The research question: How, when and why Kuwait come to be a British protectorate?
The research question is important since it helps in understanding the purposes of the 1899 agreement between Kuwait and Britain (Anglo-Kuwaiti). The deal was an undisclosed contract contracted among the sheikhdom of Kuwait and the British Empire in January 23rd, 1899. Sheikh Mubarak wanted protection for his people from attack from other superior kingdoms like the Ottoman. On the other hand, the British had their interests too; they were interested in Kuwait for a long time since it was situated in a suitable position where they wanted to construct a railway line. This agreement defined Kuwait as an independent nation under the protection of the British government. Both countries benefited from this agreement in the aspect of international relations, politics, and economic.
Although there were too many powers at that time like Germany and France for example, Sheikh Mubarak chose to sign the agreement with the British. In its requirements, Britain promised to safeguard the regional honor of Kuwait, and in return control the admission of overseas supremacies to the Sheikhdom and governing its internal undertakings. The reason Sheikh Mubarak signed the treaty was that Kuwait had a good relationship with the British even before the signing of the agreement (Smith 2016). Also, Sheikh wanted protection from the foreseen threats from the Ottoman territory, the Supreme Islamic regime during the period, so he took a significant step so that he can safeguard his kingdom from direct or indirect Ottoman intrusion.
At first, Great Britain was reluctant to sign the agreement with Kuwait because they had to reinforce the military and financial obligations required to enhance full security in Kuwait. Also, the British did not want to ruin its associations with the Ottoman Kingdom. However, the British agreed into signing the agreement due to the strategic position of Kuwait, and it was essential to their interest. Moreover, the British were interested in the region of Arabian Gulf and the German and Russian, and the activities of the Ottoman military around that region were the main threats thus motivating them to agree to sign the agreement with Kuwait.
The agreement between the two nations is classified as an agreement for the exchange of benefits, so it is precisely for their best interests that they pursued it. For example, the British gained power over Kuwait since they banned Kuwait from signing treaties with other foreign agents without their consent in the Sheikhdom. Also, Britain became in charge of all Sheikhdom internal affairs including managing its pearling and Oil Company. The agreement also solidified the relationship between Kuwait and Great Britain.
The agreement terms between Kuwait and Great Britain is not an arbitrary agreement wherein one would benefit at the expense of the other, so even if their reasons may be self-serving, this agreement is perhaps their best option at that time. The terms for the deal was that Kuwait should not be involved or sign any other treaty with other foreign agents or councils including leasing, selling, ceding or mortgaging any part of the region beneath his governor to a different administration without the British permission. On the other hand, the British were to gift the Kuwait Sheikh with a sum of 1,000 pounds sterling on a yearly basis and to protect the territorial integrity of Kuwait against external dangers.
The 1899 agreement between Kuwait and Britain agreement was done secretly and night since some superpowers such as the Ottoman would be against it. The British fear of a possible Ottoman intervention in Kuwait began in January of 1899, with the signing of a secret treaty between Sheikh and Britain's. Once the Ottoman realized that the agreement was signed, they tried to go against it and wanted to conquer Kuwait from the British. Also, Kuwait became the main focus of the Ottoman-Anglo rivalry, and there were reports of possible attacks by the Ottoman Empire. However, above all, the Secretary and the Admiralty cautioned that the Ottomans should be warned of the British naval defense to minimize the possibility of war. The fear of war was quite real in the Gulf, from Gulf Resident officials, and British officials did not desire conflict with the Ottomans over Kuwait.
The agreement significantly aided in shaping the modern history of Kuwait in the following ways; Kuwait gained a staunch ally and protection against threats from neighboring nations like the Ottoman Empire. Kuwait also became a trading center. Indeed, it was a worthy choice for Kuwait signing of this treaty since it has aided them to be recognized a self-governing state, without hindrances and interventions other than that of Britain.
The agreement brought many significant developments in Kuwait such as the detection of oil and the growth of Oil Company which lead to the economic growth of Kuwait's budget to change from a pure trading society to a financial-oriented economy. Also, the British brought other developments such as the construction of a railway line. Moreover, Kuwait gained its independence under the British colony and became in charge of all its internal and external affairs. The 1913 Anglo-Ottoman Convention is essential for the history of the Middle East of course, as it establishes the channels through which Kuwait evolved into a modern nation. It is one of the last international agreements made by the Ottoman Empire before World War One and its subsequent collapse in 1923.
The agreement favored the benefits of the two nations; therefore, it is for their best interests that they pursued it. The British-Kuwait Agreement solidified the relationship between Great Britain and Kuwait. It favors both of them because the benefits that they get outweighed their sacrifices. An example of these is that the British guaranteed to protect Kuwait from other Empires like the Ottoman and in exchange, the British gained the sole control over Kuwait and was in charge of its external affairs. Moreover, the agreement enabled Kuwait to be recognized as an independent nation without hindrances and interventions other than that of Britain.
Smith, S.C., 2016. Britain's Decision to Withdraw from the Persian Gulf: A Pattern Not a Puzzle. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 44(2), pp.328-351.
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