Civil War In Yemen | Essay

2235 words (9 pages) Essay in History

25/04/17 History Reference this

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Imam Ahmad bin Yahya, who had inherited the Yemeni throne in 1948, was known as Ahmad the devil, by his enemies. In 1955, Iraq-trained Colonel Ahmad Thalaya led a revolt against him. A group of soldiers under his command surrounded the royal palace of Al Urdhi at Taiz, a fortified stronghold where the Imam lived with his harem, the royal treasure, an arsenal of modern weapons, and a 150 strong palace-guard, and demanded Ahmad’s abdication. Ahmad agreed, but demanded that his son, Imam Badr succeed him. Thalaya refused, preferring the King’s half brother, the Emir Saif el Islam Abdullah, the 48-year-old Foreign Minister. While Abdullah began forming a new government, Ahmad opened the treasury coffers and secretly began buying off the besieging soldiers. After five days, the number of besiegers was reduced from 600 to 40. Ahmad then came out of the palace wielding a long scimitar. He slashed two sentries dead before exchanging the sword for a sub-machine gun and leading his 150 guards onto the roof of the palace to begin a direct attack on the rebels. After they were dead and Thalaya gave up. Abdullah was later reported executed, and Thalaya was publicly decapitated.

In March 1958 Badr arrived in Damascus to tell Nasser of Yemen’s adherence to the UAR. However, Ahmad was to keep his throne and his absolute power, and the arrangement constituted only a close alliance. In 1959 Ahmad went to Rome to treat his arthritis, rheumatism, heart trouble and reportedly drug addiction. This was followed by fights between tribal chieftains, and Badr unsuccessfully tried to buy off the dissidents by promising “reforms”, including the appointment of The Yemen Arab Republic (YAR), (also known as North Yemen or Yemen (Sanaa) , was a country from 1962 to 1990 in the northern part of what is now Yemen. Its capital was at Sanaa. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, northern Yemen became an independent state as the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen. On 27 September 1962, revolutionaries inspired by the Arab nationalist ideology of United Arab Republic (Egyptian) President Gamal Abdul Nasser deposed the newly-crowned King Muhammad al-Badr, took control of Sanaa, and established the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR). This coup marked the beginning of the North Yemen Civil War that pitted YAR troops assisted by the United Arab Republic (Egypt) while Saudi Arabia and Jordan supported Badr’s royalist forces opposing the newly formed republic. Conflict continued periodically until 1967 when Egyptian troops were withdrawn. By 1968, following a final royalist siege of Sanaa, most of the opposing leaders reached a reconciliation and Saudi Arabia recognized the Republic in 1970.

Formation Of South Yemen

British interests in the area which would later become the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) began to grow when on January 19, 1839, British East India Company forces captured the port of Aden, to provide a coaling station for ships en route to India. Aden was ruled as part of British India until 1937, when the city of Aden became the Colony of Aden . The Aden hinterland and Hadhramaut to the east formed the remainder of what would become South Yemen and was not administered directly by Aden but were tied to Britain by treaties of protection with local rulers of traditional polities that, together, became known as the Aden Protectorate . Economic development was largely centred in Aden, and while the city flourished, the states of the Aden Protectorate stagnated.

In 1963, Aden and much of the Protectorate were joined to form the Federation of South Arabia with the remaining states that declined to join, mainly in Hadhramaut, forming the Protectorate of South Arabia . Both of these polities were still tied to Britain with promises of total independence in 1968.

Two nationalist groups, the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY) and the National Front (NF) began an armed struggle on 14 October 1963 against British control and, with the temporary closure of the Suez Canal in 1967, the British began to withdraw. Southern Yemen became independent as the People’s Republic of South Yemen on 30 November 1967, and the NF consolidated its control in the country.

In June 1969, a radical Marxist wing of NF gained power and changed the country’s name on 1 December 1970, to the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen . 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, the People’s Republic of China, Cuba, East Germany, and radical Palestinians.

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

Unlike East and West Germany or North and South Korea, the YAR and its southern neighbour, the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY), also known as South Yemen, remained relatively friendly, though relations were often strained. In 1972 it was declared unification would eventually occur. However, these plans were put on hold in 1979, and war was only prevented 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 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.

The People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen also referred to as Democratic Yemen , South Yemen-South Arabia , or Yemen (Aden) was a socialist republic in the present-day southern and eastern Provinces of Yemen. It united with the Yemen Arab Republic, commonly known as North Yemen on May 22, 1990 to form the current Republic of Yemen.

Yemeni Civil War – 1994

After years of internal conflict, north and south Yemen were finally united in 1990. While progress was made in forming a unified government and constitution, relations were still strained between the north and south. Conflicts within the ruling coalition led to the 1993 self-imposed exile of Vice President Ali Salim Al-Bidh as political rivals settled scores on their own, leading to a deterioration in the security situation. The government continued to operate with Haydar Abu Bakr Al-Attas as prime minister, but its effectiveness was increasingly moot due to the political in-fighting and its efficacy over the country waned.

Reasons For Civil War

The failure to create a single state out of two, along with North Yemen’s heavy-handed and corrupt political rule, caused the southerners to reconsider unification, prompting the 1994 civil war. The routing of southern forces (ironically supported by Saudi Arabia) gave a free hand to the north to simply impose conditions of unification. This coerced unification further consolidated the political economy of corruption in Yemen, as southern lands, enterprises and other resources were confiscated and given to northern elites. Nevertheless, the state also seeks to appease southerners via political representation (seeking always to choose a prime minister from the south) and the distribution of lucrative contracts and other economic benefits.

Opposing factions in two civil wars acquired and employed ballistic missiles with conventional warheads. After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, Afghan rebel factions acquired a number of SCUD missiles, some of which the rebel groups fired at government forces in Kabul in January 1994. The second instance involved the 1994 Yemen civil war. During the spring of 1994, the southern faction launched SCUD missiles against civilians in the northern cities of Sana and Tai’z. None of the strikes in these two cases caused significant damage or casualties or affected the fighting significantly.

Result Of Civil War

Secession of 1994, lasting from May to early July, resulted in the defeat of the southern forces by northern forces and the flight into exile of most of the YSP leaders and their soldiers and other supporters.Southern leaders declared secession and the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Yemen (DRY) on May 21, 1994.DRY was recognized by international community. Ali Nasir Muhammad supporters greatly assisted military operations against the secessionists and Aden was captured on July 7, 1994. Other resistance quickly collapsed and thousands of southern leaders and military went into exile. An armed opposition was announced from Saudi Arabia, but no significant incidents within Yemen materialized.

The short civil war left the YSP in political shambles and left control of the state in united Yemen in the hands of a GPC (General People’s Congress)-Iá¹£lah coalition dominated by President á¹¢aleḥ. Over the next few years, the effort to reorganize politics and to strengthen the voice of the south in Yemen’s political life was hampered in part by the inability of the YSP to resuscitate itself; at the same time, strained relations within the GPC-Iá¹£lah coalition led to increasing dominance by the GPC and to an oppositional stance on Iá¹£laḥ’s part. The political conflict and unrest that accompanied and followed the civil war led to a revival of the power of the security forces and to the curtailment of the freedom of opposition parties, the media, and nongovernmental organizations. Human rights were being violated, but those violations were increasingly protested by groups within Yemen.

Political Settlement After Civil War

The head of Islah, Paramount Hashid Sheik Abdullah Bin Hussein Al-Ahmar, was elected speaker of Parliament. Islah was invited into the ruling coalition, and the presidential council was altered to include one Islah member. Conflicts within the coalition resulted in the self-imposed exile of Vice President Ali Salim Al-Bidh to Aden beginning in August 1993 and a deterioration in the general security situation as political rivals settled scores and tribal elements took advantage of the unsettled situation.

Haydar Abu Bakr Al-Attas (former southern Prime Minister) continued to serve as the ROY Prime Minister, but his government was ineffective due to political infighting. Continuous negotiations between northern and southern leaders resulted in the signing of the document of pledge and accord in Amman, Jordan on February 20, 1994. Despite this, clashes intensified until civil war broke out in early May 1994.

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. 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 in bringing about a cease-fire.

Following the fighting, President Ali Abdullah Saleh promised general amnesty for everyone except for 16 people, and most southerners returned home to Yemen after the brief civil war. The government prepared legal cases against four southern leaders–Ali Salim Al- Bidh, Haydar Abu Bakr Al-Attas, Abd Al-Rahman Ali Al-Jifri, and Salih Munassar Al-Siyali — for misappropriation of official funds. Although informal amnesty was eventually offered to the 16, most refused it, preferring to live outside of Yemen. Abd Al-Rahman Ali Al-Rahman was allowed to return to Yemen in 2006. 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.

Saleh remained as president while a new coalition government was elected that excluded the leading southern party. Muslim extremists began sporadic acts of violence, including kidnapping foreign tourists. These terrorist acts also included the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole while it was anchored in the Yemeni port of Aden and the bombing of the British embassy.

Economic Situation After Civil War

By late 1994 the economy of unified Yemen was in free fall, primarily the result of the loss of remittances and external aid after 1990 and, to a lesser extent, the costs of unification and the War of Secession. Rapidly increasing oil revenues notwithstanding, Yemen had ceased to be economically viable or sustainable. By 1995 it was clear to key leaders in the Ṣaliḥ regime that economic realities required greatly increased foreign investment and aid and that, in turn, these would not be forthcoming without a stabilized and restructured economy and a peaceful external environment.

Measures Adopted To Control Civil War

North Yemen’s heavy-handed and corrupt political rule ,if controlled may not let the conditions so worsed.

Further the consolidated political economy of corruption in Yemen, as southern lands, enterprises and other resources were confiscated and given to northern elites. There should be proper management of resources.

Tribal elements took advantage of the unsettled situation. Instead they should have settle the issues.

The southern faction launched SCUD missiles against civilians in the northern cities. The southern government should have stopped them and had peaceful discussions.

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