Before his death, Saladin had divided his dominions amongst his kin: Al-Afdal received Palestine and Syria, Al-Aziz was made ruler of Egypt, Al-Zahir received Aleppo, Al-Adil received Karak and Shawbak, and Turan-Shah retained Yemen. However, conflict soon broke out between them with Al-Adil becoming the undisputed ruler of Syria, Upper Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Arabia. Al-Aziz Uthman succeeded his father and ruled the empire as a whole between 1193 and 1198.
Despite Al-Aziz having specifically inherited suzerainty over the whole Ayyubid empire, soon he had to face revolts by the Zengid emirs of Mosul, by Sanjar and by the Artuqids in southern Iraq. When Al-Afdal expelled all the ministers left by his father to support him, they came to Egypt, asking al-Aziz to reconquer Syria. In[when?] al-Aziz besieged Damascus. So Al-Afdal asked for help from Saladin's brother, Al-Adil, who met al-Aziz and managed to bring about a reconciliation. The following year al-Aziz again attacked Syria, but Al-Afdal was able to persuade some of the emirs of al-Aziz's army to desert. Later al-Adil allied with al-Aziz against al-Afdal, who was besieged and captured in Damascus on 3 July 1196. Al-Afdal was exiled to Salkhad, while al-Aziz was proclaimed supreme overlord of the Ayyubid empire. However, most of the effective power was in the hands of Al-Adil, who installed himself in Damascus.
During his reign, Al-Aziz tried to demolish the Great Pyramids of Giza, Egypt, but had to give up because the task was too big. However, he did succeed in damaging Menkaure's Pyramid. Al-Aziz also played an important role in the history of the building enterprises and construction at Banias and Subaybah.
He died in a hunting accident in late 1198. He was interred in the tomb of his elder brother al-Mu'azzam.
- Lyons, M. C.; Jackson, D.E.P. (1982). Saladin: the Politics of the Holy War. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-31739-9.
- Ali, Abdul. Islamic Dynasties of the Arab East: State and Civilization during the Later Medieval times. New Delhi: M D Publications Pvt, 1996. Print.
- Brabin, Steve. "Guardian's Ancient Egypt Discussion Board: Al-Aziz Othman and the Missing Stones." Guardian'S Ancient Egypt Discussion Board. Web. 29 June 2010. <http://egyptologist.org/discus/messages/8/4300.html>.
- Sharon, Moshe. Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Palaestinae: CIAP. Leiden: Brill, 1999. Print.
- Humphreys, R. Stephen. From Saladin to the Mongols: the Ayyubids of Damascus, 1193-1260. Albany: State University of New York, 1977. Print.
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