Erbil Governorate

Erbil Governorate

Erbil Governorate
During the Ottoman era, Erbil was a district (qadha) under the Mosul Liwa. However, after the demise of the Ottomans and the arrival of the British to the region, changes occurred in the administrative system of institutions, and a new style of governance emerged. Erbil was at the forefront of these changes. During the British era, "Political Officers" worked in the liwas, and "Assistant Political Officers" resided in the districts. W. R. Hay, a British officer, was the first Assistant Political Officer in Erbil, and when Erbil became a governorate, he himself became the Political Officer of the city.

In his book "Two Years in Kurdistan," which contains his memoirs, he describes this change as follows:
When the British army occupied Iraq and Kurdistan, it captured the city of Kirkuk on 27/10/1918, and at the end of the same month, it controlled Altun Kopri (Prdi). Then on 30/10/1918, a ceasefire was signed between the Allies and Turkey. The decision was to take effect on the 31st of the same month. At that time, W. R. Hay was in Mendeli, and an order was issued to appoint him as Assistant Political Officer in Altun Kopri. On 3/11/1918, he arrived in Altun Kopri and started his work. On 7/11/1918, he received a telegram ordering him to go to Kirkuk to meet Major Noel, who was the Political Officer of Kirkuk and the administrator of policy implementation in southern Kurdistan, to receive advice about the policy they were following.

While in Kirkuk, he received a telegram requesting to send a political officer with a small force to Erbil to immediately take it over from the Turks according to the terms of the ceasefire. Hay was assigned this task by Noel, and thus he obtained a brief letter from the commander of Kirkuk forces and headed towards Erbil. He arrived in Erbil on 10/11/1918 at 1 PM. After the reception, he had lunch as a guest of Ahmad Effendi. After lunch, at 3 PM, he went to the Turkish camp west of Erbil and delivered the letter to the commander of the Turkish forces, who was a short man from the Caucasus. After reading the letter, the Turkish commander agreed to leave Erbil the next day, but suggested that their hospitals remain in Erbil. In response, Hay said: "I insisted that they leave a doctor with them, but the Turkish commander refused this and promised to take the patients with them." Then it turned out that they had distributed all the patients to the homes of Erbil residents.

"I brought a Turkish officer with me to hand over the warehouses," then in the evening he became a guest at Ahmad Effendi's diwan, and in the morning he saw off the Turkish commander. Afterwards, he met with the notables and elders of Erbil and discussed the situation with them. During this period when (H) was in Erbil, a telegram was sent stating that (Captain Murray) had been appointed in Erbil and that (H) should return to Altun Kupri. Accordingly, on (13/11/1918) Captain (Murray) arrived in Erbil and (H) handed over the reins of affairs to him and returned to Altun Kupri.

On (15/2/1918) he took charge of the affairs of this region, then took leave and went to London, until on (30/6/1919) he returned to Mosul via Aleppo, where he was immediately ordered to return to Erbil to take over the position of Assistant Political Judge from (Moore).

On 3/7/1919 he returned to Erbil and started his work. During this period, several proposals were made to make Erbil an independent governorate separate from Mosul, including the district of Koisanjaq (which was part of Sulaymaniyah until then) and Rawanduz. Clearly, this arrangement was very beneficial, because the only suitable and convenient route to Rawanduz passes through Erbil, and Koisanjaq could more easily communicate with Erbil compared to Sulaymaniyah. (W.R.H.) says:

"On 29/10/1919, we went with (Ahmed Effendi), the mayor of Erbil, by train via Sharqat to Baghdad to negotiate with (Colonel Wilson), the Royal Chief Justice in Iraq, about these proposals and reach a decision. Then he said: "Wilson was not inclined to accept the new project and did not prevent it until he had the opportunity to visit (Mr. Bell) in Erbil and present his advice."

He also says: "We stayed in Baghdad for four or five days, and on the evening of (31/11/919), an hour or two before my return, Colonel Wilson took me aside and informed me that the headquarters had received news that (Mr. Bell), the political judge of Mosul, and Captain (K. Scott), the assistant political judge in Akre, had both been killed in (Bira Kapra) in the Zibar area." Thus he says: "With a heart full of pain and sorrow, we received this unexpected event." Then he says: "On (4/1/1919) I returned to Erbil, this event had not spread among the people, only after a few days when people in the city started talking about it."

The date of Erbil city becoming a governorate was referred to in issue 884 of the Iraq newspaper published on April 12, 1923, where it was mentioned that on November 1, 1919, Erbil became a semi-independent district, belonging to the Kirkuk district, and in 1923 it became a fully independent district, directly under the Iraqi Ministry of Interior. Ahmed Othman was appointed as the governor of Erbil with a monthly salary of 1000 rupees, who was previously the mayor of Erbil. Today, 100 years have passed since Erbil city became a governorate."