One of the longest-serving rulers of Yemen Ali Abdullah Saleh was reviled by many of his countrymen, not only for his ruthless attempts to remain in control until his overthrow in 2011, after more than 30 years in power, but also for the cynicism of his subsequent opposition to his elected successor, Abdul Rabbush Mansur Hadi.
The military intervention by Saudi Arabia and several Gulf states to try to restore Mansur Hadi and oppose the Houthis led to the bloody civil war in which neither side has been able to achieve a decisive advantage. Saudi air attacks have caused widespread civilian causalities and the blockade of ports has led to starvation, a medical emergency and outbreaks of cholera. Consequently thousands Yeminis have died.
Ali Abdullah Saleh was born into a pheasant family in Bayt ul-Ahmar , a village in the governmate of Sanaa. Raised by his grandfather his education was limited to primary school.
At the age of 16, in 1958, Saleh joined the army of the Zaydi imams, who had ruled Yemen for a thousand years. When Imam Ahmad died in 1962, a group of army officers seized power and declared the Yemen Arab Republic in the north. Saleh’s unit supported the coup. He rose through the ranks.
Saleh took part in the 1974 coup when Col. Ibrahim seized power. Ibrahim was assassinated in 1977, Saleh became the president, re-elected in 1983 and 1988. Under his leadership the war with South Yemen ended and the two countries re-united.
Ali Abdullah Saleh ruled Yemen since 1978. When combination of poverty, tribalism, corruption and repression unleashed a wave of popular unrest, he clung tenaciously to power for the first five months of 2011. However, an attack on the mosque in his presidential compound killed seven and left him so burnt and wounded that on 4 June 2011 he had to go to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin