The development of Qatar as a sovereign state from 1868


In 1868, the British signed a treaty with Sheikh Muhammad bin Thani, giving him formal recognition of his authority over Qatari tribes, and his ability to rule over them. It also gave Qatar independence from Bahrain, which was a milestone in Qatars development. But it did not yet give Qatar freedom from tax payments to Bahrain. This treaty started to pave the way to Qatar becoming a sovereign state.

In 1871, the de-facto ruler of Qatar, Jassim bin Mohammed, son of Mohammed bin Thani has problems with the 1968 treaty, and the British turn away from Muhammed bin Thani. In the same year, the Ottomans come in, and let Jassim bin Mohammed govern the peninsula, with no taxes and under the protection of the Ottomans.

The Ottomans also ended the tax payments to Bahrain, which gave Qatar more freedom from their long rivalry with Bahrain. Even with Qatar under the Ottoman rule, the British still kept Isa bin Khalifa of Bahrain at bay, when he wanted to attack Qatar on historical grounds. This lead to the bordering of Qatar and modernisation.

Between 1880-1913, the relations between Sheikh Jassim and the Ottomans starts to break down due to Ottoman policies. This culminated in the Battle of Wajba in 1893, which led to the Ottomans defeat. The Sultan of the Ottomans reaches an agreement with Sheikh Jassim, with the Ottomans remaining in Qatar until 1913.

The British – Ottoman treaty of 1913 officially ended Bahraini rule, the Ottomans renounced all rights on intervention in Qatar, both powers gave affirmation of the Al Thani rule over Qatar as an independent sovereign state, and gave Qatar autonomy. Then the British treaty of 1916 placed Qatar on the same footing as all other Trucial states, who signed their own treaties of protection in the 1890s. Qatar ruler’s authority was limited to internal affairs, but nevertheless formalised and strengthened.

The British were a dominant force in the gulf, and wanted to protect their interests. So they signed treaties that changed the behaviours in the region. They helped the gulf region become more modern, and tried to keep the peace by ending rivalries, piracy and forging relations between leaders in the region. The British did more for establishing Qatar as a sovereign state through treaties than the Ottomans.

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