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Near & Middle East Titles:
Islands and Maritime Boundaries of the Gulf 1798–1960
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ISBN: (13) 978-1-85207-275-9
Extent: 20 volumes, 13,500 pages, including 2 map boxes



Editor: R. Schofield
Author:N/A
ISBN: (10) 1-85207-275-X
Published: 1990
Paper: Printed on acid free paper
Binding: Library bindings with gilt finish
See sample pages: not available



Resumé

This work is the single most important reference source for tracing the origins of contemporary maritime disputes in the Gulf - coverage includes Warba, Bubiyan, Hawar, Halul, Tamb, Abu Musa; in fact over 290 islands are indexed. It records the development of the continental shelf boundaries of the Gulf, the importance of the islands in determining baselines and oil concession boundaries, evolving state practice and Anglo-American negotiations, and explores Anglo-Arab, Anglo-Persian and Perso-Arab relations. The collection contains facsimiles of letters, reports, memoranda, sketches, charts and maps from a wide range of sources housed in the British Library (Oriental and India Office Collections) and the Public Record Office. This collection was researched and edited by Richard Schofield, who has written widely on the territorial problems of the Gulf region.
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Historical Overview

The islands of the Gulf are notable neither for their size nor their variety. Other than Bahrain, a detailed survey of which is available in Archive Editions’ publication the Records of Bahrain 1820-1960, and the Iranian island of Qishm, they are small, predominantly uninhabited and exhibit little variation in topography and vegetation. The majority of islands are situated close to the shores of the Gulf. Despite such distinctly modest natural endowments, these islands have experienced a long and turbulent history.

 
The islands of the Gulf have long been a lure to competing European colonial powers

For most of the sixteenth century the Portuguese occupied the islands - Qishm, Hormuz, Larak and Henjam - lining the northern shores of the entrance to the Gulf. With British assistance the Persians expelled the Portuguese in 1620. In the mid-seventeenth century during the period of the Anglo- Dutch wars in Europe, Qishm was attacked by Dutch forces, while over a century later a Dutch garrison was expelled from Kharg island by Persian forces from Bushire. The mid- eighteenth century also saw the French capture the British East India Company´s factory at Bandar Abbas. Throughout the nineteenth century Britain, having apparently seen off these sporadic challenges to her supremacy, was able to control Gulf affairs through the maintenance of peace at sea. After Britain´s suppression of Qasimi overtures towards regional hegemony in 1820, a garrison was stationed on Qishm island. Though this did not last for long, permanent naval facilities had been established almost unnoticed at Basidu, on the western tip of the island, by the mid-1820s. This presence served to preserve the maritime peace, to which the states of the Gulf littoral had committed themselves in treaties with Britain of 1820, 1843 and 1853. During the mid-nineteenth century Britain had also occupied Kharg Island to remonstrate against Persia´s actions at the height of the Herat crisis. The Bushire Residency was also moved to Kharg when local conditions on the Persian Coast threatened dangerously.

The islands of the Gulf have long been disputed by the local seafaring powers in the Gulf

Ever since their occupation in the late eighteenth century by the Al Khalifah, whose control survives to this day, the Bahrain islands have been claimed at various intervals by Persia, Muscat and the Ottoman Porte. Aside from this example (which is not covered in the collection), the first Perso-Arab dispute over the islands of the Gulf occurred over the island dependencies of Bandar Abbas - Qishm, Hormuz, Larak and Henjam. For seventy years until 1868 these islands were intermittently controlled by the Muscati Sultan, who leased them from the Persian Government. The long-standing Perso-Arab dispute over the middle Lower Gulf islands of Tamb and Abu Musa essentially arose in 1887 when a Persian party placed a flagstaff on Sirri island further north. In 1904 the Persians, who had claimed sovereignty over all the islands in the Gulf as early as 1844, placed flagstaffs on Tamb and Abu Musa - judged by Britain to respectively belong to the Shaikhs of Ras al Khaimah and Sharjah.
 
During the nineteenth-century Britain´s geographic knowledge of the waters, islands and coastline of the Gulf was increased considerably

In 1818 Captain Robert Taylor, Assistant Political Agent in Turkish Arabia, published his notes on the islands and shorelines of the Gulf. Twelve years later in 1830 (approx.) Indian Navy Captain George Barnes Bruck´s classic survey - A Memoir descriptive of the Navigation of the Gulf of Persia - was printed. The detailed findings of this report were updated by the Admiralty in 1864 to constitute the first edition of the Persian Gulf Pilot. With the appearance of J. G. Lorimer´s epic Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf, Oman and Central Arabia in 1908, Britain´s geographic knowledge of the region had evolved almost completely.
 
Strategic location of the Gulf islands

Control of access to the Gulf had long been an all-consuming British preoccupation. In the first decade of the twentieth century her presence at Basidu was augmented by the development of a British telegraphic and coaling station at Henjam while the Blue Ensign was hoisted at Sheep Island on the Musandam Peninsula on the southern shores of the Strait of Hormuz. Viceroy Curzon was particularly determined at this stage to preserve the Gulf as a British Lake and eliminate the growing threats perceived from Germany, Russia, France and the Ottoman Porte to her omnipotency there. The strategic role of the Gulf islands remains as important today as it ever was. This is underlined in no uncertain terms by the tragic Kuwait crisis of August 1990. Iraq´s failure to secure a lease of the islands of Warba and Bubiyan was probably a prominent factor in their decision to invade Kuwait, for control of the islands is necessary for full sovereignty to be exercised over the Khor Abdullah, the vital waterway linking the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr in the Khor Zubair with the Gulf. The dispute over these islands can be traced back to Ottoman times.
 
The economic importance of the Gulf islands before oil

Disputes over the sovereignty of the Gulf islands and imperial rivalries in the Gulf were accentuated at the turn of the twentieth century by vigorous European competition to secure possession of the red oxide deposits of the Lower Gulf islands. Germany´s acquisition of the Abu Musa concession in particular preoccupied Britain´s energies. As access to the pearl banks of the Gulf was a common right of all Arabs, whatever their nationality, their exploitation did little to raise the indeterminate status of many islands. One of the most productive pearl banks was situated just off Halul island.

The evolving importance of the Gulf islands in Britain´s imperial link with India and their navigational function

In the first decade of the twentieth-century, the Persian telegraph line was extended to Henjam while on various occasions in the 1920s the incorporation of various islands into the Imperial Air Route was actively considered by the British Government, whether for use as landing grounds or purely as fuel-storage dumps. The various islands, reefs and shoals of the Gulf naturally played a vital navigational role. When the British India Government assumed responsibility for the lighting and buoying of the Gulf immediately prior to the Great War their proposals for updating the system involved the placing of beacons and the stationing of lights on many of these features. As Britain generally notified the respective sovereigns of these islands that such developments were to take place, their international status often came into sharp focus.

The role of the Gulf islands in Anglo-Persian relations

The right to control the foreign relations of her protege states on the southern Gulf littoral had been granted Britain in treaties of 1892, 1899 (for Kuwait) and 1916 (for Qatar) Persia´s claims to Bahrain, Tamb and Abu Musa dominated the seemingly endless Anglo-Persian negotiations of the late 1920s and early 1930s. While no resolution to these issues was reached, Britain´s decision to abandon Basidu and Henjam in 1935, long a source of interdepartmental friction, ushered in an improved phase in Anglo-Persian relations.

Oil and the Gulf islands

While nearly all disputes over the sovereignty of the Gulf islands before the mid-1930s had been between Britain (on behalf of her protégé states) and Persia, the scramble for oil from the mid 1930s onwards but most importantly in the post-war era led to intra-Arab disputes over sovereignty, generally between those states who had awarded their concessions to American and British oil companies. Before this time there was frequently no record or any Arab or Persian claim ever having been entered to many of the Gulf islands. The incentives to establish sovereignty over such islands of undetermined status now grew dramatically as the various states of the Gulf littoral were eager to maximise the maritime concession areas they could offer the major oil companies for the exploitation of the Gulf seabed´s vast hydrocarbon deposits. As Sir Rupert Hay stated in 1954, one year after his retirement as Political Resident on the Persian Gulf.

Before oil was discovered, many of these rocks and sandbanks were ownerless - the resort of a few stray fisher-folk and cormorants. Recently however there has been great competition to prove ownership and, as in the case of such islands it is often impossible to prove any constructive act of sovereignty in the past; there was at one time an epidemic of establishing on them markers with inscriptions asserting ownership. These were usually removed as soon as they had been put up. Attempts have also been made to convert shoals which appear only at low tide, into islands by erecting cairns on them. (Hay, ´The Persian Gulf States and their Boundary Problems´, Geographical Journal no. 120 (1954), p, 431).

With the grant of oil concessions, the central Gulf islands of Farsi, Arabi, Harqus were disputed between three parties - Kuwait, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Britain´s 1939 ruling that the Hawar group, lying just off the western Qatar coast, belonged to Bahrain set in motion a territorial dispute which remains active today.
 
The role of islands in the definition of the Gulf´s territorial waters and continental shelf boundaries

The evolution of the political geography of the Gulf seabed was accelerated considerably by the issue in late May 1949 of two Royal Pronouncements by the Saudi Government respectively extending national territorial waters to six miles and establishing ownership over the resources of the seabed and subsoil of the continental shelf beyond her territorial waters. Claims to six-mile territorial waters in the Gulf were nothing new, following similar Ottoman and Persian decrees of 1914 and 1934. By 1960 all states of the Gulf littoral not under British protection had extended such limits to 12 miles, while Britain would only recognise limits of 3 miles for her protégés. The Saudi continental shelf proclamation produced a more instant reaction from neighbouring states however. In June 1949 virtually identical decrees were issued by Britain on behalf of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and the Trucial Coast states. The role of islands in determining continental shelf boundaries and access to resources thus suddenly came into play. Islands were considered, to varying degrees, in the post war formulation of the Gulf´s various concession area agreements which crudely defined the seabed resource boundaries of each littoral state. Islands whose sovereignty was agreed were not always given full effect when continental shelf boundaries were allocated. The problem was that in the narrow waters of the Gulf, concession areas frequently overlapped. The position was complicated further when the ownership of these islands was disputed by two or more parties. A British policy towards jurisdiction over the Gulf waters gradually evolved after frequent interdepartmental meetings and discussions with the Americans, in which such issues as the precise definition of an island, whether such a feature was natural or artificial, and what was the territorial effect of an island, were addressed. In 1958 Bahrain and Arabia agreed the region´s first maritime boundary delimitation.
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Documentary Importance

These 12000 pages of primary source material provide a comprehensive collection of documents detailing the turbulent history of the Gulf waters and islands (excluding Bahrain), their international status, strategic location, economic importance, involvement in imperial intrigues and their role in Anglo-Arab, Anglo-Persian and Perso-Arab relations. The collection records the development of the continental shelf boundaries of the Gulf, the importance of islands in determining baselines and oil concession boundaries, evolving state practice and Anglo-American negotiations. Recent history has again proved the theory of the importance of island sovereignty as the long-running dispute over the islands of Warba and Bubiyan was undoubtedly a factor in Iraq´s tragic decision to invade Kuwait in August 1990.

The collection contains facsimiles of letters, treaties, reports, memoranda, sketches, charts and maps from a wide range of sources housed at the India Office Library and Records and the Public Record Office, London.
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Contents Outline

Volumes 1-3: The Gulf Islands in the nineteenth-century
Volume 1: 1798-1835

Volume 2: 1836-1864
Volume 3: 1867-1899
Volumes 4-6: The Gulf Islands, 1900-1920
Volume 4: 1901-1913

Volume 5: 1903-1924
Volume 6: 1904-1920: Economic importance and development of the Gulf waters and islands
Volumes 7-9: The Gulf Islands, 1920-1935
Volume 7: 1920-1930

Volume 8: 1930-1932
Volume 9: 1933-1935
Volumes 10-12: The Gulf Islands, 1936-1947
Volume 10: 1935-1937

Volume 11: 1938-1944

Volume 12: 1945-1947

Volumes 13-18: The Gulf Islands and the development of limits to maritime jurisdiction, 1948-1960
Volumes 19-20 Maps of the Islands And Maritime Boundaries of the Gulf, 1798-1960
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Maps

Volumes 19-20 Maps of the Islands And Maritime Boundaries of the Gulf, 1798-1960

Approximately thirty maps have been selected from the archives housed at the Public Record Office, India Office, British Library and the Royal Geographical Society.

Volume 19:  Maps 1-11

Map 1 Eastern sheet of the Chart of the Persian Gulf after the trigonometrical surveys of Captain G.B. Brucks made by order of the East India Company, 1830

Map 2 Western sheet of the Chart of the Persian Gulf after the trigonometrical surveys of Captain G.B. Brucks made by order of the East India Company, 1830

Map 3 Southern sheet of the first Admiralty Chart (2837a) of the Persian Gulf, 1860 with corrections to 1864-1865

Map 4 Northern sheet of the first Admiralty Chart (2837b) of the Persian Gulf, 1860 with corrections to 1864-1865

Map 5 Map to show limits of Kuwait and adjacent country, 1913: shows Red and Green lines of the unratified Anglo-Ottoman Convention of 29 July 1913: map is copy of the original (Annex No. 5 in the 1913 Convention) drawn up by the Foreign Office Research Department in May 1954

Map 6 Map showing the islands in the north, west and southern Gulf whose sovereignty is disputed, prepared from information collected by the British authorities in the Persian Gulf, November-December 1937

Map 7 Map showing difference of opinion between the Foreign Office and the Government of India over where the Iraq-Kuwait land boundary should terminate on the Khor Zubair south of Umm Qasr, 1940-1943

Map 8 Map showing alignment of Britain´s December 1947 Bahrain-Qatar seabed award showing the Hawar islands and the Dibal and Jarada shoals

Map 9 Map prepared by S.W. Boggs, Office of the Geographer at the State Department showing tentative boundary proposals for the Persian Gulf seabed based upon median line division, 1948

Map 10 Map illustrating British Government´s suggestion for the division of the Gulf seabed, showing median line, land frontiers and lateral lines and the 10 and 20 fathom lines, 1949

Map 11 Map illustrating British Government´s suggestion for the division of the Gulf seabed, showing median line, land frontiers and lateral lines and the 10 and 20 fathom lines: also shows approximate operating area of the Qatar seabed concession, granted to the Superior Oil Company in August 1949

Volume 20: Maps 12-23

Map 12 Sketches of the Dibal and Jarada shoals on the Bahrain-Qatar seabed after naval survey of 1951

Map 13 Map of the Qatar seabed concession 1952: shows alignment of Britain´s Bahrain-Qatar seabed boundary award, the provisional territorial extent of Qatari maritime jurisdiction and the safe operating limits communicated to the Shell Oil Company in 1952

Map 14 Map illustrating proposed median lines for the Bahrain-Saudi Arabia seabed boundary, 1953

Map 15 Map illustrating Kuwaiti territorial waters, 1953

Map 16 Admiralty proposals for possible lines of delimitation of the Kuwaiti seabed/offshore concession, January 1953

Map 17 Further Admiralty proposals for the delimitation of the Kuwaiti seabed/offshore concession, October 1953

Map 18 Further Admiralty proposals for the delimitation of the Kuwaiti seabed/offshore concession, December 1953

Map 19 Proposal for the Saudi-Bahrain seabed boundary as shown on a Saudi Arabian chart of 1954

Map 20 Map of the Saudi-Bahrain seabed showing various proposals and suggestions for boundary delimitation: printed by the Foreign Office Research Department, July 1954

Map 21 Map showing northernmost section of the proposed Saudi-Bahrain seabed delimitation terminating at Fasht Bu Saafa, Foreign Office, 1955

Map 22 Map showing proposed Saudi-Bahrain seabed delimitation, Foreign Office, 1955

Map 23 Map showing position of Halul Island in relation to Qatari and Abu Dhabi seabed concession areas, 1956
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Related Titles:
Documentary Studies in Arabian Geopolitics: Iran in the Persian Gulf 1820–1966
Documentary Studies in Arabian Geopolitics: Lower Gulf Islands: Abu Musa And The Tunbs Dispute
Historic Maps of Bahrain 1817–1970
History of the Indian Navy 1613–1863
Persian Gulf and Red Sea Naval Reports 1820–1960
Persian Gulf Pilot 1864–1932, The
Records of the Persian Gulf Pearl Fisheries 1857–1962
Survey of the Shores and Islands of the Persian Gulf 1820–1829


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