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'File 29/6 British Relations with Khazal, Sheikh of Khorramshahr' [‎2v] (4/28)

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The record is made up of 1 file (14 folios). It was created in 26 Nov 1946. 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 Documents collected in a private capacity. .


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Vol f , Part II.
Conf. 9748,
Nos 101 and
British interests in A rabistan at the close of the last century.
KHAZAL KHAN succeeded, at the age of 36, to the Sheikhdom of
Mohammerah on the murder of his elder brother, Mizal Khan, on the 2nd June,
1897. At that time British policy in Persia was governed, as it has invariably
been since, by inter-acting strategic and economic considerations. In the strategic
field, the basic consideration was the defence of India, and this involved watching
and countering Russian political and economic thrusts from the north; to this end
the British Government pursued a policy of strengthening the weak buffer State
while also endeavouring to build up a position in the south so as not to be caught
at a disadvantage should that buffer State disintegrate. British defence schemes,
based as they were on naval power, made the Persian Gulf The historical term used to describe the body of water between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. a region of great
strategic importance to India, and therefore to this country, and it was necessary
to watch the activities not only of Russia but also of Germany and Turkey, in
that region. An essential part of British policy in the Gulf was the establish
ment of good relations and the conclusion of treaties with the various Arab rulers,
and the Sheikhs of Mohammerah, controlling territory at the head of the Gulf,
thus came very prominently into the general scheme. In the economic field also,
although the days of the d'Arcy concession and the Anglo-Persian Oil Companv
had not yet arrived, British and Indian interests were considerable : Mohammerah
was a port of call for British India Steam Navigation Company’s vessels, a
British Indian post office had been established there, a British firm (Messrs. ^
Lynch) controlled the only non-Persian navigation service on the River Karun
(which had been opened to'navigation in 1888) and British interests were concerned
in various road and railway projects in Arabistan.
2. The Sheikhs of Mohammerah. who were chiefs of the Muhaisin division
of the the Chaab Arabs, were nominally Persian subjects, but they enjoyed in
Arabistan a large measure of autonomy and semi-independence in the administra
tion of their territories. The latter, which derived from hereditary occupation,
extended beyond Ahwaz and generally covered almost the whole of southern
Arabistan, while, in addition, the Sheikhs had large interests to the west of
the Shatt-el-Arab in what was recognised as Turkish territory—including the
allegiance of members of their own tribe engaged in cultivation there. The
British Government had established friendly relations with Sheikh Jabir of
of Mohammerah and had supported him after the Anglo-Persian war of 1857,
and these relations were continued after the accession of his son Mizal Khan to
the sheikhdom in 1881; later, however, owing to his annoyance at the competition
of Messrs. Lynch with himself in the carrying trade on the Karun and at actions
of the British Vice-Consul at Mohammenah in appealing to Persian authorities
against his proceedings, and also owing to his fear of incurring the distrust of
the Persian Government, MizaTs relations with the British deteriorated. In
1895, when disaffection towards Mizal became rife among his own tribesmen,
Khazal Khan, whose accession to the sheikhdom began to appear probable
assured the British Vice-Consul that his political salvation lay in assisting and
not opposing the British and that if. as Sheikh, he should be called upon to choose
a policy, it would be one of sincere friendship with the British Government,^
although political exigencies might dictate concealment of its real nature.
Early British assurances to the Sheikh, 1899—1903.
3. On his accession, Sheikh Khazal, guided by his principal adviser, the
shrewd and able Hadji Mohamed Ali Behbehani, Rais-et-Tujjar, pursued a policy
of strengthening his rule both around Mohammerah and in other districts to
which his family had traditional claims and of seeking to establish his position
vis-a-vis of the Persian Government. The negotiations with the Central Govern
ment at Tehran were in the hands of the Rais-et-Tujjar and the British Legation
assisted with their advice. Eventually, in 1903, the Sheikh received firmans
from the Shah which recognised as “perpetual properties the lands of the
Sheikh and his tribes at Mohammerah, Abadan Island Bahmanshir, ^arun,
Hindvan, Dehmulla and Fallahiyeh; these firmans stipulated that the Sheikh
should pay only the usual annual revenues to the Persian Government and
that the latter should have no right to take possession of, or interfere with, the
properties (or alternatively, if they should acquire them, should pay a reasonable
price to the Sheikh); there was also a stipulation (which became important later
in connexion with the Anglo-Persian Oil Company’s concession) that the proper
ties must not be sold or transferred to foreigners, but there was no ban on their
being leased.

About this item


The file contains a Confidential Foreign Office report entitled 'British Relations with Khazal, Sheikh of Mohammerah'. The report contains a detailed history of the relationship between the British Government and Shaikh Khaz‘al bin Jābir bin Mirdāw al-Ka‘bī, the Ruler of Mohammerah (present day Khorramshahr). An annex to the report contains copies of numerous written assurances given to the Shaikh by British officials between 1902 and 1914.

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1 file (14 folios)

The papers are arranged in approximate chronological order from the front to the rear of the file.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence commences at the front cover with 1, and terminates at the inside back cover with 14; 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.

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English in Latin script
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'File 29/6 British Relations with Khazal, Sheikh of Khorramshahr' [‎2v] (4/28), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/1747, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 25 June 2024]

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