Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Royal Profile: Prince Regent Abd al-Ilah

One of the key figures in the late history of the Kingdom of Iraq was the Prince-Regent Abd al-Ilah. Born in 1913 he was the son of King Ali ibn Hussein of the Hejaz, a nephew of King Faisal I of Iraq and a cousin and the brother-in-law of King Ghazi of Iraq. On April 4, 1939 he began his service as regent of Iraq for King Faisal II following the death of King Ghazi in an auto accident. From early on, as had the monarchs before him, Prince Regent Abd al-Ilah was criticized for his government policy of friendship and cooperation with the British Empire. During World War II he was overthrown for a time by anti-British forces who were allied with Nazi Germany. British troops were deployed and the Prince-Regent called on the Iraqis to rise up against the pro-Axis government. Eventually the regime fell and the ringleader, Rashid Ali al-Kaylani, fled to Persia.

Prince Abd al-Ilah was restored to power and afterwards strengthened the alliance with Great Britain as well as establishing friendly relations with the United States of America. He even visited America where he was given the Legion of Merit by President Harry Truman. In 1953 King Faisal II came of age and the regency was ended, however, Prince Abd al-Ilah continued to be a primary advisor to the young monarch and as such kept up his support for keeping good relations with the west. He supported the adoption of the Baghdad Pact with Great Britain and other powers in the Middle East as well as the formation of a monarchist coalition of powers (the Hashemite kingdoms of Iraq and Jordan) rather than joining in the United Arab Republic dominated by Egypt and pan-Arab nationalists.

All of these positions and policies made the Prince a particular enemy of the radical forces that stood opposed to the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq and included Islamic fundamentalists, xenophobic nationalists and pan-Arab progressives. As such, on July 14, 1958 when the violent coup was launched that saw the overthrow of the Iraqi monarchy and the massacre of the Iraqi royal family Prince Abd al-Ilah was singled out for particular cruelty, being murdered, his body desecrated and finally mutilated before being burned by a mob whipped into a frenzy of bloodlust by the revolutionary gang of traitors. Perhaps, in the future, the government of Iraq will admit the immense crime that was done to the Hashemites and rehabilitate the memory if not fully coming to their senses and restoring the monarchy.

4 comments:

  1. The revolt started on July 14? Strange coincidence.

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  2. Former British Cabinet Minister Lord Hailsham, in his memoir A SPARROW'S FLIGHT, lamented the disgusting murders of the Iraqi king and his relatives in the 1958 revolution. He added - correctly in my view - that if it had not been for Eisenhower's crass betrayal of Britain, France, and the Hungarian patriots two years earlier (like many presidents Eisenhower subordinated every moral principle to the overriding imperative of reelection), the Baghdad gangsterism of 1958 would probably never have happened.

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  3. That seems like a slight stretch to me (I get wary of the blame game) but if so I would ask yet again what in the history of their relations made Britain and France think the US would put anyone's interest ahead of their own? He who drinks the king's wine must sing the king's song as they say -which is why it would be good idea if people stopped turning to the US for help; strings are always attached. That was a whole era of juvenile behavior by most all parties and usually it was the smaller nations that suffered most. Britain was rude to America so the US refused to support them at Suez. Bad guys won. When France called on America for help in Indochina they said only if Britain goes along but Britain, still angry over Suez, refused and the US did nothing. Bad guys won.

    I would give a word of warning though about speaking ill of the staff-clerk-in-chief Eisenhower. The Kansas bumpkin's popularity has been on the rise lately among libertarians and "paleoconservatives" precisely because he refused to get directly involved in foreign wars, cut the size of the military and uttered the first warnings about the "military industrial complex". I'm no big fan of his but you will likely find plenty who are.

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  4. Faisal II of Iraq gave a surprise birthday party in my honor on the Queen Mary in 1952. He came to the United States to go to a Dodgers' baseball game. He and his entourage, of course, traveled to all parts of the United States as guests of the State Department. With him were: his uncle (The Prince Regent), bodyguard (best friend), The Sheik of Baghdad, The Secretary of Iraq and the King's pilot.

    You can see my birtday cake and my presents on the table where we were seated. He gave me a brooch as his gift. The parties spent evenings together dancing.

    He invited me to his coronation.

    I will be writing up the story soon, but I already have the never-before published pictures on my Blog.

    My blog is:

    www.annegaillard.webs.com

    Send me some comments and send this info out to the viewers of your blog, please.

    ReplyDelete

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