Most countries land borders are somewhat rounded, and it's easy to guess why - it's eazy to defend a rounded shape, and it's hard to defend "bulges" because it can be easily surrounded and occupied.

However, Jordan's map has a characteristic nearly rectangular "bulge" between Syria and Saudi Arabia, as can be seen on google maps here

The lines are straight, so you can understand that there were no valuable points to either of the sides. Also, you can't see any town on Goggle maps at this territory, only desert.

So why this territory was allotted to Jordan and not to, say, Syria or Saudi Arabia?


Jordan's borders today are roughly the same with the borders of the Emirate of Transjordan. Transjordan's borders were first officially formalized in November 1925, with the Hadda Agreement between the United Kingdom and Ibn Saud. They were slightly redefined in 1965 with bilateral agreements between Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

The unusual shape of the borders (sometimes referred to as Winston's Hiccup) served to stop Wahhabi expansion to the west, by blocking Saudi Arabia's land corridors to Syria, Palestine and Egypt.

  • Interesting - do you have any other information about the British motivation to contain Wahhabism? I thought that excluding the Wadi Sirhan from the Trans-Jordanian Emirate was more of a move to try and further isolate French influenced Damascus from communications lines to the south. – Comintern May 4 '14 at 16:54
  • While both explanations are shedding great light, I'll mark this one as a matter of precedence. Also, thanks to it, I came on a good post which elaborates on an issue. opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/06/winstons-hiccup/… – alex440 May 5 '14 at 0:18
  • Can you provide a source regarding "stoping wahabism" ? As someone who lived in the gulf area I know that no one (including Saudis) calls him self Wahhabi. It is just a term used on the internet to refer to Ultra conservative muslims which is incorrect. Because if you read the books of Abdul Wahab himself you will find nothing Ultra conservative there. – Suhaib May 5 '14 at 1:58
  • 1
    @Suhaib nobody calls themselves an ultra conservative radical, so it's no surprise that wahab didn't use the term to describe himself... – jwenting May 5 '14 at 6:54

Following the First World War the Middle East was divvied up between the French and British under the Sykes-Picot Agreement. At this time it was expected that oil would be fond near Mosul in Iraq, although no exploration had yet been done to confirm this. In expectation of oil being found there, the French and British reached an agreement (in the Sykes Picot Agreement) on how to share said oil.

In further expectation of building a pipeline from Mosul to the port at Haifa, and as majority owner of said oil, the British drew the borders of both Iraq and Transjordan so as to ensure that the Mosul-Haifa pipeline ran exclusively over British controlled mandates/Protectorates. The North-Eastern border of Jordan (then the Emirate of Transjordan) and the North-Western border of Iraq were drawn out to join.

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