Khaz'al Khan al-Kaabi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Sheikh Khaz'al)
Jump to: navigation, search
Khaz'al Khan
Emir of Mohammerah And Dependencies
Sheikh of Sheikhs of Banu Kaab
Head of Mehaisin Confederation
Lieutenant-General H.H Shaikh Khaz’al Khan ibn Haji Jabir Khan, Sardar-i-Aqdas, Amir of Mohammerah.jpg
Khaz'al Khan in military uniform
Emir of Mohammerah
Monarchy June 1897 - April 1925
Coronation June 1897
Predecessor Maz'al Jabir al-Kaabi
Successor Sheikhdom dissolved
Head of Mehaisin Confederation
Reign June 1897 - April 1925
Bay'ah June 1897
Predecessor Maz'al Jabir al-Kaabi
Successor Abdullah Bin Khaz'al
Sheikh of Sheikhs of Banu Kaab tribe
Reign June 1897 - April 1925
Bay'ah June 1897
Predecessor Maz'al Jabir al-Kaabi
Successor Abdullah Bin Khaz'al
Born (1863-08-18)18 August 1863
Basra Vilayet
Died 24 May 1936(1936-05-24) (aged 72)
Tehran, Imperial State of Iran
Full name
Khaz'al bin Jabir bin Mirdaw bin Ali bin Kasib bin Ubood bin Asaaf bin Rahma bin Khaz'al
House Al Mirdaw
Father Jabir al-Kaabi
Religion Islam
Styles of
Reference style His Highness
Spoken style Your Highness
Alternative style Moulay

Khaz'al bin Jabir bin Merdaw al-Ka'bi GCIE KCSI (Arabic: خزعل بن جابر بن مرداو الكعبي‎، Persian: شیخ خزعل‎‎) (18 August 1863 – 24 May 1936), Muaz us-Sultana, and Sardar-e-Aqdas (Most Sacred Officer of the Imperial Order of the Aqdas),[1] was the independent Emir of the Sheikhdom of "Mohammerah",[2] located today in the Khuzestan province of Iran.

Historical background[edit]

The British were providing Khaz'al with meager shares of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company.[citation needed] They even considered Khazal as a possible king for Iraq.[citation needed] Khaz'al was also the darling of many Sunnite Iraqi nationalists, who sought to foment dissent among Iran's Arab population by referring to Khuzestan as Arabestān and glorifying Khaz'al as its independent "Sultan".[3]

The tribal leaders of the Bani Kaab, an Arab tribe which had originally come from the area of what is now Kuwait in the 16th century, had often been the Imperial-appointed tax farmers for the entire province for many years after the fall of the Mshashaiya. The Bani Kaab were the largest and most powerful tribe in the province. In the early 19th century the Bani Kaab had dissolved into a number of rival clans that often clashed and feuded with each other.

Of these factions, the Muhaisin clan, led by Jabir al-Kaabi, became the strongest and under his leadership the Bani Kaab were reunified under a single authority, the capital of the tribe being moved from the village of Fallahiyah to the flourishing port city of Mohammerah. Unlike previous leaders of the Bani Kaab, Jabir maintained law and order, and established Mohammerah as a free port and sheikhdom, of which he was Sheikh. Jabir also became the Imperial-appointed governor-general of the province.

Rise to power[edit]

After Jabir's death in 1881, his elder son, Maz'al, took over as tribal leader and Sheikh of Mohammerah, as well as the provincial governor-general, which was confirmed by an Imperial firman (executive order). However, in June 1897 Maz'al was killed. Some accounts state that he was assassinated by his younger brother,[4] Khaz'al, while others state that this was done by a palace guard under orders from Khaz'al.

Thereafter Khaz'al assumed his position as Sheikh of Mohammerah, proclaiming himself not only the leader of the Bani Kaab, but also the ruler of the entire province. He then appointed his sons to the governorships of the various cities, towns and villages within his control, including Naseriyeh.

Unlike his brother, Khaz'al had ambition. He had great vision for the future of Mohammerah and the Arabs. His rule in Mohammerah was "Supreme and unhindered".[5] The Arabs saw him as a

"... a most astute politician and a far-seeing statesman with personal magnetism. He had ambition and was full of dreams. He believed that his brother's modus operandi could not achieve Arab greatness"[6]

Relations with the Qajars and tribal leaders[edit]

Khaz'al established and maintained close relations with the Qajar court, who had accepted Khaz'al as the neighbour government. The rest of the province (the eastern and northern regions) remained under the domination of Bakhtiari Khans, Lur tribal leaders, and Persian groups. Several of the Bakhtiari Khans, in particular, had entered into alliances with Khaz'al. The Qajar Shah made him an Officer of the Nishan-e-Aqdas (Imperial Order of the Aqdas) in 1920.

The Anglo-Persian Oil Company[edit]

Once oil was discovered in Masjed Soleyman in 1908, by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (APOC) which later became the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, eventually BP, Khaz'al's ties to Britain strengthened. In 1909, the British government asked Percy Cox, British resident to Bushehr, to negotiate an agreement with Khaz'al for APOC to obtain a site on Abadan Island for a refinery, depot, storage tanks, and other operations. The refinery was built and began operating in 1912. Khaz'al was knighted in 1910 and supported Britain in World War I.[7]

Following the discovery of oil in Mohammerah-controlled territory, the British moved quickly to establish control over the vast oil resources in the province, which culminated in the foundation of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company in 1909. The British established a treaty with Khaz'al, whereby in exchange for their guaranteed support and protection against any external attack, he would also guarantee to maintain internal security and not interfere with the process of oil extraction. As part of the treaty they were given a monopoly of drilling in the province in return for an annual payment to Khaz'al, though the profits of the company vastly exceeded the annual payments.

APOC had made Khaz’al extremely wealthy. Not only was Khaz’al receiving revenue from oil production but he also owned a certain amount of shares in the oil company.

"In all Arabia and its Sheikhdoms, in Mesopotamia and Iran, from the Red Sea to the Caspian, there was no sovereign so rich as Sheikh Khaz’al." [6]

British influence in southern Persia mainly derived from the relationships which had been established between the British government and various tribal leaderships, including especially Khaz'al and the Bakhtiari khans, and also, though less importantly, the Qawāmis of Shiraz and many of the minor khans of the Persian Gulf littoral.[8]

Sheikh Khaz'al turns down the throne of Kuwait[edit]

In 1920, the Sheikh of Kuwait, Salim Al Mubarak Al Sabah, ambushed Ibn Saud's men over a border dispute between Kuwait and Najd. When Percy Cox was informed of this event, he sent a letter to Khaz'al offering the Kuwaiti throne to either him or one of his heirs, knowing that Khaz'al would be a wiser ruler. Khaz'al, who considered the Al Sabah as his own family, replied "Do you expect me to allow the stepping down of Al Mubarak from the throne of Kuwait? Do you think I can accept this?" [9] He then asked:

"...even so, do you think that you have come to me with something new? Al Mubarak's position as ruler of Kuwait means that I am the true ruler of Kuwait. So there is no difference between myself and them, for they are like the dearest of my children and you are aware of this. Had someone else come to me with this offer, I would have complained about them to you. So how do you come to me with this offer when you are well aware that myself and Al Mubarak are one soul and one house, what affects them affects me, whether good or evil." [9]

Conflict with Reza Khan[edit]

In 1921, realizing the threat posed by Reza Khan Mirpanj (Reza Shah), who had just staged a coup d'état with Seyyed Zia'eddin Tabatabaee, Khaz'al proceeded to take steps in order to protect himself. He attempted to form an alliance with all the Bakhtiari, Lur, and Khamseh tribes, in order to prevent Reza Khan from gaining too much power. His ultimate aim was that through this tribal alliance the Zagros Mountains would become a nearly impenetrable barrier against the forces of the central government. However, the various tribal groups often clashed with each other and were unable to come to agreements, and his proposal failed.

The Royal Khaz'aliyah Yacht, where Khaz'al was Kidnapped, near Qasr Al-Failiyah (Failiyah Palace) in Mohammerah

Later that spring Reza Khan made two attempts to convince Khaz'al to meet him in Tehran to discuss his position in the new government. However, Khaz'al was suspicious of Reza Khan's motives and refused to go there himself, instead stating that he would send an emissary.

A few weeks later in April, Reza Khan ordered one of his commanders, who had a friendly relationship with Khaz'al, to meet Khaz'al, ostensibly to convince him to journey to Tehran. The commander, General Fazlollah Zahedi, accompanied by several government officials, met with Khaz'al and spent an evening with him onboard his yacht, anchored in the Shatt al-Arab river by his palace in the village of Fallahiyah near the city of Mohammerah.

Sheikh Khaz'al Bin Jabir (centre) with Sir Hugh Bell (right) and Talib Al Naqib (Left).

Later that evening a gunboat, sent by Reza Khan, stealthily made its way next to the yacht, which was then immediately boarded by fifty Persian troops. The soldiers arrested Khaz'al and took him by motorboat down the river to Mohammerah, where a car was waiting to take him to the military base in Ahwaz. From there he was taken to Dezful, accompanied by his son, and then to the city of Khorramabad in Lorestan, and then eventually to Tehran.

Upon his arrival, Khaz'al was warmly greeted and well received by Reza Khan, who assured him that his problems would be quickly settled, and that in the meantime, he would be treated very well. However, many of his personal assets in Iran were quickly liquidated and his properties eventually came under the domain of the Imperial government after Reza Khan was crowned the new Shah. The sheikhdom was abolished and the provincial authority took full control of regional affairs.

Khaz'al spent the rest of his life under virtual house arrest, unable to travel beyond Tehran's city limits. He was able to retain ownership of his properties in Kuwait and Iraq, where he was exempted from taxation. He died in May 1936 while alone in his house, as earlier in the day his servants had been taken to court by the police. It is said that he did not die of natural causes, but that he was murdered by one of the guards stationed outside his house under direct orders from Reza Shah.

King Faisal I attempts to kidnap Sheikh Khaz’al from Tehran[edit]

The first of a number of attempts to rescue Khaz’al was in 1927 by King Faisal I of Iraq. Faisal felt that the arrest of Khaz’al and the injustice of the Persian government towards Mohammerah were severe and cruel. Moreover, Faisal felt that he was in dept to Khaz’al for withdrawing his candidacy for the throne of Iraq. For Faisal, after being deposed from the Kingship of Syria, was a King without a country. He viewed this mission not only as an act of loyalty, but more importantly, of duty. Faisal informed Nuri al-Said of his plan to which the latter recommended using diplomacy rather than physical intervention.[10]

Meanwhile, al-Said, without Faisal's knowledge, informed Henry Dobbs, the British Ambassador to Iraq, of the latters intentions of kidnapping Khaz’al. Dobbs immediately met with Faisal and warned him of the consequences of such an act, stating that ‘His Majesty's Government’ would take a firm stand against him. "Do not play with fire King Faisal" - Dobbs.[10]


In regard to religious extremism, Khaz'al said "It is the scourge of the world. And if I had to come back after death to this Earth, I would only do so if there was no longer a trace of religious extremism left. All humans are brothers whether they like it or not".[11]


Titles, styles[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sardar Aghdas". Dehkhoda Dictionary. Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  2. ^ "'File 53/75 (D 156) Shaikh Khazal's Claim against Kuwaiti Merchants' [13r] (34/140)". British Archives. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  3. ^ MILANI, MOHSEN M. "IRAQ vi. PAHLAVI PERIOD, 1921-79". Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  4. ^ Shahnavaz, Shahbaz. "ḴAZʿAL KHAN". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2016-01-09. 
  5. ^ Ghani, Cyrus (1998). Iran and the Rise of the Reza Shah: From Qajar Collapse to Pahlavi Power. p. 203. 
  6. ^ a b H, RamHormozi (2016). Averting An Iranian Geopolitical Crisis: A Tale of Power Play for Dominance Between Colonial Powers, Tribal and Government Actors in the Pre and Post World War One Era. FriesenPress. 
  7. ^ Vassiliou, M.S (2009). Historical Dictionary of the Petroleum Industry. p. 285. 
  8. ^ Cronin, Stephanie. "Great Britain v. British influence during the Reżā Shah period, 1921-41". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 2011-06-15. 
  9. ^ a b Khalif, Hussein. Tareekh Al Kuwait Al Siyasi. p. 221. 
  10. ^ a b Ahmad, Nassar. Al Ahwaz, The Past, The Present, The Future. Dar Al Sharq Al Awsat. 
  11. ^ al-Rayhani, Amin (1924–1925). Muluk al-Arab, aw Rihlah fi al-bilad al-Arabiah. pp. Vol 2, part 6 on Kuwait. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "moham3". Retrieved 2016-10-12. 

External sources[edit]

  • Tarikh-e Pahnsad Saal-e Khuzestan (Five Hundred Year History of Khuzestan) by Ahmad Kasravi
  • Jang-e Iran va Britannia dar Mohammerah (The Iran-British War in Mohammerah) by Ahmad Kasravi
  • Tarikh-e Bist Saal-e Iran (Twenty Year History of Iran) by Hossein Maki (Tehran, 1945–47)
  • Hayat-e Yahya (The Life of Yahya) by Yahya Dolatabadi (Tehran, 1948–52)
  • Tarikh-e Ejtemai va Edari Doreieh Qajarieh (The Administrative and Social History of the Qajar Era) by Abdollah Mostofi (Tehran, 1945–49) ISBN 1-56859-041-5 (for the English translation)
  • Amin al-Rayhani, Muluk al-Arab, aw Rihlah fi al-bilad al-Arabiah (in two volumes, 1924–25), Vol 2, part 6 on Kuwait.
  • Ansari, Mostafa -- The History of Khuzistan, 1878-1925, unpublished PhD. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1974

External links[edit]