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Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [‎70r] (140/220)

The record is made up of 1 file (110 folios). It was created in 27 Aug 1893-19 Dec 1918. It was written in English and French. 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 Documents collected in a private capacity. .


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Bt. Lt.-Col. A. T. Wilson, C.M.G., C.I.E., D.S.O.,
Officiatijig Civil Commissioner for the
Occupied Territories in Iraq,
No. M-218. Dated Baghdad, the 12th Nov.. 1018.
I have the honour to submit a report on the operations of the Mission,
which I was privileged to conduct into Central Arabia to treat with His
Excellency the Imam, Abdul Aziz ibn Abdul Bahman ibn Faisal al Saud,
K.C.I.E., the ruler of Najd and its dependencies, of certain matters of mutual
import to himself and the British Government in pursuance of the instruc
tions of His Majesty’s Government communicated to Sir Percy Cox in a
telegram, dated the 20th October, 1917, from the Secretary of State for India.
My reports cover a period of almost exactly one calendar year, beginning
with the Mission’s departure from Baghdad on the 29th October, 1917, and
•ending on the 1st November, 1918, when I arrived at Baghdad on my return
from Central Arabia on the closing down of the Mission’s operations.
1 have deemed it convenient to abandon any attempt at a chronological
narrative of the Mission’s work in favour of a full and separate discussion of
the various problems which have called for consideration during the period
under report. Furthermore considerations of space have deterred me from
including in this review any detailed account of my journeyings in Arabia or
of the geographical and other incidental results obtained in the course thereof
except in so far as may be necessary to elucidate the matters with which the
Mission was more directly concerned. I have already contributed brief
accounts of some of my journeys for publication in the Arab Bulletin, and I
look forward now to a period of leisure wherein to sort out and arrange in a
form suitable for publication the copious notes which I have collected on a
variety of interesting subjects during my long sojourn in Arabia.
2. Previous Relations between Britain and Najd.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War there had for obvious reasons been
but little official intercourse between the British authorities and the rulers of
Najd. Apart from the fanatical inhospitality and aloofness of the people
themselves the long-standing friendship of Britain and Turkey precluded any
thing like political recognition by the former of the latter’s rebellious and
independent dependency.
Indeed the first occasion on which a British Officer visited Najd in an
official capacity was when 99 years ago Lt. Sadlier, deputed for the purpose
by the Indian Government, traversed the devastated territories of the \\ ah-
habi Empire with the sole object of conveying to the destroyer the congratula
tions of Government on his handiwork and of urging him to take drastic pre-
•cautions against a revival of the Wahhabi power. Fortunately Ibrahim Pasha An Ottoman title used after the names of certain provincial governors, high-ranking officials and military commanders.
and those for whom he acted were not men to take good advice, and if the
purpose of Lt. Sadlier’s mission ever became known in Arabia it had certainly
been forgotten before the next British Mission visited Riyadh.
That was in 1865 when Colonel Lewis Pelly, who, as Political Resident A senior ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul General) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Residency. in
the Persian Gulf The historical term used to describe the body of water between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. , had been called upon to deal with matters arising out of
the piracy and slave trade still practised on the Arabian shore of the Persian
Gulf, decided on his own initiative to visit the Wahhabi Monarch with a
small informed Mission. His reception by Fasal ibn Saud and his Wazir Minister. was
not encouraging; and the British Mission returned to the coast being conscious
that, though much had been learned, little had been accomplished in the direc
tion of establishing permanent friendly relations with the Wahhabi Court.
There ensued a long break in official intercourse between Britain and
Najd, whose fortunes during the interval were rudely shaken by the aggression
of the newly risen Rashid dynasty at Hail. Riyadh and all its provinces were
occupied by Muhammad ibn Rashid and the Saud family sought refuge at
Kuwait and elsewhere on the coast where they remained in exile until 1902.
The death of Muhammad ibn Rashid in 1898 and the recovery of Riyadh and
its provinces four years later by their present ruler were followed by a period
of consolidation during which the ambitions of Ibn Saud in the direction of
Hasa and the difficulties in which he became involved with the Turks disposed
him to look with friendly eyes on the power which he had learned to know as
the protector of Kuwait, and Captain W. H. C. Shakespear, I.A., Political

About this item


The file contains correspondence, memoranda, maps, and other papers relating to Middle Eastern affairs and a few other miscellaneous matters. The majority of the file concerns discussions of and proposals for the post-war settlement of Near Eastern territories, including Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula. The basis of these discussions was the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916.

Other matters covered by the papers include events in Siam [Thailand] and Burmah [Myanmar] and the colonial rivalry in the region between France and Britain, the Baghdad Railway, and relations with Ibn Saud in Arabia, including a report on the 1917-18 mission to Najd by Harry St John Philby (folios 67-98).

Folios 99-110 are six maps with accompanying notes that show the various proposed territorial settlements and spheres of influence in the Near East and one showing Britain's global colonial possessions.

Memoranda and correspondence comes from officials at the Foreign Office and 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. . Other correspondents include French and Italian government officials.

Extent and format
1 file (110 folios)

The file is arranged in roughly chronological order, from the front to the back.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the front of the envelope with 1, and terminates at the inside back last page with 110, these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio.

Pagination: the file also contains an original printed pagination sequence.

Written in
English and French in Latin script
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Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [‎70r] (140/220), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F112/276, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 21 June 2024]

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