IRAQ - Resurgence In The Shiite World - Part 8 - Jordan & The Hashemite Factors.
Iraq was ruled by Hashemite kings from August 1921 to July 1958. The Hashemites - Sunni Arab descendants of the Prophet Mohammed through his daughter Fatima's son Hassan, who was the last of his line from Ali (his father and Mohammed's cousin/son-in-law, founder of Shiism) to hold the Sunni Caliphate - now are ruling Jordan. Rival Hashemite cousins, those allied and the ones hostile to King Abdullah II of Jordan, participate in Iraqi politics; they include the Constitutional Monarchy Party (CMP) of Sharif (prince) Ali Bin Al-Hussein, contender to the Iraqi throne, and the smaller Hashemite Iraq Monarchists (HIM) of Sharif Ma'mun Al-Nisan. It is interesting to note that, while King Abdullah II backs the HIM, the CMP is supported by Prince Hassan Bin Talal, who shortly before King Hussein died in 1999 was Jordan's crown prince.
The Hashemite movement still has a presence in the Hejaz, ruled by Hashemite kings from 1916 to 1924, as well as in Syria, Lebanon and other Arab countries. The Prophet Mohammed himself was descended from Hashem the founder of a branch of the Quraish Tribe which still has descendants in the Hejaz. (The House of Hashem, the progeny of Ali both as the first Imam in Shiism and the fourth Caliph in Sunnism, the Fatimids of Syria who in the 9th Century AD were a secret Ismaili Shiite movement trying to overthrow the Sunni Abbasid Caliphs of Iraq, and the Jaafari Shiites make a fascinating history worth looking up. Equally worth looking up - and beyond the scope of this survey - are the reasons why Damascus and Baghdad were arch-rivals in Islamic history, and why in modern Arab history the most complicated triangle of conflicts has been the one between Damascus and each of Baghdad and Amman. In this survey, mention of the Shiites refers to the Jaafaris, whose 12th and last Imam from the House of Ali - Al-Mahdi - has been missing since the 9th Century and believers await his return to fill the earth with equity and justice. The Sunnis say the Mahdi has not yet appeared - one of the reasons why the Salafis, including Wahhabi radicals, have been killing Shiites in Iraq since the US invasion. The Salafi militants now active are a fascist branch of Sunnism founded by Sayyid Qutub in Egypt who was executed in 1966 by then President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden's No. 2 man Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri is a Qutubist, as in the case of Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi who heads Al-Qaeda Organisation for Jihad in Mesopotamia - see news4bbGCCsalafisJan24-05 - see also Encyclopaedia of Islam, Leiden, E.J. Brill 1979)
The Hashemite Federation of Iraq and Jordan, announced on Feb. 14, 1958, triggered an Arab nationalist movement in Iraq which led to a bloody coup in July of that year - including the killing of King Faisal II - and the ensuing republic's first task was to dissolve that union. It was to prevent a Baathist federation of Iraq and Syria that Saddam Hussein ousted the military wing of the Baath Party in August 1979.
Today, with the US forces still trying to control Iraq's Sunni Triangle, Saddam's Baathists and their Salafi allies are operating freely in the greater triangle of conflicts: Iraq, Syria and Jordan. Hence the theory, both in Amman and Damascus as well as in the Sunni part of Baghdad, that the US can only control Iraq after having controlled the greater triangle. Once the US has achieved this, it would easily take control of Iran and its nuclear programme. A resultant US-Shiite alliance could then have the effect of an atomic bomb on un-elected Sunni rulers in the Arab world.
While much of the Arab press hailed the courage of Iraqi voters on Jan. 30, the first and most open official comments came from King Abdullah II, who said the vote would help spur reform in the region. "People are waking up", the king told CNN. "[Arab] leaders understand that they have to push reform forward and I don't think there is any looking back". But King Abdullah's words hid another agenda, while Saudi Arabia had it first free elections on Feb. 10 (see news7bbGCCterrorFeb14-05).
The Hashemite agenda in Iraq is still not clear, not even to the Americans who will continue to own Iraq until they have adopted a final exit strategy (see News Service of last week's APS Diplomat - news6bbIraqTerrorFebr7-05). The last of the Hashemite monarchs, Abdullah was the first Sunni ruler to order his country's embassy in Iraq to be moved from Baghdad to Falluja after it was suicide-bombed in August 2003. And he was the first Sunni ruler to say, after the Jan. 30 elections, that Iraq's Sunni Arabs had the right to a role in the drafting of the country's constitution.
With British help, the Hashemites ruled Iraq after having spearheaded an Arab revolt and geo-political changes in what today is called "the Sunni status quo" in much of the Arab world - thanks to the Sykes-Picot agreement as the Ottoman Empire was about to fall, which got the French to prevent Faisal I from ruling Syria. Earlier last month King Abdullah said Iran was trying to influence politics in Iraq and establish a "Shiite crescent" extending from Tehran to Beirut. But his change of heart on Jan. 31 may have been in anticipation of greater US pressure for democratisation even within his own country.
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|Publication:||APS Diplomat Redrawing the Islamic Map|
|Date:||Feb 14, 2005|
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