In August 1941, a general uprising wrests control of the Kurdish region from the central Iranian government. In the town of Mahabad, inhabited mostly by Kurds, a committee of middle-class people supported by tribal chiefs takes over the local administration. A political party called the Society for the Revival of Kurdistan (Komeley Jiyanewey) is formed. Qazi Muhammad, head of a family of religious jurists, is elected as chairman of the party. Although the republic is not formally declared until December 1945, the committee headed by Qazi, administers the area with commendable efficiency and success for over five years until the fall of the Republic.

Soviet and British forces occupy Iran in late August 1941, with the Soviets controlling the north. The Soviets are mainly ambivalent towards the Kurdish administration. They encourage Qazi’s administration by practical benevolent operations such as providing motor transport, keeping out the Iranian army, and buying the whole of the tobacco crop. They oppose the declaration of a separate independent Kurdish republic.

In September 1945, Qazi Muhammad and other Kurdish leaders visit Tabriz to see a Soviet consul on the backing of a new republic, and are then redirected to Baku, Azerbaijan SSR. There, they learn that the Azerbaijan Democrat Party is planning to take control of Iranian Azerbaijan. On December 10, the Azerbaijan Democrat Party takes control of East Azerbaijan province from Iranian government forces. Qazi Muhammad decides to do the same, and on December 15, the Kurdish People’s Government is founded in Mahabad. On January 22, 1946, Qazi Muhammad announces the formation of the Republic of Mahabad.

On June 1946, Iran reasserts its control over Iranian Azerbaijan. This move isolates the Republic of Mahabad, eventually leading to its destruction. They close down the Kurdish printing press, ban the teaching of Kurdish language, and burn all Kurdish books that they could find. Finally, on March 31, 1947, Qazi Muhammad is hanged in Mahabad on counts of treason

In October 1958, Mustafa Barzani returns to Northern Iraq, beginning a series of struggles to fight for an independent Kurdish state under the KDP party, carrying the same flag used in Mahabad.

Archibald Bulloch Roosevelt, Jr., grandson of the former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, writes in "The Kurdish Republic of Mahabad" that a main problem of the People’s Republic of Mahabad is that the Kurds needed the assistance of the USSR; only with the Red Army did they have a chance. But this close relationship to Stalin and the USSR causes most of the Western powers to side with Iran.
Listen to the song on the struggle of the Kurds in Iran: