King Abdulaziz

The shrewdness of the Bedouin who neutralized two empires!

The founding period by King Abdulaziz was full of caution, cunning, politics and decisiveness, and it was very difficult for his country, which he was trying to restore from disintegration and poverty, and the Ottomans’ control over some of its parts, and the entire region also suffered.

From Istanbul in the north to Aden in the south, and from Mahammarah in the east in Persia to the farthest corner of the Maghreb, there were great powers fighting, empires emerging, and others ending or in the process of ending.

King Abdulaziz’s destiny was great. He made history himself despite all the great challenges he faced with courage but also with a flexible mind and without help from anyone. He forced the great powers to accept the fait accompli and seek to conclude treaties with him on his terms, using some political tactics as he did in the Uqair Treaty.

The treaty concluded by King Abdulaziz with the British Empire in Uqair secured for him for the first time the recognition of a great power that controls most of the Gulf coasts and has influence in the world. That recognition ensured his rule and ownership of Najd, Al-Qassim and Al-Ahsa. King Abdulaziz, who knows the capabilities of his emerging country, did not want to place it in the middle of an international conflict led by huge armies that have capabilities that no one else has. That very important treaty defined the features of the emerging country, which was on its way to unification later under the name of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

King Abdulaziz took the first step towards establishing his state on the first path of politics, and concluded an agreement as close as possible to a treaty between two fully sovereign states. The British could not have concluded the agreement, but the king, who enjoyed a good reputation, forced the British to come to his country in the port of Uqair specifically to ask him to be neutral in a battle in which he had previously decided the features of his participation. He chose to be neutral and made it clear.

It was an explicit British recognition, but rather a pledge to support the Saudi state and its ownership over its inherited lands from the first and second Saudi states.

If we discussed the details of the smart agreement, we would find that it stipulated that the British state would help King Abdulaziz if his state was attacked, but after consulting the king. Here, the young king gives himself the possibility to participate with the British in the decision and to have the right to assess the situation. That was what happened later, as that agreement made the British stand by and watch in amazement the young king move from one difficulty to another and resolve the matter without asking the British to intervene. That was what gave him the freedom to decide later when he gave the concession to discover oil to another country.

In the fourth clause of the agreement, King Abdulaziz pledged not to sell or lease any of the mentioned areas to a foreign country or grant it a concession without the consent of the British government, provided that this does not affect the interests of the country.

King Abdulaziz was a smart politician and tried to spare his country any clash with the great powers as well as the major powers in the region, and he succeeded greatly in that. The ingenuity of King Abdulaziz included being in these international conflicts without affecting his country while at the same time maintaining distinguished relations with everyone. He was only fighting political and military battles that would guarantee him the restoration of his lands with minimal losses. Although the British respected and appreciated him, the Ottomans viewed him with suspicion and experience, as he is the son of rulers who were able to return twice to rule their country that dates back more than 300 years.

There was a strategic impact due to the restoration of King Abdulaziz to Al-Ahsa. This matter rearranged the cards in the whole region. The Ottoman Sultanate resorted to the use of force in an attempt to regain the important province of Al-Ahsa from King Abdulaziz, but the founder sent his stern warnings to the Ottomans that any recklessness against him would be met with not only a response, but also an expansion towards the main areas of influence of the Ottomans.

This prompted the Sultanate to return to the political rules. Therefore, they chose the experienced politician, Talib Al-Naqeeb, to head the negotiating delegation with King Abdulaziz, so that he might be able, with his tact, to conclude an agreement that is comfortable for both parties, provided that the negotiation would have main rules to be referred to, which are as follows:

Attempting to resolve the dispute peacefully, achieve Islamic unity, preserve Ottoman unity, and not shed Muslim blood. Undoubtedly, these rules were among the basic things that King Abdulaziz sought to.

The Ottoman delegate, Talib Al-Naqeeb, began his negotiating steps with King Abdulaziz. The King was keen not to deviate from a negotiating framework that served his country and its interests, knowing the importance of the matter. Therefore, he presented a written and sealed negotiating program. Here, the Ottoman delegation led by Talib Al-Naqeeb agreed to King Abdul Aziz’s project, and its translation was submitted in a secret telegram and in code to the government in Istanbul. Here, the Ottoman delegation led by Talib Al-Naqeeb agreed to King Abdulaziz’s project, and its translation was submitted in a secret telegram and in code to the government in Istanbul. Of course, there are many details in that agreement, but when we examine them, we find that they have achieved the king’s strategic goals later.

Thus, the Bedouin king, coming from the depths of the desert, was able to overcome two empires that had great negotiating institutions. He also neutralized them. He turned the dispute with them into great gains that no one in the Arabian Peninsula dreamed of, which would later result in the unity of his country and people. The king used all his negotiating tools. He also employed political tactic, danger neutralization, and not get drawn into alliances to build his country and build respect among his opponents and enemies who responded to his demands thanks to his savvy and negotiating abilities.