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Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [‎92r] (184/220)

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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.stranded. Then it was that he saw in his proposed deputation to Najd a
providential means of escape from Basrah where his position had now become
highly precarious, and he left hurriedly for Ibn Saud’s camp, ma Zubair.
Meanwhile the Wahhabi Chief, in response to Turkish exhortation, had plead
ed that he could spare no troops for the ‘Iraq till he had reduced Ibn Rashid
to his rightful state of vassalage. To the British message he replied that he
was unshaken in his long-standing desire for intimate relations with us. But
he was not unnaturally reluctant to take open part with us until lie was satis
fied that our change of front towards himself was likely to be permanent,
and in spite of his personal confidence in Captain Shakespear it was with
some misgiving that he consented to his visit. The meeting took place on
December 31st at Khufsah near Majma‘ in Sudair. Ibn Saud spoke with
great frankness. Before compromising himself wholly with the Turks he
asked that our assurances of support should be embodied in a formal treaty,
the terms of which were drafted forthwith. They included a guarantee of
complete independence on our part and an undertaking on the part of Ibn
Saud that he would have no dealings with other Powers except after reference
to the British Government. He informed Captain Shakespear that he had
been in communication with the Sharif and with the heads of the northern
Anazah confederation and that they were resolved to stand together. He was
holding in detention a party of four envoys sent by the Turks to urge him to
join Ibn Rashid in a against us, but after consultation with Captain
Shakespear the Turkish mission was dismissed with the reply that Ibn Rashid’s
forces w r ere camped within two days of Ibn Saud and that there could now be
no question of peace between them. On January 17th a messenger arrived
from Mecca bearing a letter from the Sharif’s son, Abdullah, who wrote that
the Sharif had been called upon to proclaim the jihad and was temporising
till he heard wdiat line Ibn Saud proposed to take. Ibn Saud made an answer
that he saw no advantage to the Arabs in joining the Ottoman Government
and had himself dismissed a Turkish deputation empty-handed.
Upon the reports sent by Captain Shakespear from Ibn Saud’s camp, Sir
Percy Cox was authorised to proceed with the negotiations for the treaty, but
on January 24th battle was joined between Ibn Saud and Ibn Rashid and
Captain Shakespear, unarmed and present only as a spectator, met his death.
Ibn Saud’s version of the disaster was that he was shot dead by a Shammar
rifle-bullet, but this statement is in any case based only on second-hand
information, as it is undisputed that Captain Shakespear had taken up a
position in a different part of the field than that where his host was located.
Since then various and divergent accounts of wdiat happened have been recited,
one of little more value than another, but the balance of evidence goes to
show that he was first wmunded in the leg and disabled, and soon afterwmrds
killed in the charge of Ibn Rashid’s cavalry which overwhelmed the flank
on which he was posted. In the sauve qui pent which ensued it is feared
that he wms either abandoned or forgotten, but the precise circumstances of
his untimely death will probably never be ascertained. Ibn Saud expressed
profound regret for the loss of one whom he regarded as a brother, and always
refers to him with respect and affection.
The action was indecisive: both parties claimed the victory and both
were temporarily crippled and forced to retire. It was an unexpected and
a somewhat disconcerting result, for Ibn Saud’s preparations had been made
on an exceptional scale and his forces were said largely to outnumber those
of Ibn Rashid, though he was inferior in cavalry. The accounts given by the
Arabs attribute his defeat to the treachery of the Ajman. Ibn Saud’s personal
courage is beyond question, but he not uncommonly falls short as a tactician,
and Mubarak of Kuwait pronounced him to be a poor leader in battle. But
if he had not dealt Ibn Rashid a crushing blow, he had at least put him out
of action and prevented him from joining the Turks, as he unquestionably
would have done. The intervention of Ibn Rashid in the early part of the
Mesopotamian campaign might have added considerably to our difficulties.
Nevertheless Captain Shakespear’s death was a heavy price to pay for the
advantage of immobilizing him.
The twm chiefs held apart without further hostilities till the summer
wdien an agreement, dated June 10th, was concluded between them. Ibn Rashid
recognised Ibn Saud’s claims, except that of overlordship which he could
scarcely be expected to acknowledge, and undertook not to play a treacherous
game towards the Turkish Government but to incline towards whichever Gov
ernment was in alliance with Ibn Saud. He confined his own jurisdiction
to Hail and its villages and the Shammar tribes, while Ibn Saud was acknow
ledged to hold all Najd from A1 Khahaf to Dawasir. A1 Khahaf is no doubt
the Kahafah of Hunter’s map, a little north of latitude 27 degrees. In a
tribal country the adjustment of frontiers can never be very exact, but it is
clear that Ibn Rashid renounced all pretensions to the Qasim, a province
whose rich oases had frequently changed hands. It is of interest to note that
the tribes reckoned as subject to Ibn Saud are the Mutair, Ataibah, Harb,
Bani Abdullah, Ajman, Murrah, Manasir, Bani Haja, Subai, Sahul, Qahtan
. and Dawasir, but this catalogue must not be taken as exact, for the Mutair are

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 [‎92r] (184/220), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F112/276, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 20 July 2024]

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