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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎191r] (381/434)

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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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father more about what was likely to happen over the proposed general con
versations in Rome. If these conversations took place, it might be conve
nient, just before they started, to have a talk about the present question ;
but if they were for any reason delayed, I doubted whether much would be
gained by a preliminary discussion at this end of this particular question in
3. Signor Crolla then said that he thought perhaps the best thing to do
would be to show me the draft of an informal communication which he had
prepared, stating the Italian point of view. This was a kind of aide memoire,
in Italian only, which he said he could not leave with me but which he would
like me to read.
4. I went through this document with him. Its main thesis was that
the Rome Understanding of 1927 applied not only to the Red Sea area but to
Southern Arabia as a whole. It represented that it was an essential prin
ciple of the Rome Understanding that the status quo existing at the time of
its signature should not be modified except by agreement and in consulta
tion with the Italian Government. The Italian Government at that time
had known nothing of our claims over what we now called the northern and
eastern areas of the Aden Protectorate, i.e. the Hadramaut, Shehr, Mokalla,
etc., and they could only regard our new “ forward ” policy in this area—
which in their view had the effect of adding some 40,000 square miles to the
Aden Protectorate—as an annexation of territory in violation of the Rome
Understanding. This contention was supported in the draft by a number
of extremely flimsy arguments, several of which I was able to controvert
immediately, though Signor Crolla naturally professed not to be convinced.
The draft aide memoire was accompanied by a draft annex giving specific
instances of our alleged forward policy.
5. I told Signor Crolla that it was obvious from the text of the Rome
Understanding itself that that Understanding was not intended to refer to
any of the areas in Arabia which were under our protection. Had it been
intended to deal with this part of Arabia those areas would, of course, have
been mentioned. But there was no mention even of the Aden Protectorate
in the agreement, although the existence of the Protectorate and our interest
in it was of course well known and generally accepted at the time. I presum
ed that the Italian Government were not trying to challenge our position at
Aden, although the argument developed in Signor Crolla’s draft could be read
as an attempt to do so.
6. Signor Crolla admitted that the Rome Understanding could not be
regarded as in any way interfering with our rights in the Aden Protectorate,
but he repeated that the Protectorate, as then understood by the Italian
Government, was a much smaller area than what we now claimed, and again
urged, in support of this contention, that it had always been so shown on ail
published maps etc. Seeing an atlas on my table, he suggested that we
should look it up in proof of his contention. The atlas was Stieler’s Hand-
atlas, 1921 edition, and contained an excellent map of Arabia, on which, to
Signor Crolla’s discomfiture, practically the whole of the southern coast of
Arabia turned out to be marked red, as a British possession. (This was a
piece of luck, for I fear that Signor Crolla is on stronger ground on this parti
cular point even than he thinks, since there are many old official publica
tions—including, I believe, 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 Colonial Office lists—describing
the Protectorate as a very much smaller area than what we now claim.)
Signor Crolla again emphasised that what the Italians complained of was not
our established rights in the Aden Protectorate but what he described as our
attempt to extend the boundaries of the Protectorate for something like 500
miles to the east and for a great distance into the hinterland.
I explained to Signor Crolla that there had been no. change whatever
in the political situation. Our sphere, as I had explained to him before, was
bounded by the Anglo-Turkish boundaries of 1914. There had never been
the slightest question of our extending our influence beyond that sphere,
which had been our sphere since long before the War. But within it we had
always claimed special rights. Our position in the south eastern corner of
the Aden Protectorate rested on a number of ancient treaties with the local
chiefs. Identical treaties existed with the chiefs in the area now being
brought under closer administrative control. Whatever arbitrary distinc
tion unofficial maps might have shown between the south western and 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' [‎191r] (381/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 19 February 2020]

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