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Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [‎79r] (158/220)

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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in Kuwait and, at the same time, in view of Ibn Sand’s disclaimer of responsi
bility for the leakage of supplies, I foresaw the recommencement of friction
between the two rulers, as the first persons to take advantage of the new regime
would be people of Najd, the enforcement against whom of the new restrictions
could not fail to give rise to endless complaint and correspondence. I criticised
the scheme in detail and suggested that, if the importance of maintaining good
relations wuth the Shaikh of Kuwait rendered persistence in the scheme
inevitable, the markets of Kuwait should be definitely closed to all Najdis, and
arrangements for the supply of the needs of the interior made through the
Hasa ports, over which Ibn Saud had firm and undivided control.
In making these proposals, I was under the misapprehension that the
pass system had been suspended, which was not the case. Nevertheless the
objection remained that Najd caravans would have to apply for passes, not as
heretofore to the British Officer in charge of the Blockade, but to Shaikh
Salim’s representative. It seemed to me obvious that endless possibilities of
friction remained and, in view of the growing delicacy of the Sharifian
.situation, I was anxious to remove all possible minor sources of dissatisfaction
in order to have a free hand to deal with bigger issues, when they arose.
It must be remembered that at this time, while the Khurma affair was
seriously threatening the peace of Arabia and I was endeavouring to divert
Ibn Saud’s attention from it to the campaign against Hail, I was faced on all
sides by a series of petty difficulties of an exceedingly irksome nature, which
were making Ibn Saud and his people querulous against the general policy of
the British Government towards Najdean susceptibilities. Our policy towards
the Shammar was causing much dissatisfaction and laying us open to the
charge, that we were not serious in our desire for their elimination; our under
takings in regard to the Ajman were rapidly breaking down with the inevitable
result of unrest and nervousness in Najd and now, once more, the commercial
interests of Najd were placed at the mercy of Shaikh Salim, while evidence was
rapidly accumulating that the Shammar smugglers were enjoying a new lease
of life.
The force of my general contention was recognized, firstly, by the Poli
tical Agent himself, who, however, urged that, the new arrangements with
the Shaikh being based on a policy of trust, he should be given another
chance of shewing his loyal adherence to British policy and that, if that
failed, resort might be had to the diversion of Najd commerce to the Hasa
ports as proposed by me; and, secondly, by Sir P. Cox, who on his arrival
at Kuwait in August, 1918, on his return from England, arranged, in con
sultation with the local authorities and Shaikh Salim, that passes for Najd
should, as before, be issued by the Blockade Officer and that the Shaikh’s
blockade operations should be confined to other elements only.
This last arrangement was in fact a reversion to the arrangement evolved
• on the basis of my representations in the previous May and, on the 4th Sep
tember, 1918, I was able to report that Ibn Saud had expressed himself once
more completely satisfied with the revised scheme.
From this point to the end of the period under report, when, in conse
quence of the C.-in-C.’s peace proclamation at Baghdad, the blockade was
for all practical purposes suspended, the blockade problem remained quies
cent, though I w'as able to report a number of cases of smuggling from Kuwait
which took place in September after the acceptance of responsibility for the
new arrangements by Shaikh Salim, who, to the end, kept up the double
game of pretending to enforce the blockade and actually assisting the enemy
. smugglers.
Summing up the results of the year, I find it difficult to resist the con
clusion that, on the whole, Ibn Saud exerted himself honestly and energeti
cally to close his territories to the operations of enemy purchasing agents
with the result that, except for one petty case of smuggling reported by me
in July, no definite case came to my notice. On the other hand numerous
instances of the passage of caravans from Kuwait to Hail were reported from
time to time, evidence was forthcoming of the accumulation of stocks at the
latter place and their eventual clearance by a caravan of 1,000 camels to
Damascus, while, finally, there seemed to be good ground to suppose that
Nuri Ibn Shalan, who had access to Aqaba, was making use of his position
to profit by the contraband trade.
If, as regards Kuwait, it is possible to suggest what would have been
an effective remedy for an intolerable situation, I venture to think it would
have been found in the diversion of Najd commerce to the Hasa ports as I
proposed; but, doubtless, the scarcity of shipping militated against the accept
ance of the proposal at the time when it was made. This matter has, how
ever, another and more permanent aspect which merits a few words of ex
planation before I pass from this subject.
It must be remembered that, since Ibn Saud re-established himself in
his ancestral territories in 1902, he has been so busily engaged in the task
•of political consolidation, culminating in the capture of Hasa from the Turks
in the spring of 1914, that he has had little leisure to consider the question

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 [‎79r] (158/220), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F112/276, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 21 July 2024]

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