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The Founder, Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, God's mercy may be upon his soul, opened his heart and country to the Ottoman Empire and allowed the Ottoman garrison to enter the country in July 1871 based on his belief in the Islamic caliphate and Islamic unanimity as well as to resist the growing British influence at the time. Therefore Britain resorted to create several problems to Sheikh Jassim with his neighbors, and exercised a lot of pressure on him; accusing him sometimes of piracy and at other times of persecuting British subject traders. However, those pressures failed to make Sheikh Jassim discontinue the policy he adopted with the Ottoman Empire or his refusal to be under the British protection. In this regard, instead of the Ottoman Empire strengthening its relationship with the ruler of Qatar (Sheikh Jassem) and backing him against such British schemes aimed at undermining the relationship between the two countries, i.e. Qatar and the Ottoman Empire, they worked to sabotage the relations with Sheikh Jassim by carrying out particular measures that did not serve the national interest. These were represented in the establishment of the Department of Customs, and imposition of taxes on traders including imposition of taxes on the sale of pearls. Such Ottoman procedures were opposed by Sheikh Jassim who believed that such actions would increase the financial burden on citizens, which could have driven them to migrate from the country. Nonetheless, driven by their bad need for money to spend on their military forces, the Ottoman authorities insisted on implementing their scheme unconcerned with its potential impacts on the living conditions of the citizens. This Turkey's determination on implementation of its policy, resulted in the resignation of Sheikh Jassim from his position as the Qaemakam (District Commissioner), where he informed the Wali of Basra - Mohammed Hafiz Pasha – of his decision on resignation in January 1893. Although the Wali (Governor) refused his resignation and asked Sheikh Jassim to continue in office, the Sheikh did not withdraw his decision, but instead moved from Doha to Aldain area, and then moved to Al-Wajba. The Wali of Basra, Muhammad Hafiz Pasha, arrived in Doha on 14 February 1893 via Ahsa claiming to re-ensure security in Qatar, where he was based in Doha. Shortly after his arrival, he sent a letter to Sheikh Jassim who was located in Al-Wajba area asking him to come to the Headquarters in Doha to be inquired about the complaints received against him from the British and others. However, Sheikh Jassim, who would not feel at ease with the intentions of the Ottoman governor, apologized for not attending, saying in his letter that his health would not allow him to attend and that he had delegated his brother Sheikh Ahmed. But the Wali considered Sheikh Jassim failure to meet him as a rejection and insurgency against the Ottoman Empire, therefore he arrested Sheikh Ahmed and his 16 escorts. On the 13th of March 1893, the Ottoman governor led a large force and headed towards Al-Wajba to arrest Sheikh Jassem and bring him to trial. Been aware of the Turkish preparations and the force marching towards him, Sheikh Jassim prepared his troops and provided with arms, ammunition, food and water, and positioned in key positions on the roads predicted to be taken by the Turkish troops. His plan was evidenced to be a success, where the Turkish forces caught by the trap of his troops to suffer a crushing defeat after a fierce battle that lasted from ten o'clock am to five pm, during which a large number of Ottoman forces were killed including Joseph Effendi, commander of the Ottoman forces. The Wali Mohammad Hafez, who was positioned in the back of his troops, fled to Mars, a Turkish ship moored in the seaport of Doha.

The most significant consequences of Al-Wajba battle was that the Ottoman Sultan immediately deposed the Wali of Basra, Hafiz Pasha, by reason of his unwise policy that unexpectedly inflicted humiliation upon the Ottoman State which revealed failure of its policy. As a result thereof and shortly after, the Ottoman State conducted an investigation that concluded to a resolution made by Sultan Abdulhamid on his full appreciation of Sheikh Jassim bin Muhammad who demonstrated his position and confirmed his commitment to the Ottoman State despite all the earlier happenings.

This material is quoted from a research entitled “The Stance taken by Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani towards the British-Ottoman Competition” prepared by Dr. Abdul Qadir bin Hamoud Al-Qahtani, Associate Professor at the College of Arts and Sciences (Qatar University) for the Founder Symposium on the occasion of the National Day Celebrations 2008.



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