Sultanate of Lahej
Map of the Federation of South Arabia, with Lahej at bottom left
|Historical era||Aden Protectorate|
• Independence from the Zaidi Imamate
• British invasion
Lahej (Arabic: لحج Laḥij), the Sultanate of Lahej (Arabic: سلطنة لحج Salṭanat Laḥij), or, sometimes, the Abdali Sultanate (Arabic: سلطنة العبدلي Salṭanat al-‘Abdalī), was a Sheikdom based in Lahej in Southern Arabia. The Sultanate became self-ruled in 1728 and gained independence in 1740. In 1839, the Sultanate became Aden Protectorate of the British Empire, though nominally the 'Abdali Sultan retained his status. The Aden Protectorate was briefly ruled again by the Ottomans during World War I, but regained by the British and absorbed into Federation of South Arabia in 1963. The 'Abdali dynasty was officially abolished in 1967, with the proclamation of South Yemen.
Lahej was sultanate of the 'Abdali dynasty. In 1740 the 'Abdali sultan became independent. It became independent thanks to the fracturing of the Zaidi State in north Yemen. The Sultanate of Lahej became an independent entity, from 1728 to 1839.
The Sultanate of Lahej lost its independence to the British, after the Royal Navy Aden Expion attack in 1839. The Sultan signed several treaties with the British. The 1863 opening of the Suez Canal caused the formation of the Aden Protectorate.
The sultanate was one of the original "Nine Cantons" that signed individual British protectorate agreements with Great Britain, that in 1869 were joined together to become the Aden Protectorate. The Suez Canal also opened in 1869.
Lahej typically enjoyed good relations with the British, despite the accidental killing of Sultan Fadhl ibn Ali al Abdali by British troops in 1918 who mistook him for an enemy Ottoman Turk soldier. In 1948, the Subayhi tribal area was absorbed into their sultanate.
However, by 1958, Britain was worried that the sultan at the time, Ali bin Abd al Karim al Abdali, an Arab nationalist, would refuse to join the British-sponsored Federation of Arab Emirates of the South, and had him deposed. Lahej ended up joining the Federation and later the Federation of South Arabia in 1963.
In 1967 the new Communist regime expelled the Abdali Sultan. The dynasty of the Sultanate of Lahej was abolished with the founding of the Socialist state of People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (1967–1990).
The Sultans of Lahej had the title of Sultan Lahj.
The Sultanate of Lahej and others surrounding the Port of Aden had economic influence by supporting the important trade economy of the British Empire from South Asia. Early 19th century industrial Britain, with its rapidly expanding economy, needed improved and reliable communication with British India and the East India Company operations.
The 1863 opening of the Suez Canal initiated further British trade protection strategies, securing the port of Adan and surroundings to serve the Red Sea shipping routes using its new canal. The Sultanate was part of an effort of the British Empire to protect the East India Route, the sea route between the Merranean and India, in and through the southern coasts of the Arabian Peninsula.