Ikhwan

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Ikhwan on the move

The Ikhwan (Arabic for brothers), also Akhwan,[1] was an Islamic religious militia which formed the main military force of the Arab ruler Ibn Saud and played a key role in establishing him as ruler of Saudi Arabia. The Ikhwan were made up of Bedouin tribes. According to Wilfred Thesiger, this militant religious brotherhood declared that they were dedicated to the purification and the unification of Islam. This movement had aimed at breaking up the tribes and settling the Bedu around the wells and oases. They felt that the nomadic life was incompatible with strict conformity with Islam. Ibn Saud had risen to power on this movement. Later the Ikhwan rebelled when they accused Ibn Saud of religious laxity when he forbade military expansion into neighbouring states. After the conquest of the Hejaz in 1924 brought all of the current Saudi state under Ibn Saud's control, the monarch found himself in conflict with elements of the Ikhwan. He crushed their power at the Battle of Sabilla in 1930,[2] following which the militia was reorganised into the Saudi Arabian National Guard.[not verified in body]

Weaponry and combat style[edit]

The leader of Ikhwan Sultan bin bajad Al-Otaibi

The Ikhwan, being irregular tribesmen, relied mainly on traditional weapons such as lances and swords and sometimes old fashioned firearms. Usually, they attacked in the forms of raids which is a style Bedouins had always used in the deserts of Arabia. Those raiders traveled mainly on camels and some horses.Typically, every male captured was put to death by cutting his throat.[3][page needed]

Raids[edit]

In August 1922, the Ikhwan militia traveled 1,600 kilometers (990 mi) from Najd in modern day Saudi Arabia to attack Transjordan (now Jordan) and the leader of lkhwan was Eqab bin Mohaya. Transjordan was at that time under British protectorate. Just 15 kilometers off Amman, the raiders were spotted by the British RAF, which in turn attacked the Ikhwan using airplanes. The Ikhwan army suffered heavy casualties. It is reported that out of the 1500 raiders, only 100 escaped.[citation needed]

Revolt and defeat[edit]

By 1926 the Ikhwan were becoming uncontrollable by the Ibn Saud authority. They attacked Ibn Saud for introducing such innovations as telephones, automobiles, and the telegraph and for sending his son to a country of unbelievers (Egypt). Despite Ibn Saud's attempts to mollify the Ikhwan by submitting their accusations to the religious scholars ('ulama'), they provoked an international incident by destroying an Iraqi force that had violated the Saudi–Iraqi neutral zone established by Great Britain and Ibn Sa'ud between Iraq and Arabia (1927–28); the British bombed Najd in retaliation.[4] A congress convened by Ibn Saud in October 1928 deposed Ibn Humayd ad-Dawish, and Ibn Hithlayn, the leaders of the revolt.[4] The Ikhwanis also raided Kuwait in January 1928.

With the Ikhwan leadership defiant, Abd al Aziz took to the field to lead his army, which was now supported by four British aircraft (flown by British pilots) and a fleet of 200 military vehicles that symbolized the modernization that the Ikhwan abhorred.[5] After being crushed at the Battle of Sabilla, and their rebel leaders killed, the Ikhwan were eliminated as an organized military force in early 1930. The remnants of the irregular Ikhwanis were incorporated into Ibn Saud's regular security forces.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Akhwan Movement". Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York. 
  2. ^ See Wilfred Thesiger's book Arabian Sands, Penguin, 1991, pps 248-249
  3. ^ David Howarth, The Desert King -- The Life of Ibn Saud, Collins, 1956
  4. ^ a b [1]
  5. ^ [2]

See also[edit]