ABSTRACT

In Yemen we encounter many of the symptoms that have by now become familiar: an unintegrated society in which warlike tribes, united by religious doctrine, have subordinated a less bellicose and partly urban population of a rival Muslim sect and whose leaders are a shade less parochial by reason of their superior education and their contacts with the external world. We must not pedantically seek a one-for-one correlation, however, since Yemeni society in the late 1960s was still visibly more primitive than that of Saudi Arabia and Libya. Yemen remained almost completely cut off from the outside for a much longer period than either of the two other traditional monarchies. Yet, true to form, the most isolated community of the isolated society has dominated the country in the present century. Settled tribesmen of the interior highlands, rather than nomadic tribesmen as in the two other monarchies, furnished nearly the exclusive source of military power. When the external influence finally came, it literally came with a bang. Yemen’s extreme isolation was terminated not by the discovery of oil, as in Saudi Arabia and Libya, but by a coup d’état in September 1962 and by the arrival of troops from the most revolutionary Arab country of the day, the U.A.R. The years of inconclusive struggle for republicanism that followed forcibly altered the pace and the pattern of political change. Yet despite the prolonged fighting, the traditional society was not vanquished; and if the Yemeni royalists were rudely awakened, so too were the Egyptians.