Military Review

Conclusion of the first Soviet-Yemeni Treaty

People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs G.V. Like no one in the Soviet leadership, Chicherin understood the importance of establishing relations with the countries of the Arab East, including Yemen. Back in October of 1926, he intended to send an employee to Yemen from a diplomatic agency and consulate general in Jeddah to negotiate with Yemeni imam-king Yahya bin Mohammed Hamid-ad-Din (imam with 1904, king in 1918 – 1948) . [1]

The fact that the USSR is becoming an influential player in the international arena, in the 20-s, was understood by the leaders of the Arab states. In 1927, the governor of Hodeidah, Emir Seif-al-Islam Mohammed, transmitted through Indian journalist Iqbal to the Soviet consul general in Jeddah, K.A. Khakimov [2] letter from Yahya with a proposal to establish trade relations between their countries. [3] This wish of Yahya was confirmed before March 1 1928 through the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey Taufik Ryushtu [4]. [5]

At a meeting of the Politburo of 16 on June 1927 (Minutes No. 111 / 89 is a special folder), the following decisions were made: “a) Allow NCID to enter into a friendship agreement with Gejas [6]. b) Allow the NCID to enter into negotiations with Yemen to establish diplomatic relations ”[7].

Contacts between the Soviet and Yemeni parties took place in Europe. In a letter to the deputy drug minister LM. Karakhan in the 14 Commissariat of Foreign Trade in March 1928 was reported that “the Yemeni government asks us to act on the Yemeni market. We are not only politically interested in meeting this request. A representative of Yemen in Paris is negotiating a major supply of petroleum products. With regard to trade in petroleum products, it must be said that our positions in Arabia are most easily consolidated by this way. Now, in Gejas, and in Yemen, with the support of governments, motorism is developing. The governments of these states would not want to become dependent on the supply of oil products “politically” interested in Arabia (England, Italy). Our state’s position “politically” not interested in Arabia is pushing these Arab kingdoms to an oil agreement with us ”[8].

Indeed, already in 1926, the Saudis attempted to transport pilgrims by car from Jeddah to Mecca. For this, a special car service was organized, which had a fleet of 30 vehicles and was included in 1927 in the Saudi Society of Economic Enterprises. [9]

Of course, the "state position" politically "not interested in Arabia" should have existed only for Arabs. The same letter from Karakhan to the NKVT stated that the approval by the People's Commissariat of Trade of continuing “trade with Arabia ... is extremely important to us in view of the serious political tasks that we associate with the expansion of our influence in Arabia” [10].

In a letter to the NKVT of 5 on April 1928, Mr. Karahan informed: “A representative of the Yemeni government informed our plenipotentiary in Paris that they are waiting for our goods to arrive in Yemen. We consider it expedient to use a favorable situation in order to simultaneously establish a political contact ”[11].

The Soviet leadership accepted the proposal of King Yahya and sent its delegation to Yemen, headed by the representative of the NKID, GA Astakhov [12] as the head of a trading expedition. In the instructions to Astakhov from 7 in May 1928, Mr. Karakhan emphasized: “It is necessary, by agreement with the Yemeni authorities, to secure the possibility of permanently operating our trading agents in Yemen ... These trading agents will have to temporarily have the role of providing our political representatives to Yemen’s political representation interests in Yemen ”[13].

From the same Instruction it follows that this state was viewed by the Soviet leadership as one of the links in the chain of Eastern states opposing the Western powers as the ultimate goal of cooperation with Yemen: “Your position on international relations of Yemen should be the development of ideas to strengthen political and economic independence Yemen by creating a base for it in relations with other countries of the East, fighting for their political and economic independence. It is advisable to develop the idea of ​​establishing friendly and close ties with Ibn Saud [14], Turkey, Persia, Afghanistan and Abyssinia [15], leading to the idea of ​​the advisability of bringing together the eastern states as strengthening their international position ”[16].

During Astakhov’s first business trip to Sana in June-July 1928, negotiations were held here to draft the text of the first Soviet-Yemeni Treaty, which was initialed on July 12.

It is noteworthy that even before the conclusion of the treaty, the Yemenis resorted to the help of the Soviet side, which, in fact, began to play the role of mediator between Yemen and the international community. So, Karakhan addressed the plenipotentiary of the USSR in Germany N.N. Krestinsky with the following instructions: “... The Yemeni government asks us to raise in the European press a campaign against the British air raids against Yemen and, in general, the English pressure on this side. I am sending you several copies of the opposition number of the Yemeni newspaper and ask you to order the transfer of this number or the transfer to the editorial office of those newspapers that could use it ”[17].

1 November 1928, during Astakhov’s second business trip to Sana, the final signing of the Treaty of Friendship and Trade between the USSR and the Yemen Kingdom, which established “normal official relations” [18] for ten years between these states, took place here.

During the negotiations conducted by Yahya and Astakhov on November 3 1928, issues of international cooperation were touched on, in particular the Briand – Kellogg Pact [19]. It turned out that Yahya was interested in this document primarily as a means of weakening the position of Great Britain in the region: “The Imam asked in detail what position is being created in connection with this pact for India and Egypt. ... Will England, on the basis of the pact, be able to wage war against India, if she wanted to postpone. ... Does India have enough strength (military) to fight against the British. The Imam then asks him to tell him which states have signed the Kellogg Pact, simultaneously making a declaration that he does not recognize the English reservations [20].

As for bilateral relations, here “the main requests of the king were the following: to speed up the ratification and the exchange of texts, and the Imam promised to put a seal on his text and put his signature; help Yemen negotiate with Afghanistan, Iran and Germany; send doctors and engineers to Yemen to find out about the exploitation of salt copies in Salif ... and they started talking about the possibility of buying a Soviet ship with a Soviet commandant in the future, but for now they asked everyone to go to Hodeidah [Soviet] ships in the Red Sea ”[21] .

In response to the congratulations on the successful conclusion of the 4 negotiations in November 1928, Prime Minister Abdullah did not hide his expectations: “Yemen is in dire need of outside help, especially in the development of trade relations, and in this regard, it is waiting for successful results from establishing relations with USSR "[22].

Saying good-bye to Astakhov, Yemen’s Foreign Minister “Raghib said that they ... would like to see a de facto permanent Soviet representative as soon as possible” [23]. This suggests that the presence of the Soviet representative in Sana'a was viewed by the Yemeni side as a serious trump card in relations with Western countries.

At first, Soviet diplomats of the highest rank did not feel at all confident in the Arab East, as indicated by their desire to use Turkish mediation in establishing relations, in particular, with Yemen. So, Chicherin wrote to 8 in May 1928 of Mr. Yahya: “I received through the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey Tevfik Rüshtü Bey all the kind words that I was pleased to say to Your Majesty about the hospitality that would be rendered to the ship with Soviet goods. The submitter of this, Mr. Astakhov, about whom a recommendation may be made to you (Minister of Foreign Affairs - PG) Tevfik Ryushtu-bey ..., will be ready to listen to your wishes regarding trade and other issues ”[24].

It is noteworthy that Astakhov noted the growing prestige of the USSR in the eyes of the East, including in Yemen: “... Our initial tactics - to penetrate into Yemen with the help of the Turks, was not dictated by special necessity, since the influence of the Turks in Yemen is very small, and the prestige of the USSR there above ”[25].

Astakhov’s words about the weakness of Turkey’s position in Yemen were confirmed by 1929 and Khakimov: “The Turkish representative Sani-Bey put two questions to Yahya: the question of paying Yahya for the weapons left by the Turks and the participation of Yemen in the Ottoman debt. Yahya categorically refused to fulfill both the first and second versions of Turkish wishes ”[26]. Thus, the conclusion of N.Yu. is erroneous. Vasilyeva that “the calculation of the NKID on the use of Kemalist Turkey in the“ Yemeni issue ”turned out to be correct ...” [27]. Moreover, even 15 March 1928 g. Karahan wrote plenipotentiary in Turkey Ya.Z. Suritsa, that from his reports it follows that "the Turks are inclined to coincide with their assistance in settling our relations with Yemen by the time when they conclude an agreement with Yemen" [28].

This, in his letter to the NKID of 7 in May of 1929, was also indirectly confirmed by the Soviet Consul General in Jeddah, N.T. Turyakulov [29]: “This treaty provides the legal basis for our trade in Arabia, where we have not yet been in contractual relations with any state. In addition to its trade significance, the Sanaa Treaty is valuable for us because it testifies to great trust in us in the countries of the East, which, in the person of Yemen, recognize the USSR as a friend of the peoples of the East ”[30].

What was the basis of this prestige for Yemen? Is it only in the benevolent attitude of the Soviet Union to the countries of the East and the desire to help them get rid of colonial dependence? A letter of an unknown high-ranking Soviet representative in Yemen, presumably Astakhov, addressed to Karakhan reveals the reason for Imam Yahya’s interest in relations with the Soviet Union: “... Question (about the supply of Soviet weapons. - PG) was the main motive that prompted Yemenprän [31] to make an agreement with us ... Rahib in a farewell conversation stressed that this issue is the only basis of the agreement ”[32].

The correspondence between the Soviet leadership and Yahya mentions some “needs” and “wishes” on the part of the Yemeni government, transmitted orally through Soviet representatives. [33] “We ask you to take care of sending the goods that you promised to send us to the nearest time "[34]. We have no doubt that we are talking about the supply of Soviet weapons to Yemen.

The Yemeni side asked “first of all anti-aircraft guns”, expressing readiness to hire Soviet military instructors in the case of their supplies, as well as “to coordinate with the USSR and during the war [, supposed between the USSR and Great Britain,] to make a diversion to Aden [ 35] and Bab el-Mandeb [36] ”[37].

Khakimov, in a letter to 15 in July, 1929 reported to Karakhan on 38 in July: “He (Yahya. - PG) told the following: they, expecting complications in their relations with the British and knowing that these complications would be caused by armed attacks by the British, that their air forces will take part in this attack, in view of this they (the king), conducted negotiations with the Italians. The Italians agreed to sell them several anti-aircraft guns. But at the very moment of the implementation of this agreement, Mussolini had a date with Chamberlain, and as a result Mussolini refused to fulfill his promise. ”[XNUMX].

Thus, the UK by its bombardment of the Yemeni cities of Damar, Ibb, Kaatab, Taiz, Al-Dali, Yarim and others. concluding a treaty with the Soviet Union, strengthening the position of the latter in the Red Sea region.

Even before the signing of the Treaty, the first Soviet ship that arrived in Hodeidah, “Tobolsk” - 4 June 1928 delivered here approx. 200 tons of goods [40], mainly sugar. [41] Over time, with the help of sugar, the Soviet representatives in Yemen squeezed out their European competitors, taking strong positions, and were able to expand trade. [42] In addition to sugar, the USSR supplied sparkling water to Yemen, canned food, starch products, timber, soap, manufactory, flour, oil products (mainly kerosene), yarn, molasses, hemp ropes, wheat, samovars, candles, matches, glass, fabrics, porcelain, earthenware and cement. From 1930, Soviet agricultural machinery and equipment began to arrive in Yemen, to assist in the development of which a tractor driver and instructor was sent there. The Soviet Union gave the Yemeni side materials and equipment to create a telegraph and telephone network. [43]

Leather raw materials, coffee, and seeds were exported from Yemen to the USSR. [44] Thus, 1930 tons of coffee were imported to 248, which became the first year of Yemen export to the USSR, and the Soviet Union imported 1931 tons of coffee. [419] It is necessary to note the growth of confidence on the part of some purely Yemeni circles in the face of those who previously treated us with a noticeable chill ... This change, in addition to general considerations, is caused by the fact that a number of merchants and sheikhs engaged in trade began to treat us more seriously, seeing quite impressive purchases coffee (Vostgostorg purchased over 45 tons) and races reading to send (new batch. - PG) of our products, especially kerosene ”[60].

The Soviet-Yemeni Treaty was ratified by the CEC 29 on January 1929, and by King Yahya - 24 on June 1929. [47] On the same day, the exchange of instruments of ratification took place in Sana'a, and the Treaty entered into force. Mohammed Raghib bin Rafik, who signed the Treaty on behalf of the Yemeni side, told the members of the Soviet delegation: “We are not yet fully aware of the great significance of these days, which initiated the Soviet-Yemen rapprochement” [48]. The Yemeni sailors who were in Odessa, upon learning of the conclusion of the Treaty, took part in the May Day demonstration of the year 1929. [49]

In the meantime, the question of appointing the first Soviet permanent representative in Yemen was being decided. Head of the Middle East Department NCID S.K. Shepherds in an office note from 18 on April 1929 informed Karakhan that “based on the letter of Yahya, we can clothe one of the“ merchants ”with the functions of an intermediary between the governments of the USSR and Yemen. Tov. Khakimov will have a mandate from Middle East [50] and will formally be considered the General Representative of Middle East in Yemen. Commercial responsibility for the operations will in fact lie on Comrade Belkine ... In essence, Comrade Khakimov will serve as the Plenipotentiary ... ”[51].

In accordance with this note, Karakhan coordinated his actions with the NKVT in a letter from 13 in May to 1929: “Former our plenipotentiary in Gojas, comrade Khakimov, is sent to Yemen. Since the Yemeni government specifically asked us to be only a “merchant” in the eyes of the outside world, we raised in the instance of [52] the question of the appointment of Comrade Khakimov as the general representative of Middle East Trading, that is, the organization that trades in Yemen "[53]. Thus, the opinion of V.V. Naumkina that Khakimov was transferred to the system of foreign trade. [54]

An employee of Soviet foreign intelligence under the guise of a representative of the NKVT N.M. Belkin [55] 12 November 1928 reported from Hodeida that “the political difficulties of the imam (quarrel with England over nine regions) contributed a lot to our entry into Yemen. Just as the USSR, as a great Eastern power, which is in close friendship with all Muslim states and helps them, will be able to provide Yemen with appropriate moral and, possibly, material support ... ”[56].

Some Western historians have also come to this conclusion. Thus, the American researcher Manfred Wenner writes: “At the beginning of 1928, when relations (Yemen. - PG) with Great Britain were extremely tense because of the situation in the protectorate, the Yemeni side asked the Soviet representative office in Hejaz to establish diplomatic and trade relations between these countries (Yemen and the USSR. - P. G.) ”[57].

However, as in the case of Egypt [58], due to the pressure of Great Britain, King Yahya did not dare to establish diplomatic relations between our countries in full, despite the willingness of both parties to do so. [59] In a letter to Chicherin from 14 July 1928 Mr. Yahya considered it necessary to explain, albeit in a somewhat veiled form, the reasons for the limited nature of the proposed contract: “The limitation of this contract was caused by the demand of modern circumstances ... As for the exchange of political representatives ..., the delay in this the issue is explained by the requirements of the moment in our country ..., in the future, if you eliminate the reasons for this delay, your representative will be accepted ”[60]. In a letter to Karahan from 16 in November 1928, these reasons are stated more clearly: “... in view of the fears that we experience in accepting representatives from other states” [61].

Still, such a step as signing a bilateral treaty with a country that had a very difficult relationship with Britain, speaks of the determination of the ruler of Yemen in foreign affairs. For its part, by signing the Treaty with Yemen, the Soviet government took an important step towards accomplishing one of its most important tasks in the Middle East, which, according to Karakhan, was to “assist Yemen in expanding international legal recognition of Yemeni independence States ”[62].

[1] G.V. Chicherin and the Arab East // Bulletin of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR. 1990, No. 21, p. 48.
[2] See: Gusterin P. In memory of Karim Khakimov - diplomat and scientist // Diplomatic service. 2008, No. 1.
[3] Newest история Yemen. 1917 – 1982 M., 1984, p. 24 – 25. See: Ankarin G. For Yemen. M., 1931.
[4] In the “Diplomatic Dictionary” - Ryushtu, in the “Sketches of the History of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia” - Rushdie.
[5] Documents of the USSR foreign policy. T. XI, p. 131.
[6] Modern transcription - Hejaz. We are talking about the Kingdom of Hijaz, Nejd and the annexed regions (since 1932 - the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).
[7] RGASPI. F. 17, op. 162, d. 5, l. 40.
[8] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 11, p. 50, d. 91, l. 72 – 73.
[9] Proshin N.I. Saudi Arabia. M., 1964, p. 54.
[10] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 11, p. 50, d. 91, l. 71.
[11] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 11, p. 50, d. 91, l. 59.
[12] Published under the pseudonyms “G. Ankarin "," G. Gastov and Y. Tishansky.
[13] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 2.
[14] Full name - Abd-al-Aziz bin Abd-ar-Rahman bin Faisal. King of Hejaz, Nejd and the annexed regions (from 1932 - the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) (ruled in 1902 – 1953).
[15] Abyssinia is the obsolete name for Ethiopia.
[16] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 4.
[17] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 6.
[18] Low-level diplomatic relations.
[19] 1928 International Treaty on the Prohibition of War as an Instrument of National Policy.
[20] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 11.
[21] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 16.
[22] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 12.
[23] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 16.
[24] USSR and Arab countries, p. 65.
[25] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 22.
[26] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 61.
[27] Essays on the history of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. T. II. M., 2002, p. 153.
[28] Documents of the USSR foreign policy. T. XI, p. 704.
[29] See: Gusterin P. Plenipotentiary Nazir Tyuryakulov // Asia and Africa today. 2011, No. 11.
[30] AVPRF. F. 88, op. 1, p. 1, d. 1, l. 115.
[31] Ie Yemeni government.
[32] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 50.
[33] USSR and Arab countries, p. 66, 67, 75.
[34] Ibid., P. 69.
[35] Aden was a British colony at the time.
[36] The Bab el-Mandeb Strait at that time was controlled by the UK.
[37] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 50.
[38] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 78.
[39] The Newest History of Yemen, p. 20 – 21.
[40] AVPRF. F. 88, op. 1, p. 1, d. 1, l. 230.
[41] AVPRF. F. 88, op. 1, p. 1, d. 1, l. 57.
[42] AVPRF. F. 88, op. 1, p. 1, d. 1, l. 3.
[43] Gorbatov OM, Cherkassky L.Ya. Cooperation of the USSR with the countries of the Arab East and Africa. M., 1980, p. 39.
[44] USSR Foreign Trade in 1918 – 1940 M., 1960, p. 874 – 875.
[45] Ibid., P. 875.
[46] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 15.
[47] Documents of the USSR foreign policy. T. XI, p. 562.
[48] Ankarin G. According to Yemen. M., 1931, p. 261.
[49] Ioffe A.E. The first Soviet contacts with Arab and African countries // Peoples of Asia and Africa. 1965, No. 6, p. 61.
[50] The export-import office of the Gostorg trading in trade with Turkey and the Middle East.
[51] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 48.
[52] “Instance” in the Soviet interdepartmental correspondence was called the Politburo.
[53] AVPRF. F. 08, op. 12, p. 77, d. 99, l. 58.
[54] Arabia at the end of 20's: the successes of Ibn Saud’s centralization mission (according to Russian diplomatic archives.). - In book: Naumkin V.V. Islam and Muslims. M., 2008, p. 189.
[55] See: Gusterin P.V. Soviet intelligence in the Middle East in the 1920 – 30-s. Saarbrücken, 2014.
[56] AVPRF. F. 88, op. 1, p. 1, d. 1, l. 198.
[57] Wenner M.-W. Modern Yemen (1918 – 1966). Baltimore, 1967, p. 155.
[58] See: Gusterin P. Soviet-Egyptian relations in 1920 – 1930's // Questions of history. 2013, No. 3.
[59] Diplomatic relations between the USSR and Yemen were fully established on October 31 1955.
[60] USSR and Arab countries, p. 66 – 67.
[61] Ibid., P. 69.
[62] Documents of the USSR foreign policy. T. XII, p. 61.
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  1. Bersaglieri
    Bersaglieri 27 December 2015 15: 26 New
    Very interesting stuff. thank
    1. Pavel Gusterin
      20 October 2019 09: 06 New
      You are welcome!