Yemen History

By | October 14, 2021


The “spice route” made famous in ancient times a state that had its center in present-day Yemen, the kingdom of Saba (1st millennium BC). The Sabeans took over in the century. I a. C. the Himiarites, who ruled Yemen until 525 AD. C., when they were defeated by the Ethiopians. Yemen, which at the end of the century. VI was a Persian satrapy, adopted Islam around 630. The wars of religion ignited among the Muslims at the time of the fourth caliphate also had repercussions in Yemen, whose western plains saw the Sunnis prevail, while in the eastern mountains they prevailed. the Zaidites, a branch of Shiism. In the sec. IX an imām zaidita founded the dynasty which, with some interruptions after becoming a tributary of the Turks in the century. XV (but actually controlled by them only towards the end of the nineteenth century), reigned over North Yemen until 1962, when it gained independence from the Ottoman Empire. From 1839 the British Empire occupied the port of Aden and other southern territories: this part of the country remained an English colony until 1967. Below is a separate discussion of the different historical evolution of the northern and southern territories of Yemen, reunified only in the 1990.


In 1911, according to aceinland, a revolt of the imām Yaḥyā forced the Ottomans to grant him a large autonomy. With the Turks withdrawn in November 1918, the northern part of Yemen regained its patency and Imām Yaḥyā Hamid-ad-Din was proclaimed king, but his attempts to expand his area of ​​influence failed. In 1934 the country was defeated in a blitzkrieg against Saudi Arabia and had to resign itself to acknowledging the loss of Asir. During the Second World War the country remained neutral; in 1945 he was among the founders of the Arab League and two years later he joined the United Nations. In 1948 Yaḥyā was killed following an insurrection and his successor, Aḥmed, joined with Egypt and Syria to the United Arab Republic (1958), which in fact remained on paper. In 1962 a military revolution deprived Imām Muḥammad el-Badr of power, who had succeeded his father Aḥmed a few days earlier: the Arab Republic of Yemen (YAR) was born with Colonel Abdullah al-Sallal at its head. The imām he took refuge in the northeastern mountains and with the decisive help of Saudi Arabia resisted the republican regime, led by Sallal, in turn aided by Egypt, for seven years. In 1970 a coup d’etat brought the moderate al-Iryani to power who in 1972 signed a treaty (Cairo agreement) with the revolutionary government of Marxist-Leninist inspiration of South Yemen for a future reunification of the two states, this policy clashed with the Saudi one. In the summer of 1972 the situation seemed to get worse and there were numerous accidents. The intervention of the Arab League prevented the two states from confronting each other on the terrain of open warfare. In 1974, the pro-Saudi colonel Ibrahim el-Hamidi took power by creating the Armed Forces Command Council chaired by his brother Moḥamed el-Hamidi. In 1977 it was agreed to unify the diplomatic representations of the two countries, but the assassination first of President el-Hamidi and his brother and his successor al-Ghashmi (1978) then, in which South Yemeni responsibilities were recognized, exacerbated the tension between the two countries. Nevertheless, the unification talks continued with the new president ʽAlī ʽAbdallāh Saleh, elected in 1978 and reconfirmed in 1983 and 1988 when the population was called for the first time to political elections.


The history of South Yemen separates from that of the Northern regions starting from 1839, that is the year in which the British occupied Aden, a small port of 500 residents, with the aim of making it a link in the Great Britain- Indie. The opening of the Suez Canal (1869) considerably increased the importance of Aden. To protect the port, London entered into negotiations at the end of the nineteenth century with the tribal chiefs of the surrounding area: in addition to the colony of Aden, a western protectorate, which counted eighteen sultanates, and an eastern protectorate (Hadhramaut), consisting of four sultanates. Since the territories of the Western protectorate were claimed by North Yemen, relations between Sanʽā and London were always tense, especially in the years between 1920 and 1934. In 1959, a Federation of Southern Arab Emirates was established under British pressure., which, however, did not succeed in gathering the adhesion of all the sultanates of the two protectorates. Furthermore, Aden, not at all eager to allow herself to be encapsulated in a structure dominated by the emirs, was alone seeking the way to independence. In November 1967 the British left the country: the new government was formed by the National Liberation Front (FLN), an organization that had prevailed over the rivals of the Occupied Southern Yemen Liberation Front (FLOSY), the latter were supported by Cairo and Damascus and aimed at creating a unified Yemen. In June 1969 the FLN took power: foreign companies were nationalized, agrarian reform was carried out, a socialist constitution was passed (1970) and the country took on the name of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. The exodus of more than 300,000 South Yemenis to North Yemen exacerbated the tension between the two states. Armed clashes, always on the verge of open war, pushed the Arab League to mediate and led to the Cairo agreement (1972) for the unification of the two Yemen. In 1976 the country had to endure a conflict with Oman for the aid given to the Popular Front for the liberation of that country. In 1978, following the The assassination of North Yemeni president al-Ghashmi, in which elements of South Yemen appeared to be involved, flared up the conflict between the two Yemen. South Yemeni President Salem ʽAlī Rabie was dismissed and killed. He replaced him as head of state ad interim ʽAlī Nasser Moḥammed (elected in 1980), who resumed the negotiations for the unification and if, on the one hand, further strengthened the ties with the USSR which opened a military base near Aden, there was no lack of other, to reconnect with the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula, Saudi Arabia and Oman. In January 1986 the hard wing of the regime, with the support of the Soviets, however, unleashed a revolt that ended with the defeat of ʽAlī Nasser and the victory of Haidar Abu Baḳr al-Aṭṭās.

Yemen History