On January 27, 1927, the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd, along with its dependencies, was declared, with Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud as its king. It had two capitals, Mecca and Riyadh. This was before the kingdom's name was changed in 1932 to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with Riyadh as its capital. How did Saudi Arabia evolve to its current name and form?
Historians generally agree on dividing the history of the House of Saud into three periods: the period of formation and establishment under the name of the "First Saudi State", followed by the "Second Saudi State", and finally the "Third Saudi State", which extended until 1932, when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was officially declared with its present-day borders.
To understand the development of the kingdom until it reached its current form and name, we will refer to three main sources: the first and second volumes of the book, "The Title Of Glory In The History Of Najd" by Othman bin Abdullah bin Bishr, and the book "A Nation in a Man" by Abdallah Ben Abdel Mohsen At-Turki.
The House of Al Saud
In the 15th century AD, Mani' ibn Rabi'a al-Muraydi, the oldest-known ancestor of the House of Saud, migrated with his family from a place near Qatif to Wadi Hanifa, where the dwellings of his tribe were located. They belonged to the ancient Rabi'ah tribe in the region, which governed the towns located on the banks of Wadi Hanifa.
The name "Al Saud" is derived from the name of their grandfather, Saud bin Muhammad bin Muqrin. When Muqrin bin Mirkhan assumed leadership, he chose Diriyah as the headquarters of his emirate in 1682.
It was during the reign of Muhammad bin Saud that a religious reformer named Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab was born in the emirate of Al 'Uyaynah in Nejd. He was determined to combat religious innovations and heresies (bid'ah), and many people followed him. However, the prince of Al 'Uyaynah, Othman bin Hamad bin Omar, turned against him, so he left for Diriyah, where he was welcomed by its Emir, and they formed an alliance in 1745.
The story of the First Saudi State began with the alliance between Muhammad bin Saud and Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.. Learn more about the birth of Saudi Arabia from its first state to the present-day Kingdom
The First Saudi State (1788-1818)
It bore the name of the Emirate of Diriyah, and its rulers held the titles of Emir (prince) and Imam, with Diriyah as its capital. It was successively ruled by Muhammad bin Saud (1744-1765), Abdulaziz bin Muhammad bin Saud (1765-1803), Saud bin Abdulaziz (1803-1814), and Abdullah bin Saud (1814-1818).
The story of the First Saudi State began with the alliance between Muhammad bin Saud and Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. The Al Saud family succeeded in unifying Nejd after years of bitter wars, gradually defeating the Emirates opposing them such as Al 'Uyaynah, Riyadh, Al-Kharj, and Al-Qassim. The spread of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab's ideas played a significant role in their success.
After successfully unifying Nejd, the Al Sauds turned their efforts towards the Al-Ahsa region. The emirs of Al-Ahsa, from the Bani Khalid tribe, weren't able to resist them, ultimately succumbing to their authority. However, they sought help from Sulayman Pasha and Iraq, and he launched three campaigns against the Al Sauds. Despite these campaigns, the Al Sauds emerged victorious, solidifying their control and gaining full dominance over the entire eastern region.
In 1792, the Saudis succeeded in annexing Qatar. They also attempted to annex Bahrain but were prevented by the support of the rulers of Muscat for Bahrain's rulers. Similarly, they failed to annex Kuwait in 1804 due to British support. At that time, the Brits had transferred the headquarters of the East India Company from Basra to Kuwait due to their disputes with the Ottoman authorities in Iraq.
From the establishment of the First Saudi State all the way to the establishment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with its current borders... A history of conflicts, conquest and wars
In 1803, the Al Sauds succeeded in extending their influence over the Hejaz, which was under the rule of the Sharif and Emir of Mecca, Ghalib ibn Musa'id, who was loyal to the Ottomans. Their campaigns also reached Yemen, Asir, Tihamah, and Najran.
During that period, conflicts with the Sultanate of Muscat began, and the Saudis succeeded in defeating its armies in the Battle of Khor Fakkan, leading to the submission of Omani territories to the Saudis until 1813.
Thus, the Saudi state came to encompass Nejd, the Hejaz, the Gulf Emirates, Asir, and Hadhramaut, and also extended from Hauran in Bilad al-Sham (the Levant) to the outskirts of Baghdad.
This alarmed the Ottoman Empire, prompting them to attempt to eliminate the First Saudi State through Muhammad Ali Pasha, the Wali (viceroy, governor) of Egypt. The mission succeeded in 1818.
The Second Saudi State (1818-1891)
It was known as the Emirate of Nejd, its rulers held the titles of Emir and Imam, and its capital was Riyadh.
The story of the Second Saudi State begins after the collapse of the first one. In 1820, Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Saud left Riyadh. He had been the ruler since 1818 and started preparations to rebuild the new Saudi state on the same foundations as the First Saudi State. He commenced his rule in 1824 after the surrender of the Egyptian garrison in Riyadh, which he designated as the capital of his state.
In 1834, Turki bin Abdullah was assassinated, and he was succeeded by Faisal bin Turki, who began his first reign in 1834. Then in 1836, Muhammad Ali Pasha launched a new campaign that entered Riyadh without any resistance after Faisal's withdrawal. Khalid bin Saud then assumed power and, with the assistance of Egyptian forces, managed to establish his control. Skirmishes continued between the Saudi forces and Muhammad Ali's troops, which clashed with Faisal's forces in Ad-Dilam. Muhammad Ali's forces emerged victorious, capturing Faisal and sending him to Egypt. Thus, Faisal's first reign came to an end in 1838.
Did you know that in the early stages of the formation of Saudi Arabia, the Saudis attempted to annex Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait to their territories?
In 1840, according to the Treaty of London, Muhammad Ali withdrew his forces from the Arabian Peninsula. Khalid bin Saud was unable to seize control, and so 'Abdullah bin Thunayan bin Ibrahim bin Thunayan bin Saud bin Muhammad Al Muqrin' was able to seize the reins in Riyadh. He remained in his position until 1843, the year when Faisal bin Turki managed to escape from his prison in Egypt. When Faisal entered Riyadh in 1843, his second reign began.
On December 11, 1865, Faisal bin Turki passed away, and internal strife and external conspiracies plagued the country. Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Rashid, the Emir of Hail, took advantage of these circumstances and began planning to seize Riyadh. He led his army to achieve this goal, and Abdul Rahman bin Faisal led his forces towards Al-Qassim. However, Abdul Rahman learned of the defeat of its people in the Battle of Mulayda in 1890, so he returned to Riyadh, where he left with his family to the eastern region.
Then he returned to Riyadh after forming an army of his supporters and marched towards Al-Mahmal to repel Ibn Rashid's advance. The two armies met near Huraymila in September 1891, and Abdul Rahman's army was defeated. Ibn Rashid continued his advance on Riyadh and ordered the demolition of its walls along with the old and new palaces of its rulers, thus marking the end of the era of the Second Saudi State.
As for Abdul Rahman, after his defeat, he joined his family in the Al-Ahsa region and then headed to Qatar. He requested permission from the Ottoman government to reside in Kuwait, and they agreed. So, in 1892, he traveled to Kuwait with his family.
The Third Saudi State (1902-1932)
It was initially known as the Emirate of Nejd and Al-Ahsa until 1921. Then it was called the Sultanate of Nejd until 1922, followed by the Sultanate of Nejd and its Dependencies until 1926 when it became the Kingdom of Hejaz and Sultanate of Nejd and its Dependencies. After a year, the name changed to the Kingdom of Hejaz and Nejd and its Dependencies until 1932 when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was declared with its current borders.
Its ruler, Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud, held titles such as Emir of Nejd and Al-Ahsa, Sultan of Nejd, Sultan of Nejd and its Dependencies, King of Hejaz and Sultan of Nejd and its Dependencies, before he finally became the first Saudi ruler to hold the title of King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Riyadh remained the capital throughout that period.
The story of the Third Saudi State began with Prince Abdulaziz bin Abdul Rahman Al Saud leading a small campaign of sixty men of his relatives and supporters, towards Riyadh to gain control of it. The people of Riyadh pledged allegiance to him on January 15, 1902.
In September 1904, the Al Saud family emerged victorious in the decisive Battle of Shinanah against the Rashidi forces, enabling Abdulaziz Al Saud to establish his authority in Nejd. The Battle of Shinanah marked the beginning of the end for the Ottoman military presence in Nejd as well as the beginning of the end of the Rashidi Emirate. After the battle, the Third Saudi State expanded to include all the lands of Al-Qassim, and the forces of Ibn Rashid retreated towards Jabal Shammar. After internal conflicts plagued the Al Rashid family, the Al Saud family entered Hail in September 1921.
Abdulaziz also sought to unify Nejd and Al-Ahsa, which had been under Ottoman control since the reign of Wali Midhat Pasha over Iraq in 1871. His goal was to have a seaport that would contribute to the country's economic development.
Abdulaziz marched with his forces towards Al-Ahsa, and the Ottoman troops put up a limited resistance but realized its futility and surrendered in 1913.
As for Asir, it was annexed by a Saudi campaign led by King Abdulaziz's son, Prince Faisal, in 1921. Asir was divided into two political entities: the northern part under the rule of the Al Ayed family, with its base in Abha, and the southern part under the rule of the Idrisid family, with its base in Jazan.
With regards to the Hijaz, the relationship between Abdulaziz Al Saud and Sharif Hussein bin Ali was tense during World War I and deteriorated further due to border disputes between Nejd and the Hijaz. The situation worsened due to Sharif's revolution against the Ottomans and his aspirations to lead the Arab world, his prevention of letting the Nejdis do pilgrimage, and his support for the opponents of Ibn Saud.
The Saudi army launched an attack on Sharif Hussein's forces in Taif and entered the city. They then entered Mecca in 1924, and the fall of the cities of the Hijaz followed, except for Jeddah, where King of the Hijaz Ali bin Hussein fortified himself. Jeddah only surrendered after a year-long siege by the Al Saud forces on December 17, 1925.
The Ikhwan declared war on all products of civilization, while Abdulaziz was a reformist seeking to benefit from the era's achievements to advance his state. The British wanted this crisis and helped it explode, and Abdulaziz managed to crush the rebellion
The conflict over the Kingdom's borders
The establishment of the borders of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia did not proceed smoothly. A faction of the Wahhabi movement demanded the expansion of Saudi authority to other areas, leading to clashes with the political authority represented by the ruling Al Saud family and the British.
In his book "The Saudis and the Islamic Solution", Muhammad Jalal Kishk talks about the movement of "Ikhwan Taa'ah Allah" ('brothers of obedience') movement, who were Bedouins who embraced Wahhabi ideas and turned into fighters in Abdulaziz Al Saud's armies. He states that they formed their own type of liberation and jihad armies.
Kishk explained that after the annexation of the Hijaz, disagreements arose between the Ikhwan and King Abdulaziz. The Ikhwan chose to continue the revolution, while Abdulaziz chose to build the state. Under British pressure, Abdulaziz recognized the borders of Iraq, Kuwait, and Aden, which the Ikhwan opposed.
He pointed out that the Ikhwan's challenge emerged after the annexation of the Hijaz, as they considered the simplest rituals as a manifestation of idolatry. The Al Sauds had to prevent them multiple times from expressing their resentment and discontent with the people of Mecca.
The Ikhwan, who were followers of Faisal Al-Duwaish, Sultan bin Bajad, and Dhaidan bin Hathleen, declared war on all products of civilization, while Abdulaziz was a reformist seeking to benefit from the achievements of the era to advance and develop his state.
The clash with the Ikhwan began when they refused Abdulaziz's orders to cease attacks on the deserts of Iraq and Kuwait and their raids on Nejdi caravans and convoys. A clash between the two sides took place in Zulfi in March 1929, and the Ikhwan were defeated and retreated to Kuwait, where they surrendered to the British forces.
Kishk pointed out the reasons for the collapse of the Ikhwan, stating, "The English wanted this crisis and helped it come to a boiling point and explode, and when Abdulaziz managed to crush the rebellion, the Ikhwan returned to its obedience for the king."
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