In the pre-Islamic era, there was a highly developed civilisation on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula. In addition to irrigated agriculture, trade (including incense) contributed to the great wealth in this region. The authority in this area alternated between a large number of small and large principalities. The first contacts with Europe were established with the arrival of Portuguese traders in the 17th century. Soon, Dutch and British ships also found their way to the trading cities of Mocha and Aden to buy coffee and textiles. Eventually, the British presence in southern Yemen and Ottoman rule over the north would lead to the emergence of the two areas' separate identities.
South and North Yemen
South Yemen was of strategic importance to the British on the trade route with India. After a period in which Britain mainly played a protectionist role, the port of Aden was conquered in 1839 and British influence gradually increased. A series of nationalist uprisings brought British rule to an end in 1967 and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) was proclaimed in 1969. After two armed conflicts with North Yemen (1972 and 1979) and fighting between various Marxist factions in Aden, the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP) came to power in 1979. After further violent unrest and an economic recession, the YSP began pushing for unification with the north in the mid-1980s.
For centuries, northern Yemen had a conservative Islamic form of government in which Shi'ite imams ruled as national rulers. Between 1919 and 1962, North Yemen was a kingdom. However, a coup d'état by reformist young officers put an end to this. The period that followed was characterised by fighting between royalists, conservative religious groups and republicans. In 1978, republicans gained the upper hand and Ali Abdullah Saleh was appointed president of the Yemeni Arab Republic. After consolidating his position of power, he became interested in the reunification of Yemen.
In May 1990, North and South Yemen merged into the Republic of Yemen under the leadership of Saleh. After unification, the country faced a difficult process of nation building. It was also punished economically by the international community for its conduct during the First Gulf War. Yemen sat on the UN Security Council as a temporary member and abstained on Security Resolution 687, in which the international community condemned Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. During the 2003 Gulf War, Yemen chose to join the international community explicitly.
The poor economic situation led to internal unrest and eventually to a brief civil war. The victory of the North prevented the secession envisaged by the South.
In the years 2004 and 2005, there were many clashes with supporters of the cleric Hussein al-Houthi in the north. In September 2006, President Saleh won the elections again. In 2007 and 2008, there were disturbances with supporters of Abdul-Malik al-Houthi in the north. In June 2009, nine foreigners were abducted, the bodies of three of them were found.
In June 2010, al-Qaida supporters attacked the headquarters of the security forces in Aden, killing at least ten people. President Saleh was wounded during rocket fire in June 2011. He was treated in Saudi Arabia and returned in September. He stepped down as president and was succeeded by Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi in February 2012. In 2012 and 2013, several al-Qaeda leaders are eliminated by American drones. In February 2014, a new federative form of state is worked towards as a result of political developments. In September 2014, Houthi rebels take a large part of the capital Sanaa. In February 2015, President Hadi flees to Aden. A coalition led by Saudi Arabia bombs Houthi positions in 2015 and 2016. In April 2016, the UN organises talks between the warring parties. In 2017, there is an outbreak of cholera that kills many civilians.
In April 2019, Yemen's parliament met in Say'un for the first time since the conflict broke out in 2014. In August 2019, violence erupted between Hadi's government and the pro-secessionist Southern Transitional Council (STC) in southern Yemen. In November 2019, Hadi's government and the STC signed a power-sharing agreement to end the fighting between them, and in December 2020 the signatories formed a new cabinet. In 2020 and 2021, fighting on the ground in Yemen continued as the Houthis gained territory and also carried out regular UAV and missile attacks against targets in Saudi Arabia.
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