The Kurdish Question One Hundred Years After: Problems and Relevance of the Outcomes of World War I

Author: Mehmet Emin İkbal Dürre

ON NOVEMBER 11, 1918, the Armistice of Compiègne ended World War I in Europe; on October 30, 1918, the Armistice of Mudros ended the war between the Ottoman Empire and Great Britain. The talks that followed settled the Kurdish question and created a new postwar world order based on a system of treaties known as the Versailles system, of which the Treaty of Sevres signed in France on August 10, 1920 by the main Entente powers and Turkey was part. It specified, among other things, the principles and conditions on which the Kurds could acquire statehood.

This brought the Kurds of the Ottoman Empire (there were about 5 million of them) very close to a national state of their own, yet not all agreements of the time, the Treaty of Sevres being one of them, were enacted. During the one hundred years that have elapsed since that time, the region saw many important events, several generations, new political forces, and new regional players. Today, according to different sources, there are no fewer than 40 million Kurds, the biggest stateless nation, living in four states (Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria).

Despite the fairly long historical period that separates us from these days, the results of World War I (including the Versailles system and the Treaty of Sevres as its part) remain topical in certain respects. This is confirmed not only by the fact that many contemporary politicians (the Kurdish politicians in the first place) rely on it (much earlier historical arguments were revived in the political discourse and rhetoric on independent Kurdistan) and not by the 100th anniversary of the correspond-

Mehmet Emin İkbal Dürre, Assistant Professor, Department of Regional Studies, Moscow State Linguistic University, Candidate of Science (History); ikbal@mail.ru

ing agreements. The revived interest is explained by the highly specific and qualitatively novel approach to the problem which the victor-countries applied when adopting and later ...

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