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Saudi-Yemeni War

Years: 1934-1934
Battle deaths: 2,100 [1]

Nation(s) involved and/or conflict territory [note]
Saudi Arabia, Yemen

Published: 2013-08-01 16:08:27 | Altered: 2014-03-08 09:45:12
The Saudi–Yemeni War was a war between Saudi Arabia and Yemen in 1934.

Ibn Saud, the founder of Saudi Arabia, had named himself King of the Nejd, following the collapse of Ottoman Empire power during the Great War. In 1925 he took control of Hejaz from the Hashemites. In 1932, he proclaimed the merger of the Nejd and Hejaz Kingdoms, establishing the Saudi Arabian Kingdom. Most of the boundaries remained unmapped, unmarked, and undemarcated by treaty.

By 1932, Ibn Saud controlled almost all of Arabia, except for Yemen, and the smaller coastal states which were then British protectorates (Oman, Kuwait, Bahrein, Aden, etc.). Between Hejaz and Yemen were several tribal regions over which the Ottomans had previously held weak suzerainty, and which both Ibn Saud and the Imam of Yemen now aspired to control.

The war started when the new Saudi kingdom started growing at the cost of Yemeni-controlled areas, also known as Greater Yemen (Yemen proper and its three self-ruled Yemeni provinces: Al-Baha, Asir, Jazan and Najran).

Jizan is a coastal region on the Red Sea north of Yemen. Asir and Al-Baha are mountainous regions north of Yemen. Najran is a region further inland, north-east of Yemen. Asir and Jizan were both part of the Idrisid Asir emirate during the 1920s.
The war was sparked when Emir Idrissi of Jizan and Abu Arish recanted his previous temporary allegiance to Ibn Saud and fled to Yemen to join Imam Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din, the King of Yemen.

A treaty was made in 1931 but soon broken. In November 1933, the Yemenis advanced on Najran.

In February 1934, at the start of the war, the Yemen Government and the British representative in Aden made a "treaty of friendship", which resolved some of the disputes between Yemen and Britain over Aden and the border between Yemen and the Aden Protectorate, and under which the British guaranteed the independence of Yemen for forty years. The Imam agreed to stop attacking Aden.[8] At this point in time, the British had a "treaty of friendship" with both the Saudi and Yemeni sides in the war.

In May 1934, after capturing Hodeida, Saudi forces advanced towards Sanaa, where a battle was expected. The mountains were problematical for their armoured cars and tanks. Neither the British nor Italian forces in the region were expected to intervene. Although the Saudis had better weapons, including tanks, the Yemenis had more experience with mountain warfare. Although the dispute had been brewing for some time, British onlookers predicted that the result would be indecisive. The King demanded the abdication of the Iman, five years control of the border region, and the expulsion from Yemen of the former rulers of Asir.

By 10 May 1934, reports from the war were contradictory. Sanaa was reported to be in upheaval, although the Iman claimed to be in charge. The Yemenis retreated from Hodeida, but claimed to be winning in Najran. The Iman announced a bold plan to advance on Riyadh with 200,000 men, although this attack never eventuated.

On 12 May 1934, peace negotiations had commenced. The King dropped his demand for the Imam’s abdication, but demanded a truce for at least 20 years. It was reported that the Crown Prince of Yemen supported the war, while his father the Imam was in favour of peace. The King claimed that he was not interested in taking over Yemen.
On May 26, it was reported that relations were tense and a re-outbreak of hostilities was likely.

However, on 14 June 1934 it was reported that a Treaty had been signed between the King and the Imam guaranteeing 20 years of peace.
The Saudi’s relinquished Hodeida and the Yemeni coast, but the other disputed areas were incorporated into Saudi Arabia. Jizan/Jizin, Asir, and Najran are today part of Saudi Arabia.

The war officially ended on 20 May 1934, with the signing of the Treaty of Taif, between ibn Saud and King Yahya, which asserted Yemens’sovereignty over territories (formerly) "in the possession of the Idrisis or the Al-Aidh, or in Najran, or in the Yam country" and these lands were rented for Saudi Arabia in return the Yemenis would enter Saudi Arabia freely and Najran, Asir and Jizan were to be returned to Yemen after 60 years. The total number of losses reached 2,100 by the end of the war.
Source: Wikipedia, published under the GNU FDL. Retrieved 2014-03-08


Notes on fatalities

[1] Battle deaths: Correlates of War, Inter-State War Data v4.0 (298)

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NOTE! Nation data for this war may be inconlusive or incomplete. In most cases it reflects which nations were involved with troops in this war, but in some it may instead reflect the contested territory.


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