*** Yemen modern Yemeni history British era

Aden: British Protectorate/Crown Colony (1800-1967)

Aden history
Figure 1.--This is a street scene in Aden during 1959. The photograph was takebn by a Btitish soldier wuth the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The endemic poverty is apparent. Notice the Afrucn boy. Aden was a major port abnd market in the Indian Ocean slave trade.

European maritime trade in the Induian Ocean began (16th century). Gradually Britain and France developed as the primary contending powers. Britain emerged as the major European power in India after the Seven Years War and Clive's victories in India (1760s). India became seen as the jewel in the British crown and became a huge factor in British strategic thinking. This trade for three centuries was conducted around the Cape of Good Hope, meaning Britain had no real interest in Aden. This changed with Napoleon's Egyptian campign (1798-99). One result of this was the development of a Red Sea route to India, involving a land component from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. Suddenly Aden with its magnificent port became important to the British. The British established a garrison at Aden (about 1800). They signed a treaty with Aden's ruler, the Sultan of Laḥij. This route grew in importance after the Napoleonic War. The concern was strategic involving trade and commerce, the slave trade was especially important. Further developments increased British interest in Aden. Britain outlawed the slave trade (1807). The primary British concern was the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and the Royal Navy was committed to ending it. Eventually Britain extended its efforts to the Indian Ocean. And Aden was an important market for captive Africans. (Yemen in the 20th century would be the last country to abolish slavery.) Another development was the advent of steam navigation leading to the need for a coaling station between Suez and India, a the time an overrland trait route route between the Meduiterrnean abd Red Sea. The British seized Aden from the Ottoman Sultan (1839). Aden became such a huge coal-bunkering facility that it became known as the 'Coalhole of the East'. Aden grew hugely in importance in importance with the opening of the Suez Canal (1869). Aden had no really productive economy other than than what was associated with the port. The British negotiated a series of treaties which established the south Arabian Protectorate. While the British controlled Aden, the Ottoman Sultan had religious authority -- extremely important in a Muslim territory and conveying political import. British policy in Arab areas that bdcame part of the Empire (like Egupt) was not to intervene significntly in society. Stsmping out the slve trade was an exeption. Aden was not a colony and the British did not intervene significantly in domestic affairs other than efforts to end the slave trade. Their interest was focused on the naval base and coaling station. As World War II loomed, Aden became a Crown Colony. When Italy entered World War II, the British population in British Somalia was evacuated temporarily to Aden (1940) until the Allied East African campaign invded Somalia and Ethiopia and defeated the Italians (1941). After the War Aden was a quiet outpost of the British Empire until Arab nationalism and Communism began to sweep the the region. Britain tried to promote the develooment of a moderate independent government, but was unable to resist the appeal of Nasser's Arab nationlism and Communism. Britain withdrew from Aden (1967). Yemen became a battlegound between the competing visions of Nasser's socilist-tinged Arab nationaslism and Saudi Islamic fundamentalism. This has proven disatrous for Yemen. The country has no productive economy. It's one important economic asset as in ancient times was its geogrphic location and magnificent harbor, but the instability and fighting between insurgent groups made Aden useless as a port in international trade. Ships calling at Yemen became potential targets for various insurgent groups. This is why Yemen was one of the poorest countries in the world and became even poorer after the British exit.


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Created: 11:32 PM 10/19/2022
Last updated: 11:32 PM 10/19/2022