For other uses, see Mahabad (disambiguation).
town in Iran
Coordinates: 36°45′47″N 45°43′20″E / 36.76306°N 45.72222°E / 36.76306; 45.72222Coordinates: 36°45′47″N 45°43′20″E / 36.76306°N 45.72222°E / 36.76306; 45.72222
Country  Iran
Province West Azerbaijan
County Mahabad
Bakhsh Central
  Parliament Osman Ahmadi [1]
Population (2012)
  Total 140.000
Time zone IRST (UTC+3:30)
  Summer (DST) IRDT (UTC+4:30)
Area code(s) 0444
Sauj Bulag (Sāūjbulākh) Kurdish rug, late 19th century

Mahabad (Persian: مهاباد; also Romanized as Mahābād and Mehābād; formerly known as Sāūjbulākh or Sawcheblakh)[2] is a town in and the capital of Mahabad County, West Azerbaijan Province, Iran. At the 2006 census, its population was 140,324, in 31,000 families.[3]

The majority of the towns population is Kurdish, with the town lying south of Lake Urmia in a narrow valley 1,300 metres above sea level.[4][5]


The town was founded in the Safavid period about 300 years ago, and its first name was Savoujbolagh. Savoujbolagh is a Turkic word meaning cold spring. Later, in the Qajarid period, the town was called Savoujbolagh Mokri, meaning Savoujbolagh of the Mukri tribe, due to the residence of the Mukri tribe in the town. This was the name of the town until 1936, when the town was named Mahabad.[6][7]


Mahabad is situated in a region that was the center of the Mannaeans, who flourished in 10th to 7th centuries BC. Mannaeans "after suffering several defeats at the hands of both Scythians and Assyrians, the remnants of the Mannaean populace were absorbed by an Iranian people known as the Matieni and the area became known as Matiene. It was then annexed by the Medes in about 609 BC.

In the medieval period, the Kurdish dynasty of Hasanwâyhids (959-1015) was ruling the region. After destruction under the Mongols, Ilkhanate, and Timurid dynasty, the region was controlled by Kara Koyunlu (1375–1468) and Aq Qoyunlu (1378–1501)(both Oghuz Turkic tribes). As Muhamed Amin Zaki in his book, A Short History of the Kurds and Kurdistan, during regional conflicts between Kara Koyunlu and Aq Qoyunlu, the Mukri Kurds gained power in the fertile valleys of south of Lake Urmia.

Murki Kurds participated in several wars between Safavid dynasty and Ottoman Empire, and gained more predominance. In 17th century AD, Mahabad became the seat of Mukri principality (known as Murkriyān in Kurdish and Morkriyān in Persian). Many believe Budaq Sultan Murki, who built Mahabad's Jameh Mosque is the founder of the current town.

Modern Kurdish State in Mahabad

Main article: Republic of Mahabad

Mahabad was the capital of the short-lived Republic of Mahabad, which was declared independent on January 1, 1946 under the leadership of Kurdish nationalist Qazi Muhammad.

The republic received strong support from the Soviet Union, which occupied Iran during the same era. It included the Kurdish towns of Bukan, Piranshahr, Sardasht and Oshnavieh.[8]

After an agreement brokered by the United States, the Soviets agreed to leave Iran, and sovereignty was restored to the Shah in 1947. The Shah ordered an invasion of the Republic of Mahabad shortly afterwards, the leaders of the republic including Qazi Muhammad were arrested and executed.[9][10][11] Qazi Muhammad was hanged on 31 March 1947. At the behest of Archie Roosevelt, Jr., who argued that Qazi had been forced to work with the Soviets out of expediency, U.S. ambassador to Iran George V. Allen urged the Shah not to execute Qazi or his brother, only to be reassured: "Are you afraid I'm going to have them shot? If so, you can rest your mind. I am not." Roosevelt later recounted that the order to have the Qazis killed was likely issued "as soon as our ambassador had closed the door behind him," adding with regard to the Shah: "I never was one of his admirers."[12]

Islamic Republic of Iran

On 7 May 2015, ethnic Kurds rioted following the unexplained death on 4 May 2015 of Farinaz Khosravani, a Kurdish hotel chambermaid. Khosravani fell to her death from a fourth-floor window of the Tara, the hotel where she worked. Anger mounted following reports that Khosravani died attempting to escape an Iranian official who was threatening to rape her. The rioters reportedly set fire to the hotel where Khosravani worked.[13]


  1. "Account Suspended". Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  2. Mahabad can be found at GEOnet Names Server, at this link, by opening the Advanced Search box, entering "-3073397" in the "Unique Feature Id" form, and clicking on "Search Database".
  3. "Census of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1385 (2006)". Islamic Republic of Iran. Archived from the original (Excel) on 2011-11-11.
  4. S. J. Laizer, Martyrs, Traitors, and Patriots: Kurdistan after the Gulf War, Zed Books, 1996, ISBN 978-1-85649-396-3, p. 56.
  5. Marion Farouk-Sluglett, Peter Sluglett, Iraq Since 1958: From Revolution to Dictatorship, .B.Tauris, 2001, ISBN 978-1-86064-622-5, p. 28.
  6. Seebauer, Renate. Mosaik Europa: Diskussionsbeiträge zur ethnischen und sprachlichen Vielfalt. LIT Verlag Münster, 2006 (87)
  7. The Supreme Muslim Council: Islam Under the British Mandate for Palestine - Uri M. Kupferschmidt - Google Books. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  8. McDowall, David (2004). " A modern history of the Kurds. I.B. Tauris. pp. 244–245. ISBN 1-85043-416-6. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
  9. McDowall, David, A Modern History of the Kurds, I. B. Tauris, 1996 (Current revision at May 14, 2004). ISBN 1-86064-185-7.
  10. Archived September 7, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. Archived April 25, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. Wilford, Hugh (2013). America's Great Game: The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Making of the Modern Middle East. Basic Books. p. 53. ISBN 9780465019656.
  13. "Riot Erupts in Iran's Kurdish Capital Over Woman's Death". The New York Times. 7 May 2015.
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