Iran in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, Saddam Hussein retaliated, razing villages and attacking peasants with chemical weapons. The Kurds rebelled again after the Persian Gulf War only to be crushed again by Iraqi troops. About 2 million fled to Iran; 5 million currently live in Iraq. The United States has tried to create a safe haven for the Kurds within Iraq by imposing a "no-fly" zone north of the 36th parallel.
Despite a common goal of independent statehood, the 20 million or so Kurds in the various countries are hardly unified. From 1994-98, two Iraqi Kurd factions – the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by Massoud Barzani, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Jalal Talabani – fought a bloody war for power over northern Iraq. In September 1998, the two sides agreed to a power-sharing arrangement.
Meanwhile, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK, currently waging a guerrilla insurgency in southeastern Turkey, has rejected the Iraqi Kurds' decision to seek local self-government within a federal Iraq. The PKK believes any independent Kurdish state should be a homeland for all Kurds.
Over the years, tensions have flared between the PKK, led by Abdullah Ocalan, and Barzani's KDP faction, which controls the Turkey-Iraq border. Barzani has criticized the PKK for establishing military bases inside Iraqi-Kurd territory to launch attacks into Turkey.
Ocalan's recent capture by Turkish agents touched off heated and sometimes violent protests by thousands of Kurds living in Western Europe. It's impact on the Kurdish people and their quest for independence is yet to be seen.
Background: The Kurds
The Kurds have been subjugated by neighboring peoples for most of their history. In modern times, Kurds have tried to set up independent states in Iran, Iraq and Turkey, but their efforts have been crushed every time.
The Kurdish People
* 15 million to 20 million Kurds live in a mountainous area straddling the borders of Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. About 8 million live in southeastern Turkey.
* The Kurds are a non-Arabic people who speak a language related to Persian. Most adhere to the Sunni Muslim faith.
* 1920: After World War I, when the Ottoman Empire is carved up, the Kurds are promised independence by the Treaty of Sevres.
* 1923: Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk rejects the treaty, and Turkish forces put down Kurdish uprisings in the 1920s and 1930s. The Kurdish struggle lies dormant for decades.
* 1978: Abdullah Ocalan, one of seven children of a poor farming family, establishes the Kurdish Workers' Party, or PKK, which advocates independence.
* 1979: Ocalan flees Turkey for Syria.
* 1984: Ocalan's PKK begins armed struggle, recruiting thousands of young Kurds, who are driven by Turkish repression of their culture and language and by poverty. Turkish forces fight the PKK guerrillas, who also establish bases across the border in Iraq, for years. Conflict costs about 30,000 lives.
* 1998: Ocalan, who has directed his guerrillas from Syria, is expelled by Damascus under pressure from Ankara. He begins his multi-nation odyssey until he is captured in Nairobi on Jan. 15, 1999 and taken to Turkey, where he may face the death penalty.
* 1946: Kurds succeed in establishing the republic of Mahabad, with Soviet backing. But a year later, the Iranian monarch crushes the embryonic state.
* 1979: Turmoil of Iran's revolution allows Kurds to establish unofficial border area free of Iranian government control; Kurds do not hold it for long.
* Kurds in northern Iraq -- under a British mandate -- revolt in 1919, 1923 and 1932, but are crushed.
* Under Mustafa Barzani, they wage an intermittent struggle against Baghdad.
* 1970: Baghdad grants Kurds language rights and self rule, but deal breaks down partly over oil revenues.
* 1974: New clashes erupt; Iraqis force 130,000 Kurds into Iran. But Iran withdraws support for Kurds the following year.
* 1988: Iraqis launch poison-gas attack, killing 5,000 Kurds in town of Halabja.
* 1991: After Persian Gulf War, northern Iraq's Kurdish area comes under international protection.
* 1999: Two rival Iraqi Kurdish factions, one led by Mustafa Barzani's son Massoud, the other by Jalal Talabani, broker a peace deal; goal is for Kurdish area to become part of a democratic Iraq.
SOURCES: Reuters, World Almanac, staff reports