Adwan Rebellion

The Adwan Rebellion or the Balqa Revolt[1] was the largest uprising against the British mandate and the newly established Transjordanian government, headed by Mezhar Ruslan, during its first years.

Adwan Rebellion

Transjordanian government victory

  • Sultan Adwan's defeat and exile
Sultan Adwan's forces

United Kingdom
Abdullah I's forces

  • Pro-Hashemite tribesmen
Commanders and leaders
Sultan Majed Adwan Frederick Peake
Emir Abdullah I of Jordan
Sheikh Minwar Hadid
Mithqal Fayez
Units involved
Banu Adwan Arab Legion
Bani Sakher
300 horsemen
500 warriors[1]
Casualties and losses
86 (including 13 women) Unknown
About 100 killed

The rebellion started due to a feud between the Adwan and the Bani Sakher tribes of the Balqa region led by Majed Adwan and Mithqal Fayez respectively. Mithqal Fayez was favored by Emir Abdullah and the Emir earned the ire of the Adwan for it. Emir Abdulah's attempt at reconciliation with the Adwan was rebuffed. The Adwan gained the sympathy of young urban Transjordanian intellectuals who began to demand a democratic rule and had been growing increasingly envious of the Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, who monopolized key positions of Transjordanian government.

Sultan Adwan arrived in Amman in August 1923 at the head of an armed demonstration demanding a constitutional government under the slogan "Jordan for Jordanians". He negotiated with the Emir who agreed to replace the government but arrested three figures for conspiring against the state. In response, Sultan Adwan later advanced on Amman again and occupied two gendarmerie outposts. The Adwan were defeated in a fierce battle with the Emir's forces led by British officer Frederick Peake. As a result, the revolt leader, Sultan Adwan, fled to Syria with his sons. A general pardon in March 1924 brought the matter to an end.[1]


The most serious threats to emir Abdullah's position in Transjordan were repeated Wahhabi incursions from Najd into southern parts of his territory.[2] The emir was powerless to repel those raids by himself, thus the British maintained a military base, with a small air force, at Marka, close to Amman.[2] This force could have been easily used against the Wahhabi Ikhwan. The British military, which was the primary obstacle against the Ikhwan, and was also incorporated to help emir Abdullah with the suppression of local rebellions at Kura and later by Sultan Adwan.[2]

Rebellion (Revolution) beginnings

With the end of the Kura affair, another challenge to Hashemite rule began to loom as the feud between the Bani Sakher bedouin, led by Mithqal Fayez—particularly favored by Emir Abdullah, and the Adwan bedouins of Balqa, headed by the prince Majed Adwan the father of Sultan Adwan.[2] Dangerously exposed to the Wahhabi raids from Arabia, emir Abdullah had no intention of alienating Sultan Adwan, even if he did pay a special attention to Bani Sakher. Yet, when Abdullah attempted a reconciliation, paying a formal visit to Sultan Adwan, he was reportedly met with refusal.[2] Opposing Abdullah's tribal policies, Sultan had received a support from an unexpected direction—educated members of young generation in the large towns of Irbid, as-Salt and al-Karak, who began to criticize Abdullah's autocracy and demanded a democratic rule.[2] The new generation of urban intellectuals had been growing increasingly envious of the Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, who monopolized key positions of Transjordanian government and administration.

In August 1923, Sultan arrived in Amman at the head of an armed demonstration, openly backing popular demands for a constitutional, parliamentary government and pressure the emir for some urgent economic issues, but actually showing "who were the real masters of the Balqa region" (i.e. the Adwan and not Bani Sakher).[2] Unprepared for the showdown, Emir Abdullah received Sultan, listened to his demands and promised his due consideration.[2] To silence the opposition, the standing government was dismissed, and a new one formed.[2] However, Abdullah decided that the show of defiance of established authority could not go unpunished and Mustafa Wahbi Tal and two other figures, who had backed Sultan, were arrested and accused of conspiracy against the state.[2]

Sultan's attack

Becoming fearful of the consequences of Tal's trial, the Sultan decided to strike first. He advanced on Amman in a full force, and occupied two gendarmerie outposts, at the western entrances to the capital.[2]

Unlike the previous time, Peake's forces were well prepared. Adwan's forces were defeated in a fierce battle and put to flight.[2] The prisoners, taken among the attackers, were banished to Hejaz, while the Sultan and his sons fled to Syria, seeking refuge in Jabal al-Druze.[2]


By March 1924, a general pardon permitted all Adwan exiles to return home.[2] Both Kura and Adwan rebellions made Abdullah understand the basic need for an effective armed force, even if such force was under British, rather than Arab command.

Some tribal unrests continued to simmer in the country for a few years after the suppression of Adwan insurrection. In 1926, the government had to send a force to suppress a rebellion in Wadi Musa, where the villagers refused to pay taxes and seized and looted the local gendarmerie post and government house.[2]

See also


  1. Joab B. Eilon, Yoav Alon. The making of Jordan: tribes, colonialism and the modern state. 2007: pp.54-56.
  2. Salibi, Kamal S. The modern history of Jordan. I.B Tauris & Co LTD (reprinted 2006) pp. 101-108
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