chapter  III
54 Pages

Anglo-Sa'udi Relations during the First World War

For obvious reasons few periods in this century have received as much scholarly study as the First World War and the Middle East naturally forms a great part of that study. The general history of the partition of the Ottoman Empire and British policy in the Middle East from 1914 to 1918 is well known and needs no labouring here. 1 However, as the description of British policy towards ibn Sa 'ud during this crucial period unfolds, it must not be forgotten that Anglo-Sa'udi relations constituted only a small facet of the larger mosaic of British policy in the Middle East. From late 1914 to the beginning of 1916, while Britain negotiated a treaty with ibn Sa 'ud, the more important and fateful Husain-McMahan and Sykes-Picot negotiations proceeded simultaneously. The first two years of the War also witnessed the allied setback at Gallipoli and the disastrous British-Indian campaign in Mesopotamia. It must also be borne in mind that as Turkey entered the War late, and in view of the primary importance accorded to the Western Front, the Middle Eastern theatre and its needs were always subordinated to the European arena of conflict.