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Faisal ibn Turki, 1888-1913

Saiyid Faisal, who had already taken a share in the administration of the State during his father's lifetime, and shown an aptitude to govern the country, assumed power and proclaimed himself the Ruler of Oman, immediately on his father's death. In September 1888 Saiyid Faisal undertook active operations against Saiyid Ibrahim-bin-Kais with a view to reduce Rostak, but the attempt ended in total failure. Saiyid Abdul Aziz has made several attempts to overthrow Saiyid Faisal, but the latter has so far (1892) successfully maintained his position and established himself in power. In 1890, Saiyid Faisal was recognised as Sultan by the British Government, and in the same year Saiyid Abdul Aziz withdrew to Bombay. In 1891 the Sultan of Zanzibar offered him an allowance of Rupees 600 a month, on the express conditions that he did not attempt to go to Zanzibar, or to apply to the Sultan for more money. He was advised by the Government of India to accept this offer, and was warned against disturbing the peace of either Zanzibar or Oman.

On assuming power in 1888, Faisal ibn Turki gradually found his authority over the interior weakened as tribal leaders increasingly perceived his dependence on British advisers as an inherent weakness. In 1895 he was forced to seek refuge at Jalali fort after Muscat was captured. British political agents frustrated his efforts to recapture Muscat, compelling him to court the French. He granted the French coaling facilities for their fleet at Bandar Jissah near Muscat.

Determined to thwart any growth in French presence in what Britain considered its sphere of influence, Britain presented Faisal ibn Turki with an ultimatum in 1899 ordering the sultan to board the British flagship or Muscat would be bombarded. Having little recourse, Faisal ibn Turki capitulated. Publicly humiliated, his authority was irreversibly damaged. In 1903 he asked Lord George Nathaniel Curzon, viceroy of India, for permission to abdicate, but his request was denied. Responsibility for the capital was delegated to Said ibn Muhammad Al Said, while affairs of the interior fell to an ex-slave, Sulayman ibn Suwaylim.

For many years before the Great War Muscat had been the centre of the arms traffic in the Persian Gulf. To put the matter briefly, these arms were brought from Hamburg, Antwerp, Djiboutil, and other places by steamer and landed in Muscat, whence the great bulk of them were carried across in dhows to the Mekran coast. From a hundred coves and creeks alpng that shore they were sent on donkeys and camels to the various dumps inland in a continual stream of small consignments. They were then taken away by kafila to the Helmund, whence they found their way into Afghanistan and the tribal country on the north-west frontier of India.

In order to check this traffic in arms, which by the year 1909 had increased so enormously as to cause the Government of India grave concern, an agreement was entered into with the Sultan of Oman by which a bonded warehouse was to be established in Muscat for all arms and ammunition landed at that port. It was the institution of this bonded warehouse system that stamped out the gun-running in the Persian Gulf. In return for his valuable co-operation and assistance in this matter the Sultan was granted a suitable subsidy. This strangling of the arms traffic, however, deprived a large number of his subjects of a means of livelihood that was at once agreeable and lucrative, and created a situation of discontent.

By 1913 control over the interior was completely lost, and a reconstituted imamate was again a threat to Muscat. During the latter part of May 1913 reports from Nizwa and Rustaq began to reach His Highness Faisal bin Turki bin Said, Sultan of Oman, to the effect that a serious rising was being organised under the ringleadership of the principal Ibadhi sheikh, Abdullah bin Hamid-as-Salimi, an old and half-blind man, who was about to proclaim a jihad with the object of setting up his son-in-law, Salim bin Rashid-al-Kharusi, as Imam of the Muslims of Oman in the place of the Sultan on account of the alleged leanings of the latter towards foreign governments and institutions. The rebellious faction included practically the whole of the large tribal confederacies known as the Ghafiri and the Hinawi. Two other prominent figures were Isa bin Salih-al-Harithi, an influential Hinawiyah sheikh; and Hamyar bin Nasir-an-Nabhani, sheikh of the Bani Riyam, the tribe in which the rebellion started.

Seyyid Timar bin Faisal, who was born in 1886, succeeded his father, Seyyid Faisal bin Turki, on Oct. 5, 1913.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:40:02 ZULU