The most prominent figures in the modern history of Arabs . A historical overview of the life of Sheikh Khazaal Al-kaabi Al-Amri, the Prince of Ahwaz (Arabistan) and the symbol of its sovereignty. His name is Khazaal bin Jaber bin Merdaow Al-Kaabi Al-Amri and his mother’s is Nora daughter of Talal, The Sheikh of Albawiah tribe . He was born in 1862 AD. Sheikh Khazaal grew up in Muhammara and was taught by a number of Sheikhs.
He practiced equestrian which enabled him to help his brother after the death of his father. He took the Principality after the assassination of his brother Sheikh Mizaal in 1897 AD. Sheikh Khazaal is considered one of the prominent figures in the modern history of Arabs. He played a key role in the events of the Arabian Gulf in the first quarter of the twentieth century, contributed effectively in such events and earned a prominent position among The Princes of the Arabian Peninsula. Al Rihani stated ” He is the eldest of the after Al-Sharif Hussein the most famous and the friend of the most noble man”. His not less than Sheikh Salman bin Sultan Al-Kaabi (1737- 1767 AD) – The prominent figure that ruled the principality during the eighteenth century. The importance of Sheikh Khazaal’s position comes from the fact that his principality witnessed very important days.
He witnessed the discovery of oil and the increase of foreign businesses in his area. He witnessed the World War One and the strategic location of his principality was important during that period. He also witnessed the collapse of the Qajari rule in Iran and the establishment of the Pahlawi rule instead. This rule which overthrew his power ( Dr. Mustafa Abd Al-Qadir Al-Najjar: Political history of Arabistan principality). Abd Al-Masih Al-Antaqi described him as ” jovial, bright-faced, attractive, eloquent, hospital, noble, kind, patient, compassionate, righteous, pious, Muslim, honest, sincere, prayer of the five daily prayers, and a courageous hero during Wars. ” (Good qualities of Arabistan principality: 29-30).Also Ali Muhammad Amir describe him as ” a scholar who supports scholars and poets, and a greats poet with great poems. ” ( Muhammarah and the Ottoman unity: p 71-73). Suliman Faidi described his as ” a generous kind man who tends to humor , and an optimistic man who lived in his luxurious palace surrounded by all aspects of Sultanate.
” The severity of the struggle: 294). Al-Raihani, the contemporary historian, asserts the virtues of Sheikh Khazaal describing him as ” a rich wise generous man who helps in building a church in his country for the victims of the Chaldeans. If any of the Sheikhs of tribes revolted against him and he had an adult daughter fit for marriage, he would visit him and honour him with intermarriage to put down the flame of revolt. He remained successful in dealing with such tasks till he reached the age of sixty. ( Al- Raihani, the history of Arabian kings C 2: p 186) Sheikh Khazaal also had a prominent place in the hearts of religious scholars of Iraq and his palace has never been freed their delegations.
He also had honourable attitudes in righteous deeds. He has never been known of fanaticism which was spreading during that period. He has never been hostile towards the people to other religious doctrines. It is narrated that The Mufti of Palestine, Hajj Amen Al-Husseini had visited him in Muhammarah to get a donation for the renovation of Al-Aqsa Mosque so that he gave him nine thousand rupees. Its appears from the study of the life of the prince that he had many qualities and virtues that made him an influential person who dominated many of the men of the Arabian Gulf. He was one of the most famous persons ever known in the Gulf in the modern history and he was known by strength and toughness. His influence reached The Arabian Gulf, Iran, Iraq, and Najd. (Dawid- The Arabian Gulf p- 71) Sheikh Khazaal was known for his strong relationship with The Arabian Sheikhs of the neighborhood.
He also strengthened his relationship with Persia so he earned the respect of its leading figures. (Al-Antaqi – the journey of The Nile Valley: 207). He knew how to achieve the internal and external independence of the Arabistan. Reza Shah mentioned: he was an independent prince within his borders, and the government of Tehran has no rule over him… and it’s ages since he has paid any taxes for the government, except that sometimes he has sent some gifts to The Shah of Iran. (Diareis of Reza Shah:38). On the hand, he saw that it is time for the fall of Al-Qajar Empire, so he decided t declare independence whenever he felt that the danger had approached Iran. Consequently he sought for strengthening his relationships with The British. So that during his reign, there was a radical change concerning the policy of Muhammarah towards The English Employees in The Arabian Gulf.
He abandoned the opposing policy taken by his father and brother. Since the opening of Karun River for navigation, The British Company (Lange) received valuable assistance from his government and the British Ships passing through Shatt Al-Arab used to launch cannon missiles as salute in front of his palace. (Dawid- The Arabian Gulf p 72). In 1908, Oil was found in Masjid Suliman one of the eastern provinces cities which is 150 km away from The Head of the Gulf- at a depth of 1180 feet. This discovery was made in Ahwaz before the rest of The Arabian Gulf Principalities Consequently The English opened door to negotiations with Sheikh Khazaal despite the protests of The Shah of Iran to conclude an agreement concerning Abadan Island to construct an oil refinery and build a pipeline of about 130 km that goes between the farms and the oil refinery.
Concerning that matter, Sir Arnold Wilson – the secretary of the delegation negotiating with Sheikh Khazaal – mentioned that a meeting was arranged between Sheikh Khazaal and Sir Perci Cox, the British Agent on Bukhari, and after four days of negotiations in the six of May 1909 AD, the two parties reached an agreement that 650 pounds are paid per year to Sheikh Khazaal as a rent of the site of the oil refinery (Harvey- The global crisis: 343-350) besides supporting his independence against the central government’s claim and promising to support him with military aids in case of being attacked (Brooklimen- The history of Islamic people – C 5 P 136). That is how Sheikh Khazaal achieved an international standing and he received many medals from The king of Britain, The Sultan of Turkey, The Shah of Persia, The Pope in Rome, and so many others. He used to wear them when he is dressed with formal clothes. (Muhammad Lotfy Juma- the life of the east: 111). Historical references stated that Sheikh Khazaal was known for assembling his advisors around him for consultancy.
One of the most famous of them in his private close advisor Hajj Muhammad Ali Al-Bahbahani, the chief of merchant whom the English call “the president”. He was one of the biggest merchants in Muhammarah and one of the richest men in Ahwaz, Iraq, and The Gulf. Sheikh Khazaal was very respectful towards him and he was the advisor of the Persian affairs. A great number of famous merchants in Iran, Kuwait, and Iraq are the progeny of this merchant and his Bahbahani family. After the death of the advisor of Sheikh Khazaal, Hajj Muhammad Ali Al-Bahbahani, his son Abu Al-Hassan Muhammad bin Ali Al-Bahbahani took the responsibility of The Persian affairs and the leadership of commercial affairs.
The British Ships passing through Shatt Al-Arab used to launch cannon missiles as salute in front of Sheikh Khazaal’s palace. When Britain wanted to construct an oil refinery in Abadan Island, it sent Sir Perci Cox to negotiate on its behalf with Sheikh Khazaal. It reached an agreement with him concerning that matter and it paid him an annual rent to allow the pipelines to cross his principality to the oil refinery in Abadan. Sheikh Khazaal has strong relationships and connections with Kuwait, Iraq, and Najd. He participated in many of the political events happened in these countries. When the world war one broke out in 1914 AD, Britain has sent a military force to keep the oil wells of Arabistan safe in agreement safe with Sheikh Khazaal and it asked him to help it liberating Basrah from The Ottomans. The eastern secretary Miss Geretrude Bell mentioned in her book called “Chapters from the history of Iraq” in page 20 that The British Political Resident in the Gulf on 1914 AD promised Sheikh Khazaal of the following ” The Government of His Majesty ordered me to offer Your Excellency an offer in return of these valuable assistance that if we managed and we will manage by God’s help, we would not return Basrah to The Ottomans and I assure you personally that The Government of His Majesty is ready to provide you with the necessary assistance to find a solution that satisfies you and us if the Persian government attacked your borders and your acknowledged rights and we shall do our best to defend you from any attacks by a foreign government and we shall your money in Iran.
These assurances are given to you and your successors of your progeny ” the end. After the British forces managed to occupy Iraq completely during the World War one from 1914 AD to 1918 AD and made it under its trusteeship, it nominated Sir Perci Cox as its ruler, but the Iraqis demonstrated and revolted because they wanted an Islamic Arabian Government headed by a crowned king. Sheikh Khazaal withdrew his candidacy of the throne of Iraq and he justified his withdrawal by this statement published by Iraq Newspaper on 14 of June 1921 AD. This is the text of his withdrawal statement ” When I put the matter of the throne of Iraq under consideration and saw that I was better than the other candidates in terms of status, ability, and efficiency and other merits that making must posses, so that I nominated for that throne because I saw that I deserve it more than any other candidate. But now I was informed that His Highness Prince Faisal ( Faisal Bin Sharif Mecca Al-Husain Bin Ali) nominated for such throne, I decided to withdraw my candidacy because I see in the Prince Faisal all the merits and talents that qualify him to be competent for the throne and I associate myself with him and hope all my friends to do the same).
After The World War One, the officer Reza Khan in Iran made military coup that led him to the position of the Minister of Defense. After that he overthrew the prime minister and nominated himself in his place. Then he overthrew the Qajari Shah, Ahmad Muhammad Ali, and ousted the Qajari royal family and declared himself as the Shah of Iran in the name of Shah Reza Pahlavi. He founded The Pahlavi Monarchy on April 19265. In one night on 20/01/1925 AD. General Zahedi attended a baquet in the yacht of Sheikh Khazaal in Shatt Al-Arab, and in this party Sheikh and his son Abdul-Hamid were arrested and transferred to Feyliah the Muhammarah then Ahwas. At the same night, they were transferred to Tehran where they were imprisoned there. Sheikh Khazaal remained in the prison of Tehran till his death on 26 March 1936 AD. That is how Shekh Khazaal achieved an international standing and he received many medals from The King of Britain, The Sultan of Turkey, The Shah of Persia, The Pope in Rome, and so many others. He used to wear them when he is dressed with his formal clothes. (Muhammad Lotfy Juma- the life of the east:111) May Allah have mercy on Sheikh and May Allah make his abode in His spacious gardens.