Faisal I of Iraq

Faisal I of Iraq

Infobox Monarch
name =Faisal I of Iraq and Syria
title =King of Iraq and Syria

caption = King Faisal I
reign =11 March 1920 – 25 July 1920 (Syria)
23 August 1921 – 8 September, 1933 (Iraq)
coronation =
othertitles =
full name =Faisal bin Al Hussein Bin Ali El-Hashemi
predecessor =Sharif Hussein bin Ali
successor =Ghazi I
suc-type =

royal house =
dynasty =Hashemite
royal anthem =
father =Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca
mother =Abdliya bin Abdullah
date of birth =20 May 1883
place of birth =Ta’if,
date of death =death date and age|1933|9|8|1883|5|20
place of death =Berne, Switzerland

Faisal bin Al Hussein Bin Ali El-Hashemi , GCB, GCMG ( _ar. فيصل بن حسين "Fayṣal ibn Ḥusayn"; 20 May 1883 – September 8, 1933) was for a short time king of Greater Syria in 1920 and king of Iraq from 23 August 1921, to 1933. He was a member of the Hashemite dynasty, a descendant of the tribe of Muhammad.

Early life

He was born in Ta'if (in present-day Saudi Arabia) in 1883, the third son of Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, the Grand Sharif of Mecca.

In 1913 he was elected as representative for the city of Jeddah for the Ottoman parliament.

In 1916, on a mission to Istanbul, he visited Damascus twice. On one of these visits he received the Damascus Protocol, joined with the Al-Fatat group of Arab nationalists, and his father became king of Hejaz.

First World War

Faisal sided with Great Britain in World War I and with the help of T. E. Lawrence organised a revolt against the Ottoman Empire and this way helped ending the Caliphate. He conquered Medina after a long siege, after defeating the defense organized by the Ottoman Fakhri Pasha. Some of Faisal's critics considered fighting alongside Christians as a betrayal to Islam. This motivated Iqbal to write against him. Though Faisal was a descendant of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, Arab nationalism and independence, not religion, was his main motivation.

Faisal also worked with the Allies during World War I in their conquest of Greater Syria and the capture of Damascus, where he became part of a new Arab government in 1918.

He led the Arab delegation to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and, with the support of the knowledgeable and influential Gertrude Bell, argued for the establishment of independent Arab emirates for the area previously covered by the Ottoman Empire. His role in the Arab Revolt was described by T. E. Lawrence in "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", although the accuracy of that book has been criticized by historians.

On 3 January 1919, Faisal and Dr. Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organization signed the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement, in which Faisal conditionally accepted the Balfour Declaration based on the fulfillment of British wartime promises of independence to the Arabs. These promises were not immediately fulfilled, [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/faisal_balfour.html Faisal's Acceptance of the Balfour Declaration] Jewish Virtual Library] [http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/361eea1cc08301c485256cf600606959/364a6ac0dc52ada785256e8b00716662!OpenDocument Official records of the Second Session of the General Assembly (A/364/Add.2 PV.21)] , United Nations, July 8, 1947] but Arab states were granted autonomy from the European powers years after the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement, [http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/myths2/Boundaries.html Boundaries; dates that Arab nations were partitioned and recognized by U.N.] ] and these new Arab nations were recognized by the Europeans and the U.N., so Weizmann argued that the fulfillment was kept eventually and therefore the agreement still held.

King of Iraq

On 7 March 1920, he was made king of Greater Syria by the Syrian National Congress. In April 1920, the San Remo conference gave France the mandate for Syria, which led to the battle of Maysalun on 24 July 1920. Faisal was expelled from Syria by the French and went to live in the United Kingdom in August of that year.

The British government, mandate holders in Iraq, were concerned at the unrest in the colony. They decided to step back from direct administration and create a monarchy to head Iraq while they maintained the mandate. Following a plebiscite showing 96% in favor, Faisal agreed to become king. In August 1921 he was made king of Iraq.

He was instrumental in making his country nominally independent in 1932.

He died on September 8, 1933, when he had a heart attack whilst he was staying in Berne, Switzerland. He was succeeded on the throne by his oldest son Ghazi.

A square is named in his honour at the end of Haifa Street, Baghdad, where an equestrian statue of him stands. The statue was knocked down following the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958, but later restored.

Marriage and children

Faisal married twice: Huzaima bint Nasser and Latifa bint Hameed.He had two sons and three daughters:
*Princess Azza bint Faisal
*Princess Rajiha bint Faisal
*Princess Raifia bint Faisal
*HM Ghazi I, King of Iraq born 1912 died 4 April 1939, married Princess Aliya bin Ali daughter of HM King Ali of Hejaz.


He has been portrayed on film three times: in the 1951 film "Sirocco" (dealing with the Syrian insurrection against France), by Jeff Corey; David Lean's epic "Lawrence of Arabia" (1962), played by Alec Guinness, and in the unofficial sequel to "Lawrence", "" (1990) by Alexander Siddig. On video, he was portrayed in "The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Chapter 19 The Winds of Change" (1995) by Anthony Zaki.


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