History of Yemen

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Sabaean inscription addressed to the moon-god Almaqah, mentioning five South Arabian gods, two reigning sovereigns and two governors, 7th century BCE.

Yemen is one of the oldest centers of civilization in the Near East.[1] Its relatively fertile land and adequate rainfall in a moister climate helped sustain a stable population, a feature recognized by the ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy, who described Yemen as Eudaimon Arabia (better known in its Latin translation, Arabia Felix) meaning "fortunate Arabia" or Happy Arabia.

The Nomadic Semites from the Yemeni desert regions (Rub' al Khali and Sayhad) migrated to the North, settling Akkad, later penetrating Mesopotamia,[2] eventually conquering Sumer by 2300 BCE, and assimilating the Amorites of Syria.

Some scholars[who?] believe that Yemen remains the only region in the world that is exclusively Semitic, meaning that Yemen historically did not have any non–Semitic-speaking people. Yemeni Semites derived their Musnad script by the 12th to 8th centuries BCE, which explains why most historians date all of the ancient Yemeni kingdoms to the 12th to 8th centuries BCE.

Between the 12th century BCE and the 6th century CE, it was dominated by six successive civilizations which rivaled each other, or were allied with each other and controlled the lucrative spice trade: M'ain, Qataban, Hadhramaut, Awsan, Saba and Himyarite.[3] Islam arrived in 630[citation needed] CE, and Yemen became part of the Muslim realm.


A Griffon from the royal palace at Shabwa, the capital city of Hadhramaut

According to Arab tradition, the Semites of South Arabia integrated into Qahtan lineage 40 generations before the Qahtani Yemeni tribe of Jurhum adopted Ismail and 80 generations before Adnan was born, in the 23rd century BCE. After the fall of the Northern Semitic cultures, Qahtan revived the Semitic influence in the North through the famous Kahlan (Azd and Lakhm) and other Yemenite tribes migration into the North during the 3rd century CE after the first destruction of the Marib Dam.[4] The Horn of Africa's first Semitic nation, Dʿmt, was a Yemeni settlement.

The Qahtani Semites remained dominant in Yemen from 2300 BCE to 800 BCE, but little is known about this era because the Semites of the South were separated by the vast Arabian desert from Mesopotamian Semites and they lacked any type of script to record their history. However, it is known that they actively traded along the Red Sea coasts. This led to contact with the Phoenicians and from them, the Southern Semites adopted their writing script in 800 BCE and began recording their history.[4]

The Tihama Semitic culture lasted from 1500-1200 BCE. During the late 2nd millennium BCE, a cultural Semitic complex arose in the Tihamah region of Yemen and spread to northern Ethiopia and Eritrea (specifically the Tigray Region, central Eritrea, and coastal areas like Adulis). The Semites of Yemen began settling the Ethiopian highlands. These settlements would reach their climax by the 8th century BCE, eventually giving rise to the Dʿmt and Aksum kingdoms[5]


Ruins of Mahram Bilqis temple near Ma'rib

During the rule of the Sabaeans, 8th century BCE to 275 CE, trade and agriculture flourished generating much wealth and prosperity. The Sabaean kingdom is located in what is now the Aseer region in southwestern Yemen, and its capital, Ma'rib, is located near what is now Yemen's modern capital, Sana'a.[6]

During Sabaean rule, Yemen was called "Arabia Felix" by the Romans who were impressed by its wealth and prosperity. The success of the Kingdom was based on the cultivation and trade of spices and aromatics including frankincense and myrrh. These were exported to the Mediterranean, India, and Abyssinia where they were greatly prized by many cultures, using camels on routes through Arabia, and to India by sea.

During the 8th century BCE, The Sabaens established a colony in northern Ethiopia, building the first Temple in Yeha and introducing the alphabet to the natives [7] Agriculture in Yemen thrived during this time due to an advanced irrigation system which consisted of large water tunnels in mountains, and dams. The most impressive dam, known as the dam of Ma'rib was built ca. 700 BCE, provided irrigation for about 25,000 acres (100 km2) of land[8] and stood for over a millennium, finally collapsing in CE 570 after centuries of neglect.

The Sabaean kingdom, with its capital at Ma'rib where the remains of a large temple can still be seen, thrived for almost 14 centuries. Some have argued that this kingdom was the Sheba described in the Old Testament.

"Bronze man" found in Al Bayda' (ancient Nashqum); 6th-5th century BCE. Louvre Museum.
Bronze lion with a rider made by the Qatabanians circa 75-50 BCE.

The first known inscriptions of the Kingdom of Hadramaut are from the 8th century BCE. It was first referenced by an outside civilization in an Old Sabaic inscription of Karab'il Watar from the early 7th century BCE, in which the King of Hadramaut, Yadail, is mentioned as being one of his allies. When the Minaeans took control of the caravan routes in the 4th century BCE, however, Hadramaut became one of its confederates, probably because of commercial interests. It later became independent and was invaded by the growing kingdom of Himyar toward the end of the first century BC, but it was able to repel the attack. Hadramaut annexed Qataban in the second half of the 2nd century AD, reaching its greatest size. During this period, Hadramaut was continuously at war with Himyar and Saba', and the Sabaean king Sha'irum Awtar was even able to take its capital, Shabwa, in 225. During this period the Kingdom of Aksum began to interfere in South Arabian affairs. King GDRT of Aksum acted by dispatching troops under his son, BYGT, sending them from the western coast to occupy Zafar, the Himyarite capital, as well as from the southern coast against Hadramaut as Sabaean allies. The kingdom of Hadramaut was eventually conquered by the Himyarite king Shammar Yuhar'ish around 300 CE, unifying all of the South Arabian kingdoms.[9]

The ancient Kingdom of Awsan with a capital at Hagar Yahirr in the wadi Markha to the south of the wadi Bayhan is now marked by a tell or artificial mound, which is locally named Hagar Asfal. Once it was one of the most important small kingdoms of South Arabia.

The city, which has its origin in 800 BC, seems to have been destroyed in the 7th century BCE by the king and mukarrib of Saba Karib'il Watar, according to a Sabaean text that reports the victory in terms that attest to its significance for the Sabaeans.

Qataban, which lasted from the 4th century BCE to 200 CE, was one of the ancient Yemeni kingdoms which thrived in the Baihan valley. Like the other Southern Arabian kingdoms it gained great wealth from the trade of frankincense and myrrh incense which were burned at altars. The capital of Qataban was named Timna and was located on the trade route which passed through the other kingdoms of Hadramaut, Saba and Ma'in. The chief deity of the Qatabanians was Amm, or "Uncle" and the people called themselves the "children of Amm".

Kingdom of Ma'in[edit]

Main article: Minaean

During Minaean rule the capital was at Karna (now known as Sadah). Their other important city was Yathill (now known as Baraqish). Other parts of modern Yemen include Qataban and the coastal string of watering stations known as the Hadhramaut. Though Saba' dominated in the earlier period of South Arabian history, Minaic inscriptions are of the same time period as the first Sabaic inscriptions. Note, however, that they pre-date the appearance of the Minaeans themselves, and, hence, are called now more appropriately as "Madhabic" rather than "Minaic". The Minaean Kingdom was centered in northwestern Yemen, with most of its cities laying along the Wadi Madhab. Minaic inscriptions have been found far afield of the Kingdom of Ma'in, as far away as al-'Ula in northwestern Saudi Arabia and even on the island of Delos and in Egypt. It was the first of the South Arabian kingdoms to end, and the Minaic language died around 100 CE.[10]

Kingdom of Himyar[edit]

Statue of Ammaalay, 1st century BC, Yemen
Main article: Himyar

In the 1st century BCE the Himyarites had united most of Southwestern Arabia after the conquest of Qataban and Saba', controlling the Red Sea as well as the coasts of the Gulf of Aden. In the early 2nd century CE Saba' and Qataban split from the Kingdom of Ḥimyar; yet in a few decades Qataban was conquered by Hadramawt (conquered in its turn by Ḥimyar in the 4th century), whereas Saba' was finally conquered by Ḥimyar in the late 3rd century CE.[11] From their capital city, the Himyarite Kings launched successful military campaigns, and had stretched its domain at times as far east as the Persian Gulf and as far north to the Arabian Desert.

During the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, the South Arabian kingdoms were in continuous conflict with one another. GDRT of Aksum began to interfere in South Arabian affairs, signing an alliance with Saba', and a Himyarite text notes that Hadramaut and Qataban were also all allied against the kingdom. As a result of this, the Kingdom of Aksum was able to capture the Himyarite capital of Zafar in the first quarter of the 3rd century. However, the alliances did not last, and Sha'ir Awtar of Saba' unexpectedly turned on Hadramaut, allying again with Aksum and taking its capital in 225. Himyar then allied with Saba' and invaded the newly taken Aksumite territories, retaking Zafar, which had been under the control of GDRT's son BYGT, and pushing Aksum back into the Tihama.[12][13]

They established their capital at Zafar (now just a small village in the Ibb region) and gradually absorbed the Sabaean kingdom. They traded from the port of al-Mocha on the Red Sea. Dhu Nuwas, a Himyarite king, changed the state religion to Judaism in the beginning of the 6th century and began to make war against the Christians and Ethiopians who took advantage of the unrest. Dhu Nuwas killed over 22,000 Abyssinians and was not defeated until Justinian I sent a fleet to Yemen around 525 [14] The Western coasts of Yemen and part of Hejaz across the shores of Ethiopia became a vassal state while the rest of the country was ruled by various tribal elites [15] in 531, an Ethiopian commander Abraha sent to roman citizen [16] killed the Himyarite Viceroy and declared himself "King of Saba". Kaleb sent two armies that were defeated [16] The country entered a chaotic phase and abraha managed to stay in power by forming alliances with tribes against other. He was challenged with stiff resistance from the Kindah tribe [17] He was able to defeat the kendite chief "Yazid Bin Kabshat" with the help of Banu Hamdan and other Yemeni tribes [18] by 570, a noble Himyarite Jew managed to partly regain the rule of his family with the help of Sassanid Persians The Persians never ruled or annexed Yemen. A lot of modern scholars refer to the contradicting references of tribal elites ruling large portions of the country and believe that the accounts given by Islamic historians was meant to portray Islam as a "liberator" of Arabs [15] As there are no archaeological accounts for the alleged Persian rule.

Medieval history[edit]

The Age of the Caliphs

Islam came to Yemen around 630, during the Islamic prophet Muhammad's lifetime. At that time the Persian governor Badhan was ruling. Thereafter Yemen was ruled as part of Arab-Islamic caliphates, and Yemen became a province in the Islamic empire.

It was only after the arrival of Islam that most of Yemen began to shift to Arabic language.

Yemeni textiles, long recognized for their fine quality, maintained their reputation and were exported for use by the Abbasid elite, including the caliphs themselves. The products of Sana'a and Aden are especially important in the East-West textile trade.

When the Abbasid Caliphate declined in the 9th century, the Yemeni lands fell under various competing regimes. Part of the highland in former North Yemen came under control of Imams of various Zaidi sect, who established a theocratic political structure that survived until modern times. The first Zaidi ruler was Yahya al-Hadi ila'l Haqq, who founded a line of imams, the Rassids in 897. Although he did not create a stable state, his Shiite successors ruled in the northern highlands for most of the period up to the second half of the 20th century.[19]

Nevertheless, Yemen's medieval history is a tangled chronicle of contesting local rulers. The Tihama lowland was governed by the Ziyadid dynasty in 818-1018, first as Abbasid governors and then as independent kings. They were succeeded by the Ethiopian Najahids in 1022-1158. Other dynasties held sway in the southern highlands. The Fatimids of Egypt helped the Isma'ilis maintain dominance in the 11th century through the Sulayhid dynasty, founded and brought to peak by Ali al-Sulayhi between 1047-1063. Ali's daughter-in-law Arwa al-Sulayhi wieled power as ruling queen in 1086-1138. Being one of the few Muslim women rulers in the Arab world, she is praised as virtuous and politically skilled.[20]

Turan-Shah annexed Yemen to the Ayyubid Empire of Saladin in 1174. With this feat, almost the entire Yemen was united under one rule for the first time since the Abbasid heyday. The Rasulid dynasty ruled Yemen, with Zabid as its capital, from 1229 to 1454. Of all the medieval Yemini dynasties, they were the most enduring and prosperous.[21] The sultans of this dynasty were Sunni, as were their successors, the Tahirids. In 1517, the Mamluks of Egypt defeated the Tahirids and annexed Yemen; but in the same year, the Mamluk governor surrendered to the Ottomans. Turkish armies subsequently overran the country after 1538. They were challenged by the Zaidi Imam, Qasim the Great (r.1597–1620), and were expelled from the interior around 1629. The Ottomans retained control of the coastal areas until 1635 when they were forced to leave.

The descendants of Imam Qasim, the Qasimids, subsequently ruled an extensive but highly decentralized realm that also encompassed Hadramawt and Dhofar. Up to the 1720s Yemen was the only exporter of coffee in the world, which gave the imams a financial basis to wield power. However, the territory of the Qasimids began to shrink after 1681, and in 1731 they lost the important port Aden. Although the dignity of imam was not strictly speaking hereditary but depending on personal qualifications, the imams adopted royal trappings by the late 17th century and were usually succeeded by their sons or close kin. Yemen in this period has been characterized as a quasi-state with an inherent conflict between autonomous tribal groups and the Zaidi regime based in Sana'a.[22]

Ottoman influence[edit]

Declining coffee incomes, Wahhabite incursions after 1800, tribal uprisings, and power struggles among the Qasimid descendants, contributed to the decline of the imamic state. After 1849 the Zaidi Imamate collapsed entirely due to the internal divisions. Meanwhile the Ottomans moved south along the west coast of Arabia. Forces of the Egyptian viceroy intervened in northern Yemen in the 1830s, and in 1849 Ottoman troops secured Tihama. In 1872 they eventually took San'a' which they made the Yemeni district capital. The Ottomans were aided by the adoption of modern weapons which they were acquainted with since the Crimean War.

British interests in the area which would later become South Yemen, began to grow when in 1839, British East India Company forces captured the port of Aden, to provide a coaling station for ships en route to India. The British designs in protecting the route to India led to their establishing the Aden Settlement, subordinated to the Bombay Presidency,[23] over the town of Aden and its harbor in 1839.[24][25] The colony gained much political and strategic importance after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the increased traffic on the Red Sea route to India

The Ottomans and the British eventually established a de facto border between north and south Yemen, which was formalized in a treaty in 1904. However the interior boundaries were never clearly established. However the presence of the Ottomans, and to a lesser extent the British, allowed the Zaydi Imamate to rebuild against a common enemy. Guerrilla warfare and banditry erupted into the rebellion of the Zaydi tribes in 1905.

Starting in the latter decades of the 19th century and continuing into the 20th century, Britain signed agreements with local rulers of traditional polities that, together, became known as the Aden Protectorate. The area was divided into numerous sultanates, emirates, and sheikhdoms, and was divided for administrative purposes into the East Aden Protectorate and the West Aden Protectorate. The eastern protectorate consisted of the three Hadhramaut states (Qu'aiti State of Shihr and Mukalla, Kathiri State of Seiyun, Mahra State of Qishn and Socotra) with the remaining states comprising the west.

Ottoman suzerainty was reestablished in northern Yemen in the late 19th century but its control was largely confined to cities, and the Zaidi imam's rule over Upper Yemen was formally recognized. Turkish forces withdrew in 1918, and Imam Yahya Muhammad strengthened his control over northern Yemen creating the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen.

The Aden Settlement became Aden Province in 1932. Finally in 1937 Aden was separated from British India and was transferred to the Colonial Office as a Crown Colony, a status that it retained until 1963.[26]

Modern history[edit]

Mutawakkilite kingdom and southern protectorates[edit]

The old city of Sanaa

The Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen engaged in hostilities with the House of Saud, feuding over Asir. The conflict escalated into a full fledged war in 1934, though it did not result in any territorial changes.

Aden was ruled as part of British India until 1937, when the city of Aden became the Colony of Aden, a crown colony in its own right. The Aden hinterland and Hadhramaut to the east formed the remainder of what would become South Yemen and were not administered directly by Aden but were tied to Britain by treaties of protection. Economic development was largely centred in Aden, and while the city flourished partly due to the discovery of crude oil on the Arabian Peninsula in the 1930s, the states of the Aden Protectorate stagnated.

Yemen became a member of the Arab League in 1945 and the United Nations in 1947.

Imam Yahya died during an unsuccessful coup attempt in 1948 and was succeeded by his son Ahmad. Ahmad bin Yahya's reign was marked by growing economic and political reforms, renewed friction with the United Kingdom over the British presence in the south, and growing pressures to support the Arab nationalist objectives of Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser. He died in September 1962.

The Aden Trade Union Congress (ATUC or TUC) was founded during serious labour disturbances in the Aden Colony in 1956. The Secretary General of the trade union was Abdullah Asnag, a pro-independence Arab nationalist and admirer of Nasser who also advocated union with Yemen. Supported by the UAR the ATUC rose in importance when the political disturbances and the violence reached a head and political parties ceased to function. By 1959 it was the only entity representing nationalist aspirations in Aden and it used its leverage to boycott elections as the main grouping of the People's Union. In November 1960 the ATUC boycotted the Aden municipal elections.[27]

Encouraged by the rhetoric of President Nasser of Egypt against British colonial rule in the Middle East, pressure for the British to leave South Yemen grew. Following Nasser's creation of the United Arab Republic, attempts to incorporate Yemen in turn threatened Aden and the Protectorate. To counter this, the British attempted to unite the various states under its protection and, on 11 February 1959, six of the West Aden Protectorate states formed the Federation of Arab Emirates of the South to which nine other states were subsequently added.

Shortly after assuming power in 1962, Ahmad's son, the Crown Prince Muhammad al-Badr was deposed by coup forces, who took control of Sanaa and created the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR). Egypt assisted the YAR with troops and supplies to combat forces loyal to the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia and Jordan supported Badr's royalist forces to oppose the newly formed republic starting the North Yemen Civil War. Conflict continued periodically until 1967 when Egyptian troops were withdrawn.

During the 1960s, the British sought to incorporate all of the Aden Protectorate territories into the Federation. On 18 January 1963, the Colony of Aden was incorporated against the wishes of much of the city's populace as the State of Aden and the Federation was renamed the Federation of South Arabia. Several more states subsequently joined the Federation and the remaining ones that declined to join, mainly in Hadhramaut, formed the Protectorate of South Arabia.

In 1963 fighting between Egyptian forces and British-led Saudi-financed guerrillas in the Yemen Arab Republic spread to South Arabia with the formation of the National Liberation Front (NLF), who hoped to force the British out of South Arabia. Hostilities started with a grenade attack by the NLF against the British High Commissioner on 10 December 1963, killing one person and injuring fifty, and a state of emergency was declared, becoming known as the Aden Emergency.

In January 1964, the British moved into the Radfan hills in the border region to confront Egyptian-backed guerrillas, later reinforced by the NLF. By October they had largely been suppressed, and the NLF switched to grenade attacks against off-duty military personnel and police officers elsewhere in the Aden Colony.

In 1964, the new British government under Harold Wilson announced their intention to hand over power to the Federation of South Arabia in 1968, but that the British military would remain. In 1964, there were around 280 guerrilla attacks and over 500 in 1965. In 1966 the British Government announced that all British forces would be withdrawn at independence. In response, the security situation deteriorated with the creation of the socialist Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY) which started to attack the NLF in a bid for power, as well as attacking the British.

In January 1967, there were mass riots by NLF and FLOSY supporters in the old Arab quarter of Aden town, which continued until mid February, despite the intervention of British troops. During the period there were many attacks on the troops, and an Aden Airlines Douglas DC-3 plane was destroyed in the air with no survivors. At the same time, the members of FLOSY and the NLF were also killing each other in large numbers.

The temporary closure of the Suez Canal in 1967 effectively negated the last reason that British had kept hold of the colonies in Yemen, and, in the face of uncontrollable violence, they began to withdraw.

On 20 June 1967, there was a mutiny in the Federation of South Arabia Army, which also spread to the police. Order was restored by the British, mainly due to the efforts of the 1st Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, under the command of Lt-Col. Colin Campbell Mitchell.

Nevertheless, deadly guerrilla attacks particularly by the NLF soon resumed against British forces once again, with the British being defeated and driven from Aden by the end of November 1967, earlier than had been planned by British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and without an agreement on the succeeding governance. Their enemies, the NLF, managed to seize power, with Aden itself under NLF control. The Royal Marines, who had been the first British troops to occupy Aden in 1839, were the last to leave. The Federation of South Arabia collapsed and Southern Yemen became independent as the People's Republic of South Yemen. The NLF, with the support of the army, attained total control of the new state after defeating the FLOSY and the states of the former Federation in a drawn out campaign of terror.[citation needed]

Most of the opposing leaders reconciled by 1968, in the aftermath of a final royalist siege of San'a'. In 1970, Saudi Arabia recognized the Yemen Arab Republic and a ceasefire was effected.

A radical (Marxist) wing of the NLF gained power in South Yemen in June 1969.

South and North Yemen[edit]

The NLF changed the name of South Yemen on 1 December 1970 to the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). In the PDRY, all political parties were amalgamated into the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), which became the only legal party. The PDRY established close ties with the Soviet Union, People's Republic of China, Cuba, and radical Palestinians.

The major communist powers assisted in the building of the PDRYs armed forces. Strong support from Moscow resulted in Soviet naval forces gaining access to naval facilities in South Yemen.

Unlike East and West Germany, the two Yemens remained relatively friendly, though relations were often strained. In 1972 it was declared unification would eventually occur.[citation needed]

However, in October 1972 fighting erupted between North Yemen and South Yemen; North Yemen was supplied by Saudi Arabia and South Yemen by the USSR. Fighting was short-lived and the conflict led to the October 28, 1972 Cairo Agreement, which set forth a plan to unify the two countries.[28][29]

Fighting broke out again in February and March 1979, with South Yemen allegedly supplying aid to rebels in the north through the National Democratic Front and crossing the border.[30] Southern forces made it as far as the city of Taizz before withdrawing.[31][32] This conflict was also short-lived.[33]

The war was only stopped by an Arab League intervention. The goal of unity was reaffirmed by the northern and southern heads of state during a summit meeting in Kuwait in March 1979.

What the PDRY government failed to tell the YAR government was that it wished to be the dominant power in any unification, and left wing rebels in North Yemen began to receive extensive funding and arms from South Yemen.

In 1980, PDRY president Abdul Fattah Ismail resigned and went into exile. His successor, Ali Nasir Muhammad, took a less interventionist stance toward both North Yemen and neighbouring Oman. On January 13, 1986, a violent struggle, known as South Yemen Civil War began in Aden between Ali Nasir's supporters and supporters of the returned Ismail, who wanted power back. Fighting lasted for more than a month and resulted in thousands of casualties, Ali Nasir's ouster, and Ismail's death. Some 60,000 people, including the deposed Ali Nasir, fled to the YAR.

Efforts toward unification proceeded from 1988. See also: Aden, Aden Protectorate, Federation of South Arabia, Hadhramaut, and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen

Although the governments of the PDRY and the YAR declared that they approved a future union in 1972, little progress was made toward unification, and relations were often strained.

In May 1988, the YAR and PDRY governments came to an understanding that considerably reduced tensions including agreement to renew discussions concerning unification, to establish a joint oil exploration area along their undefined border, to demilitarize the border, and to allow Yemenis unrestricted border passage on the basis of only a national identification card.

In November 1989, the leaders of the YAR (Ali Abdullah Saleh) and the PDRY (Ali Salim al-Baidh) agreed on a draft unity constitution originally drawn up in 1981.

Unified Yemen[edit]


Further information: Yemenite reunification

The Republic of Yemen (ROY) was declared on 22 May 1990 with Saleh becoming President and al-Baidh Vice President. For the first time in centuries, much of Greater Yemen was politically united. A 30-month transitional period for completing the unification of the two political and economic systems was set. A presidential council was jointly elected by the 26-member YAR advisory council and the 17-member PDRY presidium. The presidential council appointed a Prime Minister, who formed a Cabinet. There was also a 301-seat provisional unified parliament, consisting of 159 members from the north, 111 members from the south, and 31 independent members appointed by the chairman of the council.

A unity constitution was agreed upon in May 1990 and ratified by the populace in May 1991. It affirmed Yemen's commitment to free elections, a multiparty political system, the right to own private property, equality under the law, and respect of basic human rights. Parliamentary elections were held on 27 April 1993. International groups assisted in the organization of the elections and observed actual balloting. The resulting Parliament included 143 GPC, 69 YSP, 63 Islaah (Yemeni grouping for reform, a party composed of various tribal and religious groups), six Baathis, three Nasserists, two Al Haq, and 15 independents. The head of Islaah, Paramount Hashid Sheik Abdallah Bin Husayn Al-Ahmar, is the speaker of Parliament.

In late 1991 through early 1992, deteriorating economic conditions led to significant domestic unrest, including several riots. Legislative elections were nonetheless held in early 1993, and in May the two former ruling parties, the GPC and the YSP, merged to create a single political party with an overall majority in the new House of Representatives. In August Vice President al Baydh exiled himself voluntarily to Aden, and the country’s general security situation deteriorated as political rivals settled scores and tribal elements took advantage of the widespread unrest. In January 1994, representatives of the main political parties signed a document of pledge and accord in Amman, Jordan, that was designed to resolve the ongoing crisis. Despite this, clashes intensified until civil war broke out in early May 1994.

1994 Civil War[edit]

Almost all of the actual fighting in the 1994 civil war occurred in the southern part of the country despite air and missile attacks against cities and major installations in the north. Southerners sought support from neighboring states and received billions of dollars of equipment and financial assistance, mostly from Saudi Arabia, which felt threatened by a united Yemen. The United States strongly supported Yemeni unity, but repeatedly called for a cease-fire and a return to the negotiating table. Various attempts, including by a UN special envoy, were unsuccessful to effect a cease-fire.

Southern leaders declared secession and the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Yemen (DRY) on 21 May 1994, but the DRY was not recognized by the international community. Ali Nasir Muhammad supporters greatly assisted military operations against the secessionists and Aden was captured on 7 July 1994. Other resistance quickly collapsed and thousands of southern leaders and military went into exile. Early during the fighting, President Ali Abdallah Salih announced a general amnesty which applied to everyone except a list of 16 persons. Most southerners returned to Yemen after a short exile.

An armed opposition was announced from Saudi Arabia, but no significant incidents within Yemen materialized. The government prepared legal cases against four southern leaders--Ali Salim al-Baidh, Haydar Abu Bakr Al-Attas, Abd Al-Rahman Ali Al-Jifri, and Salih Munassar Al-Siyali—for misappropriation of official funds. Others on the list of 16 were told informally they could return to take advantage of the amnesty, but most remained outside Yemen. Although many of Ali Nasir Muhammad's followers were appointed to senior governmental positions (including Vice President, Chief of Staff, and Governor of Aden), Ali Nasir Muhammad himself remained abroad in Syria.

In the aftermath of the civil war, YSP leaders within Yemen reorganized the party and elected a new politburo in July 1994. However, the party remained disheartened and without its former influence. Islaah held a party convention in September 1994. The GPC did the same in June 1995.

In 1994, amendments to the unity constitution eliminated the presidential council. President Ali Abdallah Saleh was elected by Parliament on 1 October 1994 to a 5-year term. The constitution provides that henceforth the President will be elected by popular vote from at least two candidates selected by the legislature. Yemen held its first direct presidential elections in September 1999, electing President Ali Abdallah Salih to a 5-year term in what were generally considered free and fair elections. Yemen held its second multiparty parliamentary elections in April 1997.

Constitutional amendments adopted in the summer of 2000 extended the presidential term by 2 years, creating a 7-year presidential term. The constitution provides that henceforth the president will be elected by popular vote from at least two candidates selected by the legislature. The amendments also extended the parliamentary term of office to a 6-year term, with the next elections supposed to take place in 2012. On February 20, 2001, a new constitutional amendment created a bicameral legislature consisting of a Shura Council (111 seats; members appointed by the president) and a House of Representatives (301 seats; members elected by popular vote). In April 2003, the third multiparty parliamentary elections were held with improvements in voter registration for both men and women and in a generally free and fair atmosphere. Two women were elected. In September 2006, citizens re-elected President Saleh to a second term in a generally open and competitive election, although there were multiple problems with the voting process and use of state resources on behalf of the ruling party.

Destabilization and insurgency campaigns[edit]

In the 2000s the government has been fighting numerous rebel groups, such as the one led by Hussein al-Houthi's Zaydi movement Shabab al-Mu'mineen, "The Young Believers". In 2009, armed insurgency also resumed in southern Yemen, led by South Yemen Movement successors.

Protesters in Sana'a on 3 February.

The 2011 Yemeni protests followed the initial stages of the Arab Spring and began simultaneously with the Egyptian Revolution. The protests were initially against unemployment, economic conditions and corruption, as well as against the government's proposals to modify the constitution of Yemen. The protestors' demands then escalated to calls for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign.

The situation however quickly deteriorated into a widescale uprising, with various insurgency campaigns consolidating into an armed tribal struggles, both between the armed opposition and terror groups vs. the government and among themselves. Despite the assassination attempt on Saleh, and the eventually signed Saudi brockered agreement on Saleh's resignation the conflict kept inflicting casualties nationwide in late 2011.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Arabian Peninsula, 1000 B.C.–1 A.D. | Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  2. ^ The Akkadians
  3. ^ Arabian Peninsula, 2000–1000 B.C. | Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  4. ^ a b The Arab History Enyclopedia
  5. ^ Fattovich, Rodolfo "The Near East and eastern Africa: their interaction", in Vogel, J.O. ed., "Encyclopedia of precolonial Africa." AltaMira Press, Walnut Creek, 1997, pps.479–484.
  6. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20071112054008/http://www.iraqandiraqis.com/Arab+history.htm
  7. ^ The Journal of African History / Volume 6 / Issue 01 / March 1965, pp 1-13
  8. ^ Culture of Yemen - History and ethnic relations, Urbanism, architecture, and the use of space
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  10. ^ Nebes, Norbert. "Epigraphic South Arabian", Encyclopaedia: D-Happ.334; Leonid Kogan and Andrey Korotayev: Sayhadic Languages (Epigraphic South Arabian) // Semitic Languages. London: Routledge, 1997, p. 157-183.
  11. ^ Korotayev A. Pre-Islamic Yemen. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 1996.
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  13. ^ Munro-Hay, Aksum, pp.72.
  14. ^ SS Aretas and the Martyrs of Najran, and St Elsebann (523)", Alban Butler, p.169.
  15. ^ a b Jawad Ali, The Detailed History of Arabs before Islam volume 2 p.609
  16. ^ a b History of the Wars, Books I and II (Persian Wars) By Procopius p.62
  17. ^ F. Praetorius, Bemerkungen zur den beiden grossenInschriften vom Dammbruch zu Marib, in ZDMG, 1899, 5, 15
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  25. ^ ʻAmrī, Muḥsin ibn Aḥmad Ḥarrāzī; Ḥusayn ʻAbd Allāh (1986) Fatrat al-fawḍá wa-ʻawdat al-Atrāk ilá Ṣanʻāʼ : al-sifr al-thānī min tārīkh al-Ḥarrāzī (Riyāḍ al-rayāḥīn) 1276-1289 H/1859-1872 M Dār al-Fikr, Dimashq 9الحرازي، محسن ابن أجمد. تحقيق ودراسة حسين عبد الله العمري. عمري، حسين عبد الله. فترة الفوضى وعودة الأتراك الى صنعاء : السفر الثاني من تاريخ الحرازي (رياض الرياحين) ٦٧٢١-٩٨٢١ ه/٩٥٨١-٢٧٨١ م دار الفكر ؛ دار الحكمة اليمانية،
  26. ^ James Onley, The Raj Reconsidered: British India’s Informal Empire and Spheres of Influence in Asia and Africa (2009)
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  28. ^ CIA Study on Yemeni Unification
  29. ^ Gause, Gregory, Saudi-Yemeni relations: domestic structures and foreign influence, Columbia University Press, 1990, page 98
  30. ^ Hermann, Richard, Perceptions and behavior in Soviet foreign policy, University of Pittsburgh Pre, 1985, page 152
  31. ^ Hoagland, Edward, Balancing Acts,Globe Pequot, 1999, page 218
  32. ^ Interview with Al-Hamdani Middle East Research and Information Reports, February 1985
  33. ^ Burrowes, Robert, Middle East dilemma: the politics and economics of Arab integration, Columbia University Press, 1999, pages 187 to 210


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