The Treaty Of Sevres And The Kurds

The Treaty of Sevres was the first document to mention the rights of the Kurds living in the Ottoman Empire which was defeated in World War I. Of the 433 clauses of the treaty, three articles (62, 63, and 64) were directly related to the Kurds.

Article 62 stated: “The Commission in Constantinople, consisting of three people appointed by Great Britain, France, and Italy, within 6 months should prepare a regulation for creating autonomy for regions with a predominantly Kurdish population located east of Euphrates and south of the borders of Armenia.

If the commission disagrees with the regulations, the decision must be made by the governments of the respective states.

At the same time, absolute guarantees must be developed to protect the Assyrian-Chalcedonian and other religious minorities living in these areas. For this purpose, a special commission consisting of representatives of Great Britain, France, and Italy, and that, among other things, should include representatives of the Persians and Kurds, should also study and, if necessary, clarify the Persian-Turkish border.”

According to the 63rd article, Turkey was to accept and implement the decisions of these pair commissions within three months.

Article 64 stated that if within a year, the Kurdish population of the designated areas appealed to the Council of the League of Nations with a desire of the majority of the population to have an independent state and if the Council of the League of Nations considered the majority to be ready for independence, then Turkey would be obliged to renounce its rights to these areas. The main allies would also not mind if the Kurds of the Mosul vilayet wished to join the Kurdish state.

Thus, the Treaty of Sevres provided for the creation of an autonomous Kurdistan on the former territory of the Ottoman Empire, giving it the right to secede from Turkey in a year and become an independent state.

However, how and in what ways the transition from autonomy to independence was to happen was not specified.

It should be noted that back in June 1915, Poghos Nubar Pasha in his address to the French Foreign Ministry called for the creation of Kurdistan. Poghos Nubar Pasha proposed to establish an autonomous Kurdistan under the protectorate of one of the three allied states or under their joint protectorate.

British historian Arnold Toynbee noted that in those days, the Kurdish population was not so much inspired by the possibility of creating a Kurdish state as, together with the Turks, concerned about the prospect of Western Armenia’s unification with the Republic of Armenia.

Arshaluis Zurabyan

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