183. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State 1

1699. Eden made statement in Commons today giving history of boundary problems with Saudi Arabia, announcing end of Buraimi arbitration,2 and stating Trucial levies now moving to occupy area up to Riyadh line.3 (Foreign Office explains this means 1935 line as amended recently.) Saudi police post ejected from Buraimi oasis earlier today, causing two casualties. Saudi Embassy informed this afternoon, following Eden statement, concurrently with notification to SAG in Jidda.

Foreign Office told Embassy decision to take above action made as result obvious failure arbitration, coupled with facts Saudis have continued violate arbitration agreement even after exposures at Geneva meeting of tribunal. Foreign Office official stated UK had given Saudis every opportunity settle Buraimi question on fair and legal basis but had no other recourse.

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Foreign Office working level inclined believe after initial anger has been spent, Saudis will calm down and in any event there is little Saudis can do against latest British move except possibly take matter to UN. In this event UK prepared reveal full facts Saudi actions in arbitration proceedings and in Buraimi, which Foreign Office believes will undercut any Saudi case completely.

Embassy officer said Embassy would promptly inform Department and expressed view British action would cause considerable concern to USG.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 780.022/10–2655. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Dhahran, Jidda, and Aden, and to Geneva as Tosec 66, October 28. (Ibid.)
  2. For text of Eden’s remarks, see Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, 5th Series, Vol. 545, pp. 198–201.
  3. The Riyadh line or Ryan’s line was the boundary line between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the Trucial States, proposed by Sir Andrew Ryan, British Minister to Saudi Arabia, on November 25, 1935. In 1937 the line was again modified in favor of Saudi Arabia to include the Sufuk wells.