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Volume :5 Issue : 18 1979      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

RUSSIAN ACTIVITY IN ARABIAN GULF BETWEEN 1887 – 1907

Auther : By Dr. B.A. El-Khussussi

The 19th century was marked by vigorous pressure of Caesarian Russia on her neighbour Persia in order to achieve the following purposes:

  1. Spreading her influence on the Arabian Gulf area.
  2. Building a base on the Gulf for Russian ships.
  3. Setting up railway lines linking this base with several points along the Persian land.

Besides the Russian endeavors in the eastern shore of the Gulf, she paid equal attention to Western shore in order to bring Arabian Sheikhdoms to her side, and to terrify British forces in the area.

Britain was aware of the Russian endeavors and kept her eyes on them. Britain wanted to preserve her influential word upon the Gulf area to secure her way to India, which was under her domination.

Britain also was afraid of building a Russian base in Persia because it would give her a way to the Indian Ocean, and strengthen her influence in Persia. Russia might then be able to take defensive measures against British Empire and to decrease her influence in the East.

Britain believed that the time was in favour of Russia to fulfil her policy, as Britain was busy with her war in South Africa. The Russian plan was to put hand on Bandar Abbas harbour, Boshire and the islands of Qishm, Hangam, Lark and Hormoz. Besides she put a plan to spread a railway line between Tehran and Boshire through Isfihan and Shiraz.

While the Russians were preparing for building a railway line, they run a shipping line going across the Arabian Gulf and linking it with Syria and the Black Sea. The main office was in Boshire, and there were several branches in Maskat, Jask, Bandar Abbas, Linja, Al-Muhammara and Al-Basra. At the same time, Russia showed her strong desire to spread her arms to Kuwait for the following reasons:

  1. Kuwait will be her store of coals.
  2. Kuwait will be a natural harbour for Russian sailing in the Gulf.

To fulfill her policy, Russia sent her spies to Kuwait to get enough information, sometimes as merchants and sometimes as physicians. She also sent to Kuwait her consuls in Boshire, Al-Basra, and Baghdad to express Russia’s willingness to protect her and to take her side.

Russia also made contact with the two emirs of Najd and Al-Riyad, the two Sheikhs of Qatar and Al-Bahrain and the Sultan of Maskat. She also made contact with the Sheikh of Arabistan and succeeded in 1902 to appoint there one of her representatives.

Britain was suspicious of these Russian movements and kept an eye on them.

Russia lastly disclosed her intentions in Arabian Gulf when the Russian Ambassador in Tehran declared to the British Ambassador his country’s right to have a harbour on the Arabian Gulf, and denial of Britain’s priority in this area.

The competition between Russia and Britain continued until the year 1907 when they signed an agreement to divide Persia into three districts. The Northern one will be under the Russian influence, the Southern under the British influence and the central will be neutral. After signing this treaty, Britain will get rid of the Russian competition in Gulf shores as Russia no longer had a way to them.

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