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File 2182/1913 Pt 9 'Arabia Policy towards Bin Saud' [‎138r] (273/406)

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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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November, for the interior and arrived at Riyadh about mid-day on the 30th
November.
At Riyadh as already noted we were met by Lieut.-Colonel R. E. A.
Hamilton, 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, and most cordially received bv His
Excellency, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud, and his father, the Imam Abdul Rahman
ibn Eaisal.
During the following days the Mission was very fully occupied in dis
cussing with Ibn Saud the objects of its visit. In him I found an indefatig
able worker and, in spite of a tendency to be carried away from the point of
his argument by the waves of his Quradic eloquence, a man of good business
capacity, moderately well versed in the affairs of the world, fully conversant
with but by no means a disinterested spectator of the intricacies of Arab
politics and above all genuinely convinced of the necessity of the British
alliance as the only secure safeguard of the interests of his country and people
both now and hereafter.
By midnight of the 5th December having spent no less than 34 out of 132
hours since my arrival in interviews with Ibn Saud, to say nothing of sub
sidiary interviews with his cousin Ahmad ibn Thunaiyan, who appeared to be
in his full confidence and was often sent to prepare the way for delicate
subjects likely to arise in the course of subsequent interviews,—I felt that I
was sufficiently cognisant of the main facts of the situation to formulate
definite proposals for the consideration of Government.
In^ the meantime it w T as becoming increasingly evident that the King of
the Hijaz was doing his utmost to thwart the consummation of the Mission’s
work by obstructing the Mission of an envoy from the High Commissioner for
Egypt to Najd. Ibn Saud and I were fully agreed that the presence of such
an envoy to see the conditions of this country for himself was essential in the
interests of all concerned, and, accordingly, when I received the news that the
King had definitely refused a safe-conduct to Mr. Storrs on the ground that
the roads from the Hijaz to Hail—perhaps he meant Buraida—were unsafe,
I decided with Ibn Saud’s ready approval to secure a reconsideration of the
verdict by proving that the alleged danger existed only in the imagination
of the King.
Accordingly on the 9th December, leaving Lieut.-Colonel Cunliffe Owen
in charge of the current business of the Mission, and confident that no definite
orders could be passed on my main proposals and communicated to Riyadh
much before my return, I set out for Taif.
Arriving at my destination late in the afternoon of Christmas Day, I was
somewhat dismayed to find not only that Mr. Storrs was not there to meet me,
but that no warning of my expected arrival had been communicated to the
King. This was certainly extremely disconcerting. That the King
assumed my unannounced arrival to be the result of a plot to break down his
opposition to our negotiations with Ibn Saud I have no doubt whatever;
whether he has since been persuaded that the unfortunate omission to inform
him was a pure accident I do not know. I do not know myself whether it
was an accident.
However that may be, I was hospitably entertained by Sharif Humad,
the acting Amir of Taif 3 until the 28th December, when in answer to a
courteous invitation from the Sharif I set out for Jidda—taking however the
precaution to leave half my caravan and all my heavy luggage behind at Taif.
On the last day of the year I rode into Jidda, where Lieut.-Colonel Basset
and the Officers of the British Military Mission very kindly accommodated and
entertained me during the following fortnight. A few days later, Commander
I). G. Hogarth, C.M.G., R.N.V.R., arrived at Jidda to preside a,s the special
representative of the High Commissioner at certain conferences with the King
which Colonel Basset was endeavouring to arrange. The King after leaving
it long in doubt whether he would come down or not, eventually arrived at
Jidda about two days after Commander Hogarth, and during the following
days I was present at a series of conversations, in which the relations of Ibn
Saud and the King were the main theme of discussion. Suffice it here to say
that as soon as it became^ apparent that no useful purpose would be served by
further discussion of this subject, in view of the King’s unrelenting atti
tude of hostility, I decided, with the approval of Commander Hogarth and
Colonel Basset, to take my leave of His Highness. Certain indications had
already prepared me for what followed, namely, the point-blank refusal of
King to allow me to return overland. Such pressure as Commander
Hogarth and Colonel Basset were able to bring to bear on the King was exerted
in vain and nothing remained but for me to return to my work by sea.
M ith Sir P. Cox’ approval I availed myself of the High Commissioner’s
kind invitation to visit Cairo en route and accordingly accompanied Com
mander Hogarth on his return in H.M.S. Hardinge, which left Jidda on the
14th January, 1918, and visiting Yanba, Wajh and Aqaba on the way
arrived at Suez on the 20th January. The same evening I arrived
at Cairo where, with a brief interlude, during which I accompanied
Commander Hogarth on a visit to Palestine and Jerusalem, I remained till

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Content

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' [‎138r] (273/406), 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_100036528095.0x000051> [accessed 17 July 2019]

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