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File 345/1908 Pt 1 'Mohammerah: situation. British assurances to Sheikh.' [‎162v] (329/416)

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The record is made up of 1 volume (203 folios). It was created in 1904-1910. 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 Documents collected in a private capacity. .


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Sir A.
No. 167 ,
5 , 1902 .
Sir A.
No. 65,
April 7,
No. 1,
August 25,
the Persian Customs, as it is impossible that M. Nans, in reorganizing that service, can allow so
important a port as Mohammerah to remain beyond his control, but that we should, in view ol
possible Russian activity in Southern Persia, attach him to ourselves by a promise that we will
not let his political authority over his tribesmen be destroyed or undermined by the Persian
Government. _
“ I am fully aware of the difficulty of supporting local quasi-hereditary Chiefs who are
subjects of the Shah against endeavours by the Persian Government to weaken then positions
and extend the power of the Central Government at their expense. Seistan is a case in point.
“ At the same time our neglect or reluctance to do this may be taken advantage of to the
detriment of our interests by our rivals, and it is clear that Colonel Kemball thinks that some
definite assurance of assistance in certain contingencies should be given to the Sheikh of
“I would propose to urge him to be loyal to the Persian Government, to come, with the
help and, if necessary, mediation of His Majesty’s Vice-Consul, to an arrangement with the
Customs which would. 1 indemnify him for the loss of their administration by himself, and to trust
to us to protect him against any attempt from Tehran—in my opinion, a very improbable one—to
diminish or encroach upon his authority as Chief over his people. If we give him an assurance
that we shall so protect him, we ought to be prepared, in the unlikely contingency of such an
attempt as I have suggested, to send a gun-boat to Mohammerah and to let the Persians know
that we shall not acquiesce without good reason to the deposition of the Sheikh, or in interference
by the Governor-General of Arabistan in the internal affairs of his tribe.
“Your Lordship can, of course, judge better than I to what extent the grant of such an
assurance is in accordance with the general policy of His Majesty s Government in Southern
Persia, and how far it would be wise and safe to give it. It is clear that the Sheikh is, perhaps,
unnecessarily anxious about his future, though no doubt he is more or less trying to bluff us
into giving him pledges of support; but I would venture to submit that the time has come for us
to decide how far we are prepared to back him up, should the Persian Government, perhaps at
Russian instigation, determine to destroy his, so to speak, autonomous position, and what counsel
Colonel Kemball and I should give him should he appeal to us, as he seems disposed to do, for
our advice.”
The upshot of this correspondence was that Sir A. Hardinge informed the Sheikh
on the 7th December, 1902, under instructions from Lord Lansdowne, that “ we shall
protect Mohammerah against naval attack by a foreign Power, whatever pretext for
such action may he alleged, and also, so long as you remain faithful to the Shall and
act in accordance with our advice, shall continue to give you our good offices and
This assurance was really necessitated by the urgency of arriving at a solution
of the question, as Sir A. Hardinge reported in March 1902 that the Russians had
been making offers for over a year to reduce the Sheikh of Mohammerah to subjection
by force, and that they had been pressing the Persian Government to adopt towards
him an uncompromising attitude. The assurance was actually given after an Arrange
ment about the Customs had been concluded, largely owing to the friendly intervention
of His Majesty’s Government; but it was probably only in consequence of this
assurance that the Sheikh consented to avoid friction and to make the new Arrangement
work smoothly.
On the 24th December, 1903, Sir A. Hardinge addressed a note to the Sheikh
confirming the assurance of 1902, and adding that he might rest assured of the support
of the British Government so long as he on his side observed the conditions of the
Arrangement made with the Persian Government.
In 1.904 a Russian decoration was conferred on the Sheikh and a Commercial
Mission was sent to Mohammerah.
One of the principal reasons for avoiding a conflict between the Persian Govern
ment and the Sheikh of Mohammerah has been the fear that such an event would
raise the much larger question of the Turco-Persian frontier dispute. Mohammerah
and the surrounding district have always been a bone of contention between the
Turks and the Persians, and only recently the Sheikh expressed his apprehensions to
His Majesty’s Consul-General at Bushire in regard to recent developments at more
northerly points of the frontier. The views of his Majesty’s Government are
explained in the subjoined despatches.
“ Sir Edward Grey to Mr. Marling.
“ (No. 21.)
“ gi r? “ Foreign Office, February 25, 1908.
“ 1 have received your despatch No. 17 of the 28th ultimo, in which you forward telegraphic
correspondence with His Majesty’s Consul-General at Bushire relative to the apprehensions of
the Sheikh of Mohammerah in regard to recent developments on the Turco-Persian frontier.
“I concur in your opinion that a gun-boat need not be sent to the Shatt-el-Arab under
existing conditions, and I consider that when an attack appears more imminent the precise
action to be taken by His Majesty’s Government can be determined.

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The correspondence discusses the situation regarding British assurances to the Sheikh of Mohammerah. The volume includes a description of the Sheikh's perception that, despite his good behaviour towards the British he has not been afforded the support provided to other Arab sheikhs in the Gulf as in Kuwait or Bahrain. Letters include an account of the explanation given to the Sheikh of Mohammerah that Britain recognized Bahrain and Kuwait as independent, in de jure as well as de facto terms; in contrast the British recognized the Shah's sovereignty over Mohammerah.

The correspondence discusses the practicalities of a customs arrangement between the Shah and the Sheikh of Mohammerah mediated by the British. Letters consider the circumstances under which Britain could intervene militarily to protect its interests in the Karun Valley in the event of disorder arising following interference by the Shah.

The correspondence discusses the scope and form of words of the assurance to be given to the Sheikh of Mohammerah and his male descendants, in the event of disorder following from a change in the Persian regime, be it of a royalist, nationalist, or constitutional nature as well as disputes with Bakhtiari khans.

Correspondents include: Shaikh Khazal Khan, Sardar Leader of a tribe or a polity; also refers to a military rank or title given to a commander of an army or division. -i-Afra, the Shaikh of Mohammerah; The Confidential Agent of the Shaikh of Mohammerah; Major Percy Zachariah Cox, Her Majesty's Consul at Bushire; Sir Edward Grey, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; Acting Consul of Mohammerah.

Each part includes a divider which gives the subject and part numbers, year the subject file was opened, subject heading, and list of correspondence references contained in that part by year. This is placed at the back of the correspondence.

Extent and format
1 volume (203 folios)

The papers are arranged in approximate chronological order from the rear to the front of the volume. The subject 345 (Mohammerah) consists of two volumes, IOR/L/PS/10/132-133. The volumes are divided into two parts, with each part comprising one volume.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence commences at the first folio with 1 and terminates at the last folio with 203; these numbers are written in pencil 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.The foliation sequence does not include the front and back covers, nor does it include the one leading flyleaf.

Written in
English in Latin script
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File 345/1908 Pt 1 'Mohammerah: situation. British assurances to Sheikh.' [‎162v] (329/416), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/10/132, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 18 June 2024]

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