Soran Emirate

Flag of the Emirate of Soran
Soran Emirate circa 1835.

Soran was a Kurdish emirate based in the geographic region of Kurdistan, specifically in what is today known as Iraqi (i.e. southern) Kurdistan. Its Kurdish-speaking rulers were of different ethnic origins, despite their assimilation into the Kurdish cultural and linguistic sphere. The emirate presumably gained its full independence from the Ottoman Empire shortly after it was captured from Safavid control, in the 1530s, but was later reincorporated into the Ottoman Empire as a semi-autonomous vassal state. After serving the empire as a semi-autonomous vassal state for the next couple of hundred years, the emirate slowly gained full independence for a second time, during the late 1700s and early 1800s, but was eventually subdued by Ottoman troops in 1835. Its capital for most of that time was the city of Rawandiz; however, much of the wealthy nobility were staying at the town of Shaqlawa.[1]

During its time as a semi-autonomous vassal state to the Ottoman Empire, the Emirate of Soran was otherwise officially known as the Sharazor Eyalet. In sources from the Sassanid era as well as the early Islamic period, the villages in the neighbourhood of Mosul, east of the Tigris, are referred to as Ba Soren (Syriac: Beith Soren), literally land of Soren. This name seems to be related to the Arian clan of Soren, who during reign of Yazdgerd of Persia, ruled what is today known as Iraqi (i.e. southern) Kurdistan.

The name of the founder of Soran Emirate is said to be Kulos; and it was among the few emirates which had a female ruler, named Khanzad. It is also said that Soran rulers were a mixture of different Kurdish-speaking Armenian, Circassian and Kurdish tribe chiefs, who were all united under Kulos. In the 1530s, when Suleiman the Magnificent captured Baghdad, he executed the Emir of Soran and installed a Yazidi, Hussein Beg, as governor of Hewler. However, a cousin of the Emirs managed to retake Hawler while Beg was absent. Beg was summoned back to Istanbul and executed. However, shortly afterwards, the Sorans submitted to Ottoman rule and served as a client faction before gaining their second independence in the ensuing centuries. Meanwhile, during this stage it is believed that Ottomans depended on Circassian noble families to manage the client states, thus giving them the title Beyzade or Bagzada. Descendants of these rulers are believed to be still living in Iraqi Kurdistan today. Places like Barwar, Shaqlawa, and Erbil still have the descendants of these people. [2]

Mir Muhammad replaced his father as the ruler of Soran in 1814. He was also a descendant of Saladin. He set about eliminating potential opponents in ruthless fashion, including his uncles and their sons. He then proceeded to subdue the surrounding tribes, killing any chief who would not submit to his absolute rule. He seized the town of Harir, the former capital of Soran, and then Koy Sanjaq in 1823. He also went on to capture Hewler. In his campaigns he massacred a large number of Yazidis. Concerned at what Mir Muhammad might do next, the Governor of Baghdad declared him as a Pasha. In 1834 the Ottomans sent Rachid Muhammad Pasha to restore their authority. He was joined by forces from Mosul and Baghdad. Mir Muhammad accepted an offer of safe conduct to Istanbul, led to believe that he would be reinstated by the Ottomans, but on his return he disappeared and is widely believed to have been murdered by an Imam called Mullah Muhammad Khati who hated and rallied many people against Soran rulers for their Circassian origins. According to the Kurds, he was a traitor to the Kurdish cause.. A very famous woman beside Khanzad is Amber, called Ambar-Khatun, who also had significant role in the Beyzade families. [3]

The Kurdish dialect Southern Kurmanji, which is commonly known in Kurdistan as Sorani, was named after this emirate. The present-day region of Soran (at the Rawandiz district) in Kurdistan was named after this Emirate.

List of rulers


See also

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