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Beni Sakhr

Beni Sakhr

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Beni Sakhr is the name of a large Bedouin
The Bedouin are a part of a predominantly desert-dwelling Arab ethnic group traditionally divided into tribes or clans, known in Arabic as ..-Etymology:...

 tribe living in Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...


In the 19th century, the Beni Sakhr lived as nomads. Their income came from trading camels and from the protection they could give, or refuse to give, to more settled peoples. In 1867, the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 launched a raid which defeated the Beni Sakhr and ended their practice of collecting khuwwa (protection money) from established settlements.

In June 1917 Fawaz el Faiz, one of the leaders of the Beni Sakhr, had a secret meeting with T.E. Lawrence. El Faiz was a member of an anti-Turkish committee in Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 and Lawrence was seeking support for his military campaign. Shortly after the meeting Lawrence fled fearing betrayal. El Faiz was killed shortly afterwards. By June 1918 the Beni Sakhr were united in their opposition to the Turks and were offering to provide the Husseini forces with at least eleven thousand men costing £30,000 a month. In addition they would donate the harvest of Kerak
Kerak Castle is a large crusader castle located in Kerak in Jordan. It is one of the largest crusader castles in the Levant.Construction of the castle began in the 1140s, under Pagan, the butler of Fulk of Jerusalem. The Crusaders called it Crac des Moabites or "Karak in Moab", as it is frequently...

 and Madeba.

On 8 April 1933 Sheikh Mithqal Pasha al-Faiz, Chief of the Beni Sakhr, was a member of a delegation which met the President of the Zionist Organisation, Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

, and the head of the Zionist political department in Palestine, Chaim Arlosoroff
Chaim Arlosoroff
Haim Arlozoroff was a Zionist leader in Palestine during the era of the British Mandate for Palestine and head of the political department of the Jewish Agency. Arlosoroff was assassinated while walking on the beach in Tel Aviv in 1933....

, at the King David Hotel
King David Hotel
The King David Hotel is a 5-star hotel in Jerusalem, Israel. Opened in 1931, the hotel was built with locally quarried pink limestone and was founded by Ezra Mosseri, a wealthy Egyptian Jewish Banker. To this day the hotel remains one of the most prominent and prestigious hotels in Israel, and...

 in Jerusalem.

A series of events in the 1920s and 1930s put further pressure on their nomadic lifestyle, eventually leading to famine. The Beni Sakhr were saved from this by the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 government ruling Jordan at the time. In exchange, the British required the Beni Sakhr to give up their nomadic lifestyle and become more established sheep, rather than camel, herders. In the decades since then, pressures on the Beni Sakhr to give up part of their land have led to occasional tension between them and the Jordanian government. However, this tribe still the reliable partner for the country. In the last century they defeated those who called themselves Wahabi when they came to occupy Jordan.