Thursday, December 13, 2012

'Abd al-Ilah

‘Abd al-Ilah (b. November 14, 1913 at Ta'if, Arabia - d. July 14, 1958 at Baghdad), also known as 'Abdul Ilah or 'Abdullah, was the regent of Iraq from 1939 to 1953, and crown prince to 1958. A cousin and brother-in-law of King Ghazi, 'Abd al-Ilah was regent of Iraq for King Faisal II from April 4, 1939 to May 2, 1953, when Faisal came of age. He also held the title of Crown Prince of Iraq from 1943. A son of King 'Ali ibn Hussein of Hejaz, who was the elder brother of King Faisal I of Iraq, he assumed power upon the death of his brother in an automobile accident. He was deposed briefly by former prime minister Rashid 'Ali al-Kaylani, who led a pro-German coup during World War II but was restored after the United Kingdom invaded the country in May 1941. 'Abd al-Ilah stepped down in 1953, when Faisal came of age, but he continued to be a close adviser of the young king, and an advocate of a pro-Western foreign policy. He was killed, along with most of the royal family, on July 14, 1958, in a coup d'etat led by Colonel Abdul Karim Qassim that brought an end to the Iraqi monarchy. His body was dragged on al-Rashid street and was cut into pieces.

Son of the Hashimite king 'Ali ibn Hussein (ʿAli ibn Ḥusayn) of the Hejaz (northwestern Arabia), who was driven from Arabia by Ibn Saʿud, ʿAbd al-Ilah accompanied his father to Iraq in 1925. Upon King Ghazi’s death in 1939, he was appointed regent for his four-year-old nephew, Faisal II (Faysal II). ʿAbd al-Ilah ruled Iraq for 14 turbulent years, loyally serving the throne and supporting the Allies during World War II. In April 1941, faced with an uprising of army officers led by Rashid 'Ali al-Kaylani (Rashid ʿAli al-Gaylani), who was sympathetic to Germany and Italy, the regent was forced to leave Iraq. With British assistance, however, the revolt was suppressed by the end of May, and ʿAbd al-Ilah returned to Baghdad. Thereafter, in close collaboration with Nuri as-Said, he pursued a policy of moderate Iraqi nationalism and maintained strong ties with the West. When King Faysal reached legal age on May 2 (23?), 1953, the regent relinquished his functions but remained as the young king’s chief adviser and companion until both were killed during the Iraq revolution of 1958.

'Abd al-Ilah served as Regent for King Faisal II from April 4, 1939 to May 2 (23?), 1953, when Faisal came of age. He also held the title of Crown Prince of Iraq from 1943.

Son and heir of King 'Ali ibn Hussein of Hejaz, who was the elder brother of King Faisal I of Iraq, and brother of queen Aliya bint Ali, 'Abd al-Ilah assumed power upon Ghazi's death in an automobile accident. He served as Regent for the under-age Faisal II.

During World War II, 'Abd al-Ilah was deposed briefly by former Prime Minister Rashid 'Ali al-Kaylani. Rashid 'Ali led a pro-German coup d'état during World War II against 'Abd al-Ilah's pro-British government. After he fled the country, 'Abd al-Ilah was replaced as Regent by Sherif Sharaf. Sherif Sharaf was an aging, holy-minded relative of King Faisal. The deposed Regent spent his time with former Prime Minister Nuri as-Said as a refugee in Amman. 'Abd al-Ilah was a guest of Prince ‘Abd Allah ibn al-Husayn, the Hashemite ruler of Jordan.
On May 2, 1941, the United Kingdom launched offensive actions against the Iraqi rebels. On May 26, 'Abd al-Ilah called for an uprising of tribal and religious leaders to help him overthrow the insurgent government. He appealed specifically to the Iraqi people, the army and the police to accomplish "this heavy task".
By June 2, 1941, Rashid 'Ali's "National Defense Government" had collapsed and Rashid 'Ali had fled to Persia. 'Abd al-Ilah returned to Baghdad and was restored as Regent.
In 1942, Wendell Wilkie traveled to Britain and the Middle East as President Franklin D. Roosevelt's personal representative. In Iraq, 'Abd al-Ilah held a lavish state dinner attended by Wilkie.

In 1945, 'Abd al-Ilah visited the United States. He was the honoree at the first state dinner hosted by the new American First Lady, Bess Truman. The Regent of "friendly Iraq" was awarded a Legion of Merit military decoration by President Harry S. Truman.
In 1953, Abdul Ilah 'Abd al-Ilah stepped down when Faisal II came of age. However, he continued to be a close adviser of the young King, and an advocate of a pro-Western foreign policy.
In 1955, Iraq adopted the Baghdad Pact (also known as the Central Treaty Organization, or CENTO). The other members of the organization were Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. The organization's headquarters were initially located in Baghdad.
In May 1957, King Ibn Sa'ud made an eight-day visit to Iraq. He was met on his arrival by King Faisal II, Crown Prince 'Abd al-Ilah, and Prime Minister Nuri as-Said. It was the Saudi King's first ever visit to Iraq and it commemorated Iraq's membership in the Arab Federation and its break with the United Arab Republic of Gamal Abdel Nasser.

During the July 14 Revolution, 'Abd al-Ilah was killed, along with most of the royal family. On July 14, 1958, a coup d'état led by Colonel 'Abdul Karim Qassim toppled the government and brought an end to the Iraqi monarchy.

Alternative names include:

'Abd al-Ilah
'Abd al-Ilah of Hejaz
'Abdul Ilah
Al-Ilah, 'Abd
Al-Ilah of Hejaz
Ilah, 'Abdul

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