Expansion and Consolidation
B Y the end of 1912, when the Ikhwan movement had definitely taken root, and thus ensured the easy and rapid mobilisation of a powerful force inspired by a fanatical ideal, Ibn Sa'ud was the acknowledged master of Central Arabia, or Najd, from the Wadi Dawasir province in the south to the southern border of Jabal Shammar in the north, and from the western frontier of al Ahsa, under Turkish rule, to the eastern frontier of the Hijaz, also part of the Turkish Empire. These two Turkish provinces were linked by an arc of Turkish territory comprising 'Iraq and Syria, while Jabal Shammar, also acknowledging Ottoman suzerainty, formed a buffer State occupying the hinterland of 'Iraq, Syria and the northern part of the Hijaz, roughly above the 27th Parallel. At no point did the Wahhabi realm reach the sea, while on every side except the south, where the vast desert of the Rub' al Khali provided a natural defence line against the territories of the Indian Ocean coast, it was hemmed in by the colonial outposts of a traditionally hostile Power, whose position along the Red Sea was further strengthened by its occupation of the Yaman and 'Asir. At the southern end of the former lay the British Colony, and Protectorate of Aden, while the territory of Kuwait, the only interruption of the immense loop of Turkish possessions flanking the Wahhabi realm on three sides, was at this time under British protection or guarantee. Bahrain and the Trucial Coast, as well as the coastal rim of 'Uman and the ports of Hadhramaut were all more or less subject to British control or supervision or influence.
To add to Ibn Sa'ud's troubles, the whole of the territory under his rule was entirely devoid of natural resources of any kind. The date harvest within his frontiers was barely sufficient for the needs of the settled and nomad population; the wheat crop needed reinforcement from outside by cereal imports, including rice, which Ibn Sa'ud himself was the first to popularise as the staple diet of the well-to-do classes; the settled population 266 de-