Hussayn I

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Early and family life

Hussayn bin Hussayn (in Arabic: حسين بن حسين)was born in Taif, Hijaaz, in 1887. He was the third son of the Grand Sherif of Mecca, Hussayn bin Ali.

Unlike his older brothers, Faisal (future king of Hijaaz and Iraaq) and Ibrahim (future Hashemite crown prince, regent and prime minister of Iraaq), Hussayn was never involved on politics, intrigue or warfare. As result he lived longer than any of his brothers.

During most of the time he maintained a low profile life in Hijaaz devoted to family. He married with six wives from six different Arab royal families and due to that someone nicknamed him as a joke as the "husband of Arabia". He had 27 sons and 33 daughters.

Unexpected route to power

On the 14th July 1958 general Abdul Karim Qassim led a coup d'etat which deposed the Hashemite rule in Iraaq. All Hashemite royal family members who were in Baghdaad at that day were killed. This included King Faisal II, queen Noor, prime minister and crown prince Ibrahim bin Hussayn among several others. As result both Iraaq and Hijaaz lost their king at the same time as these kingdoms were on personal union since 1921.

Events in Iraaq

General Qassim self proclaimed as new prime minister and regent of Iraaq. He also dropped the Hashemite name from the official iraaqi kingdom name. from now on Iraaq should be ruled by iraaqi and not by hijaazi. Qassim started to look for a new iraaqi king during the next ten years.

As prince Hussayn was then the oldest remaining son of Hussayn bin Ali, former Grand Sheriff of Mecca and father of the first king, the Hashemite chosen him as new king of Hijaaz and Iraaq so as new Grand Sheriff of Mecca. By that time the new king hadn't any political experience.

The slaughter of the royal Hashemite family left in shock all worldwide royal families, especially the arab ones, and they didn't recognise the new political power in Iraaq.

King Hussayn I called the arab rulers to the second Arab Community emergency summit, held in Damascus (United Arab Rebublic) to discuss the 14th July 1958 events and almost all arab governments recognised his rights to the iraaqi throne. The only exceptions were the United Arab Republic (as it was ruled then by the pan-arabist and anti-monarchist Gamal Abdel Nasser who considered the Hashemite as "foreign rulers of Iraaq and puppets of foreign interests" according to his own words on that summit) and Saudi Arabia (ruled by the al-Saud royal family, long-lasting rival to the Hashemite).

This summit was a victory to king Hussayn I as the Arab Community stayed mostly by his side in his pretensions and recognised the Iraaqi Government in Exile (leaded by the pro-Hashemite iraaqi prime minister Ahmed Aziz) which represented officially Iraaq in all international organisations (League of Nations, Arab Community, COPEN) although he hadn't any real power over the country.

The Hajji War

See main article: Hajji War

Relations between the Hashemite and the United Arab Republic and Saudi Arabia became very tense and king Hussayn I reacted against them by ending the diplomatic relations with those two countries so as prohibited the entry their citizens into hijaazi territory. As result they weren't allowed to pilgrimage to Mecca or Medina and making the Hajj.

The United Arab Republic solved this problem in a bureaucratic way. As this federation was much recent most of its citizens still had documents considering them as Egyptians or Syrians and the new documents had their emission delayed and as hijaazi law was against the United Arab Republic police weren't able to stop those pilgrims. In Saudi Arabia things were much different. The saudi government considered the prohibition as a high provocation and wahhabi clerics organized a pilgrimage with common people who should cross hijaazi borders. On the Islamic month of Dhu al-Qi'dah of 1378 (May of 1959), previous month to the arrival to the Holy Cities, those pilgrims crossed the border and were all arrested by hijaazi police. Things got confuse and more than 200 Saudi Arabian pilgrims were killed. Saudi government accused Hijaaz of the killing of innocent pilgrims while hijaazi government accused Saudi Arabia of sending military disguised as pilgrims.

King Said of Saudi Arabia, instigated by wahhabi clerics, declared war against the Hijaaz and soon Saudi troops invaded their neighbouring country. Although short this war soon became quite undecided as both countries had similar military strength. This short conflict became known as the Hajji War.

Mahmoud Hassan, secretary-general of the Arab Community, was able to get a cease fire and make both belligerent countries to make an agreement which allowed everyone to make the Hajj in change of the ending of Saudi pretensions of taking the Holy Cities (this was respected by Saudi government until 1975).

Pretender of Iraaq

Since then Hussayn maintained his traditionalistic rule over Hijaaz and his pretensions over Iraaq while general Qassim pursued his search for a new iraaqi king.

In 1963 the exiled iraaqi Prime Minister Ahmed Aziz dismissed himself as he considered that the Hashemite pretensions were becoming ridiculous. Aziz left then to exile in Egypt and was replaced by Hussayn I by another pro-Hashemite iraaqi, Abdullah al-Sahaf. As his predecessor al-Sahaf hadn't any real power although still was recognized internationally as legitimous. King Hussayn was able to keep his pretensions recognized over Iraaq by using his position of Grand Sheriff of Mecca as some kind of diplomatic weapon to use with the other Moslem nations. But foreign governments tended to give some recognition to Qassim rule as he was becoming admired as a full status arab leader so as his reformist policies. Iraaq then was a political anomaly as it had a worldwide recognized government with no power and an unrecognized "de facto" political power.

King of Hijaaz

During these years without the funds from iraaqi oil Hijaaz stagnated its economy. Hussayn's kingdom was suffering of continuous economical crisis as the previous Hashemite kings always paid much more attention to iraaqi development (thanks to oil extraction) than to hijaazi. This crisis helped a growing anti-Hashemite feeling in Hijaaz helped by arab nationalist ideals in fashion by then. This was the first time Hashemite rule was questioned on its own original realm by the local population. Hussayn's rule became continuously repressive as he wasn't able to control the situation. Protests occurred in the major hijaazi cities and were repressed by the police causing an indeterminate number of dead and hundreds of arrests.

In 1968 general Qassim abolished monarchy in Iraaq and self proclaimed president. King Hussayn saw this as the end of any possibility of recovering this country under his rule. Finally he dropped his pretensions and recognized the ten year old de facto rule of Iraaq, although normal diplomatic relations would just be possible much later. This made possible Baghdaad government to be recognized worldwide and replaced the exiled prime minister al-Sahaf government in all international organizations.

As the situation in Hijaaz was becoming worst everyday Hussayn had to focus more on his own country and leave his pretensions over a country where the Hashemite weren't welcomed at all by the locals. Also his own health was becoming troubled due to heart problems and Parkinson disease.

Last years of reign

Knowing his days were coming to the end he delegated more and more powers to his older surviving son and crown prince, Ra'ad, while popular demonstrations against the royal family occurred often over all Hijaaz.

In 1969 king Idris of Libya was deposed by Ahmad Qadhdhafi. Hussayn had a heart attack when he knew that. He saw Qadhdhafi's coup as a threat for his own rule as this was another arab monarchy which came to an ending. He was afraid that the same could happen in Hijaaz. He was divided by the advises from those who wanted to control local situation by repressive means (mostly military advisors) and those who wanted reforms to make possible the reconciliation between the Hashemite dynasty with its own people (lead by the crown prince Ra'ad).

Hussayn had a second heart attack in January 1970 and later was sent to a hospital in Jerusalem, Judea, where he spent his last months of living while Ra'ad become regent of the kingdom. The king died on the 18th October 1970 in that same hospital and Ra'ad succeeded him.

Preceded by:
Faisal II
Iraaq flag5.jpg
Pretender King of Iraaq
Succeeded by:
last to hold title