Britain and the Middle East up to 1914
BRITAIN AND THE MIDDLE EAST UP TO 1914
In the Middle East, Great Britain is remembered most for its interlude of paramountcy. The political-geographical concept of the Middle East was coined early in the twentieth century, several decades after Britain entered the region. In a review of Britain's relations with the region before then, and how it rose to the top, this must be kept in mind. Most of the territory that composed its Middle East empire from the end of World War I to the end of World War II had once been under Ottoman rule. Before the ratification in 1924 of the peace settlement with the Turkish Republic, the Ottoman Empire's lineal successor, the inspiration and rationale for adding each politically identifiable unit, with the arguable exception of Sudan in 1899, had come from the perceived need to defend British India.
On India's north (Afghanistan) and northwest (Persia—Iran after 1935—and the Ottoman Black Sea coastline and its interior), Russia's southward thrust stirred anxiety among Britain's empire builders. In the southern Mediterranean, France's tenacious pursuit of influence in Egypt made both Britain and India, as guardians of the imperial routes to the subcontinent, nervous. The anxiety dated from Napoléon's dramatic appearance in the self-governing Ottoman province of Egypt in 1798, through the opening in 1869 of the French-built Suez Canal, to the long-lived yet contested British presence that began in 1882.
In the first half of the twentieth century, to confirm its regional primacy, Britain served in effect as Europe's imperial coordinator in the Ottoman succession. Later, in the crisis of its global imperial mobilization in World War II, Britain was the region's unifier, after 1941 in close harmony with the United States. In retrospect, if the port of Aden (even including its insular appendages, it encompasses little more than 100 square miles [260 sq km]) is set aside, the rise and fall of Great Britain's regional preeminence lasted less than a century (1878–1971). This is not to suggest that the Ottoman sultan's Asian Arab and adjacent northeast African provinces were available earlier for easy European plucking. They were not.
The Levant and East India Companies
Napoléon's appearance in Egypt in 1798 with a massive armada and the declared aim of shortening the sea route to India, in order to reconquer the empire there that France had lost to Britain over the preceding half-century, marked a change in Britain's relations with the Sublime Porte from commercial to political imperialism and diplomacy. During Britain's monopoly of commerce under successively renewed royal charters (1581–1825), the Levant Company had cultivated trade with the Ottoman Empire's eastern Mediterranean territories from Greece to Egypt. As late as 1798 the company, at its own expense but in the name of Britain, handled all formal diplomatic and consular relations with the Ottoman Empire. It also paid the salaries of the British ambassador and the consul general in Constantinople (now Istanbul), and of other British consular officials in Aleppo and selected Ottoman ports. Beginning in the mid-eighteenth century, the ambassadors, though still on the company payroll, were gradually integrated into the regular diplomatic service. The Foreign Office did not begin paying their salaries until 1804 (five years after Britain entered into its first formal alliance with the Sublime Porte). The consuls remained employees of the Levant Company until just before its dissolution in 1825.
Once the industrial revolution had taken hold in Britain late in the eighteenth century, the Levant Company faced no serious competition from Western European rivals. With few exceptions, even during the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars (1789–1815)—indeed, until 1825—the company enjoyed the most profitable phase of its 244 years of Anglo–Ottoman monopoly trade. Given the long head start before the industrial revolution crossed the English Channel, Britain captured and held first place in the external Ottoman trade until World War I. In the middle decades of the nineteenth century, the Ottoman Empire was Britain's third-best foreign customer.
Early on, the Levant Company yielded to the reality that the deep interior of its assigned zone lay beyond reach and released the privileges to the East India Company (1600–1858). The oldest charters of the two companies, both issued under authority of Queen Elizabeth I, were mirror images. But in the pursuit of monopoly commerce in the allotted areas, the prospects for each differed sharply. The East Indies titled not a fixed state, like the Ottoman Empire, but a zone in South Asia lacking precise geographic definition. At its height the Mogul Empire (1526–1857) ruled much, but not all, of the subcontinent and lacked diplomatic ties to Europe. Although the East India Company (EIC) trade centered on the Indian subcontinent, that sphere spread over more than a single suzerainty.
EIC agents moved freely, seizing commercial opportunities, including those in the Islamic empires (Ottoman, Persian, and Omani) and self-ruling shaykhdoms around the Gulf, with half the Gulf's littoral. Persia lay beyond the Levant Company's assured circuit. But in theory that circuit did embrace the Ottoman Gulf littoral, which varied in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Beyond Ottoman reach, and thus freely claimed for EIC trade, sprawled Oman (variously known as Muscat or as Muscat and Oman) and the "independent" shaykhdoms along the lower Gulf and the Arabian Sea as far as the entrance to the Red Sea.
Despite its exercise of Britain's diplomatic and consular duties, the Levant Company remained to the end a trading association. The EIC, by contrast, had become the primary instrument for conquering India and integrating it into the British Empire. In 1757 it rose from a decade-long war with its French rival as the governing agent for Britain. Within a dozen years the French company expired. After yet another war with France (1778–1783), the EIC absorbed the remaining Mogul provinces and districts until the Islamic empire passed out of existence in 1857. (By the 1780s French India had shriveled into the Union of Pondichéry, comprising four disconnected enclaves in the subcontinent's southeast with a total area of 143 square miles [372 sq km].)
Not until the shock of Napoléon's lightning entry into Egypt (July 1798) and his stealthy personal departure (August 1799), leaving behind for two years a large French military and civilian body of occupation, did British India begin building a durable political presence and strategy in the Gulf. At the EIC's request, the sultan of Oman signed a pledge—not honored by his successors—that nationals of France and the Netherlands, Britain's Gulf rivals in the preceding two centuries through their own East India companies, would be shut out of his realm. Oman was then more substantial than a shaykhdom yet less than a suzerain state (on European criteria). Thus, the true meaning of a second agreement, early in 1800, that looked like a provision for the Gulf's first permanent, if only quasi-diplomatic, mission, was that it reflected the dramatic structural transition of the EIC, which since 1757 had blossomed into the government of British India.
Parliament toughened its supervision of the EIC. In 1784, following the second and virtually complete rout of French rivals from the subcontinent, Parliament passed the Government of India Act, laying down strict rules of accountability. The president of the company court (board) of directors was given a nonvoting seat in the British cabinet, to serve as the channel for guiding the EIC's governance of India. To carry out the new duties of protecting and promoting British interests, the company began reorganizing its own administrative structure. Starting in the 1820s, the EIC changed its former commercial residencies into political residencies and agencies at key ports in the Gulf, broadly interpreted to include Basra and Baghdad, which could be reached by vessel via the Shatt al-Arab and the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Relations of Britain and British India with Persia in the eighteenth century had been the least satisfactory in the Gulf, because of the domestic political chaos in the decades between the effective end in 1722 of the Safavid dynasty and the rise of its Qajar successor, which in 1794 reunited the shahdom. As part of the strategy of defense in depth against Napoleonic France, in 1801 the EIC signed commercial and political agreements with the new dynasty designed to establish continuous diplomatic links. Fath Ali Shah (1797–1834), however, repudiated both agreements because British India had dallied for six years before returning the ratifications. The Foreign Office in London and the EIC unknowingly had separately framed plans in 1808 for fresh exchanges with Persia—the Foreign Office, out of anxiety about Russia; the EIC, about France. Their emissaries met for the first time in Tehran. In stages, from 1809 to 1814, a treaty of defensive alliance emerged, laying the base for Britain's permanent diplomatic relations with Persia. From then on, Persia fell into the diplomatic jurisdiction of the Foreign Office, with only two lapses (1823–1835, 1858–1859) when the Asia-focused Political and Secret Department of the Bombay Presidency managed Britain's interests in Tehran.
Britain and the Arabian Peninsula
In 1858, after the last vestige of Mogul rule had vanished, the EIC charter was revoked. Responsibility for governing India passed from Calcutta—and for managing British affairs in the Gulf, from Bombay—to London. In London the secretary of state for India, with full voting rights in the cabinet but no longer attached to a nongovernmental company, presided over the India Office and thus over framing imperial policy. Even then, anxiety over India's defense colored all major decisions on the Middle East until World War II. By then, British India had to share the center of imperial concern with Britain's interest in Gulf oil, which at that time still came largely from Iran, with a modest supplement from Iraq.
Against this background it becomes possible to chart the origins, rise, and style of British Middle East imperialism east of the Red Sea and the complementary yet reactive diplomacy and imperialism in the Ottoman Empire. During the century-long conquest of the Mogul Empire, British India was distracted enough not to plan simultaneous expansion beyond the subcontinent. The distraction went far to explain India's nervous yet cautious reply to inflated fear of perils looming in and around the Gulf, reaching back to 1798. From time to time (1806, 1809, 1819), the EIC deployed in the lower Gulf, chiefly for service along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula, vessels of the Bombay Marine to suppress what the Anglo–Indian monitors labeled a rampant tribal piracy that "even preyed upon" vessels flying the Union Jack.
In 1820 the coastal shaykhs and their neighbors as far as the Bahrain archipelago were forced to sign a general treaty banning piracy and the slave trade. The pact was renewed semiannually until 1835 by all (except Bahrain), and then annually until 1843, when it was prolonged for a decade and finally hardened into a permanent maritime truce. By then the EIC had come to view the Persian Gulf as an Anglo–Indian lake. Upon authorization by Tehran, the EIC named the British consul at Bushehr on the Persian coast as the EIC political resident, with the duty of observing the execution of the truce and guarding against piracy. He was assisted by the political agent for the Trucial Coast (at Sharja) and, at the turn of the century, by political agents named to the other pact signatories. In 1822, for the resident's service, British India deployed vessels of the Bombay Marine and, after 1879, of the Indian navy, berthed at the rented Basidu based on Persia's Qeshm Island, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.
It was the port of Aden, however, lying outside the Gulf, that became Britain's first onshore presence in the Middle East. By the beginning of the second third of the nineteenth century, new anxieties had arisen. As seen in Britain and in India, the benefits of the dramatic shrinkage between the two of distance and time in transport and communication were risks when they served an imperial rival such as France. By the 1830s the EIC had developed a regular route between India and England via the Mediterranean and Red seas, with overland transfer in Egypt of passengers, goods, and mail between Alexandria and Suez in both directions.
In the Mediterranean, which had British bases at Gibraltar and Malta, there were no bunkering problems. East of Suez, the company chose Aden as the site for resupply of fuel and other needs of increasingly larger and more modern oceangoing ships. After six years of talks with the sultan of Lahij, punctuated by forcible occupancy, two treaties and a bond defined the terms of the Anglo–Indian use of the harbor at Aden, for an annual rent of £1,300 ($6,500). By handling its first onshore presence in the Middle East as a quasi-commercial station with a modest rental, British India minimized the likelihood of tribal hostility.
In 1854, the five virtually unpopulated Kuria Muria islets, east of Aden on the southwest coast of Oman, were given to Britain by the sultan of Oman for a telegraph station. The experiment (1859–1860) in the Red and Arabian seas with submarine cables to tie into the European lines failed. Britain finally built alternative routes to British India via the Ottoman Empire as well as Russia and Persia. Attached by conquest to Aden in 1857 was the strategic islet of Perim, not quite in the center of the Bab al-Mandab Strait, then the only water entrance to the Red Sea. All the islands annexed by Britain were virtually uninhabited. Aden remained Britain's first and only dependency in the Middle East until 1878. Even with the port's enlargement by the addition of Little Aden in 1868 and its further enlargement by British India's purchase of the adjacent promontory belonging to Shaykh Uthman in 1862 and 1888, Aden's total area, islets and all, barely exceeded 100 square miles (260 sq km). Until 1937, it was administered as if it were the Bombay Presidency's private colony.
Britain and the Eastern Mediterranean
Also in the 1830s, Britain's primary Middle East attention, still inspired by India, moved from the Gulf and the periphery of the Arabian Peninsula to the eastern Mediterranean, and basic policymaking, from the Political and Secret Department in Bombay to the Foreign Office in London. With Viscount Palmerston as foreign minister (1830–1834, 1835–1841, 1846–1851) and as prime minister from 1855 until his death in 1865, Britain dug in its heels to deny France economic and strategic domination of the key link between Western Europe and South Asia. In 1840 and 1841 Palmerston framed a strategy that rested on an Anglo–Ottoman alliance and committed the major powers to preserve the European balance by upholding the territorial sovereignty and integrity of the Ottoman Empire. By consensual diplomacy the powers, with Britain serving as the balancer, prevented the overthrow of Muhammad Ali, the self-made governor of Egypt, by internal revolt (in 1839–1841); the shrinkage of the Ottoman Empire by European conquest (by Russia in 1854–1856 and by France in 1860–1861); and the unilateral revision of a concert agreement (by Russia of its 1856 Straits Convention with the Ottoman Empire, in 1871). In each European–Ottoman dispute, Britain kept France and Russia apart by forming temporary great-power coalitions that isolated the would-be offender.
Despite Palmerston's precautions, Anglo–French rivalry in and over Egypt deepened. In the 1840s French engineers began framing feasible designs for linking the Mediterranean and Red Seas by canal, to assure uninterrupted ocean travel from Britain and Western Europe to the African and Asian rims of the Indian Ocean, as well as Australia and New Zealand. In the mid-1850s, once Ferdinand de Lesseps pocketed a ninety-nine year concession for building and running the waterway, French magnates and bankers promptly oversubscribed the operating company. But at the height of the Anglo–Ottoman alliance (from 1841 to 1879–1882), Palmerston's diplomacy had interrupted the canal's construction for more than a decade. At his urging, in order to escape an imperial contest for dominance in Egypt, British investors put their sterling into an Alexandria–Suez railroad via Cairo, completed in the 1850s.
In November 1869, four years after Palmer-ston's death, the French promoters finally opened the Suez Canal. As might have been expected, ships flying the Union Jack made up 70 percent or more of the traffic in the first years. The absence of British shareholders, however, denied British users a voice in canal policy. Even the secret purchase in 1875 of the 44 percent interest in the company owned by Egypt's khedive, making Britain the largest single shareholder, proved inadequate to modify rates and other rules of use. Nor did the boost to Egypt's treasury long delay Khedive Ismaʿil's fiscal collapse. In 1876 he accepted a Dual Control, the working title of the Anglo–French Public Debt Commission, to manage Egypt's finances. Two years later, after the dual controllers reported continuing breach of the commission's rules, the khedive installed a cabinet government, with the Briton as finance minister and the Frenchman as minister of public works. When Ismaʿil tried to restore direct rule by abolishing the cabinet in June 1879, British diplomacy in Constantinople brought his son Tawfiq to the governorship.
Occupation of Cyprus and Egypt
While Anglo–French rivalry in and over Egypt was turning explosive, a crisis in the north had led Russia to declare war against the Ottoman Empire in April 1877; eleven months later it imposed a humbling peace on the Sublime Porte that was promptly ratified. Britain saw its eastern Mediterranean interests squeezed yet again between renewed threats from Russia and continuing ones from France. Benjamin Disraeli's cabinet cobbled together a strategy of detaching Austria from its alliance with Russia, wooing France with an offer not to oppose its conquest of Ottoman Tunisia, and coercing the reluctant sultan into allowing Britain to occupy Cyprus, purportedly to inhibit further intrusion by Russia into the Islamic realm.
After deliberate delay, with the secret deal on Cyprus in hand, Disraeli finally agreed to attend the Berlin Congress (13 June–13 July 1878), called by Chancellor Bismarck of Germany to cool the over-heated diplomacy in Europe through top-level accord. Only toward the close of the congress did Disraeli divulge the text of the Cyprus convention for integration into the collection of approved actions. The congress modified Russia's crippling terms and sorted out the imperial rivalries, thus avoiding wider war in Europe. Nevertheless, the Ottoman Empire paid the price by having to make major land transfers to Russia in northeastern Anatolia and, to Russia and its Balkan allies, in southeastern Europe; placement of Cyprus under Britain's occupation without fixed time limit; and—unmentioned—Britain's promise to France of diplomatic support in assimilating Ottoman Tunisia. In the Ottoman view, the congress, by annulling the ban on European expansion into the Ottoman Empire, had erased the essence of its durable alliance with Britain. Britain's replacement by Germany came four years later.
Once on Cyprus, Britain added two other Ottoman provinces—Egypt and Sudan—to the western portion of its future Middle East empire. It is far from clear, however, that the island was originally meant to be the first such unit. Occupation by formal, if also forced, agreement without time limit was intended as notice that Cyprus had been taken over only temporarily. The island's administration, without transfer of ownership title, was simply handed to Britain for such use as might serve its immediate imperial interest and, it was claimed, that of the Sublime Porte, which received a British pledge to stop deeper penetration by Russia into Anatolia. Britain had already denied Russia possession of the Turkish Straits and Constantinople. Without the Turkish Straits, Russia could not become a Mediterranean power. To buttress the notion of a rental contract, the Disraeli government assured the Sublime Porte that all public revenue, beyond administrative needs, would revert to the sultan along with a fixed annual payment of £5,000 ($25,000).
More important, yet unmentioned in the convention, Britain saw Cyprus as a convenient military base to shore up its political and military stance in the eastern Mediterranean as a deterrent to both France and Russia. Within a fortnight of the outbreak of the Russian–Ottoman war in April 1877, Britain had warned Russia against blockading the Suez Canal and/or the Turkish Straits or occupying Egypt and/or Constantinople. The security planners in London felt a gnawing need for a nearby military presence to defend the Suez Canal, which they had come to see as the lifeline to India and to Britain's widening empire along the rim of the Indian Ocean and beyond. In this scheme, Cyprus "would enable us without any act of overt hostility and without disturbing the peace of Europe, to accumulate material of war and, if requisite, the troops necessary." This observation was embodied in Foreign Minister Salisbury's instructions to the British ambassador in Constantinople, charged in mid-May 1878 with imposing on the Sublime Porte the convention for Britain's open-ended occupation of Cyprus. (Egypt, though unmentioned, also was firmly in mind.)
Britain finally occupied Egypt in 1882 to quiet the long-standing fear of French conquest. The war in Europe that the British action threatened did not break out, even though the major powers withheld de facto recognition of the reality for nearly a quarter-century. After the British invasion, six years elapsed before the European maritime powers initialed a convention to assure free transit through the Suez Canal in peace and war, and seventeen more passed before its ratification. France kept goading Britain to fix a date for military withdrawal; Britain, no less stubbornly, insisted on recognition as the canal's sole defender for the duration of its military presence in Egypt.
Together with Russia, France did not stop condemning Britain for its occupation of Egypt, and particularly its refusal to share the Suez Canal's protection with the convention's signers. Nonstop collaboration against Britain in Egypt contributed to a Franco–Russian entente on European imperial issues in 1894. Ten years later, France and Britain finally signed their own Entente Cordiale in a tradeoff: Britain's free hand in Egypt in return for France's free hand in Morocco. Within a year, the Suez Canal convention finally went into effect, carrying with it European de facto recognition of Britain's occupation of Egypt and, for its duration, as the waterway's exclusive guardian.
Conquest of Sudan
Lacking any document in its files to verify an unqualified Ottoman surrender of legal titles to Cyprus and to Egypt, Britain did not seriously seek the Sublime Porte's recognition of the conquest of Sudan in 1896 through 1898. Judged by the record, Britain seems to have concluded that without legal confirmation, it would be best to continue needed imperial expansion on the Mediterranean side of the Middle East by means of temporary tenancy. For this, given the Ottoman denial of legitimacy, the search for European recognition seemed the logical course of action.
The political status of Sudan had been complicated ever since 1885, when all British and Egyptian troops were pulled out after defeat by the self-proclaimed Mahdi (Messiah), Muhammad Ahmad, and his mujahidin (religious warriors). The mahdi did not long survive his declaration of Sudan's independence. But the independent Mahdiyya of Sudan survived under his dynastic khalifa (successor) for more than a decade, until Major General Horatio Herbert Kitchener, commanding a modest Egyptian force, reclaimed the province in the name of Egypt (1896–1898). The victory was capped by an Anglo–French standoff at Fashoda (19 September–3 November 1898), micromanaged by the Foreign Office in London and the Foreign Ministry in Paris.
Kitchener was pitted against Major Jean Baptiste Marchand, a desert explorer who for more than two years had trekked some 3,000 miles (4,800 km) from the Atlantic seaboard of French Equatorial Africa, with a small band of infantry volunteers, before arriving at the southern reaches of the White Nile. Fifteen months before Marchand and his commandos set out in June 1896, the undersecretary of state for foreign affairs, Sir Edward Grey, announced in Commons that the entire Nile (White and Blue) basin, from sources to mouth, formed a British sphere of influence. Any intrusion would be viewed as an unfriendly act. En route from the Atlantic to the White Nile, Marchand and company received little public notice, less the result of planned secrecy than of crude communications.
At Fashoda, one of the few rural towns along that stretch of the White Nile, Marchand subdued the mudir, who surrendered the patch of well-watered desert that made up his mudiriyya (municipality). On that basis, Marchand, as instructed, claimed for France all of southern Sudan, as yet without boundaries and thus undefined. The situation was formally resolved not by Marchand and Kitchener, on the bank of the White Nile, but by the foreign secretaries on the banks of the Thames and the Seine. Indeed, a confident Kitchener reached Dover on 27 October 1898 (before France had officially backed down) for weeks of national celebration.
The decision on how to factor Sudan into Britain's burgeoning Middle East empire was left to Lord Cromer, the British agent and consul general in Cairo. He rationalized a complex arrangement to establish Britain's right to rule Sudan at its pleasure, yet leave no more than a nominal role for Egypt, and to do so without seeking the Sublime Porte's approval. Cromer devised a formula to assure British supremacy while calming France and denying European powers capitulatory privileges.
The British claim to dominance in governing the Anglo–Egyptian condominium rested on the right of conquest, in the name not of the Ottoman sultan but of his viceroy, the Egyptian khedive, though the occupation had nullified the khedive's subordination to the sultan. In Cromer's scheme, except for the low-level civil and military service, Egypt had little more to show than its flag. Even that had to fly below the Union Jack. Though run as an undeclared British colony, Sudan was governed by the Foreign—not the Colonial—Office, which prided itself on installing a paternalistic regime. Until 1914, however, Sudan's public revenues came primarily not from local sources or Britain's Exchequer but from interest-free loans granted by Egypt.
In Sudan, as in Cyprus and Egypt, the Sublime Porte was infuriated by the denial of a policy voice or even of a nominal administrative role. In all three cases, the Foreign Office was pressed into an unaccustomed Colonial Office role by having to recruit and supervise senior administrative personnel. The makeshift handling of Cyprus had set the precedent for the later assimilation of Egypt and Sudan into the expanding western sector of Britain's Middle East empire. Named custodian of such borrowed territory was the Foreign Office, the branch of the British government best equipped to cope with problems of international law and diplomacy, but one of the most poorly equipped for colonial administration.
In Cyprus, Egypt, and Sudan, Britain did not stray from the fiction that the Foreign Office's exercise of Britain's de facto sovereignty had introduced neither legal nor political change into the former Ottoman provinces. The Ottoman Empire responded with an absolute refusal to surrender the title of ownership. Thus, the western sector of Britain's rising Middle East empire still lacked legal solidity at the outbreak of war in Europe in 1914—indeed, for a decade longer, until the peace settlement with the Turkish Republic.
Humbling the Gulf
In contrast with the political tenancies that Britain imposed on the Sublime Porte, British India continued to devise its own forms of British primacy along the periphery of the Arabian Peninsula. This activity must be seen in the context of India's progressive intrusion into the Gulf in the nineteenth century. The office of resident was a title that the EIC had used, ever since its arrival in South Asia, to identify its factors (merchants) at chosen commercial posts. The step-by-step politicization of the office traced back to the 1820 maritime truce and reflected the slow conversion after 1757 of the EIC from a merchants' monopoly into Britain's formally recognized empire-building and governing agency in the subcontinent. As early as 1822, the Bombay Presidency began appointing a "resident in the Persian Gulf" at Bushehr, on Persia's upper Gulf Coast, to oversee the truce, with instructions to take action against violators and advise on policy. Commonly a middle-level officer of the Indian army or navy, the resident was authorized to call upon the Indian navy (known as the Bombay Marine until 1830), which from 1822 deployed a token squadron at the rented base of Basidu on Qeshm Island, near the Gulf entrance. Soon after the EIC lost its charter in 1858, the Indian navy's facilities and manpower were folded into the Royal Navy.
The long-delayed 1841 British commercial treaty with Persia had reaffirmed the right of the resident to keep his office at Bushehr. Not much later, Persia grudgingly allowed Britain to confer on the incumbent a second and separate title of consul general for the coastal provinces, thus formally assuring that his jurisdiction embraced the Gulf's entire rim except for the Ottoman segment. Nominated through 1872 by the Bombay Presidency and thereafter by the governor-general and viceroy in Calcutta, the political resident, as he had been formally designated for some time, was still British India's senior official and policy coordinator in the Gulf. He also served as envoy at large to the Arab tribalities, shaykhdoms, and ministates on the coast of the Arabian Peninsula. As necessary, British India delegated political agents to selected shaykhdoms growing into ministates; and by the turn of the twentieth century, political officers were delegated to troublesome tribalities. Meanwhile, from the start of the truce, Indian naval officers who served on patrol duty at times doubled as surveyors to map the Gulf and its bed for navigation, pearl fisheries, and other marine sources of commercial value.
By 1880, British India's presence rested on a system of control by an experienced and informed bureaucracy that steadily deepened its knowledge of the Gulf and its rim's inhabitants. With such proved interests, British India was ready to fend off aspiring European rivals. The Anglo–Indian custodians of the British Empire then, and for some time to come, persisted in viewing the Persian/Arabian Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula not as part of the Middle East (a term not yet invented) but as a region that fell into the subcontinent's influence sphere. Still, British India's uncontestable presence remained offshore.
The Sublime Porte inadvertently sparked the growth of British India's onshore presence. On re-absorbing al-Hasa in 1871, the Ottoman Empire had reentered Gulf politics. Hasa's governor later gave asylum to a disgruntled faction of the Al Khalifa, the clan that ruled the Bahrain archipelago. To British India's political resident, the Sublime Porte appeared to be testing a rediscovered political option in 1879, when Hasa's governor and Isa ibn Ali, Bahrain's ruler, explored the rental of a coaling bunker on one of his islands. The action was seen as a likely Ottoman first step in claiming Bahrain, lying off Hasa's coast.
In December 1880, India undertook to protect Isa and his heirs as the shaykhdom's governing dynasty, assuring it full domestic sovereignty and a guaranteed safeguard against local opponents. In return, the ruler surrendered to Britain, and to India acting in Britain's behalf, the archipelago's external sovereignty. He agreed to an absolute ban on relations with other governments, the nearby shaykhdoms excepted, expressly disallowing the creation on his territory of "diplomatic or consular agencies or coaling depots . . . unless with the consent of the British Government." In March 1892, Shaykh Isa more explicitly reaffirmed his original surrender of external sovereignty by adding a general nonalienation clause that he would "on no account cede, sell, mortgage or otherwise give for occupation any part of my territory save to the British Government." Thus Bahrain became the model for what British India later called a system of independent states in special treaty relations with Great Britain.
In 1887 a first version of parallel exclusionary pacts with the shaykhs of the six tribalities of the Trucial Coast proved porous. Defying the Anglo–Indian ban, French agents appeared in 1891, seeking to open formal relations with the Trucial six by tempting them with such promises as the revival of slave trading under the French flag. India finally plugged the leak in 1892. In the next twenty-four years India, in Britain's name, absorbed the external sovereignty of Kuwait (1899) and, in World War I, of Najd (1915) and Qatar (1916). In the Trucial Coast, Fujayra broke away from Sharjah in 1902 but did not receive Britain's formal recognition until a half-century later. Between 1913 and 1932, starting with Kuwait's shaykh, British India won explicit pledges from the rulers of Bahrain and each Trucial shaykhdom never to grant an oil concession to anyone except an official British governmental nominee. In the accords with Najd and Qatar, such commitments were assumed in promises to issue no concessions whatsoever without British consent.
Meanwhile, in 1891, Sayyid Faysal ibn Turki of Oman also had placed himself in nonalienation bondage. Clearly, Oman still had not been reduced to the status of a shaykhdom. It persisted in styling itself a sultanate, and as such it remained larger than 80,000 square miles (208,000 sq km), nearly nine-tenths the size of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Oman still flaunted imperial pretensions with the residual possession of Gwadar, a port on the Baluchi coast with some 300 square miles inland that was not returned to Pakistan until 1958. Indeed, in earlier decades of the nineteenth century, Oman had held long-term leases on the island of Qeshm and the nearby port of Bandar Abbas, issued by Persia's Fath Ali Shah and renewed by his successor. Until 1856 it also comprised the African islands of Zanzibar and Pemba and the coastal towns of Mombasa and Dar es-Salaam, which collectively had served as the major conduit of the once thriving slave trade in the Gulf. For that commerce the realm's capital, Muscat, served as the entrepôt.
The key to understanding Oman's vague ties to the system of protected ministates was Britain's inability to gain full command over the sultanate's foreign relations. By the time British-India began moving to tighten its hold on the ministates, Oman had long since entered into capitulatory treaties with the United States (1833), France (1844), and the Netherlands (1877). Its ruler could not unilaterally cancel such instruments, even if he had wished to. Nor did Britain, in the exercise of its treaty rights in the sultanate, ever vigorously challenge the capitulatory powers, with the occasional exception of France.
Britain's management of its affairs in the Persian Gulf after 1858 was settling slowly and not always happily into the joint duty of the Foreign and India offices. Through World War I, the top administrator was recruited from the British officer cadre of the Anglo–Indian Army at the rank of lieutenant (or full colonel) and held appointments from both offices. In the overseas hierarchy of the Foreign Office he was the consul general at Bushehr, attending to Anglo–Indian and British interests in Persia's coastal provinces of Fars and Khuzistan and its islands in the Gulf. At the India Office and in India he was titled political resident in charge of Anglo–Indian affairs along the Gulf peninsular coast. Accountable to him in that role by 1914 were political agents for Bahrain and Kuwait, and political officers for the Trucial Coast and later also Qatar, all drawn from British India's political service. The political resident in the Persian/Arabian Gulf was thus responsible to the Anglo–Indian government and ultimately to the India Office in London for basic policy, at first with advice from the Foreign Office, largely regarding interactive Gulf politics of Persia and the Arab ministates. But the Foreign Office's influence steadily increased as the Gulf was drawn, issue by issue, into European imperial politics after Britain's occupation of Cyprus and Egypt.
Sole Policeman in the Gulf
An immediate effect of abandoning the long-lived alliance with the Sublime Porte was that Britain lost its leverage in the European imperial rivalry over Ottoman territory. That loss promptly encouraged Russia and France to cooperate against Britain on Ottoman issues. No less important, it opened the way for Germany's belated entry into the competition. Germany, in fact, replaced Britain as the Porte's durable ally, a friendship that lasted until the armistice ending World War I in 1918. At first, Chancellor Bismarck still discouraged official promotion of German interests in the Ottoman Empire despite the Porte's receptivity. In 1881, when Germany sent its first military mission to Constantinople on Ottoman invitation, the chancellor cut the mission's formal national ties. By the time of Kaiser Wilhelm II's accession in 1888, the new friendship came into the open. German industry had made such striking advances after the nation's unification in 1870 that it sought new markets. Between 1886 and 1910, Germany vaulted from fifteenth to second place in Ottoman foreign trade, surpassed only by Britain.
Much of this upturn could be attributed to the kaiser's enthusiastic response to Sultan Abdülhamit II's national goal of building railroads across his Asian domains to underpin their economic expansion, unity, and defense. With official encouragement, investors in France centered their projects in Palestine, Syria, and the latter's adjacent zone in southern Anatolia. The sultan's chosen enterprise was a trans-Anatolian railroad linked to Europe via its international railway complex. The sultan coaxed the new kaiser, on his first visit to Constantinople, to arouse interest in the plan among German bankers and entrepreneurs. An initial segment was promptly begun that would link Constantinople to Europe's international railway complex. By 1896 the German-built segment (with limited French investment) had pierced western Anatolia as far as Eskişehir with a spur to Konya.
There the venture stalled. On a second visit to Constantinople in 1898, the kaiser's zeal was re-honed. But ahead, between Konya and Basra, lay the mountains of eastern Anatolia and Mosul province, where it would be far more expensive to build each kilometer of roadbed than it had been in the plains of west Anatolia. Also envisaged were four spurs along the way: to Aleppo, Urfa, and Khanaqin (on the Persian side of the Ottoman border, some 90 miles [154 km] north of Baghdad), and from Zubayr (9 miles [14.5 km] south of Basra) to a point on the Persian Gulf "to be agreed upon." Wilhelm II enlisted the aid of Georg von Siemens, director of the Deutsche Bank, to promote the project as a German national interest, and the sultan issued a preliminary concession in 1899. Limiting its concern largely to the venture's commercial side, the bank did not agree to the definitive concession until 1903, after having canvassed banks of other nations—notably France and Britain—to invest in the project. In March 1903 the Deutsche Bank finally signed a ninety-nine year concession for the Berlin–Baghdad Railway.
The quickening of European interest in the Persian/Arabian Gulf, especially the confirmation of the Berlin–Baghdad Railway concession on 5 March 1903, led Britain to update its defensive strategy. Precisely two months later, on 5 May 1903, Foreign Secretary Lord Lansdowne disclosed the commercial and strategic principles that would guide Britain's government in the future. Although high priority would be given to "protect and promote British trade" in the inland waters, Lansdowne ruled out the notion of excluding "the legitimate trade of other Powers." Yet he left no doubt that Britain would "regard the establishment of a naval base, or of a fortified port, in the Persian/Arabian Gulf by any other Power as a very grave menace to British interests and we should certainly resist it with all the means at our disposal."
The British strategy of depriving other European powers of a military presence in the Persian/Arabian Gulf, never seriously disputed, remained fixed through World War II and, with the exception (from 1949) of a modest U.S. naval station in Bahrain, lasted until Britain's final withdrawal in 1971.
Unlike the British-occupied Ottoman provinces, which European powers recognized but the Sublime Porte did not, the protected ministates in the Gulf won the approval of neither. Still, the European governments—not even Germany, the latest entrant into the contest—did not effectively dispute Britain's exercise of rights in the shaykhdoms. In the decade before the eruption of war in 1914 the Gulf's guardians, particularly in British India but also in Britain, perceived a mounting threat from Germany, which was enlarging its trade with Ottoman Asia and opening markets in the Gulf. In 1906 the Hamburg–Amerika Line began calling on a fixed monthly schedule at promising ports, offering lower rates and better banking services that those of the entrenched Anglo–Indian and British shipping firms.
In 1911, less concerned than British India, Britain finally responded to the persistent overtures of Germany and the Ottoman Empire to reconsider the differences over completing a railway with a terminal at the head of the Gulf. Britain felt the least pressure, since the Porte depended on British assent to increase the tariff rates, the only reliable funding source for Ottoman subsidies to the railway builders. Britain insisted on preserving its role as the Gulf's sole policeman to safeguard Anglo–Indian commercial and maritime primacy. On these terms Britain consented to pursue, with the Ottoman Empire and Germany, a multilateral settlement by weaving together three bilateral accords: British–Ottoman, British–German, and German–Ottoman.
From the outset the Sublime Porte had challenged the legality of Britain's protected ministate of Kuwait so as to reassert the sultan's suzerainty in the shaykhdom. Instead, the convention initialed in July 1913 gave the Porte only the symbols of political ownership. Although obliged to fly the Ottoman flag (with the inscription "Kuwait"), the shaykh was assured of "complete administrative autonomy." The Ottomans also conceded the validity of the shaykh's agreements with Britain. The purpose of the accord—whether, when, and under what terms the railroad might build its terminal in Kuwait—was described and the decision deferred. Beyond assuring Britain membership on the Berlin–Baghdad Railway directorate and guaranteed equal rates for all users, the British–German convention, initialed in June 1914, stated that the Baghdad–Basra extension would be built and run by a separate Ottoman company with an assured 40 percent British interest and a pledge of no extension to the Gulf without full prior approval by Britain, Germany, and the Ottoman Empire.
A fourth bilateral accord, framed by the Deutsche Bank and the French-dominated Imperial Ottoman Bank, was reached and initialed in February 1914. It was essentially designed to protect the special position of France's railroad entrepreneurs in Syria and Alexandretta, as well as their planned branches in western Anatolia, all to be linked to the German trunk line.
Ratification of the bilateral instruments awaited the drafting of the Ottoman–German convention. Preliminary talks, begun in June 1914 but interrupted by war in August, ended in a secret treaty of defensive alliance. The Sublime Porte became an active ally of Germany and Austria late in October. Early in November, Britain amplified the existing territorial guarantees to Shaykh Mubarak by declaring Kuwait, together with its islands and the ruler's date groves in the Faw district of the Basra vilayet, "an independent Government under British protection" as a reward for his pledged cooperation in the war effort.
Aden: Settlement and Protectorates
Reshaping the British protected shaykhdoms in the Gulf into potential ministates had run parallel with dividing Aden's upcountry, between 1880 and 1914, into projected tribalities that remained politically frozen in that condition until after World War II. The two imperial initiatives were sparked by perceived threats to Anglo–Indian security. Also, both Arabian coastal zones were recurrently infused with tribal migrants from the interior. Some tribal groups in each zone had passed in and out of the Ottoman Empire. This occurred for the last time in the early 1870s, when the sultan's troops reannexed Hasa, on the Gulf, and Yemen, on the Red Sea. In both retaken provinces, the Ottoman Empire did not simply seek recognition for its new international borders. The Sublime Porte clearly hoped to regain more of the land lost and to rein-tegrate tribal groups on the southern edges of Hasa and Yemen.
British India's imperial process in the southwestern Arabian Peninsula differed from that in the Gulf. Under the Gulf's enforced maritime truce, adjacent shaykhdoms gradually began to settle their common borders. Except for Aden itself, however, few upcountry tribalities had mutually defined borders before the eve of World War I. Instead, the process was essentially limited to those blending into unmarked edges of Yemen on the north. In this period British India had not yet negotiated Aden's upcountry periphery alongside Oman on the east or the suitably named Rub al-Khali (Empty Quarter) at the southern rim of the vast Arabian Desert. On neither of the two frontiers did the British face obstructions comparable with those in Ottoman Yemen.
Until January 1873, the Bombay Presidency had served as British India's ultimate custodian of the Gulf. Thereafter, it became accountable to the viceroy in Calcutta; beyond that, to the India Office; and, within the British cabinet after 1882, increasingly to the Foreign Office. Yet in regard to running Aden and its interior until 1932, the Bombay Presidency seems largely to have slipped through the net of accountability. From the outset, the Bombay Presidency treated the town of Aden as a private colonial trust. Even Aden's bureaucracy, below the top level, was almost wholly recruited in Bombay, joined in time by a swelling number of Indian settlers, mostly immigrant shopkeepers.
The presidency also kept watch on Aden town's hinterland, which widened eastward from slightly more than 30 miles (48 km) at the harbor to about 200 miles (320 km) and a total length close to 500 miles (800 km), for possible Ottoman or European intrusion. By 1902 Aden's administration in the interior covered some twenty-five to thirty local rulers with a wide range of titles—sultan, amir, sharif, naqib, shaykh. Even after agreements with the presidency, their number kept changing as a result of tribal fission and fusion in what finally compassed a thinly populated expanse of 112,000 square miles (291,200 sq km). Its eastern two-thirds was largely desert; its western sector, partly desert and partly hill country. Frequent regime changes reflected the absence of Anglo–Indian dynastic guarantees and stabilizing boundaries, and they revealed the rulers' loss of much domestic as well as all external sovereignty. They thus resembled less the Gulf's shaykhdoms than the contemporary European colonies on the nearby Horn of Africa.
In 1900 Aden town was renamed the Aden Settlement, to sharpen its distinction from the inland protected tribalities it administered. The resident was accordingly retitled governor. Nature roughly fixed the frontier with the Rub al-Khali. Like most boundary lines separating ownership claims to deserts that seem to have little or no commercial prospects, a straight line sufficed. That was also true, for the most part, of the eastern border with Oman.
From 1902 to 1905, when it came to marking the boundaries of Yemen, once again an Ottoman province after 236 years, the issue could not be resolved by British India in exchanges with Yemen. Only Britain could deal with the Sublime Porte. Because of Ottoman delays, the accord was not ratified until 1914, too close to the outbreak of war to take solid effect. Indeed, in 1915 Ottoman troops occupied a few adjacent British-protected tribalities and stayed for the duration of the war. The unresolved problem of legal title was thus left for renegotiation with the sovereign imamate of Yemen, which after World War I because an Ottoman successor state.
Persia and Afghanistan
The Anglo–Russian imperial rivalry over Persia, which traced back to the Napoleonic wars, grew menacing after the 1860s. It was then that Russia completed the conquest of Central Asia, thus extending its border with Persia to its full length (the formal line was not confirmed until 1885). Russia's territorial advance coincided with Britain's continuing effort to consolidate its strategic control of the Persian Gulf—in the case of Persia, by locking in its coast, the longest national segment on the Gulf's rim. Simultaneously, the tension roused by the imperial competition in and over Persia enveloped Afghanistan, which in the south looked to India, and in the north, to Russian Central Asia. The two Asian countries had thus become trapped between expansion by Russia and by British India. For the security planners in Britain and India at the turn of the century, Russia's designs on Persia appeared more threatening than those on Afghanistan.
To underpin eventual imperial claims to Persia, the contenders began laying the groundwork in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. They extracted military and fiscal privileges from the shah that trimmed his power. An 1879 agreement provided for a Persian Cossack Brigade, which enlisted Persians to serve under Russian officers chosen by Russia and paid by Persia. It remained a nominal brigade even after the murder of Naser al-Din Shah in 1896, when it was upgraded to an imperial guard for protecting the monarch and the dynasty, and even a decade later, when the Persian Cossacks, joined by a contingent of the regular Russian Army, failed to prevent adoption of the new constitution and the inauguration of a parliamentary regime—both realized with the implied blessings of Great Britain. (Only in 1916 did Russia finally transform the Cossacks into a fighting division and pay fully for its upkeep.) British India did not start responding until 1911, when it recruited and financed a gendarmerie or provincial police under Swedish officers. (In November 1916, the gendarmerie, without the Swedes, was integrated into the newly raised South Persia Rifles, trained and commanded by British officers.)
Less concealed and in most respects far more effective were the encroachments on the shah's fiscal sovereignty. In 1889, Baron Julius de Reuter, backed by the Foreign Office and the British legation in Tehran, procured a sixty-year concession to open the Imperial Bank of Persia, the first such institution in Persia. Its branches, in all the cities and larger towns, introduced the country to modern banking services. More significantly, the Imperial Bank received the exclusive right to serve as the fiscal agent of Persia and had the authority to issue banknotes. Two years later, Russian nationals, with active endorsement of their government, procured a parallel concession to launch the Banque de Prêts, originally designed to provide small-scale loans to Persians. Russia's Ministry of Finance bought the bank in 1894 and, under its new name, Banque d'Escompte de Perse, it pursued a deliberate policy of offering generous mortgages to rich landowners.
Russia's Foreign Ministry opened consulates not only in Mohammerah (present-day Khorramshahr), at the lower end of the Shatt al-Arab, but also in the major gulf ports of Bushehr and Bandar Abbas, where it sought to build coaling bunkers. In 1901 and 1902 the Banque d'Escompte issued personal loans to the shah totaling £3.4 million ($17 million). As surety, Russia's Finance Ministry won the pledge of customs, without explicitly omitting those collected in the Gulf ports. The Finance Ministry also lowered the customs rates on Russian imports while doubling them on those from Britain and British India, thereby violating their entitlement to most-favored-nation treatment under an 1841 commercial treaty. After briefly trying to soften Britain's rigid stance against such a meddlesome presence on the Gulf coast, Russia ended its discriminatory practice. Soon thereafter the customs service was transferred to Belgian officials employed by Persia.
Even more clearly in Afghanistan, Britain's imperial thrust was driven by strategic rather than economic concerns. Before 1747 Afghanistan had never formed a united independent state. It had passed back and forth, in whole or in part, between Persia and the Mogul Empire. From the mid-eighteenth century, the ruling dynasties came from tribesmen in the Kandahar area. Yet even after tearing itself away from the neighboring Asian empires, Afghanistan did not remain united. In the middle of the nineteenth century, rival khanates or principalities once again were struggling for supremacy.
While the outcome of the Russian–Ottoman War and the search for a renewed consensus in Europe at the Congress of Berlin in 1878 fully engrossed Britain, a small Russian force entered Afghanistan, seeking to round out Russia's recently captured Central Asian provinces. Anglo–India refused to tolerate such a prospect. In the early fall of 1878, the Russian mission and its Afghan puppet fled before advancing Anglo–Indian troops. Amir Shir Ali named his eldest son, Yaʿqub, regent at Kabul. In the treaty of peace of May 1879, Yaʿqub Khan surrendered Afghanistan's external sovereignty to Britain, accepted a resident Anglo–Indian mission at Kabul, and ceded the Khyber Pass and other strategic districts to British India. Yaʿqub abdicated five months later.
Not until the midsummer of 1880 did British India finally inaugurate a new regime that took three years to put in place. The authority of Abd al-Rahman Khan, Yaʿqub's cousin, at first did not reach beyond the district of Kabul. After demonstrating his ability to rule and his loyalty to British India, in 1883 he was finally allowed, with Anglo–Indian financial and military support, to take over the districts of Kandahar and Herat, thereby reuniting the country. In June 1883, Abd al-Rahman reaffirmed the status of Afghanistan as a British protectorate, in return receiving assurance that he and his dynasty would be insured against external aggression and that he would receive a monthly subsidy of £10,000 ($50,000) to cover the costs of his troops and related expenses.
The border with British India was drawn in 1893 at a line, traced under the supervision of the foreign secretary in Calcutta, Sir Henry Mortimer Durand, that confirmed the cession to the British of the Khyber Pass and adjacent areas. Two years later, the Amu Darya River was accepted as Afghanistan's northeast boundary with Russia's Central Asian Tajik province.
Given the mutual fears aroused by the hardening rival positions, the European imperial strategies had been shaped to shut the adversary out. With boundaries fixed by the turn of the century, Afghanistan was removed temporarily from the zone of British–Russian contention. After the close of the Victorian era in 1901, Britain favored the division of Persia into mutually recognized spheres of imperial influence: Russia's in the north and Britain's in the south, with the two separated by a buffer. The Russian–Japanese war (1904–1906) interrupted exploratory talks that were resumed in the spring of 1906 and concluded in the summer of 1907. The convention divided Persia as originally agreed. Russia recognized Afghanistan as a British protectorate, won equal commercial opportunity, and gained the right to conduct local, nonpolitical frontier relations with Afghanistan.
The Coming of the Oil Age
Baron Julius de Reuter's 1889 bank concession in Persia included—as had his aborted railway concession more than a quarter-century earlier—the exclusive right to search for and develop mineral resources, including oil. To this end, he founded the Persian Bank Mining Rights Corporation, which never seriously pursued oil exploration. A decade later the Persian government canceled the mineral privileges. In 1901, William Knox D'Arcy, a wealthy British speculator with gold-mining experience in Australia, won the sole right to a sixty-year concession to explore for and extract oil across Persia except for the five northern provinces. The first commercial well in Persia was drilled in 1908, in the southern province of Khuzistan. A year later D'Arcy founded the Anglo–Persian Oil Company (APOC) to activate the concession. By 1912, on Abadan Island in the Shatt al-Arab, APOC put into operation the first units of its refinery to distill crude oil into fuel.
APOC's discovery of oil coincided with the British Admiralty's shift from coal to oil as the fuel for its war vessels. "In the year 1909," First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill reported to the House of Commons on 17 July 1913, "the first flotilla of ocean-going destroyers wholly dependent upon oil was created, and since then, in each successive year, another flotilla of 'oil only' destroyers has been built. There are now built or building more than 100 [such] destroyers. . . . Similarly, during the last five years, oil has been employed in coal-burning battle-ships and cruisers, to enable them to realise their full powers in an emergency."
Churchill's statement prepared Parliament for the British government's partnership in APOC, so as to assure both British India and the Admiralty access to much of their oil needs at reduced cost. In an agreement of 20 May 1914, Britain bought 51 percent of APOC's shares and amended the company statutes to empower the government to veto any policy inconsistent with the national/imperial interest. As a further precaution, British India obtained explicit pledges from the shaykhs of Kuwait (1913) and Bahrain (1914) "never [to] give a[n oil] concession . . . to any one except a person appointed from the British Government."
Oil also figured prominently in the Anglo–German talks of 1913 and 1914. By then three groups were pursuing oil concessions in the Ottoman provinces of Mosul and Baghdad: the Deutsche Bank, APOC, and the Anglo–Saxon Oil Company (a subsidiary of Royal Dutch–Shell, an Anglo–Dutch combine). The Deutsche Bank's claim rested on a 1904 option that had been allowed to lapse; APOC's, on a series of appeals to the Sublime Porte after 1906, with the active backing of the British embassy in Constantinople; and that of Royal Dutch–Shell, on "the good offices of Mr. C. S. Gülbenkian, an Ottoman subject of considerable influence and ability, sometimes called the Talleyrand of oil diplomacy." Britain insisted that APOC be given the largest share. When the two other groups acceded, a deal was framed at the Foreign Office in London on 19 March 1914. APOC procured a 47.5 percent interest in the Turkish Petroleum Company; the Deutsche Bank, 25 percent; the Anglo–Saxon Oil Company, 22.5 percent; and Gulbenkian, "a beneficiary five percent . . . without voting rights." On 28 June 1914, the Sublime Porte promised Britain and Germany that it would issue an oil concession in the Mosul and Baghdad vilayets.
The 1914 agreement etched the guidelines that, with appropriate adjustments to reflect the evolving postwar realities, assured Britain the largest share of the output of an international consortium that became operative in 1928, with a French company taking over the German allotment and a group of American companies, half of APOC's.
see also abd al-rahman khan; al khalifa family; baring, evelyn; berlin–baghdad railway; bonaparte, napolÉon; churchill, winston s.; d'arcy concession (1901); dual control; durand line; east india company; fath ali shah qajar; ismaʿil ibn ibrahim; kitchener, horatio herbert; lansdowne, henry charles keith petty fitzmaurice; lesseps, ferdinand de; naser al-din shah; palmerston, lord henry john temple; sublime porte; suez canal.
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Langer, William Leonard. European Alliances and Alignments, 1871–1890. New York: Knopf, 1931. Reprint, 1960.
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J. C. Hurewitz
"Britain and the Middle East up to 1914." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 20, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/britain-and-middle-east-1914
"Britain and the Middle East up to 1914." Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa. . Retrieved August 20, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/britain-and-middle-east-1914