Aram S. Sayiyan
Key words – Dersim, the Republic of Armenia, Turkey, Kurdistan, Turkish-Armenian war, Mustafa Kemal, Bolshevik Russia, Kars, Said Riza, Mehmet Nuri Dersimi, Nureddin Pasha.
The situation in Dersim was quite explosive in 1919. Negotiations in Paris between the Ottoman Empire and the victorious powers, which discussed the transfer of some part of the eastern vilayets to the Republic of Armenia, as well as the nationalist movement in Anatolia under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, caused serious concern not only in Dersim but also among the Shiite Kurds in Arabkir and Malatia. Britain, which was also initially concerned about M. Kemal’s success, sent an intelligence officer named Noel to the region. Taking advantage of this, a number of Kurdish tribal leaders organized a council of leaders with Noel’s participation in a place called Shiro in the vicinity of Malatia, during which the principles of independent Kurdistan were declared, and preparations for an anti-Kemalist riot were also initiated. However, Mustafa Kemal managed to disperse the rebels, but the people of Dersim were determined. In early 1920, at the head center of the congregation of Hossein Abdal, a number of tribal leaders vowed to fight for the independence of Kurdistan. Without the necessary forces Mustafa Kemal was forced to yield to them, appointing some of the leaders as deputies or kaymakams of the TBMM. However, this move did not give the expected result. At the end of the summer and in autumn of 1920, the rebels of Dersim, led by Seid Riza, Alishan, Alisher and others, attacked the camps and warehouses of the Turkish army in the Erzincan vilayet. However, the majority of Kurds in Western Armenia remained loyal to M. Kemal and took an active part in the Turkish-Armenian war, which began on September 23, 1920. And when the Turkish troops approached Kars, the Dersim rebels one by one defeated the Kemalists. However, these two forces fighting with the Turks could not unite against the common enemy, which had catastrophic consequences for both sides. On December 2, 1920, according to the Treaty of Alexandropol, Armenia acknowledged its defeat, after which the Kemalists transferred the Turkish troops to Dersim and, before the beginning of June 1921, defeated the rebels. The study of the reasons for the failed Armenian-Kurdish cooperation is of great practical importance for the two peoples.