Military Wiki
Adwan Rebellion
LocationJordan British protectorate of Transjordan
Result Sultan al-Adwan's defeat and exile
Jordan Sultan al-Adwan's forces

United Kingdom British RAF
Jordan Emir Abdullah's forces
Jordan Hashemite allied tribesmen:

  • Sheykh Minwar al-Hadid
Commanders and leaders
Sultan al-Adwan Jordan Emir Abdullah
United Kingdom Frederick Peake
300 horsemen
500 warriors[1]
Casualties and losses
86 (including 13 women)
About 100 killed

Adwan Rebellion or the Balqa Revolt[1] was the largest uprising against the British mandate and the newly installed Transjordanian government, headed by Mezhar Ruslan, during its first years. The rebellion was initiated in the early months of 1923, under the slogan "Jordan for Jordanians", but was quickly crushed with the assistance of the British RAF. As a result, the revolt leader, Sultan al-Adwan, fled to Syria with his sons.[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 al-Adwan.[2]

Rebellion beginnings

With the end of the Kura affair, another challenge to Hashemite rule began to loom as the feud between the Banu Sakhr bedouin, led by Mithqal al-Fayez—particularly favored by Emir Abdullah, and the Adwan bedouins of Balqa, headed by Sultan al-Adwan.[2] Dangerously exposed to the Wahhabi raids from Arabia, emir Abdullah had no intention of alienating Sultan al-Adwan, even if he did pay a special attention to Banu Sakhr. Yet, when Abdullah attempted a reconciliation, paying a formal visit to Sultan al-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 Banu Sakhr).[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 al-Tall and two other officials, who had backed Sultan, were arrested and accused of conspiracy against the state.[2]

Sultan's attack

Becoming fearful of the consequences of al-Tall'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 Jebel 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. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Joab B. Eilon, Yoav Alon. The making of Jordan: tribes, colonialism and the modern state. 2007: pp.54-56. [1]
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 Salibi, Kamal S. The modern history of Jordan. I.B Tauris & Co LTD (reprinted 2006) pp. 101-108

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