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'Settlement of Turkey and Arabian Peninsula. Note by India Office on Foreign Office memorandum'. [‎1v] (2/4)

The record is made up of 2 folios. It was created in 30 Nov 1918. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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after the war between the territorial claims of the Idrisi and the Imam or any-
other rival, and to protecting the Idrisi against foreign aggression. This we must do,
but we should not go any further. And on the other hand, it should be understood
by foreign Powers that while we claim to have special political interests in the
peninsula and will protect the chiefs against unprovoked aggression, we ourselves
undertake no responsibilities as regards the protection of foreign subjects or their
G. This point has been dwelt on at some length because the prospect of His
Majesty's Government having to maintain the peace throughout Arabia and the Arab
countries is so alarming as to be absolutely prohibitive. We shall have quite enough
on our hands in those regions without the addition of that impossible duty. For it
should not be too easily assumed—as it sometimes is, when we talk of " having the
Arabs behind us " and the like—that the Arabs love us and are coming to feed from
our hands. So long as the Turk was a real danger, the Arabs disliked us less than
him. But when once that danger is permanently removed, the balance of dislike
will almost inevitably be transferred to us, and there f will be a strong tendency on
their part to minimise the evils and magnify the advantages of the Government which
they no longer endure or enjoy. The less we have to intervene in their domestic
affairs the better.
11.— The Hejaz.
7. It seems desirable that the least possible limitation should be imposed on the
independence of the Hejaz, and even the " trucial treaty on a restricted basis "
proposed on page 12 of the Memorandum is of doubtful expediency. Every
limitation and everything savouring of protectorate will be looked upon with the
utmost suspicion by Moslems, at all events in India. As is pointed out in the
Memorandum, the Hejaz will, to a large extent, be self-sterilised. We ought to
provide by treaty that the King shall receive pilgrimage agents, and that
they shall not have diplomatic status ; but it is very doubtful whether
we ought to require that his diplomatic relations shall be conducted through
us. It would, of course, save us a vast amount of inconvenience; but on
the whole it seems better to leave him absolutely free, and to rely on our
own energy and the other factors mentioned on page 12 for maintaining
our influence. If the King of the Hejaz became Caliph there would obviously be
considerable disadvantage in allowing him to fall under the influence of another
Power; but it is not easy to see what practicable measure of sterilisation will
effectually prevent this, if we allow our own activity and watchfulness to slacken,
and these will be our best safeguard. For the rest, the more we can keep our own
sphere apart from the Hejaz and its influences, the less anxiety we need feel about
the Hejaz itself. This, as far as it goes, is an argument against setting up Abdullah
in Mesopotamia.
HI.— Syria.
8. It is doubtless worth while to try to persuade the French to give up Syria,
but very doubtful whether we shall succeed. In any case we ought to be ready with
an alternative. From our point of view the most important thing is to get them
out of Area A and perhaps a strip of the blue area up to and including Diarbekr.
In Syria itself, as the Foreign Office Memorandum admits (page 13), w T e have less direct
political interest than anywhere else. In fact, apart from Alexandretta (which is to
remain French under any revision of the Agreement), our only interest lies in the
relations between Syria and the tribes of the desert. The Memorandum points out on
page 14 that the present arrangement cuts the Puwallah-Anazeh country into three,
with the possible result that these tribes would " realise their natural destiny and
gravitate towards Syria," the effect of which " would be to carry French influence
into the heart of the Arabian peninsula." Somehow or other this risk must be
averted. The point has been put to Captain Wilson and Miss Bell (who knows that
side of the desert better than anyone), and their reply is as follows :—
." Our view is that it should be excluded from all spheres, Syria and Iraq
maintaining right to police caravan road west and east respectively of, say
longitude 39°. It is clear that no Government will exercise effective control
over Syrian desert. Governments are concerned only with the administra
tion of settled districts, and the relations of tribes to borders of cultivated

About this item


The note was written by Sir Frederic Arthur Hirtzel for the India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. , 30 Nov 1918, and consists of remarks on three points drawn out from the Foreign Office memorandum:

Mention is also given to the Baghdad Railway and the importance of ensuring that it is British controlled.

The appendix to the note contains further details on the British Government's agreement with Bin Saud, setting out the full history of events leading up to the signing of the agreement; later modifications to it; and the definition of the term 'foreign power' within the treaty.

Extent and format
2 folios

The file contains four copies of the note.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: The sequence commences at the first folio and concludes on the last folio. It consists of pencil numbers, enclosed in a circle, located in the top right hand corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. of each folio.

Pagination: The booklet also has an original typed pagination sequence, with numbers printed at the centre of the top of each page, excepting page 1.

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English in Latin script
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'Settlement of Turkey and Arabian Peninsula. Note by India Office on Foreign Office memorandum'. [‎1v] (2/4), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/18/B298, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 15 October 2019]

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