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File 2182/1913 Pt 9 'Arabia Policy towards Bin Saud' [‎137r] (271/406)

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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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. regarding the military assistance required by Ibn Sand should carrv dnA
weight and that it might, m the event of action being decided upon and under
taken, assume the role of adviser to the Wahhabi leaders. P ^ und er-
The despatch of the Mission was sanctioned by His Majesty’s Government
Ba^td g S d dt d lSe e , 2 ° th 0Ct ° ber ’ 1917 ’ and the
<3. Personnel of the Mission.
, The Proposals originally made by Sir Percy Cos to His Majesty’s Govern
ment contemplated a more ambitious and representative comnosition of the
Mission than was eventually realised. It was hoped that the High Commis
sioner for Egypt and His Highness the King of the Hijaz would be able t^send
cXneTR^E^A 0 HnmH^ 'VI ^ ell ^ r r!• 0n 1 S5 a 11 Was contemplated that Lt-
Lolonei it. A. Hamilton, C.I.E., Political Agent A mid-ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Agency. at Kuwait who was at
the time on his way into Kajd m another connection, would be able to serve
on the Mission to represent the interests of Shaikh Salim of Kuwait- further
rt was hoped that a Medical Officer would be available; and, finally, the object
of the Mission being primarily of a military character, it was understood that
a responsible military officer would be deputed by the Commander-in-Chief of
the Mesopotamia Expeditionary Force to examine and report on the military
situation m Central Arabia Finally it was held to be essential, in order to
assist and expedite the work of the Mission, that a small Wireless Telegraph
detachment should be attached to it if available. p
This somewhat ambitious scheme of things was, as already noted, not
realised Lt-Colonel F. Cunliffe Owen, C.M.G., K.F.A., was 7 deputed to
represent the Gommander-in-Chief and accompanied me from Baghdad to
itiyadh, where, during my somewhat prolonged absence at Jidda and Cairo he
remained m charge of the Mission’s local work until February, 1918, when he
returned to the coast and departed on short leave prior to resuming his militarv
duties. Lt.-Colonel K. E. A. Hamilton, who was at Riyadh on the arrival
ot the Mission, was kind enough to remain for several days to give me the
benefit of his views and advice before returning to his work at Kuwait.
With these two exceptions the personnel of the Najd Mission throughout
tfie period under report comprised only myself.
Looking back now over that period, I am inclined to think that the scale
of personnel originally contemplated was too ambitious. Useful as a wireless
installation would have been, the presence of a considerable number of British
operators m this inhospitable and fanatical country would have been a con
stant source of anxiety. A doctor would certainly have been a most valuable
asset in assisting to allay the fanatical attitude of the people towards all
imps foreign except food supplies, piece-goods, arms and medicine, and I
recently suggested^ for your consideration the desirability of filling this un-
,i° u d ^. £? a P- . bhis question, though now of but academic interest so far as
the Mission itseJ is concerned, should certainly be taken seriously into
consideration in the event of a permanent political representative’being
accredited to the Wahhabi court hereafterin view, however, of the fact that
it was at one time contemplated that a medical representative of the American
Mission m 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. might be induced, to fill up the gap, to say nothing
of a certain unmistakable tendency in the direction of the extension of Mis
sionary activity in Arabia on the part of the Mission authorities, I deem it
necessary to warn Government that a medical officer drawn from that source
would not be acceptable to Ibn Saud and his subjects, and that every effort
should be made to discourage medical practice in his territories by the person
nel of the American Mission. It is due in fairness to Ibn Saud to explain that
he extended a most cordial invitation to Dr. Harrison of that Mission to visit
Riyadh for medical work in the summer of 1917, and that it was entirely his
own fault that his work terminated abruptly. It can never be absolutely
necessary to wrap up pills and powders in Christian tracts.
Finally in view of the Shariff’s attitude towards Ibn Saud, I do not think
that any good purpose would have been served by the deputation of a Sharifian
en-voy to co-operate with the Mission, but no words can adequately express my
i egret that circumstances deprived me of the collaboration of a representative
of the High Commissioner for Egypt—and more particularly of that of Mr.
(now Colonel) R. Storrs, UM.G., than whom no person could have been more
acceptable to Ibn Saud in view^ of his projected visit to Najd earlier in the
year as the representative of Sir Percy Cox. To this point I attach great
importance, and it must be realised that, from Ibn Sand’s point of view, I
went to Egypt as the advocate of his cause and came back defeated by the
advocates of the Sharif. We should describe the position somewhat
differently, but the result was the same to Ibn Saud and to us.
4. Objects of the Mission.
Summing up the position as regards the affairs of Ibn Saud in his telegram
^•4035, dated the 23rd September, 1917, Sir P. Cox noted that it had been
his “ hope that the projected Mission of Mr. Storrs in the previous June and
his passage to the Sharif accompanied by an envoy from Ibn Saud would have

About this item


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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File 2182/1913 Pt 9 'Arabia Policy towards Bin Saud' [‎137r] (271/406), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/10/390/1, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 5 April 2020]

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