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Coll 6/66 'Saudi-Arabia: Saudi-Transjordan Frontier' [‎4r] (7/427)

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The record is made up of 1 file (212 folios). It was created in 3 Apr 1934-6 Mar 1940. 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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A . “
PZ. 1
EASTERN (General).
. 1940 j
January 12, 1940.
^ (15803)
Section 1.
[E 3/3/25] Copy No. 1 r) S
Ibn Saud’s Claim to A kaba and Maan.
[An explanatory map is attached; for other maps which may be useful in this
connexion, see page 18 of the Report of the Royal Commission on Palestine
(1937 : Cmd. 5479), and the map attached to the Foreign Office memorandum
entitled “ The Frontiers between Transjordan and Nejd and Transjordan
and the Hejaz ” (Cfl. 15789).]
AMONG the territorial questions in dispute, though not in active dispute,
between His Majesty’s Government and the Saudi Arabian Government, is a
claim by Ibn Saud, which he has inherited from King Hussein of the Hejaz, to
the districts of Akaba and Maan in what is now Transjordan.
2. In considering this claim from the legal aspect there are two main points
to be borne in mind :—
(1) The historical and administrative position of Akaba and Maan in the
Ottoman Empire.
(2) Ihe manner in which the question of sovereignty has been affected by
conquest, occupation and administration, and by certain measures of
Allied and British policy, during and since the War of 1914-18.
3. The position as regards (1) can be stated quite briefly. In 1886 the Sanjak
of Maan (which included Akaba) was transferred from the Ottoman Vilayet of
Syria to the Ottoman Vilayet of the Hejaz. In 1894 it was restored to the
Vilayet of Syria, and remained part of that vilayet until after the outbreak of
the Great War. In 1915 the Vilayet of Syria was extended southward so as to
include portions of the Vilayet of the Hejaz down to Wejh and El Ala, the line
between these two points marking the recognised northern limits of the Hejaz in
the old sense of the Holy Land of Islam. That this line is the boundary of the
Holy Land can be confirmed from history and is of importance as providing a
refutation of the argument sometimes put forward (see paragraph 15 below) that
Maan and Akaba should rightly belong to “ the Hejaz,” because they are part
of the Holy Land. In 1916 the Turkish Government, for reasons of wartime
expediency, enlarged the Sanjak of Medina so as to include Akaba. No other
administrative change seems to have been made by them before the conclusion of
hostilities. Historically, therefore, Syria would appear to have, if anything a
somewhat stronger claim to Akaba and Maan than has the Hejaz "
4. The position is more difficult as regards (2), since the history of the
disputed districts after the revolt of the Shereef of Mecca (afterwards
King Hussein of the Hejaz) in 1916, is very complicated. In 1917 the Shereef
captured Akaba from the Turks, and his troops remained in effective occupation
Oa the place until 1919. Although it appears that the British authorities had
at the time no intention of committing themselves as to the future status of
Akaba, and indeed considered that it should remain in British hands after the
war it also appears that it was thought impolitic to emphasise to the leader of
town ^ reVOlt at that Stage th6 temporary nature of his own occupation of the
n 5 - ^. fte ^ 1 the the conquered territories were divided bv
General Sir Edmund Allenby into various spheres. Akaba was not at the time
specifically included m the provisional area known as “Occupied Enemv
Territory (East) ; Maan may or may not have been intended to fall within thn'f
area. On the other hand, Sir Edmund Allenby was, in January 1918 given bv
His Majesty s Government supreme authority as far south as ’ the line
[805 m—1]

About this item


This file primarily concerns British policy on the question of the Saudi-Transjordan frontier, specifically the frontier between Transjordan and Nejd, as initially outlined in the Hadda Agreement of 1925.

The correspondence includes discussion of the following:

  • The reported disaffection of certain Saudi tribes in the Jauf [Al Jawf] and Teima [Taymā’] areas.
  • Difficulties arising from inaccuracies discovered on a 1918 map of the frontier, on which the Hadda agreement was based.
  • Saudi Government complaints regarding the alleged violation of the Saudi frontier by British aeroplanes and soldiers at Thaniyya Taraif [Thanīyat Ţurayf, Saudi Arabia].
  • A proposal made by Fuad Bey Hamza, Deputy Minister for Saudi Foreign Affairs, during a meeting at the Foreign Office in July 1935, that the frontier should be that which is shown on the 1918 map, regardless of the map's inaccuracies (a proposal that the British authorities in Transjordan encourage the Foreign Office to accept).
  • Reports of infringements of the existing frontier by Saudi patrols.
  • The British response to Ibn Saud's [‘Abd al-‘Azīz bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Fayṣal Āl Sa‘ūd] claim to the districts of Akaba [Aqaba] and Maan [Ma‘ān] in Transjordan.

The file also includes the following:

  • Compiled notes of correspondence relating to the Treaty of Jedda (1927) and its modification (and more specifically, to the question of the Hejaz-Transjordan frontier) exchanged between Sir Gilbert Clayton and Ibn Saud (1927), and between the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Saudi Foreign Affairs (1936).
  • Copies of the minutes of meetings of the Committee of Imperial Defence's Standing Official Sub-Committee for Questions Concerning the Middle East, concerning the Saudi-Transjordan frontier (and, in one instance, also addressing the Island of Tamb 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. ).
  • Copies of the minutes of interdepartmental meetings regarding the Saudi-Transjordan frontier, held at the Colonial Office (7 January 1935) and Foreign Office (28 September 1934) respectively.
  • Two sketch maps depicting disputed territory near the frontier.

The file features the following principal correspondents: His Majesty's Minister at Jedda (Sir Andrew Ryan, succeeded by Sir Reader William Bullard); His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires to Jedda (Albert Spencer Calvert); John Bagot Glubb, Acting Officer Commanding the Arab Legion; the Air Officer Commanding Palestine and Transjordan (Richard Edmund Charles Peirse); the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs [Fayṣal bin ‘Abd al-‘Azīz Āl Sa‘ūd]; officials of the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office, the Air Ministry, and the War Office.

The file includes a divider which gives a list of correspondence references contained in the file by year. This is placed at the back of the correspondence (folio 2).

Extent and format
1 file (212 folios)

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

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the inside front cover with 1, and terminates at the last folio with 213; 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 present in parallel between ff 2-209; these numbers are also written in pencil, but are not circled.

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English in Latin script
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Coll 6/66 'Saudi-Arabia: Saudi-Transjordan Frontier' [‎4r] (7/427), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2133, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 16 October 2019]

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