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Abd al-Ilāh of Hejaz
Regent Emir Abdul Illah of Iraq in Baghdad during World War Two
'Crown Prince of Iraq'
Personal details
Born (1913-11-14)November 14, 1913
Ta'if, Arabia
Died July 14, 1958(1958-07-14) (aged 44)
Baghdad, Iraq

Crown Prince Abd al-Ilāh of Hejaz, GCB, GCMG, GCVO (Arabic: عبد الإله) (also written Abdul Ilah or Abdullah) (14 November 1913 – 14 July 1958) was a cousin and brother-in-law of King Ghazi of the Kingdom of Iraq. Abdul Ilah served as Regent for King Faisal II from 4 April 1939 to 23 May 1953, when Faisal came of age. He also held the title of Crown Prince of Iraq from 1943.[1]


Prince Abdul Ilah (holding hat) at Mount Vernon in 1945

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. His family fled Hejaz, when Ibn Saud of Nejd usurped his fathers authority.[1] Abdul Ilah assumed power, in Iraq, upon Ghazi's death in an automobile accident. He served as Regent for the under-age Faisal II.[1]

1941 Iraqi coup d'état[]

During World War II, Abdul 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 Abdul Ilah's pro-British government. After he fled the country, Abdul Ilah was replaced as Regent by Sherif Sharaf. Sherif Sharaf was an aging, holy-minded relative of King Feisal. The deposed Regent spent his time with former Prime Minister Nuri as-Said as a refugee in Amman. Abdul Ilah was a guest of Prince ‘Abd Allāh ibn al-Husayn, the Hashemite ruler of Jordan (future King).[2]

On 2 May, the United Kingdom launched offensive actions against the Iraqi rebels. On 26 May, the New York Times newspaper reported that Abdul Illah had 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 2 June, Rashid Ali's "National Defence Government" had collapsed and Rashid Ali had fled to Persia. Abdul Ilah returned to Baghdad and was restored as Regent.[3]

Working in tandem with Nuri as-Said, 'Abd al-Ilah pursued a moderate nationalistic approach while maintaining close ties to the Allies.</ref name=EB/>

In 1942, Wendell Wilkie traveled to Britain and the Middle East as President Franklin D. Roosevelt's personal representative. In Iraq, Abdul Ilah held a lavish state dinner attended by Wilkie.[4]

In 1945, Abdul Ilah visited the United States. He was the honoree at the first state dinner hosted by the new American First Lady, Bess Truman.[5] The Regent of "friendly Iraq" was awarded a Legion of Merit military decoration by President Harry S. Truman.[6]

In 1953, Abdul Ilah stepped down when Faisal II came of age. But he continued to be a close adviser of the young King, and an advocate of a pro-Western foreign policy.[1]

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 Saud made an eight-day visit to Iraq. He was met on his arrival by King Faisel II, Crown Prince Abdul 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.[7]

14 July Revolution[]

Abdul Ilah's mutilated corpse.

During the 14 July Revolution, Abdul Ilah was killed, along with most of the royal family. On 14 July 1958, a coup d'état led by Colonel Abdul Karim Qassim toppled the government and brought an end to the Iraqi monarchy. The body of Abdul Ilah was trailed on al Rashid street and was cut into pieces. According to the 21 July edition of Time Magazine, Gamal Abdel Nasser's "Middle East News Agency gleefully described the assassination of Crown Prince Abdul Illah: 'The people dragged Abdul Illah's body into the street like that of a dog and tore it limb from limb.' Then the mobs burned the body."[8]

Military ranks[]

'Abd al-Ilah held the following ranks:[9]

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "'Abd al-Ilah". Encyclopedia Britannica. I: A-Ak - Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.. 2010. pp. 14. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8. 
  2. "Trouble in Paradise". Time Magazine. 21 April 1941.,9171,772682,00.html. Retrieved 15 July 2009. 
  3. Lyman, p. 86
  4. "Points East". Time Magazine. 28 September 1942.,9171,773647,00.html. Retrieved 30 October 2009. 
  5. "Family at Home". Time Magazine. 4 June 1945.,9171,775715,00.html. Retrieved 30 October 2009. 
  6. "Talk & Ceremony". Time Magazine. 11 June 1945.,9171,775802,00.html. Retrieved 30 October 2009. 
  7. "Gathering of Kings". Time Magazine. 25 May 1957.,9171,809501,00.html. Retrieved 28 October 2009. 
  8. "Revolt in Baghdad". Time Magazine. 21 July 1958.,9171,868641,00.html. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  9. Al-Hashimi Dynasty. Retrieved 15 September 2010.


  • Lyman, Robert (2006). Iraq 1941: The Battles for Basra, Habbaniya, Fallujah and Baghdad. Campaign. Oxford and New York: Osprey Publishing. pp. 96. ISBN 1-84176-991-6. 

Further reading[]

  • Churchill, Winston (1985) [1950]. "Chapter 14: The Revolt in Iraq". The Second World War, Volume III, The Grand Alliance. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-395-41057-6. 

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