The British made two sons of Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, rulers of the new political entities of Transjordan and Iraq after WWI. They were both born in the Hijaz (now in West Saudi Arabia), not the area they ruled. On the other hand, the political distinctions between these areas today did not exist in the early 20th century.

The question: To what extent were Hussein bin Ali's sons seen as foreigners by the people they ruled over, and, did that sentiment ever express itself in local politics?

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    Given that the (substantial) majority language of both countries is Arabic, I suspect that the overall reaction was essentially "Those damn Hashemite Sharif's again." Kurds, Turks, Shi'ites and Armenians may have had stronger reactions, but short of being able to declare and defend a tiny independent state had few options. Nov 8, 2015 at 15:54
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    Arab society was deeply divided in tribes. Hashemites were essentially Hijazi tribe Banu-Hashim, a branch of greater clan Quresh. While Arabs do share a common language and heritage, Tribes still play an important role. Hijazis were rivals of Najdis, current royal house of KSA is a Najdi tribe. Similarly, The Iraqi tribes & Jordanian tribes had their own views regarding Hijazis.
    – NSNoob
    Dec 11, 2015 at 13:54
  • @NSNoob That's the beginning of an answer. Can you please provide an answer? Jan 31, 2020 at 12:58

2 Answers 2


During that time, Pan-Arabism was in fashion in the Arabic world. The lineage of these rulers going back to the clan of the prophet Mohamed of Islam was a plus.

Arab countries were trying to unite in several competing failed projects. Where you come from was not as important as to what political dogma you had.

  • I don't see how this even attempts to answer the question asked: "Why are the Hashemite Kings of Jordan and Iraq rulers seen as foreign?" Feb 1, 2020 at 1:08
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    @PieterGeerkens Isn't the question simply "Were the Hashemite kings of Iraq and Transjordan considered foreign?" Feb 1, 2020 at 1:49
  • @sempaiscuba: Yes - typographic error on my part. This question still fails to address the question, which at a minimum would have to address the Kurds of Northern Iraq and Shiites of the Basra area just to consider Iraq. Feb 1, 2020 at 2:36
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    @PieterGeerkens I agree that it is currently only a partial answer at best (and one which would be greatly improved if sources were added to support the assertions). Feb 1, 2020 at 2:45

I will reword and answer the question as, "How well accepted were the Hashemite Kings in that the British imposed on Transjordan and Iraq after World War I?" Because the answers are rather different.

The current king of "Jordan" is Abdullah II. He is the son of the late (and popular) King Hussein. Hussein was the grandson of Abdullah I, one of the two brothers (along with Ali), enthroned by the British in what was then "Transjordan". The Hashemites have continuously ruled modern Jordan for almost 100 years and four generations, with progressively greater acceptance. Whatever misgivings the TransJordanians might have had about them at the beginning have disappeared. (The British influence that "set up" King Abdullah I has long since been gone, so what has happened since then is quite "natural.")

The "transplant didn't work nearly as well in Iraq. That country experienced several governments between the world wars, including a pro-Nazi government. After World War II, the Hashemites tried to regain power in Iraq with limited success. In 1958, the Iraqi (Hashemite) monarch proposed to Jordan's King Hussein that the two countries merge their monarchies as a counterweight to the Egypt-Syrian United Arab Republic. This was met by a coup led by Qasim, an Iraqi nationalist who overthrew the Iraqi monarch. (He was in turn overthrown by the Baathist party in 1963.)

There was basically no group in Iraq that supported the Hashemites. Certainly not the Shiite Moslems (the Hashemites are Sunnis), nor the Kurds, who are fellow Sunnis, but had their own agenda. Only British support enabled the monarchy to last as long as it did in Iraq.

So I would say that the Hashemite kings were considered much more "foreign" in Iraq than in Transjordan.

  • The fact that the Iraqi monarchy was overthrown does not mean it was considered foreign (or that its 'foreignness' led to its overthrow). Monarchies get overthrown for all sorts of complex social and political reasons and the Iraqi monarchy was no different. In fact many other monarchies were overthrown or nearly overthrown in the same period despite having indigenous monarchs (e.g. Egypt, Libya, Yemen and, a bit later, Iran). I don't think this answer addresses the question one way or the other. Dec 3, 2020 at 15:13
  • @NashvilleTele: See my first line;"I will reword and answer the question as, "How well accepted were the Hashemite Kings in that the British imposed on Transjordan and Iraq after World War I?" That is acceptable. I then pointed out that one set of "foreign" rulers had a local power base, and the second did not.
    – Tom Au
    Dec 3, 2020 at 17:38
  • Fair enough. I suppose my issue is with the concluding sentence: yes the monarchy failed, but there’s no evidence that it was its supposed “foreignness” that caused it to fail. Dec 3, 2020 at 18:49

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