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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Alleged Al Qaeda Threat Defused by Yemeni Security.

HISTORY IN THE NEWS


Dedicated to the background of contemporary events around the world. 


YEMEN



IN BRIEF: Al Qaeda has never accepted modern, European-brokered borders in the Middle East, least of all the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, it does not recognize Saudi Arabia or Yemen themselves, but only the Arabian Peninsula- probably as it was in 650 AD when the Muslims took Yemen.

IN THE NEWS.  IT WAS A CONVERSATION OVERHEARD BETWEEN AL QAEDA LEADER LEADER AYMAN AL ZAWAHIRI AND THE LEADER OF AL QAEDA IN THE ARABIAN PENINSULA, NASIR IL-WIHAYSHI. THAT WAS HOW U.S INTELLIGENCE CONFIRMED THAT THAT AQAP WAS PLANNING A MAJOR OPERATION IN YEMEN. AS A PRECAUTION MANY COUNTRIES, ESPECIALLY THE US, HAVE CLOSED THEIR EMBASSIES THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE REGION. THE YEMENI GOVERNMENT CLAIMS IT HAS FOILED THE AQAP ATTACKS INTENDED FOR SANAA, YEMENI OIL PIPELINES, AND THE SOUTHERN OIL PORT OF MUKALLAH. SOME SOURCES BELIEVE THE REPORTS MAY ONLY HAVE BEEN AN AQAP DIVERSION. OTHERS SUGGEST IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN A PROPAGANDA COUP BY THE EMBATTLED  U.S. SECURITY AGENCY, THE NSA.

THE FACTS.

-Al Qaeda, unlike some terror groups, is struggling not for concessions but for mastery of territory, particularly strategic regions- much like a national army.

-The Arabian Peninsula is the heart and birth place of Islam. The foremost of Al Qaeda's goals has been to liberate the peninsula from rule by a decadent Saudi Arabian Monarchy.

-the independent nation of Yemen lies at the southwest corner of the Peninsula and its sea port, Aden sits on the straights of Aden at the southern end of the Red Sea. Across the straights is the Horn of Africa, where Al Qaeda  has been attempting to assist in an Islamist takeover of Somalia.




-like the Birtish in the 19th century, AQAP is intensely aware of Yemen's geo-political importance. The straights of Aden run through an Islamic region where Britain once controlled the sea trade and where thousands of oil tankers now pass from the Indian Ocean through the Suez canal to the Mediterranean.



-A Qaeda does not recognize any modern borders in the Middle East, since they where mostly conceived by western nations in colonial times. Hence, for Al Qaeda, Yemen is only a region of the Arabian peninsula which must, like the rest, be returned to the purest form of Islam.

-Yemen has always been inclined to split between north and south, with the stable part being the north where the capital has remained Sanaa. Yemen was most recently unified by former president Saleh.

-it was colonial and post-colonial conflict that split Aden in two, between north and south. The south, the part of the country longest under British rule, has always been the more fractious, unstable and volatile. In the 1960s and 1970s, it embraced the far left. Now it is home to tribal rebellions and Islamist insurgencies. The south is also where AQAP is most steadily at work.

-as is the case with the Taliban in Afghanistan, AQAP wants to govern Yemen as a purist anti-Western Islamic emirate, with all the resources of Yemen's trading ports at its disposal.

-if we need any further proof, AQAP for a time captured and held the southern governorate of Abyan  naming it the Islamic Emirate of Abyan.

-Yemen is not just important to AQAP for its proximity to Islamist operations in the Horn of Africa, but to the entire African Sahel where Al Qaeda groups are also struggling for mastery. Al Qaeda is pondering the the whole region, from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic coast of Africa.




IN HISTORY:
 
1839- British seize Aden and make the Sultan of Lahej into a vassal.



The Amir of Dhala (centre, front row), HH Sultan Abdul Karim Fadhl between him and the British Resident, Sir Stewart Symes, Lahej, 1930.
Courtesy: James Offer


1839- Aden becomes part of the British Empire; the port is needed to secure the passage to India.

1958- -the Sultanate of Lahej forms the Southern Arabian League to oppose Britain and form a south Arabian state including Aden and its territories which would then join Yemen in the United Arab States

1994- July -North Yemeni government forces under President Saleh occupy Aden, force secessionist leaders out of the country and re-unify the country.

2000- October- Al Qaeda bombs the USS Cole, docked in Aden, Yemen. US holds Bin Laden responsible.



RELEVANT DATES for AQAP alert of August 6, 2013.

650- (circa) Yemen falls under rule of Islam.


1650 (circa) Ottomans expelled from Yemen.

-Aden ruled by the Sultanate of Lahej.


The Wahhabi Movement of the 18th Century.


1725 (circa) -In Arabia, Al-Wahhab (1703-1787) founds Muwahidun (unitarian) movement- an attempt to purify Islam of medieval superstition, to stop the translation of Sharia into jurisprudence and to get rid of the cult of saints. The Muwahidun follow the Hanbali school as taught by Tarq al Din ibn Taimiya (qv). Wahhab's oponnents call his followers 'Wahhabis', the name that stuck.

Ibn Saud, Wahhabism and the Origins of the House of Saud


1750 (circa) Arabia- -in alliance with followers of the Saudi chieftain Ibn al Saud, Wahabbis mount a campaign against idolatry, corruption and adultery. On the authority of the Hadith, they ban dancing, music and poetry, silk, gold, ornaments and jewelery.

1798 (crica) -British attempt but fail to take strategic Perim island off the coast of Aden in the Red Sea to ward off Napoleon's ambitions in India.

1803-1814 Saud Ibn Abdul Aziz of the House of Saud tries to spread Wahhabism to the frontiers of Syria and Iraq.

 1838-97- The Persian Afghan- Jamal al-din Afghani helps develop Salafism- an Islamic ideology based on the example of the salaf- the ancestors of early Islam. He promotes the Pan-Islam movement in an attempt to revive a mythical 'pure' Islam free of ethnic and political rivalries.

Aden,Yemen becomes a British Colony.


1839- British seize Aden and make the Sultan of Lahej into a vassal.


1839- Aden becomes part of the British Empire; the port is needed to secure the passage to India.

1994-July - North Yemeni government forces occupy Aden, force secessionist leaders out of the country and re-unify the country



Wahhabi Revival

1902 -Abdul Aziz ibn Abdul Rahman al Saud re-conquers the Najd from the Ottomans, reviviing Wahhabism militarily and politically through the Ikhwan Wahhabist movement. Wahabbis mount new attacks on hypocrites, laxity, non-blievers. The criteria for belief is strict adherecne to the Sharia.

 1930s- House of Saud becomes rich on oil wealth, moderates its belief in Wahhabism; the pogroms against the Shia are stopped; instead the Shia suffer discrimination and marginalization.

1932- the vast desert region whose heart is the Najd bcomes the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

-in Mecca, the Supreme Religious Council continues to be the official head of Wahabbism.

Birth of in Laden.


1957- birth of Osama Bin laden, son of a bricklayer from South Yemen. Bin Laden's father settles in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and becomes a wealthy construction magnate.


Beginning of anti-British National Consciousness in South Yemen.

1958- -the Sultanate of Lahej forms the Southern Arabian League to oppose Britain and form a south Arabian state including Aden and its territories which would then join Yemen in the United Arab States

North Yemen Stabilizes under President Saleh.

1978-Ali Abdallah Saleh is new president of North Yemen. Backs the People's Constituent Assembly. He looks for help from Saudi Arabia and the West despite hostility from tribal leaders which slowed progress within the country.


Uprising against Saudis; beginning of Careers of Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri.

1978- Ayman Zawahiri graduates as as a surgeon from Cairo's University's medical school.

-Bin Laden graduates with a degree in civil engineering from King Abdul Aziz University in Saudi Arabia.

1979- armed uprising against rulers of Saudi Arabia at the Grand Mosque- assisted by Salafis from Kuwait. The young engineering graduate, Bin laden, regards them as true Muslims. Salafis have since become active in Kuwait politics.

Founding of Al Qaeda

Afghanistan- Bin Laden, assisted by Muhammad Atef and Abu Ubaidah al Banshiri, takes over ;the base' renaming Maktab al Khidmat 'Al Qaeda'- 'The Base', with a plan to expand the Soviet Jihad into an international Jihad from headquarters in Peshawar. The prime target is US interests world-wide with Al Qaeda launching its own attacks or sponsoring similar outfits to attack Al Qaeda targets. 


1990- When Iraq invades Kuwait, Bin Laden offers to set up a citizen militia to defend Saudi Arabia but the kingdom rejects his offer.

Bin Laden Repudiates US bases in Saudi Arabia for First Gulf War.

1991 -the US responds to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait by setting up military bases to protect Saudi Arabia's oil fields at Hama. Bin Laden swears to avenge what he sees as US violation and occupation of Saudi Arabia

Al Zawahiri

1994- Al Zawahiri joins Bin Laden in Khartoum Sudan, becomes his mentor. 

 Saleh Re-unifies Yemen by Force.

1994-July - North Yemeni government forces occupy Aden, force secessionist leaders out of the country and re-unify the country.

Sept 28- new constitution establishes Islamic Law as legal basis of country. Saleh elected to a 5 year term as president

Yemen Strengthens Ties with United States.

1998- Nov- in strengthening its ties with the US, Yemen has joint military exercises with US.

 Al Qaeda Bombs USS Cole in Yemen.

2000- October- Al Qaeda bombs the USS Cole, docked in Aden, Yemen. US holds Bin Laden responsible.

Al Qaeda Executes 9/11 Attack on World Trade Towers.

2001- Sept 11- Al Qaeda operatives fly two passenger planes into the twin towers of the World Trade centre in Manhattan, killing about 3,000. A third plane is crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth crashes in a field in Pennsylvania, killing all aboard.

2001- November- President Saleh visits Washington and tells Bush that Yemen will join the fight against terror.

Yemen Cracks down on Al Qaeda.

-US and Yemen agree that mountain homeland of the Bin Ladens is a prime region for terror training camps.

2002- Feb. Yemen expels over 100 Islamic scholars, many of them English and French nationals in a a move against Al Qaeda suspects.
 

Al Qaeda-linked Attacks in Saudi Arabia.

2003- May 12- at least 34 killed in an Al Qaeda attack on foreign luxury compounds in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Al Qaeda Attacks and Hostage Beheading in Saudi Arabia.

2004- May 30- 22 killed by Al Qaeda-linked group in foreigners' compound at Khobar, Saudi Arabia before the compound is stormed by Saudi commandos.

June 18- US hostage Paul Johnson beheaded by Al Qaeda group in Saudi Arabia. Abdul Aziz al Muqin, head of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, killed by security forces.

 Yemen

Sept 29- 2004- A Yemeni court sentences two Al Qaeda operatives, Al-Bashiri and Al Badawi to death for the attack on the USS Cole. Four others get prison sentences.

March-April- widespread attacks against foreign targets and installations in Yemen. US embassy evacuates personnel.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula arises from merger.

2009- Jan-March- the Yemeni and Saudi affiliates of Al Qaeda merge into Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula, presided over by the Yemeni militant Nasir ul-Wuhayshi and facilitated by the Yemen-based US-Muslim preacher, Al Awlaki. The Saudi group had been effectively suppressed by the Saudi government, forcing its members to seek sanctuary in Yemen. It is believed to have several hundred members.

Arrest of Yemen-trained Northwest Airlines 'Underwear Bomber'

2009- Dec 25- Umar Farouk Abdulmatallab, the "Underwear Bomber", arrested for attempting to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253. He had been trained in Yemen by 'Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula."

Bombs Found on US-Bound Yemen Cargo Plane; Yemen Allows US Air Strikes.

2010 October - Global terror alert after packages containing explosives originating in Yemen are intercepted on cargo planes bound for the US.

2010- Dec. Wikileaks: Yemen Allowed US Airstrikes against Al Qaeda.

 US State Department Concerned about Al Qaeda in Yemen.

2011 January - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits to express "urgent concern" at al-Qaeda activities in Yemen.

 Arab Spring Protests Spread to Yemen.

2011- Feb 25- More than 180,000 pro­test­ers take to the cap­it­al, Sana, in the largest pro-demo­cracy demon­stra­tions in Ye­men’s his­tory. More than 150,000 con­vened in oth­er cit­ies and provinces across Ye­men, ac­cord­ing to loc­al news re­ports.

2011- March 2- The pres­id­ent and op­pos­i­tion lead­ers make tent­at­ive plans for re­form, in­clud­ing the pro­vi­sion that Pres­id­ent Ali Ab­dul­lah Saleh will step down by the end of the year.

2011- On 31 March -AQAP declares Abyan governoratwe in southeast Yemen to be an "islamic Emirate" after seizing control of the region

 US Special Forces Kill Osama Bin Laden.

May 1, 2011: Osama Bin Laden, head of Al Qaeda is killed when CIA paramilitaries and a Navy SEAL team attack his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

May 27- Battle of Zinjibar- about 300 Islamic militants attacked and captured the coastal city of Zinjibar (population 20,000).[21] During the takeover of the town, the militants killed seven soldiers, including a colonel, and one civilian

2011- June 15- SANA'A // The US has conducted more than 15 drone attacks in Yemen since the beginning of June, a Yemen defence ministry official said. The increase of such attacks is part of a US strategy to employ more drones to curb what the US believes is a growing terror threat in Yemen, the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. The US plans to begin supplementing US military drones with CIA drones because US officials say the political chaos in Yemen has compromised its efforts to contain terrorists in Yemen, the newspapers (Washington Post, New York Times) reported.
 
 US Assassinates Al Qaeda Preacher Awlaki

2011- Sept- US-born al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki is assassinated by US forces in drone attack.


President Saleh Agrees to Leave Office Under Pressure from UN.

2011 November - President Saleh agrees to hand over power to his deputy, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, who takes office at uncontested presidential elections in February.

2011- Dec 13- Yemeni security forces arrested six “well-known” al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives in Yemen; among the operatives was high-value target and leader of AQAP in al Jawf governorate, Musaed al Barbari. A stockpile of weapons and “training manuals” were found in his possession
 
AQAP Kills 185 Yemeni soldiers in Abyan. 

 2012- March 4- MARCH 4, 2012: AQAP militants stormed an army base in Kod, south of Abyan’s capital, Zinjibar, and then fighting spread to other military posts in the area. The attack began with coordinated SVBIEDs at military posts at Zinjibar’s southern and western entrances, which killed at least seven Yemeni soldiers and wounded 12 others. Overall, over 185 Yemeni soldiers were killed in the assaults. Additionally, over 70 were taken captive by AQAP, and then paraded through the streets of Jaar


2012- May- -An al-Qaeda leader Fahd al-Quso in Yemen wanted over the 2000 bombing of the US warship USS Cole is killed in an unmanned drone attack.

2012- May12-17- Yemini army drives AQAP from Abyan Governorate. 

2012- May 21: AQAP claims responsibility for a suicide bombing at a rehearsal for a military parade in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, killed over 90 people. The blast occurred in al Sab’een Square, near the presidential palace, and may have targeted Yemen’s Minister of Defense, Major General Mohammed

 Yemen Captures Al Qaeda Strongholds.

2012 June - The army recaptures three al-Qaeda strongholds in the south - Shuqra, Zinjibar and Jaar.
Nasser Ahmed. The bomber was disguised as a soldier.

2013- January 31- clashes broke out between Yemeni Army units and suspected militants in al-Maraksha, Abyan Governorate. By February 2 the government forces had successfully pushed the insurgents out of the town, killing 12 of them. At least 5 Yemeni soldiers and local militia members were also killed during the fighting.

2013- - July 17: AQAP confirms the death in a US drone strike of deputy leader Saeed al-Shehri.











YEMEN: 1900-2001 

-North and South Yemen, though unified today, were essentially different regions with different interests dating back to the 19th century with the tribal kingdom of North Yemen and  British-controlled tribal South Yemen with its colony of Aden. Aden and South Yemen, after all, commanded the straits between the Red Sea and the Indian ocean, a vital link between Britain and her Indian and Asian colonies.

This was the situation on the eve of World War One when North Yemen, under the Imam Hamid Yaya al Din, secured relative autonomy under Ottoman rule as a condition for siding with Turkey upon the outreak of hostilities. The Ottomans reinforced their position in Yemen with an elite bigade staffed by German officers. Fears that the latter would be used against the local tribes helped spark the Arab Revolt. In the wake of the Allied defeat of  Turkey, Al Din ruled an independent north Yemen while the British controlled North Yemen's ports including Hodeiba, loosely supervised the tribal south and adminstered Aden directly from the colonial office in India. When British- backed tribes lost the Asir coastal region to the Saudis, the Imam intervened and took back the ports and divided Asir with Saudi Arabia.


Yahya's medieval rule and monopoly on trade and nepotism alienated the merchants of merchants of Aden along with the considerable labour force. 


Though North Yemen and Saudi Arabia remained rivals for control of the Arabian peninsula in the 1930s, the European powers sought to establish hegemony in the region and kept a wary eye on Imam al Din. A border war ensued between the Saudis and Al  Din, ultimately without issue. After securing control over North Yemen by giving Sharia law to the tribes, Al Din attempted to expand his state into a Greater Yemen but his efforts were blocked by the British. Britain continued to repulse Yemeni incursions into Aden using the Royal Air Force. In the 1934, meanwhile, Britain consolidated her rule of South Yemen from Aden by signing a 40 year treaty with Sana'a, the capital. Saudi Arabia, made territorial incursions on North Yemen only to be stopped abruptly by French, British and Italian warships. In the end, North Yemen lost half its territory.

In 1937 Britain tightened its srategic grip on the region by making Aden a Crown Colony ruled directly from London and formally  adminstering the southern tribal areas as a protectorate. North Yemen, accepted support from Italy's Mussolini during  World War Two and became a member of the  Arab league in 1945.

Tensions escalated between north and south in 1948 when Imam Yahya al Din was assassinated by the reform-minded landowner Abdullah al-Wazir. The late iman's son Imam Ahmad Yahya al Din immediately overthrew Wazir and ascended the throne determined to unite north and south in a Greater Yemen. Once again, the British put a stop to North Yemeni expansion and the kingdom fell backward into feudalism. Until 1962, North Yemen, or Yemen proper, remained a theocracy with government ministers married into the royal family and the tribal areas controlled by seizing hostages which were then imprisoned in the capital.

The festering divide between North and South took on regional proportions as Egypt's Nasser and King Saud of Saudi Arabia signed a tripartite pact with North Yemen's King Ahmad. Having secured Egyptian backing,  Yemen attempted to calm its more progressive classes with a dose of Arab nationalism and opposition to the British in Aden by forming a federation with the United Arab Republic. The result brought about gains in the tribal south as part of the army of the Sultanate of Lahej, citing British oppression, defected to the federation in hopes of creating a larger southern bloc to be united in a non-British Southern Arabian League and, once again, isolating the British in Aden. In 1957-59 a brief war broke out between the North and the British. Britain decided to place a military base in Aden in 1958. Publicly, before the UN, Yemen laid claim to Aden. In 1959 Britain retaliated by offering to form a federation of southern sultanates in return for future independence.


Neither tribal north nor British colonial south had the power or the regional backing to attain their designs against the other. Britain knew she was facing the loss of everything in the South except for Aden. Things were no better for King Ahmad in the North as his union with the United Arab Republics disintegrated and he had a falling out with Nasser who found the king far too reactionary. At the Aden Conference of 1962, the British solution was to join the conservative southern sheikdoms with Aden in a single federation of South Arabia much to the fury of a growing secular political left.


The south was now a tinder box with a leftist National Liberation Front violently opposing the British and the conservative tribal Sheiks; and North Yemen sparking border skirmishes in hopes of taking advantage of a divided South. In the North, modernizing elements in the army and among the merchant class plotted to seize control. But it was the North that exploded in civil war when, upon the flight of King Ahmad, General Salel took control in September, 1962, at the head of a coup d'etat. The Middle East itself was nearly split as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and  Yemen's Zaidi border tribes backed escaped members of the fallen monarchy while urban Yemen, the Sunni hill tribes, Syria. Egypt and the United Arab Reublics backed the Republicans. The United States meanwhile, sent observers to Saudi Arabia, fearing instablity in the oil fields.


The civil war continued. President Salel reached out for help, getting training and technical support from Egypt and forming agreements with Moscow and Peking. The large number of Egyptians living in Yemen prompted the formation of pro- and anti-Nasser factions. With all local powers wanting Britain out of South Yemen, the contenders for independence, the leftist National Liberation Front (NLF) and the nationalist Front for the Liberation of South Yemen (FLOSY) become locked in civil war as well.

Salel, looking to profit from chaos in the South, attempted to regain territories lost in the civil war only to fnd himself deprived of crucial support from Nasser who withdrew ignominiously and was now embroiled in the 1967 war with Israel. A royalist coup against Salel fizzled. Compromises were reached with Sunnis, tribes and royalists. But it was not enough. Bereft of Nasser, his major backer, Salel was overthrown in a military coup by Major Abdul Rahmen al Iryani.


In the South, 1967 saw a sea change with a new military regime; and  a victorious NFL in the south ready to negotiate the withdrawal from Britain. But South Yemen's NLF soon split with a Marxist wing pushing for a radicalized program. Though the south, with an urban proletariat in Aden and a congeries of tribal groups, was not properly unified, the Marxists began, in 1968, by imposing Communism on two out of six districts. FLOSY meanwhile, having been ousted by the NFL, had found asylum in North Yemen whence it began launching attacks across the border with backing from Saudi Arabia and local Sheikhs. The NFL then split between Nasserites and Radicals.


A fragile Republican North Yemen subsisted in  1970 with the South consolidating one-party rule by a Marxist council. The council repressed dissident groups and renamed the new state the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen. (PDRY). In 1972 the exiled tribal leaders had been invited by Aden to a meeting in the south where 65 of their Sheiks were apparently assassinated. Border clashes resulted ending with a peace being brokered by the Arab League. In October an agreement was signed to form a unified Yemen with the capital at Sana'a governing on combined principles of Islam and socialism. But restive Saudi tribes and other elements made the union all but impossible. The remainder of the 1970s witnessed continuous instability with major Iryani deposed in the North and two succeeding presidents, Ghashmi and Hamdo assassinated in plots engineered by the South. Promise arose in the North with Ali Abdallah Saleh who backed the idea of a democratic People's Constituent Assembly and to counteract the destabilizing and regressive force of the tribes, he reached out to the West and Saudi Arabia. In a final evolution toward Communism in South Yemen, the NLF was replaced by the Yemen Socialist Party which mirrored the Communist Party of the USSR.The North, meanwhile, mixed conservative tribal politics with socialism as if trying to mediate between the Communist South and and conservative Saudi Arabia to the north.

The spectre of North-South unity re-emerged in 1979, sparking border clashes. Meanwhile, Ali Nasser Muhammed rose to rule South Yemen in a military coup. Across the border, Saleh set up a General People's Congress and signed a propsective unity agreement with South Yemen. As oil production in North Yemen increased in 1984, President Saleh sought contacts with leftists in the South. Two years later the South's president Ali Nasser Mohammed fled the country after an assassination attempt and and Ali Salim Beidh rose to take the presidency. Unity loomed closer as the Soviet Union cut off support for South Yemen.


By the early 1980s, Yemen's isolationism still kept it an archaic society in some respects little different from the 9th century beginnings of the Rasshid dynasty. About half the rural, highland population was made up of Shia living in the mountain hinterlands who accepted the relgious and political authority of the imam. The remainder, living in the coastal lowlands, are Shafi'ite Sunnis.

Yemen's final unification takes place in 1990, two years after Saleh's re-election. The newly united Yemen flexes its muscles by refusing to enter the 1991 Gulf War. But despite a coalition government, there's no easy union between the feudal culture of the North and the new Socialist structures of the South. Ominously, each retains separate broadcasting facilities and armed forces. 
   
Amid mutual recrimination the presidents of North and South- Saleh and Beidh, drift apart with the South claiming political persecution and discimination and by 1994 the two armies face one another across the border. In the end, Beidh is ousted, Saleh declares Yemen one and independent and makes secession illegal. He is instantly challenged from the South by President Bakr al Attas who declares indepndence for South Yemen. In the fall, Saleh unifies the country with armed force and establishes Islamic law before his re-election to a five-year term.


In 1998- unified, fragile and fraying around the edges with tribal disorders, its centre wrought with perennial tensions between north and south, Yemen forges closer ties and holds joint military exercises with the United States. As part of the deal Aden is made available for the refueling of US warships.

A consequence, in the year 2000, is the bombing of the warship the USS Cole killing 17 sailors.  Washington blames the Islamic Army of Aden Abyan, the Yemen branch of Al Qaeda and Yemen joins the US in the hunt for the culprits. Four Yemenis confess to the operation, claiming it was done in solidarity with the Palestinians. After a violent referendum in 2001, Saleh is re-elected with expanded powers while his General People's Congress continues to dominate the south.

In November, 2001, two months after 9/11, President Saleh visits Pesident Bush in Washington declaring he will join Bush's War on Terror.


YEMEN- 900 BC- 1850.

REMOTE BACKGROUND TO THE EVENTS:

In the 9th century BC, the Minean people of south Yemen control a wide-ranging trade network covering most of north Africa and Yemen itself forms the southern heartland of  an advanced civilization in the Arabian peninsula.  Myth makes Yemen the homeland of the Queen of Sheba. The feudal Sabians supplant the Mineans only to be supplanted in  turn by the Himyarites. By 200 BC, the Himyarites are losing control of the Indian Ocean trade to the Mediterranean. Still, they repulse a Roman legion in 24 BC. The third to the seventh centuries AD witness a general waning of the Yemeni trading states.


In 525 AD, the growing strength of the Himyarite Jewish population results in the persecution of Christians. Meanwhile, the Himyarties recover their trading power, controlling commerce in frankincense, myrrh and rare woods between India, China, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. With Byzantine encouragement, Christian Abyssinia in 530 invades the Himyarite Kingdom; the invaders succeed, but fail to capture Mecca. Five years later, Abyssinian control of the Himyartie kingdom falls to the Persian Sassinids under Chosroes I

Islam arrives in Yemen around 650. In the eighth century, the region becomes Shia after Zaid, the great grandson of Ali secedes from the Omayyads in a succession dispute in 740.  Yemen is then ruled by the Zaidi Imam Ali Kasim al-Rassi. By 1000 Yemen is part of the Caliphate of Egypt. Once again the Jews of Yemen appear in the record, this time because of Muslim persecution. In the Middle Ages, the region maintains its commercial prominence with the trade in alum for dying textiles.

After the Ottoman occupation of Yemen in 1517, the British make trading contact, with posts in Aden and regions inland for strategic protection of her maritime commerce with India. But the moutains wall off the hinterland and local rule prevails as the Ottomans are expelled in the 17th century and the Sultanate of Lahej continues rules the south around Aden. Yemen remains a difficult prize. In 1798 the  British attempt and fail to occupy Perim Island off the coast of Aden in a bid to head off Napoleon's threat to the route to India. The Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia attack North Yemen on a campaign of conversion but are unable to make headway. In 1818 Ibrahim of Egypt drives them out on behalf of the Ottomans and restores the Zaidi Imam in exhannge for a subsidy to Constantinople. The Ottomans garrison the main Yemeni ports.

The British succeed in capturing Aden in 1839, making the Sultan of Lahej into a vassal. The new colony of Aden, now protecting Britain's sea route to India, is administered from Bombay.

In 1849, intractable North Yemen, meanwhile, rebels against reoccupation by the Ottomans.To the south, Aden is further tied to European interests when it becomes a feuling station with the opening of the Suez canal in 1869.  The north, under the Imam Yahya Hamid al Din, however, enters the 20th century in 1900 under Ottoman suzerainty. In 1911, on the eve of Wolrd War One,  the Iman leads a rebellion against the Ottomans and obtains joint rule with Constantinople.

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