On the split within the Shammar in the XXth century

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 6th, 2014 in General

I finally have the answer to a lingering question about the leadership of the Shammar Bedouins in North Arabia.

Some twenty years ago, when asking about the ownership of a number of lines of desert bred Arabians, I was confused by references to at least four contemporary “Sheykhs of the Shammar” within the leading Jarba family.  The Kuhaylan Krush were the horses of Mayzar Abd al-Mushin al-Jarba, Sheykh of the Shammar; the Shuwayman Sabbah were the horses of Mashaal Pasha son of Faris al-Jarba, also Sheykh of the Shammar; and the Hadban Enzahi were the horses of Dham al-Hadi, also Sheykh of the Shammar; the Saqlawi Jadran adn the Dahman Amer were the horses of Ajil al-Yawir al-Jarba, also Sheykh of the Shammar. All four had lived around the same time. What was going on?

Later I came to understand that this had to do with political splits within the leading family, which were caused or at least encouraged by the Ottoman Turks, then the British and the French, but I never had the full picture. Here it is now, in the clarity of intelligence report such as this one published by the French army in 1943:

“Autrefois, lors de leur unite, les Chammar ont beaucoup inquiete les autorites turques qui n’ont pu avoir la paix avec eux, qu’en les divisant en deux groupes, les Zor et les Khorsa. Sfoug Pacha, chef des Chammar, fut pendu par les Turcs en 1840; Abdul Kerim, fils du precedent, subit en 1870, le sort de son pere, apres avoir mis Mossoul a sac. Des 1878, la tribu divisee en deux troncons n’inquieta plus les autorites; les frees d’Abdul Kerim se partagerent alors le commandement; Fares prit le commandement des Chammar des Zor et Farhan celui des Chammar Khorsa. Depuis lors, une seconde division se superposa a celle-ci; la frontiere syro-irakienne divisa, au point de vue politique, la tribu Chammar, en Chammar d’Irak et Chammar de Syrie, groupements comprenant a la fois des Chammar des Zor et des Chammar Khorsa. En Syrie, Mechaal Pacha Djerba, fils de Fares, notable Chammar des Zor, prit a la mort de son pere, le commandement de tous les Chammar de Syrie; en Irak, son cousin Dahma el Hadi (arriere-petit-fils de Farhan) notable Khorsa, prit apres approbation des autorites britanniques, le commandement des Chammar d’Irak; Daham el Hadi succedait ainsi a son grand-pere El Aci. En 1922, Daham el Hadi expulse d’Irak se refugia en Syrie ou, au grand mecontentement de Mechaal Pacha, il se vit octroyer le commandement des Shammar Khorsa. Il fut remplace en Irak par son cousin Ajil el Yaouer. En Syrie, Mechaal Pacha entra des 1934 en conflict avec le gouvernement pour une question de perception d’impot. Il passa en Irak avec quelques tentes. Destitue de son commandement, il fut remplace le 7 avril 1934 par son cousin, le Cheik Mizar, petit-fils d’Abdul Kerim. Actuellement une grande animosite reigne parmi tous les chefs Chammar. Mechaal Pacha Djerba cherche a reprendre son commandement en intriguant contre le Cheikh Mizar et Daham el Hadi alors qu’en Iraq, Wathan, fils de Faycal, essaie de supplanter Sfoug (fils de Ajil el Yaouer).”

I will have more to say on this later.


7 Responses to “On the split within the Shammar in the XXth century”

  1. Google translate is not the greatest, but it enables one to follow the gist of the paragraph. Thanks!

  2. Hello Edouard,

    this is very interesting. I just have a question to ad. Do you know which Sheikh of the Shammar bred Saqlawi Sheifi? Thanks Matthias

  3. None. It was bred by rank-and-file Shammari Bedouin, like Dayes Ibn Bisra, Hajjo al-Mahel, Diban al-Kaar, Ahmad al-Jarrah al-Sha’ifi (the old, first original owners) or Oweyd al-Zemek. All these marabet trace to one mare, a Saqlawiyah Sha’ifiyah originally from the Fad’aan, who own the strain.

    Before that, that Saqlawiyah was with al-Sha’ifi of the Shammar, but back then she was still called Saqlawiyah Ubayiriyah.

  4. Thanks a lot. Is this information from the Abbas Pasha manuscript or from somewhere else? Matthias

  5. No, it’s from a friend of mine and I talking to these guys directly over the phone, and tracing the horses back to the original Shaifiyah that came from the Fadaan.

  6. it is a min abbas pasha manuscript of the XXIst century, in a way.

  7. Matthias: Supposedly the original Shagya stallion imported to Bablona was of the ,’koheil-Siglavy,’ strain. Meaning I suppose that he was a generic purebred asil horse- but of the Saqlawy strain. I’m wondering if the substrain wasn’t Sheifi, and if the word Shagya was a ,’germanisation,’ if you will of the term Sheifi. Being part of the Austro Hungarian empire at the time it makes sense that the landed gentry aristocrats in Hungary would have spoken german and be likely to adopt german folkways.. What say you?
    best wishes
    Bruce Peek

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