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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎12v] (24/434)

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The record is made up of 1 file (214 folios). It was created in 31 Aug 1933-20 Mar 1939. It was written in English and French. 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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agreeable country to live in. It is probable, therefore, that Iraqis would be increas
ingly attracted to the Syrian towns of Damascus and Aleppo, and thus perhaps
also to the even more definitely French district of the Lebanon or town of Beirut,
and that Syrian—and thus French—influence would tend to estabhsh itself increas
ingly in Iraq proper. The capital of the new State might even be moved to Damascus
which is an infinitely pleasanter town than Bagdad, and as a result Franco-Syrian
influence might spread eastwards until the whole character of Iraq and of the politi
cal relationship between His Majesty’s Government and that country might be
transformed. It is clear that the immediate interests of His Majesty’s Government,
particularly in regard to the safety of inter-imperial communications, which have
been so carefully protected by the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930, would suffer serious
injury as the result of such a development.
15. The questions dealt with in paragraphs Nos. 12, 13 and 14 above were
considered by the Ministerial Middle East sub-Committee of the Committee of
Imperial Defence on November 17th, 1931, and the relevant conclusions then reached
ran as follows :—
(1) That the outcome most likely to be to the advantage of His Majesty’s
Government would be the constitution of Syria as a republic with a
Syrian as President;
(2) That for a single individual to hold the crowns both of Syria and Iraq
would be most undesirable, and would, in ay case, be likely to prove
unworkable ;
(3) That any attempt by King Feisal to transfer his crown from Iraq to Syria
would be contrary to British interests.
.16. Even were all these immediate dynastic and political obstacles to be
surmounted, it is very doubtful whether real Arab unity could ever be achieved
even between the major States such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc., if only for purely
geographical reasons. In actual fact, notwithstanding its apparent homogeneity and
compactness, there is no geographical unity in Arabia. The northren countries,
such as Iraq, Syria, Palstine and Transjordan, all differ widely from each other
in configuration, soil, climante and general character. Southern Arabia, although
it appears to possess a certain unity from a first glance at the map, can really
more accurately be described as an archipelago of human settlements in a sea of
desert, inhabited by tribes who are driven by the exigencies of desert life into becom
ing, as it were, land pirates ceaselessly preying on each other. Any idea of unity
or confederation based on the ordinary European conceptions which such words
suggest is quite inapplicable to an area of this type.
17. But from the point of view of general international co-operation and under
standing, of cultural development, and of economic prosperity, His Majestys >
Government can naturally only view with sympathy any movement which tends to
bring the peoples of the Arabian countries into closer and more friendly relations with
each other, provided, of course, that it is not incompatible with their special treaty
relations and responsibilities towards certain of the States concerned. They have
indeed always done whatever has been possible to this end. The improvement of the
last few years in relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia has been mainly due to
the efforts of His Majesty’s Government, who brought about the reconciliation bet
ween King Feisal and King Ibn Saud on in board H. M. S. “ Lupin ” in February
1930, His Majesty’s Government are now actively engaged in trying to bring about
a similar improvement in relations between Saudi Arabia and Transjordan, and
hope that these may lead to the conclusion of a treaty settlement, including treaties
of friendship and bon visinage, between King Ibn Saud and the Amir Abdullah,
corresponding to the treaty settlement concluded between Saudi Arabia and Iraq
in April 1931. His Majesty’s Government have moreover always sought to further
the close co-operation of the Arab countries in economic matters, and have suceeded
in securing for Iraq and Transjordan, by suitable provisions in the relevant instru
ments, the right to accord specially favourable tariff treatment to neighbouring
Arab States, notwithstanding their most-favoured-nation obligations to other
18. Should the question of the attitude of His Majesty’s Government towards
the problem of Arab unity be raised in the course of King Feisal’s impending visit
to this country, it is submitted that it should be explained that the general attitude

About this item


The file contains the Foreign Office confidential prints of the Arabia Series for the years 1933 to 1938. It includes correspondence, memoranda, and extracts from newspapers. The correspondence is principally between the British Legation in Jedda and the Foreign Office. Other correspondents include British diplomatic, political, and military offices, foreign diplomats, heads of state, tribal leaders, corporations, and individuals in the Middle East region.

Each annual series is composed of several numbered serials that are often connected to a particular subject. The file covers many subjects related to the affairs of Saudi Arabia.

Included in the file are the following:

  • a memorandum on Arab Unity produced by the Foreign Office dated 12 June 1933 (author unknown), folios 11-13;
  • a memorandum on petroleum in Arabia produced by the Petroleum Department dated 5 August 1933 (author unknown), folios 23-26;
  • a record of interviews with Ibn Sa‘ūd, King of Saudi Arabia, conducted by Reader Bullard and George William Rendel between 20 and 22 March 1937;
  • a memorandum on Yemen by Captain B W Seager, the Frontier Officer, dated 20 July 1937;
  • several records of proceedings of ships on patrol in the Red Sea, including that of HMS Penzance , Hastings , Colombo , Bideford , and Londonderry .

Folios 213-15 are internal office notes.

Extent and format
1 file (214 folios)

The file is arranged chronologically.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the main foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the front cover with 1 and terminates at the back cover with 217; 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. An additional foliation sequence is also present in parallel between ff 2-215; these numbers are also written in pencil, but are not circled, and are located in the same position as the main sequence.

Written in
English and French in Latin script
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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎12v] (24/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 29 February 2020]

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