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Yemeni Civil War (1990-1994)

After years of internal conflict, north and south Yemen were finally united in 1990. While progress was made in forming a unified government and constitution, relations were still strained between the north and south. Conflicts within the ruling coalition led to the 1993 self-imposed exile of Vice President Ali Salim Al-Bidh as political rivals settled scores on their own, leading to a deterioration in the security situation. The government continued to operate with Haydar Abu Bakr Al-Attas as prime minister, but its effectiveness was increasingly moot due to the political in-fighting and its efficacy over the country waned.

The failure to create a single state out of two, along with North Yemen's heavy-handed and corrupt political rule, caused the southerners to reconsider unification, prompting the 1994 civil war. The routing of southern forces (ironically supported by Saudi Arabia) gave a free hand to the north to simply impose conditions of unification. This coerced unification further consolidated the political economy of corruption in Yemen, as southern lands, enterprises and other resources were confiscated and given to northern elites. Nevertheless, the state also seeks to appease southerners via political representation (seeking always to choose a prime minister from the south) and the distribution of lucrative contracts and other economic benefits.

The head of Islah, Paramount Hashid Sheik Abdullah Bin Hussein Al-Ahmar, was elected speaker of Parliament. Islah was invited into the ruling coalition, and the presidential council was altered to include one Islah member. Conflicts within the coalition resulted in the self-imposed exile of Vice President Ali Salim Al-Bidh 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.

Haydar Abu Bakr Al-Attas (former southern Prime Minister) continued to serve as the ROY 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.

Almost all of the actual fighting in the 1994 civil war occurred in the southern part of the country despite air and missile attacks against cities and major installations in the north. Southerners sought support from neighboring states and received billions of dollars of equipment and financial assistance. The United States strongly supported Yemeni unity, but repeatedly called for a cease-fire and a return to the negotiating table. Various attempts, including by a UN special envoy, were unsuccessful in bringing about a cease-fire.

Opposing factions in two civil wars acquired and employed ballistic missiles with conventional warheads. After the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan, Afghan rebel factions acquired a number of SCUD missiles, some of which the rebel groups fired at government forces in Kabul in January 1994. The second instance involved the 1994 Yemen civil war. During the spring of 1994, the southern faction launched SCUD missiles against civilians in the northern cities of Sana and Tai'z. None of the strikes in these two cases caused significant damage or casualties or affected the fighting significantly.

Southern leaders declared secession and the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Yemen (DRY) on May 21, 1994, but the DRY was not recognized by the international community. Ali Nasir Muhammad supporters greatly assisted military operations against the secessionists and Aden was captured on July 7, 1994. Other resistance quickly collapsed and thousands of southern leaders and military went into exile. An armed opposition was announced from Saudi Arabia, but no significant incidents within Yemen materialized.

Following the fighting, President Ali Abdullah Saleh promised general amnesty for everyone except for 16 people, and most southerners returned home to Yemen after the brief civil war. The government prepared legal cases against four southern leaders--Ali Salim Al- Bidh, Haydar Abu Bakr Al-Attas, Abd Al-Rahman Ali Al-Jifri, and Salih Munassar Al-Siyali -- for misappropriation of official funds. Although informal amnesty was eventually offered to the 16, most refused it, preferring to live outside of Yemen. Abd Al-Rahman Ali Al-Rahman was allowed to return to Yemen in 2006. Others on the list of 16 were told informally they could return to take advantage of the amnesty, but most remained outside Yemen. Although many of Ali Nasir Muhammad's followers were appointed to senior governmental positions (including Vice President, Chief of Staff, and Governor of Aden), Ali Nasir Muhammad himself remained abroad in Syria.

Saleh remained as president while a new coalition government was elected that excluded the leading southern party. Muslim extremists began sporadic acts of violence, including kidnapping foreign tourists. These terrorist acts also included the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole while it was anchored in the Yemeni port of Aden and the bombing of the British embassy.

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