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Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [‎83v] (167/220)

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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ruler in the formal Khutba of the Friday prayers. A word of caution seems,,
however, to be necessary on this subject, in so far as the Wahhabi element of.
Central Arabia is concerned. Sir Percy Cox, at a conference held at Cairo
in March, 1918, of which I have recently seen the minutes, stated as his
opinion that, while Ibn Sand would never recognise the Sharif as his temporal
sovereign or suzerain, he would probably be prepared to admit his claim to the
Califate. That is true but with an important reservation, which, with due
deference to Sir P. Cox’ views, I consider it necessary to state; Ibn Saud, while
admitting that the Sharif’s claims to be Calif of Sunni Islam is as good as,
if not better than, that of anyone else, including the Sultan of Turkey, in virtue
of his direct descent from the Prophet,—as a matter of fact, I doubt if he
would now, in view of what has happened during the past year, even commit
himself to this admission,—regards Sunni Islam itself as a perversion of the
true doctrines of Muhammad, which are represented only by the Hanbali or
Wahhabi school, and, while raising no objection to the Sharif or anybody else
becoming Calif, would, on no account, admit his spiritual suzerainty over
himself and his people.
Unless by the use of force, it seems to me as certain as anything human,
that the Sharif will never attain to sovereignty or suzerainty over Najd. I
have indicated above how the adoption of a different policy by him might have
changed the history of that country in relation to himself, and I have, perhaps,
said enough to shew that the last hope of Arab unity disappeared with the first
Sharifian attack on Khurma, if not before.
In any case, I understand that the ideal of Arab unity under a single ruler,
which came into prominence in the early stages of the negotiations with the
Sharif, has definitely been abandoned by all serious students of the problem.
Nevertheless, the necessity of finding some solution for the Arab problem
remains—that is to say, if we are not definitely prepared to leave Arabia to
its own devices with the prospect of continual strife and bloodshed—and recent
correspondence indicates the revival of the old ideal in a modified form, embo
died in the formula “ Priority of King Husain without prejudice to the ter
ritorial rights of other Arabian Chiefs ”, which occurs in a telegram of the
High Commissioner, dated the 12th August, 1918.
I am not sure whether this policy is intended to be synonymous with what
is called the “ suzerain policy ” by the High Commissioner in a letter, written
in May, with which a long note by Colonel C. E. Wilson, British Agent at
Jidda, was forwarded for the consideration of H.M.’s Government, in which
the idea of establishing King Husain as the suzerain of all Arab potentates
and of educating the latter up to the acceptance of such a scheme was developed
in detail. . *
The ideals of priority and suzerainty amount in effect to the same thing.
H hatever happens, there can be no doubt that King Husain, by reason of his
activities during the war, of the territories which presumably he will directly
control of the greater resources at his disposal and of his world-position in
spiritual matters, will always be the most important unit in the Arab world.
It is obvious, however, that something more than this is intended by the Higli
Commissioner, as it is without doubt desired by King Husain—namelv, that,
by political or other pressure, his general suzerainty should be imposed upon-
all other potentates, whom we are in a position to influence.
i t ^ col ^ ess I. r eg a rd this ideal as entirely Utopian—however desirable it may
be from the point of view of King Husain and H.M.’s Government—and Mr.
lyjry s dictum, already quoted, should be sufficient warning against any
attempt to force a solution of the problem on Arabia, if only; lest we raise up -
so great a volume of opposition to the Sharif himself, that his position will
become untenable and the British Government find itself called upon to inter
vene to keep the peace—even to safeguard Mecca.
The Sharif has only himself to thank for the bitterness, which exists-
between himself and Ibn Sand His attacks on Khurma will long rankle in
the hi easts of the people of Najd as an example of his methods of conciliation.
I i Saud, recognizing his own interest in preserving friendly relations with
the Sharif on account of his special position in our favour, has long withheld
his hand in spite of provocation, he has even held out the olive branch in the
ment hut in^the end^m at ^ suggestion, against his better judg
ment, but, in the end, more or less spontaneouslv. That letter was retnrnprl

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 [‎83v] (167/220), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F112/276, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 29 November 2023]

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