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King of Kurdistan

9 October 1956
BG A 61/132

On 9 October 1956 Sheikh Mehmud Berzenci (Mahmud Barzinci), the "King of Kurdistan", died. He had given himself this title in 1922. The Kurdish region was part of Iraq, which had been a British protectorate since 1920. Iraq was a troubled land, the British faced revolt in the Kurdish north and the Shiite south. London decided to allow the influential Sheikh Mehmud to return (he had been exiled in the First World War). After he was appointed governor in Suleymaniya, he took advantage of this opportunity. He declared a Kurdish state with its capital Suleymaniya, and set himself up as king. It was not long before the British once again expelled him.