Friday, August 25, 2017

Hashemite Empire or the new ISIS caliphate.

Hashemite Empire or the new ISIS caliphate.

The idea of a caliphate stretching from Iraq to the Levant is nothing new despite what Islamic State had proposed in recent years under its supposed new caliph—Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In fact, an earlier version in the 1920s, the Hashemite Empire under Sharif Hussein and encouraged by Lawrence of Arabia, would cover roughly what the “new” Islamic State Caliphate was trying to perpetuate recently.

It is curious or ironic that some countries have had to endure the recent scourge of the Middle East—namely the so-called Islamic State or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria better known as ISIS.

The Islamic State wanted to impose their jihadi or Wahhabist form of Sunni Islam inside a make-believe state stretching from infidel Iran through ancient Mesopotamia, and all the way over to most western shores of the Levant. 

En route, the Islamic State would put to the sword or convert all those religious minorities who were considered blasphemers or infidels to the Wahhabi form of Sunnism by IS towards the Yazidis, the Kurds, the Ismailis, Christians, those Alawite rulers named Assad, Shia sects in Iraq and Iran, and those pesky Houthis in Yemen.

In particular, the Islamic State hoped to eventually overthrow those monarchies in Jordan and Saudi Arabia that also stood in the way of their “new caliphate” with the new “caliph”, Ibrahim al-Badri or as he was called Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as its head.

Truth be told, it was the British at the behest of Colonel Lawrence (AKA Lawrence of Arabia), who foresaw an Arab Kingdom during the Arab Revolt, but it was after the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1925, that created a different version.

After the defeat and breakup of the Ottoman Empire, the two winning nations; Britain and France carved up the old empire, installing their own choice of rulers at the helm into what we have today as the sovereign states of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Israel.

Lawrence’s main Arab supporter in the Arab Revolt, Sharif Faisal Hussein, envisioned a Hashemite Kingdom or Independent Arab nation in those newly created countries with the support of the British.

These “new” Arab rulers would be from Sharif Hussein’s family, and they were the same ones who had served under T. E. Lawrence in the “Arab Revolt” of WWI.

After all, Sharif’s family could trace their lineage back to the great-grandfather of the Prophet Muhammad, Hashim ibn Abd Manaf. As such, they had a right to claim to be “Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques”.

Unfortunately, these “new” Arab rulers would, for lack of a better term, be subservient to British and French rule.

As such, the Hashemite Empire would cover roughly what the ISIS Caliphate was trying to perpetuate in recent years under its supposed new caliph—Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Sharif Faisal Hussein of the Hejaz, had wanted all the Arabian Peninsula (Arabia, Trans-Jordan, Palestine, Iraq and Syria) as part of the “new” Arab Kingdom with his sons proclaimed as emirs or kings.

Prince Faisal I was initially installed as the King of Syria, and his brother Abdullah as the Emir of Trans-Jordan in 1925 (later King of Jordan in 1946) and the Palestine Mandate.

The Hashemites had been the “Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques” sites since the tenth century. They assumed they would continue to do so in the future Arab Kingdom.

As the Turkish Caliphate collapsed in 1924, Sharif Hussein proclaimed himself as “Caliph”. This in addition to his earlier claims of being the “King of the Arab Lands” infuriated the Saud clan of Arabia who had other ideas.

In 1925, the Saud clan battled and forced Sharif Hussein and his Hashemites out of both Mecca and Medina northwards to Trans-Jordan.

The result was that the Saud clan formed the modern-day state which still bears their tribal name: Saudi Arabia. As a result, Sharif Hussein and his family could no longer claim the prestigious Islamic title as “Custodians of the Two Holy Mosques”, a title that the Saudi clan still retain today.

However, following the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, and the earlier Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and Britain (1916), France declared that they wanted part of Greater Syria and thus claimed Lebanon and western part of Syria as their own.

It was only a matter of time before the French Army engaged those Arab troops loyal to Faisal I just east of Damascus in a lopsided victory for the French that ended Faisal I’s reign in Syria.

He escaped to Iraq and was soon crowned the new King of Iraq.

His son, Faisal II would later inherit the title, but in a series of events, he too would be toppled in a coup and assassinated in 1958 which would later lead to the takeover by Saddam Hussein, no relation.

Nevertheless, Emir Abdullah would remain King of Trans-Jordan and Palestine, but he too would be assassinated in 1951 on the steps of the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jordanian-controlled Jerusalem.

His son, Talal assumed kingship and ruled for only 13 months, but was unfortunately mentally incapable of continuing, so the Hashemite torch was passed onto a very young Hussein to take over the kingship which he ruled until his death in 1999.

In the end, what had been a grand plan by the British at the behest of Colonel Lawrence to set up the Hashemite Empire and the Arab Kingdom of Sharif Faisal Hussein had been whittled down over time to just the modern-day state of Jordan being the last remnant of the Hashemite Empire or Arab Kingdom with its present-ruler, Abdullah II, at its head.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for that history lesson, Em. It's a part of the world that remains a mystery to many of us in the West. hg