Updated June 2012
T. E. Lawrence, Report 11 February 1918
REPORT ON KHURMA
[Arab Bulletin, 9 July 1918]
Ibn Saud began to collect Dhjkat (a semi-religious tax) from some sections of the Sbei this year, thus reviving his custom of four or five years ago. Shortly afterwards messengers from the Sherif, demanding the same tax, were imprisoned by Sherif Khalid ibn Elwi in Wadi Khurma.
Khalid (a lean fanatical silent man, said to be more capable than his elder brother Naif) was made Emir of Khurma by the Sherif years ago. He was converted to the Nejdean Religion four years ago, and was last year confined in the Sherif’s prison at Mecca. On his release on Abdullah’s intervention, he paid a secret visit to Ibn Saud, an old friend of his father’s.
The imprisonment of the Sherifian messengers was an act of war, and Khalid at once collected his followers. Only the converts joined him, and they were a mixed lot of Beni Thor Sbei; Jithima, Khararis (whose sheikh, Naif, is in prison in Mecca), Shiawa and Hamarza Ateibah; and many Kahtan. The Kahtan were those formerly in the East, who fled from Ibn Saud over the Ajman affair, and have since been living in the upper reaches of Wadi Dawasir. They are not in any way under Khalid, and have only joined temporarily, for the Religion’s sake.
Khalid began by expelling the other Sbei, and all the villagers and freedmen, from Wadi Khurma, into the main valley Truba, of which it is a tributary. Wadi Truba (Tharba or Tarabat) runs south-west into a cultivated plain in Jebel Areysh, of the Goz aba el-Air (Joz Belair) district. Khalid proposed to instal converted peasants in the palm-gardens in their place.
His brother, Naif, then waylaid and killed four Ageyl, two Ateibah, and four women, Sunnis from Mecca on their way to Khurma for the summer. They refused to be converted, but nevertheless Khalid protested against their slaughter.
The Sherif now sent against them a very ragged force, comprising Hamarja, Biyasha, Sbei, Mowalid, Hedhlan (Hudheil) and other Meccan sweepings, with two brass saluting guns and two automatic rifles, under the incompetent Sherif Ali, brother of Shakir ibn Zeid. They were surprised by night on Bir Goreish by an inferior force of Kahtan, and fled without resistance, losing fourteen killed, and their artillery.
Khalid then repented of his action, and went off to Ibn Saud with fifty-four riders and his trophies, to beg for help. On his way he crossed an Ateibah raiding party, under Fajir ibn Shelawih, on its way to Dawasir. The two parties fought, and Ibn Shelawih took thirteen camels, four horses and the artillery, killing four of the converted, and losing only one himself. Khalid fled towards Riadh.
The Kahtan are not likely to remain long in Wadi Khurma, and Naif ibn Elwi cannot hope, with only the Beni Thor, to keep the other Sbei indefinitely out of their properties. If Khalid fails in his mission in Aridh, the complete collapse of his movement may be expected.
The Sherif hopes to enrol a new force in Mecca to retake Khurma, but is trying to conscript the town Bedouins at half wages, and in consequence has made no progress. Should he make further attacks upon Khurma, with the materials at his disposal, he may reasonably be expected to suffer further reverses. If, however, he acquires wisdom enough to accept the temporary loss of the district, and if Ibn Saud maintains his present correct attitude, then no extension - or prolongation - of the rising need be feared.
|Last revised:||5 August 2006|
T. E. Lawrence chronology
1888 16 August: born at Tremadoc, Wales
1896-1907: City of Oxford High School for Boys
1907-9: Jesus College, Oxford, B.A., 1st Class Hons, 1909
1910-14: Magdalen College, Oxford (Senior Demy), while working at the British Museum's excavations at Carchemish
1915-16: Military Intelligence Dept, Cairo
1916-18: Liaison Officer with the Arab Revolt
1919: Attended the Paris Peace Conference
1919-22: wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1921-2: Adviser on Arab Affairs to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office
1922 August: Enlisted in the Ranks of the RAF
1923 January: discharged from the RAF
1923 March: enlisted in the Tank Corps
1923: translated a French novel, The Forest Giant
1924-6: prepared the subscribers' abridgement of Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1927-8: stationed at Karachi, then Miranshah
1927 March: Revolt in the Desert, an abridgement of Seven Pillars, published
1928: completed The Mint, began translating Homer's Odyssey
1929-33: stationed at Plymouth
1931: started working on RAF boats
1932: his translation of the Odyssey published
1933-5: attached to MAEE, Felixstowe
1935 February: retired from the RAF
1935 19 May: died from injuries received in a motor-cycle crash on 13 May
1935 21 May: buried at Moreton, Dorset