Second Ikhwan Rebellion 1929-1930

[ 1929 - 1930 ]

Having acquired such a tremendous area, Abd al Aziz then faced the daunting task of governing it. First, however, he had to deal with the rebellious Ikhwan. When the Ikhwan leadership revolted against Abd al Aziz, he took to the field to lead his army, which was now supported by four British aircraft (flown by British pilots) and a fleet of 200 military vehicles that symbolized the modernization that the Ikhwan abhorred. After being crushed at the Battle of Sabalah, the Ikhwan were eliminated as an organized military force in early 1930.

The suppression of the Ikhwan brought to an end the chronic warfare in the Arabian Peninsula


A massacre of Najd merchants by Ibn Humayd in 1929, however, forced Ibn Sa'ud to confront the rebellious Ikhwan militarily, and, in a major battle fought in March on the plain of as-Sabalah (near al-Artawiyah), Ibn Humayd was captured and ad-Dawish seriously wounded. Then in May 1929 Ibn Hithlayn was murdered. In retribution the Ikhwan killed his murderer, Fahd, the son of one of Ibn Sa'ud's governors, and commandeered the road between Ibn Sa'ud's capital, Riyadh, and the Persian Gulf. The rebels suffered a setback in August at the hands of 'Abd al-'Aziz ibn Musa'id; their leader, 'Uzayyiz, ad-Dawish's son, and hundreds of his soldiers were either killed in battle on the edge of an-Nafud desert or died of thirst in the desert. Shortly afterward, an important Ikhwan faction defected, and Ibn Sa'ud was able to surround the rebels and force them to surrender to the British in Kuwait in January 1930. The Ikhwan leaders, ad-Dawish and Ibn Hithlayn's cousin Nayif, were subsequently imprisoned in Riyadh.

Not all of the Ikhwan had revolted. Those that had remained loyal to Ibn Sa'ud stayed on the hijrahs, continuing to receive government support, and were still an influential religious force. They were eventually absorbed into the Saudi Arabian National Guard.


1929 Faysal ad-Dawish, Sultan ibn Bijad, and other leaders of the Ikhwan, accusing Ibn Sa'ud of betraying the cause for which they had fought and opposing the taxes levied upon their followers, resumed their defiance of the king's authority. The rebels sought to stop the centralization of power in the hands of the king and keep the purity of Wahhabi practices against the innovations advocated by Ibn Sa'ud. The majority of the population rallied to the king's side, and this, with the support of the Najdi 'ulama', enabled him to defeat the rebels. The civil war, however, dragged on into 1930, when the rebels were rounded up by the British in Kuwaiti territory and their leaders were handed over to the king. With their defeat, power passed definitively into the hands of townspeople rather than the tribes.