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Coll 6/65 'Relations between Saudi-Arabia and the Yemen.' [‎108r] (215/917)

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The record is made up of 1 file (457 folios). It was created in 30 Apr 1934-27 Jan 1938. It was written in English and French. 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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[156 k—1] b
July 10 , 1934.
Section 1.
No. 1.
EASTERN (Arabia).
[E 4452/79/25]
/l. John Simon.—(Received July 10.)
^ Jedda, June 27, 1934.
WITH reference to my telegram No. 151 of the 24th June. I have the honour
to enclose herewith an annotated summary of the recent treaty between kaudi
Arabia and the Yemen. It will be some little time before I can send you a lull
translation, as it is a lengthy and rather difficult document and my chiet
interpreter’ is absent on local sick leave. I have prepared the summary from a
rough translation made by Mr. Furlonge with the assistance of the second
interpreter. I am anxious that it should reach you as soon as possible, in viev
of the exaggerated statements which have appeared in the press suggesting that
the two countries have concluded an agreement tantamount to an alliance. I
understand that Mr. Philby has gone even further and reported to the Daily |
Mail that Ibn Saud has established a veiled protectorate over the Yemen.
2. Despite many obvious defects, the treaty may be regarded as a lairlv
workmanlike document. It is in European form and the pious formulae, which
have done so much to obscure Saudi-Yemen relations in the past, have been
reduced to a minimum. It would be hard to say whether article 4, which
determines the frontier, is sufficiently precise to obviate future quarrels, but it
at least allocates the principal disputed areas. It is perhaps rather a pity that
even now certain points should be referred back to the status yuo before April
1933 and to Ibn Saud’s arbitral award of December 1931. On the whole, however,
it would probably have been impossible to do much better in dealing with regions
of which there are no accurate maps and where tribal considerations are more
important than geography.
3. There is nothing on the face of the treaty to suggest that it has been
concluded on other than equal terms. It is significant in this connexion that the
Imam figures in it as “ His Majesty the King of the Yemen, a title never given
to him in Saudi official language before this treaty was drawn up. Apart from
the preliminary conditions on which Ibn Saud insisted to the last, there is no
single provision which is not based on the strictest reciprocity. There is no
provision for an indemnity and, yace Mr. Philby, no present evidence that Ibn/
Saud has got one by some special arrangement outside the published texts. What'
it comes to is that he has, at any rate for twenty years, established his title to
both parts of Asir and secured Najran; and for these undoubtedly solid gains
he has paid a longish price in military expenditure and a certain price in men.
4. Whether the treaty can be regarded as in any sense an alliance is a more
difficult question. I myself am inclined to think that it amounts to little or
nothing of the kind. The peculiar position of the parties as the only tw r o really
independent rulers in Arabia, both ardent xenophobes, has driven them into
impressive affirmations of their Moslem and Arab solidarity. In this matter, if
no other, the mission of Arab mediators may have made themselves felt. My new
Iraqi colleague goes so far as to attribute the recurrent phrase about brotherhood
to the inspiration of the Amir Shakib Arslan, with whom it is a favourite
catchword. Great play is made with the doctrine that the people of the two
“ countries,” which are carefully distinguished, are one “nation;' but the word
which, for the want of a better equivalent, has been translated “ nation " is not
used so as to imply any political unity. It refers rather to that ideal unity of
Moslems and Arabs which it is the present fashion to acclaim.
5 . When all is said and done there is little to suggest a real pooling of
interests, except articles 15 and 17. The former of these is not very explicit.
The latter contains a singular definition of neutrality, compounded, I think, of
the three ideas that neutrality in the European sense is a duty, that a brother’s
a brother for a' that, and that it is just as well none the less to tie a brother up

About this item


This file concerns Saudi-Yemeni relations, beginning with the final weeks of hostilities between the two countries before going on to cover peace negotiations and the reoccupation of Hodeidah (also transliterated as Hodeida) by the Yemeni authorities, following the gradual withdrawal of Saudi troops.

Related matters discussed in the correspondence include the following:

In addition to correspondence the file includes the following:

  • Extracts from Aden, Bahrain, and Kuwait political intelligence summaries.
  • Copies of an English translation of the Treaty of Taif.
  • A copy of an English translation of the Treaty between King Ibn Saud [‘Abd al-‘Azīz bin ‘Abd al-Raḥmān bin Fayṣal Āl Sa‘ūd] and the Idrisi [Sayyid Muḥammad bin ‘Alī al-Idrīsī], signed on 31 August 1920.
  • Copies of extracts from reports from the Senior Officer of the Red Sea Sloops, as well as copies of reports from the commanding officers of HMS Penzance and HMS Enterprise respectively.

The file features the following principal correspondents: His Majesty's Minister at Jedda (Sir Andrew Ryan, succeeded by Sir Reader William Bullard); His Majesty's Chargé d'Affaires to Jedda (Albert Spencer Calvert); the Secretary of State for the Colonies (Philip Cunliffe-Lister); the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Sir John Simon); the Senior Officer of the Red Sea Sloops; the Commander of HMS Penzance ; His Majesty's Ambassador in Rome (James Eric Drummond); the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Yemen; officials of the Colonial Office, the 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. , the Foreign Office, the Admiralty.

Although the file includes material dating from 1934 to 1938, most of the material dates from 1934. The French material consists of three telegrams addressed to the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs by Yemen's Minister for Foreign Affairs.

The file includes two dividers which give a list of correspondence references contained in the file by year. These are placed at the back of the correspondence (folios 2-3).

Extent and format
1 file (457 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 458; 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 and French in Latin script
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Coll 6/65 'Relations between Saudi-Arabia and the Yemen.' [‎108r] (215/917), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/PS/12/2132, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 18 September 2019]

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