The Magnanimity of Kings and the Manners of the Great
King Abdulaziz expelled the Ottoman garrison from Al-Ahsa Without shedding a single drop of blood
King Abdulaziz’s restoration of Al-Ahsa is not, merely, considered a restoration of an authentic right, but rather a strategic turning point in the Saudi- Ottoman conflict. And, perhaps, Medina has been the first to revolutionize after Al- Ahsa. This was after what they heard about King Abdulaziz’s extraordinary triumph over the Ottoman colonizer in (1914- 1918). Therefore, the colonizing, Ottoman legend has been destroyed.
Al-Ahsa has always been, strategically, important for either the first or the second Saudi State throughout history. They managed to protect it as the English have reached the Persian Gulf, hence came the importance to protect Al-Ahsa. At the same time, the French were about to attack the Levant. All this happened while the Ottoman Sultan has become weak. The Ottomans were, easily, beaten, politically, and economically, to the extent that they opted for exchanging their lands. This what has become of the Ottoman Empire that, once, has colonized lands.
The Ottoman garrison in Al-Ahsa was part of that expansion, and an arm of the oppression of the Ottomans on the coasts of the Arabian Gulf, and therefore, the founder King Abdulaziz restored Al-Ahsa to settle the matter in therein. Due to the interruption of communication between the Turkish garrisons and the Wali of the Turks in Iraq, the garrisons turned into mere military components. Isolated, they were, in the middle of the desert, with no strategic value, especially with the arrival of news about the defeats of the central Ottoman state in the Balkans, Libya, Armenia, and on the Russian borders. But the Turks had, as they have always been, tried a lot to cause division and spread strive among the population of the city and the ones of the desert, in order to disperse their word, and to ensure that they remain under the control of the occupier.
Al-Ahsa has always been strategically important for Saudi Arabia to stand against foreign colonizers, either the Ottoman colonizers or any other colonizer.
But that made the situation even worse. The members of the Turkish garrisons became partners of the bandits, and they helped the thieves in the raids, and shared what they stole with them, while the local population have been very restless, suffering the most from that insecurity, unfair taxes, and the arbitrariness of the Ottomans in their dealings with them, and they yearned for salvation at the hands of the founder to restore security and safety and remove their hateful occupation.
King Abdulaziz read the data in front of him and the tools he possesed with great depth and cunning. He set his ambitious plan based on what can be achieved without adventure or rush, but through a military hierarchical construction, relying on three Main themes.
King Abdulaziz, deeply, analyzed the situation, and has put a well- thought strategy to achieve his goal, without rushing. Having his strategy depend on hierarchical military planning, he relied on three main ideas:
Turkish soldiers turned into criminals as they had to make use of their partnership with bandits and thieves to spread horror and conflict among the people.
First: Neutralizing the rebels who were unaware of the great and deep changes on the ground and the development of King Abdulaziz’s military power. Therefore, the founder headed his army to a site called Al-Arma, in the north of Riyadh, and stayed there, with the aim of summoning fighters who did not join the Unitary project due to lack of awareness and lack of political knowledge, and to keep them away from confronting his movements towards Al-Ahsa.
Second: Using cunning in dealing with the Ottoman enemy, when he approached Al-Ahsa, with his army, the Turkish administrator Ahmet Nedim sent to him, asking about his goal in coming to this side. And he replied that he wanted to invade his enemies, and added: “And I want to buy food to supply the army.” To confirm the trick, he actually sent some men to buy some dates and rice. It was an elaborate plan and an Unparalleled Arab cunning. As Prophet Mohamed, peace and prayers be upon him, said: war depends on deception. Hence, it was necessary to plan a fateful battle with such tactics that distract the occupier’s attention until the completion of the military effort.
Third: he paved the way, through restoring local alliances and the loyalty of families and residents to build confidence with them. He sent messengers to families and tribes that bear full loyalty to the founder and the honorable Al Saud before his arrival. The security that prevailed in the era of the two previous Saudi states, and indeed the founder’s, has facilitated his restoration and entry to Al-Ahsa without risking the safe population.
As for the importance of entering Al-Ahsa? The Saudi historian Abd Allah Uthaymin mentions it in his book The History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in several points:
First: Because it was part of the first and second Saudi states, hence, he is restoring an authentic right.
Second: The occupation of the Ottomans in (1870) happened because of their deceptive manner, that is, they took advantage of the turmoil and disagreements colonized Saudi Arabia.
Third: the Ottomans took the side of the opponents of King Abdulaziz, hence, becoming an obstacle to his progress to recover his kingdom and liberate it.
Fourth: This area was necessary for Najd because it was the sea port for its trade.
Fifth: it was rich with its agricultural and sea-based resources, adding to its importance for trade ports.
Sixth: Entering it under his banner was a consolidation of his power against his opponents in the north and west of his country.
The founder, King Abdulaziz, reached Al Hofuf, the solid base of Al-Ahsa, and kept a large part of his forces outside; so that he would control it from within, and support would remain outside for any circumstance. Six hundred of his men marched in the direction of the Turkish garrison, cutting through the sword palms, and the plan required that King Abdulaziz, at the head of a selected group of the army, head towards an opening, prepared in advance, for his entry from the western wall that follows the Al-Umair Mosque, while the rest of his army would enter in small groups till all of the soldiers have entered, then, they should be divided into three groups. The first is located in the fence towers, and the second division is heading to open the eastern gate of Kut, which follows the market, while the third division should be ready to attack the Ottoman administrator in his headquarters if the need arises.
After that, King Abdulaziz sent a force of his army to Al Qatif, which was able to enter it without difficulties, and hence, restoring Al Qatif and Al Uqayr, and thus, all of Al-Ahsa was recovered.
The entire population pledged allegiance to King Abdulaziz on the Holy Qura’n and the Sunnah of His Messenger, and pledged to him to comply and obey, and in the meantime, the followers of King Abdulaziz had managed to control the entire Ottoman garrisons. The Ottoman commander and his garrison surrendered, asking King Abdulaziz for security for him and his army, so the chivalrous king secured him, to leave without his heavy weapons. And, indeed, he was sent to Al Uqayr and from there to Bahrain, and then to his country.
- Amin Al-Rihani, The History of Najd and Its Appendices, 4th Edition (Beirut: Dar Al-Rihani, 1970).
- Hafez Wahba, The Arabian Peninsula in the Twentieth Century (d.d.: Committee for Composing and Translating, 1935).
- Khair Al-Din Al-Zarkali, The Peninsula in the Era of King Abdulaziz, 3rd Edition (Beirut: Dar Al-Ilm for Millions, 1985).
- Abdullah Al-Othaimeen, History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 12th Edition (Riyadh: Al-Obaikan Library, 2003).
- Muhammad bin Abdullah Al-Abdul-Qadir Al-Ansari, Masterpiece of the Beneficiary on the History of Al-Ahsa in the Old and New, 2nd Edition (Riyadh: Al-Maaref Library, 1982).
- Medhat Pasha’s Memoirs, translated by: Youssef Kamal Hatata (Cairo: The Hindi Press, 1913).