Kulthum ibn Iyadh al-Kushayri
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Kulthum ibn Iyadh, an Arab aristocrat of Qaysid stock, was appointed by Umayyad Caliph Hisham in February 741 as governor of Kairouan (Ifriqiya), with authority over all the Maghreb (North Africa) and al-Andalus (Iberian Peninsula). He was to replace the disgraced Obeid Allah ibn al-Habhab, whose misgovernment had provoked the Great Berber Revolt in Morocco and led to the defeat of the Arab army at the Battle of the Nobles in late 740.
Kulthum was give a fresh Arab army of 30,000, raised from the regiments (junds) of the east - specifically, Damascus, Jordan, Qinnasrin, Emesa (Hims), Palestine and Egypt. The military command of this elite "Syrian" army was given to Kulthum's nephew and designated successor Balj ibn Bishr al-Qushayri and the vice-command to the designated second successor, Thalaba ibn Salama al-Amili.
Kulthum ibn Iyadh arrived in the environs of Kairouan in the summer of 741. He did not enter the city, but dispatched a messenger assigning the government of the city to Abd al-Rahman ibn Oqba al-Ghaffari, the qadi of Ifriqiya. Kulthum then hurried along the coast to make junction with the remaining Ifriqiyan forces of Habib ibn Abi Obeida, then holding ground against the Berber rebellion around Tlemcen.
The junction between the African and Syrian forces did not go smoothly. The Syrian commanders, particularly Balj ibn Bishr, treated their Ifriqiyan counterparts in high-minded and disdainful fashion, and the armies nearly came to blows. Kulthum ibn Iyadh papered over the differences and kept the armies together.
The armies moved down the Sebou river into central Morocco, where they finally encountered the Berber rebel army of Khalid ibn Hamid al-Zanati. Disdaining the advice of the experienced Ifriqiyans, Kulthum ibn Iyadh made several tactical errors which led to the disastrous defeat of the Arab army at the Battle of Bagdoura in October 741. Kulthum ibn Iyadh was killed in the field. His nephew, Balj ibn Bishr al-Qushayri, managed to rescue what remained of the Syrian army and ferried them over to al-Andalus in early 742.
Obeid Allah ibn al-Habhab
|Governor of Ifriqiya
Balj ibn Bishr al-Qushayri