Yemeni Civil War (1994)

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Yemeni Civil War (1994)
Part of the effects of the Cold War and the Arab Cold War
Map of Yemen
Governorates that had formed the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen in red
Date4 May – 7 July 1994
(2 months and 3 days)

Unionist Yemeni victory


Yemen Yemen

Supported by:
 United States[3]
 Jordan[4]: 85 
 Egypt[4]: 27 
Libya[4]: 86 
 Sudan[4]: 86 
 Iran[4]: 87 
 India[4]: 87 
South Yemen Democratic Republic of Yemen
Supported by:
 Saudi Arabia[5]
 Lebanon[4]: 27 
Iraq[4]: 82 
 Cuba[4]: 86 
 North Korea[4]: 86 
 China[4]: 86 
Commanders and leaders
Ali Abdullah Saleh
Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar
Abdul Majeed al-Zindani
Tariq al-Fadhli[1]

Ali Mohammed Assadi Surrendered

Ali Salem al Beidh Surrendered
Casualties and losses

931 soldiers and civilians killed

5,000 wounded (N. Yemen claim)[8]
6,000 fighters and 513 civilians killed

7,000–10,000 dead[9]

Unknown number of socialist and separatist civilians executed

The Yemeni Civil War of 1994 was a civil war fought between the two Yemeni forces of the pro-union northern and the socialist separatist southern Yemeni states and their supporters. The war resulted in the defeat of the southern armed forces, the reunification of Yemen, and the flight into exile of many Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) leaders and other separatists.


South Yemen had witnessed 2 civil wars that led to regime changes in the 1980s. As a result, serious moves toward reconciliation and unification began. And in December 1989, the president of North Yemen and South Yemen signed a draft constitution and agreed to a one-year timetable for unification.[10]

Approval for the union was overwhelming in the South, but the northern Muslim Brotherhood (Al-Islah) objected due to the new constitutional clause making Islamic law "a principal source of legislation" rather than the sole source. Eventually the YAR's parliament approved the constitution and, the Republic of Yemen (ROY) was declared on 22 May 1990[4]: 12  with Ali Abdullah Saleh becoming president and Ali Salem al Beidh Vice President. Greater Yemen had been politically united for the first time in centuries. Yemen held its first parliamentary elections on April 27, 1993, which confirmed the southerner fears. Former President of South Yemen, Ali Salim Al-Beidh's party (YSP) won only 54 of the 301 parliament seats, while former president of Northern Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh's GPC took 122 seats and a northern Islamist-tribal alliance, Al-Islah, captured 62 seats. Saleh, Beidh, and Attas retained their positions but Al-Islah's influential leader, the Sheikh Abdullah ibn Husayn al-Ahmar of the Hashid tribal confederation, became speaker of the parliament. The former 50–50 split between the GPC and YSP became an uneven three-way partnership.[10]

Relations between Saleh and many Left-wing politicians soured over the next years. The President eventually began to enlist Islamists to weaken his opponents, and allowed them to build up a presence in the country.[2] Jihadists consequently assassinated several Southern communists.[1]

Vice President Ali Salem al Beidh withdrew to Aden in August 1993 and said he would not return to the government until his grievances were addressed. These included northern violence against his Yemeni Socialist Party, as well as the economic marginalization of the south. Negotiations to end the political deadlock dragged on into 1994. The government of Prime Minister Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas, the former PDRY Prime Minister, became ineffective due to political infighting.

An accord between northern and southern leaders was signed in Amman, Jordan on 20 February 1994, but this could not stop the crisis. During these tensions, both the northern and southern armies–which had never integrated–gathered on their respective frontiers.[11]


On 27 April, a major tank battle erupted in Amran, near Sana'a. Both sides accused the other of starting it. On 4 May, the southern air force bombed San'a and other areas in the north; the northern air force responded by bombing Aden. President Saleh declared a 30-day state of emergency, and foreign nationals began evacuating the country.[12] Vice President al-Beidh was officially dismissed. South Yemen also fired Scud missiles into San'a, killing dozens of civilians.[13] Prime Minister Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas was dismissed on May 10 after appealing for outside forces to help end the war.[12]

On 20 May 1994, northern forces claimed to have overrun Al Anad Air Base, one of the key entry points to Aden. Later that day, President Saleh announced a three-day ceasefire for the occasion of the Eid al-Adha Muslim holiday.[14]

Southern leaders seceded and declared the Democratic Republic of Yemen (DRY) on 21 May 1994.[15] Saleh responded by calling on Islamists to support his cause, with several factions coming to the aid of the North.[1]

No international government recognized the DRY. In mid-May, northern forces began a push toward Aden. The key city of Ataq, which allowed access to the country's oil fields, was seized on May 24.[16] The United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 924 calling for an end to the fighting and a cease-fire. A cease-fire was called on 6 June, but lasted only six hours; concurrent talks to end the fighting in Cairo collapsed as well.[12] Northern troops and Jihadist forces led by Tariq al-Fadhli entered Aden on 4 July, factually ending the conflict.[1] Supporters of Ali Nasir Muhammad greatly assisted military operations against the secessionists. After Aden's fall, most resistance quickly collapsed and top southern military and political leaders fled into exile.

In general, the civil war was a short conflict but fiercely fought.[1] 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 neighbouring states and may have received military assistance from Saudi Arabia and Oman, which felt threatened by a united Yemen[4]: 82  The United States repeatedly called for a cease-fire and a return to the negotiating table. Various attempts, including by a UN special envoy and Russia, were unsuccessful to effect a cease-fire.[4]: 87 


President Saleh had control over all of Yemen. A general amnesty was declared, except for 16 southern figures; legal cases against four — Ali Salem al Beidh, Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas, Abd Al-Rahman Ali Al-Jifri, and Salih Munassar Al-Siyali — were prepared, for misappropriation of official funds.

YSP leaders within Yemen reorganized following the civil war and elected a new politburo in July 1994. However, much of its influence had been destroyed in the war. President Ali Abdallah Saleh was elected by Parliament on 1 October 1994 to a 5-year term. However, he remained in office until 2012.

As of 2007, a group called the South Yemen Movement calling for the secession of the south and the re-establishment of an independent southern state has grown in strength across many parts of south Yemen, leading to an increase in tensions and often violent clashes.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Not to be confused with Islamic Jihad of Yemen.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Said 2018, p. 106.
  2. ^ a b Said 2018, p. 105.
  3. ^ Embassy of Yemen - Yemeni-American relations Archived 2015-07-09 at the Wayback Machine, "[In mid-nineties...] Washington demonstrated favorable intentions concerning Yemen. That became evident when the U.S. fully supported the Yemeni unity against the failed Separatist attempt in the summer of 1994."
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Jamal S. al-Suwaidi, ed. (1995). The Yemeni War of 1994: Causes and Consequences. Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research. ISBN 0863563007.
  5. ^ a b Korea Economic Research Institute (South Korea) (27 November 2002). Constitutional Handbook on Korean Unification, Volume 1. 길잡이미디어. p. 703. ISBN 8980312636. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia started to support this secessionist movement until reconciliation with President Salih
  6. ^ Whelan, John (6 August 1999). "Oman in 1994". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2 April 2017. During the Yemeni civil war, from May 5 to July 7, Oman urged other Persian Gulf states to recognize the breakaway southern republic.
  7. ^ a b Al-Muslimi, Farea (5 January 2016). "A History of Missed Opportunities: Yemen and the GCC". Carnegie Middle East Center. Retrieved 2 April 2017. All GCC member states, with the exception of Qatar, would offer financial and political support to the secessionists, although Saleh soon gained the upper hand and won the war.
  8. ^ "Yemen Civil War Caused Almost 6,000 Northern Casualties." Associated Press, July 12, 1994.
  9. ^ "Saleh down plays Yemeni war death toll." AFP, July 12, 1994.
  10. ^ a b "North and South Yemen: Lead-up to the Break-up - WRMEA". Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  11. ^ "Yemen timeline". BBC News. 4 December 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  12. ^ a b c The Middle East and North Africa, 2004, p. 1221
  13. ^ "Five Scuds fired at Yemeni capital as war worsens - The Guardian, 7 April 1994". Archived from the original on 2009-05-06. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
  14. ^ "SOUTH YEMEN FORMALLY QUITS NORTH". Washington Post. 21 May 1994. Retrieved 15 August 2021.
  15. ^ Storrs, dahlia designs - Sarah. "Yemeni Community Association". Archived from the original on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  16. ^ "North Yemeni Troops Seize Oil Field Center; Region Controls Country's Chief Resource | Article from The Washington Post". Archived from the original on 2012-10-25. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
  17. ^ "Policemen killed in south Yemen in clash with rebels". News. UK: BBC. 2010-03-01.

Works cited[edit]

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