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Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [‎80v] (161/220)

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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Egypt—that the defences of the town were in a dilapidated condition.* Ibn
Sand himself credited Ibn Rashid with four or five lurkish Mountain guns
and no less than 20,000 modern rifles. The latter figure seemed to be an
obvious exaggeration, in view of the fact that Ibn Saud hmiself estimated
the total manpower of Hail and its tribes at only 15,000, and I thought it sa e
to reduce the strength of the enemy to 12,000 men, armed with modem nfles
and five guns.
On this basis it seemed to the Mission that, while Ibn Saud was, without ,
question, able to command numbers of men far in excess of anything that
the enemy could produce, he was considerably inferior to him in rifle equip
ment and about equal in guns, if allowance be made for the fact that he
could not safely lisk denuding the whole of his territory of its defences, while
the whole strength and armament of the Shammar would be available to
defend their capital, to say nothing of any accretion of strength, which Ibn
Rashid might subsequently be able to extract from the Turks in face of a
serious threat to his territory.
In the matter of men and armament, therefore, we came to the conclu
sion that, for the purpose of attacking Hail with a reasonable prospect of
success or at any rate without serious risk of disaster in the event of failure,
Ibn Saud should take the field with not less than 15,000 men and rather more
artillery than he had. Colonel Cunliffe Owen, at my request, drew r up an
appreciation of the situation, in which, having arrayed the available evidence
before us, he set forth what he considered to be the reasonable military re
quirements of Ibn Saud for the task expected of him.
The financial and other aspects of the situation had yet to be considered,
as Ibn Saud made it quite clear from the beginning that, owing to shortage
of shipping and the consequent depreciation in the price of dates, wdiich con
stitute one of the few r exportable commodities of Najd (chiefly Hasa), and
other contributory causes, his existing financial resources, including the sub
sidy which he was receiving from Government, were not sufficient to enable
him to keep anything like a large force in the field for any length of time.
This point I readily appreciated, as it was known that, in wages alone, to
say nothing of provisions, etc., the Sharif’s troops were costing him £5 or £6
per man per month. At the same time, I noticed with satisfaction that his
financial difficulties loomed larger in his eyes than his deficiencies in arma
ment and were indeed of a serious and pressing nature, as the regal hospitality
of the court, both at the capital and in camp, involving as it does the feeding
of an average of probably not less than 1,000 souls twice daily was placing
Ibn Saud under obligations to his creditors, about his ability to meet which
he had good reason to feel uneasy. In addition to this, tribal subsidies con
stituted a heavy drain on his resources—the heavier for the competition he
had recently been suffering from the Sharif.
So far as I could ascertain, the bulk of Ibn Saud’s resources consists of
income derived from three sources, namely,—
(1) Customs duties at the ports of Jubail, Qatif and Uqair, amounting
to about Rs. 4 lakhs One lakh is equal to one hundred thousand rupees per annum;
(2) Land revenue on dates, wheat, rice, etc., in the Hasa and Qatif
cases, amounting to about Rs. 6 lakhs One lakh is equal to one hundred thousand rupees per annum; and,
(3) the British subsidy of £5,000 per month or Rs. 9 lakhs One lakh is equal to one hundred thousand rupees per annum.
In addition to these sources of revenue, he derives an income from land
taxes in the Qasim, regarding which I was unable to ascertain the full details,
while his own statement that the proceeds of the annual taxes, collected by
him on camels and sheep, are more than counterbalanced by tribal subsidies,
I accepted as substantially correct.
Before leaving Basrah, I had taken the precaution of providing myself
with^ a substantial sum of money, the actual presence of which, stored partly
at I qair and partly at Riyadh itself, proved to be a strong factor in the
subsequent negotiations with Ibn Saud, to whom, as an earnest of what he
might expect in the event of his active co-operation with us in military
operations, I lent a sum of £10,000 on the security of future instalments of
his subsidy, before I left Riyadh on my journey to Taif.
If serious military operations were to be attempted, it was clear that the
task of financing them would have to fall on the British Government, which
was already bearing the Sharif’s expenses on a lavish scale. In order’, there
fore, fo form an estimate of the amount of money required I assumed that a
certain sum would be requisite for the initial purchase of transport animals
and provisions for, at any rate, the early stages of the campaign, and that a
regular monthly allotment would be necessary to enable him to keep his
forces in the field. The former I estimated at £20,000 to be expended half on
the purchase of 1,000 transport camels at an average price of £10 a head and
a half on the purchase of nee and other necessary foodstuffs; the monthly
*My view in this matter was justified in that, when Ibn Saud did eventually arrive at Hail
the fortifications proved too formidable to allow of any assault unsupported by artillery.

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 [‎80v] (161/220), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F112/276, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 29 November 2023]

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