State formations, nations and Kurdish movements
: a comparative analysis from the late Ottoman Empire to Republican People’s Party in Turkey (1923-1945), British Mandate Regime in Iraq (1920-1932), and French Mandate Regime in Syria (1923-1946)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The eventual demise of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the First World War led to the dispersal of Ottoman Kurds across three newly formed states: Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. From the time of its dissolution until today, the late Ottoman Empire and post-Ottoman state formations in Kurdish areas have been a topic of great controversy in the literature. The genesis of discord and contentious between the states and Kurds, linked to the perceptions and policies of the states towards Kurds, is examined in this thesis. As such, the origins/types of Kurdish movements across all the three modern states are comparatively analysed.

In focusing on the nexus of state formations, nations and origins/types of ethnic movements in the Kurds’ case, the research is conceptually and analytically based on new institutionalism and the comparative politics method. The thesis widely benefits from Turkish, British and League of Nations’ archives, Kurdish sources, as well as from the notes, reports, and letters of prominent political actors and officials of the period. In contextualising the state’s role in shaping Kurdish movements, the notions from new institutionalism – the state in society’s perspective – through the historical context of the macro and local social, political and economic developments in society, are applied. The comparative element is instrument in elaborating on how differences between Kurdish movements were shaped by newly institutionalised conditions imposed upon the Kurds’ geographical locales from the late Ottoman Empire to the post-Ottoman states.

The Ottoman Kurds scattered across post-Ottoman states, historically shared common institutional conditions. Their politicisation across each regime and through different movements across Turkey, Iraq and Syria are comparatively analysed. The state formations in Kurdish populated areas,placed under scrutiny,are from the late Ottoman Empire to,specifically, (i) the Republican People’s Party (Single Party) Regime in Turkey (1923-1945), (ii) the British Mandate and King Faisal’s Regime in Iraq (1920-1932), and (iii) the French Mandate Regime in Syria (1923-1946). The aim of this research is to assess how these state entities shaped the origins/types of and metamorphosed the different Kurdish movements in the cases of (i) the Ararat Movement in Turkey (1926-30), (ii) the Barzan Movement in Iraq (1930-32) and (iii) the Khoybun Movement in Syria (1927-45).

Have scrutinised the institutional conditions of each state, this dissertation contends that the perception of Kurds within the ethno-national context of each state determined the state policies towards both Kurds and Kurdistan,which also influenced the origins/types of Kurdish national movements. Political objectives, social and economic roots and resistance methods of Kurdish movements associated with the implementation of state policies in the social, administrative, economic, military and regional political fields in Kurdistan are considered. The thesis concludes that the divergent policies of the three post-Ottoman states toward the Kurds created highly varied institutional conditions which differently shaped the relationships between the Kurds and the state, and subsequently the origins/types of Kurdish movements that eventually emerged.
Date of Award1 Nov 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorBill Park (Supervisor) & Sukanya Podder (Supervisor)

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