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Foreign Relations

The geography and ruling Imams of north Yemen kept the country isolated from foreign influence before 1962. The country's relations with Saudi Arabia were defined by the Taif Agreement of 1934, which delineated the northernmost part of the border between the two kingdoms and set the framework for commercial and other intercourse. The Taif Agreement has been renewed periodically in 20-year increments, and its validity was reaffirmed in 1995. Relations with the British colonial authorities in Aden and the south were usually tense.

The Soviet and Chinese Aid Missions established in 1958 and 1959 were the first important non-Muslim presence in north Yemen. Following the September 1962 revolution, the Yemen Arab Republic became closely allied with and heavily dependent upon Egypt. Saudi Arabia aided the royalists in their attempt to defeat the Republicans and did not recognize the Yemen Arab Republic until 1970. Subsequently, Saudi Arabia provided Yemen substantial budgetary and project support. At the same time, Saudi Arabia maintained direct contact with Yemeni tribes, which sometimes strained its official relations with the Yemeni Government. Hundreds of thousands of Yemenis found employment in Saudi Arabia during the late 1970s and 1980s.

In February 1989, north Yemen joined Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt informing the Arab Cooperation Council (ACC), an organization created partly in response to the founding of the Gulf Cooperation Council, and intended to foster closer economic cooperation and integration among its members. After unification, the Republic of Yemen was accepted as a member of the ACC in place of its YAR predecessor. In the wake of the Gulf crisis, the ACC has remained inactive. Yemen is not a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

British authorities left southern Yemen in November 1967 in the wake of an intense terrorist campaign. The people's democratic Republic of Yemen, the successor to British colonial rule, had diplomatic relations with many nations, but its major links were with the Soviet Union and other Marxist countries. Relations between it and the conservative Arab states of the Arabian Peninsula were strained. There were military clashes with Saudi Arabia in 1969 and 1973, and the PDRY provided active support for the Dhofar rebellion against the Sultanate of Oman. The PDRY was the only Arab state to vote against admitting new Arab states from the Gulf area to the United Nations and the Arab League. The PDRY provided sanctuary and material support to various international terrorist groups.

Yemen is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Yemen participates in the nonaligned movement. The Republic of Yemen accepted responsibility for all treaties and debts of its predecessors, the YAR and the PDRY. Yemen has acceded to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. The Gulf crisis dramatically affected Yemen's foreign relations. As a member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) in 1990-1991, Yemen abstained on a number of UNSC resolutions concerning Iraq and Kuwait, and voted against the "use of force resolution." Western and Gulf Arab states reacted by curtailing or canceling aid programs and diplomatic contacts. At least 850,000 Yemenis returned from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.

Subsequent to the liberation of Kuwait, Yemen continued to maintain high-level contacts with Iraq. This hampered its efforts to rejoin the Arab mainstream and to mend fences with its immediate neighbors. In 1993, Yemen launched an unsuccessful diplomatic offensive to restore relations with its Gulf neighbors. Some of its aggrieved neighbors actively aided the south during the 1994 civil war. Since the end of that conflict, tangible progress has been made on the diplomatic front in restoring normal relations with Yemen's neighbors. The Omani-Yemeni border has been officially demarcated. In the summer of 2000, Yemen and Saudi Arabia signed an International Border Treaty settling a 50-year-old dispute over the location of the border between the two countries. Yemen also settled its dispute with Eritrea over the Hanish Islands in 1998.

The Saudis fear that al Qaeda's local wing, renamed al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in January 2009, is trying to relaunch armed attacks from Yemen. There is awide assumption that Iran favors the Shi'ite Hawthi rebels and the Saudis are backing Yemen's president. Saudi Arabia's security forces remain concerned about both the Iraq and Yemen borders. The Yemen border is porous, and illegal weapons and narcotics smuggling remain a serious problem. The Saudi government is working to secure its border with both Iraq and Yemen to prevent the infiltration of terrorists associated with the Iraq insurgency and active al-Qa'ida affiliates in Yemen. In addition, the Saudi government is attempting to discourage illegal smuggling activities along its southern border with Yemen. Saudi MOI has deployed an Unmanned Arial Vehicle (UAV) to patrol the border regions. Saudi Arabia provided $2 billion in 2009 to make up for the budget shortfall due to declining oil production.

On the regional front, border agreements signed with neighboring countries (Oman, Eritrea and Saudi Arabia) are expected to bring about economic and trade benefits. Yemen is participating in four of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) institutions, namely Education, Health, Social Affairs and Labor, and Youth and Sports, though full membership remains a distant prospect.

An Iranian airliner carrying medical supplies and aid workers landed 01 March 2015 in the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, less than 24 hours after Shi'ite rebels controlling the city signed an aviation pact with Tehran. Witnesses said senior Iranian diplomats were on hand to greet the flight -- the first since Shi'ite rebel Houthis seized control of the capital in January and placed Sunni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi under house arrest. Yemen's official Saba News Agency -- now controlled by the Shi'ite militia -- said 14 weekly flights will connect Tehran and Sana'a.

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