The Land of the Lion and the Sun as Seen on a Summer Caravan Trip
By Robert Olson, University of Texas Press, Austin
The Sheikh Said rebellion was the first large-scale nationalist rebellion by the Kurds. The role of the Azadi was fundamental in its unfolding. Kurdish intellectuals and military officers lay at the heart of the nationalist movement, in terms of organization and recruitment. The paramount influence of the more secular or non-cleric Kurdish nationalist organizations must be separated from the rebellion itself and its "sheikhly" leadership. The Sheikh Said rebellion was led largely by sheikhs, a deliberate determination by the leadership of Azadi from 1921 onward.
The idea of a nation-state in the modern sense and on the European model was more or less unknown in the Middle East until the late 19th century. This European political convention had caught on as much with Kurds as with any other nationality in the area at the time of the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire.
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