The United States established diplomatic relations with the Imamate in 1946. A resident legation, later elevated to embassy status, was opened in Taiz (the capital at the time) on March 16, 1959and moved to Sanaa in 1966. The United States was one of the first countries to recognize the Yemen Arab Republic, doing so on December19, 1962. A major U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program constructed the Mocha-Taiz-Sanaa highway and the Kennedy memorial water project in Taiz, as well as many smaller projects. On June 6, 1967, the YAR, under Egyptian influence, broke diplomatic relations with the United States in the wake of the Arab-Israeli conflict of that year. Relations were restored following a visit to Sanaa by Secretary of State William P. Rogers in July 1972, and a new USAID agreement was concluded in 1973.
During a 1979 border conflict between the Yemen Arab Republic and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, the United States cooperated with Saudi Arabia to greatly expand the security assistance program to the YAR by providing F-5 aircraft, tanks, vehicles and training. George Bush, while Vice President, visited in April 1986, and President Ali Abdallah Salih visited the United States in January 1990. The United States had a $42 million USAID program in 1990. From 1973 to 1990, the United States provided the YAR with assistance in the agriculture, education, health and water sectors. Many Yemenis were sent on U.S. Government scholarships to study in the region and in the United States. There was a Peace Corps program with about 50 volunteers. The U.S. Information Service operates an English-language institute in Sanaa.
On December 7, 1967, the United States recognized the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen and elevated its Consulate General in Aden to embassy status. However, relations were strained. The PDRY was placed on the list of nations that support terrorism. On October 24, 1969, south Yemen formally broke diplomatic relations with the United States. The United States and the PDRY reestablished diplomatic relations on April 30, 1990, only 3 weeks before the announcement of unification. However, the embassy in Aden, which closed in 1969, was never reopened, and the PDRY as a political entity no longer exists.
As a result of Yemen's actions in the Security Council following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the United States drastically reduced its presence in Yemen including canceling all military cooperation, nonhumanitarian assistance, and the Peace Corps program. USAID levels dropped in FY1991 to $2.9 million, but food assistance through the PL 480 program continued through 1994. Resumption of U.S. Government food assistance will depend in large part on ongoing negotiations regarding outstanding arrearages. The United States was actively involved in and strongly supportive of the 1993 parliamentary elections and continues working to strengthen Yemen's democratic institutions. The United States supported a unified Yemen during the 1994 civil war. The USAID program, focused in the health field, had slowly increased to $8.5 million in FY 1995, but ended in FY 2000.
Defense relations between Yemen and the U.S. are improving with the recent resumption of International Military Education and Training assistance and the commercial transfer of some military spare parts.
Currently, Yemen is an important partner in the campaign against terrorism, providing assistance in the military, diplomatic, and financial arenas. In late November 2001, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh visited Washington to strengthen U.S.-Yemen relations at this crucial time.
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