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Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [‎11r] (22/220)

The record is made up of 1 file (110 folios). It was created in 27 Aug 1893-19 Dec 1918. 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 Documents collected in a private capacity. .


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IT is not easy to fix upon a definite policy in regard to the Baghdad Railway,
for it seems that the solution of this question must necessarily be subsequent to and
in some measure dependent upon the disposal of the territory through which it
passes, and the territorial settlement is still entirely en Vair. It may, however, be
assumed that the Sykes-Picot and Italian Agreements will be revised, that an
attempt is to be made to divert France from Syria by offers in Armenia, and that
our general policy is to plump for self-determination in the sure hope that the
Arabs, or rather the Arab-speaking races, will opt for us. While there might be
some reason for not banking too heavily on this hope in Syria, we are not likely to
be disappointed in Mesopotamia.
Even on this assumption there is difficulty in precision prior to the meeting
with our Allies. We can, however, indicate the various courses that might be
followed, and endeavour to select the policy most desirable in the view of the depart
ments most concerned—that is, of the 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 Board of Trade. We should
then have to stand out for as much of this policy as we can get.
The following variants may be considered:—
1. It has been proposed by the Chief Political Officer at Baghdad that the Bagh
dad Railway should be regarded not as a private company, but as a Turkish State
railway, and that all its assets in Mesopotamia should therefore be transferred to
the Iraq State pending transfer to an Allied Railway Company to be formed
hereafter if desired.
The difficulty here would be to show ground on which the Railway could be
made to appear a State as opposed to a private undertaking. Legally, the theory
could not be demonstrated. In practice we should be reduced to the history of the
enterprise, and in particular to the kilometric guarantees (which were held to be
unfavourable both to the Government and the Company, as offering no inducements
to the latter to develop traffic, and as hastening the former towards insolvency) to
show that it was contemplated by the Turkish Government, and probably by the
Germans, as a strategic and political and not as a commercial line. Out of this we
could construct some kind of a case. It could be urged that, at considerable present
and future cost, Turkish policy had been generally directed to the construction of
uncommercial lines by the aid of heavy Government guarantees—that is, by the
misuse of Turkish revenue. These lines were planned irrespective of traffic develop
ment (e/. the refusal about 1893 to allow the extension of the Smyrna lines
to Konia), and partly through sparsely populated country. They therefore were
unlikely at first to be a paying proposition. Figures are, in fact, there to prove this
view from the receipts, while, owing to the size of the kilometric guarantees, a profit
of some £5,000,000 was expected to be realised by the promoters on the construction
of the Baghdad Railway. As to the German view, it has been sufficiently demon
strated during the war by open advocacy of this line as the means to split the
British Empire, to destroy the British position on the Persian Gulf The historical term used to describe the body of water between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. , and to under
mine British sea power.
With all this, however, we shall still be on weak ground, and, desirable though
it undoubtedly is to secure sole management of the whole length of the line in our
sphere, it may be doubted whether this is the right way to set about it.
2. A second solution proposed is that of internationalisation, that is, pre
sumably, point control by Great Britain, France, and Italy. The plan is in any case
to be deprecated, but if it were adopted it might be well for us to add the United
States. Their inclusion was proposed by Lord Lansdowne in his suggestion^ for
internationalisation in 1905. There can be no question of admitting Germany.
Turkish management or mismanagement would also be barred, even if a portion of
the line ran through territory still remaining to her.
[1057] • B

About this item


The file contains correspondence, memoranda, maps, and other papers relating to Middle Eastern affairs and a few other miscellaneous matters. The majority of the file concerns discussions of and proposals for the post-war settlement of Near Eastern territories, including Turkey, Armenia, Georgia, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula. The basis of these discussions was the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916.

Other matters covered by the papers include events in Siam [Thailand] and Burmah [Myanmar] and the colonial rivalry in the region between France and Britain, the Baghdad Railway, and relations with Ibn Saud in Arabia, including a report on the 1917-18 mission to Najd by Harry St John Philby (folios 67-98).

Folios 99-110 are six maps with accompanying notes that show the various proposed territorial settlements and spheres of influence in the Near East and one showing Britain's global colonial possessions.

Memoranda and correspondence comes from officials at the Foreign Office and 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. . Other correspondents include French and Italian government officials.

Extent and format
1 file (110 folios)

The file is arranged in roughly chronological order, from the front to the back.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the front of the envelope with 1, and terminates at the inside back last page with 110, 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.

Pagination: the file also contains an original printed pagination sequence.

Written in
English and French in Latin script
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Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [‎11r] (22/220), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F112/276, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 7 December 2023]

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