The Hashemite and Saudi dynasties: synthesis and findings

The rivalry of the two dynasties from the Arabian Peninsula was laid to rest by the abandonment of irredentist claims toward the territory and dominion of the other. This critical juncture enabled the development of joint identification, based on a heightened sense of structural similarity. This shift was set in motion by the transformation of the two dynasties into three clearly demarcated and geographically separate kingdoms with fixed borders, with its leaders now sovereigns of modernizing nation-states - which came to recognize a shared threat to them as monarchs.

While the early Saudi-Hashemite confrontation resembled “a struggle between competing tribal chieftaincies for the loyalty of certain tribes” (Teitelbaum 2001c, 249) between two competing “confederacies” (Teitelbaum 2001c, 282), the demise of those opponents who had a personal memory of the dynastic conflict paved the way to reconciliation. The recentering of Hashemite religious identity away from the two holy places (the haramain in Mecca and Medina) toward the "third haram”, the haram ash-sharif or “noble sanctuary” in Jerusalem, occupied by Jordan in 1948, together with the West Bank in 1948, also helped to disentangle mutually exclusive territorial and legitimation claims.

Although it took the immediate external threat of revolutionary republicanism to forge a monarchic sense of community (beyond immediate kinship bonds as existed between the two Hashemite kingdoms), this ingroup did not fall apart once the external threat subsided. The persistence of this alignment indicates that a stable alliance had formed that transcended a mere ad hoc coalition. A monarchic club, a "more homogeneous collection of animals”, as described by the British ambassador to Jordan (cited in: Podeh 1995, 100-101), was able to build durable political bonds.

Although markedly different from the case of Bahraini-Qatari relations, the two cases converge on the indicators that trace the theorized causal mechanism. Despite being larger military powers that fought republics such as Israel and Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia allied with each other instead of clashing, just as the small and oil-rich Gulf monarchies had. At the same time, the stronger alliance between the Hashemite rulers of Jordan and Iraq indicates that, similar to the previous case, stronger similarities result in a stronger effect of ingroup identity.

As shown in Table 4.2, the contrast between the two periods is marked. During the first period, a low monarchic salience resulted in little personalized ties and no recognition of a shared identity. Consequently, there was no barrier against potential escalation (although military altercations stopped after the 1930s). Overall, the structural similarity was not pronounced, hinging mostly on the monarchic regime type.

The analysis just presented shows the validity of the scope conditions specified by the causal model. The lack of stable statehood and clearly demarcated borders turn any rivalry into an existential danger, thereby precluding any process of ingroup identification due to existential insecurity. Without the development of nation-states (or at least clearly separate political entities), there is no basis for ingroup identification and thus no restraint in confrontation.

Furthermore, the divisive and incompatible ideologies of Wahhabism and Abdallah’s Arab nationalism were linked to modem statehood. Abdallah's “specific brand of Arab nationalism” entailed a double primacy: the primacy of the Arabs in Islam and the primacy of the Hashemites among the Arabs (Teitelbaum 2001c, 286). As this necessitates a hierarchy and calls for a single ruler (in this case, Abdallah), it represents a strong hindrance against ingroup recognition, similar to the divisive effect of the Ba'th ideology on Arab socialist states (Walt 1985, 21-23). With the consolidation of nation-states, territorial boundaries became more stable and irredentism was gradually discredited. The establishment

Table 4.2 The Saudi-Hashemite Conflict

Indicators

Period I

Period II

. Structural similarities

1.1

Shared language, culture, history, and religion

+

+

—<

"re

00

Cl

  • 1.2
  • 1.3
  • 2.1
  • 2.2
  • 2.3
  • 3.1
  • 3.2

Similar political system

Similar economic system

Low/decreasing share

Common threat

Absence of divisive

ideology

Mutual recognition

Personalization of bonds between ruling elites

3.2.1 Frequent high-

level state visits

+/ —

Monarchies, but differing institutions especially at beginning of state building

+

Majority

But rising republicanism

But decreasing Hashemite irredentism Wahhabi expansionism reigned in

KSA & Iraq: + KSA & Jordan: -(first steps in 1948 meeting)

Weak

  • (but very high between sister Hashemite monarchies)
  • -/+

Few, some first meetings

+

But differing institutions

+

+

Decrease from majority status via revolutions, beginning with Egypt 1952

+

(spike in 1952 & 1958)

Radical pan-Arab republicanism

+ increasing

intensification

Indicators

Period I

Period II

ip identification

  • 3.2.2 Kinship, intermarriage and friendship bonds
  • 3.2.3 Shared socialization

But British alliance connection

-/+

Via emissaries (Damluji, Amir Zaid), close personal bonds

Tight family bonds among Hashemites and common socialization of Hussein and Faisal at Harrow School), slowly developing between Hashemite and Saudis

o

blj

.3

3.3

Affirmation of commonality

+/-

+

o

co

co

co

o

3.3.1 Kinship and family references

Strong among the Hashemite monarchies

cl

3.3.2 Emphasis on

-/+

— /+

•S

similarity

(not toward KSA)

(not toward KSA)

o 00

3.3.3 References to

+

co

shared historical narratives

3.3.4 Common ceremonies/shared institutions

Shared alliance with British, contested (opposing) historical narrative on the Hijaz

+/ —

Attempts at formal alliance between Hashemites

Forming shared narrative by shared threat, traditionalism. Western alliance +

Some, coronation ceremonies and royal weddings & funerals

Hashemites: AFU

o

4-Sb-S ■—< CC

4.1

Military restraint

1+/-

Mostly: some altercations, but strong preference for diplomacy especially since neutralization of Ikhwan

+

4.2

Non-military restraint

+/-

+

Especially in contrast to anti-republican activities

(Continued)

Table 4.2 (Continued)

Indicators

Period I

Period II

4.2.1 Refraining from delegitimization

Takfiri tendencies on both sides

+

4.2.2 Refraining from subversion

Mostly via Syria

+

4.2.3 Rhetorical restraint

-

+

4.3 Alliance and solidarity

+/ —

Some signs, but mostly between Hashemite monarchies

+

Military support by KSAin 1956/1957, AFU between

Hashemites

of clear territorial borders contributed to a sense of equality: symbolically, this was achieved in 1932, when Ibn Saud was made king, but it took longer for the perception to develop among the ruling elites of the kingdoms.

This disentanglement of the two dynasties enabled joint recognition and legitimization as the basis of mutual support that continues to this day. State consolidation also made the states more similar to each other. While at the starting point of their relationship, their differences overshadowed the similarities, the tables turned once the point of comparison shifted toward vastly different presidential republics shaped by revolution and coup.

Monarchic salience catalyzed that process. During the initial phase of the rivalry, almost all states in the region were monarchies. By 1948, Syria and Lebanon were the only independent Arab republics. The declining proportion of monarchies in the regional system went hand in hand with the wave of revolutions that replaced them with "progressive” republics, starting with the Egyptian Revolution in 1952. By 1962, the revolution in North Yemen and Algerian independence shifted the ratio toward a republican majority.

The second period witnessed a marked rise in the salience of monarchic identity. Consequently, the countries developed stronger interpersonal bonds and increasingly affirmed their shared path and "club membership”, ultimately establishing strong and mostly supportive relations without military confrontation. The integration attempt of the two Hashemite monarchies shows their even stronger sense of shared identity. Once the dynastic question was off the table, the level of conflict between the dynasties never reached militarization, not even during the rift caused by Jordanian ambivalence toward Saddam Hussein during the Gulf Crisis (Partrick 2013, 4).

This case of the Hashemite sister kingdoms and particularly their unification attempts also support a key finding of the previous case: more formalized forms of alliance formation require a higher level of similarity beyond the political system. This finding of a Hashemite peace in addition to the previously established

khaleeji peace confirms the assumption that similarity is better captured as a multidimensional concept. As SPSP is not monarchy-specific, there is no contradiction in stating that the unification attempts of the Hashemite monarchies were not due to "any intrinsic affinity between monarchical regimes” (Walt 1990, 213). They were guided by the perception of the ruling elites as members of the same “club” or community of fate, forged by crisis situations but not dependent on a common threat for their continuation.

Indeed, the monarchic alliance between Saudi Arabia and Jordan has not ceased with the end of the Arab Cold War but instead persisted for decades, frequently based on a close personal basis. Despite the rivalry and misgivings because of Jordan’s role in the Kuwait Crisis in 1990, Saudi King (then-Crown Prince) Abdallah visited Jordan's King Hussein in the last months of Iris life and brought him sacred Zamzam water from Mecca in a gesture of friendship (Abdallah II King of Jordan 2011, 146).

 
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