The Ottomans and the Safavids
Carried out massacres against the Kurdish people
Since the beginning of the Islamic conquest, the policy of stationing on the frontiers has been associated with the forces surrounding the Islamic world, with ideological and political slogans that brought together all the intellectual and religious currents that penetrated into the Islamic society, regardless of the different classes, societies, doctrines of people and their social positions. That background, which included peaceful goals, was exploited by those who came after the era of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and his honorable companions, to achieve impure goals under the cover of false legitimacy in order to unjustly possess the country and the people, given that they play public roles that contribute to the preservation of the Islamic nation.
Those goals were distorted by the Ottomans for the Muslims, and they deluded themselves and those around them that they had the right to own everything that bordered them thanks to their intellectual and political influence. They tried until they succeeded in controlling the social components to play roles that protect their fascist regime in front of civilians and also to convince the major European countries of their settlement projects with which they occupied Muslim countries for nearly five centuries.
As much as arousing fanaticism in favor of one race becomes, arrogance against other races is inevitable. In other words, it was the “political specificity” that the Ottoman Empire took to glorify the descendants of their sultans and sanctify their family that was authorized to lead the Islamic world and its surroundings, as they found themselves involved in a political path of emergence and preservation of the global hegemony of their state.
This is a long history of massacres committed by the Ottomans against some nationalities that were within their colonialism. Their massacres against the Kurdish race in the nineteenth century were not recent, as they are the most famous and closest to living memory, but they began since the beginning of the sixteenth century, and since then the exploitation of the Kurds by the Turks has become clear.
The Ottomans took advantage of their sectarian agreement with the Kurds to push them to confront the Safavids, and they made them a card to risk in their relationship with the Safavids. Selim I took various ways to impose his dominance on the Kurds, including starting the relationship and showing good intentions when he delegated the famous Kurdish leader Idris Al-Badlisi (Îdrîsê Bidlîsî) to unite the Kurds. He did not ask the Kurds for taxes because it was only the beginning of their ally and gave them the freedom to build their armies.
The love of revenge and blood for which Selim I was famous appeared after his victory over the Safavids. He deliberately killed a large number of Janissary soldiers for their refusal to participate in fighting the eastern outskirts of the Ottoman Empire, because its people were Sunnis (the Kurds). This happened when Selim I raided Kumash Castle and the Persian Emirate of Dhul-Qadir and ordered the killing of the military judge, Jaafar Chalabi, because he was one of the biggest opponents of the bloody participation in the fighting of those parties. After a series of Ottoman terror led by Selim I, he showed terror and apparent murder to large crowds of Kurds. This was with the aim of completely subjugating the Kurds to his authority and bringing their lands within the borders of his state, including Mardin, Urfa, Raqqa, Mosul and Diyarbakir, along with all Kurdish tribes without exception, provided that the rule remains for the chiefs of the tribes, and that obedience was nothing but coercion to spare themselves the evil of Selim I.
Selim I killed a large number of his soldiers when they refrained from carrying out massacres against the Kurds.
Kurdistan turned into a bloody battlefield between the Ottomans and the Safavids. In the year 1550 AD the Kurdish cities were subjected to complete destruction as a result of the bitter conflict between two rival forces, while the truth was that each of them was seizing a part of the inhabited lands by the Kurds.
During the period (1514-1566 AD) until the end of Sultan Suleiman I’s life (Turkish: Kanunî Sultan Süleyman), the Kurds were subjected to partial punishments that some of their princes received. The Kurdish-Turkish Comprehensive Agreement at Chaldiran had a great resonance during the years of his rule. The violation of the agreement was among his actions when he dismissed a Kurdish prince and appointed another who was not one of his heirs, in Bitlis (Kurdish: Bidlîsê).
After one year following the reign of Murad III (1574 AD), the Kurdish lands turned into a continuous target for the Safavid raids year after year, especially during the armistice between the Safavids and the Ottomans. During that, public life declined in all its aspects in the Kurdish lands, including the halt in reconstruction as a result of successive campaigns, and the killing of a large number of Kurds in each campaign in historical massacres that many historians overlooked.
The Ottomans ignored the invasion of the Kurdish lands by the Safavids and abandoned the responsibility they claim to defend Kurdistan against the Safavids. During the Safavid attacks, the soldiers of the Ottoman Empire would disappear and appear only when the Ottoman Sultan decided to take revenge on the Kurds by sending his battalions for the purpose of discipline and deterring the rebels only.
In a hard time, the Ottomans neglected the Kurds, leaving them to fell prey to the Safavids.
The Kurds were subjected to a large number of massacres carried out by the Safavid state against them, including what happened in the Damdem Castle and the massacres of Al-Barrad and Sten. The first occurred during the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I, when the Kurds pleaded for help but to no avail, and the situation was repeated in the first Damdem massacre, then the second Damdem massacre. In 1618, the Ottomans and Safavids entered into a reciprocal deal over the Kurds, whose being Sunnis supposedly guaranteed them an advantage with the Ottomans. Muhammad Amin Zaki comments in the “Summary of the History of the Kurds and Kurdistan” on this by saying: “Finally, in December 1618 AD, peace and agreement were concluded for the second time between the two states. While writing the peace memoranda, Shah Abbas deliberately transferred 15,000 Kurdish families and evacuated them to the country of Khorasan to be used against the Turkmen and prevented them from dominating the Iranian borders in the North East”. This section of Iran (Khorasan) is on the borders of Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan and is heavily inhabited by Kurds to this day.
The Kurdish princes and their people paid the price of freedom in their attempts to confront an army that was superior to them in equipment, in addition to the fact that the fictitious Kurdish-Turkish agreement had bad effects. With this agreement, the Ottoman Empire strictly restricted the growth of any central Kurdish principality to prevent them from forming an independent army to defend themselves or working to establish the administration for the facilities of their emirates that were ostensibly granted to them. As a result, the borders of the semi-autonomous Kurdish emirates remained limited in their capabilities and were not united under any entity other than the Ottoman empire, while taxes were burdening the princes and the citizens even without having the right to mitigate rather than to refuse.
- Hayat Munawer Al-Rashidi, American Missionaries in the Ottoman Empire, (Cairo: Dar Al-Raya Publishing, 2015).
- Abdul Hamid II, My Political Memoirs, 2nd Edition (Beirut: Al-Resala Foundation, 1979).
- Muhammad Husayn Khalaf Tabrizi, Persian Farhank, Definite Proof (Tehran: Nima Publishing, 1379 AH).
- Muhammad Farid Bey, History of the Ottoman Supreme State, edited and verified by: Ihsan Haqqi (Beirut: Dar Al-Nafaes, 1983).
- Muhammad Mukhtar Pasha, Kitāb al-tawfīqāt al-ilhāmīyah fī muqāranat al-tawārīkh al-Hijrīyah (Cairo: The Arab Foundation for Studies and Publishing, 1980).
- Abdulaziz Al-Shennawi, The Ottoman Empire (Cairo: The Anglo Egyptian Bookshop, 1986 AD).