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File 2182/1913 Pt 9 'Arabia Policy towards Bin Saud' [‎153v] (304/406)

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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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36
4 f
expressed their inability to supply arms for the Hail campaign it is to Ibm
Sand’s credit that he resisted the temptation to reply to lakhn 1 asiia. ^ _
Another Turkish communication received in August he treated with simi
lar contempt—a letter signed by four leading chiefs of the Asir tribes, but
obviously, from its style and contents, dictated by Muhiyuddm Beg, the
Turkish Commandant and Mutasarrif in Asir, m which Ibn Saud was re
minded of the benefits accruing to the province of Asir from Turkish rule and
was called upon to join the signatories in defence of the true faitn.
So much for such correspondence as is known to have been addressed to
Ibn Saud by or on behalf of the Turkish authorities. In June a report,
emanating from Aden, indicated, apparently on good authority, that Ibn
Saud and the Turks had concluded arrangements, whereby certain officers
were to be allowed to pass down to Yaman to set the finances of the troops
serving there in order, but at no time did this report seem to me to be anything
but the fiction of some prejudiced brain. In any case, it was intrinsically
improbable on the face of it, and I never heard any more of the results of
the alleged arrangement.
The only occasion, on which, so far as I know, Turkish Officers attempted:,
to pass through Najd, occurred in April, when, on my return to Riyadh, Ibn
Saud informed me that, having received information of the passage of a Dar-
wish through Riyadh, he had stopped and arrested the man, who proved to be
a certain Qol-Agasi Qudsi Efiendi, an Officer of the Yaman forces, endeavouring ■
to make his way from Sanaa and Ibha via Riyadh to Medina and Constanti
nople with a considerable sum (£ T341) in Turkish notes and a number of
private letters, which contained little of interest and importance beyond the
information that another officer had left Ibha some three weeks or so ahead
of Qudsi Effendi bound for the same destination. Whether that officer got
through or perished on the journey it is impossible to say, but he was not in
tercepted bv Ibn Saud.
As regards Qudsi Effendi, who remained in custody at Riyadh to the
end of the period under report, I expressed a desire to see him on my return
from Wadi Dawasir, with a view to arranging for his despatch to the coast for
internment by the British authorities. My desire to visit him being com
municated to him, he made it quite clear that, though he could not refuse to
see me, if Ibn Saud insisted on his doing so, his disgust for and hatred of infi
dels was such, that he would rather be. spared the ordeal. In these circum
stances I respected his wishes and never saw him, though, hearing from another
source that he was in custody in circumstances of great hardship and discom
fort, I begged Ibn Saud to improve the conditions of his imprisonment. Qol
Agasi Qudsi Effendi, for all his unreasoning fanaticism, had reason to be-
grateful to an infidel for a very substantial alleviation of the miserable condi
tions, under which he lived in the dungeons of the Riyadh fort for
nearly two months.
17. Arms in Najd.
In view of the often-repeated reluctance of H.M.’s Government to supply
Ibn Saud with arms and the High Commissioner’s insistence on the inadvis
ability of strengthening the Wahhabi forces on account of the possible deve
lopment of a Wahhabi menace, it is important to note that, while Government’s
policy in this matter had the effect of alienating, to a certain extent, the sym
pathies of Ibn Saud, it failed of its main object owing to the Sharif’s lavish
distribution of arms and ammunition among irresponsible elements of the
population of Yajd in the mistaken belief that he was thereby securing their
allegiance. To this may be added the illicit traffic in arms and ammunition,
out of which, there seems little doubt, certain Sharifian officials, responsible
for the custody of military equipment, made considerable profits.
The traffic in arms and ammunition was carried on in Yajd on a wholesale
scale, and cases came to my notice of the transit thereof through Yajd to 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. coast. Ibn Saud was constrained to forbid the export of ammu
nition from his territories and to take steps to purchase such surplus stocks, as
were available, for his own use, with the result that, during the last months
of the period under report, he had bought up considerably in excess of 300,000i
rounds, while I estimated that at least an equal quantity, in the aggregate,
was held by individuals. Ibn Saud being content to leave rifles in the posses
sion of those who had them, knowing that they would always be available for
his service, it was not possible to procure even the roughest estimate of the
number received from Sharifian sources, but it is known that Yajd volunteers
were freely supplied with arms and regularly came away with the equipments;
so secured—frequently as deserters. In these circumstances it may be assumed
that in one way or another Najd secured large quantities of arms, possibly not
far short of 5,000, if we assume a rough percentage of one rifle to 100 rounds
of ammunition brought away.
The result of the Sharif’s policy and, indeed, of our own was to weaken.
Ibn Saud in relation to his own subjects and leave him in a worse position to
control the Wahhabi movement than before, while, at the same time, greatly
increasing the strength of the tribes.
.0
I

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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' [‎153v] (304/406), 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_100036528095.0x000070> [accessed 20 July 2019]

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