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File 2182/1913 Pt 9 'Arabia Policy towards Bin Saud' [‎120r] (237/406)

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The record is made up of 1 item (203 folios). It was created in 27 Dec 1918-2 Jun 1919. 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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SECRET.
/
Arabia : r J lie Nejcl-Hejaz Feud.
(Note by Political Department, 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. .)
b The controversy between King Husain and Bin Sand, Emir of Eejd,
"which has formed the subject of numerous papers laid before the Eastern
Committee, has now icached a ciitical stage. The immediate bone of contention
between them is the village of Khurma, to which both parties lay claim. The
village is actually On the hands of the Ikhwan,” Bin Sand’s Wahabi followers,
whom the local Hejaz forces have made various unsuccessful attempts to dislodge!
As has often been explained, the enmity between the two chieftains is deep-seated ; it
reflects many years of rivalry between Mecca and Riadh, aggravated by personal
jealousy and by the sectarian feud between Sunni and Wahabi. Political
relations with Bin Sand have hitherto fallen within the sphere of Mesopotamia and
the Government of India, while those with King Husain have been conducted from
Cairo. It is unfortunate that the controversy between the two Chiefs has been to
some extent reflected in the views of the two administrations with which they have,
respectively, been brought into contact. At the present moment Bin Sand’s claims are
championed by Colonel Wilson and Mr. Philby, while those, of King Husain have the
support of Sir R. Wingate and Colonel Laurence. It was decided in September last to
change the local atmosphere by sending an officer from the Egyptian side to Bin Sand ;
but the decision has not yet been carried out.
2. As regards the rights and wrongs of the Khurma dispute, the following
summary of a statement made by Sherif Eeisal, King Husain’s son, during a recent
visit to the 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. (27th December 1918), gives the Hejaz side of the case :—-
The Sherif discussed the relations between Bin Sand, Emir of Nejd, and the
Hej az authorities. He explained the nature of the Wahabi movement, of
which Bin Sand is the figure-head and the leading spirit. From the point
of view r of doctrine, he has no objection whatever to Wahabism. But it is
essentially a militant creed, and is being made to serve political ends. The
Wahabis are intolerant of anybody and everything outside their own sect.
If, for example, they gained possession of the Holy Places, they would
exclude all non-Wahabis from the pilgrimage. So long as Wahabism v r as
confined to Nejd, no one in the Hejaz had any desire to interfere with it.
But they cannot tolerate fits appearance in the settled area west of the
desert. That is the significance of the Khurma incident. Khurma is the
first settled village west of the desert, and so long as it remains under the
influence of Bin Sand, it forms an outpost of Wahabism in the settled area.
Sherif Feisal is determined to expel the “ Ikhwan ” (i.e., the militant
Wahabis) from the village. He-proposes to do so in the immediate future
by force of arms. He will direct the campaign in person, and anticipates
no difficulty in achieving his object. The matter is a small one, and need
not, occasion His Majesty’s Government any pre-occupation. He will be
quite satisfied with driving the Wahabis back into the desert, and has no
intention of carrying the campaign into Bin Sand’s own country. There is
one alternative, viz., that the Hejaz people should themselves embrace
Wahabism. Eeisal is quite prepared to take this course, if the British
Government wish; but it vmuld mean closing down the pilgrimage to all
non-Wahabis for the future.
3. For Bin Sand’s claims to the village the following extract may be quoted from
a report written by Mr. Philby in*August I91S 1
I venture to think that His Majesty’s Government will revise opinion based on
distance of Khurma from Taif. As already pointed out, Khurma is only
10 miles east of unquestionable boundary of Buqum and Subai tribes,
namely, Shaib Shaba. Question at issue, therefore, is jurisdiction over
western section of Subai tribe, whose capital is Khurma, and whose
boundary is Wadi Naim, 120 miles east of Khurma. Adjudication of
Khurma' to Sherif, therefore, necessarily implies extending hpundaiy oi
detailed statement of the claim, please see Appendix I.
A
10 S 1C 40 1/19

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Part 9 primarily concerns the dispute between Bin Saud [‘Abd al-‘Azīz bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Fayṣal Āl Sa‘ūd] and King Hussein of Hejaz [Ḥusayn bin ‘Alī al-Hāshimī, King of Hejaz], and British policy towards both. The item includes the following:

  • a note by the 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. 's Political Department, entitled 'Arabia: The Nejd-Hejaz Feud', which laments the fact that relations between Bin Saud and King Hussein have to some extent been reflected in the views of the two administrations with which they have respectively been brought into contact (i.e. the sphere of Mesopotamia and the Government of India in Bin Saud's case, and the Cairo administration in King Hussein's case);
  • reports on the presence of Akhwan [Ikhwan] forces in Khurma and debate as to which ruler has the stronger claim to it;
  • attempts by the British to ascertain whether or not a treaty exists between King Hussein and Bin Saud;
  • a copy of a report by Harry St John Bridger Philby entitled 'Report on Najd Mission 1917-1918', which includes as appendices a précis of British relations with Bin Saud and a copy of the 1915 treaty between Bin Saud and the British government;
  • reports of alleged correspondence between Bin Saud and Fakhri Pasha, Commander of the Turkish [Ottoman] forces at Medina;
  • reports of the surrender of Medina by Ottoman forces;
  • discussion as to whether Britain should intervene further in the dispute between Bin Saud and King Hussein;
  • details of the proposals discussed at an inter-departmental conference on Middle Eastern affairs, which was held at Cairo in February 1919;
  • reports that King Hussein's son Abdulla [ʿAbdullāh bin al-Ḥusayn] and his forces have been attacked at Tarabah [Turabah] by Akhwan forces and driven out.

The principal correspondents are the following:

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1 item (203 folios)
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File 2182/1913 Pt 9 'Arabia Policy towards Bin Saud' [‎120r] (237/406), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/10/390/1, in Qatar Digital Library <https://www.qdl.qa/archive/81055/vdc_100036528095.0x00002d> [accessed 21 July 2019]

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