King Abdullah: family tie to Iraq

Saudi religious leaders, tribal chiefs and government officials gathered in Riyadh to formally declare their loyalty to the new monarch King Abdullah, on the heels of foreign dignitaries including French President Jacques Chirac, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, and Britain’s Prince Charles. Regional Saudi leaders waited their turn to file by the new king, shake his hand, and swear their allegiance. King Abdullah made brief remarks, telling his audience that he will continue the policies of his late predecessor and half-brother King Fahd, who died Aug 1. (VOA, Aug. 3) Although this is the first formal change in the throne in 23 years, he has been the kingdom’s effective ruler for 10 years. Foreign press accounts have emphasized that he is seen as a reformer, and is related by marriage to US ally King Hussein of Jordan. (AP, Aug. 1) But the Israeli security-oriented website DEBKA noted last June, when the Iraq interim regime took over, that then-Prince Abdullah has marital ties to a powerful trans-border Arab tribe that the new interim president was also a member of—and has played a critical role in Iraqi politics.

Ghazi al-Yawar, interim president under interim prime minister Iyad Allawi, is nephew of the head of the Shamar tribe. DEBKA writes that Al-Yawar “was a member of the Shamar faction that supported an attempted putsch against Saddam led by Col. Shawwaf, commander of the Mosul army division. Shawwaf was executed but the Iraqi ruler did not dare touch his tribal backers.” But DEBKA also feared examples of tribal support for the ousted dictator:

The new president’s uncle, Sheikh Mohsen Adel al-Yawar, rules a tribal federation whose members regard parts of northern Saudi Arabia, eastern Jordan, eastern Syria and most of the Iraqi-Syrian frontier region, particularly around Mosul, as their ancestral territory.

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah’s mother was a Shamar daughter. He is therefore kin to al-Yawar.

In April 2003, when Saddam Hussein was on the run after the US invasion, a Shamar chieftain, Ahmed Agale Al-Yawar, who also happened to be married to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah’s sister, gave shelter in Mosul to the deposed president’s wife Sajida, their three daughters and grandchildren, after they were asked to leave Syria. According to tribal culture, shelter and protection must be extended to wives and families who have committed no crime.

The tribe, part of whose turf is the smugglers’ haven of al Qaim, also helped some of Saddam’s henchmen flee into Syria. The Shamar border villages are known for growing wheat and sheep by day and smuggling by night. To control the outflow of ousted regime officials, and inflow of fighting strength, US forces raided the al Qaim village of Muger Addim – Wolf’s Den in Arabic – soon after the invasion.

See also WW4 REPORT #45

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