The Republic of Ararat was a self-proclaimed Kurdish state. It was located in the east of modern Turkey, being centred on Ağrı Province. (Ağrı, the name of the Turkish province, is the Turkish name for Ararat.)
The Republic of Ararat led by Khoybun party declared independence in 1927, during a wave of rebellion among Kurds in south-eastern Turkey. The Ağrı rebellion was led by General İhsan Nuri Pasha. In October 1927, a village near Mount Ararat was designated as the provisional capital of Kurdistan. Khoybun made appeals to the Great Powers and the League of Nations, and also sent messages to other Kurds in Iraq and Syria to ask for co-operation.
In displaying the need for a proper military structure, Khoybun nominated Ihsan Nuri Pasha Commander-in-Chief of the Kurdish National Army. Nuri Pasha, besides being a former Kurdish member of the Young Turks movement, showed his allegiance to the Kurdish cause when he led the mutiny within the Turkish military prior to the Sheikh Said rebellion.
After establishing leadership, Khoybun sought the aid of many influential European forces to help supply the Kurdish nationalist military endeavor. Despite their displeasure with the Kemalist regime, however, neither the British nor the French gave support to Khoybun. According to Safrastian, the European powers, once supportive of Kurdish independence, were swayed by Turkish media and press reports. With little aid from Europe, Khoybun eventually settled for the support of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, the Shah of Persia, and fellow Kurds such as Sheikh Ahmed Barzani, leader of the Iraqi Kurdistan Barzani tribe. Syrian Kurds also came to the aid of Khoybun, cutting railroads, pillaging Turkish villages, and conducting guerrilla assaults.
By 1928, Ihsan Nuri Pasha had assembled a small group of soldiers armed with modern weapons and trained in infantry tactics. This force initiated the Khoybun revolt, marching towards Mount Ararat. Nuri and his men not only achieved success in reaching Mount Ararat, but they were able to secure the towns of Bitlis, Van, and most of the countryside around Lake Van, establishing a notable area of Kurdish resistance.
Along with their weapons, organization, and ability, Kurdish strength was enhanced by the positioning of the rebellion. Although Turkish forces attempted to suppress the revolt as early as 1927, their success was tempered by a lack of Persian cooperation, as Mount Ararat lay in the Turkish-Persian border. By 1930, however, Turkish forces began to take the upper hand. Beginning in May, the Turkish army went on the offensive, surrounding Mount Ararat with over 10,000 troops by late June. Troop numbers on both sides continued to grow as Kurdish tribes were recruited to join the cause and approximately 60,000 more soldiers were called up by the Turkish government.
Besides facing an increasing numerical disadvantage, the Khoybun resistance slowly saw its regional support disappear. Pressured by the Turkish government, French administrators in Syria and British administrators in Iraq restrained much of the southern support for Khoybun. Prior to Turkish insistence, Barzani military aid from Southern Kurdistan included 500 horsemen from the Mosul district brought by the “Sheikh of Barzan”. Other Kurdish tribal chiefs such as Hatcho and Simqu, both from Syria, came to the aid of Khoybun in 1930.
The biggest blow to Khoybun’s Ararat revolt, however, came from Persia. Although initially supportive of Kurdish resistance, the Persian government did not resist Turkish military advances into Persia to surround Mount Ararat. Persian frontier guardsmen also began to close the Persian-Turkish border to non-essential travelers, including Kurdish tribes attempting to reinforce the revolt. Persia would eventually completely submit to Turkish operational demands, trading the land surrounding Mount Ararat for Turkish land near Qutur and Barzirgan.
The organized revolt on Mount Ararat was defeated by the fall of 1930, although the Turks waited until the following spring to attack any remaining tribal dissenters. Similar to the outcome of previous Kurdish uprisings, the Turkish government was merciless to the rebels.
Despite the defeat, Khoybun and the Ararat revolt are important to the history of the peshmerga for three reasons. First, never before had a military force been constructed specifically for the Kurdish nationalist ideal. The influence of the tribal shaykh as military commander was increasingly reduced as nationalism became a more important reason for Kurdish military actions. Second, the Khoybun revolt showed a growing relationship between the Barzani tribe and Kurdish nationalism. Although Mulla Mustafa Barzani had been involved in Shaykh Mahmud’s revolt and had met with Shaykh Said, the military support granted to the Khoybun cause from the Barzani tribe (as led by Shaykh Ahmad and commanded by Mulla Mustafa) was unprecedented. This level of support would continue to grow as future peshmerga, specifically from the Barzani area, would again be called on to defend attempted Kurdish nation-states. Finally, the Khoybun revolt began a pattern of international cooperation against Kurdish nationalism. Exchanges of land between neighboring countries would be seen again as regional powers temporarily put aside their differences in an attempt to suppress Kurdish military ability.