Hashemite Dynasty Shows the Flag at Gulf of Aqaba
Shortly before the October 7 Sinai bombings at Taba and Nueiba, inhabitants of the Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat noticed some strange goings-on across the bay in the Jordanian port city of Aqaba. Cement trucks were seen dumping their loads along a section of coastline where the Jordanian royal villa nestles among giant palm trees. Other trucks unloaded huge pipes, which giant cranes hoisted into position. Could it be a new Jordanian watchtower to keep an eye on the Gulf of Aqaba? Or perhaps Jordan was building a new military or communications installation?
The answer to the riddle was not long coming. One morning, they awoke to the sight of an enormous flag flying from a 136 meter- (446 foot) high pole. The flag, measuring 80 meters (262 feet) by 44 meters (144 feet), was almost the size of an American football field, a towering presence even against the backdrop of the 1,200 meter (3,900 feet) -high mountains behind Aqaba.
Dimensions aside, there was something odd about the pennant. It looked almost but not quite like the Jordanian national flag; it lacked the trademark star and its colors were in the wrong order. Instead of being arranged in a black, white and red pattern, the flag was black at the top, green in the middle and white at the bottom (See photo).
After some research, debkafile‘s sources were able to identify it as the royal flag – not of Jordan but of the Hashemite dynasty that reigns in Amman today but originated somewhere else. Thereby hangs the tale of the huge flag.
mg class=”picture” src=”/dynmedia/pictures/JORDAN.jpg” align=”left” border=”0″> Through his great-grandfather, the prophet Mohammad was himself a Hashemite, a subdivision of the Quraysh tribe of what is now Saudi Arabia. The most revered Hashemite line then passed through Hassan, son of the Prophet’s daughter Fatima and her husband Ali, the fourth caliph. Hassan was the last of this line to hold the disputed claim to the caliphate, but his progeny eventually established themselves as hereditary emirs of Mecca, the role continuing under Ottoman rule. The last of the line to rule as emir of Mecca and King of Hijaz along the Red Sea was Hussain bin Ali. Ibn Saudi, the founder of Saudi Arabia, conquered the Hijaz in 1924 and deposed Hussein, thus ending Hashemite rule of the region and the holy places of Islam.
The new Saudi dynasty, supported by the Wahhabi Muslim sect, proclaimed itself Guardians of the Shrines of Islam
Hussein’s dispossessed sons, Abdullah and Faisal, were later placed on the newly-created thrones of Amman and Baghdad, respectively. The Hashemite line survived in Jordan but not in Baghdad. Faisal was assassinated on July 14, 1958 in a military coup that soon led to the rise of Saddam Hussein at the head of the Baath regime.
In 1951, Abdullah was murdered by a Muslim zealot at the door of al Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Two years later, his grandson Hussein succeeded to the Jordanian throne as a boy king. He reigned until his death in 1999, when he was succeeded by his eldest son Abdullah II.
Through the many upheavals and disasters visited on them, the Hashemites never gave up their claim of common descent with the Prophet or their vision of returning to their roots, the Hijaz, now the western Red Sea province of Saudi Arabia.
In November 1979, Saudi Crown Prince Fahd, son of Ibn Saud and incumbent albeit incapacitated ruler of the oil kingdom, appealed to Jordan’s King Hussein for help to put down a revolt against the throne mounted by Wahhabi Muslim radicals, led by Otheiba tribesmen. The rebels had got as far as seizing the Grand Mosque in Mecca claiming the corrupt Saudi crown was unfit to guard the holy places. These fundamentalists later spawned Osama bin Laden and still nourish his al Qaeda network. The Saudis desperately needed Jordanian commandos to dislodge these early terrorists from the mosque. Hussein agreed to the request but with a key proviso: The Saudi royal family must hand over a section of the Hijaz province where Hashemite Jordan’s historic territorial rights would be recognized henceforth.
Realizing this would be tantamount to opening the door to the Hashemites’ return to their ancestral land Fahd refused and turned to France instead.
mg class=”picture” src=”/dynmedia/pictures/degalaq21.jpg” align=”left” border=”0″> The new-old Hashemite flag hoisted so dramatically over Aqaba therefore carries a threefold statement, according to debkafile‘s Middle Eastern sources – one that will register most immediately with Jordan’s close neighbor on the Gulf of Aqaba coast, Saudi Arabia.
A. It is a symbolic restatement that the Hashemite claim to the Gulf and Hijaz lands on its eastern coast remains in force.
B. Aqaba and Kuwait are the two key transit ports for merchandise bound for Iraq. The flag may be interpreted as a message that the Hashemite branch which once ruled Baghdad has not relinquished its claim there either.
C. This message is as much religious as geopolitical and is addressed to al Qaeda and its Wahhabist mentors in Saudi Arabia, Sinai, Jordan, Iraq and Syria: the true and historic messengers of the Prophet Mohammed and his teachings are not al Qaeda but the Hashemites by virtue of shared ancestry and long rule in the holy places.
The giant flag bears testimony to the huge importance of symbols in the Middle East, something Israel, which long ago cancelled its annual military parade and flies only small Star of David flags outside government institutions, overlooks.
Early this week, the Jordanians took down their giant flag for two days after it was torn by strong winds. But the huge banner was up and fluttering overhead by Wednesday, October 18. Some Aqabans complain to their Eilat neighbors that the flag keeps them awake at night. It snaps loudly in the wind, sending explosion-like sounds across the town. But King Abdullah II seems to be sleeping all the more soundly as he dreams of the Hashemites’ return to their former glory.