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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.' [‎126v] (252/699)

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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Iraq should deal with His Majesty’s Government in the matter of Palestine on
behalf of Ibn Sand, and that Ibn Saud should deal with the Imam about his
adhesion to the Saudi-Iraq Treaty. Ibn Saud had expressed surprise at this
request, and had said that both States must act together in both matters. He
spoke of what appeared to be a similar attempt to side-track him in the matter of
securing the adhesion of the Imam to the treaty. He then spoke of the surprise he
had felt at the Iraqis wanting to insert in the treaty a reference to the League of
Nations, of which Saudi Arabia was not a member, and added that the Imam
would never consent to sign anything in which there was a reference to the
League. Mr. Rendel explained that members of the League could not assume any
obligation which might be incompatible with their existing obligations under the
Covenant, and that they were therefore bound to make a reservation to that effect
in any treaty involving military assistance, &c. Moreover, Iraq was also bound
by the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of Alliance, which, as His Majesty’s Government had
pointed out to the Iraqi Government, involved a similar reservation on the part
of Iraq. Mr. Rendel said that, of course, such a reservation would not affect a
party not a member of the League, and that consequently neither Saudi Arabia
nor the Yemen would be affected by such a reservation on the part of Iraq.
15. The King then said that he had often been asked whether the Arab
States of the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. could not adhere to the Saudi-Iraq Treaty. He had
fended off such enquiries, alleging the unimportance of such States, but he would
be glad to know the opinion of His Majesty’s Government. Mr. Rendel reminded
His Majesty of the position of His Majesty’s Government in the Gulf. They had
had relations with the Arab rulers there in some cases for as long as a century
and a half, having been compelled to take action in regard to gun-running,
piracy, the slave trade, &c. As a result, as had been made clear at the time of the
Treaty of Jedda, the foreign affairs of Kowei t, Bahrein, Qatar and the Trucial
Sheikhdoms were in the hands of His Majesty’s Government, who exercised
sovereignty over them in those affairs and therefore could not allow them to enter
into treaty relations with any foreign State. Ibn Saud seemed to accept this
statement without demur.
16. This subject led to the question of the frontiers. Mr. Rendel repeated
the arguments which he used with Sheikh Yusuf Yasin on the 19th March, saying
that His Majesty’s Government had made great concessions in this respect,
whereas His Majesty was holding firmly to his original demand. In the northern
part of the eastern frontier there remained nothing between the parties but the
Jabal Naksh and Khor-el-Odeid. with perhaps an adjustment in the Sufuk
(Safaq) region that might go some way towards meeting the King’s wishes.
Could not His Majesty make some concession here? It would make an excellent
impression on the Foreign Office if he could. Ibn Saud repeated his familiar
statement that the whole of the coast belonged to his ancestors and that the present
rulers would not deny it. Koweit, for instance; all the tribes living in Koweit
were really Saudi tribes. It was true that he had recognised the treaties between
the coastal rulers and His Majesty’s Government in the Hadda Agreement^ 1 ) but
on the question of the boundaries there was a limit beyond which he could not go.
The boundary of Qatar was well known to be Araik, which was in the nufud.
17. The maps which were at hand were examined, but Araik was not
marked on them. Sir Reader Bullard said that he had seen a map on which,
unless his memory was at fault. Araik was shown to the south of Jabal Naksh!
In that case there would no longer be any disagreement on that point.
18. As to Khor-el-Odeid, Ibn Saud said that, in claiming it for Saudi
Arabia, he was thinking of the interests of His Majesty’s Government as much
as of his own. for no one but himself could keep order there. When crimes were
committed there it was to him that the people applied for redress.
19. The King seemed very anxious to pass on to another subject. It
appeared at first that he was wanting to evade the boundary question, but when
the other subject came to be broached it was found to be a question of capital
importance. What, the King asked, would happen to him in the case of war?
Suppose war began in Europe, or in the Yemen, or anywhere? Could not His
Majesty’s Government make some treaty or some other lesser undertaking with
him ? It could be secret if they wished.
20. Mr. Rendel said that any such undertaking, and more especiallv anv
kind of secret guarantee, was precluded by the British constitutional system,
( 1 ) This reference should be to Article 6 of the Treaty of Jedda.

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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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.' [‎126v] (252/699), 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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