October 13, 2007
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Melaye Mula Mehmud

The Assassination of the Spiritual Guide - By: Ayoub Barzani
Translated By: Mazhar Mohammadi


The initial impetus to this work was the desire to expose the people of Kurdistan to the history of their leaders.  As we continue to flip through the pages of history that are written by balanced and independent sources, we realize that our leaders are only and overly glorified.  Now that Iraq is liberated by the United States and Ba’ath Party is dissolved, the worst forms of Ba’athist-style propaganda are in S. Kurdistan.  Writers, journalists, historians, poets and even ordinary citizens are required only to acclimate their leaders, portraying their evil as virtue and dark history as clean history.  By controlling and monopolizing present, they may succeed in controlling the past as well, but the extent of their control over the past is limited.  There are always objective and ethical pens that will emerge and expose the people of Kurdistan to the history of their leaders.  The incumbent leaders must be clear on a fact:  The people of Kurdistan have the full right to know the history of their leaders, and they also have the right to challenge their leadership.

The Ottomans massacred one and half a million Armenians in early 1900s.  Today, even with the elapse of hundred years after the massacre, the secular “Turkish state” is being challenged for the brutal decision of their ancestors to genocide the Armenian nation.  And it is unquestionable that Turkey will pay the full price and Sultan Abdulhamid’s name will be recorded in the dark pages of the Turkish history.  The current leaders of S. Kurdistan must know that no matter how much wealth they steal from Kurdistanis, or how well they try to gloss over their dark history, justice will prevail and their names will eventually be recorded in the dark pages of history.

It is undeniable that Barzanis have taken a leading rule within the Kurdish Liberation Movement.  The enemies of Kurdistan and certain beneficiaries have distorted the history of Barzan for different purposes.  The intension of the former was to retaliate from the leading rule Barzanis have taken in the Kurdish Liberation Movement, but the later were intending to maintain their interests within Barzan’s struggle.  Both modes of distortion described coupled with the shortcomings of a set of both incumbent and late Barzani leaders and politicians have put many Kurdistanis, including myself, until reading Ayoub Barzani’s “Kurdish Resistance to Occupation (1914 - 1958)”, in a difficult position to recognize facts about Barzan’s history.

The success of Mula Mustfa to gain traction as a national leader is a story of ruthlessness, power and luck.  Mr. Ayoub Barzani presents detailed historical accounts in his “Kurdish Resistance to Occupation (1914 - 1958).”   The study is well-sited and trustworthy, providing a historical and an analytic insight to the development of Kurdish nationalistic theories in Barzan, a fact incorrectly stated in Massoud Barzani’s “Mustafa Barzani and the Kurdish Liberation Movement,” a historical if somewhat misleading account. 

It turns out that the quality of the Kurdish leaders of Barzan has changed dramatically after the departure of the late Sheik Ahmed Barzani in 1969.  The late Kurdish leadership of Barzan is in fact innocent of the rampant corruption amongst many of the current Barzani leaders.  The late generations adhering to the principals and norms of the Neqshebeni Order with a spirit of self-sacrifice and placing a high value on truth and integrity were replaced with mongering generations prioritizing wealth, empowering their authority and raising majestic palaces in an environment brimming with widows and orphans!

My desire to expose English-speaking Kurdistanis to the history of their leaders was the impetus to this work.  Melaye Mula Mahmud was one of the leading scholars of the Neqshebendi Order in Barzan.  He belongs to the Sheik linage of Barzan and is the second-cousin of Mula Mustafa.  The assassination of Melay Mula Mahmud by Mula Mustafa had a palpable effect on the society of Barzan.  On one hand, it satisfied the ambitions of Mula Mustafa to gain power.  On the other hand, Melay had different intentions:  A central part of his dedication was to reform society and restructure the norms of the Neqshebendi Order.  However, he became a victim of the Macklivian ambitions of Mula Mustafa.

Melay Mula Mahmud was very active in Barzan.  He had won the blessing of both Sheik Abdulsalam and Sheik Ahmed.  He was too out and basically became the public face of the Sheikdom, and at the same time, he gained traction as a spiritual leader in Barzan.  A central part of his duty was crisis management:  Every tribal dispute in the region was turned over to Melay, and he successfully settled their differences, a task that increased his popularity.  On the other hand, Mula Mustafa was unsatisfied and viewed Melay Mula Mahmud as threat to his ambition.  Mula Mustafa started a campaign trying to talk Melay down and distort his image in Barzan, but his efforts were unsuccessful.  Therefore, he resorted to the last option, i.e. to murder Melaye Mula Mahmud.

Reading the points of focus in Mealy’s effort to reform the society in Barzan, one can note his philosophic approach to reforms.  He places a high value on the rule of the individual and encourages it in process of developing the society in Barzan.  Thus, he seems to understand the harmfulness of subjective concepts, such as tribalism, relating to collectivism, that hinders the society from developing.  Had this effort been successful, the society of Badinan as a whole would have advanced to a great extend, and the idea of tribalism would have been diminished.  However, this idea worked against Mula Mustafa’s interest.  He preferred to contain the people of Barzan within the Sheikdom, having the ambition to become the heir apparent of Sheik Ahmed.

Voluntary marriage is another topic on which Melay emphasizes in his points of focus.  This topic is also related to the concept of individualism, leaving every individual with the freedom to select his/her mate.  Being a basic civil right of the individual, the society of Kurdistan in fact suffers in this regard.  While being emphasized by Melay in early years of the 20th Century, only recently did Massoud Barzani stressed its importance publically.  Even in now days, the blessing of the tribal chieftain is mandatory for a marriage in certain areas of Kurdistan and many individuals in Kurdistan are forced into “arranged marriages.”
It was mandatory for men and women to learn reading and writing.  Had it continued, this initiative would have pleasantly affected the region of Badinan.  It would encourage people to pursue education further and ultimately contribute to the advancement of their community.  It would have been far more difficult for our enemies to deceive us had the level of education among us been higher.  In fact, literacy and the lack of interest in education continue to be a problem in Kurdistan.

I have spent countless time translating this important chapter of Ayoub Barzani’s “The Kurdish Resistance to Occupation 1914-1958.”  It is my hope that readers will find this effort beneficial in learning the history of one of Kurdistan’s “hero.”  The Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government invited Ali Badirkhan to Kurdistan to film a movie featuring Mula Mustafa Barzani.  The financial resources allocated to this project will likely be deducted from Kurdistan’s budget, and doubtlessly, the movie will present a distorted image of Mula Mustafa, featuring him as a hero.  Fortunately, the current study of Mr. Ayoub Barzani will be followed by another sequence, covering the periods of 1958 to 2000.  It will uncover many facts which will doubtlessly be distorted in the planned movie.

Mazhar Mohammadi Washington, DC

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