The story behind tears of King Abdullah
The fact that Jordanian King Abdullah II was moved to tears at Anıtkabir (Atatürk’s mausoleum) must be the expression of a sentiment coming from the depths of history. Who knows what he was remembering?
The grandfather of the young King Abdullah II, Abdullah I, was an Ottoman citizen. He became a member of the first Turkish Parliament and was also a member of the council of state. He later became Jordan’s first king, and was Atatürk’s guest in 1937, when they spoke Turkish to each other.
Atatürk, who knew the Jordanian, Palestine and Syrian lands very well, showed special hospitality to him.
The sad story of the Jordanian Royal Family of the Hashemite dynasty starts with the famous Sharif Hussein bin Ali.
It has left very deep marks in the minds that during the First World War, the Sharif of Mecca Hussein rebelled and, together with Lawrence, fought against the Ottomans. The son of Sharif Hussein, Abdullah, was Jordan’s first king. He was the king who visited Atatürk. He later lost his life in an assassination. His son, Tallal, who then replaced him suffered from mental illness and spent his life at Istanbul’s Şifa Yurdu.
Other children of Sharif Hussein went on to become the Iraqi king and the crown prince, but were killed tragically in a military coup.
Sharif Hussein himself ran away from the Hejaz following a Wahhabi uprising, and was kept in Cyprus by the British. What he said in his disappointment, humiliation, and pain is striking: “What we are experiencing is the divine punishment for our betrayal of the Ottomans.” For details, see Şevket Süreyya Aydemir’s “Enver Pasha,” Vol. 3, p. 311.
The İzmir March
In the year 1942, while the World War II was ongoing, President İsmet İnönü sent diplomat Feridun Cemal Erkin to a number of Middle Eastern capitals to make contacts, to test the air. King Abdullah I, who received Erkin in Amman, spoke of a memory he had shared with his father Sharif Hussein: “My father was in great pain. One day, the palace band was giving a concert in the palace yard. It was hot, the windows were open. The band started playing the İzmir March that we all knew. I shut the window to stop those very old memories from haunting my father.”
Sharif Hussein wanted the window to be opened. He said: “Son, why are you closing that window? To prevent the İzmir March from making me remember old days, right? I am a subject who rebelled against his benefactor, I have a huge sin on my hands. I thought I would be the king, but God has made me into an exile. I became sick, I took refuge here.”
King Abdullah continued conveying the words of his father Sharif Hussein to Feridun Cemal Erkin: “Open that window and let me listen to that march. Let the strength of the guilty conscience I have multiply with the return of those old memories. Let the pain I suffer in this world get deeper with the weight of the guilty conscience, until the Supreme Being pardons this sinner in this world and saves him from a bigger punishment in afterlife.”
The late Feridun Cemal Erkin wrote these in his book, “34 Years in Foreign Affairs.”
I offer my respects to his Excellency King Abdullah and Queen Rania, and I say “Welcome to Turkey” to them. They will leave today, I wish them a pleasant journey.
Their father, the deceased King Hussein, was the representative of peace, stability and moderate politics in the Middle East. I wish him long years of service on the same road. In this political landslide geography, where the Arab Spring is causing social earthquakes and shaking borders, it is every good-willed person’s sincere wish that our brother country, Jordan, under His Majesty’s leadership, develops and strengthens, and advances its democracy with stability.
Taha Akyol is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on March 6. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.