chapter  3
Arabian Matters
Pages 47

Directly upon the divulging of this Agreement to the Italians on 18 May 1916, their inevitable cries of exclusion began to be heard. Previous efforts by Italy to encourage trade across the Red Sea, between her colony of Eritrea and the Yemen, had been frustrated by the British blockade.2 In September 1916, writing to Hardinge from Rome where he was British Ambassador, Sir Rennell Rodd reported that the Italian Minister for the Colonies had, with the approval of the Italian Foreign Minister, Baron Sonnino, suggested that the moment was opportune for a joint Anglo-Italian declaration of policy regarding the Red Sea littoral.3 Then, on 23 September, Rodd suggested that Italy might wish to be included alongside France and Britain as a protector of the Arab State. Rodd mistakenly assumed that the Arabian Peninsula lay within area 'B' of Sykes-Picot, thereby conferring on Britain priority of right of enterprise and of local loans. However, this notwithstanding, Rodd was sympathetic to Italian fears of economic exclusion:

It is clear that with the long coastal possessions of the Italians on the western side of the Red Sea they must trade with the Eastern side and anything which menaced exclusion would be resented. A certain group here has long put forward the idea of priority of enterprise in the Yemen, and though I have not had a clear indication that the Government support such a proposal, they can hardly not be susceptible to the agitation which will be aroused on the subject in this country. When you look at their possessions on the western side of the Red Sea it is clear that they must feel an interest in what takes place on the other side.4