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Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [‎84r] (168/220)

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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prima facie to present precisely similar difficulties. Ibn Rasliid, for all the
efforts of the Sharif and his sons to placate him during the last few months,
I regard as more likely to join Ibn Saud for mutual protection against the
ambitions of the Sharif than to accept the latter’s overlordship; Maskat,
Bahrain and the States of the Trucial Coast A name used by Britain from the nineteenth century to 1971 to refer to the present-day United Arab Emirates. are little likely of their own
volition to merge their independence in an United Arabia; the Idrisi and the
Imam have nothing to gain by adherence to the Sharif;—to go further afield,
there is, as far as my personal experience goes, little ground for supposing
that the people of Mesopotamia would submit to Sharifian overlordship except
by force and with extreme reluctance.
I am fully aware of the fact that my criticisms are purely of a destructive
nature and contain no germ of a constructive policy. I can only say that the
interests of the various Arab States, which go to the composition o'f the Arab
w T orld, are as diverse as those of the various provinces and divisions of India
and are as incapable as they of being welded into a homogeneous political
entity, except under the infiuence of a strong foreign domination, capable,
at least, of keeping the public peace between jarring sects and diverse
Arabian unity, as an ideal, in the broadest sense of the term, is doomed
to perish of inanition; our prestige and infiuence in Central Arabia have
suffered serious, though not irrevocable, diminution through our attempts to
give it life. I can see no reasonable solution of the problem before us, short
of the recognition of such Arab States, as we find to be in enjoyment of
political independence, and I can conceive no role in tbe future, more honour
able and satisfying to British aspirations, than that of controlling the desti
nies of the independent States of Arabia under a loose political hegemony,
responsible—if we except the moral responsibility to ourselves and the states
themselves to develop their resources—only to localise conflicts and keep the
peace, wdiere the interests of the majority are jeopardised.
His Majesty’s Government have, during the past few years, grown accus
tomed to regard the Sharif as the strongest pow T er in Arabia and have, perhaps
of their unconscious modesty, tended to minimise the part played in the
Sharif’s actual military operations by the forces and resources, to say nothing
of the services of the British Officers, placed at his disposal. It is not there
fore entirely unnecessary to call attention to the growdng power of Najd,
based on the unifying influence of a stern fanatical creed and consolidated,
after years of patient work, by a monarch, who fills to-day in Arab estimation
the place occupied but yesterday by Muhammad Ibn Rashid. It is, at any
rate, incumbent on H.M.’s Government to avoid provoking that powder to
action, and one cannot but hope that the adoption of such a policy will not
prove altogether incompatible wdth the recognition of the great part played
by the Sharif during these years of war.
14. The Wahhabi Revival.
Colonel Hamilton, on his journey to Riyadh in October, 1917, had occa
sion to pass within a day’s journey of Artawiya, one of the centres of the new
Wahhabi movement associated with the name of the Akhwan brotherhood.
He was impressed w r ith wffiat he heard regarding the tenets of this fanatical
sect and, without enquiry, accepted as probably correct a local estimate, which
gave the towm a population of 35,000 souls. A little reflection would, I am
convinced, have deterred Colonel Hamilton from reporting what he had heard
without further investigation, and it is not improbable that he did not expect
his report to be taken seriously. In the first place it v’as prima facie improb
able that a town, twdee as big as the biggest towm in Central Arabia, could have
sprung up in the space of a few years; in the second place—and this point is to
my mind conclusive—native estimates of population are notoriously unreliable.
Doughty’s plan of reducing all such estimates by 90 per cent, might have been
usefully resorted to in this case. I saw the town, from a safe distance, in
October, 1918, and I am satisfied that iffs population cannot exceed from 10,000
to 12,000 souls.
Be that as it may, I found, on my arrival at Jidda and Cairo, that
Colonel Hamilton’s report had obtained official publicity and a disturbing
amount of credence, causing no little alarm and predisposing the authorities,
in charge of Arab affairs to attach more importance, than was perhaps war
ranted by the facts, to reports emanating from prejudiced sources regarding
the growth and objects of the Wahhabi revival. A report, written by Lieut.-
Colonel T. E. Lawrence and purporting to give the views of Sharif Faisal,
appeared in the Arab Bulletin (No. 74 of 1917); Sharif Abdulla’s views, in due
course, received prominence in the same vehicle, and I felt that the issue was
being—if it had not already been—prejudged on totally insufficient data. I
deprecated the attaching of too much importance to the views of obviously
prejudiced individuals and did my best to discount the serious view that was
being taken of the situation in high quarters, but Sharifian circles made the
most of the imaginary menace and represented the Wahhabi revival as
immediately threatening the peace and security of Arabia.

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 [‎84r] (168/220), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F112/276, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 23 July 2024]

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