Yasin al-Hashimi

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Yasin al-Hashimi
Yasin Hashimi, 1927.jpg
Yasin al-Hashimi as Finance Minister, 1927
17th Prime Minister of Iraq
In office
17 March 1935 – 30 October 1936
Monarch Ghazi
Preceded by Jamil al-Midfai
Succeeded by Hikmat Sulayman
4th Prime Minister of Iraq
In office
2 August 1924 – 26 June 1925
Monarch Faisal I
Preceded by Jafar al-Askari
Succeeded by Abd al-Muhsin as-Sa'dun
Personal details
Born 1882
Died 1937 (aged 54–55)
Political party Party of National Brotherhood (during 2nd term)
Relations Taha al-Hashimi (brother)
Military service
Allegiance  Ottoman Empire (1914–1918)
Arab Kingdom of Syria (1918–1920)
Service/branch  Ottoman Army
Arab Army

Yasin al-Hashimi, born Yasin Hilmi Salman, (Arabic: ياسين الهاشمى‎‎; 1882[1]–1937) was an Iraqi politician who served twice as the Prime Minister of Iraq. Like many of Iraq's early leaders, Hashimi served as a military officer during Ottoman control of the country.[2] He made his political debut under the government of his predecessor, Jafar al-Askari and replaced Askari as prime minister shortly after, in August 1924.

Hashimi served for ten months before he was replaced, in turn by Abd al-Muhsin as-Sa'dun. Over the next ten years he filled a variety of governmental positions finally returning to the office of prime minister in 1935. On 30 October 1936, Hashimi had the dubious distinction of being the first Iraqi prime minister deposed in a coup, led by General Bakr Sidqi and a coalition of ethnic minorities. Unlike Jafar al-Askari, who was then his minister of defense, Hashimi survived the coup and made his way to Damascus, Syria, where he died two months later. His older brother, Taha al-Hashimi, was Prime Minister of Iraq in 1941.

Early life and family[edit]

Al-Hashimi was born as "Yasin Hilmi" in Baghdad in 1884, during Ottoman rule.[3] His father, Sayyid Salman, was the mukhtar (headman) of the Barudiyya Quarter of Baghdad and claimed descent from the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[4] The family was middle class, Sunni Muslim and ethnically Arab,[3] although the family's claim of Arab descent has been disputed. According to historian Muhammad Y. Muslih, the family were descendants of the Turkish Karawiyya tribe that settled in Iraq in the 17th century.[4]

Military career[edit]

Ottoman service[edit]

In 1902, he enrolled into the Ottoman Military Academy of Istanbul and adopted the surname "al-Hashimi" in reference to the religiously prestigious Banu Hashim tribe of Muhammad. He performed well at the academy and was recognized for his military skills. He was loyal to the Ottomans throughout World War I, during which the Ottomans were part of the Central Powers alliance.[4] In 1917, he commanded an Ottoman division at Galicia during the Russian offensive.[5][4] He was recognized for his successes against the Russians during that campaign,[5] including by German Emperor Wilhelm II,[4] and subsequently promoted to major-general.[5]

In 1918 al-Hashimi was assigned as the commander of the Ottoman Fourth Army garrison in Tulkarm. That year, in the spring, he commanded Ottoman troops against the British-led offensive in Amman and al-Salt. He was wounded during these battles and sent to Damascus to recover. The British and their Arab allies in the Sharifian Army defeated the Ottomans and an armistice was concluded in October 1918. He attempted to resume his service in the Ottoman Army, but was refused because he did not apply for readmission within a year of the armistice.[5]

Chief-of-Staff of the Arab Army[edit]

Al-Hashimi in military uniform

During his service as the commander of a predominantly Iraqi division of the Fourth Army, al-Hashimi joined the underground al-Ahd society which consisted of Arab nationalist military officers. Through al-Hashimi as a liaison, al-Ahd developed relations with al-Fatat, an underground Arab nationalist society based in Damascus which al-Hashimi also belonged to. Al-Fatat was allied with Emir Faisal, a leader of the Sharifian Army and a contender for establishing a monarchy over a united state consisting of the Ottomans' Arab territories.[6] While he was based in Tulkarm, al-Hashimi was asked by Faisal to join the Sharifian Army, but al-Hashimi refused, stating he could not abandon his military duties. Despite his Arab nationalist affilitiations, he opposed a plot by the nationalists to kill Jamal Pasha, despite his awareness that Jamal Pasha was intent on crushing the Arab nationalist movement.[4]

Al-Hashimi's refusal to join Faisal's army came despite promises of support he gave to Faisal in 1915.[4] Of all the personalities Faisal met in his 1915 Damascus trip, it was al-Hashimi's assertion of support at the home of Nasib al-Bakri that convinced Faisal to launch the revolt. As the chief-of-staff of mostly Arab units in the Ottomans' Arab provinces, al-Hashimi's word carried weight and when Faisal offered to support al-Hashimi's units with Hejazi tribal fighters, al-Hashimi replied that he had "no need of them", but just wanted Faisal "to lead us and be in the vanguard".[7]

After Faisal's entry into Damascus in October 1918 and the setting up of a provisional Arab government under his leadership, Faisal appointed al-Hashimi as President of the Military Council.[8] He was also given the additional office of Secretary of Military Affairs and was charged with the recruitment of volunteers into the newly-formed Arab Army to counter potential challenges by the French, who sought to rule Syria.[9] At this time al-Hashimi assumed leadership over al-Ahd's Iraqi-dominated wing, which gave him further control over many Iraqi ex-Ottoman officers. Under his leadership, al-Ahd began a vociferous campaign opposed to French and British rule in Syria and Mesopotamia, respectively. Without coordinating with Faisal and after the latter left for Europe for negotiations with the European powers, al-Hashimi launched a mass conscription campaign aimed at adding 12,000 new troops to the Arab Army. The French requested al-Hashimi's arrest for his recruitment drive, but the British refused. However, British General Edmund Allenby managed to end al-Hashimi's efforts, which were disavowed by Faisal's government.[10]

Al-Hashimi soon re-launched efforts to recruit Arab soldiers, but at a more clandestine level,[10] and was boosted by Sheikh Kamil al-Qassab's drive to create popular militias in Damascus and throughout the country.[11] Al-Hashimi's actions were driven by a desire to boost his nationalist credentials to make up for his previous hesitance to join Faisal's army, and as a means to gain more power.[10] He became the clear leader of the ardent Arab nationalist camp and was accused by the British of coordinating with Mustafa Kemal on ending European control in Syria in pursuit of personal power.[12]

Arrest by the British and return to Syria[edit]

In late November 1919, al-Hashimi was arrested by the British military for recruiting soldiers to resist the French in the Beqaa Valley, suspicions that he was in contact with General Mustafa Kemal who was fighting the French in Turkey and for leading an anti-British propaganda campaign in Iraq. Al-Hashimi's arrest was not formal; rather, he was kidnapped by British authorities after being invited to the British military headquarters in Mezzeh for a meeting and taken to Haifa,[12][13] after which he was moved to different places in Palestine under strict British supervision.[12] His arrest precipitated a crisis in Faisal's government and provoked protests and riots in Damascus. The British military had been present in Syria since October 1918, but after agreements with the French, who were to assume a mandate over Syria, the British withdrew in December 1919. The loss of British protection left Faisal's government more vulnerable to a French takeover.[14] War Minister Yusuf al-'Azma replaced al-Hashimi following his arrest.[15]

The British authorities informed Faisal that they arrested al-Hashimi for attempting to create a republic and overthrow Faisal and his government; al-Hashimi had grown powerful and had wielded more influence over the army than Faisal. The Syrian National Congress condemned al-Hashimi's arrest and condemned Prime Minister Ali Rida al-Rikabi for his apparent apathetic attitude to the arrest.[16] Al-Rikabi held a more conciliatory view toward the European powers and was ultimately pressured to resign on 10 December.[17]

Al-Hashimi was allowed to return to Syria via Egypt in early May 1920.[12] By then, a French offensive to capture Damascus was impending. Al-Hashimi was tasked by Faisal, who declared himself King of the Arab Kingdom of Syria in March 1920, with inspecting the state of the Arab Army under al-'Azma's command. Upon inspecting the Arab troops, al-Hashimi concluded that they were not prepared to confront an invasion by the militarily superior French forces. Al-Hashimi particularly noted the lack of arms and that the Arab Army's soldiers only possessed enough ammunition to fight for two hours. He refused an assignment by Faisal to command the Arab Army's post at Majdal Anjar in the Beqaa Valley and also turned down a request to resume his position as chief-of-staff due to the precarious position of the army. In response to Faisal's inquiry about the cause of the lack of arms and ammunition, al-Hashimi responded that the French were in control of Syria's ports, the British controlled Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq, and the Turks were occupied by their war in Anatolia, and thus Syria was effectively blocked from importing weaponry. In a meeting of the army's General Staff, al-'Azma rejected al-Hashimi's assessment and accused him of bitterness as a result of his secondary role in the army.[18] Ultimately, however, al-'Azma and the General Staff officers understood the weak state of the army.[19]

French forces launched their offensive in mid-July, and al-'Azma decided to rally whatever troops and volunteers he could assemble to confront French forces. Al-Hashimi, firmly believing the Arab Army could not hold out against the French, remained in Damascus, while al-'Azma's forces encountered the French in what became known as the Battle of Maysalun. The Arabs were decisively defeated, al-'Azma was killed and the French entered Damascus the 25 July.[20]

Political career under Faisal I[edit]

Tomb of al-Hashimi in Syria

In March 1922, al-Hashimi arrived in Baghdad, where Faisal had been relocated and assumed power as King of Iraq. In June 1922,[21] Faisal assigned al-Hashimi as Mutassarif (Governor) of Liwa Muntafiq (Muntafiq Province).[22] He was subsequently posted at the capital of the province, an-Nasiriyah.[23]

Al-Hashimi was offered a position in Prime Minister Ja'far al-'Askari's cabinet in October 1923, but after he stated that he could not guarantee his support for the 1922 Anglo-Iraqi Treaty, the offer was withdrawn. Al-Hashimi ultimately agreed to recognize the treaty and was appointed to the cabinet in November.[22]

During the 25 January 1924 constituent assembly election, al-Hashimi won a seat in the assembly.[24] Opposition to the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty became evident in the constituent assembly and protests by Iraqi lawyers were held opposing the treaty. According to Gertrude Bell, al-Hashimi, who chaired a special committee to examine and publish an opinion about the treaty, instigated the protests. According to historian Ali al-Allawi, al-Hashimi used his position on the committee "to undermine al-'Askari's cabinet and show it up as a feeble and incompetent government, unable to shepherd the country through trying times."[25]

The constituent assembly was dissolved on 24 August 1924, following its main mission, the negotiation and passing of the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty. Al-'Askari's cabinet resigned on the same day and Faisal appointed al-Hashimi as prime minister. Although Faisal's British advisers were wary of al-Hashimi and his loyalties, they acceded to Faisal's decision, which was motivated by a desire to keep an influential figure like al-Hashimi in Faisal's governing party. As prime minister, al-Hashimi appointed himself the defense minister and foreign affairs minister. Faisal, as commander-in-chief of the military, countered al-Hashimi's appointment to the defense ministry, by assigning loyalist Nuri as-Said as deputy commander of the military.[26]

Formation of Ikha Party[edit]

Al-Hashimi had rallied and led the Sha’b (People’s) party from the establishment of the monarchy. This was one of three main parties opposing the mandate and pressing for independence and reform. Thus, when as-Said negotiated the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty in 1930, as-Said reformed the al-Ahd to rally supporters in favor of a more gradualist, cooperative approach to independence. The Sha'b Party and Ja'far Abu Timman’s Watani (National) group united in opposition to form the Ikha Party.[27][28]

Subsequent to Iraq’s ascension to the League of Nations, King Faisal, in pursuit of domestic reform and consolidation, tried to give opposition groups greater voice in the parliament and cabinet. Thus, the Ikha Party was allowed into power. However, its forfeiture of demands concerning the Ango-Iraqi Treaty and callous management of the Assyrian Affair lost it credence with other reformist groups—particularly many of the Watani group. It thus lost power following King Faisal's death and, owing to the failure of traditional methods, the Ikha Party embarked on the Sulaykh meetings (organized by Hikmat Sulayman) to organize tribal rebellions in the mid-Euphrates region and pressure the government to reorganize. Al-Hashimi distanced himself from this tact. Nonetheless, when the prime minister tendered his resignation it was al-Hashimi who rose to power with Rashid Ali al-Gaylani.[29]

In many ways, al-Hashimi’s tenure as prime minister paved the way for the Bakr Sidqi coup; he dissolved political parties, greatly restricted the press, and relied heavily on Bakr Sidqi to quell further uprisings in the mid-Euphrates region with brutal efficiency. This sometimes gleaned him the title of "Bismark of the Arabs" and it certainly fueled disaffection within the army's ranks.[30] After al-Hashimi resigned in order to accede to the coup’s demands, his brother Taha arguably became more influential.


  1. ^ ياسِين الهاشِمي in Arab Library
  2. ^ Nakash, Yitzhak (2011). Reaching for Power: The Shi'a in the Modern Arab World. Princeton University Press. p. 87. ISBN 1400841461. 
  3. ^ a b Muslih 1988, p. 143.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Muslih 1988, p. 144.
  5. ^ a b c d Tarbush 1988, pp. 116-117.
  6. ^ Allawi 2014, p. 52.
  7. ^ Allawi 2014, p. 56.
  8. ^ Allawi 2014, p. 161.
  9. ^ Allawi 2014, p. 247.
  10. ^ a b c Allawi 2014, p. 259.
  11. ^ Allawi 2014, p. 260.
  12. ^ a b c d Allawi 2014, p. 261.
  13. ^ Tauber 1995, p. 196.
  14. ^ Allawi 2014, pp. 255-256.
  15. ^ Tauber 1995, p. 24.
  16. ^ Tauber 1995, p. 198.
  17. ^ Allawi 2014, p. 285.
  18. ^ Tauber 1995, p. 216.
  19. ^ Allawi 2014, p. 287.
  20. ^ Tauber 1995, p. 218.
  21. ^ Sluglett 2007, p. 175.
  22. ^ a b Tarbush 1988, p. 117.
  23. ^ Allawi 2014, p. 402.
  24. ^ Allawi 2014, p. 435.
  25. ^ Allawi 2014, p. 439.
  26. ^ Allawi 2014, p. 448.
  27. ^ Khadduri 1960, pp. 29–30.
  28. ^ Marr 2004, p. 35.
  29. ^ Khadduri 1960, pp. 49–55.
  30. ^ Marr 2004, p. 44.


Political offices
Preceded by
Jafar al-Askari
Prime Minister of Iraq
2 August 1924 – 22 June 1925
Succeeded by
Abd al-Muhsin as-Sa'dun
Preceded by
Jamil al-Midfai
Prime Minister of Iraq
17 March 1935 – 30 October 1936
Succeeded by
Hikmat Sulayman