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Abdullah I Ibn Hussein (King Abd?allah of Jordan)

ABDULLAH I IBN HUSSEIN (King Abdʿallah of Jordan)

Second son of Amir Husayn ibn Ali al-Hashimi al-Sharif of Mecca, Abdullah ibn Husayn was born in 1882 in the Hijaz region of Arabia. During the First World War, his father, supported by Great Britain, incited the Arab tribes to revolt against the Ottoman Empire. The British high commissioner in Egypt, Henry MacMahon, persuaded Sharif Husayn to support the creation of a greater Arab kingdom under Hashimite authority. With the help of British captain T. E. Lawrence, Abdullah participated actively in combat and drove the Turks from Hijaz, in November 1917. But in June of the following year Abdullah was driven out of Hijaz by the Wahhabi forces of the al-Saʿud family, equally supported by the British, obliging him to take refuge in Medina.

In October 1918 Abdullah became king of Iraq while his brother, Faisal, was trying to become amir of Syria. In July 1920, the latter was driven from Damascus by the French. In fury, the Hashimite family considered raising troops for the reconquest of Syria. To placate Faisal, the British, at the Cairo Conference of March 1921, made him amir of Iraq, and Abdullah Amir of Transjordan, which was under their mandate. In May 1923, as amir, Abdullah proclaimed the independence of Transjordan. The following October, his father, Sharif Husayn, driven from Mecca by the Wahhabis, was obliged to seek exile in Cyprus. In February 1928, in the context of the application of the Balfour Declaration, a treaty between Transjordan and Britain stipulated the separation of Palestine from Transjordan. This decision aroused the anger of the Transjordanian tribes and caused conflicts with the British forces. In November 1929, while on a visit to Jerusalem, Abdullah ibn Husayn escaped an assassination attempt. During the Second World War, Transjordan supported the Allies against the Germans. On 22 March 1946, the British Mandate over Transjordan officially ended, and on 25 May, after the proclamation of the accession to rule of the Hashimite Kingdom by the Transjordanian Legislative Council, Abdullah was crowned king of Transjordan.

On 16 November 1947, while the creation of a Jewish state was the subject of intense international negotiations, Abdullah secretly received the envoy of the Jewish Agency, Golda Meir, who tried to convince him to accept guaranteeing the security of the Jewish entity in Palestine in exchange for control over the Arab portion of the country. On 15 May 1948, on the morrow of the creation of the State of Israel, Abdullah joined forces with the Arab countries that attacked the Israeli troops. His Arab Legion took control of the Arab section of Jerusalem. On 16 December, in spite of protests of the Arab League, he prepared to annex the West Bank, at the request of the Palestinian Congress installed in Amman. On 3 April 1949, by signing an armistice treaty with Israel, Abdullah's kingdom gained control of the West Bank and the Arab part of Jerusalem. On 27 February he secretly signed a draft of an Israeli-Jordanian treaty with Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion. Accused by the Arab League of wanting to conclude a separate peace with Israel, he had to abandon this project.

On 24 April 1950, after having discharged the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Amin al-Husayni, Abdullah officially annexed the West Bank and proclaimed the creation of the Hashimite Kingdom of Jordan. A majority of Palestinians immediately accused him of trying to take over their country. On 15 February 1951, the Israeli and Jordanian governments concluded an agreement on measures to be taken to prevent any infiltration into Israel of Palestinian groups acting from Hashimite territory. The following 20 July, Abdullah ibn Husayn was assassinated in Jerusalem by a Palestinian. Talal, Abdullah's older son, was in bad health and held power for a few weeks only, leaving the throne to his son, Hussein, who would reign over Jordan for almost forty-eight years.

SEE ALSO Balfour Declaration; Hussein ibn Talal; Jerusalem; Jewish Agency for Israel; League of Arab States; Meir, Golda; Wahhabis.

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