Last updated on: 5/1/2008 | Author: ProCon.org

Feisal I ibn Hussein al Hashem

(1885-1933)

The Essential Middle East: A Comprehensive Guide, by Dilip Hiro, author and journalist, contained the following description of King Faisal:

“King of Iraq, 1921-1933. Third son of Hussein al Hashem… Hussein led an Arab revolt [1916] in Hijaz [Western Saudi Arabia] against the Ottomans. As commander of the northern force, Faisal focused on harassing the Turkish troops and marched into Transjordan in 1917 along with the victorious British. Entering Damascus in October 1918, Faisal established an Arab government under the aegis of the Allied military administration.

At the Paris Peace Conference [1919], he staked the claim of his al Hashem family as the ruler of either an independent Arab kingdom or a federation of several emirates (principalities). France, which in 1916 had entered into a secret agreement with Britain called the Sykes-Picot Pact, opposed Faisal’s demands and insisted on keeping Syria under its control. An Arab national congress in Damascus in March 1920 declared Faisal king of (Greater) Syria, composed of present-day Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. The next month, at the behest of the Allies, the League of Nations’ Supreme Council handed France a mandate to administer Syria. In July there was a fight between the forces of France and Faisal, which the latter lost.

Forced into exile, Faisal accepted Britain’s invitation to go to London. To overcome nationalist opposition to its mandate in Iraq, Britain offered to make Faisal king of Iraq in March 1921. He accepted and was crowned in August. Caught between rising Iraqi nationalism and British suzerainty, Faisal pursued a middle course. By ratifying a constitution drafted by an assembly and holding parliamentary elections, he legitimized his regime.”

2003 Dilip Hiro