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Strategical control of the Red Sea was rendered complete by the annexation to England of the islands of Perim and Socotra, which may both be regarded as outposts of Aden, and are under the political jurisdiction of the Resident.

The former island, about four and a half miles long by one mile and a half broad, is situated in the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, dividing the entrance to the Red Sea into two channels. The island contains an excellent harbour, with a depth of 5 to 6 fathoms of water. It was first taken possession of in 1799 on behalf of the East India Company by a detach

time, regarding the future relations of the Government with the hinterland tribes; but so far the visit has been barren of results, and no steps have yet been taken to carry out General Mason's proposal to arrange with the neighbouring chiefs for a hill sanatorium. Mr. Morley's latest statement of policy in the House of Commons on the 19th December last gives no indication of intention on the part of the Government of India to move in the desired direction. The British garrison was withdrawn from Dthala in December, 1906, a political officer being left behind with a small native escort only. In reply to Mr. C. H. W. Wilson, Mr. Morley spoke as follows: The permanent location of troops at Dthala, whether at a sanatorium or otherwise, has never been sanctioned either by the late or the present Government. The withdrawal of troops from Dthala, now that the delimitation proceedings are completed, is in accordance with the statement of policy made in the House of Lords on March 30, 1903—viz., that His Majesty's Government had never desired to interfere with the internal and domestic affairs of the tribes on the British side of the boundary, but had throughout made it plain that they would not assent to the interference of any other Power with those affairs.'

ment of troops from Bombay, with the intention of preventing the French, who were then in occupation of Egypt, from passing through the straits to join hands with Tippoo Sahib ; but when the French Army evacuated Egypt the island was abandoned. It was reoccupied in 1857, and is now garrisoned

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by a company of native infantry detached from Aden. The Perim Coal Company have had a coal depot in the island for nearly twenty-five years, and are doing a considerable business; but the policy of allowing a large stock of coal to be collected in an exposed and undefended harbour, when Aden is only ninety miles away, has often been the subject of criticism.

Socotra is an island 71 miles long by 11 broad,

situated about 240 miles from Cape Guardafui, and 500 from Aden. There is no harbour in the island, but the port is Kalenzia, facing the African coast. Socotra was occupied by the Portuguese under Albuquerque in 1507, but owing to the want of a harbour it was abandoned. In 1835 the island came under British influence, and for some months a brigade of Indian troops was encamped on the plain of Tamarida. At one time it

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was contemplated to hold the island for naval purposes and as a coaling station, but owing to its harbourless shores Aden was selected instead. In 1886 Socotra was annexed to England, and came under the jurisdiction of the Aden Residency. The inhabitants are a peaceful, law-abiding people, chiefly occupied in pastoral pursuits, and are estimated at about 10,000.

Like Gibraltar in the Mediterranean, Aden stands sentry over the entrance to the Red Sea; but, unlike the Rock fortress, it contains no dockyard where ships can refit. As long as the political

situation in the Middle East remains unchanged, no other naval base is required than that of Bombay. None the less are the fortifications of Aden necessary as a link in the chain of communications with the East. Stationary defences add to the mobile strength of the navy by freeing the fleet for offensive action. Secure coal depots must be established along the great Imperial trade routes, for use by merchant vessels in the absence of naval protection. The conditions of Imperial defence require that there should be a sufficiency, and not more than a sufficiency, of these strong places; that the sites should be judiciously chosen; and that they should be self-contained and self-defensive. After visiting Aden, I am confirmed in the opinion that the place satisfies the above conditions, and that when it has been released from its dependent connection with India, raised to the dignity of a colony, and granted the necessary powers of expansion, its political and commercial value will be enormously enhanced, and its strategical prestige as the great place d'armes of the Middle East correspondingly magnified.

CHAPTER VII

THE RED SEA AND THE PERSIAN GULF

BESIDES Great Britain, three other European Powers have territorial interests in the Red SeaItaly, France, and Turkey. It will be well, before leaving Middle Eastern waters, to take stock of these interests, and ascertain how far they constitute national assets for the countries concerned, and to what extent they enter into the strategical-commercial situation as between themselves and ourselves.

On the west coast of the Red Sea, Italy and France are alone concerned. The claim of the Ottoman Porte to territorial sovereignty has always been nebulous, has never been supported by effective occupation, and, since the English protectorate of Egypt, has ceased to exist, or at any rate it exists only by the sufferance of Great Britain.

The history of Italian intrusion into the Red Sea may be briefly summarized. In 1870 the Rubattino Steam Navigation Company acquired Assab Bay by purchase from the Arab chief who

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