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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.' [‎110r] (219/699)

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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possibility of Italy establishing herself in Saudi Arabia, through the training and
controlling of Saudi aviation, has formed the subject of correspondence with His
Majesty’s Minister at Jedda (see correspondence ending with your despatch
No. 13 32 of the 2nd December, 1936). Equally notorious is the Italian penetration
of the Yemen, through her agents disguised in civil functions (e.q., doctors)—
through her intrigues in view of the succession of the old and sick Imam—
through her provision of arms and financial facilities—through the reality of the
menace she presents to the Yemen since the establishment of her East African
Empire. It is possible that the Imam’s death is not so near as is repeatedly
predicted, but his eventual disappearance is likely to afford an opportunity for
much fishing in troubled waters, caused by rivalries among the Imam’s sons and
certain tribal elements. Italy will, no doubt, make the most of any opportunities
afforded to her by any internal confusion in the Yemen.
18. It is obvious that all this Italian effort will be greatly facilitated by the
continuance and development of Arab hostility to Great Britain, owing to an
unsettled situation in Palestine. The Arabs are aware of the Italian danger to
themselves, but despair is a bad counsellor, and, if the choice were to appear to
them to lie between the Zionist absorption in Palestine, with its menace to the
Arab world generally, and of co-operation with Italy against Great Britain and
France, who, after all, are in the position of standing in the way of Arab aspira
tions, it is greatly to be feared that the second alternative might appear to them
the least fatal.
19. It is not within my province to express opinions regarding the internal
problem of Palestine, and it is only on the external reactions to that problem that
I am venturing to dwell. Whatever may be the necessities of the Palestinian
issue, I would earnestly urge that, anyhow, it be not examined in isolation from
our whole position in the Near East, and that we consider carefully whether we
have the means of maintaining our position in the Near East against an Italian
thrust facilitated by Arab co-operation, based on despair of us and an appre
hensive respect of Italian power as demonstrated by the conquest of Abyssinia.
20 I am sending copies of this despatch to His Majesty’s High Commis
sioner for Palestine, His Majesty’s Ambassador at Bagdad, and His Majesty’s
Minister at Jedda.
I have. &c.
High Commissioner.
Note by the Sudan Government Intelligence Officer, dated October 31, 1936, on
Impressions and Information gathered during his Visits to Egypt, Syria
and Palestine in the Summer of 1936.
THERE have been three predominant topics of interest in the Near East
this summer :—
(a) The Italo-Abyssinian affair and its termination:
(b) The Palestine troubles; and
{c) The treaties between England and Egypt and between France and
The treaties are the only bright spot in an otherwise very gloomy picture.
2. I am sorry to state that as a result of the Italo-Abyssinian business
British prestige has suffered an extremely severe set-back in the Near East.
Italy’s bold and successful adventure is regarded everywhere as a serious reverse
for the British Empire; for the League aspect of the matter is considered to be
nothing more than an elaborate piece of window-dressing designed to camouflage
an essentially Imperialist duel between Britain and Italy—and for the first time
the Arab and Islamic world has seen the British Empire successfully challenged
over a big issue in and around the Mediterranean basin. The Spanish civil war,
coming immediately on top of the Italian victory in Abyssinia, and implying (as
it seems to most observers to imply) another Fascist triumph to the detriment of
British and French democracy, has unfortunately enhanced the newly created
[881 ff—1] ' b 2

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.' [‎110r] (219/699), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2157, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 27 February 2020]

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