Yemen History

Yemen History

Early and ancient times

In ancient times, the area of ‚Äč‚Äčtoday’s Yemen was called “Happy Arabia” (Latin: Arabia felix) due to its fertile valleys. The southern Arabian peninsula was shaped by three major cultures: the Mineans, the Sabeans and the Himyarites. The Mineans were around 950 BC. ousted by the Sabeans, who were to shape Yemen for about 14 centuries. Tales of the Queen of Sheba and her visit to King Solomon in the 10th century BC. still refer to the kingdom of the Sabeans. It owed much of its prosperity to the spice trade. Frankincense and myrrh fetched high prices in the ancient world because Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used the fragrances for rituals. Camels transports the spices from India via the so-called “Incense Road” via Mecca to Gaza in Egypt. In addition to the spice trade, the Sabeans also managed to build effective agriculture. The symbol of this was the dam of Marib, a massive weir, which was built around the 8th century BC. was built, was used to irrigate arable land for around 1000 years and its ruins are today considered a wonder of the world. The Himyarites were culturally subordinate to the Sabeans and traded between the port of al-Muza and the Red Sea the Sabeans and traded between the port of al-Muza and the Red Sea.

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With the conquest of Yemen by the Romans, the importance of maritime trade increased. At the same time, the Mediterranean region was Christianized, religious rites and the use of spices decreased. The high cultures that previously existed in the eastern part of the country fell apart and the importance of the states in the highlands declined between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD. to. Judaism and Christianity also prevailed in Yemen from the 4th century and when the constantly maintained dam near Marib broke for the last time in the middle of the 6th century, this became a symbol of the fall of the Sabaean kingdom.


At the beginning of the 7th century, while Mohammed was still alive, the Islamization of Yemen by the Arab caliphs began and a first large mosque was built in AD 8 in 622. beginning Islamic era built in Sana’a al-Jamad.

According to AbbreviationFinder, the Islamization gave rise to imamates in Yemen, of which the Zaidite imamat in particular was of great importance from the end of the 9th century until the 1962 revolution. Centuries of foreign rule followed. From the 12th to the 15th century, Yemen was under Egyptian rule, from the early 16th century it was occupied by the Ottomans for over 100 years, but largely expelled from Yemen by the Zaidite imams in the first half of the 17th century could become.

19th and 20th centuries

In 1839 Great Britain managed to make the south of the country a protectorate. As a naval base, Aden became one of the most important trading stations on the India route and gained additional importance after the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869.

Parallel to the British occupation, the Ottomans returned to Yemen in the mid-19th century and occupied both the Tihama and the area between Sanaa and Taizz. The country was divided into three at the end of the 19th century: Great Britain ruled the south, the Turks the west and the Zaidites the north. After the First World War, Turkish rule ended and northern Yemen became a sovereign monarchy among the Zaidites who isolated the country from a foreign policy perspective. Uprisings and coups in the 1930s and 1940s were followed by a military coup in 1962 that ended the rule of the Zaidites. The Arab Republic of Yemen was proclaimed. A civil war broke out between loyal royalists and Republicans and ended in the late 1960s with the victory of the Republicans.

The south belonged to British India as a protectorate until 1937, in 1947 it became a British crown colony. From 1963 to 1967 followed a short time as the state of Aden. In November 1967, Aden declared independence and Britain withdrew from the country. There followed a brief reign of the resistance movement that had formed in the north after the revolution. However, this was disempowered by the extreme left after a few years. With the founding of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, a Soviet-style communist state emerged in South Yemen, which headed the Yemeni Socialist Party from 1978. In 1980 A. Nassir Muhammed became president, who fled to northern Yemen in the 1986 civil was and was replaced by H. Abu Bakr al-Attas. Yemen was divided into two politically opposite countries, which always led to bloody conflicts.

The military took control of northern Yemen in 1974, and in 1978 Ali Abdullah Saleh became president and initiated democratization of the country. Since the end of the first border was in 1971, unification negotiations have been conducted repeatedly, which led to a coordination and cooperation agreement after a second border conflict in 1981. The consequences of the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in the late 1980s finally paved the way for a concrete reunification plan in Yemen. In 1989, an organizing committee was formed and the following year the union to the Islamic Republic of Yemen, the first president of which Saleh became. Sana was declared the political capital and Aden the economic capital, and in 1991 the population approved a transitional constitution.In fact, a division of north and south was preserved:

The Gulf War in 1991 brought heavy domestic political burdens. Yemen’s pro-Iraqi stance led to the expulsion of almost a million Yemeni migrant workers from Saudi Arabia. Added to this were the changes in the markets in the Eastern Bloc, which resulted in prices being released. In Yemen, this led to high inflation, increased unemployment and domestic disputes. A coalition government sought domestic stabilization from 1993, but was unable to prevent a resistance movement from forming in southern Yemen in 1994 that pushed for the restoration of the Democratic Republic of Yemen but was crushed by government forces. However, the separatists are still active. The fact

In September 1999, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled since 1989, was reelected with an overwhelming majority in the first direct presidential elections in Yemen, as well as in 2006. Since the constitutional amendment approved by a referendum in February 2001, there has been a second approach alongside Parliament with the “Shura Council” Chamber. In early 2001, the Yemenis accepted far-reaching constitutional changes in a referendum. The president’s rights were expanded; in return, regional parliaments were introduced, which, however, had no budgetary rights and were controlled indirectly by the governors appointed by the president. The kidnapping of numerous foreigners in Yemen with the aim of forcing the government to take certain measures at home, reflect the difficulty of the domestic political situation.

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As part of the Arab Spring, protests and demonstrations against President Salih, who had ruled for over 20 years, also started in Yemen at the end of January 2011. Salih was unable to appease the protest movement by refraining from renewed candidacy; as a result, the conflicts between groups loyal to the government and the opposition intensified to armed, civil war-like conflicts. In November 2011, Saleh finally signed a power transfer agreement that cleared the way for the formation of a government of national consensus and early presidential elections. The transition president has been Abed Rabbo Mansur Hadi since February 2012. The “National Dialogue” conference has been meeting with 565 delegates since March 2013.

So far, the interim government has only partially managed to regain full control of the country. Parts of northern Yemen are still de facto under the control of the so-called Houthi rebels. The security situation in the south remains tense. The separatist movement was able to expand its influence there.

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