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Volume :1 Issue : 2 1975      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

BRITAIN’S OCCUPATION OF ADEN

Auther : Sultan Naji

 

      

      Historians have usually cited the drowning of the British ship “Darya Dawlat” on February 18, 1837, as the major reason behind Britain’s occupation of Aden. The author, a Yemeni historian, discounts this factor and attempts to look for much general political factors behind this invasion.

         The author argues that Britain’s interest in Aden was first precipitated by Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt in 1798 and his further ambitions to reach India. Britain was alarmed and considered two alternative ways of checking this encroachment upon her area of influence: the placement of a military force on Egypt’s eastern coast and the occupation of a strategic post on the Red Sea to watch the French fleet and to protect the Empire’s interests in India.

         Aden falls on the Red Sea route, half way between Bombay and Suez. In addition, it has a deep natural port which could receive and supply ships all year round. These factors, according to the author, made Aden the ideal location, as a military base, for Britain’s control of the Red Sea and for the protection of her Eastern Trade.

         It was only later that Britain started looking around for causes to justify her occupation of Aden. These pretexts came in the form of the drowning of the “Darya Dawlat” and the insult leveled to its captain. Following these two incidents, Britain entered into prolonged negotiations with the Sultan of Aden for the purpose of obtaining his consent to sell Aden or to admit Britain’s possession of it. The talks failed. Britain invaded on January 19, 1839, and, after strong resistance by the local population, Aden was occupied and became the major link, for over a century, between Suez and Bombay.

 

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