British military operation at Sheikh Sa‘id in the First World War

Abdol Rauh Yaccob, Sulaiman Dorloh


It is a difficult task to measure the importance of South West Arabia to the Ottomans and the British prior to and during World War I. Early history of imperial expansion in the area which followed by constant conflicts and involved a considerable amount of diplomacy and intrigues with the natives may suggest that South West Arabia was considered as equally as important to other areas within the empire. However from the beginning of the 20th century South West Arabia was considered something of a backwater. It may also be observed that during the First World War the position of South West Arabia to these powers in relation to other war theatres remained practically the same except in the episodes of British action at Sheikh Said and the Ottomans advance at Lahej. The Indian authorities who believed that the Ottomans were contemplating a move to Sheikh Sa‘id with the aim of acting against British Perim with the telegraphic communication, convoys and shipping, only two miles away, took the opportunity of the movement of the troops through the Red Sea to attack the fort of Sheikh Sa‘id. The action was quickly taken before obtaining official approval from the Admiralty and the India Office in London. The action was taken due to the persistent reports of the Ottoman reinforcement with guns had been sent to Sheikh Sa‘id, further to take advantage of the presence of transports with troops for Egypt. Subsequently future military operations at Sheikh Sa‘id and the Red Sea appeared to dominate the discussions among the authorities at the India Office, the Admiralty, the Indian authorities and the Resident at Aden throughout the war without materializing any further military action. 


The British, the Ottoman, military operation, Sheikh Sa‘id and Aden.

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