History of Southeastern Kurdistan and its Impact on Kurdish Movement

By Aliashraf Mordai

KNC-NA 23rd Annual Conference, Calgary, Canada, April 30, 2011

Kurdistan is located in the Middle East with 2/3 of world energy which is one of the most important geopolitical regions. With more than 500’000 Km2 and a over 40 million population it has very rich in natural resources such as oil, gas, gold etc. It consist of four regions, one of them is Southeastern Kurdistan.

The largest province of Southeastern Kurdistan is Kermnahsah (Kermshan), which is one of the western agricultural cores of Iran that produces grain, rice, vegetable, fruits, and oilseeds, however Kermanshah is emerging as a fairly important industrial city. There are two industrial centers with more than 256 manufacturing units in the suburb of the city. The region was one of the first places in which human settlements including Asiab, Qazanchi, Tappeh Sarab, Chia Jani, and Ganj-Darreh were established between 800010.000 years ago.

It is part of Kurdish history. The origin of the word “Kurd” and the location of Kurdish people is from this region. The earliest occurrence of the word Kurd was written in sources in the form of Kurt(kwrt-) in the Middle Persian treatise (Karnamak Ardashir Papakan and the Matadakan i Hazar Dastan), used to describe a social group or tribes that existed before the development of the modern ethnic nation.

Reynolds believes that the term Kurd is most likely related to the ancient term Qardu. The common root of Kurd and Qardu is first mentioned in a Sumerian tablet from the third millennium B.C. as the “land of Kar-da.” Qardu is etymologically related to the Assyrian term Urartu corresponding to Ararat. According to Asatrian, the most reasonable explanation of this ethnonym is its possible connections with the Cyrtii (Cyrtaei).

In ancient Iranian mythology, construction of the city is attributed to Tahmoures

Divband, the fabulous king of Pishdadian dynasty. The Sassanids have constructed Kermanshah. Bahram IV called Kermanshah gave his name to this city. It was a glorious city in Sassanid period about the 4th century AD when it became the capital city. Under Seljuk rule in the eleventh century the word Kurdistan was named for the first time. It was a major cultural and commercial centre in Western Iran and the southern Kurdish region as a whole. 

Its capital was Bahar, close to Hamadan, and covered 16 different Tribes. It is located in Zagrous mountains the origin of numerous ancient cultures and capital of different kingdoms such as Mad (Hekmataneh), Ghaznavie (Dinevar), Kurdestan tribe (Bahar), Ghazlavieh (great lor), Atabakan, Zandieh (Harsin). After Chaldoran war in 1514 between Osmani and Safavieh due to “Zahab” agreement in 1630 Kurdistan was divided to Osmani and Iranian part. After the first world war the first part was divided to three parts of Turkey, Iraq and Syria. 

The 300 million Arab with many diversities in their dialect are united by their religion. Irish people in Ireland are separated due to their religion difference even though they have common language and ethnicity. Turkey is united by religion with pressuring on Kurdish population. Different Governors take advantage of these differences to decline their unity. Iran, Turkey and Arab countries used these items to weaken Kurdish community.

It is the root of Zerustian and Yarestan. Kermashan is called as Iranian version of India. Although the religion of most of the people is Islam Shi’a and Sunni, other religions such as Bahá’ís, Jews, Yarsan, and Armenians also live in Kermanshah. Its custom is divided to North and South regions. The North has three customs of Makoian, Ardalan, and Horaman which due to communication with Iraq (Mosel) became more Sunni. The Southern region contains Ilam, Kermashan and Lorestan  due to communication with Basreh and Iranian government became Shia. 

During Imam Ali, Arab started discrimination by calling non Arab Muslims as Shoobi which resulted in “Horofi” uprising originated from Kurdistan. Kurd and Lur people living in this region have their own customs. 

Kermashan, Ilam and Lurestan contains 60% of the extend (from Shahindej to Kuhdasht) and 60% of population of Eastern Kurdistan. The main religion of them is Shia and Yarestan. Religion and custom is important among Kurds since in national political movements Shabak and Feili had few partnership due to their custom differences.  

Sherefxan Bidlisi states that there are four division of Kurds: Kurmanj, Lur, Kalhur and Guran, each of which speak a different dialect or language variation. The Kurdish dialects according to Mackenzie are classified as: Northern group (The Kurmanji dialect group.), Central group (Part of the Sorani dialect group), and Southern group (Part of the Sorani dialect group) including Kermanshahi, Ardalani and Laki language.

According to the Concrete, the Kurdish language has two main groups: The North

Western Kurmanji dialect group, The North Sorani dialect group, The Middle Horami, The South Kalhori- Feyli, The South East Luri Bakhtiari, Gorani, and Mamasani (Note: The Kurdish In Kermanshah is Kalhori in Ilam Feyli, In Bijar Garoisi and In Lurestan Laki).

The word “Lur” was used for the first time in 10 AC. All the historians mentioned that Lur cannot be divided from Kurdish. Based on the human Characteristic science, custom and ancient history and culture and art  they are part of Kurdish culture. There were many uprisings by Lurs such as Ghadam Khir, Raeis Ali, Sardar Bakhtiar, Ali Moradkhan, Key Sohrab. The Lur community belongs to a lot of major cities from Khoram Abad till Boshehr. 

South Eastern Kurdistan has had a dominant role in political Kurdish movement. More than 100 years ago Kurdistan was divided and the boarder countries used the policy of one government, one language, one country, and one nation which has been resulted in cultural discrimination. The religion differences and geographical distances and language diversities caused that the majority of Kurdish movement were more concentrated in Kurdish Sunni regions.   

After revolution since the official religion is Shia, the government use Sunni faith as a tool to prevent reunify of Kurdish community. Kurdish movement has been affected by religion which caused a disconnection between Kurdish community. On the other hand, the majority of them were just concentrated to be against central government instead if defining a universal and common goal and vision. The Kurdish nationality should be extended and enhanced beyond the religion differences.

In short, Kermashan, the largest province in Southeastern Kurdistan with many resources and history is one of the most geopolitical regions and it is the main gate to approach Ialm and Lurestan. Out of four major Kurdish languages Kermashan contains three dialogues of Sorani, Kalhori and Auramani. Lak people are critical target groups to approach Lurs. So this region needs to be under special consideration by Kurdish leaders. NGOs can have a critical role in implementing non-violation movements which need to be based on democracy and Human Rights principals.

Thank you for your attention

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