Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Abdullah, King of Jordan (1882–1951)

Soldier, diplomat, and king of Jordan. Born in Mecca on 12 September 1882, the second son of Hussein ibn Ali, sharif of Mecca, Abdullah studied in Istanbul, Turkey, and later became an Arab nationalist. During World War I, with British assistance, he facilitated the Hussein-MacMahon Correspondence that launched the 1916 Arab Revolt.

In the 1930s, King Abdullah conducted secret talks with Zionist leaders about a Jewish homeland in a Palestinian-Jordanian kingdom. In 1947 he told Jewish leaders that he would not oppose the creation of a Jewish state but planned to annex the West Bank area of Palestine. When other Arab countries learned of the clandestine agreement, they immediately opposed it, forcing a war with Israel.

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Abdullah served as the commander in chief of Arab forces. As such, he sent his Arab forces into Palestine, occupying areas that he wished to annex. He avoided, however, attacking Jewish areas in the United Nations' partition plan, but his army did battle unsuccessfully for control of Jerusalem.

In 1950 Abdullah signed a nonaggression pact with Israel after secret negotiations, but he was forced to renounce it when threatened with expulsion from the Arab League. In return, the other Arab states accepted the annexation of Arab Palestine by Jordan. Abdullah was assassinated in Jerusalem on 21 July 1951.

Andrew J. Waskey


Further Reading
Wilson, Mary C. King Abdullah, Britain and the Making of Jordan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
 

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