Izzat Pasha al-Abed

(late 1800s)

From The Arab Awakening, George Antonius, G P Putnam's Sons, 1946.

Born in
Syria, Izzat Pasha al-Abed served thirteen years (until his downfall in 1908) as the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid's second secretary, and rose to become the most powerful official in the empire, second only to his master in wealth and influence. He was, even for the Constantinople of Abdul Hamid's days, an extraordinarily astute man, cunning and agile mind. His outstanding quality was his unerring insight into the less reputable traits of the human character: in that lay the secret to his amazing success, for it enabled him to understand the cowardice and vanity of his master with true discrimination and a nice sense of the mood of the moment. Inwardly, he held Abdul Hamid in utter contempt, which partly explains the ease with which he could play upon his feelings. His career is of interest for the general reason that he became the pivot of the Sultan's Arab policy, and also for a particular reason -- the construction of the Hejaz Railway.