Beyond the Arab Cold War
The International History of the Yemen Civil War, 1962-68
Oxford University Press 2017
New Books in HistoryNew Books in Middle Eastern StudiesNew Books in Military HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network September 5, 2017 Mark Klobas
The civil war in Yemen today harkens back to a similar conflict half a century ago, when the overthrow of the ruling imam, Muhammad al-Badr, in 1962 sparked a conflict that dragged on for the rest of the decade. While primarily driven by domestic politics, as Asher Orkaby explains in his book Beyond the Arab Cold War: The International History of the Yemen Civil War, 1962-68 (Oxford University Press, 2017), the fighting drew in a variety of foreign powers and multinational organizations, each with an agenda that played an important role in defining events. Despite the ongoing Cold War of that time, the United States and the Soviet Union found themselves in the curious position of both supporting the new republican government that took power in the aftermath of Badr’s ousting, though their involvement was quickly eclipsed by that of Egypt. Seizing the opportunity to advance his vision of Arab nationalism, Gamal Abdel Nasser dispatched thousands of troops to Yemen, where they soon found themselves in an intractable struggle that they were poorly prepared to fight. Nevertheless, Egyptian forces secured the republicans hold on Yemen’s major population areas, forcing the royalists to wage a guerrilla war from the mountainous countryside where, with the backing of Saudi Arabia and support from Great Britain and Israel, they were able to prolong the conflict in ways that shaped the history of not just Yemen but the entire Middle East as well.