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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎178v] (356/434)

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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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AH on the east where it marched with the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman,
our treaties with the various chiefs and leaders in the northern and eastern
areas corresponded exactly to our treaties with the various chiefs and leaders
in the south-western district. There was no difference between one part of
the Aden Protectorate and another except that we had not in the past
exercised any active control over the northern and eastern areas because there
was no immediate reason to do so and they were difficult to get at. But
now that the hinterland of Nejran etc., was being opened up and the influence
of neighbouring Arab States was making itself felt, it was obviously
necessary that we should ourselves establish our own authority within our
own legal area. This did not imply any change of policy or any new departure.
It was merely an internal measure within a sphere for which we were inter
nationally legally responsible.
7. Signor Crolla asked whether we were not negotiating with Ibn
Saud over the northern sphere. He alluded to reports of my having carried
on negotiations myself with the King on this subject when I visited Arabia
last March. I replied that there was no particular secret about the fact that
discussions had been going on with King Ibn Saud for some time about
a possible revision of the blue line frontier. Although this was the legal
frontier, it had been fixed at a time when the country was Httle known, and
there were now indications that some of the tribes who wandered to the east
of the blue line did in fact come under Ibn Saud’s authority. The area was
one of little importance and consisted almost wholly of uninhabited desert.
We were therefore not inclined to insist too strongly on the legal line, and
conversations had been proceeding in a desultory way with a view to some new
Hue being agreed on. They were for the time being more or less in abeyance,
and, as far as we ourselves were concerned, the area which was of most im
portance to us was the coastal belt. But, however this might be, the fact
remained that legally the whole area to the east and south-east of the blue and
violet lines fell within our sphere of influence, and was internationally under
our protection, with the exception of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman,
which was an independent State. Our actions in this area therefore could
not possibly be regarded as involving any new policy or any departure from
the spirit of the Rome Agreement.
8. I told Signor Crolla that I had given him this full and frank expla
nation, as I wished to clear up any risk of misunderstanding and to try to
convince him that our policy had not changed, and that we still held firmly
to the principle of the Rome Understanding that no European Power should
establish itself in independent Arabian territory. But I felt bound to add
that the Rome Understanding really seemed hardly applicable to this area,
since that Understading specifically referred to the Red Sea and to the Arabian
Red Sea coast. The areas under our protection to the south-east and east of
the violet and blue lines, which had nothing whatever to do with the Red
Sea, therefore hardly seemed to come into the picture.
9. Signor Crolla replied that the Italian Government felt that the Rome
Understanding of 1927 ought not to be applied in too narrow or local a spirit.
In their view, it was important that there should be a clear understanding
about British and Italian interests to cover the whole of Arabia and the
Middle East. I asked Signor CroUa whether he meant by this—as he had
at one moment seemed to imply—that the Italian Government wanted
the Rome Understanding extended or amplified. I was unable to get a
definite reply from him to this question, but he continued to say that it
ought to be interpreted in the widest possible spirit.
10. Signor Crolla was not easy to follow, as he wrapped his ideas up in
complicated language with a mass of allusions and implications, from
which he showed great agility in retreating whenever I tried to hold him down
on any particular point. My first impression was that he was trying to re
present that we had violated the Rome Understanding and that Italy might
therefore regard herself as free to adopt a forward policy. He did indeed
at one moment hint at something of the kind. When he realised, however,
how strong our case was for saying that we had scrupuloulsy observed the

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' [‎178v] (356/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 17 February 2020]

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