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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.' [‎111r] (221/699)

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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of individual politicians and journalists in the ranks of the minority who are
imbued with the constitutional necessity of organising an opposition immediately
in the interests of democratic government, and who not unnaturally see in the
treaty the first legitimate target for their criticism.
8. The Sudan part of the treaty is regarded as being rather vague, and
Au'e is considerable confusion of thought as to how it will be implemented,
e.g., number of troops to be returned, number of Egyptians to be employed in
administrative posts in the Sudan, the exact functions of the senior Egyptian
officer, &c.
9. The post of Inspector-General of Egyptian Irrigation is likely to go to
Abd-el-Qawi Bey Ahmed, who from our point of view (as well as from the
Egyptian) would be an excellent choice. I saw Abd-el-Qawi Bey himself, and he
told me privately that he was hoping to get the appointment, the only considera
tion militating against him being the fact that he was not a Wafdist. As,
however, the Wafd is somewhat poor in first-class men of the type of Abd-el-Qawi
Bey, Nahas will have to recruit a few servants from outside the Wafd ranks, and
Abd-el-Qawi Bey may well be one of them.
10. The minority groups, as well as patriotic individual observers, view the
future with considerable misgivings. They rightly hold that the next few' years
wTll be a decisive period in Egypt’s history. The responsibility for what happens
in Egypt can no longer be laid on the British Government. It is now exclusively
held by the Egyptians themselves, and everything depends on how the Wafd is
going to conduct itself. The omens are none too good, but one, of course, must
make allowances for the initial period. Everywhere one hears of disquieting
signs—and often one hears them from intelligent and disillusioned Egyptians.
In the first place, the Copts are being persecuted, and this in spite of the
prominent part they have played in the Wafd, and of the fact that they have two
Ministers in the Cabinet, one of whom. Makram Pasha, is known to dominate
Nahas. Nahas himself is not fanatical, but there is still a good deal of fanaticism
among his followers, and Makram is too careful of his position and popularity to
take any risks on behalf of his co-religionists.
Again private influence, nepotism and corruption are extremely rife, and
that old evil, the unjust distribution of irrigation water in the provinces, is
becoming very acute; every Deputy who owns agricultural land uses his influence
over the local irrigation authorities to obtain preferential treatment, and
sometimes the Deputy’s wishes are confirmed by an order from the Minister.
11. It is, of course, only human that the Wafd, reaching the land of milk
and honey after so many years in the wilderness, should desire to enjoy some
personal refreshment on their arrival. One must not forget that, even in
enlightened European democracies (the few that remain of them), party followers
have to be rewarded on the attainment of office by their party; or that in France,
for instance, the private influence of the Deputies is often scandalously exerted
for personal ends. The British are too often inclined to judge conditions in the
East by the admittedly austere standards of public life in England. Their
perspective w'ould be more correct and their outlook more tolerant if they adopted
America or France as a standard of comparison. A much more serious danger is
the existence of the new student organisations.
12. Wearing coloured shirts, these bodies of unruly young men have now
definitely learned the Fascist secret of imposing an imperium in imperio by means
of organised terrorism. I heard during my stay in Cairo that several opponents
of the treaty had been threatened by the Blue Shirts (Wafdists) with physical
violence if they aired their views too freely; while Makram, I was told, was
believed to be in danger of being assassinated by the Green Shirts, who held him
responsible for the treaty of which they did not approve.
13. The split in the Wafd itself (Nahas and Makram versus Maher and
Nokrashi) is more acute than it ever has been. Abd-el-Qawi Bey told me that
when Nahas, Makram and Maher were at Carlsbad this summer after the signing
of the treaty, the ex-Khedive sent a message to Nahas inviting the three of them
to dinner, Nahas’s answer was that he and Makram would be pleased to dine
with Effendina, but that Maher need not be with them, and, in spite of the
Khedive’s espostulations, the venerable leader insisted on ruling out the President
of the Chamber of Deputies.
It is quite likely that this split will one day come to a head, in which event
both factions will probably try to establish a dictatorship with the help of the

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.

Written in
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.' [‎111r] (221/699), 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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