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History, Civil War and its Aftermath

new southern state, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, Al Mukalla, Beidh, Amran

The successful elections quickly gave way to political turmoil. In August 1993 Vice President al-Beidh withdrew from Sana‘a to Aden and ceased to participate in the political process. This followed his visit to the United States, where he had held talks with Vice President Al Gore, apparently without the consent of President Saleh. From his base at Aden, al-Beidh issued a list of conditions for his return to Sana‘a; the conditions centered on the security of the YSP, which, according to the vice president, had been subject to northern-instigated political violence since unification. al-Beidh also protested what he considered the increasing economic marginalization of the south.

The deadlock persisted into the later months of 1993, despite extensive mediation efforts by representatives from several foreign governments. In January 1994 Yemen’s principal political parties initialed a Document of Pledge and Agreement, designed to end the six-month feud between Yemen’s president and vice president; the document called for a thorough review of the constitution and the country’s economic programs and goals. The document was signed by the two leaders in February, but military clashes occurred almost immediately thereafter. In April Oman and Jordan halted mediation efforts aimed at getting the two sides to adhere to their peace agreement. Later that month, heavy fighting broke out between northern and southern forces at ‘Amran, north of Sana‘a; the fighting signaled the disintegration of the Yemeni union.

Yemen exploded into full-scale civil war in early May 1994. Both sides carried out missile attacks in and around Sana‘a and Aden. On May 21 al-Beidh announced the secession of the South from the Republic of Yemen and the formation of a new southern state, the Democratic Republic of Yemen (DRY). The DRY assembled a political structure similar to that of unified Yemen, and al-Beidh was elected president by a five-member Presidential Council. Meanwhile, Saleh dismissed a number of YSP party members from Yemen’s government in an attempt to remove the influence of al-Beidh.

Fighting continued throughout June 1994, much of it centered around the port cities of Aden and Al Mukalla. Both sides launched attacks on oil installations, and a great deal of infrastructure was damaged or destroyed. Following the failure of a Russian cease-fire agreement, Saleh’s northern forces launched a final drive on Aden and Al Mukalla in early July, ultimately defeating the DRY army. By mid-July all of the former South Yemen was under Saleh’s control.

After the collapse of the DRY, Saleh’s government was faced with the task of rebuilding Yemen’s economy and government. The infrastructure in and around Aden had sustained the most damage, from water systems to oil refineries and communications centers. In July 1994 more than 100 cases of cholera were diagnosed in Aden, due in part to water shortages in the city.

In September 1994 the Yemeni legislature approved a number of major reforms to the country’s 1991 unification constitution. Saleh was formally reelected president by the legislature in October, and he appointed Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi as his new vice president. In an attempt to revive the country’s economy, Yemeni leaders made efforts to devise and implement an economic austerity program called for by several international economic agencies; this was achieved with a great deal of difficulty in the spring of 1995.

In February 1995 the governments of Yemen and Saudi Arabia agreed to negotiate a settlement to their long-standing dispute over their shared border. The agreement to negotiate defused a potentially explosive situation, as Yemen and Saudi Arabia had skirmished in the region only a few months before. Five years later, in June 2000, the two countries announced an agreement settling the disputed boundary.

In December 1995 Eritrea, which lies across the Red Sea from Yemen, seized ?anish al Kabir (Greater Hanish Island), strategically located at the mouth of the Red Sea, from Yemeni troops stationed there. At least 12 people were killed in the fighting. Both Yemen and Eritrea claimed the Hanish Islands; Yemeni plans for a resort on ?anish al Kabir reportedly sparked the attack. By May 1996 the two countries had reached a truce and agreed to submit the question of sovereignty over the islands to arbitration. In October 1998 the arbitration tribunal ruled that the Hanish Islands belonged to Yemen, and Eritrea withdrew its forces. Both countries accepted the ruling and moved to normalize relations.

In April 1997 President Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) was returned to power in the first parliamentary elections since the 1994 civil war. Many members of the opposition boycotted the elections, alleging unfair tactics by the GPC. International election monitors, however, reported that the elections were mostly fair. In September 1999 Saleh was elected president in the country’s first direct presidential elections.

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