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Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [‎70v] (141/220)

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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Agent at Kuwait, had little difficulty in establishing friendly personal rela
tions with the ruler of Najd by a series of visits to his territories culminating
in his journey via Riyadh and the Qasim across Arabia to Suez in the early
months of 1914. When the War broke out, therefore, the ground was already
prepared for a resumption of official relations between the British authorities,
and Ibn Saud and Captain Shakespear was accredited to the Wahhabi Court.
The history of his operations and the sequel thereto has, however, already been
sketched in sufficient detail up to the close of the year 1916 in the “ Precis re
garding the relations of the British Government and Ibn Sand ” forwarded to
Government with Sir P. Cox’ Memorandum No. 2, dated the 12th January,
1917, and it is necessary for me in this place to do more than add my personal
testimony, regarding the great loss sustained by the British Government in
Captain Shakespear’s death. His name is remembered and held in high
honour in Arabia by all with whom he came into contact, and I make no
doubt that, had he lived, Hail would have fallen long since and Ibn Saud,
assisted by us on a more lavish scale than was in fashion during the early
days of the War, would have taken a more prominent part in operations against
the enemy than it has been possible or indeed necessary for him to do.
A reference to the Memorandum above quoted will sIioav that the death
of Captain Shakespear in January, 1915, on the battlefield of Jarrab, where
the forces of Ibn Saud were arrayed in our cause against those of Ibn Rashid
who had declared for Turkey and where the day went ill for our ally, was
fallowed by a long period of military inactivity on the part of Ibn Saud. This
interval had, however, been profitably spent in cementing our alliance with
him and had resulted in a treaty highly satisfactory to both parties, in a meet
ing of rulers at Kuwait at which Sir P. Cox invested Ibn Saud with the insignia
of a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire and finally in a
visit by Ibn Saud to Basrah, during which he not only had every opportunity
of seeing for himself the paraphernalia of modern warfare and the results of
the British occupation of Basrah, but was himself provided with a welcome
addition to his armament and a regular monthly subsidy to enable him to
renew active operations against his and our enemy, Ibn Rashid.
The year 1917 thus dawned with bright hope for the future. The neces
sity of sending an Officer to represent him in Najd was already engaging Sir
P. Cox’ serious attention, but it was not until May, that an opportunity pre
sented itself of giving effect to his plans in this direction. Mr. (now Colonel)
R. Storrs, C.M.G., had arrived at Baghdad on a visit on behalf of the High
Commissioner for Egypt, and with the latter’s ready consent it was decided
that he should return to Egypt across Arabia, visiting Ibn Saud in the Qasim
en route in order to place Sir P. Cox in possession of such first hand informa
tion regarding Ibn Saud’s strength and prospects as was necessary to enable
him to decide on the course to be adopted with a view to making the operations
in Central Arabia a substantial contribution to the general activities of our
Military forces in the Turkish theatre of War. Incidentally Mr. Storrs was
to endeavour to effect such improvement as was possible in the relations of the
King of the Hijaz and the Wahhabi ruler, whose mutual suspicions and dis
trust were growing increasingly apparent.
The necessary preliminary preparations having been made, Mr. Storrs left
Kuwait on the 9th June, 1918, with a zilfi caravan, but four days later he was
back at Kuwait, having fallen a victim to the sun on the third day of his
journey. It was out of the question for him to think of venturing again into
the desert at such a season and he returned to Egypt by sea.
It was now obviously impracticable to renew the attempt to link up with
Ibn Saud until the climate moderated and the hot weather dragged on with
Ibn Saud making a somewhat half-hearted pretence of threatening Hail from
the Qasim until Ramdhan, when he left Turki, his eldest son, in command of
such forces as had not dispersed and returned to Riyadh too fast. Meanwhile
the position in Central Arabia was becoming increasingly obscure, Madina
showed no signs of falling to the forces of the Sharif, the Turks held on to
the Hijaz railway, repairing breaches therein as thev occurred, while the rela
tions of our two chief Arab allies, the Sharif and Ibn Saud, were rapidly
becoming strained and difficult, the inactivity of the latter giving the former
pretexts for accusing him of lukewarmness in our cause and even of tacit
neutrality of a benevolent nature towards Ibn Rashid and the Turks.
It was in these circumstances that at the end of September, 1917, Sir P. Cox
reneved the project of sending a mission to Ibn Saud and, as it was generally
agreed that a serious effort should be made to eliminate or neutralise Ibn
Rashid m order that the Sharif s operations might be facilitated and the ground
of the existing friction between him and Ibn Saud removed, His Majesty’s
Government sanctioned the despatch of a Mission of more ambitious pro
portions Ilian had been considered feasible during the previous hot weather,
n act it a\ as contemplated that the Mission should be sufficiently representa-
ive of all interests to be able to dispose of the political differences and jea
lousies of our various Arab allies and that it should at the same time partake
oi a semi-military character m order that such proposals as it might make

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 [‎70v] (141/220), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F112/276, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 7 December 2023]

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