His only son by his first wife, Dora Johnston, was Kim Philby
, who became known worldwide as a double agent
for the Soviet Union
who defected in 1963.
One of his three sons with his second wife Rozy al-Abdul Aziz is the former United Nations Resident Coordinator
in, inter-alia, Kuwait and later Turkmenistan, Khaled Philby.
Born in Badulla
in British Ceylon
(now Sri Lanka
), the son of a tea planter, he was educated at Westminster School
and Trinity College, Cambridge
, where he studied oriental languages under Edward Granville Browne
, and was a friend and classmate of Jawaharlal Nehru
, who later became the first prime minister of independent India
. Philby married Dora Johnston in September 1910,
with his distant cousin Bernard Law Montgomery
as best man. In addition to their son, Kim, born in 1912, they had three daughters: Diana, Helena and Patricia.
In late 1915, Percy Cox
recruited Philby as head of the finance branch of the British administration in Baghdad
. The position included fixing compensation for property and business owners. The mission was to organise the Arab Revolt
against the Ottoman Turks and to protect the oil fields
and the Shatt al Arab
, which were a source of oil for the Royal Navy
. The revolt was organised with the promise of creating a unified Arab state, or Arab federation, from Aleppo
, to Aden
. Gertrude Bell
was his first controller and taught him the finer arts of espionage. In 1916 he became Revenue Commissioner for British Occupied Territories
In November 1917, Philby was sent to the interior of the Arabian Peninsula
as head of a mission to Ibn Saud
, the chieftain who professed Wahhabism
, the movement within Sunni Islam
, and a bitter enemy of Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca
, who led the Hashemites
and the Arab Revolt, who were both contenders for "King of the Arabs". Philby secretly began to favour Ibn Saud even though British policy supported Sherif Hussein. Philby completed a crossing from Riyadh
by a "backdoor" route to demonstrate that Saud, not Hussein, was in control of the Arabian highlands.
In November 1921, Philby was named chief head of the Secret Service in Mandatory Palestine
, worked with T. E. Lawrence
and met his American counterpart, Allen Dulles
. In late 1922, Philby travelled to London for extensive meetings with parties involved in the Palestine
question, included Winston Churchill
, George V
, Edward, Prince of Wales
, Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild
, Wickham Steed
and Chaim Weizmann
Adviser to Ibn Saud
Philby's view was that the interests of both the British and the Saud family would be best served by uniting the Arabian Peninsula
under one government stretching from the Red Sea
to the Persian Gulf
, with the Saudis supplanting the Hashemites as Islamic "Keepers of the Holy Places" and protecting shipping lanes along the Suez Canal
(then Bombay) route.
Philby was forced to resign his post in 1924 over differences of allowing Jewish immigration to Palestine. He was found to have had unauthorised correspondence with Ibn Saud and to have sent confidential information, which carried with it the connotation of espionage. Shortly afterward, Ibn Saud began to call for the overthrow of the Hashemite dynasty, with Philby advising him on how far he could go in occupying Arabia without incurring the wrath of the British, the principal power in the Middle East. In 1925, Philby claimed that Ibn Saud had brought unprecedented order into Arabia.
Philby settled in Jeddah
and became a partner in a trading company. Over the next few years, he became famous as an international writer and explorer. Philby personally mapped on camel back what is now the Saudi–Yemeni border on the Rub' al Khali
. In his unique position, he became Ibn Saud's chief adviser in dealing with the British Empire
and the other Western powers. He converted to Islam
In 1931, Philby invited Charles Richard Crane
to Jeddah to facilitate exploration of the kingdom's subsoil oil. Crane was accompanied by noted historian George Antonius
, who acted as translator.
In May 1932, Standard Oil of California
(SoCal) sought out Philby in its quest to obtain an oil concession in Saudi Arabia, ultimately signing Philby as a paid adviser to SoCal. Philby, in turn, recognised that competition by foreign interests would get a better deal for the Saudi king, made contact with George Martin Lees
, the chief geologist of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company
, to alert him to SoCal's interest in gaining oil exploration rights in Saudi Arabia. Anglo-Persian was one of five international partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company
(IPC) through which it pursued its interest in the Saudi concession. In March 1933, IPC sent a representative, Stephen Longrigg
, to join negotiations with the Saudi government in Jeddah. However, Philby's primary loyalty was to the Saudi king. Although he was being paid by SoCal, he kept the arrangement a secret from Longrigg. In May 1933, IPC instructed Longrigg to withdraw from Jeddah and to leave SoCal free to conclude negotiations with the Saudi Arabia for a 60-year contract to obtain the exclusive concession for exploration and extraction of oil in the al-Hasa
region along the Persian Gulf.
By 1934, in an effort to safeguard the port of Aden
, Britain had no fewer than 1,400 "peace treaties" with the various tribal rulers of the hinterlands of what became Yemen
. Philby undermined British influence in the region, however, by facilitating the entry of American commercial interests, followed by a political alliance between the US and the Saud dynasty.
Philby, then known as an anti-Zionist
, outlined a plan to reach a compromise with Zionism
, after consultation with Arab leaders, and it was reported in The New York Times
in October 1929. The Philby Plan foresaw a shared confirmation of the Balfour Declaration
and continued Jewish immigration into Palestine in exchange for a renunciation by Zionists of any desire to seek political dominance. Representation of the two groups would be based on respecting the numerical proportions between both groups. Judah Magnes
, chancellor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
, and a member of Brit Shalom
, reacted to the proposal positively, and suggested alterations in order to secure guarantees for the Jewish minority.
As related in his memoirs, David Ben Gurion
, who would become Israel's first prime minister, met Philby on 18 May 1937 at the Athenaeum Club, London
. Ben Gurion attempted to use Philby as an intermediary to reach an agreement between the Zionist Movement and King Ibn Saud. A few days after their meeting, Philby sent to Ben Gurion a draft treaty by which the Zionists would renounce the Balfour Declaration
in exchange for being welcomed to the Middle East by an Arab Federation, headed by Ibn Saud. However, several clauses of the draft treaty were unacceptable to Ben Gurion. In particular, Philby had proposed that Palestine would be "open to the immigration of all those seeking to become its citizens, regardless of race and creed" and refused to mention in specific Jewish immigration. To Ben Gurion, that would have defeated the whole aim of Zionism. Ben Gurion sent Philby a counterproposal based on what Ben Gurion regarded as the indispensable minimum Zionist aspirations to which Philby never replied.
When he travelled to Bombay
, he was arrested on 3 August 1940 under Defence Regulation 18B
, deported to England and there briefly interned. Shortly after his release from custody, Philby recommended his son, Kim, to Valentine Vivian
deputy chief, who recruited him into the British secret service. When Harold B. Hoskins
of the United States State Department
visited Ibn Saud in August 1943, he asked if the king would be willing to have an intermediary meet with Chaim Weizmann
. Ibn Saud angrily responded that he was insulted by the suggestion that he could be bribed for £20 million to accept resettlement of Arabs from Palestine. Hoskins reports the king said Weizmann told him the promise of payment would be "guaranteed by President Roosevelt". A month later Weizmann wrote in a letter to Sumner Welles
: "It is conceived on big lines, large enough to satisfy the legitimate aspirations of both Arabs and Jews, and the strategic and economic interests of the United States;... properly managed, Mr. Philby's scheme offers an approach which should not be abandoned".
After Ibn Saud died in 1953, Philby openly criticised the successor, King Saud
, by saying the royal family's morals were being picked up "in the gutters of the West". He was exiled to Lebanon
in 1955. There, he wrote:
the true basis of Arab hostility to Jewish immigration into Palestine is xenophobia
, and instinctive perception that the vast majority of central and eastern European Jews
, seeking admission... are not Semites
at all.... Whatever political repercussions of their settlement may be, their advent is regarded as a menace to the Semitic culture of Arabia... the European Jew
of today, with his secular outlook... is regarded as an unwelcome intruder within the gates of Arabia.
In Beirut, he reconciled with Kim, and they lived together for a time.
The son was reemployed by MI6 as an outside informer on retainer. Philby helped further his son's career by introducing him to his extensive network of contacts in the Middle East, including Lebanese President Camille Chamoun
. Both were sympathetic to Gamal Abdel Nasser
during the Suez Crisis
in August 1956. Between Jack's access to ARAMCO and Kim's access to British intelligence, there was little they did not know about Operation Musketeer
, the French and British plan to capture the Suez Canal. The Soviets exposed the entire plan in the United Nations and threatened Britain and France with "long-range guided missiles equipped with atomic warheads
In 1955, Philby returned to live in Riyadh
. In 1960, on a visit to Kim in Beirut, he suddenly became ill and was rushed to hospital. "The man whose life had been so eventful and panoramic, so daring and theatrical, now lay unconscious. He awoke only for a moment and murmured to his son, 'I am so bored'. And then he expired".
He is buried in the Muslim cemetery in the Basta district of Beirut.
His tombstone reads, "Greatest of Arabian Explorers".
A Wabar meteorite etched section
In his travels, he took great interest in wildlife and gave a scientific name to the Arabian woodpecker
), as well as a subspecies (no longer valid) of a scops owl
(Otus scops pamelae
). Most of his birds were named after women whom he admired. He contributed numerous specimens to the British Museum
. His specimen packages were sometimes used to transport sensitive documents, a skin of a desert fox included survey maps inside it.
He also contributed to the draft of a book on the birds of Arabia by George Latimer Bates
. It was not published but used for in Birds of Arabia
(1954) by Richard Meinertzhagen
In 1932, while searching for the lost city of Ubar
, he was the first Westerner to visit and describe the Wabar craters
Awards and legacy
Some authors have summarised Philby as a British traitor and an anti-Semite.
They suggest that Philby never forgave the British government for ending his civil service career for sexual misconduct.
Once recruited by MI6, according to those authors, Philby used his intelligence assignment to take revenge on the British government.
With the extensive contacts he acquired as a British agent, Philby continued to betray British policy and to resist all efforts at creating a Jewish homeland throughout his life. Philby disclosed classified British intelligence to Ibn Saud during wartime, secretly helped secure American oil concessions in Saudi Arabia, double-crossed British competitors,
created economic partnerships allied against British interests and for those of Nazi Germany with the help of Allen Dulles
(later CIA Director) and worked with Nazi intelligence to sabotage efforts at creating a Jewish homeland.
- The Heart of Arabia: A Record of Travel & Exploration. (London: Constable) 1922.
- Arabia of the Wahhabis. (London: Constable) 1928.
- Arabia. (London: Ernest Benn) 1930.
- The Empty Quarter: being a description of the great south desert of Arabia known as Rub 'al Khali (London: Constable & Company Ltd) 1933. scanned book
- Harun al Rashid (London: P. Davies) 1933. About Harun al-Rashid
- Routes in south-west Arabia [map]: From surveys made in 1936 (Methuen & Co Ltd) 1936.
- Sheba's daughters; being a record of travel in Southern Arabia (London: Methuen & Co Ltd) 1939.
- A Pilgrim in Arabia (London: The Golden Cockerel Press), .
- The Background of Islam: being a sketch of Arabian history in pre-Islamic times (Alexandria: Whitehead Morris) 1947.
- Arabian Days, an autobiography (London: R. Hale) 1948.
- Arabian Highlands (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press) 1952. scanned book
- Arabian Jubilee (London: Hale) 
- Sa′udi Arabia (London: Benn) 1955, New impression: Librairie du Liban, Beirut 1968
- The Land of Midian. (London: Ernest Bean Limited) 1957.
- Forty Years in the Wilderness (London: R. Hale) c1957.
- Arabian Oil Ventures (Washington: Middle East Institute) 1964.
- ^ The London Gazette Publication date: 3 November 1908 Issue:28191 Page: 7933
- ^ "Middle East Time Bomb: The Real Aim of ISIS Is to Replace the Saud Family as the New Emirs of Arabia". The Huffington Post. 3 September 2014.
- ^ Ben Macintyre A Spy Among Friends pg 24
- ^ a bhttp://www.sant.ox.ac.uk/mec/MEChandlists/Philby-Collection.pdf
- ^ The King-Crane Commission Report, August 28, 1919, II-The Report Upon Mesopotamia.
- ^ "Harry St John Philby". World News.
- ^ Macintyre B (2014). A Spy Among Friends. Bloomsbury, London, United Kingdom. p. 27. ISBN 9781408851722.
- ^ The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power, by Daniel Yergin, p. 290
- ^ "Context of '1945: US State Department Official Calls Saudi Oil 'One of the Greatest Material Prizes in World History".
- ^ John Loftus & Mark Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews, p. 45.
- ^ Daniel P. Kotzin,Judah L. Magnes: An American Jewish Nonconformist, Syracuse University Press, 2010 pp.225–235.
- ^ דוד בן גוריון, "פגישות עם מנהיגים ערבים" David Ben Gurion, "Meetings With Arab Leaders", Tel Aviv, 1967,Ch.21, p.137-150. Ben Gurion included the full text of Philby's draft treaty and his own conterproposal.
- ^ Pryce-Jones, David (2011). Treason of the Heart. Encounter Books. p. 144. ISBN 978-1594035289.
- ^ Philby of Arabia, Elizabeth Monroe, Pitman Publishing (1973), p. 225.
- ^ a b c Carver, Tom (11 October 2012). "Diary: Philby in Beirut". London Review of Books. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
- ^ Yergin, Daniel (1990). The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power. Simon & Schuster. p. 301. ISBN 978-0671502485.
- ^ Lindgren, Ethel John (1961). "In memoriam". Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society. 48 (1): 6–11. doi:10.1080/03068376108731717. ISSN 0035-8789.
- ^ Morrison-Scott, T. C. S. 1939 Some Arabian Mammals Collected by Mr. H. St. J. B. Philby, C.I.E. Novitates Zoologicae, 41: 181–211.
- ^ Pocock, R I 1935 The Mammals Collected in S. E. Arabia by Mr. Bartram Thomas and Mr. H. St. J. Philby. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., Ser. 10, 15: 441–467.
- ^ "Wabar". Earth Impact Database. Planetary and Space Science Centre University of New Brunswick Fredericton. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
- ^ The London Gazette: 24 August 1917 Issue:30252 Page: 8852
- ^ "RGS Gold Medal Recipients" (PDF). rgs.org. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2011.
- ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. ("Philby", p. 206).
- ^ Madge, S.; McGowan, P. J.; Kirwan, G. M. (2002). Pheasants, partridges and grouse: a guide to the pheasants, partridges, quails, grouse, guineafowl, buttonquails and sandgrouse of the world. A&C Black.
- ^ Anthony Cave Brown, Treason in the Blood: Harry St. John Philby, Kim Philby, and the Spy Case of the Century, 1994, Houghton Mifflin.
- ^ John Loftus & Mark Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews 21, 24, 32, 38, 41–44 (1994)
- ^ John Loftus & Mark Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews, supra, at 23–26
- ^ John Loftus & Mark Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews, supra, at 24
- ^ John Loftus & Mark Aarons, The Secret War Against the Jews, supra, at 24, 32, 38, 42–44
- ^ Gibler, Dougla; Miller, Steven; Little, Erin (2017). "Report on MIDs that could not be found" (PDF). dmgibler.people.ua.edu. Retrieved 6 September 2019.
- Kingmakers: the Invention of the Modern Middle East, Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac, W.W. Norton (2008) pp 226–58.
- Princes of Darkness, Laurent Murawiec, Rowman and Littlefield (2005)
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press (2004)
- Arabian Jubilee, H. StJ. B. Philby, Robert Hale, (1952)
- Philby of Arabia, Elizabeth Monroe, Pitman Publishing (1973)
- The Secret War Against the Jews, John Loftus and Mark Aarons, St Martin's Press (1994)
- Arabia, the Gulf and the West Basic Books (1980)
- The House of Saud, David Holden and Richard Johns, Holt Rinehart and Winston (1981)
- The Philby Conspiracy, Bruce Page, David Leitch and Phillip Knightley, Doubleday (1968)
- Saudi Arabia and the United States, 1931–2002 by Josh Pollack (2002)
- Mirage: Power, Politics, And the Hidden History of Arabian Oil, by Aileen Keating, Prometheus Books (2005)
Last edited on 11 April 2021, at 02:02
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