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Miscellaneous correspondence, reports, maps and other papers concerning the Middle East [‎20r] (40/220)

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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This treaty, therefore, although it was never intended to be exhaustive, is on
sounder lines than our treaty with the Idrisi or our more informal arrangements with
King Husein, and there ought to be considerably less difficulty in expanding it, when
the time comes, into a definitive treaty settling our relations with Bin Sand in detail.
There are, however, several positive points affecting British desiderata to which
the present treaty appears to commit us :—
(1 .)—Demarcation of Territories,
In article 1 we recognise Bin Sand as independent ruler of certain enumerated
countries “ and their dependencies and territories, which will be discussed and deter
mined hereafter.”
This is less explicit than our undertaking to the Idrisi (article 6 of Idrisi Treaty,
for which see Memorandum on British Commitments to the Idrisi), in which we under
take “ at the conclusion of the war to adjudicate between the rival claims of the Idrisi
Saiyid and the Imam Yahya, or any other rival.”
But in effect it commits us to arbitrate on the territorial questions at issue between
Bin Saud and King Husein, and in the last resort to impose an efiPective sanction for
our award.
(2 .)—Keeping of the Peace.
In the original trucial treaties w ith the Independent Chiefs of “ Trucial Oman A name used by Britain from the nineteenth century to 1971 to refer to the present-day United Arab Emirates. ,’
His Majesty’s Government’s rights and obligations were strictly limited to the main
tenance of peace at sea, and we did not attempt to control the mutual relations on land
of the Arab parties to this series of treaties.
This formula set a very desirable limit to His Majesty’s Government’s liabilities,
while covering most of the causes of strife between the local Arab rulers. The trucial
chiefs of Oman hold sway in a narrow strip of territory between the sea and an
uninhabited desert. The activities of their subjects are almost wholly maritime, and
there are no nomadic tribes in their area of jurisdiction to create difficulties of allegiance
and demarcation.
But it is evident that if the British trucial system, hitherto confined to the fringe
between the south and east coasts and the great south-eastern desert, is to be extended,
as it has been extended during the war, to the remainder of the Peninsula, we shall
have to keep the peace between rulers whose prosperity depends, not upon the coasting
trade or the pearl fisheries, but upon the command of inland oases and Bedouin tribes.
Bin Saud, the Idrisi, and King Husein, with whom we have entered into relations
during the war, are rulers of this latter kind. A “ Pax Britannica” in the Persian
Gulf and the Bed Sea, valuable and indeed indispensable as it is, will do comparatively
little to remove the causes of friction between them, or to enable His Majesty s
Government to deal effectively with such friction when it arises.
If we are to keep the peace between them, we shall be driven eventually to control
their relations with one another by land. To a certain extent this may be done by a
maritime blockade. But apart from the fact that, where political authority is as lax as
it is in Arabia, it is difficult to blockade one State effectively without blockading the
whole Peninsula,* it is in the nature of things more difficult to bring pressure to bear
on Hail or Er-Biadh by this method than on Sharjah, or even Maskat. Besides this,
our new Arab Allies are considerably more powerful than most of the Arab rulers who
have previously entered into a trucial relationship with us. And in the case of King
Husein, who is likely to be the most troublesome of all over his relations with his
neighbours, it is peculiarly difficult for His Majesty’s Government to exert pressure,
whether by blockade or otherwise, owing to the sanctity of his territorj’ in the eyes of
the Moslem world, and the traffic of pilgrims between his ports and every other Moslem
The keeping of the peace on land thus appears to be the crucial problem in that
extension of the British trucial system over the remainder of the Arabian Peninsula,
which has been carried a long way towards completion during the war.
The Treaty with Bin Saud is our first experiment in this more highly-developed
and difficult form of trucial relationship, and in their ruling on the Treaty a short time
after its ratification (see above), 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. laid down the important doctrine that
“ we cannot admit that Article 2 is binding on us as against other Arabs.”
On this ruling, our obligations to Bin Saud by land would be confined to securing
him against aggression on the part of some outside Power {e.g., Turkey, Persia,
* This seems a fair induction from our experiences during the war at Koweit.

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 [‎20r] (40/220), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, Mss Eur F112/276, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 7 December 2023]

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