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File 2182/1913 Pt 9 'Arabia Policy towards Bin Saud' [‎157r] (311/406)

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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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Precis of Relations with Ihn Sand (vide para. 2 of Report).
Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud the present Hakim of Najd, may be said to have
begun h^s reign m 1901, when he was proclaimed governor of Riyadh by his
father Abdul Rahman. > The Saud family were at that time in exile, having*
been driven out of their dominions in 1891, by their hereditary foe, Ibn
19 ° 2 ’ 4, Z1Z Wlth the hel P of Mubarak Ibn Sabah, Shaikh
?Qn?T a t t ’J eC °T ered ! n f raid wllich lle led ^ Person, and by
1906 he had so far re-established the old supremacy of the Saud as to carry
hostilities to the gates of Hail. During the years succeeding his return to
Riyadh he acted m close alliance with the Shaikh of Kuwait, who had everv
reason for desiring the curtailing of Rashid influence. For the Rashid were
allies, and m a remote acceptation of the term, vassals of the Ottoman empire
fuibsidised and backed by Constantinople, and they represented in Arabia the
lurkish policy of centralisation which the Shaikh was covertly resisting in
his own territories. His geographical position on the shores of the Persian
i j i, j d P . ced l 11111 m relations with the British Government; since 1899 we
had had a friendly understanding with him and had promised to support him
against Ottoman aggression. But the existence of this connection made us
unwilling to see him drawn into the confused and uncertain feuds of the
interior and acting on the principle laid down in 1897 that we were “ not
disposed to interfere more than was necessary for the maintenance of general
peane 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. ”, we had discouraged him from embroiling himself
in Central Arabian affairs. Ibn Sand, in spite of liis growing* importance,
was °utsi de the limits of our interest, thus appointed, and it was not until
1911 that special attention was drawn to him in our official reports. In that
year Captain Shakespear, the PoHtical Agent at Kuwait, while on tour, met
him by chance in the desert and was hospitably entertained in his camp. ’ Ibn
Saud expressed to him a desire to be received into a recognised relationship-
with Great Britain; he referred to Colonel Pellv’s visit to Rivadh in 1865 and
to the overtures made to us by his father, Abdul Rahman, in 1904 when.a Bri-
tish Agent was first appointed to Kuwait. He spoke in strong terms of the
hatred which the Arabs entertained for the Turks and of his ow T n resentment of
their occupation of the Hasa, a province which he was particularlv anxious to-
legam, not only because it formed part of his ancestral dominions, but also
because it would give him access to the s'ea and control over the
tribes from Riyadh to the coast. He regarded with grave apprehension
the aggressive policy of the new regime in Turkey and would welcome, if he
recovered the Hasa, a British Agent in one of his ports, and he added that
our trade w*ould benefit from the increased security wdiich he would maintain
on the caravan routes. Captain Shakespear could make no other rejoinder'
than that the British Government confined its interests to the coast and had
never challenged Turkish claims to the ordering of affairs in Central Arabia,
with which we had no concern; that we were moreover on amicable terms
with Turkey and should be averse from anything in the nature of intrigue
against the Ottoman Government, but in his comments on the report of this
interview Sir Percy Cox pointed out that as the Porte seemed disposed to be
intractable m the adjustment of matters relating to British interests in the-
•+ -u J e C0Illd ^ ot afford to i^npre Ibn Sand’s attitude. His personal author
ity had greatly increased, and it would be well to entertain cordial if distant
relations with him. The Foreign Office, however, decided that it was im
possible at that time to swerve from our policy of strict non-interference.
Iwo years later Ibn Saud, wuthout the assistance which he had tried to
obtain from us, though he was credited throughout Arabia with having secured
it, overran the Hasa, ejected without difficulty the small Turkish garrisons and
established himself on the coast at Qatif and Ojair. Captain Shakespear, on
his return to England in June, 1914, from a long projected journey across
Arabia, in the course of which he had visited Riyadh, bore witness to the strong
personal domination which Ibn Sand’s vigorous and commanding personality
had established, and from other reports it was clear that he was regarded
beyond his own frontiers as the coming man. He proved more than a match
for the ineffective eff orts of the Turks to retake the Hasa; they resorted to-
diplomacy and opened negotiations with him through Saiyid Talib. of Basrah.
Early in May TaPat Beg had formulated in private conversation at the British
Embassy the expectations of the Ottoman Government in terms which seemed
to his hearers little consonant with actual conditions. He proposed to estab
lish a strictly delimited frontier between Ibn Saud and Ibn Rashid, place repre
sentatives of the Sultan at Riyadh and at Hail, and rely upon the guile of

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' [‎157r] (311/406), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/10/390/1, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 24 July 2019]

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