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WHO SHALL BE LORD
Two Warrior Chiefs At War
NEWS from Arabia comes only at intervals, and usually it refers to revolts by fierce tribesmen who have become restive under the
restraints imposed upon them by King Ibn Saud, the Wahabi ruler and Arab prince, who is said to take Bis marck as his ideal of Empire-builder. But something much more spectacular than a mere tribal revolt is now dis turbing Arabia, and causing some un easiness in the chancelleries of Europe. It is a war between two warrior kings, the two strong men of Arabia, for the rich territory of the Yemen. The story goes back for some years. When the Turks were expelled from Arabia, partly through the instru mentality of Colonel Lawrence, and principally by General Allenby and his troops, each , Arab potentate began
'playing his own bat.' Cohesion and co-operation were swept aside; and out of the tribal fights that followed Ibn Saud emerged triumphant, the most powerful potentate that Arabia had known for a thousand years. The [mam Mohammed Yahea of the Yemen was his outstanding r;val. ion for years past had his eyes on the Yemen, . and the Imam was never pleased that Ibn was his next-door neighbour. The Historic Yemen Experts differ about the boun daries of the Yemen. One author ity, much favoured by the Imam, places the province in Southern Arabia, in cluding the whole territory between the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf; a second authority assigns to it a much smaller area, and definitely says it does not extend for more than 200 miles eastwards from the Red Sea. A third authority assigns ifr only one half that area. The most that can be said with cer tainty is that it lies in the south and south-west of the Arabian Peninsula. It is historic. Greeks, Romans, Abyssinians, Persians, Egyptians, and Turks have held it at one time or another, but the Turk was the only conqueror who prevailed. And he in turn was ejected from the place, and the Arabs became supreme, looking to Great Britain to maintain their supremacy
The Arab is essentially individualis tic, so the division that was' made was never satisfactory to all of them. The Imam was annoyed because Great Britain allowed an Indrisl parvenu into Hodeida, which is one of the most important ports of the territory claimed by the Imam, but really bor dering it. He considered himself 'stymied' from the sea by the In drisi's position at Hodeida. Ibn, on the other hand, was satisfied about neither of them, and still less satis fied about the arrangement that had been made with King Feisal in Iraq, while the Idrisi in turn have cast their eyes over the whole country, fre quently causing trouble. About a year ago that tribe started a revolt, but it was short-lived, having been quelled in a thoroughly Arab manner by the indomitable Ibn Saud. Ibn Saud and the Imam are now the outstanding personalities. Ibn, who has been described as the Arab
Bismarck, Is said to be aiming at the establishment of a unified Greater Arabia, and some months ago he en tered into negotiations with the Imam about these disputed boundaries of the Yemen. But the Imam, who is equally desir ous of extending his territories, re fuses to yield one inch of the Yemen. Some weeks ago the negotiations were suddenly and dramatically ended by a frontier fight, and Ibn Saud gave orders that a considerable area of the Red Sea territory of the Yemen should be occupied. Ibn maintains diplomatic relations with most of the great Powers, but neither of these two warring rival Princes recognises the League of Nations. They like to settle their internal differences in their own way. Ibn is a Moslem of Moslems; in
fact, he has been called a Funuin Moslem because fit the intensity of his religious convictions, but above all, he is obsessed with the idea of a Con federacy of Arabia— under Ibn. For twenty years or more he has been fighting up and down the country, but until the other day he was regarded merely as one of the many warring sheiks. He is desert bom and desert bred, but unquestionably he is a great warrior,. and it would not be surpris ing, if out of this new war with the Imam, he emerges as the Lord of Arnhin
The Imam, however, is an able sheik varrior. He is crafty and aggressive, ind ever since the division of boun daries, after the War, he has been en jaged in continuous intrigue to bring ihe outlying provinces, and especially those along the Red Sea, under his rule. His great ambition has been to recover the Asir territory along the Red Sea which Ibn annexed, The dis puted Aslr territory is the pretext of the quarrel. Its real objective is to settle whether Ibn or the Imam shall be supreme.
The Position of Aden SHOULD Ibn be victorious, and gain by force of arms what he has failed to get by negotiation, he would become the rulsr of practically all the agricultural land along the Red Sea. and would have absolute control of the desert routes from Mecca to the sea. The war is of concern to Great Britain and Italy, because each Power has important stations and interests in that part of the Near East. It is especially important to Great Br.tain because of the proximity of Aden, which lies at the extremity of the Yemen territory. The British posses sion consists of 75 square miles, and those Australian travellers who have seen it during the brief call of the P and O. mail steamers will agree that it is a barren, inhospitable spot. It is of great strategic value, however, and is heavily fortified and perman ently garrisoned, partly by Yemen in fantrymen. The British took raw Yemen tribesmen and trained them until they became fine soldiers. The quarrel between the rival princes, however, does not immediately concern Aden. The objective for the moment lies further along the Red Sea coast in the territory known as Asir. There the rival princes threaten to meet and to decide who shall be Lord of Arabia.