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'British relations with Turkey in the Persian Gulf. Memorandum on Lieutenant-Colonel Cox's telegram reports in Government of India's telegram of 1 December 1910.' [‎2r] (3/10)

The record is made up of 5 folios. It was created in 7 Dec 1910. 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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It is not quite clear what Colonel Cox means by making the agreement
"effective." It is ineffective only in the sense that the circumstances have
never arisen in which it would take effect.
Presumably he means a making explicit of what is implicit in it, viz.,
a denial of Turkish sovereignty and an assertion of a British protectorate.
This would have to be considered with reference to its effect on Germany
as well as on Turkey. x \s regards the later agreement, there is the further
difficulty that the Sheikh's claim to the island of Warba is not indisputable,
and as recently as March last Government of India, 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. , and Foreign
Office were all agreed that it was inadvisable to take any steps to raise the
question (S. 3130/JO).
As regards the Turkish flag, it should be explained that the Sheikh of
Koweit lias flown it certainly since 1871, and possibly since 1856. In 1901,
when it was suggested by the Government of India that he should discontinue
the use of it. Lord Lansclowne rejected the proposal, and was " not prepared to
support any action which could be interpreted as asserting the entire indepen-
" dence of the Sheikh of Koweit " (Foreign Office letter, 24th August 1901,
S. 2251/01). The proposal was pressed later in the year, with the suggestion
that the Sheikh should fly the plain red Arab flag instead, but the Foreign
Office adhered to their objection (Foreign Office letter 24th September 1901,
S. 2366/01). In 1901 the Government of India suggested that the Sheikh
might retain the Turkish flag for use at Koweit and use a distinctive flag {i.e. a
Turkish flag with the word " Koweit" written across it in Arabic) elsewhere
(Secret letter No. 2217 of 8th December 1904), and this was agreed
to by the Foreign Office (letter of 18th February 1905, S. 2653). ^ The
Sheikh concurred at first (S. 873/06), but later in the same year
demurred, on the ground that it "was sure to get him into trouble"
with the Turks, unless he was guaranteed by us against the consequences
(S. 2010 ; 0t)). The Government of India thought that this "might involve us
in responsibilities of a somewhat extended character " (Secret Letter Xo. 193
of_ 27th December 1906, S. -!205). The Foreign Office were consulted
(27th January 1907), and the Ambassador at Constantinople was not opposed
to according this guarantee, thinking it " very unlikely " that the Turkish
Government would interfere with the Sheikh's action (Sir N. O'Conor's
Despatch No. 105 of 18th February 1907); but the Foreign Office have never
replied to our letter, and the question has remained in a state of suspended
animation ever since.
It will have been observed, from the passage referred to above in the
Defence Committee's proceedings, that the basis of our policy at Koweit has
puipoited to be adherence to the status (jno. Ihis has been a convenient
formula, but it is two-eoged. 1 he lurkish Government understand it in
their own sense (and what that sense is is shown by the fact that they have
made the Sheikh a Kaim-makam, and that they are applying the utmost
pressure to induce him to register himself as a Turkish subject). We under
stand it in ours. One of the difficulties is to define our own meaning.
Thus, the Foreign Office were parties to the agreement of 1899. Yet in
September 1901 they declared that " there does not appear to have been any
" period since [1871J when His Majesty's Government have not been ready
to admit at least the suzerainty, it not the actual sovereignty, of the Sultan."
(Foreign Office letter of 24th September J901). For practical purposes
the definition given by Sir T. Sanderson to Count Metternich a few
days earlier seems sufficient, viz., that the status quo is "the Sultan's
authority as it exists in those parts." Turkish authority "as it exists"
is limited to the Turkish title conferred oir the Sheikh (it maybe noted
that within the last iew weeks the Sheikh has refused the offer of an
allowance to accompany the title), the use by the Sheikh of the Turkish flag,
and a Turkish guard sent to the island of Bubiyan, in violation of our
definition of the status quo, in 1902. It would appear, therefore, that while
there is nothing in the agreements that could not be made public without
violating the status quo, we could not deny Turkish suzerainty if the Foreign
Office view of 1901 is sound; nor could we assert a protectorate in view of
Lord Lansdowne's pledge to the Turkish Government in 1901 so long as the
Turks themselves maintain the status quo (as we understand it), and do not
send troops to Koweit. A further question is whether the despatch of the
Turkish guard to Bubiyan Island does not absolve us from this pledge.

About this item


This memorandum concerns British relations with Turkey in the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. and was written by Frederic Arthur Hirtzel in December 1910. The immediate question it addresses is 'the desirability of concluding a treaty with a Sheikh or Sheikhs of the El Katr [Qatar] peninsula as a bulwark against Turkish aggression' and comments on a telegram by Percy Zachariah Cox. It is divided into three parts; the first part assesses the general Anglo-Turkish situation in the Gulf and examines anti-British and pro-German developments as Constantinople.

The second part concurs that the publication of the secret agreement with Shaikh Mubarak bin Sabah of Koweit [Kuwait] is necessary to clarify matters and lists settlements claimed by the Shaikh of Koweit. The third part argues that having achieved that they should make treaties on the lines of Trucial Coast The historic term used by the British to refer to the Gulf coast of Trucial Oman, now called United Arab Emirates. agreements with 'Bin Thani' [Shaikh Jāsim bin Muḥammad Āl Thānī]. The memorandum discusses how such an agreement would be justifiable because by excluding foreign powers it would maintain the status quo.

The memorandum concludes that it was desirable to conclude treaties with the Qatar tribes and that this would require giving them a guarantee against Turkish aggression.

Extent and format
5 folios

The memorandum is arranged in three sections with an introduction and conclusion.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: The foliation sequence commences at the first folio, and terminates at the last folio; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. Pagination: An original printed pagination sequence is also present in the booklet.

Written in
English in Latin script
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'British relations with Turkey in the Persian Gulf. Memorandum on Lieutenant-Colonel Cox's telegram reports in Government of India's telegram of 1 December 1910.' [‎2r] (3/10), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/18/B181, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 17 October 2019]

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