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File 2182/1913 Pt 9 'Arabia Policy towards Bin Saud' [‎146v] (290/406)

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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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Egypt—that the defences of the town were in a dilapidated condition
Sand himself credited Ibn Rashid with four or five Turkmh Mountain gim
and no less than 20,000 modern rifles. The latter figure seemed to bean
obvious exaggeration, in view of the^fact that j^ nn au -r sa f e
the total manpower of Hail and its tribes at only ^15,
+r> r’orlnno ftio sItpti ccth of the enemv to X2,00U n
and five guns.
On this basis it seemed to the Mission that, while Ibn Saud was, without
question, able to command numbers of men far m excess of anything that
the enemy could produce, he was considerably inferior to him m rifle equip
ment and about equal in guns, if allowance be made for the fact that he
could not safely risk denuding the whole of his territory of its defences, while
the whole strength and armament of the Shammar would be available to
defend their capital, to say nothing of any accretion of strength, which Ibn
Eashid might subsequently be able to extract from the Turks m face of a
serious threat to his territory.
In the matter of men and armament, therefore, we came to the conclu
sion that, for the purpose of attacking Hail with a reasonable prospect of
success or at any rate without serious risk of disaster in the event of failure,
Ibn Saud should take the field with not less than 15,000 men and rather more
artillery than he had. Colonel Cunliffe Owen, at my request, drew up an
appreciation of the situation, in which, having arrayed the available evidence
before us, he set forth what he considered to be the reasonable military re
quirements of Ibn Saud for the task expected of him.
The financial and other aspects of the situation had yet to be considered,
as Ibn Saud made it quite clear from the beginning that, owing to shortage
of shipping and the consequent depreciation in the price of dates, which con
stitute one of the few exportable commodities of Najd (chiefly Hasa), and
other contributory causes, his existing financial resources, including the sub
sidy which he was receiving from 'Government, were not sufficient to enable
him to keep anything like a large force in the field for any length of time.
This point I readily appreciated, as it was known that, in wages alone, to
say nothing of provisions, etc., the Sharif’s troops were costing him £5 or £6
per man per month. At the same time, I noticed with satisfaction that his
financial difficulties loomed larger in his eyes than his deficiencies in arma
ment and were indeed of a serious and pressing nature, as the regal hospitality
of the court, both at the capital and in camp, involving as it does the feeding
of an average of probably not less than 1,000 souls twice daily was placing
Ibn Saud under obligations to his creditors, about his ability to meet which
he had good reason to feel uneasy. In addition to this, tribal subsidies con
stituted a heavy drain on his resources—the heavier for the competition he
had recently been suffering from the Sharif.
So far as I could ascertain, the bulk of Ibn Sand’s resources consists of
income derived from three sources, namely,—
(1) Customs duties at the ports of Jubail, Qatif and Uqair, amounting
to about Es. 4 lakhs per annum;
(2) Land revenue on dates, wheat, rice, etc., in the Hasa and Qatif
cases, amounting to about Es. 6 lakhs per annum; and,
(3) the British subsidy of £5,000 per month or Es. 9 lakhs per annum.
In addition to these sources of revenue, he derives an income from land
taxes in the Qasim, regarding which I was unable to ascertain the full details,
while his own statement that the proceeds of the annual taxes, collected by
him on camels and sheep, are more than counterbalanced by tribal subsidies,
I accepted as substantially correct.
Before leaving Basrah, I had taken the precaution of providing myself
with a substantial sum of money, the actual presence of which, stored partly
at Uqair and partly at Eiyadh itself, proved to be a strong’ factor in the
subsequent negotiations with Ibn Saud, to whom, as an earnest of what he
might expect in the event of his active co-operation with us in military
operations, I lent n sum of £10,000 on the seourity of future instalments of
his subsidy, before I left Biyadh on my journey to’Taif.
If serious military operations were to be attempted, it was clear that the
task of financing^ them would have to fall on the British Government, which
was already bearing the Sharif’s expenses on a lavish scale. In order, there
fore, to form an estimate of .the amount of money required I assumed that a
certain sum would be requisite for the initial purchase of transport animals
and provisions for, at any rate, the early stages of the campaign, and that a
regular monthly allotment would be necessary to enable him to keep his
forces in the field. The former I estimated at £20,000 to be expended half on
the purchase of 1,000 transport camels at an average price of £10 a head and
a half on the purchase of rice and other necessary foodstuffs; the monthly *
*My view in this matter was justified in that, when Ibn Saud did eventually arrive at Hail
the fortifications proved too formidable to allow of any assault unsupported by artillery.

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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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File 2182/1913 Pt 9 'Arabia Policy towards Bin Saud' [‎146v] (290/406), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/10/390/1, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 20 July 2019]

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