-Decline of Ottoman Rule in Qatar, 1880-
THE BATTLE OF WAJBA AND ITS AFTERMATH
Ottoman Officials relevant to Qatar
Midhad Pasha: Ruler of Baghdad who launched campaign in 1871 to conquer Nejd, al-Hasa, and
Qatar. Out of power by 1872.
Mehmed Nafiz Pasha: Governor of Basra who interacts with Sheikh Jassim in Qatar.
Akef Pasha: Governor of Al-Hasa who interacts with Sheikh Jassim in Qatar
Abduhamid II: Sultan of the Ottoman Empire
Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Thani (born circa 1827!)
Two periods of the Ottoman Era in Qatar
1871 – 1880 : good or stable relations between Sheikh Jassim and the Ottomans
1884: Ottomans commend and reward Sheikh Jassim for his service
1880 – 1913: relations become increasingly tense, break down in open war, and remain cold
Highlight, Battle of Wajba, 1893.
How did it get from Jassim’s welcoming of Ottomans to his fighting them in open war?
Two Sides of Sheikh Jassim’s Relations
with the Ottomans
Ottoman military and administrative presence
Realpolitik rather than ideological commitment to the Ottomans?
Expectations of Ottoman protection and backing
Resilience to Ottoman policies
Bases of Al-Thani rule
British presence as a factor
Crisis 1: Attacks on Doha, early 1880s
The Al-Khalifa work to tear apart the Al-Thani sheikhdom
Tribal defections from Doha, e.g. Bu Kuwara
Bedu raids on Doha
Beni Hajer, Ajman, Al-Naim (Bahrain suspected)
Jassim fights Sheikh of Abu-Dhabi’s tribes, e.g. Beni Yas, in Khor Al-Udayd
Mohammed bin Abdulwahhab (from Al-Hasa) uprising against Sheikh Jassim in 1885 (Wakra)
Abdulwahhab appealed to Ottomans to replace Jassim as Qaimmaqam.
Local Ottomans were for it, but “Sublime Porte” (the Sultan’s office) was against
In protest against Ottoman cooperation with Mohammed bin Abdulwahab, Sheikh Jassim resigned from Ottoman post in Feb. 1886
The Ottomans in Doha were not cooperating with Jassim, and in fact were seeking to overthrow him.
This situation eventually resolved and Sheikh Jassim reconciled with the Ottomans
Crisis 2: Ottoman Tax Introduction
(Customs House Affair), 1887
•Ottomans start building a customs house and speaking of taxing pearl traders
• Fear that pearl traders will abandon Sheikh Jassim.
• In protest, Sheikh Jassim resigns Ottoman post and leaves Doha for the desert
• “Leave Bidda to God and then the Turkish government”
•Doha uprising against Banyan pearl traders
• Some assaulted, others flee the area
• (Sheikh Jassim accredited with getting rid of this element of competition for Qataris)
• British Political Resident Charles Ross blames Jassim for attack on his people
• Confiscates Jassim’s pearl merchandise in Bahrain and assets in Bombay.
• Jassim reconciles with the Ottomans and appeals for assistance against British (letter)
• Not satisfied with Ottoman response
Aftermath of Banyan Affair
Crisis 3: Sheikh Jassim’s war with AbuDhabi
Abu-Dhabi’s close geographical proximity Qatar, and history of tribal interference in Southeast and
east coast, all the way to Doha
1867 attack included Abu-Dhabi sheikh.
Early 1880 , Jassim fought tribal intrusion in Khor Udayd without Ottoman support
Circa 1888, 250 Bedu attacked Bidda
24 people killed, including one of Sheikh Jassim’s sons, Ali bin Jassim Al-Thani
Sheikh Jassim leads a campaign against Abu-Dhabi in 1888
Ottomans do not support him
Jan. 1889 invades Liwa Oasis and Dhafir, destroys date plantations
War against Abu-Dhabi vs. Bani Yas.
Jassim invades Sila via sea, and the British interfere to protect
Sheikh of Abu-Dhabi.
Jassim claimed it for Qatar
Again, moment of border-drawing by bigger powers.
Problem: Jassim growing alienated from Ottomans
Crisis 4: Ottoman Militarization and
Centralization from 1888
This starts since 1875
Ottoman reaction to British intervention in Customs House Affair (attack on
Mehmed Hafiz Pasha sends Ottoman soldiers and war ship to Doha in March 1888.
Akif Pasha lands in Doha in 1889 to introduce new plans:
Appoint Ottoman deputy (due to Jassim’s frequent absence from Doha)
Build Ottoman administration building and post office
Rebuild Zubara for pearling
Set up Ottoman administration posts in Zubara and Khor Udaid. They would collect
revenues and taxes.
This creates diplomatic crisis with British, in which Ottomans stand up for Qatar’s borderlands.
Jassim refused and stopped paying taxes.
Bitterness for lack of Ottoman military support in war against Abu-Dhabi and attack on Al-Khalifa loyalists in Zubara (with
Nassir bin Mubarak, Isa bin Ali Al-Khalifa’s challenger)
Qataris turn away from Ottomans
Crisis 5: Mehmed Nafiz Pasha’s landing in
February 1893 the crisis reaches its critical point: Nafiz Pasha, governor of Basra, lands in Doha
with war ship and military
Cavalry, infantry, and support from Kuwait’s Al-Sabah ruler
Wants to collect back taxes and talk to Sheikh Jassim
Sheikh Jassim resigns Ottoman post and leaves Doha
for Wajba (some 12 miles desert)
Appoints his brother, Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Thani as his successor
A month of negotiations follows: Jassim willing to do concede on major issues,
but not come to Doha.
Finally, Nafiz Pasha arrests his brother and 13 other sheikhs
Culmination: The Battle of Wajba, 3 April
1893 (Islamic Month of Ramadan)
Hafiz Pasha sends militia force to find Jassim at the Fort of Wajba.
Jassim has been preparing for war
Cut off Nafiz Pasha from communication with Al-Hasa and Najid.
Intercepted Al-Sabah support
Prepared for attack
Jassim attacks Nafiz Pasha’s military on its way to Wajba, some 150
Ottoman forces are caught by surprise and forced to retreat and pursued all the way
Outnumbered and cut off from water
Next to Jassim’s Bedouin fighters, women come to aid in the struggle.
Hafiz Pasha fires on Doha from gun boat, causing major damage and death
Qataris besiege Turkish soldiers at Doha and capture many of them
In addition to those captured during battle along with Turkish arms
Exchange them for captured Qatari sheikhs held by Hafiz Pasha and grant Turks safe passage out of Qatar
Hafiz Pasha and his soldiers flee Qatar by land and sea in defeat
◦ British try to mediate the dispute but Ottomans refuse to deal with them
◦ They side with Sheikh Jassim and demand the renewal of the Treaty of 1868 and a quick resolution to the conflict so that it does not disrupt
the pearl trade.
◦ Sheikh Jassim refuses to renew the treaty.
◦ British warn Ottomans not to attack Qataris
◦ Appeals to Sultan Abdul al-Hamid II in Istanbul
◦ Complains against abuse of power on the part of Wali of Basra
◦ The Sultan sides with Sheikh Jassim and dismisses Muhammad Hafiz Pasha from his post
◦ Agreement is made between Sheikh Jassim and the Ottoman Empire
◦ Jassim received the Sultan’s pardon
◦ Hafiz Pasha disciplined by removal from post of governor of Basra
◦ Sultan suspected British involvement causes of Wajba, feared another rebellion, and feared
Qataris allying to British.
◦ Jassim resumed his function as Qa’im-maquam but with an Ottoman assistant.
◦ Resigned this in 1895 due to old age
◦ Ottoman military garrison remained until 1913
Breakdown of relations between Sheikh Jassim and Ottomans
Taxation and fiscal policy
Ottoman military and administrative high-handedness
Difficulty to centralize power in Arabia
Qatar’s terrain, economy, and society
Compares with Ottoman struggle against Saudis
Victory at the Battle of Wajba marked a major milestone in Qatar’s history
The making of Sheikh Jassim as a nation hero
He won both the war and the peace
Heightened Qatar’s political importance
Icon of Qatari armed struggle for sovereignty and independence
A warning for the British
Written into a history of Arab uprisings against the Ottoman empire
In the end, Sheikh Jassim chose Ottomans over British
Ottoman interests matched those of Qatar