What was the Ararat Rebellion (1927-1930)?

Introduction

The Ararat rebellion, also known as the Ağrı rebellion (Turkish: Ağrı ayaklanmaları or Ağrı isyanı), was a 1930 uprising of the Kurds of Ağrı Province, in eastern Turkey, against the Turkish government.

The leader of the guerrilla forces during the rebellion was Ihsan Nuri of the Jibran tribe.

Background

In 1926, before the Ararat revolt, Ibrahim Heski led the Hesenan, Jalali and Haydaran tribes in a rebellion (16 May to 17 June 1926). On 16 May, the Kurdish forces fought against the 28th Infantry Regiment of the 9th Infantry Division of the Turkish army and a Gendarmie regiment in the Demirkapı region. The Turkish forces were defeated and the scattered 28th Regiment had to retreat towards Doğubeyazıt. On 16/17 June, Heski and his forces were surrounded by the 28th and 34th regiments of the Turkish army and had to retreat over Yukarı Demirkapı to Iran.

Xoybûn

On 11 June 1930, armed responses under the leadership of Salih Pasha to the rebellion were initiated by the Turkish military against the Ağrı insurgents. According to Wadie Jwaideh, Xoybûn, the Kurmanci Kurdish nationalist organization co-ordinating the rebellion, urgently appealed for help from Kurds. It was a Kurdish rebellion by mostly Kurmancî Kurds, which greatly outnumbered the Qizilbash of Dersim. That is why, much to the Turks’ dismay, Xoybûn’s appeal was answered on a wide front by a counteroffensive at Mount Tendürek, Iğdır, Erciş, Mount Süphan, Van and Bitlis, forcing the Turks to temporarily abandon their offensive against Ağrı. In July, the Xoybun decided to send reinforcements from Syria to the revolt in the night from the 04-05 August. Five separate groups should be have been led by Hadjo Agha, Kadri Cemilpasha, Khamil, the son of Ibrahim Pasha, Rassoul Agha Mohammed from the Bohtan area and Mustafa and Bozan Sahin. But the plan was not executed as planned, and three reinforcements returned after they noticed their men’s exhaustion.

Last Offensive against Mount Ararat

By the end of summer 1930 the Turkish Air Force was bombing Kurdish positions around Mount Ararat from all directions. According to General Ihsan Nuri, the military superiority of the Turkish Air Force demoralized Kurds and led to their capitulation.

During the insurrection, the Turkish Air Force also bombed several Kurdish tribes and villagers. For instance, Halikanli and Herki tribes were bombed on 18 July and 02 August respectively. Rebel villages were continually bombed from 02-29 August. From 10-12 June Kurdish positions were extensively bombed, and this forced the Kurds to retreat to higher positions around Mount Ararat. On 09 July the newspaper Cumhuriyet reported that the Turkish air force was “raining down” Mount Ararat with bombs. Kurds, who escaped the bombings, were captured alive. On 13 July, the rebellion in Zilan was suppressed. Squadrons of 10-15 aircraft were used in crushing the revolt. On 16 July, two Turkish planes were downed. Aerial bombardment continued for several days and forced Kurds to withdraw to the height of 5,000 m (16,000 ft). By 21 July, bombardment had destroyed many Kurdish forts. During these operations, Turkish military mobilised 66,000 soldiers (contrary to this Robert W. Olson gives the number of 10,000-15,000 troops in another work, other works state these numbers as well) and 100 aircraft. The last reported major offensive by the Kurds was directed at Diyarbakır on the 02 September. The rebels were gradually crushed by the superior numbers of the Turkish military. The campaign against the Kurds was over by 17 September 1930.

The insurrection was defeated in 1931, and Turkey resumed control over the territory.

Aftermath

Because the border between Turkey and Persia ran up the side of Lesser Ararat to its peak, Turkey was unable to stop Kurdish fighters from crossing the border at that location. To solve this problem Turkey demanded that it be ceded the entire mountain. On 23 January 1932, Persia and Turkey signed the Agreement related to the fixing of the frontier between Persia and Turkey (official name in French “Accord relatif à la fixation de la ligne frontière entre la Perse et la Turquie”) in Tehran. Turkey received total control over the Lesser Ararat and Ağrı Mountains and territory between the Armenian village of Guirberan and Kuch Dagh. As compensation, Persia gained ninety square miles in the neighbourhood of Qotur (قطور).

The commander of the rebellion documented the role of the Turkish air force in defeating the Ağrı revolt in his book entitled La Révolte de L’Agridagh (The Mount Ararat revolt).

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