Rift in the Arab Front
Abdullah and the British Are Isolated
in the Middle East
Behind the Arab front there is a rift. The Arab League has
set up a government in Gaza comprised of the followers of the ex-Mufti
of Jerusalem. Abdullah of Transjordan has not recognized this government.
Hilmi Pasha, who commanded the Arab forces on the Jerusalem front, was
elected head of the Gaza government. Abdullah then stripped Hilmi Pasha
of his authority as commander on the Jerusalem front and placed the Old
City of Jerusalem under a new commander. The Gaza government is on the
territory occupied by the Egyptian army.
Abdullahs legion has done more fighting than the forces
of any other Arab state on Palestinian soil. Abdullah hoped to have the
entire country for himself, but since Israel successfully defended its
territory, he now counts on the annexation of at least the Arab part of
the country to Transjordan. His rival is the ex-Mufti of Jerusalem. They
are carrying on an old feud.
* * *
The British planned that Abdullahs legiontheir
own creationshould conquer all of Palestine for Abdullah, which
means for them. So they supplied him with officers, money, ammunition
and even spies.
The ex-Mufti planned that Abdullah should conquer the country
for him. His own Army of Liberation under Kaukaji proved to
be good only on the run.
Egypt is not at all interested in increasing the British
sphere on its border; for many years the entire policy of Egypt has been
directed toward getting rid of the British, in Egypt proper, in the Sudan,
in the Suez Canal zone. The Egyptians think that if the British should
dominate Egypt from the Negev, they would never leave the Suez Canal zone
or the Sudan.
Egypt would therefore like to have southern Palestine for
itself. Opposition to Zionism is artificially intensified; the Egyptians
make war against Israel but they regard the British as their real enemy
and Abdullah as a British stooge. Said one of the Egyptian delegates at
the Paris Conference, quoted by the United Press correspondent in his
dispatch of October 2: Britain is now considered the Arabs
number one enemy.
* * *
Ibn Saud is a traditional enemy of the Hashemitesin
1924 he expelled el Hussein, the Hashemite, father of Abdullah, from Mecca.
Would he now build up Abdullah?
Syria is very much opposed to Abdullah, too. He has long
dreamed and spoken of the Greater Syria that should embrace
Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and Transjordan, all under his rule. The republics
of Lebanon and Syria, however, have no desire to become part of a monarchy
under the Hashemites and the British. Abdullah has so often spoken of
the Greater Syria that in Amman, his capital, people say that as soon
as he starts talking about it, his old pet cat yawns and leaves the throne
Iraq is the only country besides Transjordan where Hashemites
sit on the throneAbdullahs nephew as regent and Abdullahs
grandnephew as child-king. For a time it seemed that Iraq would side with
Transjordan; but the hand of the ex-Mufti and of rabid nationalists generally
is strong in Iraq, and the government probably fears that a revolution
would break out if it sides with Abdullah who is accused of negotiating
with the Israelis.
Secretary of States Marshall proposed to admit Transjordan
as well as Israel into the United Nations. But the Arab states at present
are as much opposed to the membership of Abdullah as they are to the membership
* * *
Under these circumstances Abdullah is practically isolated.
He has done most of the fighting and now other Arab states gang up against
him. Together with him, the British are isolated in the Middle East. All
their efforts to appear as protectors of the Moslems have gone the way
of similar efforts by Mussolini. The British engineered the removal of
the French from Syria and Lebanon; they planned the barring of Jews from
Palestine; all this to keep the Middle East for themselves. And in the
end they stand before a hostile Arab world.
Who will fight for the British in the Middle East? Abdullah
refuses to fight the Israelis if the fruits of his efforts are to go to
the ex-Mufti or to Farouk of Egypt. If he fights any more, he will lose
the rest of his legion; then he will have no trump cards against Syria
and Egypt, and will be defenseless against Ibn Saud, whose kingdom borders
his in the east.
The British sold the idea to Bernadotte that the possession
of the Negev by Abdullah is vital to the existence of the Empire, and
the Count included this in his plan, namely, that the Negev, with the
Arab parts of Palestine, should go to Abdullah; and Bevin offered the
U. N. this plan to be accepted.
Now that the British have nobody to fight for them in the
area, they will try to rekindle hostilities between the Egyptians and
the Israelis, in the hope that the Israelis will push the Egyptians out
of the Negev; then, by all kinds of pressure, they would turn the Negev
Actually, under the cloak of a war with Israel, there is
being fought out a bitter contest among the local interests in the Arab
world. Abdullah wishes a Greater Syria and after that to return to Mecca;
Egypt would like to dislodge the British from Sudan and the Canal Zone
and occupy the Negev. Ibn Saud wants to exact better terms for his oil
from the Americans and uses the Palestinian affair to play the insulted
Britain is anxious to set up a base in Arab Palestine to
dominate Egypt and the oil lands that slipped through her fingers. The
ex-Mufti aspires to attain the Caliphate with the blood of Abdullahs
legion. And the Americans would like to gain all Jewish votes for each
of the two major parties with empty promises to Israel, and all of Arab
oil without leaving anything to the British and this as cheaply as possible.