Soldiering for Arab Nationalism: Fawzi al-Qawuqji in Palestine


Fawzi al-Qawuqji was a soldier and Arab nationalist who fought European colonialism all over the Middle East between World War I and 1948. He served as an officer in the 4th Brigade of the Ottoman Army, fighting the British advance north through Palestine; led the al- Hama sector of the Syrian Revolt against the French in 1925–1927; was one of the rebel leaders in the Arab revolt against the British in Palestine in 1936; participated in the Rashid ‘Ali al-Kaylani coup against the British-controlled government in Iraq in 1941; and served as field commander of the Arab Liberation Army in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. This essay, part of a larger study of Qawuqji’s life and career, is based on his published memoirs as well as his private papers, stored in boxes at the back of a closet in the Beirut apartment where he lived after his retirement until his death in 1976.


LAILA PARSONS, associate professor of history and Islamic studies at McGill University, is author of The Druze between Palestine and Israel, 1947–1949 (Macmillan, 2000). She is currently working on The Making of Fawzi al-Qawuqji: An Arab Nationalist Soldier and His World. As part of that project, she has been awarded a Canadian SSHRC grant to catalogue the Qawuqji papers in her possession so that they can be archived and made available to scholars. This will be done in cooperation with Ossama el-Kaoukji.Without the support of Ossama and his daughter, Dwan el-Kaoukji, this project would not be possible. The author also wishes to thank May Farhat, Stephanie Thomas, and Nadine and Ula Hatab for all their help in Beirut; Noel Abdulahad for his help in translating some of the more difficult handwritten documents; and the anonymous JPS reviewers for their comments.

Read more