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Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [‎84v] (169/220)

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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A solitary incident—the only instance in the course of 12 months, so far
as I am aware, of the active ebullition of the dreaded militant Wahhabi move
ment-occurred, about this time, to lend colour to the stories circulated by
the King’s sons. A party of non-Wahhabi Ataiba tribesmen, including a
Shaikh, had come into conflict with the Akhwan of Ghat Ghat, whither they
had repaired apparently to raid or rob, and had paid for their temerity with
their lives. The injured relatives rushed to the Sharif for redress and the
latter drew alarming pictures of the ubiquity of Wahhabi propagandists and
the urgency of checking the movement in its initial stages. Ibn Sand was
accused of fostering the movement for the furtherance of his own political
Suffice it to say that, from this time onwards, the fear of a Wahhabi rising
played no small part in disposing II.M.’s Government to regard unfavourably
any proposal likely to increase the military strength of Ibn Saud. r j 1 he crisis
created by the Sharif’s attacks on the Wahhabi tribesmen of Khurma and the
growing possibility of an open rupture between Ibn Saud and the King, which
clouded the latter part of the period under report, confirmed Government in
tbeir reluctance to arm the former, though the necessity of keeping his atten
tion distracted from Sharifian affairs by active employment against the enemy
was recognised.
Subsequent study of the situation in Central Arabia tended to confirm me
in my view that the Wahhabi peril, as such, was the fiction of prejudiced
minds; I became convinced that Ibn Saud had the movement under perfect
control. At the same time, it became increasingly apparent that the most
alarming factor of the situation was the Sharif’s apparent determination to
provoke Ibn Saud to set the forces of Wahhabism in motion against himself,
either to convince H.M.’s Government of the justice of his warning or, at the
worst, to force Government to choose between himself and Ibn Saud—a
dilemma, which, obviously, could only be resolved in one direction. This fact
h ^. s . not Perhaps been sufficiently recognised—the Sharif’s persistence in the
affair of Khurma, unimportant as it was in itself, can have had no other
object than to provoke Ibn Saud into open hostility. This was patent to Ibn
Saud, who was not blind to the inevitable consequences of action by himself
to assert his rights by force, and his determination to avoid being drawn into
conflict on a matter, on which, on its merits, he had no strong feelings, was
equalled only by the difficulty he experienced in persuading his subjects to
be patient Fortunate y for him, the people of Khurma were well able to
look after themselves; their defeat by the forces of the Sharif would, certainly
have precipitated a conflict. ^ ’
Two great difficulties have, from time immemorial, beset the path of
those who have sought to rule Arabia—the nomadic habits of its tribesmen
and the lack of a common rallying point. To a certain extent, the house of
Kashid has been able to triumph over these difficulties by reason of the pecu
liar constitution of the Shammar tribe, whose solidarity is emphasised by the
possession of a common capital and a ruler of their own blood. It has how
ever, been otherwise with the house of Saud—a line of foreign rulers residing
a c ^ ntl f of their own creation and ruling a confederation of tribes never
inconvenient. thr ° W ° ft t ieir allegiance in tlle event its becoming
,, i iil fv 1 C Ti War ] S ’ lf ^ e ma y f? can tliem > of the decades which followed
W1 d ™ th ° f iaiSal ’ aptl 7 k exe . m Plify this point, and the present ruler of Najd
had no sooner come to the throne of Riyadh, than he found himself called
° T1 f i aC j t ^ sam e difficulty pretenders of his own house not only raising
e standard of revolt against him but receiving strong support amono- the
tribes and townships of Najd. Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud proved himself liow-
ever, to be a man of no mean mould,-the first years of his reign were spent
the foreign invaders from his furthest frontiers, then followed
a period during which he had to face the claims of rival candidates for the
throne, then a short sharp successful effort to extend his frontier at the
expense of the Ottoman Empire; finally followed the period of reconstruction
which though retarded by the war, has been steadily pursued Now as
ofTbuhslud 6 .’ 18 a }lomo ^ eneoils Political entity acknowledging the rule
* Se A t ui lg 1 ^ . work at i, 116 task of consolidation, by which he was con-
ronted, Abdul Aziz cannot have failed to be impressed by two models from
the history of Central Arabia. Muhammad Ibn Rashid had owed his strength
to the peculiar characteristics, which made the Shammar what they have
ancestor Ibn sIwl^ e , baSed - 0 , n ? . Badawi n city,-while his own great
ancestor, Saud Ibn Saud, had carried his conquering arms to the farthest
nn 1 |ffi er % 0f bj r f a i S ° 11 of the i udi cious combination of relio-ion and
policy, to which he owed his power. 8 u anQ
Ibn Saud followed neither the one model nor the other in its entiretv—
he set to work to combine the two and the result was the Akhwan movement
whose essential characteristics are as follows:— ovement,
(1) it was restricted to the Badawin, who, though nominally for the
most part, adherents of the Hanbali or, as they came later to be called, the

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 [‎84v] (169/220), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F112/276, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 21 June 2024]

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