Since the beginning of the 19th century they have been bigoted Wahhabis, though previously regarded by their neighbours as very lax Mahommedans; during Mehemet Ali's occupation of Nejd their constant raids on the Egyptian communications compelled him to send several punitive expeditions into the district, which, however, met with little success.
He tried to summon his assistance.
But Turkey was herself fully occupied by affairs in Europe, and to Mehemet Ali, then pasha of Egypt, was deputed the task of bringing the Wahhabis into subjection.
In the meantime Sheik Mubarak had found useful allies in the Muntafik Arabs from the lower Euphrates, and the Wahhabis of Riad; the latter under the amir Ibn Saud marched against Ibn Rashid, who at the instigation of the Porte had again threatened Kuwet (Koweit), compelled him to retire to his own territory and took possession of the towns of Bureda and Aneza.
Arrangements were accordingly made with the Wahhabis, and on the 10th of April Ahmad Feizi Pasha left aina, ostensibly with the object of protecting the pilgrim road, and joined the Medina column by the end of the month.
The overthrow of the Wahhabis in 1817 restored Sultan Said to independence; he equipped and armed on Western models a fleet built in Indian ports, and took possession of Sokotra and Zanzibar, as well as the Persian coast north of the straits of Hormuz as far east as Gwadur, while by his liberal policy at home Sohar, Barka and Muscat became prosperous commercial ports.
He next took Jidda and Mecca, defeating the Wahhabis beyond the latter place and capturing their general.
Mehemet Au, lissatisfied with the treaty concluded with the Wahhabis, and vith the non-fulfilment of certain of its clauses, determined to end another army to Arabia, and to include in it the soldiers who had recently proved unruly.
In 1811 the massacre of the Mamelukes left Mehemet Ali without a rival in Egypt, while the foundations of his empire beyond were laid by the war against the Wahhabis and the conquest of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina.
When Mehemet Ali went to Arabia to prosecute the war against the Wahhabis in 1813, Ibrahim was left in command in Upper Egypt.
The campaign lasted two years, and terminated in the destruction of the Wahhabis as a political power.
The holy cities had been recovered from the Wahhabis, and Ibrahim's task was to follow them into the desert of Nejd and destroy their fortresses.