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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎23r] (45/434)

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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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Hejaz, and it was only the almost insane conduct of King Husain, which made it
possible for ]bn Saud temporarily to overthrow the Sherifs.
The case of the Imam Yahya was, however, quite different. If the Imam
Yahya were to obtain the sovereignty of the Hejaz, “ death would be better for
us (By us he presumably meant the Sherifs now in exile in Iraq and Trans-
Jordan). The Imam was, he said, a very different proposition to Ibn Saud, and
was also a Sherif.
At the moment, the Imam was not saying anything about conquering the
Hejaz, but, if war broke out, and he conquered Asir, where he has great influence,
he would dominate the Hejaz, and the Holy Cities would drop into his lap, almost
without an effort. Ibn Saud was 'weak and unpopular in the Hejaz, and the
Akhwan had suffered frightfully in the recent operations in Asir. The very name
of Asir was now anathema in Nejd, and it would be difficult to raise any kind of a
force in Nejd, if fresh hostilities were now to break out in that area.
His Highness went on to say that the Sherifs had great influence in the
Hejaz, and that he himself had recently received letters from the Southern
Hejaz and Asir. He had letters from one whose name I think he said was Ibn
Abda awl from the Zeraniq and other tribesmen of the Red Sea littoral of Asir.
These people had remained neutral in the Idris v. Ibn Saud rebellion. Many
of them wrote to him now to ask his advice. They said that they were not greatly
concerned whether Ibn Saud retained the rule of the country or not, but the flrst
thing which they wanted to know was whether there was any chance of a return
of the Sherifs. If Shakir could promise tlmm any support, such as that of the
British, which gave any hopes of success, they would be ready to declare for the
Sherifs. Failing this, they would be obliged to choose the next best from amongst
the other competing rulers. The Amir mentioned the names of several tribes,
but as 1 was not familiar with them, I cannot recollect them for certain, except
the Beni Shahi ’ and the Zeraniq.
His Highness continued that he was unable, of course, to answer these
letters or lake any action in any matters of this nature, owing to the attitude of
the British and their ever ready suspicions that he was intriguing against Ibn
Saud. But at any rate, he pointed out, both Ibn Saud and the Sherifs were allies
of the British, whereas the Imam Yahya most emphatically was not. The inter
ference of the British had prevented the Sherifs replacing Ibn Saud in the Hejaz,
with the result that Ibn Saud’s obvious weakness was now tempting the Imam
Yahya to take the offensive. It really looked as if Ibn Saud would soon collapse.
The British did not offer him active support, but merely limited their help to
preventing the Sherifs from over-throwing him. It seemed probable that the
result would be that the Imam Yahya, over whom the British had no control would
step in and take the Hejaz himself, to the exclusion of all Great Britain’s allies.
If the Sherifs were to recover the Holy Cities, His Highness continued, they
could easily come to an agreement with Ibn Saud, who would remain the ruler of
Nejd. This was the natural arrangement, only upset by the insanity of King
Husain. But any arrangement would be better than allowing the Imam Yahya
to come in.
His Highness then said that he had intended to speak to me on this subject
for a considerable time, as also to Mr. Kirkbride, the acting British Resident, but
that he had hesitated and procrastinated until he heard that I was about to leave,
when he made up his mind to speak immediately. He hoped that I would have
an opportunity in London to make known what he had said, to His Majesty’s
Government. He had intended also to tell Mr. Kirkbride. Should he do so,
or would I be seeing Mr. Kirkbride ? 1 .replied that I had already said good
bye to Mr. Kirkbride, and had not time to see him again, as my car was at the
door and I was catching Imperial Airways. I promised, however, to submit the
gist of what he had said, to the Colonial Office in London.
He then remarked “ It is obvious now, that Feisal is the only man in the
Sherifian family who can do a job of work ”.
I enquired whether King Feisal’s views agreed with those which His High
ness had just expressed to me. He replied emphatically that their views were
absolutely identical. I said that, in that case it seemed probable that King
Feisal would already have explained them to His Majesty’s Government, as he
had just returned from Europe. His Highness replied that he did not know
if the King had done so or not, though he believed that His Majesty had no secrets
from his friends the English (!!!).

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' [‎23r] (45/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 31 March 2020]

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