THE Arabian peninsula with an area of ca. 1,000,000 square miles consists of a vast interior region, for the most part desert and inhabited by nomadic tribes, and of a coast line, here and there fertile, with greater resources and a more sedentary population divided up among a number of states. Separated from each other by long stretches of desert territory, these have rarely been under one rule, indeed they have often looked in different directions. Persians, Greeks and Romans in ancient times, Turks, Egyptians and finally the English in modern ones have more or less controlled these fringes, but have rarely ventured far inland. The World War led to the expulsion of the Turks from Syria and Mesopotamia (Iraq), lands of Arab speech on the borders of Arabia, and from the Hedjaz, Asir and Yemen on the Red Sea shore of Arabia itself. In the peninsula there has been a struggle between the various chiefs which has resulted in an extension of the territory of Yemen, the reduction of Asir to a fraction of its former size, and above all the triumph of Ibn Saud, the Wahabi Sultan of Nejd, who now commands the whole of the interior and in recent months has expelled from the Hedjaz England's former protégé Husein and his son Ali and has made himself king in their place, while still maintaining the existence of the Hedjaz as a separate state. There can be little doubt that he would have followed up his successes by attacking Husein's other sons, Faisal the King of Iraq and Abdullah the Amir of Trans-Jordan (as indeed he did in 1924), had not these been protected by the fact that the territory they rule is held by British mandate. The English, who have in turn subsidized all the parties concerned, succeeded in bringing about a boundary treaty between Iraq and Nejd on May 5, 1922 (followed by an additional protocol of December 2, 1922) and an agreement signed November 2, 1925, between the British government and the Sultan of Nejd and its dependencies regarding the Nejd-Iraq and the Nejd-Trans-Jordan boundaries.

The internal frontiers of Arabia are thus becoming stabilized though there is still room for changes, especially in the region of Asir and Yemen. Almost everywhere British influence is dominant at the present time. The French at the north are cut off by the Syrian desert and have too many troubles of their own to follow an aggressive policy. They are rather afraid that the rebels against their rule may be supported by an attack from the interior. As it is, the English hope soon to establish a direct line of communication between Palestine and Iraq without having it pass, as at present, through Syria. On the southern side of the peninsula the hinterland of Aden has been quietly extended till it stretches much further than is recognized on most maps. On the Persian Gulf the little state of Koweit was under the wing of Britain even before the War, and the rulers of Oman, whose sway once extended over Zanzibar and the adjacent African coast, have for the last two generations been practically in the same vassal position as the native princes of India. The chief characteristics of the political situation in Arabia today are the pax Britannica and the dominion of Ibn Saud.

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