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Coll 6/84 'Yemen: Attitude of Yemeni Govt. towards the Italo-Ethiopian dispute. Policy of H.M.G. in event of Italian occupation of Yemeni territory.' [‎109v] (218/699)

The record is made up of 1 file (348 folios). It was created in 22 Mar 1934-1 Nov 1939. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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10. It wiii be remembered that only an amelioration of Anglo-Egyptian
relations through the negotiations for, and subsequent conclusion of, an Anglo-
Egyptian treaty, together with an easing of the Anglo-Italian tension through
our unavoidable acquiescence in the Italian victory in Abyssinia, enabled us to
withdraw troops from Egypt in order to provide essential reinforcements for
Palestine. The events of this year seem to show that we have not enough forces
available to deal with serious trouble in more than one quarter at the same time.
No doubt any such limitation will be present to the minds of ilis Majesty’s
Government in determining their future policy in the Near East.
11. Even supposing, however, that Arab exhaustion were to preclude an
immediate resumption of the armed struggle, an unsettled Palestine would still
remain a permanent factor of disturbance in Arab lands, and even in Egypt.
This factor will always be weighing in the scales against co-operation with
us among numerous elements who otherwise would, as Mr. Attiyah points out, be
only too anxious to co-operate with us if we could give them a chance. Moreover,
it would seem probable that Moslem countries of the Near East, excluding
Turkey, must, sooner or later, be drawn into collective or separate action in
favour of the Palestinian Arabs. For it must be remembered that these countries
are not only actuated by a sense of Moslem or Arab solidarity, but also by real
apprehensions that a Jewish absorption of Palestine would inevitably involve
overflows of Jews and Jewish influences into neighbouring countries.
12 It would not be safe to rely much on local factors tending to pre-occupy
Arab States with their own local nationalisms and thus to indispose them to co
operate with the Arabs of Palestine. Factors such as the establishment of the
new regime in Iraq by coup d'Etat and the traditional isolation of Egypt may
operate for a time against co-operation with the Palestinian Arabs, but in the long
run the Moslem States of the Near East cannot remain indifferent to an Arab
eclipse in Palestine.
13. Here I would invite attention to Reuters’ telegram of the 12th December
from Jerusalem, according to which the Arab leaders in Jerusalem propose to
summon a congress representative of all Arab countries in the Near and Middle
East to meet in Cairo, and that Auni Bey Abdul Hadi is understood to be leaving
for Cairo to discuss the project with Mustapha-el-Nahas Pasha. I have
telegraphed to His Majesty’s High Commissioner in Palestine to ask if he can
confirm this; but have at present not received his reply.
14. The Prince Regent asked the oriental secretary on the 13th December
whether he had any other information on the subject, and, on receiving a negative
answer, said that he too had none. He added that, though a couple of days ago
he had had a long conversation with Nahas on many different subjects, including
that of the treaty with Saudi Arabia, the Prime Minister had made no mention
of any idea of such a congress here. His Royal Highness concluded, therefore,
that the Egyptian Government had had no previous knowledge of the project.
15. I need hardly dwell on the inconvenience of such a congress in Cairo.
But we must remember that Nahas, in addition to a certain vanity which is
pushing him to seek a prominent role in this Arab drama, cannot afford to be too
unsympathetic to appeals of Egypt’s Moslem neighbours. Egyptians, proud of
their recent independence and their predominant economic and cultural role in the
Near East, have long been proclaiming the necessity of Egypt’s playing a more
active part in co-operation with Arab lands. Administrative measures even have
been contemplated for this purpose, e.g.. formation of an Oriental Section in the
Ministry for Foreign Affairs for organisation of propaganda in the East. Even
a well-disposed Egyptian Government would find it difficult to evade playing a
part in a struggle so intensely interesting to the Arab and Moslem world. Their
opponents, always on the look-out for pretexts to promote their partisan aims,
would be quick to seize on what they would no doubt qualify as subservience to
the British and betrayal of Moslem interests. The Government would probably
find it difficult not to make some sort of gesture in favour of the Arabs, with a
view to silencing the clamour of their opponents.
16. The situation indicated above, while disquieting to us from the point
of view of our relations with the Arab States and Egypt, becomes even more
disturbing in view of the powerful assistance which it is affording to Italy in her
propaganda and penetration in Arabian lands and even Egypt.
17 His Majesty’s Government are fully informed of the propaganda,
deliberately hostile to us, conducted by Italy in all these lands. The dangerous

About this item


This file relates to Italian activities in the Middle East, particularly in the Yemen. The correspondence includes discussion of the following:

  • British policy in the event of the Italians occupying Sheikh Said [Ra’s Shaykh Sa‘īd], or any other part of the Yemen.
  • The Yemen's position in the Italo-Abyssinian conflict [Italo-Ethiopian War].
  • Relations between Ethiopia and the Yemen.
  • Italian activities in the Yemen.
  • British suspicions regarding Italian activities in the Yemen.
  • Future British policy in the Yemen.
  • Internal affairs in the Yemen.
  • Anglo-Italian relations in the Middle East, and the likelihood of Italy violating the Rome Understanding of 1927.
  • Ibn Saud's [‘Abd al-‘Azīz bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Fayṣal Āl Sa‘ūd] view on Italian activity in the region.
  • The visits of Italian destroyers to Kamaran Island in March 1937 and January 1938.
  • British and French concerns that Italy, following its denunciation of the Franco-Italian Agreement of 1935, seeks possession of the Island of Doumeira [Dumēra Desēt, Red Sea, also spelled Dumeira in the file], currently under French control.

The file features the following principal correspondents: His Majesty's Minister at Jedda (Sir Andrew Ryan, succeeded by Sir Reader William Bullard); the Political Resident A senior ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul General) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Residency. , Aden (Sir Bernard Rawdon Reilly); the Governor of Aden (Reilly again); the High Commissioner, Cairo (Sir Miles Lampson); His Majesty's Ambassador in Cairo (Lampson again); His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires, Alexandria (John Cecil Sterndale Bennett); His Majesty's Ambassador in Paris (Eric Phipps); His Majesty's Ambassador in Rome (Eric Drummond); the British Consul General, Jibuti [Djibouti] (Herbert George Jakins); the British Naval Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station (Vice-Admiral Alexander Robert Maule Ramsay); the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Anthony Eden); the Secretary of State for the Colonies (James Henry Thomas, succeeded by William George Arthur Ormsby-Gore); officials of the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office, and the Air Ministry.

In addition to correspondence, the file includes the following: copies of extracts from Aden political intelligence summaries; copies of the minutes of meetings of the Committee of Imperial Defence's Standing Official Sub-Committee for Questions Concerning the Middle East, dated 26 November 1935, 14 December 1936, and 8 June 1937 respectively; a copy of a translation of a treaty of friendship and commerce between the Ethiopian and Yemeni governments, which was ratified on 21 September 1935.

The file includes a divider which gives a list of correspondence references contained in the file by year. This is placed at the back of the correspondence (folios 2).

Extent and format
1 file (348 folios)

The papers are arranged in approximate chronological order from the rear to the front of the file.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the inside front cover with 1, and terminates at the last folio with 349; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. A previous foliation sequence, which is also circled, has been superseded and therefore crossed out.

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English in Latin script
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Coll 6/84 'Yemen: Attitude of Yemeni Govt. towards the Italo-Ethiopian dispute. Policy of H.M.G. in event of Italian occupation of Yemeni territory.' [‎109v] (218/699), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2157, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 30 March 2020]

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