Yemeni unification

Yemeni unification took place on May 22, 1990, when the area of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (also known as South Yemen) was united with the Yemen Arab Republic (also known as North Yemen), forming the Republic of Yemen (known as simply Yemen).


Divided Yemen
North Yemen (in orange) and South Yemen (in blue) before 1990.

North Yemen became a state after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in November 1918. Aden, in South Yemen, was administered as part of British India, and in 1937 became a British colony in its own right. The larger part of South Yemen was a British protectorate, effectively under colonial control. In one of the many proxy conflicts of the Cold War, a South Yemeni insurgency (with the support and backing of the Soviet Union) led by two nationalist parties revolted, causing the United Kingdom to first unify the area and in 1967 to withdraw from its former colony.

Following the North Yemen Civil War, the north established a republican government that included tribal representatives. It enjoyed modest oil revenues and remittances from its citizens working in the oil-rich Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Its population in the 1980s was estimated at 12 million as opposed to 3 million in South Yemen.[1]

South Yemen developed as a communist, mostly secular[2] society ruled first by the National Liberation Front, which later morphed into the ruling Yemen Socialist Party. The only avowedly communist nation in the Middle East, South Yemen received significant foreign aid and other assistance from the USSR.[3]

In October 1972, fighting erupted between north and south; North Yemen was supplied by Saudi Arabia while South Yemen was supplied by the USSR. Fighting was short-lived and the conflict led to the October 28, 1972 Cairo Agreement, which set forth a plan to unify the two countries.[4][5]

Fighting broke out again in February and March 1979, with South Yemen allegedly supplying aid to rebels in the north through the National Democratic Front and crossing the border.[6] Southern forces made it as far as the city of Taizz before withdrawing.[7][8] Again, North Yemen was supported by anti-Communist Saudi Arabia and Taiwan (per request by KSA and secretly in the name of Royal Saudi Air Force from 1979 to 1990). This conflict was also short-lived.[9]

In the late 1980s, oil exploration near the border between the two nations, Ma'rib in North Yemen and the Shabwah Governorate in the South, spurred interest in developing agreements to exploit resources there and lift both nations' economies.[10] In May 1988, the two governments came to an understanding that considerably reduced tensions, including agreements to renew discussions concerning unification, to establish a joint oil exploration area along their undefined border, now called the Joint Investment Area, by the Hunt Oil Company and Exxon.[11] The same month, they formed the Yemeni Company for Investment in Mineral and Oil Resources (YCIMOR).[12] In November 1989, Ali Abdullah Saleh of North Yemen and Ali Salim al-Beidh of South Yemen jointly accepted a draft unity constitution originally drawn up in 1981, which included a demilitarized border and border passage by Yemenis on the sole basis of a national identification card, as well as a capital city in Sana'a.


Yemen Unification 1990
Ali Salah raising the Yemeni flag, behind him Ali Salem al Beidh.

The Republic of Yemen was declared on 22 May 1990. Ali Abdullah Saleh of the north became Head of State, and Ali Salim al-Beidh of the south became Head of Government. A 30-month transitional period for completing the unification of the two political and economic systems was set. A presidential council was jointly elected by the 26-member Yemen Arab Republic advisory council and the 17-member People's Democratic Republic of Yemen presidium. The presidential council appointed a Prime Minister, who formed a Cabinet. There was also a 301-seat provisional unified parliament, consisting of 159 members from the north, 111 members from the south, and 31 independent members appointed by the chairman of the council.

A unity constitution was agreed upon in May 1990 and ratified by the populace in May 1991. It affirmed Yemen's commitment to free elections, a multiparty political system, the right to own private property, equality under the law, and respect of basic human rights. Parliamentary elections were held on April 27, 1993. International groups assisted in the organization of the elections and observed actual balloting. The resulting Parliament included 143 General People's Congress, 69 Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), 63 Islah (the nation's largest Islamist party), 6 Ba'athists, 3 Nasserist Unionist People's Organisation, 2 Al Haq, and 15 independents. The new parliament represented the North strongly. The YSP, though it had won the most seats in voting in the less-populated south, was considered a minor part of the new coalition government.[13] The head of Islaah, Abdullah ibn Husayn al-Ahmar, became the speaker of Parliament. Islaah was invited into the ruling coalition, and the presidential council was altered to include one Islaah member.

As a new oil field was brought online in the Hadhramaut Governorate in the south, southerners began to feel that their land, home to the majority of the country's oil reserves, was illegally appropriated as part of a planned conspiracy by the rulers of North Yemen.[14][15][16]

Finally, the newly unified nation faced political crisis when an estimated 800,000 Yemeni nationals and overseas workers were sent home by Saudi Arabia following Yemen's decision not to support Coalition forces in the Gulf War. Remittances from these workers, an important part of the economy, were slashed and many Yemenis were placed in refugee camps while the government decided where to house them and how to re-integrate them into the workforce. The repatriation of these Yemenis immediately increased the nation's population by 7%.[17][18]

Civil War

Conflicts within the coalition resulted in the self-imposed exile of Vice President Ali Salim Al-Beidh 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. Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas, the former Southern Prime Minister continued to serve as the Yemen's 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. Significantly, one of the institutions that had not yet unified was the military arms of both nations.

Southern leaders seceded and established the Democratic Republic of Yemen (DRY) on 21 May 1994, but the new state was not recognized by the international community. Ali Nasir Muhammad, the exiled South Yemen leader, assisted military operations against the secessionists.[19]

Aden was captured on 7 July 1994. Other resistance quickly collapsed and thousands of southern leaders and military went into exile.

In the aftermath of the civil war, Yemeni Socialist Party leaders within Yemen reorganized the party and elected a new politburo in July 1994. However, the party remained disheartened and without its former influence. Islaah held a party convention in September 1994. The General People's Congress did the same in June 1995.

In 1994, amendments to the unity constitution eliminated the presidential council. President Ali Abdallah Saleh was elected by Parliament on 1 October 1994 to a 5-year term. The constitution provided that henceforth the President is to be elected by popular vote from at least two candidates selected by the legislature.


Adopting a Western style governmental system, Yemen held its first direct presidential elections in September 1999, electing President Ali Abdullah Saleh to a 5-year term in what were generally considered free and fair elections. Yemen held its second multiparty parliamentary elections in April 1997. Constitutional amendments adopted in the summer of 2000 extended the presidential term by 2 years, thus moving the next presidential elections to 2006. The amendments also extended the parliamentary term of office to a 6-year term, thus moving elections for these seats to 2003. On 20 February 2001, a new constitutional amendment created a bicameral legislature consisting of a Shura Council (111 seats; members appointed by the president) and a House of Representatives (301 seats; members elected by popular vote). Yemen is now a dominant-party system with the General People's Congress in power.

Friction and troubles continued, elements in the south perceive unfair treatment by the north.[20] This has given birth to a popular movement called the South Yemen Movement which calls for the return of an independent southern state.[21] In 2015, this time as a pawn in the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Yemen again was engulfed in civil war, which continues to this day.


  • The North Yemeni rial and the South Yemeni dinar remained legal tender during a transitional period. In 1991, the dinar was withdrawn from circulation, with 26 rial exchanged for one dinar. In 1993, the first coins were issued for the Republic of Yemen called Yemeni rials.
  • The capital of the Republic of Yemen is North's old capital, Sana'a.
  • The South's "United Republic" became the country's national anthem.
  • September 26 and October 14 are both celebrated as Revolution Day, with the former celebrating the North's revolution against the imams and the latter celebrating the South's revolution against the British Empire.
  • November 30 is celebrated as Independence Day, as it is the day the South gained independence from the British, as opposed to November 1, which was celebrated in the north as Independence Day from the Ottoman Empire.
  • The Republic of Yemen kept the North's United Nations name, Yemen, as opposed to the South's Democratic Yemen.
  • The Republic of Yemen accepts responsibility for all treaties[22] and debts of its predecessors.
  • The Republic of Yemen kept the South's system of Governorates (Muhafazah), and split the North's liwa (provinces) into smaller governorates, leaving the current Governorates of Yemen.
  • The Republic of Yemen uses the North's calling code, +967, as opposed to the South's +969.
  • The Republic of Yemen uses the North's ISO 3166-1 alphabetic codes (alpha-2: YE, alpha-3: YEM), as opposed to the South's (alpha-2: YD, alpha-3: YMD); a new numeric code was assigned for the unified country (887) to replace the old numeric codes (North: 886; South: 720), as is the custom for any merging of countries.

See also


  1. ^ Jonsson, Gabriel, Towards Korean reconciliation: socio-cultural exchanges and cooperation, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006, pages 38-48
  2. ^ Laessing, Ulf, Women of southern Yemen port remember better times Reuters, January 22, 2010
  3. ^ Gart, Murray, South Yemen New Thinking in a Marxist Land, Time, January 09, 1989
  4. ^ CIA Study on Yemeni Unification
  5. ^ Gause, Gregory, Saudi-Yemeni relations: domestic structures and foreign influence, Columbia University Press, 1990, page 98
  6. ^ Hermann, Richard, Perceptions and behavior in Soviet foreign policy, University of Pittsburgh Pre, 1985, page 152
  7. ^ Hoagland, Edward, Balancing Acts, Globe Pequot, 1999, page 218
  8. ^ Interview with Al-Hamdani Middle East Research and Information Reports, February 1985
  9. ^ Burrowes, Robert, Middle East dilemma: the politics and economics of Arab integration, Columbia University Press, 1999, pages 187 to 210
  10. ^ Whitaker, Brian, The Birth of Modern Yemen Archived 2011-01-23 at the Wayback Machine, e-book available at Al-Bab, 1979
  11. ^ CIA, page 3
  12. ^ Ismael, Sharif, Unification in Yemen: Dynamics of Political Integration, Thesis paper written for Wadhamn College, 2001, page 24
  13. ^ Enders, Klaus-Stefan, Republic of Yemen: selected issues, International Monetary Fund Report, 2001
  14. ^ Enders, 2001, page 10
  15. ^ May 2009 speech by former South Yemen President Ali Salim al-Beidh Archived 2012-07-12 at
  16. ^ Enders, Klaus-Stefan, Yemen in the 1990s: from unification to economic reform, International Monetary Fund, 2002, page 4
  17. ^ Foad, Hisham, The Effect of the Gulf War on Migration and Remittances Archived 2012-03-15 at the Wayback Machine, Department of Economics paper, San Diego State University, December 2009
  18. ^ Whitaker, Brian, Pawns of War live in forgotten Yemen camps Archived 2010-11-19 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, repreinted in Al-Bab, 7 January 1993
  19. ^ Hedges, Chris, In Yemen's Civil War, South Fights On, Gloomily, New York Times, May 16, 1994
  20. ^ Haley Edwards, "In south of Yemen, talk of rebellion is rife" in Los Angeles Times (May 18, 2010) at page 3.
  21. ^ "Is South Yemen Preparing to Declare Independence?". Time. 2011-07-08.
  22. ^ In a joint letter to the UN Secretary-General sent just prior to unification, the Ministers of Foreign affairs of North and South Yemen stated that "All treaties and agreements concluded between either the Yemen Arab Republic or the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen and other States and international organizations in accordance with international law which are in force on 22 May 1990 will remain in effect, and international relations existing on 22 May 1990 between the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen and the Yemen Arab Republic and other States will continue."Bühler, Konrad (2001). State Succession and Membership in International Organizations. Martinus Nijhoff Publisher.
1993 Yemeni parliamentary election

Parliamentary elections were held in Yemen on 27 April 1993, the first after Yemeni unification. The General People's Congress emerged as the largest party, winning 123 of the 301 seats. Voter turnout was 84.8%.

Ali Abdullah Saleh

Ali Abdullah Saleh (Arabic: علي عبدالله صالح , ʿAlī ʿAbdullāh Ṣāliḥ; 21 March 1947 – 4 December 2017) was a Yemeni politician who served as the first President of Yemen, from Yemeni unification on 22 May 1990 to his resignation on 25 February 2012, following the Yemeni Revolution. Previously, he had served as President of the Yemen Arab Republic, or North Yemen, from July 1978 to 22 May 1990, after the assassination of President Ahmad al-Ghashmi.Saleh developed deeper ties with Western powers, especially the United States, in the War on Terror. Terrorism may have been used and encouraged by Ali Abdullah Saleh to win Western support and for disruptive politically motivated attacks.In 2011, in the wake of the Arab Spring, which spread across North Africa and the Middle East (including Yemen), Saleh's time in office became more and more untenable until eventually he was ousted as President in 2012. He was succeeded by Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi.

In May 2015, Saleh openly allied with the Houthis (Ansar Allah) during the Yemeni Civil War, in which a protest movement and subsequent insurgency succeeded in capturing Yemen's capital, Sana'a, causing President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi to resign and flee the country. In December 2017, he declared his withdrawal from his coalition with the Houthis and instead sided with his former enemies – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and President Hadi. Accused of treason by the Houthis, he was killed by a Houthi sniper while attempting to flee the capital city of Sana'a amidst the 2017 battle for the city on 4 December 2017.

Dhale Governorate

Dhale (Arabic: الضالع‎ Aḍ-Ḍāliʿ) province is one of the governorates of Yemen that have been created after the announcement of Yemeni unification. The population of the province accounted for (2.4%) of the total population of the Republic, and allocated administratively into (9) districts. Dali city is the centre of the province. Dali is one of the provinces distinctive with agriculture, since most of the population works in the agricultural activity. The most important agricultural crops is coffee. The province land contains some metals, the most important are talc that is used in the manufacture of paper, paint, cosmetics and pesticides. The tourist attractions in the province are vary, the most important are Damt bath, and one of the ancient cities there is Jubn city that is famous for its castle and the historic Mansuria school, built by Tahrien. The province terrain is various and characterized by a relatively mild climate during the days of the year.

Flag of South Yemen

The Flag of South Yemen consisted of a tricolour consisting of the three equal horizontal red, white, and black bands of the Arab Liberation flag with the sky-blue chevron and a red star on the left side of the hoist.

The flag was adopted on 30 November 1967 when South Yemen declared independence from the United Kingdom until the Yemeni unification in 1990. It was used again for a few months in 1994 during the existence of the Democratic Republic of Yemen. Today, the South Yemeni flag is used by the separatist supporters from the Southern Movement and the Southern Transitional Council.

General People's Congress (Yemen)

The General People's Congress (GPC; Arabic: المؤتمر الشعبي العام‎; transliterated: Al-Mo'tamar Ash-Sha'abiy Al-'Aam) is a political party in Yemen. The party is dominated by a nationalist line, and its official ideology is Arab nationalism, seeking Arab unity. In course of the Yemeni Civil War, the party's founder and leader Ali Abdullah Saleh was killed, while the GPC fractured into three factions backing different sides in the conflict.

List of ambassadors of China to Yemen

The Chinese ambassador in Sana'a was the official representative of the government in Beijing to the government of Yemen.

List of ambassadors of Yemen to the United Kingdom

The Yemenite ambassador to the Court of St James's is the official representative of the Government in Aden to the Government of the United Kingdom in London.

List of countries by population in 1989

This is a list of countries by population in 1989, providing an overview of the world population before the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Data is taken from the annual dictionary which appeared in late 1990. While population data is almost exclusively dated 1989, political developments before the summer of 1990 are taken into account, including Yemeni unification and Namibian independence but not German reunification which was finalised only in October.

The numbers given in "Aktuell '91" are fully compatible with the data given by the U.S. Census Bureau, where they can be compared, as the US Census Data refers to modern national borders instead of 1989 borders. Similar remarks apply to 1990 estimates in the List of countries by past and future population which also only apply to modern-day national borders. See also Soviet Census (1989) and 1990 United States Census for comparison.

North Yemen

North Yemen is a name given to the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen (1918–1962) and the Yemen Arab Republic (1962–1990), states that exercised sovereignty over the territory that is now the north-western part of the state of Yemen in southern Arabia.

Neither state ever designated itself as "North Yemen" and the term only came into general use when the Federation of South Arabia gained independence as the People's Republic of South Yemen in 1967 making such a distinction necessary. Prior to 1967, the North was known in short form simply as "Yemen." In 1970, South Yemen changed its name to the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen thus eliminating any directional reference in either of the Yemens' official names but the existence of two Yemens preserved the North Yemen and South Yemen designations in popular parlance. Alternate forms were "Yemen (Sanaa)" for North Yemen and "Yemen (Aden)" for South Yemen after their respective capital cities.

The merger of the two Yemens in 1990 ended the term's association with an independent state but "North Yemen" continues to be used to refer to the area of the former Yemen Arab Republic and its history and, anachronistically, to pre-1967 polities and events (e.g. the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen or the North Yemen Civil War).

Russia–Yemen relations

Russia and Yemen enjoy both warm and friendly relations that goes back to more than a century. Russia has supported both the Yemen Arab Republic and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen on several occasions and established close relations with them. After Yemeni unification, both countries maintain close ties.

South Yemen Civil War

The South Yemen Civil War, colloquially referred to as The Events of '86, or more simply as The Events, was a failed coup d'etat and armed conflict which took place in January 1986 in South Yemen. The civil war developed as a result of ideological and tribal tensions between two factions of the ruling Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), centred on Abdul Fattah Ismail and Ali Nasir Muhammad for the leadership of the YSP. The conflict quickly escalated into a costly civil war that lasted eleven days and resulted in thousands of casualties. Additionally, the conflict resulted in the demise of much of the Yemeni Socialist Party's most experienced leadership cadre, contributing to the country's eventual unification with North Yemen in 1990.

South Yemen at the AFC Asian Cup

South Yemen national football team had only participated in one AFC Asian Cup, during 1976 edition. It was South Yemen's only participation in their history, until Yemeni unification at 1990. After 1990, South and North Yemen were together reunited, but South Yemen was not recognized as predecessor of modern Yemen team.

Syria–Yemen relations

Syria–Yemen relations refers to the current and historical relationship between Syria and Yemen. The two countries generally enjoy good relatIons.

Ulbricht Doctrine

The Ulbricht Doctrine, named after East German leader Walter Ulbricht, was the assertion that normal diplomatic relations between East Germany and West Germany could occur only if both states fully recognised each other's sovereignty. That contrasted with the Hallstein Doctrine, a West German policy which insisted that West Germany was the only legitimate German state.

East Germany gained acceptance of its view from fellow Communist states, such as Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria, which all agreed not to normalise relations with West Germany until it recognised East German sovereignty.

West Germany eventually abandoned its Hallstein Doctrine, instead adopting the policies of Ostpolitik. In December 1972, a Basic Treaty between East and West Germany was signed that reaffirmed two German states as separate entities. The treaty also allowed the exchange of diplomatic missions and the entry of both German states to the United Nations as full members.

Yasin Said Numan

Yasin Said Numan (Arabic: ياسين سعيد نعمان‎; born 1948) is the former General Secretary of the Yemeni Socialist Party from 2005 to 2015.

Numan joined the Yemeni National Front, which later became the Yemeni Socialist Party, when he was 17. In 1986 he became the Prime Minister of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen from February 1986 until Yemeni unification in 1990, under Chairman Haidar Abu Bakr al-Attas, who preceded Numan as Prime Minister. Numan had previously been Minister of Fisheries and Deputy Prime Minister.After the Unification of Yemen Numan became the interim Speaker of Parliament, until the parliamentary election of 1993 when he was replaced by Abdullah ibn Husayn al-Ahmar. He became the General Secretary of the Yemeni Socialist Party in 2005.During the Yemeni Revolution of 2011, Numan was critical of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and supported a plan by the GCC for Saleh to step down. He escaped from an assassination attempt in August 2012, he was one of several Socialist Party politicians targeted during 2012.

Yemen at the 2000 Summer Olympics

Yemen sent a delegation to compete at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia from 15 September to 1 October 2000. This was their third appearance at a Summer Olympic Games as a unified country. The Yemeni delegation consisted of two track and field athletes, Basheer Al-Khewani and Hana Ali Saleh. Neither advanced beyond the first round of their respective events.

Yemen at the Olympics

Yemen has only competed at the Summer Olympic Games, sending athletes to every edition since its first participation in 1992. Before the Yemeni unification in 1990, Yemenite athletes had competed at the Games as early as 1984, representing North Yemen (the Yemen Arab Republic; 1984 and 1988) or South Yemen (People's Democratic Republic of Yemen; 1988). Yemen has not yet won any Olympic medal.

The Yemen Olympic Committee was formed in 1971 and recognized by the International Olympic Committee in 1981.

Yemeni Socialist Party

The Yemeni Socialist Party (Arabic: الحزب الاشتراكي اليمني‎, al-Hizb al-Ishtiraki al-Yamani, YSP) is a political party in Yemen. A successor of Yemen's National Liberation Front, it was the ruling party in South Yemen until Yemeni unification in 1990. Originally Marxist–Leninist, the party has gradually evolved into a democratic socialist opposition party in today's unified Yemen.

Yemeni rial

The rial or riyal is the currency of Yemen. It is technically divided into 100 fils, although coins denominated in fils have not been issued since Yemeni unification.

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