Fawzi al-Qawuqji

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Fawzi al-Qawuqji
Fawzi al-Qawuqji 1936.jpg
Fawzi al-Qawuqji in 1936.
Native name
فوزي القاوقجي
Born(1890-01-19)19 January 1890
Tripoli, Ottoman Empire
Died5 June 1977(1977-06-05) (aged 87)
Beirut, Lebanon
Service/branchArab Liberation Army
Years of service1912–1948

Fawzi al-Qawuqji (Arabic: فوزي القاوقجي‎; 19 January 1890 – 5 June 1977) was a leading Arab nationalist military figure in the interwar period,[1] based in Germany, and allied to Nazi Germany during World War II, who served as the Arab Liberation Army (ALA) field commander during the 1948 Palestine War.

Early life[edit]

Fawzi al-Qawuqji was born in 1890 into a Turkmen family in the city of Tripoli, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire.[2][nb 1]

In 1912, he graduated from the military academy in Istanbul.[5] Gilbert Achcar calls him "Arab nationalism's leading military figure in the interwar period... served as a commander in all the Arab national battles of the period."

World War I[edit]

He served as a captain (Yuzbashi) in the 12th Ottoman corps garrison in Mosul, and in several battles during the First World War, including at Qurna in Iraq and at Beersheba in Ottoman Palestine. He was decorated with the Ottoman Majidi Medal for his role in these battles.[5] He was also awarded the German Iron Cross, second class, for his service fighting alongside General Otto von Kreiss' Prussians, who had opposed the British in Palestine during World War I.[5][6]

Interwar period[edit]

The Ottoman Empire collapsed after World War I. Al-Qawuqji supported the independence of the short-lived Arab Kingdom of Syria. In 1920, he fought at the Battle of Maysalun, serving in the army of King Faisal as a captain (ra'is khayyal) in a squadron commanded by Taha al-Hashimi.

After the unsuccessful outcome of the campaign to establish the Arab Kingdom of Syria, Syria became a French Mandate. Al-Qawuqji then joined the 'Syrian Legion' (also known as the French-Syrian Army) which had been created by the French mandatory authorities. Al-Qawuqji received formal training at the French École spéciale militaire de Saint-Cyr.[7] He became commander of a cavalry squadron in Hama.[5]

During the rebellion of 1925–1927, he deserted the French Army to join the rebellion, leading the uprising in Hama in early October 1925.[7] al-Qawuqji remained an outlaw thereafter.[8]

Shakib Arslan brought al-Qawuqji to the Hejaz to help train the army of Saudi monarch Abdul-Aziz. Al-Qawuqji relates that he was unimpressed with Abdul-Aziz, depicting him as self-infatuated and suspicious, who disappointingly attempted to justify his collaboration with the British.[9]

Fawzi al-Qawuqji (3rd from the right) in 1936.

In 1936, al-Qawuqji began fighting the British and the Jewish population in Mandatory Palestine in actions that would become known as the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine. He represented the Iraqi Society for the Defense of Palestine, which was separate from forces under the control of Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Husseini.[10] Al-Qawuqji resigned his commission in the Iraqi army and his position at the Royal Military College to lead approximately fifty armed guerrillas into Mandatory Palestine.[11] In June he contacted Fritz Grobba, who was acting as German ambassador to Iraq. This was probably al-Qawuqji's first encounter with a representative of Nazi Germany.[12] In August, he commanded about 200 volunteers from Iraq, Syria, Transjordan, and the Samaria region of Palestine. His title was 'Supreme Commander of the Arab Revolution in South-Syrian Palestine.' He operated four units, (Iraqi, Syrian, Druze and Palestinian) in the Nablus - Tulkaram - Jenin triangle until the end of October. The military performance of al-Qawuqji's troops became hampered by internal dissensions and animosity between him and Grand Mufti Husseini, the Arab Higher Committee, and the Mufti's kinsman Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, who commanded forces that were active in the area around Jerusalem.[12] On 26 October 1936, al-Qawuqji crossed the Jordan River with his troops into Transjordan. A few weeks later he returned to Iraq.[13]

Although al-Qawuqji and Grand Mufti al-Husseini had periods of considerable friction and discord, particularly during the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine,[13] the two men subsequently reached a rapprochement. Al-Qawuqji followed the Mufti from Lebanon to Iraq in October 1939, along with other members of the Mufti's entourage, including Jamal al-Husayni, Rafiq al-Tamimi, and Sheikh Hasan Salama. Al-Qawuqji became the Mufti's military advisor in the 'Arab Committee' that Haj Amin Husseini formed in Baghdad. Husseini's group, including, al-Qawuqji, played critical roles in the pro-Axis coup.[14] His frequently demonstrated prowess won him fame among the Arab population and the esteem of Haj Amin Husseini. His popular following, however, was not altogether to the Mufti's liking.[15] He was prominent in the Kingdom of Iraq during the Rashid Ali coup of 1941 and, during the subsequent Anglo-Iraqi War, he again fought against the British. Al-Qawuqji led approximately 500 "irregulars" in the area between Rutbah and Ramadi.[16] He established a reputation as bold fighter. He was also known to either execute or mutilate his prisoners.[8] After the Rashid Ali regime collapsed, al-Qawuqji and his irregular forces were targeted for destruction by the Mercol flying column and were chased out of Iraq. While still in Iraq, a British plane strafed and almost killed him.[4]

World War II[edit]


After suffering serious wounds fighting the British in Iraq, al-Qawuqji was transported to Vichy French-held Syria, and then made his way to Nazi Germany.[8][17] He remained in Germany for the remainder of World War II, recuperated from his wounds, and married a German woman.[18]

Al-Qawuqji's sojourn in Germany has been the subject of considerable controversy.[19] Gilbert Achcar recounts stories of conflicts during his Berlin period:

In his memoirs, he tells how, during his stay in hospital, he came under heavy pressure from German civilian and military officials to declare his allegiance to the führer. He even had an altercation with an SS officer who proffered threats when al-Qawuqji insisted that Germany first formally acknowledge the Arab's right to independence. The next day, his son died of poisoning. al-Qawuqji, convinced that the Nazis had murdered the young man, refused to take part in the funeral they organized.[20]

Dr. Achcar reports that al-Qawuqji was as bewildered by rivalries between competing Arab leaders (Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini and exiled Iraqi former Prime Minister Rashid Ali) as by the Axis foot-dragging over support for Arab nationalist goals. He opposed incorporating Arab units into the Axis armed forces, since he preferred their formation into an independent Arab nationalist army.[20]

In May 1942, after the Axis powers signed secret documents to support the Arab nationalists, al-Qawuqji expressed dissatisfaction with the results, commenting that they were "just symbolic and not an agreement."[21]

German Military Service[edit]

He was awarded the rank of a colonel of the Wehrmacht (German Army), and given a captain to act as his aide, along with a chauffeured car, and an apartment near the clinic at Hansa. His expenses were paid by Wehrmacht High Command and by Rashid Ali's Foreign Minister. The Germans used al-Qawuqji's name and reputation extensively in their propaganda.[22]

In Germany al-Qawuqji continued to oppose the Allies in cooperation with other Arabs who were allied with the Axis powers, including the two competing leaders of the pro-Nazi Arab factions, Grand Mufti Husseini and former Iraqi Prime Minister Rashid Ali al-Gaylani. In June 1941, Wehrmacht High Führer Directive No. 30 and the "Instructions for Special Staff F" (Sonderstab F) designated the Wehrmacht's central agency for all issues that affected the Arab world. General der Flieger Hellmuth Felmy, who was appointed central authority for all Arab affairs concerning the Wehrmacht under the terms of this "Directive No. 30", wrote about al-Qawuqji's 'active interest' and support of the military training of Arabs by the Nazis:

Thus a number of the volunteers had already secretly contacted Fauzi Kaikyi, the Syrian army leader. After his escape by plane from the British, Fauzi had established himself in Berlin and begun to take an active interest in the Arabs at Sunium.[23]

In July 1941 al-Qawuqji wrote a memorandum addressed to General Felmy.[24] This memorandum's subject was the need for German-Arab alliance in Iraq, and included discussions of geography, desert warfare, and combined propaganda efforts directed against Jews.[25] Al-Qawuqji was officially transferred to Sonderstab F after he was fully recovered from the wounds he received fighting against the British in Iraq.[26] Gen. Felmy's memoirs (written after the war when he was a prisoner of the allies and published by the US Army) mention the political conflicts between the 'chieftains' (Grand Mufti Husseini and former Iraqi Prime Minister Rashid Ali) among Arab receiving military training in Greece, and their consequent contact with al-Qawuqji.[23] He consistently campaigned for the formation of an independent Arab nationalist army that would fight as German allies, rather than incorporate Arabs under the German command structure. On 4 September 1941 al-Qawuqji told a comrade in Syria "I will come with Arab and German troops to help you."[27]

In 1945, he was captured by Soviet forces, and reportedly held prisoner until February 1947.[4]

1948 Palestine War and Arab Liberation Army[edit]

Arab League Field Commander[edit]

In 1947 al-Qawuqji traveled to Egypt via France, and proclaimed that he was "at the disposition of the Arab people should they call on [him] to take up arms again."[28] In August he threatened that, should the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine vote go the wrong way, "we will have to initiate total war. We will murder, wreck and ruin everything standing in our way, be it English, American or Jewish"[29]

After the UN Partition vote, the Arab League appointed him to be field commander of the Arab Liberation Army (ALA) in the 1948 Palestine War. This appointment was opposed by Haj Amin Husseini, who had appointed his own kinsman Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni as the commander of the Army of the Holy War.[30][31] The execution of the 1948 Palestine War was marked by the personal, family, and political rivalry between al-Qawuqji (who fought mainly in northern Palestine) and al-Husayni, who fought mostly in the Jerusalem area.[32]

Return to Palestine[edit]

In early March 1948, al-Qawuqji moved some of his forces from the Damascus area and crossed (unmolested by British troops) into Palestine over the Allenby Bridge, leading hundreds of Arab and Bosnian volunteers[31] in a column of twenty-five trucks.[33] The British troops' inaction infuriated General Sir Gordon MacMillan, who stated that al-Qawudji should not be allowed "to go openly rampaging over territory in which Britain considered herself a sovereign power." General MacMillan did not want to confront al-Qawudji's force, however, since he saw "no point in getting a lot of British soldiers killed in that kind of operation."[33]

Inside Mandatory Palestine al-Qawuqji commanded a few thousand armed men who had infiltrated the area. They were grouped into several regiments concentrated in Galilee and around Nablus.[34] Al-Qawuqji told his troops that the purpose was "ridding Palestine of the Zionist plague".[29] According to Collins and LaPierre, he anticipated a short campaign, and announced:

"I have come to Palestine to stay and fight until Palestine is a free and united Arab country or until I am killed and buried here," ... His aim, he declared, borrowing the slogan that was becoming the leitmotiv of the Arab leadership, was "to drive all the Jews into the sea."[34]

Mishmar HaEmek[edit]

An Otter armored car captured by the Haganah from the ALA (Arab Liberation Army- Kaukji's army) on 1948. The car still carries the ALA emblem, a dagger stabbing a Star of David.

In April 1948, the ALA mounted a major attack on the kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek which sat near the strategic road that connected Haifa to Jenin, and was surrounded by Arab villages.[35] On 4 April al-Qawuqji initiated the first use of artillery during the war by directing his seven 75 and 105 mm field guns to fire on the kibbutz for a 36-hour barrage. During this battle al-Qawuqji issued a number of announcements that were subsequently proven false. In the first 24-hours he announced victory, on 8 April he announced he had taken Mishmar HaEmek, and after the battle was lost he claimed the Jews had been assisted by non-Jewish Soviet troops and bombers. Copies of these mendacious telegrams are preserved in the Jordanian archives.[36] The Haganah and Palmach counter-attacked and the ALA were routed. The battle was over by 16 April, and most of the Arabs in the area fled, disheartened by the defeat of the ALA or demoralized by the Jewish victory. The remaining minority were expelled from the surrounding Arab villages by Jewish forces.[37]

Fawzi al-Quawuqji 24 May 1948

In July, al-Qawuqji launched a rolling offensive of counterattacks, focusing on Ilaniya (Sejera), a Jewish settlement deep in ALA territory. Although he deployed armored cars and a battery of 75 mm artillery to support the ALA infantry, his troops suffered from lack of artillery ammunition and host of other deficiencies. The opposing Golani Twelfth Battalion withstood the attack, inflicting heavy losses on the ALA. The battle ended on 18 July, with the ALA losing the Arab village of Lubiya, which had been their main base in Central Eastern Galilee.[38]

Operation Hiram[edit]

The ALA established control of upper central Galilee, from the Sakhnin–Arabe–Deir Hanna line through Majd al-Krum up to the Lebanese border until October 1948. On 22 October, the date of the third UN Security Council cease-fire order, the ALA attacked Sheikh Abd,a hilltop overlooking Kibbutz Manara and put the kibbutz under siege. Al-Qawudji told the UN observers that he demanded depopulation of nearby Kibbutz Yiftah forces, and a diminution of the Jewish forces in Manara. The Jewish forces responded by demanding that ALA withdraw from its positions. Al-Qawuqji rejected these counter-demands. The Jewish forces then informed the United Nations that in view of al-Qawuqji's actions it did not feel encumbered by the UN's cease-fire order, and on 24 October launched Operation Hiram. Historian Benny Morris concludes that although the Israelis had planned for Operation Hiram, they may not have launched this campaign without the justification provided by al-Qawuqji's military provocations.[39] The result was that the ALA were driven from their positions by force, and the Arab forces lost all of upper Galilee, even though this had been assigned to the Arabs by the UN Partition Plan. On 30 October the Jewish Carmeli Brigade retook Sheikh Abd from the ALA, who had abandoned the position. Shortly thereafter the last of the ALA forces were driven out of the Galilee and al-Qawuqji escaped to Lebanon.[40]

After the end of the war, al-Qawuqji moved to Syria and lived in Damascus, Beirut and Tripoli.

Published works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ According to Basheer Nafi, Qawuji was born in Tripoli, Ottoman Tripolitania, in 1887.[3] According to Time Magazine, Qawuji was born in Beirut, Beirut Vilayet, in 1895.[4]
  1. ^ The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives, by Gilbert Achcar, (NY: Henry Holt and Co.; 2009), pp. 92: "Arab nationalism's leading military figure in the interwar period ... served as a commander in all the Arab national battles of the period."
  2. ^ "Ruhmloses Zwischenspiel: Fawzi al-Qawuqji in Deutschland, 1941–1947," by Gerhard Höpp in Peter Heine, ed., Al-Rafidayn: Jahrbuch zu Geschichte und Kultur des modernen Iraq (Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, 1995), (http://www.zmo.de/biblio/nachlass/hoepp/01_30_064.pdf) p.1
  3. ^ Nafi, p. 226
  4. ^ a b c Time, I Have Returned
  5. ^ a b c d Höpp, 1995, p. 1.
  6. ^ Collins, Larry and Lapierre, Dominique (1972): O Jerusalem!, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-671-66241-4., pp. 158–160
  7. ^ a b Provence, 2005, pp. 95-–103.
  8. ^ a b c Lyman, p. 21
  9. ^ "Achcar," p. 121n.
  10. ^ Höpp, 1995, p. 2.
  11. ^ "Iraq Between the Two World Wars: The Militarist Origins of Tyranny," by Reeva Spector Simon, (New York: Columbia University Press; 2013), p. 65; p. 124.
  12. ^ a b Höpp, 1995, p. 3.
  13. ^ a b Höpp, 1995, p. 4.
  14. ^ Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World by Jeffrey Herf (Yale University Press, 2009) ISBN 978-0-300-14579-3. p, 37
  15. ^ Collins & Lapierre, p 160
  16. ^ Lyman, p. 88
  17. ^ Lyman, p. 87
  18. ^ Collins & Lapierre, pp. 159, 160
  19. ^ "Palestinian Arab National Movement, 1929 - 1939: From Riots to Rebellion," by Yehoshua Porath, (London: Cass; 1977), pp. 236, 237
  20. ^ a b "Achcar," p. 92
  21. ^ "Nazi Palestine: The Plans for the Extermination of the Jews in Palestine." by Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cuppers, trans. by Krista Smith, (Enigma Books, published in association with the United States Holocaust Museum, NY; 2010), p. 92
  22. ^ Höpp, 1995, p.16, "Der Syrer, dem der Rang eines Obersten der Wehrmacht verliehen worden war' ', erfreute sich eines Adjutanten im Hauptmannsrang und eines Dienstwagens mit Chauffeur sowie einer Wohnung in der Cuxhavenerstraße, nahe der Klinik am Hansaplatz; bezahlt wurde sein Aufenthalt aus einem Sonderfonds des Reichsaußenministers für al-Kaylani sowie durch das Oberkommando der Wehrmacht.' Der Name al-Qawuqji's war desweiteren fester Bestandteil der deutschen Propaganda', und er figurierte als Kandidat für einen "arabischen Führerrat", dessen Gründung das Auswärtige Amt Hitler vorschlug."
  23. ^ a b "German Exploitation of Arab Nationalist Movements in World War II" by Gen. Hellmuth Felmy and Gen. Walter Warlimont, Foreword by Generaloberst Franz Haider, Historical Division, Headquarters, United States Army, Europe, Foreign Military Studies Branch, 1952, p.13, by Gen. Haider;
  24. ^ Mallmann & Cuppers, p. 126
  25. ^ Mallmann & Cuppers, p. 126, 127
  26. ^ Mallmann & Cuppers, p. 75
  27. ^ Mallmann & Cuppers, p. 85, 92
  28. ^ Collins & Lapierre, pp. 160, 161
  29. ^ a b Benny Morris (2008). 1948: a history of the first Arab-Israeli war. Yale University Press. p. 61. Retrieved 13 July 2013. As early as mid-August 1947, Fawzi al-Qawuqji—soon to be named the head of the Arab League’s volunteer army in Palestine, the Arab Liberation Army (ALA)—threatened that, should the vote go the wrong way, “we will have to initiate total war. We will murder, wreck and ruin everything standing in our way, be it English, American or Jewish.” It would be a “holy war,” the Arabs suggested, which might even evolve into “World War III.” ; p. 396- al-Qawuqji told his troops that the purpose is "ridding Palestine of the Zionist plague
  30. ^ Collins & Lapierre, pp. 156--163
  31. ^ a b "Palestine, 1948 : war, escape and the emergence of the Palestinian refugee problem," by Yoav Gelber, (Portland, OR : Sussex Academic Press; 2006), p. 46–48,51–56.
  32. ^ "One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate," by Tom Segev, (New York: Henry Holt and Co., LLC; 1999), p. 510
  33. ^ a b Collins & Lapierre, p. 206
  34. ^ a b Collins & Lapierre, p. 207
  35. ^ Morris,2008, pp. 133.
  36. ^ "The War for Palestine," by Eugene L. Rogan and Avi Shlaim, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2007), p. 111.
  37. ^ Morris, 2008, pp. 133--137.
  38. ^ Morris, 2008, p. 282
  39. ^ Morris, 2008, p.339, "al-Qawuqji supplied the justification for Operation Hiram, in which the IDF overran the north-central Galilee “pocket” and a strip of southern Lebanon...Operation Hiram had been long in the planning...on 6 October, at the IDF General Staff meeting, Carmel had pressed for [Hiram] authorization, But the Cabinet held back. The Arabs were shortly to give him his chance. Before dawn on 22 October, in defiance of the UN Security Council cease-fire order, ALA units stormed the IDF hilltop position of Sheikh Abd, just north of, and overlooking, Kibbutz Manara, …. (which) was imperiled....Ben-Gurion initially rejected Carmel’s demand to launch a major counteroffensive. He was chary of antagonizing the United Nations so close on the heels of its cease-fire order. … The kibbutz was now besieged, and the main south-north road through the Panhandle to Metulla was also under threat. During the 24–25 October ALA troops regularly sniped at Manara and at traffic along the main road. In contacts with UN observers, al-Qawuqji demanded that Israel evacuate ... The IDF demanded the ALA’s withdrawal from the captured positions and, after a 'no' from al-Qawuqji, informed the United Nations that it felt free to do as it pleased. Sensing what was about to happen, the Lebanese army 'ordered' al-Qawuqji to withdraw from Israeli territory—but to no avail. Al-Qawuqji’s provocation at Sheikh Abd made little military sense,...On 16 October, a week before the attack on Sheikh Abd, Carmel … had pressed Ben-Gurion to be allowed 'to begin in the Galilee.' Ben- Gurion had refused But on 24–25 October he gave the green light"
  40. ^ Morris, 2008, pp. 330--339; see especially p. 339: "IDF Northern Front OC Moshe Carmel was later to write that al-Qawuqji’s provocation had been like “a match that ignited . . . [the] fire . . . in a dry, yellow field . . . but the fire quickly rose . . . [and] turned on him and he was unable to douse it.” In truth ...Operation Hiram had been long in the planning."


External links[edit]