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'Memorandum. Regarding our future relations with Persia, with special reference to the extension and maintenance of British influence, and to the system of British Consular representation in Southern Persia.' [‎19r] (3/6)

The record is made up of 1 file (3 folios). It was created in 8 Sep 1916. 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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headquarters, looms very much larger in all Gulf questions than its own
actual value entitles it to do. It is, no doubt, a useful point whence to
conduct the management of the Gulf littoral, but there is no shadow of
a reason why it should be regarded as a centre whence the affairs of
great inland provinces like ivernian and bars should be supervised and
11. Even in pre-war days these considerations were valid and carried
weight, but with the shifting of the centre of gravity of Gulf politics from
Bushire to Basrah their force is redoubled. The question of our future
arrangements in Mesopotamia is one which will, of course, have to be settled
later, but we may presume at any rate that some high official, whether of the
British or of the Indian Government, must reside at some centre in that
country. Now if it was (as is admitted) anomalous, and even absurd, to
expect an officer residing at a small seaport like Bushire to act as adviser to
Government regarding the affairs of inland Persia concerning whose internal
questions he is necessarily ill-informed and ill-qualified to give an opinion, it
would be still more anomalous, and still more absurd, to expect an officer
residing at Basrah or elsewhere in Mesopotamia to perform these functions. I
do not think indeed that any advocate, however zealous, of the present
system could rationally recommend such an arrangement.
12. But it may perhaps be contended that the creation of fresh British
appointments in Mesopotamia, wherever they may be located, need not
necessarily alter the status or the duties of the Resident at Bushire. It would
no doubt still be possible to retain a Resident at Bushire (and at this moment
there is a Deputy Resident occupying the post), but 1 think that it will be
evident on mature consideration that the raison d'etre for such an important
and highly paid appointment has now vanished. With the transference of
the political centre of gravity to Basrah, Bushire sinks automatically into its
proper insignificance as a small and very inferior seaport. It cannot be said
to be the centre of any big political interests, and it has little or no political
or other connection with inland Persia, except, of course, by means of the
trade which passes inland or which arrives from the interior. The affairs of
the Gulf itself, and of the immediate hinterland, will have, of course, to be
regulated in the future, as in the past, and I shall endeavour lower down to
show how this may be done quite simply and efficiently ; but to maintain
a Resident at Bushire in the new conditions, and in view of the lessons and
warnings of the past, would be, as I venture to think, indefensible from any
point of view.
13. This long, and, I fear, tedious preamble, brings us to the question
of what the future system of Consular representation in South Persia is to
be ; and the suggestions which I am about to make are so simple and so
obvious that were it not for the confusion, of thought which seems to exist
regarding the whole question of Southern Persia, and for the fact that
certain old-fashioned arrangements of a vicious and anomalous character
have first to be condemned, they might have been presented in a few words
on a single sheet of paper. *
11 As shown in the earlier paragraphs of this note (presuming my
arguments are accepted as valid), we must in the future (as at present, and
in the past) have a Minister at Tehran with Consuls working under him in
the various provinces, the senior Consul or Consul-General residing, of course,
at the capital of the province in each case. All that is necessary, therefore,
is to decide how many Consuls or Consuts-General we require in Southern
Persia, and at what centres they shall reside. This is a matter of detail
regarding which there will, no doubt, be differences of opinion, but I
venture to submit my suggestions tentatively as follows. I here should, I
think, he Consuls or Consuls-General at the following places : —
(1) Sistan (as at present),^
(2) Kerman (for the Province of Kerman),
(3) Shiraz (for Ears, excluding the Gulf hinterland),

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This memorandum, written by Lieutenant-Colonel William Frederick Travers O'Connor, concerns the new subdivision of Persia into two spheres of influence – Russian and British – with the present neutral zone falling into the British sphere. The memorandum considers what system of Consular or other representation should be adopted in order to maintain not only law and order, but also British influence in the area.

Before discussing the issue of Consular representation, O'Connor mentions two alternative suggestions regarding the future of Southern Persia (the first being that Britain should decline to extend its influence beyond its present zone, and the second being that Southern Persia should be turned into one or more independent states), which he dismisses as lying outside the sphere of practical politics.

Assuming that the British sphere will encompass the whole of Southern Persia, O'Connor advocates the continuation of the existing post of British Minister at Tehran (located in the Russian sphere), and suggests that the Minister should be supported by Consular officers residing in the capital of each province. O'Connor suggests that Consul or Consul-General posts – to be held by officers of the Indian Political Department – should be present in the following places: Sistan [also spelled Seistan in this file] (as at present); Kerman (for the province of Kerman); Shiraz (for Fars, excluding the Gulf hinterland); Mohammerah [Khorramshahr in modern-day Iran] (for Arabistan); and Bushire (for the Gulf and for hinterland affairs).

In addition, O'Connor advocates the appointment of a Resident or Consul in the Bakhtiari country. He suggests that his proposed Consulates be run in the same way as the existing Consulates at Seistan, Meshed and Kerman.

O'Connor goes on to address the problem of the rivalry between the Home Government and the Indian Government on the subject of Southern Persia. He makes the following two proposals: either Southern Persia should be placed under direct control of the Indian Government, or it should be guaranteed that the Minister at Tehran will always be an officer from British India, who has been nominated for the post by the Indian Government.

In this memorandum, O'Connor suggests that the future arrangement of Consular representation in Southern Persia has been made complicated by the anomalous status of the Resident 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. . O'Connor argues that, in the post-war period, whilst it would still be possible to retain a Resident at Bushire, it would not need to be such an important and highly paid appointment; he appears to imply that his proposed Consul at Shiraz and Consul at Bushire would take over the Resident's responsibilities regarding inland Persia and the Gulf and its hinterland respectively.

Extent and format
1 file (3 folios)

The papers are arranged in approximate chronological order from the front to the rear of the file.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence for this description commences at f 18, and terminates at f 20, as it is part of a larger physical volume; 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. A previous foliation sequence, which is also circled, has been superseded and therefore crossed out.

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'Memorandum. Regarding our future relations with Persia, with special reference to the extension and maintenance of British influence, and to the system of British Consular representation in Southern Persia.' [‎19r] (3/6), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/18/C155, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 29 March 2020]

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