Socialist Worker

How Western imperialism has shaped this war-torn country

Issue No. 2183

Yemen has been ripped apart by decades of war waged by British colonialism, US imperialism and the Western powers’ proxy forces in the region.

British forces fought a bloody and brutal war of occupation in the country for many years. They used torture, bribery and divide-and-rule in an attempt to hold onto control before they were forced out in 1967.

Northern Yemen was once part of the Ottoman Empire, while the south was ruled by the British Empire from 1839, for the purpose of controlling its key port of Aden.

As nationalist feeling swept the region in the 1950s and 1960s, sparked by the revolution in Egypt led by Gamal Abdul Nasser, Britain’s position in the region became ever more threatened.

Colonialist powers attempted to buy the loyalty of tribal and local leaders, but rebels launched a war of liberation against the British.

In 1962 in the north, a coup of nationalist officers overthrew the king and proclaimed a republic.

The movement in the south finally drove out the British in 1967, and declared a pro-Soviet republic in 1969.

In 1990, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the two countries united.

This did not put an end to war – and Yemen has seen continual Western interference as well as aggression from the US’s key ally Saudi Arabia.

Saudi attacks on rebels from the Huthi clan in the north have created thousands of refugees in camps along the border.

Air attacks have destroyed towns and villages and civilian casualties are high.

The new chapter of accelerated aggression – as Yemen is drawn further into the US-led “war on terror” – will lead to more deaths, refugees and instability.

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