Saudi-Yemeni Territorial Sovereignty Disputes Over 'Asir, Jizan, Najran and the Rub' Al-Khali Desert Frontier : Legal Analysis of Some Aspects of Former Claims and the Final Settlement Under the 2000 Treaty of Jeddah
Al-Madani, Wael Mohammed Omar
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This thesis is concerned with the former disputes between Saudi Arabia and Yemen over title to the territories of' Asir, Jizan, Najran and the Rub' Al-Khali Desert frontier. Although the disputes were settled by the 2000 Treaty of Jeddah, it was possible right until the conclusion of that agreement that one of the disputing states could have submitted the disputes to arbitration, in which case the legal claims made by each state would have been highly significant. After examining the political and historical background of the disputed territories, the thesis examines three legal phases of the disputes. The first phase of the analysis is to identify the nature of claims: were they title or boundary claims or a combination of the two. The analysis shows that the two states asserted claims of both a title and a boundary nature, although the focus of this thesis is primarily on the title claims. It appears from the analysis that the title claims fall into two categories: claims related to international treaties and claims based on title acquisition modes. The second legal phase of the analysis will therefore concentrate on claims related to the two treaties that were pertinent to the disputes: the 1914 Anglo-Turkish Convention and the 1934 Treaty of Taif. The first treaty arguably delimited a boundary line, the 'Violet Line', located in the Rub' Al-Khali Desert. However, this purported delimitation was the subject of a series of claims and counter-claims between Saudi Arabia and Britain from 1934, until southern Yemen's independence in 1967, which put into doubt the continuing validity of the delimitation. This phase of the analysis considers arguments of Saudi succession to the treaty and the validity of the conclusion of the 1914 Convention by the Ottoman Empire. The second relevant treaty was the 1934 Treaty of Taif which was concluded by Saudi Arabia and northern Yemen following a short war, the two states having failed to settle title claims to 'Asir, Jizan and Najran through negotiations. Under the 1934 Treaty, Yemen renounced former title claims to these provinces, which she had formerly raised during the 1927-1934 negotiations. She also agreed with Saudi Arabia on a boundary line. However, from the mid-late 1970s, Yemen resumed its former title claims on various grounds, including the invalidity or termination of the 1934 Treaty. These claims will also be considered in the second phase of the analysis. The third phase of the analysis considers various arguments based on title acquisition/loss modes recognised by international law, such as cession, conquest, and prescription. It seeks to determine which of the two states had stronger claims to title to the disputed territories. Finally, the settlement in the 2000 Treaty of Jeddah is examined and it is asked to what extent the two states respected or ignored their former legal claims in the political settlement. It will also discuss any problems arising from the application of the 2000 Treaty.