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I've written about previously the southern region of Yemen, known as South Arabia before 1967 and South Yemen from then until 1990, and its former sultanates and other states in the area. I've explained how Britain's handing over of the area to Communists in 1967 paved the way for the current instability in Yemen which has become fertile ground for Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Furthermore, the current crisis in Yemen has fuelled renewed separatism in the South and revival of regional and tribal sentiments.

This has been manifested in Hadhramaut and Mahra, the easternmost regions of the country whose three sultanates - Qu'aiti, Kathiri and Mahra - did not join the Federation of South Arabia prior to 1967. The handover to Communists was done without any consultation of the people of the area. Not surprisingly, the long-deposed royal families still command some degree of respect from their erstwhile subjects.

Yemen's ongoing Civil War has seen the Iran-backed Houthis fight the Arab-backed Hadi regime, and the UAE has now given backing to the southern separatists.

The most recent news concerning Sultan Ghalib II of Qu'aiti, being visited in his Saudi home by the current governor of Hadhramaut:

And news about Abdullah bin Isa, the claimant to Mahra:

Many of the people of the region see themselves as apart not only from the north of Yemen, but also from the rest of the south. Furthermore, Mahra inhabitants are not satisfied with being lumped in with Hadhramaut either.

A strong case can be made for restorations and independence for the old sultanates in the area. For starters, Hadhramaut has considerable economic potential with oil and gold. Secondly, it has played an important historical role as an ancient land and as a centre of Islam. The spread of the Shafi'i school of Sunni Islam to South-East Asia and East Africa is in fact traced from Hadhramaut, and Hadhrami Arabs make up much of the Arab diaspora in those regions. It is the home of the Ba Alwawi Sufi order, whose sheikhs are among many eminent ulama resident throughout the world, not only in Yemen but also resident in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and elsewhere.

Above all else, it could restore stability and provide a bulwark against extremism in the region that both Trump and the Arabs badly need. Furthermore, royal patronage would be beneficial in cultural and religious terms as well as providing stronger links to the West.
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