Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [86v] (173/220)
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. .
This transcription is created automatically. It may contain errors.
the ability of Ibn Luwai to hold his own single-handed, took the news calmly
and, without losing so good an opportunity of protesting once more against
the undisguised and active hostility of the Sharif, made it clear that he would
now be too busy with his own operations against Hail to be able to give atten
tion to other matters.
Such was the position, when war against Turkey came to an abrupt con
clusion relieving the British Government of all immediate anxiety in regard
to the development of the Central Arabian situation. As noted in the last
section, Sharif Shakir is still liiaintaining his threat against Khurma, but the
final denouement of the episode, whatever it may be and with whatever con
sequences to the peace of Arabia, falls beyond the scope of this report.
Sufficient has been said to show that the Khurma affair constituted in
reality a test case for the decision of the Sharif’s claim to jurisdiction over
Najd or no small part of it. The British Government is committed by treaty
to delimit the frontiers of the territory, over which Ibn Saud is recognised as
independent ruler. This problem must receive the attention of H.M.’s Gov
ernment in the postwar period of reconstruction, now imminent, and it will
not be out of place to consider briefly some of the main points of the problem
and to suggest, at any rate, the lines, on which it may be approached.
The problem, reduced to its simplest form, is that, while Ibn Saud claims
absolute independence and integrity in the whole of Najd, the Sharif has put
forward pretensions of overlordship over the wdiole of the Ataiha and Harb
tribes and the western section of the Suhai.
One has only to take cognisance of the fact that the Ataiba occupy the
Najd highlands and the western steppe from the line of the Dalqan and Sirr
Nafudhs to well within the line of the Hijaz mountains; that the Harb extend
from the confines of the Batin to Madina over the whole desert of upper
Qasim and that the western section of the Subai marches with the Buqum on
tlie line of the Shaib Shaba on the west and with the Ataiba along Wadi A seasonal or intermittent watercourse, or the valley in which it flows. Naim
on the east; to realise that, in effect, the Sharif claims sovereignty over Central
Arabia westward of a line drawn from Thamami, at the west end of the Batin,
along the Wadi A seasonal or intermittent watercourse, or the valley in which it flows. Rima and thence roughly southward along the eastern boun
dary of the Mudhib and Sirr districts to the Nafudh Sirra, south of the Najd
Highlands, and so westward to the neighbourhood of Wadi A seasonal or intermittent watercourse, or the valley in which it flows. Ranya. Thus the
whole of the Qasim and Sirr provinces are claimed by the Sharif, whose eastern
frontier would almost touch the frontier of Kuwait territory.
Such a claim would, it is needless to say, be resolutely contested by Ibn
Saud, who claims jurisdiction over the whole of Najd and over such parts of
the tribes abovementioned as reside therein. He rejects the possibility of a
solution on tribal lines and is supported in this contention by history, which,
so far as I know, has never been able to record the solidarity of the Ataiba and
Harb tribes in allegiance to a single ruler.
In any case, it is obvious that any claim on the part of the Sharif, involv
ing his acquisition of the Qasim and Sirr, is absurd on the face of it, and that
fact alone makes the solution of the problem on a tribal basis impossible. The
only alternative solution is a territorial boundary and the recognition of the
authority of each ruler over all tribes and individuals residing on his side of
such a frontier.
To find sucK a boundary is no easy task, but not so difficult as it may
appear, as Central Arabia has the advantage of having well marked physical
features, extending from north to south between the east and w^est line of the
Nafudh Sirra, which shuts oft the Wadi A seasonal or intermittent watercourse, or the valley in which it flows. Hawasir region, and the boundaries
of Jabal Shammar. The boundary line, above referred to, may be rejected as
impracticable; its southern section along the Nafudh Dalqan, continued north
wards along the western boundary of Sirr and the Qasim, is equally imprac
ticable, in that it places the wdiole of the true Najd Highlands, which are and
have always been under the effective rule of Ibn Saud, within the jurisdiction
ot the Sharif. Ihe next possible line is the Wadi A seasonal or intermittent watercourse, or the valley in which it flows. Naim, running rouHilv due
south from Sija; beyond that westward is the line of the Shaib Shaba'; beyond
that again is the line of the Wadi A seasonal or intermittent watercourse, or the valley in which it flows. Aqiq.
Between these three lines—and there seem to me no other possible ones—
the eventual decision must rest; the last though it enjoys a certain degree of
historical sanction may be rejected as giving Ibn Saud more than he claims;
tJ ! e x “ rst cl ls l on . 1 y open to the objections, firstly, that it places the western section
ot the Subai tribes and its capital Khurma within the jurisdiction of the
Sharif and thus cuts across the doctrine of the right of self-determination of
weak commumties, which is, to say the least, entitled to respect and, secondly,
that it leaves a Wahhabi island m an orthodox sphere and thus keeps open the
door of religious friction in Arabia; the middle alternative is to my mind
the one best suited to the requirements of local conditions, the one most accept
able to the people most vitally concerned, the one that comes nearest to provid-
mg an exact Ime of demarcation between the hitherto vague geographical
terms ISajd and Hijaz, and the only one which follows a recognised tribal
boundary for a considerable part of its length. Subject to minor modifications
of detail its exact course would be along the Hamdh-Rima watershed in 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.
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- English and French in Latin script View the complete information for this record
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