Kingdom of Kurdistan

The Kingdom of Kurdistan (Kurdish: Memlekey Kurdistan) was an internationally unrecognized short-lived state in today’s South Kurdistan. It existed from October 1922 to July 1924.


The British Kingdom conquered the Ottoman provinces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra in the First World War. After the war, Great Britain gave a mandate to these provinces from the League of Nations, and in 1920 established the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. However, there was a problem with Turkey regarding the membership of the Mosul province in the mandate area. This Mosul question was to be solved only in 1926. The British established a government of tribal leaders in the Kurdish part of the Mosul Province, following the tribal government in the tribal areas under federal administration in British India. Sheikh Mehmûd Berzincî, a Sufi religious leader was appointed as the governer of Sulaymaniyah. He used his position to declare full independence from the British Kingdom. In 1919 he was defeated and sent into exile. During British rule, the colonial administration worked intensively on building a Kurdish national consciousness, which was very popular in the population. Because there were plans to create a Kurdish state dependent on Great Britain.

Founding of The Kingdom

In 1921 Mehmûd Berzinci was pardoned and reinstated as Governor of Sulaymaniyah in hope that he would support the British in the fight against tribes allied to the Kemalist government of Turkey. On 10 October, he designated a Kurdish government and proclaimed an independent state. He declared Sulaymaniyah as capital of the Kingdom of Kurdistan. Previously, he was appointed king by the Cabinet.

The cabinet consisted of the following ministers:

Prime Minister: Sheikh Qadir Hafeed (brother of Mehmûd Berzincî)
Minister of Justice: Ahmed Bagy Fatah Bag
Secretary of Defense: Zaky Sahibqran
Minister of Education: Mustafa Pasha Yamolki
Finance Minister: Abdulkarim Alaka (Kurdish Christian)
Interior Minister: Sheikh Mohammed Gharib
Minister of Justice: Hajy Mala Saeed Karkukli
Minister of Labor: Hema Abdullah Agha
The army of the kingdom was called the Kurdish National Army.

War with the United Kingdom

The Kingdom was unrecognized and militarily attacked by Great Britain. The king tried to widen his sphere of domination, which stretched far beyond Sulaymaniyah, but failed to resist the tribes of Jaff and Pindar, who largely opposed to him. Even among intellectual Kurdish nationalists, he made himself unpopular by not meeting the hopes of some Baghdad-inspired representatives to participate in the government. The British used the Royal Air Force against the Kingdom. In the context of specifically developed doctrine of the rule by bomb for the insurrection in Iraq, Sulaymaniyah was bombed four times between March 1923 and May 1924, whereby more than 95% of the inhabitants temporarily fled the city. [1] In July 1924 British troops withdrew from Sulaymaniyah, in 1926 the League of Nations spoke the Mosul province to Iraq; But the Iraqi government had to assert special rights for the Kurds.

Noam Chomsky describes in his book Deterring Democracy that the British also used chemical weapons:

“Churchill was in favour of using air power and poison gas against ‘uncivilized tribes’ and ‘recalcitrant Arabs’ i.e. Kurds and Afghans.”

In the 1990s, William Waldegrave, a member of the John Majorian government, had erased the entries on these poison gas inserts in 1919 against Kurds from the archives.[2]

Flag of the Kingdom of Kurdistan
Flag of the Kingdom of Kurdistan


1.Behrendt, Günter: Nationalismus in Kurdistan. Vorgeschichte, Entstehungsbedingungen und erste Manifestationen bis 1925, Hamburg 1993

2.Chomsky, N.: Deterring Democracy, Hill and Wang, New York 1992, pp. 181-182.