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American relations with Yemen

Political and diplomatic relations between Yemen and the United States date back to 1946. These relations were reinforced in 1959 with the establishment of the first U.S. resident mission in the city of Taiz. The USA was one of the first countries in the West, to recognize the proclamation of the Arab Republic of Yemen of (1962). The John F. Kennedy Administration announced its support for the new republic on December 19, 1962. The crisis of 1967's Arab-Israeli War resulted in a cooling of diplomatic relations between the United States and all the Arab countries, including Yemen.

Yemen is an important partner in the fight against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a terrorist group based in Yemen that continues to plot against U.S. citizens and interests. Between 2009 and 2012, AQAP members attempted to blow up several U.S.-bound airplanes using increasingly sophisticated techniques, from incorporating explosives into garments in 2009 and 2012 to shipping explosives disguised as printer cartridges on two U.S.-bound flights in 2010.

To assist in countering the AQAP threat and to address the various other challenges Yemen faces, the Departments of State (State) and Defense (DOD) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have collectively allocated over $1 billion in assistance to Yemen from 2007 through 2012. Nearly half of this assistance funded USAID’s Food for Peace (FFP) program, which has provided emergency food aid, and DOD’s Section 12061 and Section 1207(n) programs, which have provided training and equipment to Yemeni security forces.

The overarching objective of U.S. policy in Yemen was a successful democratic transition that promotes political, economic, and security sector reforms that will enable the Yemeni government to respond to the needs and aspirations of the Yemeni people. Following the November 2011 transition agreement, the U.S. government developed a comprehensive new strategy to support the U.S. policy objective for Yemen.

In December 1967, Washington recognized the independence of South Yemen from Britain and announced its intention to open a resident mission. Washington's plan to establish a resident mission in Aden was discarded given the political tendencies that prevailed in Southern Yemen at that time. Relations were re-established on July 1972 on the occasion of an official visit to Sana'a of the then secretary of State William Rogers.

American relations with Yemen continued on a positive and progressive course. In less than 20 years, Americans had begun to take more notice of Yemen. From 1979 to 1991 Officials from both sides exchanged visits. One of these significant visits was taken by the then Vice President George Bush in April 1987. His visit coincided with the official announcement of the Oil discoveries in the fields of Mareb by Hunt-Texas Oil Company. Under Bush's Administration, relations between the two nations were at an all time high.

In January 1990, HE President Ali Abdullah Saleh made his first official visit to the USA just a few months before the proclamation of the Yemeni Unity. The visit contributed to the progressive character of our bilateral cooperation. But once again, regional events would cause a temporary set-back in the budding relation. The emergence of crisis and confrontations during the second Gulf War overshadowed the development of Yemeni-American relations. The position taken by the Republic of Yemen regarding the occupation of Kuwait by Iraq was misinterpreted. Consequently, in the years that followed, Yemen Intensified its diplomatic efforts to clarify its position and reverse the distorted image that hindered its relations with the U.S. during the Gulf Crisis.

In the mid-1990s the Yemeni-American relations overcame the Gulf Crisis. Washington demonstrated favorable intentions concerning Yemen. That became evident when the U.S. fully supported the Yemeni unity against the failed Separatist attempt in the summer of 1994. The U.S. also acknowledged Yemen for its efforts regarding democratic orientation, freedom of the press, parliamentary elections of 1993-1997 as well as its manifest backing of Economic and Financial Reforms with the cooperation of the IMF and the World Bank. The late 1990s witnessed significant intensification of the bilateral interest of both countries. Senior officials from the State Departments, Defense Departments, and parliamentarians from both countries exchanged visits.

American governmental and non-governmental institutions such as the National Democratic Institute for International relations (NDI), the International Foundation for Elections Systems (IFES), have developed a relation of partnership with the Yemeni Government in order to support its democratic experience. As a culmination to to these efforts Yemen was selected in 1999 to host the first international conference of Emerging Democracies (Click for more information) under the patronage and support of NDI, USA, Britain, Japan, Holland and the UN. The conferences demonstrated the seriousness of Yemeni Emerging Democracy.

In September 2009 the United States announced it was increasing its aid for Yemen to $ 121 million, in a move that shows a significant change in the mutual cooperation between the two countries. Director of the Foreign Assistance Coordination Unit at the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation Nabil Ali Shaiban said the governments of both countries had finalized preparing and reviewing the framework of the US assistance for Yemen as a prelude to sign an agreement on the aid over 2009-2011. The US aid to be included in the agreement would be directed for technical and financial projects at social sectors, specifically on education, health, economic development, democracy strengthening and wise governance.

The US embassy in Sana’a was stormed by protesters September 13, 2012. A mob broke through the gate and damaged embassy vehicles and other property. That attack was part of a series against U.S. government offices in the Arab world starting on September 11. U.S. embassies or consulates in Egypt, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen were stormed. InOctober 2012 embassy security investigator Qasim Aklan, a Yemeni national who was a longtime embassy employee, was assassinated in Sana’a shortly after the embassy attack.

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