Hussein ibn Ali (Hejaz)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Hussein ibn Ali

Hussein ibn Ali ( Arabic حسین بن علی Ḥusayn bin ʿAlī ; * 1853 or 1856 in Istanbul ; † Summer 1931 in Amman ) was Emir of the Hejaz and Grand Sherif of Mecca from 1908 to 1916and King of the Hejaz from 1916 to 1924. In 1924 he had toabdicateunder pressure from the Saud in favor of his eldest son ʿAlī. He was the last Hashimite ruler in Mecca who, at least for a short time, was not subject to any formal supremacy.


Born in Istanbul, where he had been forced to live since 1893 at the “invitation” of Sultan Abdülhamid II , Hussein was appointed Grand Sherif in Mecca in 1908 , which belonged to the Ottoman Empire . There, as guardian of the holy places of Islam, he succeeded in asserting the privileges and the political and spiritual influence of his office against the secular centralization tendencies of the Young Turks . Nevertheless, in 1911 Hussein rejected an offer by Arab nationalists to lead an uprising against Turkish rule. Instead, he supported Ottoman punitive expeditions against Arab rebels as long as the military campaigns were directed against his house's rivals.

After the outbreak of World War I , Hussein initially tried to maintain a smooth neutrality between the Young Turkish government in Istanbul, which was allied with the German Empire, and the hostile English in Egypt. His central goal was to consolidate his own rule in the Hejaz in the form of a largely independent hereditary monarchy - be it as a province within the framework of the Ottoman Empire as before, or as a British protectorate . Only after Hussein learned in January 1915 that the Ottomans wanted to depose him irrevocably after the end of the war did he turn away from Istanbul and seek an alliance with the British. His son Faisal returned from Damascus , where he had negotiated a general Arab uprising with leaders of secret patriotic societies, with a program that marked the borders of an independent Greater Arab kingdom. Hussein sent the Damascus Protocol to the British as a basis for negotiation for Arab-British cooperation in the First World War. Only after some hesitation did the British side accept Hussein's suggestion. Henry McMahon , High Commissioner of the British Government in Cairo, agreed in principle in the Hussein-McMahon correspondence between July 1915 and February 1916 to the establishment of an independent Arab Empire. However, he avoided making binding territorial commitments. In particular, the British refusal to give the coastal areas of Syria and Lebanon to the Arabs, in addition to McMahon's conspicuously vague formulations, dragged out the negotiations between Cairo and Mecca. At the same time, Great Britain and France agreed in the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement to divide the Middle East into spheres of influence after the end of the war (May 16, 1916).

When Hussein was informed in the spring of 1916 that a Turkish-German troop contingent was to march through the Hejaz towards Yemen, he panicked. Several Arab nationalists were executed in Damascus and Beirut on the orders of Cemal Pasha . Hussein feared that his plot had been exposed. Contrary to his deliberate character, which postponed important decisions, Hussein called on the Arab Bedouins in a hasty and uncoordinated manner to fight for freedom against the Turks in June 1916 ( Arab revolt ). On November 2, 1916, he was also proclaimed "King of Arabia" by his supporters. Great Britain and France only recognized Hussein I as King of the Hejaz.

However, some successes - such as the capture of the sparsely occupied cities of Mecca and Jeddah as well as attacks on the Hejaz Railway - could not hide the company's military weakness. Instead of the 100,000–250,000 tribal warriors promised by Hussein, only a few thousand Arabs joined the uprising. The Arab soldiers of the regular Ottoman army remained largely loyal. Outside of the Hejaz, Hussein was not recognized as a leader by the Arab sheikhs who were seeking their own sovereignty. Of course, with the help of British liaison officers - including TE Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") - and monthly aid amounting to 200,000 gold pounds , Hussein was able to strengthen his position in the Hejaz. From the perspective of the London government and the Arab Bureau , a branch of the British secret service in Cairo, the Arab uprising was a disappointment. Although the European Western powers did not let Hussein fall, they felt that the course of events confirmed their imperialist stance that the strategically important Arab region would have to be controlled by them in future in order to ensure stability.

After the First World War, Hussein ibn Ali remained restricted to the Kingdom of Hejaz . In 1921 he refused to reach an agreement with Great Britain that recognized his local rule, but at the same time made the renunciation of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine final. As a result, London stopped its financial support. After the abolition of the Caliphate by Atatürk Hussein in 1924 declared a caliph . As a result, he finally isolated himself in the Arab world. His worst adversary, Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud , attacked the Hejaz with his Wahhabi warriors. After the loss of Mecca, Hussein ceded the title of king to his eldest son Ali ibn Hussein . The rule of the Hashimites over Mecca had begun in the 10th century and lasted almost without interruption up to this point. Hussein ibn Ali himself fled into exile in Cyprus and died in Amman in 1931. His body was transferred to Jerusalem and buried in a family tomb on the Mount of Olives .

His sons Abdallah ibn al-Hussain I and Faisal I became emir in Transjordan (1921–1951) and king in Syria (1920) and Iraq (1921–1932). The Hussein-McMahon correspondence remained of eminent importance for the Middle East conflict , as the statements about Palestine were interpreted controversially by the Arab-Palestinian and Jewish sides.

Web links


  • David Fromkin : A Peace to End All Peace. The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. Avon Books, New York NY 1989, ISBN 0-380-71300-4 .
  • Elie Kedourie : In the Anglo-Arab Labyrinth. The McMahon-Husayn Correspondence and its Interpretations, 1914-1939. 2nd Edition. Cass, London et al. 2000, ISBN 0-7146-5097-8 (first edition 1976).
  • Jürgen Brandt in :: Biographies on world history. Dictionary. VEB Deutscher Verlag der Wissenschaften, Berlin 1989, p. 251.

Individual evidence

  1. Stephen Hemsley Longrigg: Ḥusayn b. ʿAlī. In: Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2nd edition, Vol. III, p. 605.
  2. ^ G. Rentz: sh imids . In: Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2nd edition, Vol. III, p. 262.