Ahmed Barzani

Sheikh Ahmed Barzani
Personal details
Nationality Kurdish

Ahmed Barzani (18961969) (Kurdish: ئه‌حمه‌د موحه‌ممه‌د بارزانی / Ehmed Mihemed Barzanî), also known as Khudan (Arabic: خودان), was the head of the Barzani tribe in Northern Iraq. Sheikh Ahmed is considered to be the architect of Barzan by bringing many different Kurdish tribes under his command and expanding Barzan region. Along with his younger brother Mustafa Barzani, he fought against the oppression of the Iraqi government in the 1920s and 1930s.

Barzani's teachings of love, patriotism, tolerance, respect, equality, sharing of wealth, acquiring knowledge, social reform and environmental protection were unprecedented during his time in Kurdistan. Barzan was at its heyday during his time.

Barzani revolts

Main article: Ahmed Barzani revolt
Mountain gun of the Iraqi Army column, 'Dicol', shelling Shirwan-A-Mazin from a hillside at Kani-Ling during the Barzani revolt, June 1932

The first of the major Barzani revolts took place in 1931 after Barzani, one of the most prominent Kurdish leaders in Northern Iraq, and succeeded in defeating a number of other Kurdish tribes.[1]

He was later forced to flee to Turkey, where he was held in detention and then sent to exile in the south of Iraq. He headed Barzan’s largest revolution from 1931 to 1937 and gained the respect of many Iraqi Army generals who were fighting him, such as General Abdul-Jabar Barznji the commander of Iraqi Army in Barzan region.

Barzani was the center of focus of the British, Iraqi and Turkish discontent. He was very sympathetic to the Kurdish movements in the North led by Khoyboun (the Ararat Revolt). He received many Kurds who were seeking sanctuary in Barzan, including Kor Hussein Pasha. In September 1930, a Turkish military attaché in Baghdad told Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri Said, “the Turkish military operations in Ararat were very successful. The army will carry similar operations to the west of the Lake of Wan. We expect these operations to come to an end soon. The Turkish army will mobilize along the Iraq-Turkey border if the Iraqi Army moves against the Sheikh Barzan. In fact, Ismet Inonu complained to Nuri Said in Ankara that Sheikh Ahmed was supporting the insurrection in Ararat (see Archive E4976/1932/93, dated 4SEP1930)

Environmental protection

Barzani was the first known Kurdish environmentalist and conservationist leader. He attempted to enforce certain regulation to maintain a clean environment. He prohibited, among other things:

Barzani's legacy

Barzani rejected the traditional way of maintaining leadership within the same family. He emphasized that whoever takes the lead must be qualified for such a job. He condemned the corruption which was beginning to take part within the Kurdish Movement and was highly critical of ignoring the oppressed masses who were the victims of the movement’s failures.[2] He is also credited with emphasizing that marriage should be voluntary: such freedom he considered a basic civil right and stressed it publicly.[3]


  1. The Kurdish Minority Problem, p.11, Dec. 1948, ORE 71-48, CIA .
  2. 1 2
  3. Mohammadi, Mazhar. "The Assassination of the Spiritual Guide: Introduction". Kurdish Aspect. Archived from the original on 13 July 2011. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
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