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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎10r] (19/434)

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The record is made up of 1 file (214 folios). It was created in 31 Aug 1933-20 Mar 1939. It was written in English and French. 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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2. For very many years the custom in regard to the succession to the Sultanate
of Lahej has been that after the death of the reigning Sultan his successor is elected
by certain tribal Aqils and Qadhis, who are entitled to do so. The election is then
reported to the Resident, and the new Sultan is accorded official recognition unless
there are very cogent reasons to withhold it. The customary procedure thus
briefly outlined is common to the whole Protectorate.
3. There are five branches of the family of the Sultan of Lahej, in two of which
(the Ali Muhsin and the Fadhl Muhsin)the succession has been confined, with
fairly regular alternation, since the death of the common ancestor, Sultan Muhsin
Fadhl, in 1847.
4. On the acceesion of the present Sultan, His Highness Sir Abdul Karim bin
Fadhl Ali Muhsin, in 1915, the heads of the Fadhl Muhsin refused to recognise him.
In 1919 a rapproachment was brought about between this dissident element and
His Highness, but the animosity still smouldered, and in 1930 it broke out in the
form of a conspiracy, instigated by these persons during the absence of His Highness
in India, to remove him and to arrange the succession of a member of the badhl
Muhsin branch. The conspiracy was discovered ; and, on his return from India,
the Sultan took such action against the ringleaders as he hoped would put an end
to overt opposition to his authority.
5. In consequence of this incident His Highness made tentative proposals to
the Residency A diplomatic office of the British Government established in the provinces and regions considered part of, or under the influence of, British India. that he should ensure continuity in the succession by proclaiming
his eldest son, Sultan Fahdl bin Abdul Karim as heir-apparent. My predecessor
advised him not to do so and the matter appeared to have dropped.
6. On the 12th February of this year, however, His Highness informed me that
at the instance of the electors, and with his permission, an election had been held,
that his eldest son Sultan Fadhl bin Abdul Karim had been unanimously elected
as his successor, and that he had accordingly nominated him as such.
7. His Highness had caused or allowed these steps to be taken without prior
reference to the Residency A diplomatic office of the British Government established in the provinces and regions considered part of, or under the influence of, British India. , and I was about to express my objections to this proce
dure when the report was received of the attempted assassination of Sultan Fadhl
at the hands or at the instigation of the leaders of the Fadhl Mohsin branch {vide
Political Intelligence Summary, paragraph 2260, et seq). This new circumstances
made it impolitic for me to advise His Highness to retract his recognition of Sultan
Fadhl his successor, for the reason that His Highness’s acquiescence in my request
might seem to be a concession to violence ; and I therefore considered it advisable
to confine myself at the moment to asking His Highness for an explanation of the
reasons that had prompted him in departing from the customary practice in regard
to the succession.
8. In reply His Highness explained that his action was designed to guard
against the strife and dissension that are the usual consequences of disputes regarding
the succession on the death of a tribal Chief. He argued that the Sultanate
of Lahej has come to be recognised as the centre of arbitration between tribal Chiefs
over a wide area, and that it is therefore particularly necessary that continuous
security and order should be ensured in it; and he pointed out that continuance of
the custom hitherto existing in regard to the succession tended towards multiplicity
of claimants and complexity of issue. He further contended that the electors, who
are the custodians of custom, had themselves initiated the proposal of an election
during his life-time, and that he had acceded to their wishes in the best interests of
his State.
9. I have told His Highness that I am reporting what has occurred and the
explanation that he has given me to His Majesty's Government.
10. A settlement of the succession during the life-time of the present Sultan
will have considerable advantages if it is loyally observed when his death occurs.
Since 1918 and especially during the past five years, the Sultanate of Lahej has
assumed an immportance unknown before the Great AVar, principally due to the
personality of the present Sultan and to his advisers and assistants from his own
branch of the family. And the very close contact that has been established between
His Highness and the Residency A diplomatic office of the British Government established in the provinces and regions considered part of, or under the influence of, British India. in the consideration of all major matters of general
importance in the Protectorate render continuity of succession (and consequently
of policy), at Lahej, very desirable.

About this item


The file contains the Foreign Office confidential prints of the Arabia Series for the years 1933 to 1938. It includes correspondence, memoranda, and extracts from newspapers. The correspondence is principally between the British Legation in Jedda and the Foreign Office. Other correspondents include British diplomatic, political, and military offices, foreign diplomats, heads of state, tribal leaders, corporations, and individuals in the Middle East region.

Each annual series is composed of several numbered serials that are often connected to a particular subject. The file covers many subjects related to the affairs of Saudi Arabia.

Included in the file are the following:

  • a memorandum on Arab Unity produced by the Foreign Office dated 12 June 1933 (author unknown), folios 11-13;
  • a memorandum on petroleum in Arabia produced by the Petroleum Department dated 5 August 1933 (author unknown), folios 23-26;
  • a record of interviews with Ibn Sa‘ūd, King of Saudi Arabia, conducted by Reader Bullard and George William Rendel between 20 and 22 March 1937;
  • a memorandum on Yemen by Captain B W Seager, the Frontier Officer, dated 20 July 1937;
  • several records of proceedings of ships on patrol in the Red Sea, including that of HMS Penzance , Hastings , Colombo , Bideford , and Londonderry .

Folios 213-15 are internal office notes.

Extent and format
1 file (214 folios)

The file is arranged chronologically.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the main foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the front cover with 1 and terminates at the back cover with 217; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. An additional foliation sequence is also present in parallel between ff 2-215; these numbers are also written in pencil, but are not circled, and are located in the same position as the main sequence.

Written in
English and French in Latin script
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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎10r] (19/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 7 December 2019]

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