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Minute by Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of Bombay, on the power of the Wahabees in Central Arabia [‎1v] (2/4)

The record is made up of 1 file (2 folios). It was created in 09 Oct 1865. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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The visits of Mr. Palgrave and Colonel Pelly to the Wahabee capital have
thrown great light upon the resources of this power, and the information record
ed by these travellers shows very clearly that the Wahahees have of late years
been recovering from the effects of the chastisement formerly inflicted on them,
and that they are likely to become exceedingly troublesome to all in contact with
them, who will not submit to their religious domination.
Apart from any internal impulse given by a revived spirit of religious
fanaticism there are several obvious causes of the late development of Wahabee
aggressive power in Arabia.
Much is of course due to the natural effects of so many years of comparative
rest in repairing their exhausted resources; something also no doubt to the dis
appearance of the generation which had experienced the power of the Egyptian
Pacha, the late Imaum of Muscat, and of British Naval and Military expeditionary
More however is probably owing to the sensible decay of vigour in the ruler
of Muscat, and to the comparative rarity of any visit from our vessels of war to
the old pirate coast of the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. .
But whatever the cause, there can be no doubt of the evil effects of this revival
of Wahabee power, and it is clear that these effects cannot be confined to the
Continent of Arabia. We have had more than one warning sympton during the
past year or two of a possible revival of piracy on our own Indian Coasts. There
is every year increased activity in the slave trade carried on between East Africa
and Arabia, chiefly by vessels belonging to the Wahabee pirate ports, and the
aggressions of the Wahabees by land on the territories of the Imaum of Muscat,
threaten seriously to injure a power which for several generations past has been
the only representative of civilization and order in Eastern Arabia.
I do not think that this is a state of things in which the British Government
in India should be entirely passive. Our interest in the matter is not precisely
the same as in 1821, when the pfrates from the Wahabee coast threatened serious
injury to the general trade of Bombay; but we have Treaty ties with the Imaum
of Muscat, and there can be no doubt that any considerable increase of Wahabee
influence would lead to, at least, an attempt to revive piracy, and seriously impede
the rapidly increasing commerce of the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. . It might also at any time
interfere with our Telegraphic communication with Europe.
The important question remains what it behoves the British Government to do
under these circumstances?
It seems quite clear that there is little chance of the Ameer paying the
slightest attention either to such friendly advice as Colonel Pelly gave him, or to
the temperate remonstrances of Colonel Disbrowe.
I would not for the present advise any renewal of an attempt on the part of
our Political Agents to open a diplomatic correspondence with the Ameer of the
Wahabees. He is from his ignorance of our power not likely to pay the
slightest attention to our wishes or remonstrances, and for the present any attempt
to open further communication with him is only likely to embroil us further.
I would instruct Colonel Disbrowe to adopt a somewhat different tone to
His Highness the Imaum of Muscat; to point out to His Highness clearly, but
in temperate and friendly language, that the aggressions of the Wahabees are not
likely to be checked by tame acquiescence, or by a constantly increasing addition

About this item


The minute by Sir Bartle Frere summarises the history of the Wahabee [Wahabi] power in Central Asia, checks to their power about forty-five years ago and more recent incidents which are a cause for concern.

Frere refers to visits made by William Palgrave and Lewis Pelly to the Wahabee Capital, and potential reasons for their regrowth including the frailties of the ruler of Muscat and the lack of a British naval presence in the Gulf.

He goes on to highlight potential threats that the Wahabees could pose to British interests including the reviving of piracy, impeding trade and their interference with telegraphic communications, and to make suggestions on steps the British Government may wish to take, primarily through His Highness the Imaum [Iman] of Muscat rather than through direct interventions

Extent and format
1 file (2 folios)
Physical characteristics

Foliation: The report has been foliated in the front top right corner of each page with a pencil number enclosed in a circle.

The report also contains original pagination in the top centre of both sides of each page, numbering 1-3

Written in
English in Latin script
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Minute by Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of Bombay, on the power of the Wahabees in Central Arabia [‎1v] (2/4), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F126/63, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 12 November 2019]

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