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Hama Rashid revolt

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Title: Hama Rashid revolt  
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Subject: Kurdish separatism in Iran, Jafar Sultan revolt, Simko Shikak revolt (1918–22), 1926 Shikak revolt, 1967 Kurdish revolt in Iran
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Hama Rashid revolt

Hama Rashid revolt
Part of Kurdish separatism in Iran
Date Autumn 1941-1944
Location Baneh-Sardasht region of Iran

Iranian victory:

  • Hama Rashid driven into Iraq
Kurdish tribesmen


Commanders and leaders
Hama (Muhammad) Rashid

Mohammad Reza Pahlavi

  • Mahmud Kanisanan

Hama Rashid revolt refers to a tribal uprising in Pahlavi Iran, during the Second World War, following the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran.[1] The tribal revolt erupted in the general atmosphere of anarchy throughout Iran and its main faction was led by Muhammed Rashid, lasting from late 1941 until April 1942 and then re-erupted in 1944, resulting in Rashid's defeat.


Kurdish tribal unrest began in modern Iran, right with the ascendance of the Pahlavi dynasty, erupting into bloody violence with the Shikak revolt in 1920, and continuing with further Kurdish tribal revolts in 1926 and 1931.

With the general instability in Iran during the Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, the British were approached by the tribal leader of Baneh Hama Rashid and by a Mahabad leader Qazi Muhammad, in order to obtain protection.[2] The delegation of chieftains arrived in Baghdad, requesting to include their areas in the "British zone", but were refused.[1]

At the time, Tehran was desperate to prevent Kurdish secession, sending a government commission into Kurdistan in November 1941. It convened local Kurdish tribal leaders, promising cultural freedom with in line with the right of bearing arms, in return for loyalty to Iranian administration.[2] The tribes had however enjoyed those privileges from the time of the deposition of Reza Shah two months earlier, thus rejecting the Iranian offer.[2] To satisfy themselves, the tribal leaders also demanded assurances to return confiscated lands and employment of tribal leaders and their representatives in Tehran.[2] Indeed, some eight months later, a Tribal Commission was established in Tehran to investigate Kurdish land complaints. In the meantime however, the tribes aspired to make a new order of thongs, before a significant Allies intervention changes the situation and fills the power vacuum.

Just prior to the entrance of Soviet troops into Urmiyeh, a local bazaar was set in fire, also picking up large stockpiles of weapons, left behind by fleeing Iranian soldiery.[2] Further south, the areas of Sanandaj and Kermanshah fell into disorder and by the end of the year raids by armed Kurdish tribesmen reached as far as Tabriz.[2] In January 1942, relations between Azeris, Kurds and Christians in Urmiyeh turned strained, with Kurds and Christian Armenians and Assyrians forming a joint Liberation party. The joint forces raided Azeri villages. In April 1942, renewed tribal disorder in the area, prompted Iranian government to arm Shia peasants, but on the other hand removed gendarmerie forces from lands between Khoi and Mahabad to satisfy demands.

First conflict phase

Meanwhile, through the final months of 1941 in central Kurdistan, Hama Rashid seized Baneh and had set up his own administration.[2] With an aid of a number of followers, he executed his authority in the Baneh-Sardasht region.[1] At the time, despite his responsibility for a death of a senior Iranian officer, and being regarded as a rebel, Iran was too weak to subdue him.[1] By December he was already threatening to seize Sanandaj and was only convinced to refrain from action by a British threat. In February 1942, Rashid's forces seized Saqqiz, but were driven out of there in April.[2]

In early autumn of 1942, Hama Rashid agreed to become a semi-official governor under Tehran authority as a local office, but according to a British report Neither side would hesitate to abandon this relationship, if it could find something more attractive.[2] About the same time, Iranian government also recognized another Kurdish leader - Mahmud Kanisanan as a semi-autonomous governor of Meriwan region.[1]

Second conflict phase

According to McDawall, in 1944, the relationship between Hama Rashid and Iranian authorities was broken.[2] Jwaideh puts the beginning of the second phase to summer of 1942.[1] In any case, Rashid attacked Mariwan territories of his neighbour Mahmud Khan Kanisanan - an appointed Iranian governor as well.[2] Mahmud Khan requested an assistance from Tehran and received two Iranian columns, supported by light tanks, who had defeated Hama Rashid's forces.[1] Iranian forces who rushed to rescue Mahmud Khan, managed to drive Hama Rashid into Iraqi Kingdom.[1][2] During the retreat Rashid had however succeeded to burn some 1,000 houses in Baneh.[2] Shortly after, also Mahmud Khan himself was driven out into Iraq as well by the same Iranian forces, seeking to get rid of Kurdish semi-autonomous authority in the region.


As a result of the above described actions, by 1945 the government of Iran effectively controlled Kurdish areas south of Saqqiz-Baneh-Sardasht line.[1] However, the government was still not able to establish authority north to it up to the Soviet zone. It was Mahabad, located in those areas, where the most important Kurdish political developments went to take place.[1] Shortly thereafter, the Iran crisis of 1946 took shape, seeking to establish Azeri and Kurdish states with Soviet support. Hama Rashid and his forces took an important role in this next chapter of violence.[3]

Foreign reactions

  • United Kingdom - the general position of the Kingdom was opposing any kind of autonomy or independence for Iranian Kurds, which in their opinion would prompt a similar demand from the Arabs of Khuzestan and perhaps other ethnic groups,[2] especially Iraqi tribes and most notably the Kurds of Iraqi Kingdom.[2] Britain hence acted to ease ethnic and tribal tensions within Iran and told Tehran to settle Kurdish demands, reinstate tribal leaders and permit tribal migration as long as it doesn't breach peace.[2]
  • Soviet Union - it was initially assumed that Russians might assist Kurdish independence movement, but their behaviour quickly turned those hopes in vein.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Jwaideh, W. The Kurdish National Movement: Its Origins and Development.:p.245.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p McDawall, D. A Modern History of the Kurds: Third Edition:p.232-4. 2004.
  3. ^ Vali, A. Kurds and the State in Iran: The Making of Kurdish Identity: p.80. [1]
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