Executive Order 13780 & 13769

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Executive Order 13769, titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, was an executive order issued by United States President Donald Trump in effect, except to the extent blocked by various courts, from January 27, 2017 until March 16, 2017, the effective date of Executive Order 13780. Executive Order 13769 lowered the number of refugees to be admitted into the United States in 2017 to 50,000, suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, suspended the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely, directed some cabinet secretaries to suspend entry of those whose countries do not meet adjudication standards under U.S. immigration law, and included exceptions on a case-by-case basis. Homeland Security lists these countries as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.[1]Immediately, there were numerous protests and legal challenges. A nationwide temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued on February 3, 2017 in the case Washington v. Trump, which was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on February 9, 2017. Consequently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stopped enforcing portions of the order and the State Department re-validated visas that had been previously revoked. The order was criticized by members of Congress from both parties, universities, business leaders, Catholic bishops, top United Nations officials, a group of 40 Nobel laureates, Jewish organizations, 1,000 U.S. diplomats who signed a dissent cable, thousands of academics, and longstanding U.S. allies. The order was criticized because it was seen by many as a “Muslim ban” and because of its human impact on travelers and visa holders. More than 700 travelers were detained[2] and up to 60,000 visas were “provisionally revoked”.


Executive Order 13780
Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States
Seal of the President of the United States
Type Executive Order
Executive Order number 13780
Signed by Donald Trump on March 6, 2017

Provisions and effect[edit]

At 12:01am EDT on March 16, 2017, Executive Order 13780 revoked and replaced Executive Order 13769.[2] Sections 2 and 6 were enjoined by Judge Watson’s temporary restraining order in Hawaii v. Trump before they could take effect.[3][4] Among other things, Section 6 would set the number of admissible refugees and Section 2 would prohibit immigration from six countries. Section 15(a) contemplates that even if part(s) of the executive order are held invalid, other parts of the order still go into effect.[5] The order would reduce the number of refugees to be admitted into the United States (in 2017) to 50,000 and suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, after which the program would be conditionally resumed for individual countries. The order would direct some cabinet secretaries to suspend entry of nationals from countries who do not meet adjudication standards under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Homeland Security lists these countries as Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Iraq, which was listed in the previous Executive Order 13769, are exempted in this order.[5][6][7]

Section 3: Scope and implementation of the suspension[edit]

Section 3 outlines many exceptions to suspensions of immigration that the order requires.


The order does not apply to international travelers from the six named countries who are:

Citation Individual Exceptions listed in Executive Order 13780
3(b)(i) Any lawful permanent resident of the United States.[5]
3(b)(ii) Any foreign national who is admitted to or paroled into the United States on or after the effective date of this order.[5]
3(b)(iii) Any foreign national who has a document other than a visa, valid on the effective date of this order or issued on any date thereafter, that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission, such as an advance parole document.[5]
3(b)(iv) Any dual national of a country designated under section 2 of this order when the individual is traveling on a passport issued by a non-designated country.[5]
3(b)(v) Any foreign national traveling on a diplomatic or diplomatic type visa, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visa, C-2 visa for travel to the United Nations, or G-1, G-2, G-3, or G-4 visa.[5]
3(b)(vi) Any foreign national who has been granted asylum.[5]
3(b)(vi) Any refugee who has already been admitted to the United States.[5]
3(b)(vi) Any individual who has been granted withholding of removal, advance parole, or protection under the Convention Against Torture.[5]

Case-by-case determinations[edit]

The order allows exceptions to the entry ban to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to issue waivers or approval of a visa for travelers from the countries of concern stated in the order. The order allows case-by-case waivers if:

Citation Case-by-Case Exceptions listed in Executive Order 13780
3(c)(i) The foreign national has previously been admitted to the United States for a continuous period of work, study, or other long-term activity, is outside the United States on the effective date of this order, seeks to reenter the United States to resume that activity, and the denial of reentry during the suspension period would impair that activity.[5]
3(c)(ii) The foreign national has previously established significant contacts with the United States but is outside the United States on the effective date of this order for work, study, or other lawful activity.[5]
3(c)(iii) The foreign national seeks to enter the United States for significant business or professional obligations and the denial of entry during the suspension period would impair those obligations.[5]
3(c)(iv) The foreign national seeks to enter the United States to visit or reside with a close family member (e.g., a spouse, child, or parent) who is a United States citizen, lawful permanent resident, or alien lawfully admitted on a valid nonimmigrant visa, and the denial of entry during the suspension period would cause undue hardship.[5]
3(c)(v) The foreign national is an infant, a young child or adoptee, an individual needing urgent medical care, or someone whose entry is otherwise justified by the special circumstances of the case.[5]
3(c)(vi) The foreign national has been employed by, or on behalf of, the United States Government (or is an eligible dependent of such an employee) and the employee can document that he or she has provided faithful and valuable service to the United States Government.[5]
3(c)(vii) The foreign national is traveling for purposes related to an international organization designated under the International Organizations Immunities Act (IOIA), 22 U.S.C. § 288, traveling for purposes of conducting meetings or business with the United States Government, or traveling to conduct business on behalf of an international organization not designated under the IOIA.[5]
3(c)(viii) The foreign national is a landed immigrant of Canada who applies for a visa at a location within Canada.[5]
3(c)(ix) The foreign national is traveling as a United States Government-sponsored exchange visitor.[5]

Section 4: Additional inquiries related to nationals of Iraq[edit]

Although Iraq was removed from the list of seven countries included in Executive Order 13769, this section still calls for a “thorough review”.

Section 8: Expedited completion of the biometric entry–exit tracking system[edit]

Under Section 8 of Executive Order 13780, the head of DHS must “expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry–exit tracking system for in-scope travelers to the United States, as recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.” Gary Leff, an airline-industry expert, referring to a 2016 DHS publication, believes it is likely the term “in-scope” refers to all non-U.S. citizens within the ages of 14 and 79, which Leff believes will increase the costs (money and time) of air travel perhaps due to fingerprinting requirements for all such people who travel into the U.S.[8][9]

Statutory authorization and related statutory prohibitions[edit]

Visas issued in 2016 for the seven countries affected by section 3 of the executive order. Total is shown by size, and color breaks down type of visa[10]

The order cites paragraph (f) of Title 8 of the United States Code § 1182 which discusses inadmissible aliens. Paragraph (f) states:

“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”[11]

When Judge Chuang enjoined part of the executive order he based his decision in part on paragraph (a) of Title 8 of the United States Code § 1152, which discusses impermissible discrimination when granting immigrant visas:

“No person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.”

Legal challenges[edit]

Hawaii v. Trump[edit]

State of Hawaii v. Donald J. Trump
United States District Court for the District of Hawaii
Full case name State of Hawaii and Ismail Elshikh, Plaintiffs, v. Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States of America, et al., Defendants
Citations No. 1:17-cv-00050

On March 7, 2017, the state of Hawaii brought a civil action challenging the executive order, asking for declaratory judgment and an injunction halting the order.[12][13] The State of Hawaii moved for leave to file an Amended Complaint pertaining to Executive Order 13780.[14][15][16] Doug Chin, Hawaii’s attorney general, publicly stated, “This new executive order is nothing more than Muslim Ban 2.0. Under the pretense of national security, it still targets immigrants and refugees. It leaves the door open for even further restrictions.”[17] Hawaii’s legal challenge to the revised ban cites top White House advisor Stephen Miller as saying the revised travel ban is meant to achieve the same basic policy outcome as the original.[18]

The Amended Complaint lists eight specific causes of action pertaining to Executive Order 13780:

  1. Violation of the First Amendment Establishment Clause claiming the travel ban targets Muslims
  2. Violation of the Fifth Amendment Equal Protection clause
  3. Violation of the Fifth Amendment Substantive Due Process clause
  4. Violation of the Fifth Amendment Procedural Due Process
  5. Violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act 8 U.S.C. § 1152(a)(1)(A). and 8 U.S.C. § 1182(f) and 8 U.S.C. § 1185(a)
  6. Violations of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1(a)
  7. Substantive Violation of the Administrative Procedure Act through Violations of the Constitution, Immigration and Nationality Act, and Arbitrary and Capricious Action 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A)-(C).
  8. Procedural Violation of the Administrative Procedure Act 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(D)., 5 U.S.C. § 551(1)., and 5 U.S.C. § 553.

On March 15, 2017 United States District Judge Derrick Watson issued a temporary restraining order preventing sections 2 and 6 of executive order 13780 from going into effect.[19][3][4] In his order, Judge Watson ruled that the State of Hawaii showed a strong likelihood of success on their Establishment Clause claim in asserting that Executive Order 13780 was in fact a “Muslim ban”. Judge Watson stated in his ruling, “When considered alongside the constitutional injuries and harms discussed above, and the questionable evidence supporting the Government’s national security motivations, the balance of equities and public interests justify granting the Plaintiffs. Nationwide relief is appropriate in light of the likelihood of success on the Establishment Clause claim.”[20][4] He also stated, concerning the Order’s neutrality to religion, that the government’s position that Courts may not look behind the exercise of executive discretion and must only review the text of the Order was rejected as being legally incorrect,[4]:31-32 and that:

“The notion that one can demonstrate animus [ill-will] toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed. […] It is a discriminatory purpose that matters, no matter how inefficient the execution. Equally flawed is the notion that the Executive Order cannot be found to have targeted Islam because it applies to all individuals in the six referenced countries. It is undisputed, using the primary source upon which the Government itself relies, that these six countries have overwhelmingly Muslim populations that range from 90.7% to 99.8%.”[4]:31

In drawing its conclusion, the Court further quoted the Ninth Circuit appeal ruling on the original Executive Order (13769): “It is well established that evidence of purpose beyond the face of the challenged law may be considered in evaluating Establishment and Equal Protection Clause claims”, and quoted in support of its findings, previous rulings that “Official action that targets religious conduct for distinctive treatment cannot be shielded by mere compliance with the requirement of facial neutrality” (Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah); “a facially neutral statute violated the Establishment Clause in light of legislative history demonstrating an intent to apply regulations only to minority religions” (Larson v. Valente); and that “circumstantial evidence of intent, including the historical background of the decision and statements by decisionmakers, may be considered in evaluating whether a governmental action was motivated by a discriminatory purpose” (Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing); ending with a comment that “the Supreme Court has been even more emphatic: courts may not ‘turn a blind eye to the context in which [a] policy arose’ “ (McCreary County v. ACLU of Kentucky, ruled that a law becomes unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause if its “ostensible or predominant purpose” is to favor or disfavor any religion over any other[21]).[4]:32 The Court also took into account numerous statements by the President and his team prior to and since election, which had directly stated that he sought a legal means to achieve a total ban on Muslims entering the United States,[4]:33-37 and a “dearth” of substantive evidence in support of the stated security benefits.

After Judge Watson’s ruling a Department of Justice spokeswoman said the administration will continue to defend the executive order in the courts.[22] President Donald Trump denounced the ruling as “an unprecedented judicial overreach”, and indicated that the decision would be appealed, if necessary to the Supreme Court, stating that, “We’re talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people. This ruling makes us look weak.”[23][24]

Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals filed a late dissent on March 17, 2017 to the 9th Cir. opinion in Washington v. Trump arguing against the State of Washington’s Establishment Clause claims on grounds that Trump’s speech during the campaign was political protected by the First Amendment. Even though the 9th Circuit had declined to address that issue in reaching its ruling on Washington v. Trump and U.S. courts do not typically rule on issues that are not before them, Kozinski argued it was appropriate for him to address the issue because District Judge Watson in Hawaii had cited the 9th Circuit opinion in reaching its Establishment Clause ruling.[25][26]

International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump (in Dist. of Maryland)[edit]

On the same date that Judge Watson in Hawaii blocked parts of the order Judge Chuang of the U.S. District of Maryland, who was formerly Deputy General Counsel for the Department of Homeland Security, issued a temporary restraining order that blocked the revised executive order’s section 2(c), which would have banned travel to the U.S. by citizens from six designated countries.[27][28] The basis of Judge Chuang’s order is violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. Judge Chuang also noted that the order was in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which modifies the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 to say “No person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of his race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence,” but only in that it placed a ban on immigrant visa issuance based on nationality. Judge Chuang noted that the statute does not prohibit the President from barring entry into the United States or the issuance of non-immigrant visas on the basis of nationality.[28][29] The Trump Administration has appealed the ruling to the Fourth Circuit, which scheduled oral argument for May 8; the Justice Department has said it will file a motion to encourage the court to rule sooner.[30]

Washington v. Trump[edit]

State of Washington and State of Minnesota v. Trump
United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
Full case name State of Washington and State of Minnesota, Plaintiffs, v. Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States; U.S. Department of Homeland Security; John F. Kelly, in his official capacity as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; Tom Shannon, in his official capacity as Acting Secretary of State; and the United States of America, Defendants.
Citations No. 2:17-cv-00141; No. 17-35105
Main article: Washington v. Trump

On the day the order was signed, March 6, 2017, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson stated that he had not yet had sufficient time to review it.[12]

On March 9, Ferguson indicated that the State of Washington will pursue obtaining a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to block the executive order. Ferguson publicly stated, “It’s my duty, my responsibility to act. We’re not going to be bullied by threats and actions by the federal government”. The State of Washington indicated they would ask for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction in the current proceedings related to executive order 13769 by asking the Court for leave to file an amended complaint to address executive order 13780.[31][32] Ferguson also indicated that the states of Oregon, Massachusetts, and New York would ask for leave from the Court to join the current lawsuit against the executive order.[31][33][34]

On March 9, 2017, White House press secretary Sean Spicer responded to the criticism of the order from several state attorney generals, and stated that the White House was confident the new order addressed the issues raised by the states in litigation involving the previous Executive Order 13769. Spicer stated, “I think we feel very comfortable that the executive order that was crafted is consistent with — we’re going to go forward on this — but I think by all means, I don’t— we feel very confident with how that was crafted and the input that was given”.[35][36]

The federal defendants argued the new order “does not limit the [federal] government’s ability to immediately begin enforcing the new executive order”, while the State of Washington has replied that “While the provisions differ slightly from their original incarnation, the differences do not remove them from the ambit of this court’s injunction”. As of the evening of March 10, neither side had filed a motion to uphold or stop the new order, and Judge Robart said he would not rule on the matter without one.[37]

On March 13, 2017 the Washington State Attorney General filed a second amended complaint addressing executive order 13780 and moved the court to enjoin enforcement of the order under the current preliminary injunction previously issued which barred enforcement of executive order 13769 by filing a motion for emergency enforcement of the preliminary injunction.[38][39] The State of Washington in their second amended complaint asked the Court to Declare that Sections 3(c), 5(a)–(c), and 5(e) of the First Executive Order 13769 are unauthorized by and contrary to the Constitution and laws of the United States, and that the United States should be enjoined from implementing or enforcing Sections 3(c), 5(a)–(c), and 5(e) of the First Executive Order, including at all United States borders, ports of entry, and in the issuance of visas, pending further orders from this Court. The State of Washington also asked the Court to declare that Sections 2(c) and 6(a) of the Second Executive Order 13780 are unauthorized by and contrary to the Constitution and laws of the United States, and that the United States should also be enjoined from implementing or enforcing Sections 2(c) and 6(a) of the Second Executive Order 13780, including at all United States borders, ports of entry, and in the issuance of visas, and enjoin the United States from implementing or enforcing Section 5(d) of the First Executive Order 13769 and enjoin the United States from implementing or enforcing Section 6(b) of the Second Executive Order 13780.[40] The Court subsequently issued an order directing the United States to file a response to the emergency motion to enforce the preliminary injunction by March 14, 2017.[41]

On March 17, 2017, U.S. District Judge James Robart refused to grant an additional restraining order after the President’s new executive order was blocked by U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson in Hawaii.[42]

Maryland will also challenge the order in court, citing the order’s future harm to its competitiveness academically and economically in the form of hindering visits by academics, scientists and engineers from other countries.[43]

Other cases[edit]

The first temporary restraining order issued against the revised travel ban came on March 10 from U.S. district judge William Conley in Madison, Wisconsin; the TRO suspended the executive order with respect to a Syrian refugee’s wife and child who are living in Aleppo, Syria.[44]

On March 24, 2017, U.S. District Judge Anthony John Trenga in Alexandria, Virginia, refused to grant plaintiff Linda Sarsour a temporary restraining order against the President’s executive order, finding that she was not likely to succeed in her challenge.[45]

Executive Order 13769
Protecting the Nation from Foreign
Terrorist Entry into the United States
Donald Trump signing the order in front of a large replica of a USAF Medal of Honor, with Mike Pence and James Mattis at his side

U.S. President Donald Trump signing the order at the Pentagon, with Vice President Mike Pence (left) and Secretary of Defense James Mattis (right) at his side.
Executive order
Enacted by U.S. President Donald Trump
Date enacted January 27, 2017
Date commenced January 27, 2017
  • Suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days (expires May 27, 2017)
  • Restricts entry from seven countries for 90 days (expires April 27, 2017)
  • Suspends admission of Syrian refugees indefinitely
  • Prioritizes the admission of refugees from minority religions claiming religious-based persecution
Status: Not fully in force

Map of countries affected by the executive order. Collectively the order applies to over 200 million people (approximate population of the seven countries) while about 90,000 people from these countries currently hold a US immigrant or non-immigrant visa[1][2]

Executive Order 13769[3] —entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States“— is an executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump on January 27, 2017. The order, part of Trump’s immigration-related campaign promises, suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, after which the program will be conditionally resumed for individual countries, and with higher priority for followers of minority religions. The order also indefinitely suspended the entry of refugees from Syria, where they live under ISIS.[4][5] Further, the order suspended the entry—regardless of valid non-diplomatic visa[a]— of alien nationals from seven majority-Muslim countries for 90 days, after which an updated list of prohibited countries will be determined. The initial seven countries are Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, which were previously singled out by the Obama administration for travel restrictions that are milder than the executive order’s.[7] The order allows exceptions to these suspensions on a case-by-case basis. Based on this allowance, the Department of Homeland Security exempted U.S. lawful permanent residents (green card holders), citing national interest provisions in the executive order, and the White House later said that green card holders will not need any waivers to exempt them from the new policy.[8]

The order also had other immediate and long-term effects. Immediately after its enactment, dozens of travelers were detained and held for hours without access to family, friends, or legal assistance. According to The Washington Post, the travel suspensions can potentially impact around 90,000 people, which is the number of immigrant and non-immigrant visas issued to people from the seven affected countries in fiscal year 2015.[9]

The order and the detentions that followed led to several lawsuits seeking to block enforcement of the order that were filed on behalf of affected travelers and of state officials, saying that the order violates the U.S. Constitution, multiple federal statutes, and American treaty obligations. In the days following its introduction, several federal courts issued emergency orders halting detentions and expulsions pending final rulings. A court in Boston ordered that lawful immigrants from the seven barred nations be notified that they may enter the U.S. through Logan Airport. After the Boston ruling, the Department of Homeland Security said that it would continue to enforce all of the executive order and that “prohibited travel will remain prohibited.” Plaintiffs in a court ruling in Virginia claimed that the government was in contempt of court and not following its orders.

Critics described the order as a “Muslim ban”[10] for targeting Muslim-majority countries and prioritizing minority-religion refugees. President Trump, however, stated that, “this is not a Muslim ban, as the media is falsely reporting,” while Rudy Giuliani, who said he helped write the order, called it a legal alternative to a religious ban targeting Muslims.[11][12][neutrality is disputed]

Domestically, the order prompted criticism from Democratic and Republican members of Congress, American diplomats, American universities, business leaders, Catholic bishops, and Jewish organizations. According to an Ipsos/Reuters poll, 48% of Americans agreed with the order, while 41% of Americans disagreed.[13] Protests erupted in New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, other U.S. airports, and U.S. cities.

The order prompted broad condemnation from the international community, including longstanding U.S. allies, although some international figures expressed support for it.[14][15][16] The travel ban and suspension of refugee admissions was criticized by top United Nations officials[17][18] and by a group of 40 Nobel laureates and thousands of other academics.[19]Doctors at medical institutes and scientific groups also protested the order.[20]


Number of visas issued in 2016 for the seven countries in the Executive Order. Type of visa shown by color on pies, and total number by size.[21] See types of immigration at Permanent residence (United States) § Types of immigration.

Map comparing US immigrant and non-immigrant visas issued at Foreign Service posts by country in 2016, highlighting the seven countries in the Executive Order.[21]

As part of a spending bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama. The bill specifically listed Iraq and Syria as countries where dual citizens would also need visas for travel, plus all nations on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list, which added Sudan and Iran. It also allowed the Secretary of Homeland Security to add additional countries of concern within 60 days, leading to the addition of Libya, Somalia and Yemen.[22][23][24]

Donald Trump became the U.S. president on January 20, 2017. He has long said, despite evidence, that large numbers of terrorists are using the U.S. refugee resettlement program to enter the country.[25] A 2015 report published by the Migration Policy Institute found that 784,000 refugees had resettled in the United States since September 11, 2001, with only 3 arrested for suspected terrorism.[26] In June 2016, the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, of which Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruz were members, claimed based on open-source research conducted on a list provided by the Department of Justice, that at least 380 of the 580 individuals convicted of terrorism or terrorism-related offenses between September 11, 2001 and December 31, 2014, were born abroad.[27] The Cato Institute’s Alex Nowrasteh has pointed out that these claims were flawed and problematic in that “241 of the 580 convictions, or 42 percent, were not… for terrorism offenses”; these started with a terrorism tip but the actual charge ended up being not related to terrorism, e.g., “receiving stolen cereal.”[28]

As a candidate, Trump’s “Contract with the American Voter” pledged to suspend immigration from “terror-prone regions”.[29] Trump-administration officials then billed the executive order as fulfilling this campaign promise.[30][unreliable source?]

During his initial election campaign, Trump had proposed a temporary, conditional, and “total” ban on Muslims entering the United States.[25][31][32][33] His proposal was met by opposition by U.S. politicians.[31]Mike Pence and James Mattis—who later became Vice President and Secretary of Defense, respectively, under Trump—were among those who opposed the proposal.[31][34] Trump, in a speech following the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, proposed to suspend immigration from “areas of the world” with a history of terrorism, a change from his previous proposal to suspend Muslim immigration to the U.S; the campaign did not announce the details of the plan at the time, but Jeff Sessions, an advisor to Trump on the issue, said the proposal was a statement of purpose to be supplied with details in subsequent months.[35]

In a speech on August 31, 2016, Trump vowed to “suspend the issuance of visas” to “places like Syria and Libya.”[36]

Trump’s campaign website has credited Sessions as an influential advisor on immigration.[37] Sessions served as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest during the 114th Congress.[38] Political operative Stephen Miller, a “major architect” of the refugee and visa ban according to the Los Angeles Times, learned about immigration policy in the office of Senator Sessions before becoming a top Trump advisor and speechwriter.[39]

President Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) that Christian refugees would be given priority in terms of refugee status in the United States,[40] after saying that Syrian Christians were “horribly treated” by his predecessor, Barack Obama.[41][42] Christians make up very small fractions (0.1% to 1.5%) of the Syrian refugees who have registered with the UN High Comission for Refugees in Syria, Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon; those registered represent the pool from which the US selects refugees.[43] António Guterres, then the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, explained in October 2015 that many Syrian Christians have ties to the Christian community in Lebanon and have sought the UN’s services in smaller numbers.[43] During 2016, the US had admitted almost as many Christian as Muslim refugees[42] Based on this data, Senator Chris Coons accused Trump of spreading “false facts” and “alternative facts“.[44]

Development of the order

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which usually reviews all executive orders before issuance, declined to say whether it had reviewed the order.[45] Two days after the order’s issuance, the OLC had not posted a publicly available opinion regarding the executive order to its website.[46] On January 29, NBC News reported that the order was not reviewed by the Justice Department or by the departments of Homeland Security (DHS), State, or Defense, and that attorneys at the National Security Council were blocked from evaluating the order.[47] According to the DOJ, on January 30, then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates indicated the executive order had been reviewed by the DOJ’s OLC, which found the order lawful on its face.[48][verification needed] Yates’s successor, Acting Attorney General Dana J. Boente, issued guidance to Justice Department employees on the evening of January 30 stating that the Office of Legal Counsel “found the Executive Order both lawful on its face and properly drafted.”[49] According to CNN, the executive order was developed primarily by White House officials (which the Los Angeles Times reported included Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller[50]) without input from the Justice and Homeland Security departments that is typically a part of the drafting process.[51] This was disputed by White House officials.[51] Trump aides said that the order had been issued in consultation with DHS and State Department officials; however, multiple officials at the State Department and other agencies said it was not.[52][53]

An official from the Trump administration said that parts of the order had been developed in the transition period between Trump’s election and his inauguration.[54] Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani said on Fox News that President Trump came to him for guidance over the order.[55] He said that Trump called him about a “Muslim ban” and asked Giuliani to form a committee to show him “the right way to do it legally”.[56][11] The committee, which included former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and Reps. Mike McCaul and Peter T. King, decided to drop the religious basis and instead focused on regions where Giuliani says that there is “substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists” to the United States.[11]

A draft of the executive order leaked to civil rights organizations on Wednesday, January 25, 2017.[57]


Section 3 of the order blocks entry of aliens, regardless of valid non-diplomatic visa,[a] from countries covered under a section[b] of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), namely Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Yemen, for 90 days,[58] after which a list of additional countries must be prepared.[6] The cited section of the INA refers to aliens who have been present in or are nationals of Iraq, Syria, and other countries designated by the Secretary of State.[59] Citing Section 3(c) of the Executive Order, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Edward J. Ramotowski issued a notice that “provisionally revoke[s] all valid nonimmigrant and immigrant visas of nationals” of the designated countries.[60][61]

The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, must conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA. Within 30 days, the Secretary of Homeland Security must list countries that do not provide adequate information.[62] The foreign governments then have 60 days to provide the information on their nationals, after which the Secretary of Homeland Security must submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals from countries that do not provide the information.[6]

The order also said that the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.[62][58][63][64]

Section 5 suspends the U. S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, to be resumed only for such countries as the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence determine.[6] The suspension for Syrian refugees is indefinite.[62][65] The number of new refugees allowed in 2017 is capped to 50,000, down from 110,000.[66] After the resumption of USRAP, refugee applications will be prioritized based on religion-based persecutions only in the case that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in that country.[67]

Section 7 of the order calls for an expedited completion and implementation of a biometric entry/exit tracking system for all travelers coming into the United States.[62][68]

Section 1, describing the purpose of the order, invoked the September 11 attacks stating that then State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of the attackers[69][70][71] However, none of the September 11 hijackers were from any of the seven banned countries.[72][70] When announcing his executive action, Trump made similar references to the attacks several times.[72]

The seven countries targeted by the executive order exclude Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other Muslim-majority countries where The Trump Organization has conducted business or pursued business opportunities.[73][74] This prompted criticism; legal scholar David G. Post, for example, suggested that Trump had “allowed business interests to interfere with his public policymaking” and that this could constitute an impeachable offense.[75]

Green card holders

There was some confusion about the status of green card holders (permanent residents). Initially, the Department of Homeland Security said that the order barred green card holders from the affected countries, and White House officials said that they would need a case-by-case waiver to return.[76] On January 29, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said that green card holders would not be prevented from returning to the United States.[77] According to the Associated Press, as of January 28 no green card holders were ultimately denied entry to the U.S., although several initially spent “long hours” in detention.[78][77] On January 29, the Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly deemed entry of lawful permanent residents into the U.S. to be “in the national interest”, exempting them from the ban according to the provisions of the executive order.[77][79]

Dual citizens

There is similar confusion about whether the order affects dual citizens of a banned country and a non-banned country. The U.S. State Department said that the order did not affect U.S. citizens who also hold citizenship of one of the seven banned countries.[80] On January 28, the State Department stated that other travelers with dual nationality of one of these countries – for example, an Iranian who also hold a Canadian passport – would not be permitted to enter.[80] However, the International Air Transport Association told their airlines that dual nationals who hold a passport from a non-banned country would be allowed in.[80] The United Kingdom‘s Foreign and Commonwealth Office also issued a press release saying that it applies to those traveling from the listed countries, not those that merely have their citizenship.[81] The confusion led companies and institutions to take a more cautious approach; for example, Google told its dual national employees to stay in the United States until more clarity could be provided.[80]


Shortly after the enactment of the executive order at 4:42 pm on January 27, border officials across the country began enforcing the new rules. The New York Times reported people with various backgrounds and statuses being denied entry or sent back, including refugees and minority Christians from the affected countries as well as students and green card holders returning to the United States after visits abroad.[76][82]

People from the countries mentioned in the order were turned away from flights to the U.S., even though they had valid visas.[83] Some were stranded in a foreign country while in transit.[84] Several people already on planes flying to the U.S. at the time the order was signed were detained on arrival.[83] On January 28, the ACLU estimated that there were 100 to 200 people being detained in U.S. airports,[85] and hundreds were barred from boarding U.S.-bound flights.[86] About 60 legal permanent residents were reported to have been detained at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.[87] The Department of Homeland Security said that on January 28 the order affected “less than one percent” of the 325,000 air travelers who arrived in the United States.[88] By January 29, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that 375 travelers had been affected with 109 travelers in transit and another 173 prevented from boarding flights.[89] In some airports, there were reports that Border Patrol agents were requesting access to travelers’ social media accounts.[90]

On January 30, Trump said in a Twitter post that “Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning.”[9] The actual number affected, however, was far higher, as Department of Homeland Security officials later acknowledged.[91] On January 31, the agency reported that 721 people had been denied boarding for the U.S. since enforcement of the travel ban began; 1,060 waivers for Green Card holders had been processed; 75 waivers had been granted for persons with immigrant and nonimmigrant visas; and 872 waivers for refugees had been granted.[91]

The Washington Post fact-checker found that “the universe of people likely affected by the travel suspension is around 90,000,” representing the number of number of U.S. visas issued in the seven affected countries in fiscal year 2015.[9] The New York Times counts give 86,000 visitors, students and workers in addition to 52,365 who passed the requirements for green cards.[92] The process was shrouded in secrecy at the Los Angeles International Airport; officials refused to release statistics on the number of people deported or the number of people detained and for how long.[91]

Google called its traveling employees back to the U.S., in case the order prevents them from returning. About 100 of the company’s employees were thought to be from the countries in the order. Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote in a letter to his staff that “it’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues. We’ve always made our view on immigration issues known publicly and will continue to do so.”[93][94]

According to Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council, the order distressed citizens of the affected countries, including those holding valid green cards and visas. Those outside the U.S. fear that they will not be allowed in, while those already in the country fear that they will not be able to leave, even temporarily, because they would not be able to return.[95]


Official statement

Trump’s speech just after signing the executive order on January 28, 2017 indicated its purpose was to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” from the U.S. and invoked September 11.[96] On January 29, 2017, Trump issued an official statement clarifying his stance on the executive order. Trump said that his policy is “similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months” and stated that the executive order did not target religion, stating “there are over 40 different countries worldwide that are majority Muslim that are not affected by this order”. Trump concluded, “I have tremendous feeling for the people involved in this horrific humanitarian crisis in Syria.”[97] Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post stated that Obama limited immigration for six months, but continued to admit refugees during all six months and did not ban all citizens (including green card holders) from traveling to the United States, although lawful permanent residents have since been exempted from Trump’s executive order.[98] Jonathan Chait of New York magazine said that the 2011 case involved a temporary response to specific intelligence regarding two suspicious Iraqi refugees and said that Trump’s “sweeping halt in the absence of a reported breach” is not comparable.[99]

The Trump administration’s January 30, 2017 follow-up statement said the order applied to countries “previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror”.[100] The Trump administration’s executive order relied on H.R.158 or the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015,[101] which was passed by congress and signed into law by President Obama.[102] The act barred citizens from entering the United States without a visa if they came from Iraq, Syria, Iran and Sudan, with Libya, Yemen and Somalia added later. Travelers from 38 other countries were allowed to enter without a visa for up to 90 days.[102] H.R. 158 did not ban entry from any designated country.[103]

On January 30, White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, used the Quebec City mosque shooting as an illustration of the need for anti-terror policies saying, “It’s a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant, and why the president is taking steps to be proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to our nation’s safety and security.”[104] However, as the Toronto Star pointed out, it was strange to use this example since the accused gunman was not a Muslim.[105] The Independent in the UK also reported that Spicer’s comments seemed to use the attack as a justification for the US president’s own anti-terror policies but did not specify which policies he was referring to.[106]

Spicer held a press briefing on January 31 where he said that it was incorrect to refer to the executive order as a “travel ban” and that only the media was using those words to describe the order.[107][108] When pointed out by an NBC reporter that Trump himself used the word in his personal twitter account, Spicer responded that it was because the media is using it. He also confronted the reporter that NBC news was part of the confusion for falsely reporting that Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly had not been properly consulted before the executive order was signed.[107]

Trump Twitter posts

Trump has also defended his executive order through Twitter. On January 29, he tweeted: “Our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting, NOW. Look what is happening all over Europe and, indeed, the world – a horrible mess!”[109]On Monday, he continued to tweet, where he “de-emphasized the number of travelers affected by the hasty implementation of the travel ban”, according to Business Insider.[110] It was also written in The Washington Post that his tweets were intended to minimize the impact the executive order had on travelers.[111] In several other tweets on Monday, he blamed travel delays on a Delta airline computer outage, “protesters and the tears of Senator Schumer”.[110] The computer outage Trump referred to actually occurred on Sunday January 29, two days after the order was signed.[112] Trump defended the executive order on Twitter, stating that searching for terrorists is not about being “nice” and that “[i]f the ban were announced with a one week notice, the ‘bad’ would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad ‘dudes’ out there!”[110] On February 1, Trump tweeted, “Everybody is arguing whether or not it is a BAN. Call it what you want, it is about keeping bad people (with bad intentions) out of country!”[113]

Domestic political reaction

File:Trump 'It's not a Muslim ban'.webmhd.webm

Trump on refugee order: “It’s not a Muslim ban” (video from Voice of America)

Trump faced much criticism for the executive order. Democrats “were nearly united in their condemnation” of the policy,[114] with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer saying that “tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty tonight as a grand tradition of America, welcoming immigrants, that has existed since America was founded, has been stomped upon”.[115] Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont said the order “plays into the hands of fanatics wishing to harm America”.[116] Senator Kamala Harris of California and the Council on American–Islamic Relations denounced the order and called it a Muslim ban.[117] Trump’s order was also criticized by former U.S. Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright[115]and Hillary Clinton.[118] Kevin Lewis, spokesperson to Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, also said (in apparent reference to the order) that the ex-president “fundamentally disagrees” with religious discrimination.[119]

Among Republicans, some praised the order, with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan saying that Trump was “right to make sure we are doing everything possible to know exactly who is entering our country” while noting that he supported the refugee resettlement program.[120] Alabama governor Robert Bentley also supported the order.[121] Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte said that he was “pleased that President Trump is using the tools granted to him by Congress and the power granted by the Constitution to help keep America safe and ensure we know who is entering the United States”.[122] However, some top Republicans in Congress criticized the order.[114] In a statement, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham cited the confusion that the order caused and the fact that the “order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, and Homeland Security”.[123] McCain stated that the order would “probably, in some areas, give ISIS some more propaganda”.[124] Senator Susan Collins, who announced in August 2016 that she would not vote for Trump because she felt he was “unsuitable for office”,[125] also objected to the ban, calling it “overly broad” and saying that “implementing it will be immediately problematic”.[126] Several other Republican senators offered more muted criticism.[114] In response to McCain and Graham’s statement, Trump criticized them on Twitter January 29, questioning their stance on immigration and saying that they “should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III”.[127]

Sixteen Democratic[128] state attorneys general signed a joint statement condemning the order as unconstitutional,[129]including those in California, Pennsylvania and New York. The statement said they intended to “use all of the tools of our offices to fight this unconstitutional order”.[130] Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo both pledged to have their states look into how they could aid refugees in state airports.[131]

List of protests against Executive Order 13769

Crowd at San Francisco International Airport. Signs are visible, some reading "Not in our name".

United States[edit]Through January 28–29 a large number of airport protests were held across the nation in opposition to Donald Trump‘s Executive Order 13769 known as Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.

Googleplex, Mountain View

File:Protesters Continue Their March in Washington.webmhd.webm

Protesters Continue Their March in Washington’ video from Voice of America

State Locations
Louisiana New Orleans, City Hall[32]
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
Rhode Island
South Dakota
Washington, D.C.


Country Locations
The Netherlands
United Kingdom

Protests against the order at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport

File:Trump Immigration Order Sparks Protests at NY Airport.webmhd.webm

Trump immigration order sparks protests at New York’s airport (report from Voice of America)

Protests against the order at San Francisco International Airport on January 29, 2017

On January 28 and thereafter, thousands of protesters gathered at airports and other locations throughout the United States to protest the signing of the order and detention of the foreign nationals.[133]

Members of the United States Congress, including Senator Elizabeth Warren (DMA) and Congressman John Lewis (DGA) joined the protests in their own home states.[159] Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Y Combinator president Sam Altman joined the protest at San Francisco airport.[160][161] Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe, joined the protest at Dulles International Airport on Saturday.[162]

In response to protests, the airport operators of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Seattle–Tacoma International Airport shut down transit access to the airport (AirTrain JFK and the SeaTac/Airport light rail station, respectively). New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered that AirTrain service resume,[163] while Sound Transit ordered the resumption of light rail service in Seattle.[164]

U.S. diplomats

The “dissent cable” memo.

Over nine-hundred United States diplomats in the State Department have created a memo or “dissent cable” which outlines their disagreement with the order.[111][165][166] The memo has been sent through the “dissent channel[167] which was put into place in 1971 in order to allow senior leadership in the department to have access to differing viewpoints on the Vietnam War.[168] On Monday, January 30, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told dissenting diplomats to leave their jobs if they do not agree with the Trump administration[169] by saying “They should either get with the program or they can go”, despite the rules protecting dissenters in the State Department.[169]

United Nations and human rights groups

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres said that the travel bans “indeed violate our basic principles. And I think that they are not effective if the objective is to really avoid terrorists to enter the United States.”[170] United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein denounced the travel ban, writing that “wastes resources needed for proper counter-terrorism” and is illegal under international human rights law.[18]

In a joint statement, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration urged the new Trump administration to follow “the longstanding U.S. policy of welcoming refugees”, stating: “We strongly believe that refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race.”[171][172]

The travel ban was condemned by Amnesty International, which vowed to fight it; the director of Amnesty International USA termed the executive order “dangerous”,[173] while the director of Amnesty International UK said that it was “shocking and appalling” and feared that the ban become permanent.[174] Human Rights Watch similarly condemned the measure, saying that “The decision to drastically curtail the refugee program will abandon tens of thousands to the risk of persecution or worse and cede American leadership on a vitally important issue” and would not make the U.S. safer.[175]

The International Rescue Committee condemned the executive order; its president, David Miliband, said that the executive order presented “a test for the Western world … of whether or not we hold fast to the values of non-discrimination and to universal values of freedom from persecution.”[176] Miliband also called it “a propaganda gift for all those who would do harm to the United States.”[177]

Scholars and experts

Twenty Nobel Prize laureates, along with thousands of other scholars, including Fields Medal winners, John Bates Clark Medal recipients, and National Academy of Sciences members, signed a petition condemning the order, stating that the order compels the “unethical and discriminatory treatment of law-abiding, hard-working, and well-integrated immigrants fundamentally contravenes the founding principles of the United States” and was detrimental to the national interest.[178]Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai also condemned the executive order.[115]

Benjamin Wittes of the Brookings Institution described the order as “malevolence tempered by incompetence”, saying that it “will cause hardship and misery for tens or hundreds of thousands of people because that is precisely what it is intended to do“.[47] Law professor and conservative blogger Ilya Somin termed the order “cruel and counterproductive”, saying “It inflicts great harm on many thousands of people while simultaneously endangering national security”.[179] Jonathan H. Adler declared that “the degree of administrative incompetence in [the order’s] execution is jaw-dropping”, criticizing “the cavalier and reckless manner in which this specific EO was developed and implemented”.[180]

In a 2016 political analysis paper by Alex Nowrasteh for the Cato Institute, Nowrasteh states, “the chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year”.[181] Citing Nowrasteh’s paper, The Economist said this makes death by cows, fireworks and malfunctioning elevators much likelier and described Trump’s order as “almost worthless”.[41]

The Wall Street Journal editorial board blasted Trump’s executive order as “blunderbuss and broad”.[182] The New York Times labeled the executive order as “cruel, bigoted, cowardly, and self-defeating”, calling it a “blatantly unconstitutional” and “un-American” decision that exacerbated “injury and suffering … on families that had every reason to believe they had outrun carnage and despotism in their homelands to arrive in a singularly hopeful nation”.[183] The Sacramento Bee condemned the order as “sickening, draconian, disgraceful, and wrong on every level, to the point of incompetence”.[184]The Boston Globe described the act as “shameful” and “offensive”, saying that it not only fails to protect Americans but also “hands a propaganda victory to ISIS, appearing to vindicate the claim that the United States is out to get Muslims”.[185]

According to experts, Trump’s order “is unlikely to significantly reduce the terrorist threat in the United States”, and “many experts believe the order’s unintended consequences will make the threat worse”.[186] Professor Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina said that since the September 11 attacks in 2001, “no one has been killed in the United States in a terrorist attack by anyone who emigrated from or whose parents emigrated from” the seven countries targeted by the order.[186] Some experts also said that “there was a random quality” in the selection of countries affected by the order; for example, Saudi Arabia and Egypt were not listed although many jihadist groups were established there, and Pakistan and Afghanistan were also not listed despite longstanding histories of extremism in those countries;[186] while others, including two former White House chief ethics lawyers, found a possible correlation between exclusions from the order and the Trump Organization’s business interests.[75][187]

Professor Juan Cole of the University of Michigan said that six of the seven countries named in the order (with the exception of Yemen) were suggested as targets for regime change in an alleged classified paper produced by the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the autumn of 2001 following 9/11. The allegation was made by former General Wesley Clark in his 2007 memoir A Time to Lead.[188] Cole suggested that “the actual situation is the opposite from the one advertised by Trump. These are not countries that pose a danger to the U.S. They are countries to which the U.S poses the risk, of instability and millions of displaced”.[189]

Michael Hayden, who served Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama in high-level intelligence positions, including NSA director and CIA director, said of the executive order:[190]

It’s a horrible move. It is a political, ideological move driven by the language of the [Trump] campaign and … promises in the campaign that were hyped by an exaggeration of the threat, and in fact what [the U.S. is] doing now has probably made us less safe today than we were Friday morning before th[e] [executive order] happened. Because we are now living the worst jihadist narrative possible: that there is undying enmity between Islam and the West. Muslims out there who were not part of the jihadist movement are now being shown that the story they were being told by the jihadists—”They hate us, they’re our enemy”—that’s being acted out by the American government. And frankly, at a humanitarian level, it’s an abomination.

The executive order left American colleges and universities scrambling amidst confusion over the full scope and extent of the order. Several universities, including Johns Hopkins University, the University of Virginia and George Washington University, told affected students and faculty members affected to avoid traveling abroad because of fears that they would be barred from reentering the country.[191][192] The Association of American Universities‘s associate vice president for federal relations said that the ban was “very, very disruptive”, particularly to graduate students engaging in research.[192]University presidents and other higher education leaders “said the order could ultimately hurt the country’s competitiveness if the best and brightest research scholars no longer want to study or work in the United States”,[192] weakening American preeminence in higher education.[191]

International reactions

The order prompted broad condemnation from the international community, including longstanding U.S. allies.[14][15][16]

Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs characterized Trump’s order as insulting to the Islamic world and counter-productive in the attempt to combat extremism. It announced that Iran would take “reciprocal measures in order to safeguard the rights of its citizens”.[193][194]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated Canada would continue to welcome refugees regardless of their faith.[195] At the request of Jenny Kwan, Member of Parliament for Vancouver East, Speaker of the House of Commons Geoff Regan called an emergency debate in the Canadian House of Commons about the order on January 31.[196] Canadian civil society groups including the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the national branch of Amnesty International issued statements which called for the suspension of the Canada–United States Safe Third Country Agreement.[197]

British Prime Minister Theresa May was initially reluctant to condemn the policy, having just met with Trump the day prior, saying that “the United States is responsible for the United States policy on refugees”.[198][199] Fellow Conservative Nadhim Zahawi, MP for Stratford-on-Avon, who was born in Iraq, said that he and his (also British Iraqi) wife had been informed would not be able to visit the U.S., despite no longer holding Iraqi citizenship, and called the ban “demeaning and sad”.[200]The following day, however, the Prime Minister’s Office released a statement that May did “not agree with this kind of approach”, and that “it is not one [the United Kingdom] will be taking”.[201] Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the stigmatisation generated by such an approach was “divisive and wrong”. The Foreign Office additionally stated that they had been received clarification on the policy, and that it would apply to dual nationals only if they were travelling to the United States from one of the listed countries.[202] Other British politicians, including Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, said that Trump should not come to the UK on a state visit, with Corbyn saying “I am not happy with him coming here until that ban is lifted”.[203] More than 1.6 million signed an official parliamentary petition which said that “Donald Trump’s well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales.”[204][123][205][206]

France and Germany condemned the order, with both countries’ foreign ministers saying in a joint news conference that “welcoming refugees who flee war and oppression is part of our duty” and that “the United States is a country where Christian traditions have an important meaning. Loving your neighbor is a major Christian value, and that includes helping people“.[122][14] German chancellor Angela Merkel said that the “the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain origin or a certain religion”[207] and in a phone call with Trump, explained to him America’s obligations under the Refugee Convention.[207] Among those affected by the order was the Bundestag member Omid Nouripour, who holds German–Iranian dual citizenship, and is the vice-chair of the German–American Parliamentary Friendship Group; German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reporting on this story said, “Nouripour symbolizes the irrationality of US President Donald Trump’s refugee arrival suspension policy and the temporary ban”.[208]Nouripour said he was “very happy and proud of all those people at the airport protesting and the voluntary lawyers who have achieved a lot. These are the best reasons to say that no matter what the administration will do, I will always love the United States.”[208] In total, around 100,000 Germans were believed to be affected by the law  – chiefly German–Iranian dual citizens who are not legally allowed to surrender Iranian citizenship.[208][209] Merkel’s spokesperson has said the German government will “represent their interests, if needed, vis-a-vis our US partners”.[208] The Green Party of Germany has asked that if the executive order is not lifted, that Trump should be banned from entering Germany and thus prevented from attending the upcoming G20 Summit in Hamburg.[210]

Some media outlets said Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull avoided public comment on the order, with Turnbull saying it “is not my job” to criticize it.[211][212] The Sydney Morning Herald criticized Turnbull’s statement as one that was “positive” toward the policy.[211][212] However, Australian opinion soured after a Tweet by Trump appeared to question a refugee deal already agreed by Turnbull and Obama. The deal, which would have seen the US “take an interest in” up to 1,250 asylum seekers from Australia’s offshore detention centers at Manus Island and Nauru, was described on Twitter by Trump as a “dumb deal” which he would “study”, and in a private phone call with Turnball, Trump called it “the worst deal ever”.[213] In a radio interview, Turnball denied that the call – which had only lasted 25 minutes instead of the scheduled hour – ended because Trump hung up, but said that he would “expect that the commitment would continue”.[213] Sky News Australia journalist Laura Jayes reported that according to government sources, Turnbull now saw Trump as “a bully, and to confront a bully you need to bully back”.[214]

Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström tweeted that she was “deeply concerned” about the order, and worried it might create “mistrust between people”.[215]

Czech President Miloš Zeman praised the order,[14] and Foreign Minister of Italy Angelino Alfano said that Trump was “not doing anything other than implementing his promises” and that Europeans should not criticize him as “we too erect walls in Europe”, a statement echoed by Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski.[216][14][217][211]

On February 1, the United Arab Emirates became the first Muslim-majority nation to back the order.[218] Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that most of the world’s Muslim-majority nations were not covered by the order, which he characterized as temporary and a “sovereign decision” of the United States.[218][219]

Academic and scientific community

Over 6,000 college and university professors signed a national petition during the weekend of January 28 denouncing the executive order.[220] Leaders in a large number of colleges and universities issued statements against the immigration ban.[221] Academics criticized the executive order because of the disruption in education it caused some students, because of the confusion in its implication and in “many cases, expressed moral outrage.”[221]

Scientists doing work in the United States who are from the targeted countries have been affected as well, stranding some scientists in other countries or away from loved ones and their research.[222] Nature interviewed more than 20 researchers and scientists who have been affected.[223]

Arts, culture, and sports

Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti, whose film The Salesman is nominated for an Academy Award, said she would boycott the ceremony to protest the visa ban.[224] Asghar Farhadi, the film’s director, may be blocked from attending the ceremony under the terms of Trump’s program.[225] The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which holds the ceremony, issued a statement denouncing the travel ban.[226] Comedian Dave Chappelle also spoke against the executive order in Dayton, Ohio.[227]

British long distance runner Sir Mo Farah, who was born in Somalia but holds only a British passport and lives and trains in Oregon, said that “Trump seems to have made me an alien” and that it was “deeply troubling” that he would be unable to train in Oregon or reunite with his family under the terms of the executive order; he also called attention to the difference between Trump’s actions and those of Queen Elizabeth II, who had knighted Farah earlier in the year.[228][229] After clarification, Farah said he was “relieved” he would be able to return to his family in the U.S.[230]

Sami Zayn, a Syrian Canadian professional wrestler, wrote on Twitter, “I can’t articulate how truly disgusted I am right now.”[231] American fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad wrote, “Our diversity makes our country strong.”[231] Michael Bradley, the captain of the United States men’s national soccer team, wrote that he was “sad and embarrassed” by the executive order, adding that “the Muslim ban is just the latest example of someone who couldn’t be more out of touch with our country and the right way to move forward”.[232]

Members of the basketball community also spoke out to condemn the executive order. Canadian Steve Nash wrote, “Freedom and liberty [are] packing up their things.”[231] American Nazr Mohammed wrote, “It’s a tough day when you find out that so many people that you thought were fans or friends really hate you and everything you believe in.”[231] Enes Kanter, who is Turkish, wrote, “I am still in disbelief about the [Muslim ban].”[233] Jeremy Lin, who is Chinese American, apologized to people affected by the executive order, then added, “this is for real getting out of control”.[234] American Rondae Hollis-Jefferson called the executive order “BS”.[235] Alexander Lasry, the senior vice president of the Milwaukee Bucks, wrote, “This is not who we are as a country and doesn’t live up to our ideals.”[236] Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, said, “What’s happening right now is really scary and disconcerting.”[234]

Business community

Protests at the headquarters of Google, January 30, 2017, which drew about 2,000[237]

Technology companies denounced Trump’s ban, and several recalled their employees to the United States.[238] Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla chief executive Elon Musk, Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai were among the tech leaders who spoke out against the executive order.[238] The Internet Association, a trade association representing Amazon, LinkedIn, and other companies, stated, “The internet industry is deeply concerned with the implications of President Trump’s executive order limiting immigration and movement into the United States.”[238] Moved by Mo Farah’s statement regarding the impact of the executive order, Nike chairman Mark Parker affirmed that his company would stand “together against bigotry and any form of discrimination”.[239] In solidarity with refugees affected by Trump’s ban, ride-sharing company Lyft donated one million dollars to the ACLU to support legal challenges against the order.[240] Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky offered to provide housing to refugees banned from the United States,[241] and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz pledged to hire 10,000 refugees at branches around the world over the next five years.[242] The Koch brothers’ seminar network stated its opposition to the ban.[243] Organizations in the video game industry also spoke out against the ban, including International Game Developers Association, the Entertainment Software Association, and Insomniac Games, and several developers launched efforts through their games to provide donations to the ACLU for the legal challenges.[244] The Ford Motor Co. opposed the executive order, saying that it “goes against our values as a company.”[245]

Catholic Church

The Catholic Church has condemned the ban and encouraged mercy and compassion towards refugees.[246][247] The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that “The church will not waiver in her defence of our sisters and brothers of all faiths who suffer at the hands of merciless persecutors”.[248] Church leaders speaking against the ban include Chicago cardinalBlaise Cupich (who called the executive action a “dark moment in US history”),[249] bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego, bishop Joe S. Vasquez of Austin, cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles,[250] and bishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia.[250]

The same opinion is Louis Raphaël I Sako, the Patriarch of Babylon and Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, who believes that the Executive Order will bring further division between christians and muslims in the MENA region.[251]

Financial markets

The stock market had its biggest drop in 2017 as investors reacted to the curb on immigration.[252] As uncertainty about the executive order continued, investors began to “dump stocks and the dollar” causing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to fall below 20,000.[253] European and Asian markets also closed at lower rates because of the uncertainty surrounding the executive order.[254]

Public opinion

On January 28, FiveThirtyEight discussed the ban, saying “the scope of Trump’s executive order is such that we’re largely in uncharted waters. Past polls are only so useful, as most of them did not ask about actions as broad as the ones Trump undertook.” Summarizing past polls, they found that Americans generally support reductions in immigration and refugee intake numbers, but oppose a religion-based immigration ban and blanket bans.[255] A Rasmussen Reports national survey taken on January 25–26 found that 57% of likely U.S. voters support temporary reductions, 33% are opposed, and 10% are undecided.[256] A Quinnipiac University national poll conducted January 5–9 showed American voters support 48–42 percent “suspending immigration from ‘terror prone’ regions, even if it means turning away refugees from those regions”. The same poll showed that American voters support 53–41 percent “requiring immigrants from Muslim countries to register with the federal government”.[257]

A poll conducted by Ipsos/Reuters from January 30–31 found that Americans agree with Trump’s executive order 48% to 41%, agree that the United States should limit the number of refugees allowed into the country 66% to 26%, should welcome Muslim refugees as well as Christian ones 57% to 28%, should welcome refugees from all conflicts not just certain ones 56% to 31%, and should open the borders to those fleeing ISIS specifically 49% to 40%. The poll also found Americans agree that all countries should open their borders to refugees of foreign conflicts 48% to 42%, and believe that singling out a group based on religion violates American principles 44% to 39%. The poll had a 95% confidence interval of 4.7%, adjusted for design effect.[13] Support for the travel ban split along party lines. A majority of Democrats strongly disagreed with Trump’s ban, while a majority of Republicans strongly agreed. The poll also found that Republicans were three times more likely than Democrats to believe that “banning people from Muslim countries is necessary to prevent terrorism.”[258]

In other findings of the Reuters poll, 31% of Americans believed that the ban made them more safe. 26% felt less safe after the executive order, while 33% said that it would not make a difference.[258] 72% of Democrats and 45% of Republicans, disagreed that the country should “welcome Christian refugees, but not Muslim ones.”[258]

Jewish organizations

The Economist noted that that the order was signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, “a time when many Americans recall with anguish the hundreds of German Jewish refugees denied entry to American ports”.[41] This fact, as well as Trump’s omission of any reference to Jews or Anti-Semitism in his concurrent address for Holocaust Remembrance Day[259] and the ban’s possible effect on Muslim refugees, led to condemnation from Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, the HIAS, and J Street,[260] as well as Holocaust survivors.[261] Some of these organizations were involved in the protests against the immigration ban at the JFK International airport[262] and in Manhattan,[263] with groups of Jews, on the Sabbath, joining interfaith protests with Muslims against the immigration ban. For the first time since the war began, there is talk in Israel to reverse the long standing ban on Syrian refugees and allow in 100 Syrian children, none of the children have yet entered Israel.[264]

Alt-right and far-right organizations

Some groups that can be considered part of the “alt-right,” including white nationalists, anti-Semites, Men’s Rights Activists (MRA) praised the executive order.[265][266] The neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer, was “ecstatic” over the immigration ban.[267] The Southern Poverty Law Center (SLPC) reported that Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer advocated for the arrest of Judge Ann Donnelly, who issued a temporary stay on some of the executive order’s provisions.[268]

Some European far-right groups and politicians applauded the executive order.[269][270] Dutch politician Geert Wilders, leader of the anti-immigrant and anti-Islam Party for Freedom, also said he supported the measure as did Alexander Gauland of the right-wing populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD).[14][271][211] Nigel Farage, the former leader of the UK Independence Party, welcomed the executive order and called upon his country to replicate it, as did Matteo Salvini of Italy’s Lega Nord and Italian Senator Maurizio Gasparri.[211][269][272]

2017 French presidential candidate and frontrunner Marine Le Pen supported the executive order, pointing out that many Muslim-majority countries have a permanent travel ban against Israeli citizens, whereas Trump’s executive order is a temporary measure.[273]

Terrorist groups

Jihadist and Islamic terrorist groups celebrated the executive order as a victory, saying that “the new policy validates their claim that the United States is at war with Islam.”[274] ISIL-linked social media postings “compared the executive order to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, which Islamic militant leaders at the time hailed as a ‘blessed invasion’ that ignited anti-Western fervor across the Islamic world.”[274]

Legal challenges

On January 28, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of two Iraqis who were detained at New York‘s John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 27, hours after the order was signed.[25] The lawsuit said that the executive order was in violation of procedural due process under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Convention Against Torture, the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, and the Administrative Procedure Act.[275] The Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR) also said that it planned to file a lawsuit.[276]

On January 28 at about 9:00 p.m. EST, Ann Donnelly, a District Judge from the Eastern District of New York, blocked part of the order, ruling that refugees, naturalized citizens, visa holders, and green-card holders from the seven affected countries could not be sent back to their home countries.[76][277][278][76][279][280] Donnelly was acting her capacity as miscellaneous duty judge, and the case was assigned to Judge Carol Bagley Amon the following Monday, along with other related cases in the same district.[281] The decision covers airport detainees and those already in transit, estimated to number between 100 and 200.[282][283] Although the court found a “strong likelihood” that the enforcement of the order violated the detainees’ constitutional rights,[284] the court did not address whether the order is facially constitutional.[76] The stay will be in effect until a hearing scheduled for February 21.[85]

Similar stays have been issued in other cases, by Virginia Federal Judge Leonie Brinkema in Aziz v. Trump and Washington Federal Judge Thomas Zilly.[285]

On January 29 at 1:51 a.m. EST, U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs and Magistrate Judge Judith Dein ordered that the same group of people shall not be detained or removed, and explicitly applied the same protections to U.S. permanent residents. Specially, the order barred the detention of those “who, absent the Executive Order, would be legally authorized to enter the United States”.[286] Further, the judges ordered the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to notify airlines with flights arriving at Logan Airport of the court order and “the fact that individuals on these flights will not be detained or returned based solely on the basis of the Executive Order”.[286][287] This court order restores the ability for lawful immigrants from the seven barred nations to enter the U.S. through Logan Airport.[287]

Lawyers representing the affected travelers said on January 29 that some authorities were unwilling to follow the judge’s ruling, citing the refusal of Border Patrol agents at Washington Dulles Airport to allow attorneys to communicate with detainees in violation of a district judges’ ruling that required such access.[288] Many detainees were held for hours without access to family, friends, or legal assistance.[89][289][290][291]

The state of Washington is filing a legal challenge to the executive order and the state has the support of Amazon.com Inc. and Expedia Inc.[292]

On February 1, District Judge André Birotte Jr. in the Central District of California issued a preliminary injunction in a case brought on behalf of 28 Yemeni immigrants suspended in transit to the US as a result of the executive order.[293] The ruling, worded to apply more broadly than to the case’s plaintiffs alone, said that anyone “from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen with a valid immigrant visa” be allowed to enter the United States.[293] However, as a State Department official had previously issued a memo “provisionally” revoking all immigrant visas in the wake of Trump’s issuing of the executive order, it was unclear whether the ruling would in practice apply to anyone.[294]

Lawsuits against the immigration policy of Donald Trump

Executive Order 13769, signed by U.S. President Donald Trump on January 27, 2017,[1] has been the subject of multiple ongoing legal challenges in the United States federal courts.

In the two days after the executive order was signed, more than 30 federal cases challenging it were filed in federal court.[2]Plaintiffs challenging the order argue that it contravenes the United States Constitution, federal statutes, or both. Several federal district judges have granted preliminary injunctive relief to challengers of the order, blocking portions of the executive order (but not all of it) from going into effect. The parties challenging the executive order include both private individuals who were blocked from entering the U.S. or detained following the executive order’s issuance, and the State of Washington, represented by its state attorney general.

After the executive order was signed, the acting attorney general of the United States, Sally Yates, directed the U.S. Department of Justice not to present arguments in court in defense of the executive order, writing in a memorandum that she was not convinced that the order was lawful.[3] Trump responded by firing Yates and publicly denouncing her in a “scorched-earth” statement.[4][5][6][excessive citations]


Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on January 27, 2017. The order barred aliens from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days.[7]

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 guarantees that “no person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issuance of an immigrant visa because of the person’s race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence” 8 U.S.C. §1152(a)(1)(A). The act also ensures that “[a]ny alien who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States…irrespective of such alien’s status, may apply for asylum…” 8 U.S.C. §1158(a)(1).

Acting Attorney General statement and firing[edit]

White House Press Release regarding Yates

On January 30, 2017, acting United States Attorney General Sally Yates told Justice Department lawyers not to defend litigation involving President Trump’s immigration order banning entry into the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world. She stated in a memo on January 30, 2017, she does not believe the order is lawful.[8][9][10][excessive citations]

President Trump subsequenty fired Yates, following her public statements she did not believe the executive order was lawful, accusing her of partisan politics.[11][12][13][14][excessive citations] Later that day, the Trump administration replaced her with Dana Boente, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.[15] In a statement released by the White House, Yates’ move was characterized as betraying the Department of Justice and being “weak on borders”.[16]

Aziz v. Trump[edit]

Aziz v. Trump
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
Full case name Tareq Aqel Mohammed Aziz, Ammar Aqel Mohammed Aziz, Aqel Muhammad Aziz, Plaintiffs, v. Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States of America, et al., Defendants
Citations No. 1:17-cv-00116

Aziz v. Trump, No. 1:17-cv-00116 (E.D.Va. 2017), is a case currently pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia concerning the executive order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States and the detention of 50–60 individuals at the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia from countries listed in the order.[17][18][19][excessive citations]


On the day Trump signed the executive order, 50–60 individuals at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia were detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. They were blocked from meeting with their attorneys or from applying for asylum.

On January 28, 2017, Tareq Aqel Mohammed Aziz, Ammar Aqel Mohammed Aziz, Aqel Muhammad Aziz, and John Does 1-60 filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, requesting a writ of habeas corpus and declaratory and injunctive relief after being detained at Dulles International Airport by Customs Officers. They alleged six causes of action in their original petition, denial of procedural due process, anti-establishment of religion (claims they are being targeted because they are Muslim), The Immigration and Nationality Act, Equal Protection, Administrative Procedure Act, and Religious Freedom Restoration Act.[19]

Temporary restraining order[edit]

TRO in Aziz v. Trump

On January 28, 2017, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a temporary restraining order enjoining President Donald Trump and the other respondents from enforcing of parts of Trump’s executive order. The Court stated in its order that Customs officials “… shall permit lawyers access to all legal permanent residents being detained at Dulles International Airport …” and that Customs officers “… are forbidden from removing … lawful permanent residents at Dulles International Airport for a period of 7 days from the issuance of this Order. The court has neither let the affected people into the country nor ruled on the constitutionality of the order itself in its ruling.[20][21]

Non-compliance with court order[edit]

On January 28, 2017, the United States Customs and Border Protection agency (“CBP”) and the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (“MWAA”) defied a court order issued that evening by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia requiring that attorneys be granted access to travelers at Dulles Airport detained by CBP agents. By 10:30 pm that night, CBP and MWAA had copies of the order in hand, and repeatedly refused to comply on orders from the CBP. The MWAA Vice President and Airport Manager for Dulles International and the MWAA Deputy Chief of Police both refused to provide the legally required attorney access, despite confirming that they had the codes necessary to open the doors to the location where CBP was detaining individuals based on President Trump’s executive order. At approximately midnight, United States Senator Cory Booker, with a copy of the access Order in hand, was rejected access himself and for any of the attorneys present. As of late Sunday morning, a border agent told lawyers that agents have been instructed not to speak with them.[22] Lawyers at Dulles stated they are currently considering motions to hold the government in contempt and to compel disclosure of any individuals who are being detained.[23]

On January 29, 2017, several members of Congress traveled to Dulles Airport and demanded that Dulles MWAA Police officers allow them to at least speak to customs officials – Democratic Reps. Gerry Connolly (Va.), Don Beyer (Va.), Jamie Raskin (Md.), and John Delaney (Md.). Connolly formally requested access to the detainees from MWAA Police, including Chief Deputy Damsky, and CBP and his request was denied. Connolly reportedly demanded, “Your job is to enforce the law, We have a federal judge who has ruled that anybody being detained is entitled to legal representation. Have they been denied that right or are they in fact getting legal representation?” Connolly was handed a phone with the CBP congressional liaison office on the line during his altercation with Airport Police. Connolly later reported that “he tried to get a straight answer from them but got nowhere”.[24][23][22][excessive citations]

Amended Legal Complaint and CrowdFunding[edit]

On January 30, 2017, the Legal Aid Justice Center (“LAJC”) filed an amended complaint against Donald Trump, the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, John Kelly (Secretary of DHS), Kevin McAleenan (Acting Commissioner of CBP), Wayne Bioni (CBP Port Director of the Area Port of Washington Dulles), and eight unnamed CBP agents at Dulles Airport. The amended complaint further details the circumstances surrounding the Aziz brothers’ detainment and treatment and asks for the US Government to allow everyone deported from Dulles as a result of Trump’s executive order to return to the US and have their immigration status restored.[25]

In conjunction with the campaign, the LAJC announced the launch of a crowdfunding campaign designed to support the legal expenses related to Aziz v. Trump.[26]

Darweesh v. Trump[edit]

Darweesh v. Trump
United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
Full case name Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi, Plaintiffs, v. Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States of America, Defendants, et. al
Citations No. 1:17-cv-00480

Darweesh v. Trump, No. 1:17-cv-00480 (E.D.N.Y. 2017), currently pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, challenges the validity of the executive order.[27][28][29][excessive citations] On January 28, 2017, the court granted a temporary emergency stay halting parts of the order.[30] The court has neither let the affected people into the country nor ruled on the constitutionality of the order itself.[30][31][32][excessive citations]


Original Complaint

On the day Trump signed the executive order, Hameed Darweesh and Haider Alshawi landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport and were detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. They were forbidden from meeting with their attorneys or applying for asylum. Darweesh served in Iraq for over a decade as an interpreter on behalf of the United States Army 101st Airborne and 91st Engineering Unit and as an electrician and contractor.[33]

On January 28, 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a civil action against President Trump, alleging that his executive order barring citizens of specific countries from entry into the United States is in violation of procedural due process, substantive due process, and equal protection under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution; the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965; The Convention Against Torture; the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998; and the Administrative Procedure Act by denying foreign nationals who possess validly issued visas the right to enter the United States. The suit seeks a declaratory judgment and an injunction directed at President Trump, and a writ of habeas corpus ordering the release of any person currently detained as a result of President Trump’s executive order barring entry into the United States from predominantly Muslim countries.[34][35][36][excessive citations]

Class action certification[edit]

Class Certification

On January 28, 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion asking the US District Court to certify the case as a class action lawsuit and asked the Court to certify class status for all persons affected by President Trump’s Executive Order. The motion stated “… Petitioners and the proposed class, by and through their attorneys, hereby respectfully move this Court for an order certifying a representative class of Petitioners, pursuant to United States ex rel. Sero v. Preiser, 506 F.2d 1115 (2d Cir. 1974). Petitioners ask this Court to certify a class consisting of all individuals with refugee applications approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, holders of valid immigrant and non-immigrant visas, and other individuals from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen legally authorized to enter the United States, but who have been or will be denied entry to the United States on the basis of the January 27, 2017 Executive Order. …”.[37][38]

Partial stay of executive order[edit]

Stay order

On January 28, 2017, Ann Donnelly, a Brooklyn federal judge, issued an emergency stay that temporarily blocks the U.S. government from sending people out of the country after they have landed at a U.S. airport with valid visas.[39][40][41][42][excessive citations] The stay was granted following the filing of an Emergency Motion to Stay President Trump’s Executive Order by the ACLU attorneys who are opposing removal of their clients from the United States. The Court ruled that a stay was warranted since the Plaintiff’s habeas petitions were pending review before the Court.[43][44][excessive citations]

Related E.D.N.Y. lawsuits[edit]

In addition to Darweesh, there are 14 other Petitions for Habeas Corpus pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, filed over the Jan. 28–29 weekend:

E.D.N.Y. Related Lawsuits
Case Number Parties
1:17-cv-00483 Alkanfushe v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00484 Al Saeedi v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00486 Sabounchi v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00487 Alqaissi et al. v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00488 Abushamma v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00489 Rashekhi v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00490 Jalayer v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00492 Narges v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00493 Ahmed v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00494 Emamjomeh et al. v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00495 Hatahet v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00496 Fasihianifard v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00498 Alinejad v. Trump et al.
1:17-cv-00499 Lin v. Kelly et al.

Doe v. Trump[edit]

Doe v. Trump
United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
Full case name John DOE 1, John DOE 2 , Plaintiffs, v. Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States of America, et al., Defendants
Citations No. 2:17-cv-00126

Doe v. Trump, No. 2:17-cv-00126 (W.D.Wash. 2017), is a case currently pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington concerning the executive order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States and the detention of individuals at Sea-Tac Airport in Washington from countries listed in the order.[45]


On January 27, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order, Protecting the Nation From Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals, barring aliens from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days. Later that day, Plaintiffs at Sea-Tac Airport in Washington were detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

On January 28, 2017, John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, requesting a writ of habeas corpus and declaratory and injunctive relief after being detained at Sea-Tac Airport by Customs Officers. They alleged four causes of action in their original petition, denial of procedural due process, Statutory Violations of The Immigration and Nationality Act, the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, Equal Protection, and violations of the Administrative Procedure Act.[45]

Temporary stay of removal[edit]

On January 29, 2017, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a temporary stay of removal directed to Donald Trump, which prohibited removal from the US of any of the Plaintiffs to the action. The stay is set to expire on February 3, 2017.[46]

Mohammed v. United States[edit]

Mohammed v. Trump
United States District Court for the Central District of California
Citations No. 2:17-cv-00786

Mohammed v. United States, No. 2:17-cv-00786 (C.D. Cal. 2017), currently pending in the United States District Court for the Central District of California.


Sarsour v. Trump[edit]

Sarsour v. Trump
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
Citations No. 1:17-cv-00120

Sarsour v. Trump or CAIR v. Trump, No. 1:17-cv-00120 (E.D.Va. 2017), currently pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, challenges the validity of the order.[47][48][49][50][51][excessive citations]


On January 30, 2017 The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, held a news conference in Washington, D.C. and announced the filing of a federal lawsuit on behalf of individuals challenging the constitutionality of President Trump’s recent executive order. The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that the executive order is unconstitutional because it targets and is discriminatory towards Muslims.[52][53]

On January 30, 2017, Linda Sarsour, et al. filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, requesting declaratory and injunctive relief and alleging religious discrimination on basis the executive order targets Muslims. They alleged four causes of action in their original petition, anti-establishment of religion (claims they are being targeted because they are Muslim), Free Exercise (claiming they are being burdened in the exercise of their religion), violation of due process rights, and violations of the Administrative Procedure Act. The suit seeks a declaratory judgment that the executive order violates the Constitution and an Injunction staying its affect.[47][49]

CAIR v. Trump Complaint

State of Washington v. Trump[edit]

State of Washington v. Trump
United States District Court for the Western District of Washington
Full case name State of Washington, Plaintiffs, v. Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States of America, et al., Defendants
Citations No. 2:17-cv-00141

State of Washington v. Trump, No. 2:17-cv-00141 (W.D.Wash. 2017), currently pending in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, challenges the validity of the order.[54][55][56][57][58][59][60][excessive citations]


On January 30, 2017, the State of Washington — represented by state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, with the support of Governor Jay Inslee,[61]filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, against Trump and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The state’s suit asked the court for declaratory relief (a declaration that the executive order violates the Constitution) and injunctive relief (to block enforcement of the executive order). The state also filed a motion for temporary restraining order, seeking an immediate halt to the executive order’s implementation.[55]

Washington state alleges nine causes of action in its original complaint: (1) that the executive order violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment by denying the equal protection of the laws; (2) that the executive order violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by preferring one religion over another; (3) that the executive order violates the Fifth Amendment right to procedural due process; (4) that the executive order’s discriminatory visa procedures violate the Immigration and Nationality Act; (5) that the denial of asylum and withholding of removal violate the Immigration and Nationality Act; (6) that the executive order violates federal statutory law implementing the United Nations Convention against Torture; (7) that the executive order violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; (8) that the executive order is a procedural violation of the Administrative Procedure Act; and (9) that the executive order is a substantive violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.[54]

Louhghalam et al v. Trump[edit]

Louhghalam et al v. Trump
United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Full case name ARGHAVAN LOUHGHALAM and MAZDAK POURABDOLLAH TOOTKABONI, Plaintiffs, v. Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States of America, et al., Defendants
Citations No. 17-cv-10154

Louhghalam v. Trump, No. 17-cv-10154 (D.Mass. 2017), currently pending in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, challenges the executive order. The suit arose from the detention of individuals at Logan International Airport in Massachusetts from countries listed in the order.[62]


On the day Trump signed the executive order, Plaintiffs at Logan International Airport in Boston were detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

On January 28, 2017, Mazdak Pourabdollah Tootkaboni and Arghavan Louhghalam were detained at Logan International Airport by Customs Officers.[63] Tootkaboni and Louhghalam, a married couple, are both engineering professors at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth who hold doctorates from Johns Hopkins University. They are Iranian nationals who are lawful permanent residents of the United States (i.e., Green Card holders).[63][64] They had flown from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris back to Massachusetts after finishing a weeklong conference on sustainable engineering held in Marseille.[63] The professors were released after being detained for about three hours.[64]

After being detained, Tootkaboni and Louhghalam, represented by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the ACLU of Massachusetts,[64] filed a civil action in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus and a complaint seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. They raised five causes of action in their original petition: (1) denial of procedural due process; (2) violation of the freedom of religion protections of the First Amendment (Tootkaboni and Louhghalam allege that they were singled out because they are Muslim); (3) violation of the Equal Protection Clause; (4) violation of the Administrative Procedure Act; and (5) violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).[62]

Temporary restraining order[edit]

The temporary restraining order in Louhghalam v. Trump was issued on January 29, 2017.

On January 29, 2017, U.S. District Judge Allison Dale Burroughs and Magistrate Judge Judith Gail Dein of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) directed to defendant Trump, which prohibited removal from the United States of any person with a valid visa, someone awarded refugee status, or lawful permanent residents, and that any secondary screening process must comply with 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(13)(c).[65][66]

The order barred the detention of those “who, absent the Executive Order, would be legally authorized to enter the United States.” Further, the judges ordered the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to notify airlines with flights arriving at Logan Airport of the court order and “the fact that individuals on these flights will not be detained or returned based solely on the basis of the Executive Order.”[67]

The TRO is set to expire seven days after issuance; a hearing will be held by the court before the TRO expires.[68]

San Francisco v. Trump[edit]

City and County of San Francisco v. Trump
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Full case name City and County of San Francisco, Plaintiffs, v. Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States of America, et al., Defendants
Citations No. 3:17-cv-00485

City and County of San Francisco v. Trump or San Francisco v. Trump, No. 3:17-cv-00485 (N.D.Cal. 2017), currently pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, challenges executive order 13768 on the grounds it violates the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution.[69][70][71][excessive citations]


On January 31, 2017 the City and County of San Francisco filed a civil action challenging executive order 13768 on the grounds that it violates the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution with regard to State Sovereignty. San Francisco sued the Trump administration over the executive order requiring the federal government to withhold money from so-called sanctuary cities that protect undocumented immigrants from federal prosecution. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California alleges that Trump’s order violates the Tenth Amendment, which states that powers not explicitly given to the federal government by the constitution are reserved for the states.[72][73]

The civil suit alleges three causes of action (1) Declaratory Relief – San Francisco complies with 8 U.S.C. § 1373, (2) 10th Amendement – 8 U.S.C. § 1373(a) is unconstitutional, and (3) 10th Amendment – Executive Order Section 9(A) enforcement directive is unconstitutional. The suit seeks a Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief holding that, (1) 8 U.S.C. § 1373(a) is unconstitutional and invalid on its face; (2) Enjoin Defendants from enforcing Section 1373(a) or using it as a condition for receiving federal funds; (3) Declare that Section 8 U.S.C. § 1373(a) is invalid as applied to state and local Sanctuary City laws, (4) Enjoin Defendants from enforcing Section 1373(a) against jurisdictions that enact Sanctuary City laws for legitimate local purposes; (5) Declare that San Francisco complies with Section 8 U.S.C. § 1373; (6) Enjoin Defendants from designating San Francisco as a jurisdiction that fails to comply with Section 8 U.S.C. § 1373; (7) Enjoin unconstitutional applications of the Enforcement Directive in Executive Order Section 9(a).[69]

Unlike other suits brought in United States District Courts across the United States challenging the executive order, this suit challenges Executive Order 13768 and is the first one to challenge the executive order on the basis of State’s Rights for Sanctuary Cities.[74]

International Law[edit]

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein has expressed the view that the executive order violates international human rights law.[75] Some legal scholars believe that the executive order breaches the United States’ obligations as a party to both the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees (Geneva Refugee Convention) and the United Nations Convention against Torture. The latter treaty imposes an absolute duty upon state parties “not to return a person to a state where they may face torture or other serious harms.”[76] In a telephone call with Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed the view of the German government that Trump’s executive order ran counter to the duties of all signatory states to the Geneva Refugee Convention “to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds.”[77]

Department of Homeland Security official statement[edit]

The Department of Homeland Security Issued the following statement on January 29, 2017:

“Upon issuance of the court orders yesterday, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immediately began taking steps to comply with the orders. Concurrently, the Department of Homeland Security continues to work with our partners in the Departments of Justice and State to implement President Trump’s executive order on protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States. We are committed to ensuring that all individuals affected by the executive orders, including those affected by the court orders, are being provided all rights afforded under the law. We are also working closely with airline partners to prevent travelers who would not be granted entry under the executive orders from boarding international flights to the U.S. Therefore, we do not anticipate that further individuals traveling by air to the United States will be affected. As Secretary Kelly previously stated, in applying the provisions of the president’s executive order, the entry of lawful permanent residents is in the national interest. Accordingly, absent significant derogatory information indicating a serious threat to public safety and welfare, lawful permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case-by-case determinations. We are and will remain in compliance with judicial orders. We are and will continue to enforce President Trump’s executive order humanely and with professionalism. DHS will continue to protect the homeland.”[78]

Federal response

White House Press Release regarding Sally Yates

In response to the lawsuits, the Department of Homeland Security issued a statement on January 29 saying that that it would continue to enforce all of the executive order and that “prohibited travel will remain prohibited”, noting that “no foreign national in a foreign land, without ties to the United States, has any unfettered right to demand entry into the United States or to demand immigration benefits in the United States”.[88] On the same day, a White House spokesperson said that the rulings did not undercut the executive order, and that “All stopped visas will remain stopped. All halted admissions will remain halted. All restricted travel will remain prohibited.”[295]On January 30, then-Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama administration appointee holding the position until the confirmation of Jeff Sessions, barred the Justice Department from defending the executive order in court.[296][297] According to Yates, the department’s Office of Legal Counsel conducted a review of the order in order to determine if it was “lawful on its face”, but she said that the review did not address the order’s effects, which she felt were not in keeping “with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right”.[48] She went on further to say that, regardless of the Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion, she was not “convinced that the executive order is lawful”.[48] After coming out against Trump’s refugee ban, however, Trump quickly relieved her of her duties, calling her statement a “betrayal” to the administration.[298] He replaced her with Dana J. Boente, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.[299] In addition, acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Daniel Ragsdale was replaced with Thomas Homan soon after Yates’s removal.[300] This leadership alteration became known as the Monday Night Massacre.[301]

In response to the firing of Yates and the demotion of Ragsdale, a bipartisan group of more than 70 former federal prosecutors — including 50 who had served under a Republican administration — defended the decision of the former acting Attorney General.[302] In their statement, they said:

Struck by one stunning headline after another, we stopped to think: if we were called upon to defend the Executive Order, could we do it within the guidelines we learned and lived by as lawyers for the United States? We could not. We could not candidly tell a court, consistent with these principles, that the Executive Order is not, in fact, a thinly veiled attempt to exclude Muslims from certain countries based on their religion. We could not candidly tell a court that the United States has the right to turn away refugees fleeing grave danger, even though they have already been fully vetted and approved for admission. We could not candidly tell a court, consistent with these principles, that the United States has the right to bar admission to people who are otherwise lawfully permitted to enter the United States, based solely on the fact that others of their religion are perceived to be potential security threats. We could not candidly tell a court that the United States has the right to detain or forcibly return people who have lawfully traveled here, based solely on their religion and country of origin. If asked whether the language of the Executive Order would permit the President to give preference to Christians over Muslims for admission to the United States, a position the President has publicly expressed, we would have to say, yes, the language would allow that. If asked whether such a religious preference comports with our Constitution, we would have to say we do not believe so.

Not all responders were supportive of Yates, however. Journalist Gregg Jarrett of Fox News applauded the removal, saying that Yates had “committed an egregious violation of ethical standards and a serious breach of her duties” and “deserved to get canned.”[303] Jack Goldsmith, a former US Assistant Attorney General, said:[304]

If Yates feels this way, she should have resigned. Instead, she wrote a letter that appears to depart sharply from the usual criteria that an Attorney General would apply in deciding whether to defend an EO in court. As such, the letter seems like an act of insubordination that invites the President to fire her. Which he did.



– – – – – – –

Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq., and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and to protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Purpose.  The visa-issuance process plays a crucial role in detecting individuals with terrorist ties and stopping them from entering the United States.  Perhaps in no instance was that more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans.  And while the visa-issuance process was reviewed and amended after the September 11 attacks to better detect would-be terrorists from receiving visas, these measures did not stop attacks by foreign nationals who were admitted to the United States.

Numerous foreign-born individuals have been convicted or implicated in terrorism-related crimes since September 11, 2001, including foreign nationals who entered the United States after receiving visitor, student, or employment visas, or who entered through the United States refugee resettlement program. Deteriorating conditions in certain countries due to war, strife, disaster, and civil unrest increase the likelihood that terrorists will use any means possible to enter the United States.  The United States must be vigilant during the visa-issuance process to ensure that those approved for admission do not intend to harm Americans and that they have no ties to terrorism.

In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.  The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.  In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Sec. 2.  Policy.  It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States; and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes.

Sec. 3.  Suspension of Issuance of Visas and Other Immigration Benefits to Nationals of Countries of Particular Concern(a)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall immediately conduct a review to determine the information needed from any country to adjudicate any visa, admission, or other benefit under the INA (adjudications) in order to determine that the individual seeking the benefit is who the individual claims to be and is not a security or public-safety threat.

(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the President a report on the results of the review described in subsection (a) of this section, including the Secretary of Homeland Security’s determination of the information needed for adjudications and a list of countries that do not provide adequate information, within 30 days of the date of this order.  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide a copy of the report to the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence.

(c)  To temporarily reduce investigative burdens on relevant agencies during the review period described in subsection (a) of this section, to ensure the proper review and maximum utilization of available resources for the screening of foreign nationals, and to ensure that adequate standards are established to prevent infiltration by foreign terrorists or criminals, pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the immigrant and nonimmigrant entry into the United States of aliens from countries referred to in section 217(a)(12) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)(12), would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and I hereby suspend entry into the United States, as immigrants and nonimmigrants, of such persons for 90 days from the date of this order (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas).

(d)  Immediately upon receipt of the report described in subsection (b) of this section regarding the information needed for adjudications, the Secretary of State shall request all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification.

(e)  After the 60-day period described in subsection (d) of this section expires, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the President a list of countries recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals (excluding those foreign nationals traveling on diplomatic visas, North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas, C-2 visas for travel to the United Nations, and G-1, G-2, G-3, and G-4 visas) from countries that do not provide the information requested pursuant to subsection (d) of this section until compliance occurs.

(f)  At any point after submitting the list described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Homeland Security may submit to the President the names of any additional countries recommended for similar treatment.

(g)  Notwithstanding a suspension pursuant to subsection (c) of this section or pursuant to a Presidential proclamation described in subsection (e) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may, on a case-by-case basis, and when in the national interest, issue visas or other immigration benefits to nationals of countries for which visas and benefits are otherwise blocked.

(h)  The Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall submit to the President a joint report on the progress in implementing this order within 30 days of the date of this order, a second report within 60 days of the date of this order, a third report within 90 days of the date of this order, and a fourth report within 120 days of the date of this order.

Sec. 4.  Implementing Uniform Screening Standards for All Immigration Programs(a)  The Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation shall implement a program, as part of the adjudication process for immigration benefits, to identify individuals seeking to enter the United States on a fraudulent basis with the intent to cause harm, or who are at risk of causing harm subsequent to their admission. This program will include the development of a uniform screening standard and procedure, such as in-person interviews; a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants; amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent; a mechanism to ensure that the applicant is who the applicant claims to be; a process to evaluate the applicant’s likelihood of becoming a positively contributing member of society and the applicant’s ability to make contributions to the national interest; and a mechanism to assess whether or not the applicant has the intent to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.

(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Secretary of State, the Director of National Intelligence, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, shall submit to the President an initial report on the progress of this directive within 60 days of the date of this order, a second report within 100 days of the date of this order, and a third report within 200 days of the date of this order.

Sec. 5.  Realignment of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for Fiscal Year 2017(a)  The Secretary of State shall suspend the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days.  During the 120-day period, the Secretary of State, in conjunction with the Secretary of Homeland Security and in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, shall review the USRAP application and adjudication process to determine what additional procedures should be taken to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States, and shall implement such additional procedures.  Refugee applicants who are already in the USRAP process may be admitted upon the initiation and completion of these revised procedures.  Upon the date that is 120 days after the date of this order, the Secretary of State shall resume USRAP admissions only for nationals of countries for which the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Director of National Intelligence have jointly determined that such additional procedures are adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States.

(b)  Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.  Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.

(c)  Pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the entry of nationals of Syria as refugees is detrimental to the interests of the United States and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I have determined that sufficient changes have been made to the USRAP to ensure that admission of Syrian refugees is consistent with the national interest.

(d)  Pursuant to section 212(f) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182(f), I hereby proclaim that the entry of more than 50,000 refugees in fiscal year 2017 would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, and thus suspend any such entry until such time as I determine that additional admissions would be in the national interest.

(e)  Notwithstanding the temporary suspension imposed pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security may jointly determine to admit individuals to the United States as refugees on a case-by-case basis, in their discretion, but only so long as they determine that the admission of such individuals as refugees is in the national interest — including when the person is a religious minority in his country of nationality facing religious persecution, when admitting the person would enable the United States to conform its conduct to a preexisting international agreement, or when the person is already in transit and denying admission would cause undue hardship — and it would not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.

(f)  The Secretary of State shall submit to the President an initial report on the progress of the directive in subsection (b) of this section regarding prioritization of claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution within 100 days of the date of this order and shall submit a second report within 200 days of the date of this order.

(g)  It is the policy of the executive branch that, to the extent permitted by law and as practicable, State and local jurisdictions be granted a role in the process of determining the placement or settlement in their jurisdictions of aliens eligible to be admitted to the United States as refugees.  To that end, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall examine existing law to determine the extent to which, consistent with applicable law, State and local jurisdictions may have greater involvement in the process of determining the placement or resettlement of refugees in their jurisdictions, and shall devise a proposal to lawfully promote such involvement.

Sec. 6.  Rescission of Exercise of Authority Relating to the Terrorism Grounds of InadmissibilityThe Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall, in consultation with the Attorney General, consider rescinding the exercises of authority in section 212 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1182, relating to the terrorism grounds of inadmissibility, as well as any related implementing memoranda.

Sec. 7.  Expedited Completion of the Biometric Entry-Exit Tracking System.  (a)  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall expedite the completion and implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States, as recommended by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.

(b)  The Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to the President periodic reports on the progress of the directive contained in subsection (a) of this section.  The initial report shall be submitted within 100 days of the date of this order, a second report shall be submitted within 200 days of the date of this order, and a third report shall be submitted within 365 days of the date of this order.  Further, the Secretary shall submit a report every 180 days thereafter until the system is fully deployed and operational.

Sec. 8.  Visa Interview Security.  (a)  The Secretary of State shall immediately suspend the Visa Interview Waiver Program and ensure compliance with section 222 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1222, which requires that all individuals seeking a nonimmigrant visa undergo an in-person interview, subject to specific statutory exceptions.

(b)  To the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, the Secretary of State shall immediately expand the Consular Fellows Program, including by substantially increasing the number of Fellows, lengthening or making permanent the period of service, and making language training at the Foreign Service Institute available to Fellows for assignment to posts outside of their area of core linguistic ability, to ensure that non-immigrant visa-interview wait times are not unduly affected.

Sec. 9.  Visa Validity Reciprocity.  The Secretary of State shall review all nonimmigrant visa reciprocity agreements to ensure that they are, with respect to each visa classification, truly reciprocal insofar as practicable with respect to validity period and fees, as required by sections 221(c) and 281 of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1201(c) and 1351, and other treatment.  If a country does not treat United States nationals seeking nonimmigrant visas in a reciprocal manner, the Secretary of State shall adjust the visa validity period, fee schedule, or other treatment to match the treatment of United States nationals by the foreign country, to the extent practicable.

Sec. 10.  Transparency and Data Collection(a)  To be more transparent with the American people, and to more effectively implement policies and practices that serve the national interest, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, shall, consistent with applicable law and national security, collect and make publicly available within 180 days, and every 180 days thereafter:

(i)   information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been charged with terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; convicted of terrorism-related offenses while in the United States; or removed from the United States based on terrorism-related activity, affiliation, or material support to a terrorism-related organization, or any other national security reasons since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later;

(ii)   information regarding the number of foreign nationals in the United States who have been radicalized after entry into the United States and engaged in terrorism-related acts, or who have provided material support to terrorism-related organizations in countries that pose a threat to the United States, since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later; and

(iii)  information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including honor killings, in the United States by foreign nationals, since the date of this order or the last reporting period, whichever is later; and

(iv)   any other information relevant to public safety and security as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General, including information on the immigration status of foreign nationals charged with major offenses.

(b)  The Secretary of State shall, within one year of the date of this order, provide a report on the estimated long-term costs of the USRAP at the Federal, State, and local levels.

Sec. 11.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)   the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii)  the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b)  This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c)  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Yemen (disambiguation).
Republic of Yemen

الجمهورية اليمنية
al-Jumhūrīyah al-Yamanīyah
Flag Emblem

الله، الوَطَن، الثَورة، الوَحدة (Arabic)
“Allāh, al-Waṭan, ath-Thawrah, al-Waḥdah”
“God, Country, Revolution, Unity”

نشيد اليمن الوطني (Arabic)
al-Jumhūrīyah al-Muttaḥidah
“United Republic”

Location of  Yemen  (red)in the Arabian Peninsula  (light yellow)

Location of  Yemen  (red)in the Arabian Peninsula  (light yellow)

Capital Sana’a (de jure,Houthi Government)
Aden (provisional,Hadi Government)
Largest city Sana’a
Official languages Arabic
Religion Islam
Demonym Yemeni
Government disputed
 – President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi(Aden)
 – Prime Minister Khaled Bahah(Aden)
 – President of the Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al-Houthi (Sana’a)
Legislature House of Representatives
 – North Yemenindependencea 1 November 1918
 – South Yemenindependenceb 30 November 1967
 – Unification 22 May 1990
 – Total 528,076 km2(50th)
203,796 sq mi
 – Water (%) negligible
 – 2013 estimate 25,408,000[1](48th)
 – 2004 census 19,685,000[2]
 – Density 44.7/km2 (160th)
115.7/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2012 estimate
 – Total $58.202 billion[3]
 – Per capita $2,249[3]
GDP (nominal) 2012 estimate
 – Total $36.700 billion[3]
 – Per capita $1,418[3]
HDI (2013) Steady 0.500[4]
low · 154th
Currency Yemeni rial (YER)
Time zone (UTC+3)
Drives on the right[5]
Calling code +967
ISO 3166 code YE
Internet TLD .ye, اليمن.
a. From the Ottoman Empire.
b. From the United Kingdom.

Yemen (Listeni/ˈjɛmən/; Arabic: اليَمَنal-Yaman), officially known as the Republic of Yemen (الجمهورية اليمنية al-Jumhūrīyah al-Yamanīyah), is an Arab country in Southwest Asia, occupying the southwestern to southern end of the Arabian Peninsula. Yemen is the second largest country in the peninsula, occupying 527,970 km2 (203,850 sq mi). The coastline stretches for about 2,000 km (1,200 mi).[6] It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, the Red Sea to the west, the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea to the south, and Oman to the east. Although Yemen’s constitutionally stated capital is the city of Sana’a, the city has been under rebel control since February 2015. Because of this, Yemen’s capital has been temporarily relocated to the port city of Aden, on the southern coast. Yemen’s territory includes more than 200 islands; the largest of these is Socotra.

Yemen was the home of the Sabaeans (biblical Sheba),[7][8][9] a trading state that flourished for over a thousand years and probably also included parts of modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea. In 275 AD, the region came under the rule of the later Jewish influencedHimyarite Kingdom.[10] Christianity arrived in the 4th century AD whereas Judaism and local paganism were already established.Islam spread quickly in the 7th century and Yemenite troops were crucial in the expansion of the early Islamic conquests.[11]Administration of Yemen has long been notoriously difficult.[12] Several dynasties emerged from the 9th to 16th century, the Rasulidbeing the strongest and most prosperous. The country was divided between the Ottoman and British empires in the early 20th century. The Zaydi Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen was established after World War I in North Yemen before the creation ofYemen Arab Republic in 1962. South Yemen remained a British protectorate until 1967. The two Yemeni states united to form the modern republic of Yemen in 1990.

Yemen is a developing country.[13] Under the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen was described as a kleptocracy.[14][15]According to the 2009 international corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, Yemen ranked 164 out of 182 countries surveyed.[16] In the absence of strong state institutions, elite politics in Yemen constituted a de facto form of collaborative governance, where competing tribal, regional, religious and political interests agreed to hold themselves in check through tacit acceptance of the balance it produced.[17] The informal political settlement was held together by a power-sharing deal between three men: president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who controlled the state; major general Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who controlled the largest share of the army; and sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar, figurehead of the Islamist Islah party and Saudi Arabia’s chosen broker of transnationalpatronage payments to various political players,[18] including tribal sheikhs.[19][20][21][22] The Saudi payments have been intended to facilitate the tribes autonomy from the Yemeni government and to give the Saudi government a mechanism with which to weigh in on Yemen’s political decision making.[23]

Yemen has been in a state of political crisis since 2011. In January 2011, a series of street protests began against poverty, unemployment, corruption and president Saleh’s plan to amend Yemen’s constitution and eliminate presidential term limit, in effect making him president for life.[24] He was also grooming his eldest son Ahmed Saleh, the commander of the Republican Guard, to succeed him.[24] The United States considers Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to be the “most dangerous of all the franchises of Al-Qaeda”.[25] The U.S sought a controlled transition that would enable their counter-terrorism operations to continue, while Saudi Arabia’s main concern was to maintain its influence in Yemen through some old regime figures and other tribal leaders who were part of the so-called “GCC initiative”.[26][27] President Saleh stepped down, the transition quickly proceeded per the “GCC Initiative”; the powers of the presidency were transferred to Vice President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was formally elected president on 21 February 2012 in a one-man election. The interim parliament conferred immunity on president Saleh and 500 of his associates that same month.[28] A National Dialogue Conference was launched on 18 March 2012 to reach consensus on major issues facing the country’s future.[29][30] In January 2014, the National Dialogue Conference extended Hadi’s term for another year.[31]

However, the transitional process was disrupted by conflicts between the Houthis and Islah, as well as the al-Qaeda insurgency. In September 2014, the Houthis took over Sana’a,[32][33][34] forcing Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar to flee the country,[35] and prompted the formation of a new “unity government” including a variety of Yemeni factions.[36] A draft constitution was discussed that would split Yemen into six federal regions, but the Houthis rejected the proposal.[37] Hadi, his prime minister and cabinet resigned on 22 January 2015 amid a political impasse against the Houthis and ongoing violence in the capital.[38] Three weeks later, the Houthisdeclared themselves in control of the government in what Abdul-Malik al-Houthi called a “glorious revolution”, although opposition politicians, neighbouring states, and the United Nations decried the takeover as a coup d’état.[39] Most of Yemen’s political factions and the international community have refused to recognise the Houthis’ authority, and UN-brokered talks on a power-sharing deal are ongoing.[40][41] However, on 21 February, Hadi rescinded his resignation and declared he was still the legitimate president inAden.[42] Hadi called on government institutions to gather in Aden,[43][44] which he proclaimed on 21 March 2015 was Yemen’s “economic and temporary capital” while Sana’a remains under Houthi control.


One etymology derives Yemen from yamin, meaning “on the right side”, as the south is on the right when facing the sunrise. Another derives Yemen from yumn, meaning “felicity”, as much of the country is fertile. The Romans called it Arabia Felix (Happy Arabia) as opposed to Arabia Deserta (Deserted Arabia). Yemen was mentioned in Old South Arabian inscriptions as Yamnat.[46] In Arabic literature, the term al-Yaman includes much greater territory than that of the republic of Yemen; it stretches from northern Asir toDhofar.[47][48]


Main article: History of Yemen

Ancient history[edit]

With its long sea border between eastern and western civilizations, Yemen has long existed at a crossroads of cultures with a strategic location in terms of trade on the west of the Arabian Peninsula. Large settlements for their era existed in the mountains of northern Yemen as early as 5000 BC.[49] Little is known about ancient Yemen and how exactly it transitioned from nascent Bronze Age civilization to more commercial caravan kingdoms. This may be due to social or official discouragement of research into pre-Islamic civilizations in Arabia.[50]

Sabaean gravestone of a woman holding a stylized sheaf of wheat, a symbol of fertility in ancient Yemen

The Sabaean Kingdom came into existence from at least the eleventh century BC.[51] There were four major kingdoms or tribal confederations in South Arabia: Saba, Hadramout, Qataban and Ma’in. Saba is believed to be biblical Sheba and was the most prominent federation.[52] The Sabaean rulers adopted the title Mukarrib generally thought to mean “unifier”,[53] or a “priest-king”,[54] or the head of confederation of South Arabian kingdoms, the ‘king of the kings’.[55] The role of the Mukarrib was to bring the various tribes under the kingdom and preside over them all.[56] The Sabaens built the Great Dam of Marib around 940 BC.[57] The dam was built to withstand the seasonal flash floods surging down the valley.

Between 700 and 680 BC, the Kingdom of Awsan dominated Aden and its surroundings and challenged the Sabaean supremacy in the Arabian South. Sabaean Mukarrib Karib’il Watar I conquered the entire realm of Awsan[58] and, expanding Sabaean rule and territory to include much of South Arabia.[59] Lack of water in the Arabian Peninsula prevented the Sabaeans from unifying the entire peninsula. Instead, they established various colonies to control trade routes.[60] Evidence of Sabaean influence is found in northern Ethiopia, where the South Arabian alphabet religion and pantheon, and the South Arabian style of art and architecture were introduced.[61][62][63] The Sabaean created a sense of identity through their religion. They worshipped El-Maqah and believed themselves to be his children.[64] For centuries, the Sabaeans controlled outbound trade across the Bab-el-Mandeb, a strait separating the Arabian Peninsula from the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea from the Indian Ocean.[65]

By the 3rd century BC, Qataban, Hadramout and Ma’in became independent from Saba and established themselves in the Yemeni arena. Minaean rule stretched as far as Dedan,[66] with their capital at Baraqish. The Sabaeans regained their control over Ma’in after the collapse of Qataban in 50 BCE. By the time of the Roman expedition to Arabia Felix in 25 BC, the Sabaeans were once again the dominating power in Southern Arabia.[67] Aelius Gallus was ordered to lead a military campaign to establish Roman dominance over the Sabaeans.[68] The Romans had a vague and contradictory geographical knowledge aboutArabia Felix or Yemen. The Roman army of ten thousand men was defeated before Marib.[69] Strabo‘s close relationship with Aelius Gallus led him to attempt to justify his friend’s defeat in his writings. It took the Romans six months to reach Marib and sixty days to return to Egypt. The Romans blamed their Nabataean guide and executed him for treachery.[70] No direct mention in Sabaean inscriptions of the Roman expedition has yet been found.

A funerary stela featuring a musical scene, 1st century AD

Himyarite King Dhamar Ali Yahbur II

After the Roman expedition – perhaps earlier – the country fell into chaos and two clans, namelyHamdan and Himyar, claimed kingship, assuming the title King of Sheba and Dhu Raydan.[71] Dhu Raydan (i.e. Himyarites) allied themselves with Aksum in Ethiopia against the Sabaeans.[72] The chief of Bakil and king of Saba and Dhu Raydan, El-sharah Yahdub, launched successful campaigns against the Himyarites and Habashat (i.e. Aksum), El-sharah took pride in his campaigns and added the title Yahdub to his name, which means “suppressor”; he used to kill his enemies by cutting them to pieces.[73] Sana’a came into prominence during his reign as he built the Ghumdan Palace to be his place of residence.

The Himyarite annexed Sana’a from Hamdan in around 100 AD.[74] Hashdi tribesmen rebelled against them, however, and regained Sana’a in around 180 AD.[75] It was not until 275 AD thatShammar Yahri’sh conquered Hadramout and Najran and Tihama, thus unifying Yemen and consolidating Himyarite rule.[76][77] The Himyarites rejected polytheism and adhered to a consensual form of monotheism calledRahmanism.[78] In 354 AD, Roman Emperor Constantius II sent an embassy headed by Theophilos the Indian to convert the Himyarites to Christianity.[79] According to Philostorgius, the mission was resisted by local Jews.[80] Several inscriptions have been found in Hebrew andSabaean praising the ruling house in Jewish terms for helping and empowering the People of Israel.[81]

According to Islamic traditions, King As’ad The Perfect mounted a military expedition to support the Jews of Yathrib.[82] Abu Karib As’ad, as known from the inscriptions, led a military campaign to central Arabia or Najd to support the vassal Kingdom of Kindah against the Lakhmids.[83] However, no direct reference to Judaism or Yathrib was discovered from his lengthy reign. Abu Kariba died in 445 AD having reigned for almost 50 years.[84] By 515 AD, Himyar became increasingly divided along religious lines and a bitter conflict between different factions paved the way for an Aksumite intervention. The last Himyarite king Ma’adikarib Ya’fur was supported by Aksum against his Jewish rivals. Ma’adikarib was Christian and launched a campaign against the Lakhmids in Southern Iraq, with the support of other Arab allies of Byzantium.[85] The Lakhmids were a Bulwark of Persia, which was intolerant to a proselytizing religion like Christianity.[86]

After the death of Ma’adikarib Ya’fur in around 521 AD, a Himyarite Jewish warlord named Yousef Asar Yathar rose to power. His honorary title Yathar means “to avenge”. Yemenite Christians, aided by Aksum and Byzantium, systematically persecuted Jews and burned down several synagogues across the land. Yousef avenged his people with great cruelty.[87] He marched toward the port city of Mocha killing 14,000 and capturing 11,000.[85] Then he settled a camp in Bab-el-Mandeb to prevent aid flowing from Aksum. At the same time, Yousef sent an army under the command of another Jewish warlord, Sharahil Yaqbul, to Najran. Sharahil had reinforcements from the Bedouins of the Kindahand Madh’hij tribes, eventually wiping out the Christian community in Najran.[88] Yousef or Dhu Nuwas (The one with sidelocks) as known in Arabic literature, believed that Christians in Yemen were a fifth column.[89] Christian sources portray Dhu Nuwas (Yousef Asar) as a Jewish zealot, while Islamic traditions say that he threw 20,000 Christians into pits filled with flaming oil.[87] This history, however, is shrouded in legend.[80] Dhu Nuwas left two inscriptions, neither of them making any reference to fiery pits. Byzantiumhad to act or lose all credibility as protector of eastern Christianity. It is reported that Byzantium Emperor Justin I sent a letter to the Aksumite King Kaleb, pressuring him to “attack the abominable Hebrew”.[85] A tripartite military alliance of Byzantine, Aksumite and Arab Christians successfully defeated Yousef around 525–527 AD and a client Christian king was installed on the Himyarite throne.[90]

Esimiphaios was a local Christian lord, mentioned in an inscription celebrating the burning of an ancient Sabaean palace in Marib to build a church on its ruins.[91] Three new churches were built in Najran alone.[91] Many tribes did not recognize Esimiphaios’s authority.Esimiphaios was displaced in 531 by a warrior named Abraha, who refused to leave Yemen and declared himself an independent king ofHimyar. Emperor Justinian I sent an embassy to Yemen. He wanted the officially Christian Himyarites to use their influence on the tribes in inner Arabia to launch military operations against Persia. Justinian I bestowed the dignity of king upon the Arab sheikhs of Kindah andGhassan in central and north Arabia.[92] From early on, Roman and Byzantine policy was to develop close links with the powers of the coast of the Red Sea. They were successful in converting[clarification needed] Aksum and influencing their culture. The results with regard to Yemen were rather disappointing.[92]

A Kendite prince called Yazid bin Kabshat rebelled against Abraha and his Arab Christian allies. A truce was reached once The Great Dam of Marib had suffered a breach.[93]Abraha died around 555–565; no reliable sources regarding his death are available. The Sasanid empire annexed Aden around 570 AD. Under their rule, most of Yemen enjoyed great autonomy except for Aden and Sana’a. This era marked the collapse of ancient South Arabian civilization, since the greater part of the country was under several independent clans until the arrival of Islam in 630 AD.[94]

Middle Ages[edit]

Advent of Islam and the three Dynasties[edit]

Interior of the Great Mosque of Sana’a, the oldest mosque in Yemen

Mohammed sent his cousin Ali to Sana’a and its surroundings around 630 AD. At the time, Yemen was the most advanced region inArabia.[95] The Banu Hamdan confederation were among the first to accept Islam. Mohammed sent Muadh ibn Jabal as well to Al-Janad in present-day Taiz, and dispatched letters to various tribal leaders. The reason behind this was the division among the tribes and the absence of a strong central authority in Yemen during the days of the prophet.[96] Major tribes, including Himyar, sent delegations toMedina during the Year of delegations around 630–631 AD. Several Yemenis accepted Islam before the year 630, such as Ammar ibn Yasir, Al-Ala’a Al-Hadrami, Miqdad ibn Aswad, Abu Musa Ashaari and Sharhabeel ibn Hasana. A man named ‘Abhala ibn Ka’ab Al-Ansiexpelled the remaining Persians and claimed to be a prophet of Rahman. He was assassinated by a Yemeni of Persian origin calledFayruz al-Daylami. Christians, who were mainly staying in Najran along with Jews, agreed to pay Jizya, although some Jews converted to Islam, such as Wahb ibn Munabbih and Ka’ab al-Ahbar.

The country was stable during the Rashidun Caliphate. Yemeni tribes played a pivotal role in the Islamic conquests of Egypt, Iraq, Persiathe Levant, Anatolia, North Africa, Sicily and Andalusia.[97][98][99] Yemeni tribes that settled in Syria, contributed significantly to the solidification of Umayyad rule, especially during the reign of Marwan I. Powerful Yemenite tribes like Kindah were on his side during the Battle of Marj Rahit.[100][101] Several emirates led by people of Yemeni descent were established in North Africa and Andalusia. Effective control over entire Yemen was not achieved by the Umayyad Caliphate. ImamAbdullah ibn Yahya Al-Kindi was elected in 745 AD to lead the Ibāḍī movement in Hadramawt and Oman. He expelled the Umayyad governor from Sana’a and captured Meccaand Medina in 746 AD.[102] Al-Kindi, known by his nickname Talib al-Haqq (Seeker of truth), established the first Ibadi state in the history of Islam but was killed in Taif around 749 AD.[102]

Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Ziyad founded the Ziyadid dynasty in Tihama around 818 AD; the state stretched from Haly (In present-day Saudi Arabia) to Aden. They nominally recognized the Abbasid Caliphate but were in fact ruling independently from their capital in Zabid.[103] The history of this dynasty is obscure; they never exercised control over the highlands and Hadramawt, and did not control more than a coastal strip of the Yemen (Tihama) bordering the Red Sea.[104] A Himyarite clan called the Yufirids established their rule over the highlands from Saada to Taiz, while Hadramawt was an Ibadi stronghold and rejected all allegiance to the Abbasids in Baghdad.[103] By virtue of its location, theZiyadid dynasty of Zabid developed a special relationship with Abyssinia. The chief of the Dahlak islands exported slaves as well as amber and leopard hides to the then ruler of Yemen.[105]

The first Zaidi imam, Yahya ibn al-Husayn, arrived to Yemen in 893 AD. He was the founder of the Zaidi imamate in 897. He was a religious cleric and judge who was invited to come to Saada from Medina to arbitrate tribal disputes.[106] Imam Yahya persuaded local tribesmen to follow his teachings. The sect slowly spread across the highlands, as the tribes of Hashid and Bakil, later known as the twin wings of the imamate, accepted his authority.[107] Yahya established his influence in Saada and Najran; he also tried to captureSana’a from the Yufirids in 901 AD but failed miserably. In 904, the Qarmatians invaded Sana’a. The Yufirid emir As’ad ibn Ibrahim retreated to Al-Jawf, and between 904 and 913, Sana’a was conquered no less than 20 times by Qarmatians and Yufirids.[108] As’ad ibn Ibrahim regained Sana’a in 915. The country was in turmoil as Sana’a became a battlefield for the three dynasties as well as independent tribes.

The Yufirid emir Abdullah ibn Qahtan attacked and burned Zabid in 989, severely weakening the Ziyadid dynasty.[109] The Ziyadid monarchs lost effective power after 989, or even earlier than that. Meanwhile, a succession of slaves held power in Zabid and continued to govern in the name of their masters eventually establishing their own dynastyaround 1022 or 1050 according to different sources.[110] Although they were recognized by the Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad, they ruled no more than Zabid and four districts to its north.[111] The rise of the Ismaili Shia Sulayhid dynasty in the Yemeni highlands reduced their history to a series of intrigues.

Sulayhid Dynasty[edit]

Main article: Sulayhid dynasty

Jibla became the capital of theSulayhid dynasty

The Sulayhid dynasty was founded in the northern highlands around 1040. at the time, Yemen was ruled by different local dynasties. In 1060, Ali ibn Mohammed Al-Sulayhi conquered Zabid and killed its ruler Al-Najah, founder of the Najahid dynasty. His sons were forced to flee to Dahlak.[112] Hadramawt fell into Sulayhid hands after their capture of Aden in 1162.[113] By 1063, Ali had subjugated Greater Yemen.[114] He then marched toward Hejaz and occupied Makkah.[115] Ali was married to Asma bint Shihab, who governed Yemen with her husband.[116] The Khutba during Friday prayers was proclaimed in her husband’s and her name. No other Arab woman had this honor since the advent of Islam.[116]

Ali al-Sulayhi was killed by Najah’s sons on his way to Mecca in 1084. His son Ahmed Al-Mukarram led an army to Zabid and killed 8,000 of its inhabitants.[117] He later installed the Zurayids to govern Aden. al-Mukarram, who had been afflicted with facial paralysis resulting from war injuries, retired in 1087 and handed over power to his wife Arwa al-Sulayhi.[118] Queen Arwa moved the seat of the Sulayhid dynasty from Sana’a to Jibla, a small town in central Yemen near Ibb. Jibla was strategically near the Sulayhid dynasty source of wealth, the agricultural central highlands. It was also within easy reach of the southern portion of the country, especially Aden. She sent Ismaili missionaries to India where a significant Ismail community was formed that exists to this day.[119] Queen Arwa continued to rule securely until her death in 1138.[119]

Queen Arwa al- Sulaihi Palace

Arwa al-Sulayhi is still remembered as a great and much loved sovereign, as attested in Yemeni historiography, literature, and popular lore, where she is referred to as Balqis al-sughra , that is “the junior queen of Sheba”.[120] Although the Sulayhids were Ismaili, they never tried to impose their beliefs on the public.[121] Shortly after queen Arwa’s death, the country was split between five competing petty dynasties along religious lines.[122] The Ayyubid dynasty overthrew the Fatimid caliphate in Egypt. A few years after their rise to power,Saladin dispatched his brother Turan Shah to conquer Yemen in 1174.[123]

Ayyubid conquest[edit]

Main article: Ayyubid Dynasty

Turan Shah conquered Zabid from the Mahdids in May 1174, then marched toward Aden in June and captured it from the Zurayids.[124]The Hamdanid sultans of Sana’a resisted the Ayyubid in 1175 and it was not until 1189 that the Ayyubids managed to definitely secureSana’a.[125] The Ayyubid rule was stable in southern and central Yemen where they succeeded in eliminating the mini-states of that region, while Ismaili and Zaidi tribesmen continued to hold out in a number of fortresses.[126] The Ayyubids failed to capture the Zaydis stronghold in northern Yemen.[127] In 1191, Zaydis of Shibam Kawkaban rebelled and killed 700 Ayyubid soldiers.[128] Imam Abdullah bin Hamza proclaimed the imamate in 1197 and fought al-Mu’izz Ismail, the Ayyubid Sultan of Yemen. Imam Abdullah was defeated at first but was able to conquer Sana’a and Dhamar in 1198[129] al-Mu’izz Ismail was assassinated in 1202[130] Abdullah bin Hamza carried on the struggle against the Ayyubid until his death in 1217. After his demise, the Zaidi community was split between two rival imams. The Zaydis were dispersed and a truce was signed with the Ayyubid in 1219.[131] The Ayyubid army was defeated in Dhamar in 1226.[131] Ayyubid Sultan Mas’ud Yusuf left for Mecca in 1228 never to return.[132] Other sources suggest that he was forced to leave for Egypt instead in 1123.[133]

Rasulid Dynasty[edit]

Main article: Rasulid dynasty

Al-Qahyra (Cairo) Castle’s Garden in Taiz, the capital of Yemen during the Rasulid’s era

The Rasulid Dynasty was established in 1229 by Umar ibn Rasul. Umar ibn Rasul was appointed deputy governor by the Ayyubids in 1223. When the last Ayyubid ruler left Yemen in 1229, Umar stayed in the country as caretaker. He subsequently declared himself an independent king by assuming the title al-Malik Al-Mansur (the king assisted by Allah).[133] Umar established the Rasulid dynasty on a firm foundation and expanded its territory to include the area from Dhofar to Mecca[134] Umar first established himself at Zabid, then moved into the mountainous interior, taking the important highland centre Sana’a. However, the Rasulid capitals were Zabid and Taiz. He was assassinated by his nephew in 1249.[132] Omar’s son Yousef defeated the faction led by his father assassins and crushed several counter-attacks by the Zaydi imams who still held on in the northern highland. It was mainly because of the victories which he scored over his rivals that he assumed the honorific title al-Muzaffar (the victorious).[135] After the fall of Baghdad to the Mongols in 1258, al-Muzaffar Yusuf I appropriated the title of caliph.[136] He chose the city of Taiz to became the political capital of the kingdom because of its strategic location and proximity to Aden.[137] al-Muzaffar Yusuf I died in 1296 having reigned for 47 years.[136] When the news of his death reached the Zaydi imam Al-Mutawakkil al-Mutahhar bin Yahya he commented by saying:[136]

The greatest king of Yemen, the Muawiyah of the time, has died. His pens used to break our lances and swords to pieces

13th century slave market in Yemen

The Rasulid state nurtured Yemen’s commercial links with India and the Far East.[138] they profited greatly by the Red Sea transit trade viaAden and Zabid.[132] The economy also boomed due to the agricultural development programs instituted by the kings who promoted massive cultivation of palms.[132] It was during this period that coffee became a lucrative cash crop in Yemen.[119] The Rasulid kings enjoyed the support of the population of Tihama and southern Yemen while they had to buy the loyalty of Yemen’s restive northern highland tribes.[132]The Rasulid sultans built numerous Madrasas in order to solidify the Shafi’i school of thought which is still the dominant school ofjurisprudence amongst Yemenis today.[139] Under their rule, Taiz and Zabid became major international centers of Islamic learning.[132] The Kings themselves were learned men in their own right who not only had important libraries but who also wrote treatises on a wide array of subjects, ranging from astrology and medicine to agriculture and genealogy.[137]

The dynasty is regarded as the greatest native Yemeni state since the fall of pre-Islamic Himyarite Kingdom.[140] They were of Turkicdescent.[141] They claimed an ancient Yemenite origin to justify their rule. The Rasulids were not the first dynasty to create a fictitious genealogy for political purposes, nor were they doing anything out of the ordinary in the tribal context of Arabia.[142] By claiming descent from a solid Yemenite tribe, the Rasulid brought Yemen to a vital sense of unity in an otherwise chaotic regional milieu.[142] They had a difficult relationship with the Mamluks of Egypt because the latter considered them a vassal state.[137] Their competition centered over the Hejaz and the right to provide kiswa of the Ka’aba in Mecca.[137] The dynasty became increasingly threatened by disgruntled family members over the problem of succession, combined by periodic tribal revolts, as they were locked in a war of attrition with the Zaydi imams in the northern highlands.[132] During the last twelve years of Rasulid rule, the country was torn between several contenders for the kingdom. The weakening of the Rasulid provided an opportunity for the Banu Taher clan to take over and establish themselves as the new rulers of Yemen in 1454 AD.[139]

Tahiride Dynasty[edit]

Main article: Tahiride

The Tahirids were a local clan based in Rada’a. While they were not as impressive as their predecessors, they were still keen builders. They built schools, mosques and irrigation channels as well as water cisterns and bridges in Zabid and Aden, Rada’a, and Juban. Their best-known monument is the Amiriya Madrasa in Rada’ which was built in 1504. The Tahiride were too weak either to contain the Zaydi Imams or to defend themselves against foreign attacks. The Mamluks of Egypt tried to attach Yemen to Egypt and the Portuguese led by Afonso de Albuquerque, occupied Socotra and made an unsuccessful attack on Aden in 1513.[143] The Portuguese posed an immediate threat to the Indian ocean trade; the Mamluks of Egypt therefore sent an army under the command of Hussein Al-Kurdi to fight the intruders.[144] The Mamluk sultan of Egypt sailed to Zabid in 1515 and begun diplomatic talks with Tahiride Sultan ‘Amir bin Abdulwahab for money that would be needed for jihad against the Portuguese. Instead of confronting the Portuguese, the Mamluks, who were running out of food and water, landed their fleet on the Yemen coastline and started to harass Tihama villagers for what they needed.[119] Realizing how rich the Tahiride realm was, they decided to conquer it.[119] The Mamluk army with the support of forces loyal to Zaydi Imam Al-Mutawakkil Yahya Sharaf ad-Din, conquered the entire realm of the Tahiride but failed to capture Aden in 1517. The Mamluk victory turned out to be short-lived. The Ottoman Empire conquered Egypt, hanging the last Mamluk Sultan in Cairo.[119] It was not until 1538 that the Ottomans decided to conquer Yemen. The Zaydi Highland tribes emerged as national heroes[133] by offering a stiff, vigorous resistance to the Turkish occupation.[145]

Modern history[edit]

The Zaydis and Ottomans[edit]

See also: Yemen Eyalet

Al Bakiriyya Ottoman Mosque inSana’a, was built in 1597

The Ottomans had two fundamental interests to safeguard in Yemen: The Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina and the trade route with India in spices and textiles, both of which were threatened and the latter virtually eclipsed by the arrival of the Portuguese in the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea in the early part of the 16th century.[146] Hadım Suleiman Pasha, The Ottoman governor of Egypt, was ordered to command a fleet of 90 ships to conquer Yemen. The country was in a state of incessant anarchy and discord as Hadım Suleiman Pasha described it by saying:[147]

Yemen is a land with no lord, an empty province. It would be not only possible but easy to capture, and should it be captured, it would be master of the lands of India and send every year a great amount of gold and jewels to Constantinople.

Imam al-Mutawakkil Yahya Sharaf ad-Din ruled over the northern highlands including Sana’a while Aden was held by the last TahirideSultan ‘Amir ibn Dauod. Hadım Suleiman Pasha stormed Aden in 1538, killing its ruler and extended Ottoman’s authority to include Zabid in 1539 and eventually Tihama in its entirety.[148] Zabid became the administrative headquarters of Yemen Eyalet.[149] The Ottoman governors did not exercise much control over the highlands, they held sway mainly in the southern coastal region, particularly around Zabid, Mocha and Aden.[150] Out of 80,000 soldiers sent to Yemen from Egypt between 1539 – 1547, only 7,000 survived.[151] The Ottoman accountant-general in Egypt remarks:[151]

We have seen no foundry like Yemen for our soldiers. Each time we have sent an expeditionary force there, it has melted away like salt dissolved in water.

The Ottoman sent yet another expeditionary force to Zabid in 1547 while Imam al-Mutawakkil Yahya Sharaf ad-Din was ruling the highlands independently. Imam al-Mutawakkil Yahya chose his son Ali to succeed him, a decision that infuriated his other son al-Mutahhar ibn Yahya.[152] Al-Mutahhar was lame and therefore not qualified for the Imamate.[152] He urged Oais Pasha, the Ottoman colonial governor in Zabid, to attack his father.[153] Indeed, Ottoman troops supported by tribal forces loyal to Imam al-Mutahharstormed Taiz and marched north toward Sana’a in August 1547. The Turks officially made Imam al-Mutahhar a Sanjak-bey with authority over ‘Amran. Imam al-Mutahharassassinated the Ottoman colonial governor and recaptured Sana’a but the Ottomans led by Özdemir Pasha, forced al-Mutahhar to retreat to his fortress in Thula. Özdemir Pasha effectively put Yemen under Ottoman rule between 1552 and 1560, he garrisoned the main cities. built new fortresses and rendered secure the main routes.[154] Özdemir died in Sana’a in 1561 to be succeeded by Mahmud Pasha.

Mahmud Pasha was described by other Ottoman officials as corrupt and unscrupulous governor, he used his authority to take over a number of castles some of which belonged to the former Rasulid Kings.[152] Mahmud Pasha killed a Sunni scholar from Ibb.[155] The Ottoman historian claimed that this incident was celebrated by the Zaydi Shia community in the northern highlands.[155] Disregarding the delicate balance of power in Yemen by acting tactlessly, he alienated different groups within Yemeni society, causing them to forget their rivalries and unite against the Turks.[154] Mahmud Pasha was displaced by Ridvan Pasha in 1564. By 1565, Yemen was split into two provinces: the highlands under the command of Ridvan Pasha and Tihama under Murad Pasha. Imam al-Mutahhar launched a propaganda campaign in which he claimed contact with prophet Mohammed in a dream advising him to wage jihad against the Ottomans.[156] Al-Mutahhar led the tribes to capture Sana’a from Ridvan Pasha in 1567. When Murad tried to relieve Sana’a, highland tribesmen ambushed his unit and slaughtered everyone of them.[157] Over 80 battles were fought, the last decisive encounter took place in Dhamar around 1568 in which Murad Pasha was beheaded and had his head sent to al-Mutahhar in Sana’a.[157][158] By 1568, only Zabid remained under the possession of the Turks.[158]

Ruins of Thula fortress in ‘Amran, where al-Mutahhar ibn Yaha barricaded himself against Ottoman attacks.

Lala Kara Mustafa Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Syria, was ordered by Selim II to suppress the Yemeni rebels,[159] the Turkish army in Egypt was reluctant to go to Yemen however.[159] Mustafa Pasha sent a letter with two Turkish shawishes hoping to persuade al-Mutahhar to give an apology and say that he did not promote any act of aggression against the Ottoman army, and claim that the ignorant Arabians according to the Turks, acted on their own.[160] Imam al-Mutahhar refused the Ottoman offer. When Mustafa Pasha sent an expeditionary force under the command of Uthman Pasha, it was defeated with great casualties.[161] Sultan Selim II was infuriated by Mustafa’s hesitation to go Yemen, he executed a number of sanjak-beys in Egypt and ordered Sinan Pasha to lead the entire Turkish army in Egypt to reconquer Yemen.[162] Sinan Pasha was a prominent Ottoman General of Albanian origin.[158] He reconquered Aden, Taiz, Ibb and besieged Shibam Kawkaban in 1570 for 7 months, the siege was lifted once a truce was reached.[163] Imam al-Mutahhar was pushed back but could not be entirely overcome.[164] After al-Mutahhar‘s demise in 1572, the Zaydi community was not united under an imam; the Turks took advantage of their disunity and conquered Sana’a, Sa’dah and Najran in 1583.[165] Imam al-Nasir Hassan was arrested in 1585 and exiled toConstantinople, thereby putting an end to the Yemeni rebellion.[158]

The Zaydi tribesmen in the northern highlands particularly those of Hashid and Bakil, were ever the Turkish bugbear in entire Arabia.[166] The Ottomans who justified their presence in Yemen as a triumph for Islam, accused the Zaydis of being infidels.[167] Hassan Pasha was appointed governor of Yemen and enjoyed a period of relative peace from 1585 to 1597. Pupils of al-Mansur al-Qasim suggested him to claim the immamate and fight the Turks, he declined at first but the promotion of the Hanafi school ofjurisprudence at the expense of Zaydi Islam infuriated al-Mansur al-Qasim. He proclaimed the Imamate in September 1597, which was the same year the Ottoman authorities inaugurated al-Bakiriyya Mosque.[165] By 1608, Imam al-Mansur (the victorious) regained control over the highlands and signed a truce for 10 years with the Ottomans.[168] Imam al-Mansur al-Qasim died in 1620. His son Al-Mu’ayyad Muhammad succeeded him and confirmed the truce with the Ottomans. In 1627, the Ottomans lost Aden and Lahej. ‘Abdin Pasha was ordered to suppress the rebels but failed and had to retreat to Mocha.[165] Al-Mu’ayyad Muhammad expelled the Ottomans from Sana’a in 1628, only Zabidand Mocha remained under Ottoman possession. Al-Mu’ayyad Muhammad captured Zabid in 1634 and allowed the Ottomans to leave Mocha peacefully.[169] The reason behindAl-Mu’ayyad Muhammad‘s success was the possession of firearms by the tribes and their unity behind him.[170]

Mocha was Yemen’s busiest port in the 17th and 18th century

In 1632, Al-Mu’ayyad Muhammad sent an expeditionary force of 1000 men to conquer Mecca.[171] The army entered the city in triumph and killed its governor.[171] The Ottomans were not ready to lose Mecca after Yemen, so they sent an army from Egypt to fight the Yemenites.[171] Seeing that the Turkish army was too numerous to overcome, the Yemeni army retreated to a valley outside Mecca.[172]Ottoman troops attacked the Yemenis by hiding at the wells that supplied them with water. This plan proceeded successfully, causing the Yemenis over 200 casualties, most from thirst.[172] The tribesmen eventually surrendered and returned to Yemen.[173] Al-Mu’ayyad Muhammad died in 1644. He was succeeded by Al-Mutawakkil Isma’il, another son of al-Mansur al-Qasim, who conquered Yemen in its entirety, from Asir in the north to Dhofar in the east.[174][175][176][177] During his reign, and during the reign of his successor, Al-Mahdi Ahmad (1676–1681),the Imamate implemented some of the harshest discriminatory laws (Ar. ghiyar) against the Jews of Yemen, which culminated in the expulsion of all Jews (Exile of Mawza) to a hot and arid region in the Tihama coastal plain. The Qasimid state was the strongest Zaydi state to ever exist.

During that period, Yemen was the sole coffee producer in the world.[178] The country established diplomatic relations with the Safavid dynasty of Persia, Ottomans of Hejaz,Mughal Empire in India and Ethiopia as well. Fasilides of Ethiopia sent three diplomatic missions to Yemen, but the relations did not develop into political alliance as Fasilides had hoped, due to the rise of powerful feudalists in his country.[179] In the first half of the 18th century, the Europeans broke Yemen’s monopoly on coffee by smuggling coffee trees and cultivating them in their own colonies in the East Indies, East Africa, the West Indies and Latin America.[180] The imammate did not follow a cohesive mechanism for succession, and family quarrels and tribal insubordination led to the political decline of the Qasimi dynasty in the 18th century.[181] In 1728 or 1731 the chief representative ofLahej declared himself an independent Sultan in defiance of the Qasimid Dynasty and conquered Aden thus establishing the Sultanate of Lahej. The rising power of the fervently Islamist Wahhabi movement on the Arabian Peninsula cost the Zaidi state its coastal possessions after 1803. The imam was able to regain them temporarily in 1818, but new intervention by the Ottoman viceroy of Egypt in 1833 again wrested the coast from the ruler in Sana’a. After 1835 the imamate changed hands with great frequency and some imams were assassinated. After 1849 the Zaidi polity descended into chaos that lasted for decades.[182]

Great Britain and the Nine Regions[edit]

Saint Joseph church in Aden was built by the British in 1850 and is currently abandoned

The British were looking for a coal depot to service their steamers en route to India. It took 700 tons of coal for a round-trip from Suez toBombay. East India Company officials decided on Aden. The British Empire tried to reach an agreement with the Zaydi imam of Sana’apermitting them a foothold in Mocha; and when unable to secure their position, they extracted a similar agreement from the Sultan of Lahej, enabling them to consolidate a position in Aden.[183] An incident played into British hands when, while passing Aden for trading purposes, one of their sailing ships sank and Arab tribesmen boarded it and plundered its contents. The British India governmentdispatched a warship under the command of Captain Stafford Bettesworth Haines to demand compensation.[183]

Haines bombarded Aden from his warship in January 1839. The ruler of Lahej, who was in Aden at the time, ordered his guards to defend the port, but they failed in the face of overwhelming military and naval power. The British managed to occupy Aden and agreed to compensate the sultan with an annual payment of 6000 riyals.[183] The British evicted the Sultan of Lahej from Aden and forced him to accept their “protection”.[183] In November 1839, 5000 tribesmen tried to retake the town but were repulsed and 200 were killed. The British realized that Aden’s prosperity depended on their relations with the neighboring tribes, which required that they rest on a firm and satisfactory basis.[184]

The British government concluded “protection and friendship” treaties with nine tribes surrounding Aden, whereas they would remain independent from British interference in their affairs as long as they do not conclude treaties with foreigners (non-Arab colonial powers).[185] Aden was declared a free zone in 1850. With emigrants from India, East Africa and Southeast Asia, Aden grew into a “world city”. in 1850, only 980 Arabs were registered as original inhabitants of the city.[186] The English presence in Aden put them at odds with the Ottomans. The Turks asserted to the British that they held sovereignty over the whole of Arabia, including Yemen as successor of Mohammed and the chief of the universal Caliphate.[187]

Ottoman Return[edit]

See also: Yemen Vilayet

The Ottomans were concerned about the British expansion from India to the Red Sea and Arabia. They returned to the Tihama in 1849 after an absence of two centuries.[188] Rivalries and disturbances continued among the Zaydi imams, between them and their deputies, with the ulema, with the heads of tribes, as well as with those who belonged to other sects. Some citizens of Sana’a were desperate to return law and order to Yemen and asked the Ottoman Pasha in Tihama to pacify the country.[189] Yemeni merchants knew that the return of the Ottomans would improve their trade, for the Ottomans would become their customers.[190] An Ottoman expedition force tried to captureSana’a but was defeated and had to evacuate the highlands.[191] The Opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, strengthened the Ottoman decision to remain in Yemen.[192] In 1872, military forces were dispatched from Constantinople and moved beyond the Ottoman stronghold in the lowlands (Tihama) to conquer Sana’a. By 1873 the Ottomans succeeded in conquering the northern highlands. Sana’a became the administrative capital of Yemen Vilayet.

The Ottomans learned from their previous experience and worked on the disempowerment of local lords in the highland regions. They even attempted to secularize the Yemeni society, while Yemenite Jews came to perceive themselves in Yemeni nationalist terms.[193] The Ottomans appeased the tribes by forgiving their rebellious chiefs and appointing them to administrative posts. They introduced a series of reforms to enhance the country’s economic welfare. On the other hand, corruption was widespread in the Ottoman administration in Yemen. This stemmed from the fact that only the worst of the officials were appointed because those who could avoid serving in Yemen did so.[194] The Ottomans had reasserted control over the highlands for temporary duration.[188] The so-called Tanzimat reforms were considered heretic by the Zaydi tribes. In 1876, the Hashid and Bakil tribes rebelled against the Ottomans, the Turks had to appease them with gifts to end the uprising.[195]

The tribal chiefs were difficult to appease and an endless cycle of violence curbed the Ottoman efforts to pacify the land. Ahmed Izzet Pasha proposed that the Ottoman army should evacuate the highlands and confined itself to Tihama and not to be unnecessarily burdened with continuing military operation against the Zaydi tribes.[194] The hit-and-run tactics of the northern highlands tribesmen wore out the Ottoman military. They resented the Turkish Tanzimat and defied all attempts to impose a central government upon them.[192] The northern tribes united under the leadership of the House of Hamidaddin in 1890. Imam Yahya Hamidaddin led a rebellion against the Turks in 1904, the rebels disrupted the Ottoman ability to govern.[196] The revolts between 1904 and 1911 were especially damaging to the Ottomans, costing them as much as 10,000 soldier and 500,000 pound per year.[197] The Ottomans signed a treaty with imam Yahya Hamidaddin in 1911. Under the treaty, imam Yahya was recognized as an autonomous leader of theZaydi northern highlands. The Ottomans continued to rule Shafi’i areas in the mid-south until their departure in 1918.

Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen[edit]

Imam Yahya hamid ed-Din‘s house in Sana’a

Imam Yahya hamid ed-Din al-Mutawakkil was ruling the northern highlands independently from 1911. After the Ottoman departure in 1918 he sought to recapture the lands of his Qasimid ancestors. He dreamed of Greater Yemen stretching from Asir to Dhofar. These schemes brought him into conflict with the de facto rulers in the territories claimed, namely the Idrsids, Ibn Saud and the British government inAden.[198] The Zaydi imam did not recognize the Anglo-Ottoman border agreement of 1905 on the grounds that it was made between two foreign powers occupying Yemen.[199] The border treaty effectively divided Yemen into “north” and “south.”[200] In 1915 the British signed a treaty with the Idrsids guaranteeing their security and independence if they would fight against the Turks.[201] In 1919, Imam Yahya hamid ed-Din moved southward to liberate the nine British protectorates. The British responded by moving quickly towards Tihama and occupying al-Hudaydah. Then they handed it over to their Idrisi allies.[202] Imam Yahya attacked the southern protectorates again in 1922. The British bombed Yahya’s tribal forces using aircraft to which the tribes had no effective counter.[203]

In 1925, Imam Yahya captured al-Hudaydah from the Idrsids.[204] He continued to follow and attack the Idrsids until Asir fell under the control of the Imam’s forces, forcing the Idrisi to request an agreement that would enable them to administer the region in the name of the Imam.[204] Imam Yahya refused the offer on the grounds that the Idrisis were of a Moroccan decent. According to Imam Yahya, the Idrisis, along with the British, were nothing but recent intruders and ought to be driven out of Yemen permanently.[205] In 1927, Imam Yahya‘s forces were 50 kilometers away from Aden, Taiz and Ibb were bombed by the British for five days and the Imam had to pull back.[203]Small Bedouin forces mainly from the Madh’hij confederation of Marib, attacked Shabwah but were bombed by the British and had to retreat.

British colony of Aden: Queen Elizabeth II stamp, 1953

The Italian Empire was the first to recognize Imam Yahya as the King of Yemen in 1926. This created a great deal of anxiety for the British, who interpreted it as recognition of Imam Yahya’s claim to sovereignty over Greater Yemen which included the Aden protectorateand Asir.[206] The idrisis turned to Ibn Saud seeking his protection from Yahya hamid ed-Din.However, in 1932, the Idrisis broke their accord with Ibn Saud and went back to Imam Yahya seeking help against Ibn Saud himself, who had begun liquidating their authority and express his desire to annex those territories into his own Saudi domain.[207][208] Imam Yahya demanded the return of all Idrisi dominion.[207] That same year, a group of Hejazi liberals fled to Yemen and plotted to expel Ibn Saud from the former Hashemite Kingdom of Hejaz which was conquered by the Saudis seven years earlier. Ibn Saud appealed to Britain for aid.[209] The British government sent arms and aeroplanes .[209] The British were anxious that Ibn Saud‘s financial difficulties may encourage the Italian Empire to bail him out.[207] Ibn Saud suppressed the Asiri rebellion in 1933, after which the Idrsids fled to Sana’a.[209] Negotiations between the Imam Yahya Hamid ed-Din and Ibn Saud proved fruitless. After a military confrontation, Ibn Saud announced a ceasefire in May 1934.[209] Imam Yahya agreed to release Saudi hostages and the surrender of the Idrisis to Saudi custody. Imam Yahya ceded the three provinces of Najran, Asirand Jazan for 20 years.[210] and signed another treaty with the British government in 1934. The Imam recognized the British sovereignty over Aden protectorate for 40 years.[211] Out of fear for Hudaydah, Yahya did submit to these demands. According to Bernard Reich, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University, Yahya could have done better by reorganizing the Zaydi tribes of the northern highlands as his ancestors did against the Turks and British intruders and turn the lands they captured into another graveyard.[212]

Colonial Aden[edit]

Queen Elizabeth II holding a sword prepared to knight subjects inAden in 1954.

Since 1890, hundreds of Yemeni people from Hajz, Al-Baetha and Taiz migrated to Aden to work at ports and as laborers. This move helped the population of the city which had become mostly foreigners after Aden was declared a free zone to once again become Arab. During World War II, Aden saw increasing economic growth and became the second busiest port in the world after New York.[213] After the rise of labour unions, a rift was apparent between the sectors of workers and the first signs of resistance to the occupation started in 1943[213] Muhammed Ali Luqman founded the first Arabic club and first Arabic school in Aden and was the first to start working towards a union.[214]

The Colony of Aden was divided into an Eastern Colony and a Western Colony which was further divided into 23 Sultanates and Emirates and several independent tribes that had no relations with the Sultanates. The deal between the Sultanates and Britain detailed protection and complete control of foreign relations by the British. The Sultanate of Lahej was the only in which the sultan was referred to as “His Highness”.[215] The Federation of South Arabia was created by the British to counter Arab Nationalism by giving more freedom to the rulers of the nations.[216]

The North Yemen Civil War inspired many in the South to rise against the British rule. The National Liberation Front (NLO) of Yemen was formed with the leadership of Qahtan Muhammad Al-Shaabi. The NLO hoped to destroy all the sultanates and eventually unite with theYemen Arab Republic. Most of the support for the NLO came from Radfan and Yafa so the British launched Operation Nutcracker which saw the complete burning of Radfan on January 1964.[217]

Two states[edit]

Main articles: North Yemen and South Yemen

Egyptian military intervention in North Yemen in 1962

Arab nationalism made an impact in some circles who opposed the lack of modernization efforts in the Mutawakkilite monarchy. This became apparent when Imam Ahmad bin Yahya died in 1962. He was succeeded by his son, but army officers attempted to seize power, sparking the North Yemen Civil War.[218] The Hamidaddin royalists were supported by Saudi Arabia, Britain, and Jordan (mostly with weapons and financial aid, but also with small military forces), whilst the republicans were backed by Egypt. Egypt provided the republicans with weapons and financial assistance but also sent a large military force to participate in the fighting. Israel covertly supplied weapons to the royalists in order to keep the Egyptian military busy in Yemen and make Nasser less likely to initiate a conflict in Sinai. After six years of civil war, the republicans were victorious (February 1968) and formed the Yemen Arab Republic.[219]

The revolution in the north coincided with the Aden Emergency, which hastened the end of British rule in the south. On 30 November 1967, the state of South Yemen was formed, comprising Aden and the former Protectorate of South Arabia. This socialist state was later officially known as the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen and a programme of nationalisation was begun.[220]

British Army‘s counter-insurgency campaign in the British controlled territories of South Arabia, 1967

Relations between the two Yemeni states fluctuated between peaceful and hostile. The South was supported by the Eastern bloc. The North, however, wasn’t able to get the same connections. In 1972, the two states fought a war. The war was resolved with a ceasefire and negotiations brokered by the Arab League, where it was declared that unification would eventually occur. In 1978, Ali Abdallah Saleh was named as president of the Yemen Arab Republic.[221] After the war, the North complained about the South’s help from foreign countries. This included Saudi Arabia.[222]

1979 – Fresh fighting between the two states resumed in 1979 and there were renewed efforts to bring about unification.[221]

North Yemen (in orange) and MarxistSouth Yemen (in blue) before 1990

1986 – Thousands were killed in the South Yemen Civil War. President Ali Nasser Muhammadfled to the north and was later sentenced to death for treason. New government formed.[221]

1990 May – “Unified Republic of Yemen proclaimed, with Saleh as president.”

1993 August – Vice-President Ali Salim al-Baid withdraws to Aden, alleging that south is being marginalised and that southerners are being attacked by northerners.

Unification and civil war[edit]

Main article: Yemeni unification

In 1990, the two governments reached a full agreement on the joint governing of Yemen, and the countries were merged on 22 May 1990 with Saleh as President.[221] The President of South Yemen, Ali Salim al-Beidh, became Vice-President.[221] A unified parliamentwas formed and a unity constitution was agreed upon.[221] In the 1993 parliamentary election, the first held after unification, the General People’s Congress won 122 of 301 seats.[223]:309

After the invasion of Kuwait crisis in 1990, Yemen’s President opposed military intervention from non-Arab states.[224] As a member of the United Nations Security Council for 1990 and 1991, Yemen abstained on a number of UNSC resolutions concerning Iraq and Kuwait[225] and voted against the “use of force resolution”. The vote outraged the U.S.[226] Saudi Arabia expelled 800,000 Yemenis in 1990 and 1991 to punish Yemen for its opposition to the war.[227]

Following food riots in major towns in 1992, a new coalition government made up of the ruling parties from both the former Yemeni states was formed in 1993. However, Vice-President al-Beidh withdrew to Aden in August 1993 and said he would not return to the government until his grievances were addressed. These included northern violence against his Yemeni Socialist Party, as well as the economic marginalization of the south.[228] Negotiations to end the political deadlock dragged on into 1994. The government of Prime Minister Haydar Abu Bakr Al-Attas became ineffective due to political infighting[229]

An accord between northern and southern leaders was signed in Amman, Jordan on 20 February 1994, but this could not stop the civil war.[citation needed] During these tensions, both the northern and southern armies (which had never integrated) gathered on their respective frontiers.[230] The May – July 1994 civil war in Yemen resulted in the defeat of the southern armed forces and the flight into exile of many Yemeni Socialist Party leaders and other southern secessionists.[citation needed] Saudi Arabia actively aided the south during the 1994 civil war.[231]

Contemporary Yemen[edit]

Prayers during Ramadan in Sana’a

Saleh became Yemen’s first directly elected president in the 1999 presidential election, winning 96.2% of the vote.[223]:310 The only other candidate, Najeeb Qahtan Al-Sha’abi, was the son of Qahtan Muhammad al-Shaabi, a former President of South Yemen. Though a member of Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) party, Najeeb ran as an independent.[232]

In October 2000, seventeen U.S. personnel died after a suicide attack on the U.S. naval vessel USS Cole in Aden which was subsequently blamed on al-Qaeda. After the September 11 attacks on the United States, President Saleh assured U.S. President George W. Bush that Yemen was a partner in his War on Terror. In 2001, there was violence surrounding a referendum which apparently supported extending Saleh’s rule and powers.

The Shia insurgency in Yemen began in June 2004 when dissident cleric Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi, head of the Zaidi Shia sect, launched an uprising against the Yemeni government. The Yemeni government alleged that the Houthis were seeking to overthrow it and to implement Shī’a religious law. The rebels counter that they are “defending their community against discrimination” and government aggression.[233]

“Sana’a risks becoming first capital in world to run out of viable water supply as Yemen’s streams and natural aquifers run dry”, according to the Guardian.[234]

In 2005, at least 36 people were killed in clashes across the country between police and protesters over rising fuel prices.

In the 2006 presidential election, held on 20 September, Saleh won with 77.2% of the vote. His main rival, Faisal bin Shamlan, received 21.8%.[235][236] Saleh was sworn in for another term on 27 September.[237]

A suicide bomber killed eight Spanish tourists and two Yemenis in the province of Marib in July 2007. There was a series of bomb attacks on police, official, diplomatic, foreign business and tourism targets in 2008. Car bombings outside the U.S. embassy in Sana’a killed 18 people, including six of the assailants in September 2008. In 2008, an opposition rally in Sana’a demanding electoral reform was met with police gunfire.

Al Qaeda[edit]

In January 2009, the Saudi and Yemeni al-Qaeda branches merged to form Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is based in Yemen, and many of its members were Saudi nationals who had been released from Guantanamo Bay.[238]Saleh released 176 al-Qaeda suspects on condition of good behaviour, but terrorist activities continued.

The Yemeni army launched a fresh offensive against the Shia insurgents in 2009, assisted by Saudi forces. Tens of thousands of people were displaced by the fighting. A new ceasefire was agreed upon in February 2010. However, by the end of the year, Yemen claimed that 3,000 soldiers had been killed in renewed fighting. The Shia rebels accused Saudi Arabia of providing support to salafi groups to suppress Zaidism in Yemen.[239]

Al Qaeda fighters in Yemen, 2014

Some news reports have suggested that, on orders from U.S. President Barack Obama, U.S. warplanes fired cruise missiles at what officials in Washington claimed were Al Qaeda training camps in the provinces of Sana’a and Abyan on 17 December 2009.[240] Instead of hitting Al-Qaeda operatives, it hit a village killing 55 civilians.[241] Officials in Yemen said that the attacks claimed the lives of more than 60 civilians, 28 of them children. Another airstrike was carried out on 24 December.[242]

The U.S. launched a series of drone attacks in Yemen to curb a perceived growing terror threat due to political chaos in Yemen.[243] Since December 2009, U.S. strikes in Yemen have been carried out by the U.S. military with intelligence support from CIA.[244] The drone strikes are protested by human-rights groups who say they kill innocent civilians and that the U.S. military and CIA drone strikes lack sufficient congressional oversight, including the choice of human targets suspected of being threats to America.[245] Controversy over U.S. policy for drone attacks mushroomed after a September 2011 drone strike in Yemen killed Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, both U.S. citizens.[246]Another drone strike in October 2011 killed Anwar’s teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.

In 2010 the Obama administration policy allowed targeting of people whose names are not known. The U.S. government increased military aid to $140 million in 2010.[247] U.S. drone strikes continued after the ousting of President Saleh.[248]

As of 2015, Shi’a Houthis are fighting against the Islamic State,[249] Al Qaeda,[250] and Saudi Arabia.[251] U.S. supports the Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen against the Houthis,[252] but many in US SOCOM reportedly favor Houthis, as they have been an effective force in order to roll back al-Qaeda and recently ISIL in Yemen.[253] The Guardianreported that “The only groups poised to benefit from the war dragging on are the jihadis of Islamic State (Isis) and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the latter’s most powerful franchise, who are likely to gain influence amid the chaos. Isis has claimed recent, bloody suicide bombings in Houthi mosques and Sana’a when it once had no known presence in the country, while AQAP has continued to seize territory in eastern Yemen unhindered by American drone strikes.”[254]


For other uses, see Ansar Allah.
Not to be confused with Hutu.
Participant in Houthi insurgency in Yemen, the Yemeni Revolution, and the Yemeni Civil War
Houthis emblem.svg

Houthi logo reading “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam”.(See here for further explanation)
Active 1994–present
(armed since 2004)
Ideology Zaydi Islamism[1]
Groups Houthis, allied Zaidi tribes in Sa’dah
Headquarters Sa’dah, Yemen
Area of operations
Strength 100,000 fighters[5]
Allies State allies

Non-state allies

Opponents State opponents

Non-state opponents

Battles and wars Houthi insurgency in Yemen

Yemeni Civil War

Website http://www.ansarallah.net/

Ansar Allah (anṣār allāh أنصار الله “Supporters of God”), known more popularly as the Houthis (Arabic: الحوثيونal-Ḥūthiyyūn), are a Zaidi Shia group from Sa’dah, northern Yemen, which was founded by Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi.[16] They started a rebellion in 2004 which led to a Houthi insurgency in Yemen against Yemen’s former President, Ali Abdullah Saleh. The group has been led by Abdul-Malik al-Houthi since Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi was reportedly killed by Yemeni army forces in 2004.[17][18]

The Houthis participated in the 2011 Yemeni Revolution, as well as the ensuing National Dialogue Conference (NDC). However, they rejected the provisions of the November 2011 Gulf Cooperation Council deal on the ground that “it divided Yemen into poor and wealthy regions” and also in response to assassination of their representative at NDC. In 2014–2015Houthis took over the government in Sana’a, which led to the fall of the Saudi backed government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.[19] Houthis and their allies have gained control of a significant part of Yemen’s territory and are currently resisting theSaudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen. Both the Houthis and the Saudi Arabian-led coalition are being attacked by theIslamic State terrorist group.[20][21]


Current territorial situation in Yemen. Houthi forces are shown in green.

The Houthis belong to the Shia tribesmen in the North of Yemen who are renowned among Yemeni tribes for their ruggedness, sharpshooting abilities, honor, and bravery in combat. This is while they are also disregarded as being ignorant or backward, by more metropolitan Yemenis, such as Sana’anis or Adenites. They have been known for being very moderate and are the closest to Sunni Islam of all the Shi’a sects.[22]

According to Ahmed Addaghashi, a professor at Sanaa University, the Houthis began as a moderate theological movement that preached tolerance and held a broad-minded view of Yemeni people.[23] Their first organization, “the Believing Youth” (BY), was founded in 1992 in Saada Governorate[22]:1008 by either Mohammed al-Houthi,[24]:98 or his brother Hussein al-Houthi.[25]

The Believing Youth established school clubs and summer camps[24]:98 in order to “promote a Zaidi revival” in Saada.[25] By 1994–1995, 15–20,000 students had attended BY summer camps. The religious material included lectures by Mohammed Hussein Fadhlallah (a Lebanese Shiite scholar) and Hassan Nasrallah (Secretary General of Lebanon’s Hezbollah Party) “[24]:99[26]

The formation of the Houthi organizations have been described by Adam Baron of the European Council on Foreign Relationsas a reaction to foreign intervention: shoring up Zaidi support against the perceived threat of Saudi-influenced ideologies in Yemen and a general condemnation of the former Yemeni government’s alliance with the United States, which, along with complaints regarding the government’s corruption and the marginalization of much of the Houthis’ home areas in Saada constituted the group’s key grievances.[27]

Although Hussein al-Houthi, who was killed in 2004, had no official relation with Believing Youth, according to Zaid, he contributed to the radicalisation of some Zaydis after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. BY-affiliated youth adopted anti-American andanti-Jewish slogans which they chanted in the Saleh Mosque in Sana’a after Friday prayers. According to Zaid, the followers of Houthi’s insistence on chanting the slogans attracted the authorities’ attention, further increasing government worries over the extent of the al-Houthi movement’s influence. “The security authorities thought that if today the Houthis chanted `Death to America’, tomorrow they could be chanting `Death to the president [of Yemen]”. 800 BY supporters were arrested in Sana’a in 2004. President Ali Abdullah Saleh then invited Hussein al-Houthi to a meeting in Sana’a, but Hussein declined. On 18 June 2004 Saleh sent government forces to arrest Hussein.[28] Hussein responded by launching an insurgency against the government, but was killed on 10 September 2004.[29] The insurgency continued intermittently until a ceasefire agreement was reached in 2010.[23]

The Houthis participated in the 2011 Yemeni Revolution, as well as the ensuing National Dialogue Conference (NDC).[30] However, they rejected the provisions of the November 2011 Gulf Cooperation Council deal on the ground that “it divide[d] Yemen into poor and wealthy regions” and also in response to assassination of their representative at NDC.[31][32]

As the revolution went on, Houthis gained control of greater territory. By 9 November 2011, Houthis were said to be in control of two Yemeni governorates (Saada and Al Jawf) and close to taking over their third governorate (Hajjah),[33] which would enable them to launch a direct assault on Yemeni capital Sana’a.[34] In May 2012, it was reported that the Houthis controlled a majority of Saada, Al Jawf, and Hajjah governorates; they had also gained access to the Red Sea and started erecting barricades north of the capital Sana’a in preparation for more conflict.[35]

Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh has openly allied with Houthis

By 21 September 2014, Houthis were said to control parts of the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, including government buildings and a radio station.[36] While control of the capital expanded to the rest of Sana’a, as well as other towns such as Rada’, control was strongly challenged by Al-Qaeda. It was believed by the Gulf States that the Houthis had accepted aid from Iran while Saudi Arabia was aiding their Yemeni rivals.[37]

On 20 January 2015, Houthi rebels seized the presidential palace in the capital. President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi was in the presidential palace during the takeover but was not harmed.[38] The movement officially took control of the Yemeni government on 6 February, dissolving parliament and declaring its Revolutionary Committee to be the acting authority in Yemen.[19] On 20 March 2015, The al-Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques came under suicide attack during midday prayers. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant quickly claimed responsibility. The blasts killed 142 Houthi worshippers and wounded more than 351, making it the deadliest terrorist attack in Yemen’s history.[39]

In a televised speech on 22 March, Houthi leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi accused the US and Israel of supporting the terrorists attacks. He blamed regional Arab states for financing terrorist groups operating inside Yemen.[40] On 27 March 2015, in response to perceived Houthi threats to Sunni factions in the region, Saudi Arabia along with Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Sudan led a gulf coalition airstrike in Yemen.[41] The military coalition includes the United States which is helping with the planning of air strikes, as well as logistical and intelligence support.[42]

According to a 2015 September report by Esquire magazine, the Houthis, once the outliers, are now one of the most stable and organised social and political movements in Yemen. The power vacuum created by Yemen’s uncertain transitional period has drawn more supporters to the Houthis. Many of the formerly powerful parties, now disorganised with an unclear vision, have fallen out of favour with the public, making the Houthis — under their newly branded Ansar Allah name — all the more attractive.[4]

Membership and support[edit]

Ansar Allah fighters in Yemen, August 2009.

There is a difference between the al-Houthi family, which has about 20 members[24]:102 and the Houthi movement, which took the name “Houthi” after the death of Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi in 2004.[citation needed]

The Houthis avoid assuming a singular tribal identity. Instead, the group strategically draws support from tribes of the northern Bakil federation, rival to the Hashid federation which had been a traditional ally of the ousted central government. The Houthis’s lack of centralized command structure, allows them to generate immense support, as Yemenis from diverse backgrounds have joined their cause.[43]

Membership of the group had between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters as of 2005[44] and between 2,000 and 10,000 fighters as of 2009.[45] In 2010, the Yemen Post claimed that they had over 100,000 fighters.[5] According to Houthi expert Ahmed Al-Bahri the Houthis had a total of 100,000-120,000 followers, including both armed fighters and unarmed loyalists.[46]

As of 2015, the group is reported to have managed to pick up swaths of new supporters outside their traditional demographics.[27]


Houthis belong to the Zaidi branch of Islam, also known as Fivers, a sect of Islam almost exclusively present in Yemen.[47]

Zaydis make up about 45 percent of the population, Sunnis 53 percent and there are also tiny minorities of other Shia groups – the Ismaili and Twelver communities. Al-Houthi Zaydis are estimated to be about 30 percent of the population, according to Hassan Zaid, secretary-general of the al-Haq opposition party. The Zaydis ruled Yemen for 1,000 years up until 1962. During this time they ferociously defended their independence and fought off foreign powers (Egypt, the Ottomans) who controlled lower Yemen and tried to extend their rule to the north.[28]

Similar to Sunni Muslims in matters of religious law and rulings, the Houthi belief in the concept of an Imamate as being essential to their religion makes them distinct from Sunnis.[48] As of 2014 it has been observed that “The Houthi group’s approach is in many ways similar to that of Hizbollah in Lebanon. Similarly religiously based and Iran-backed, both groups follow the same military doctrine and glorify the Khomeini revolution in Iran”.[49]

As a consequence, the Houthis have regularly been accused, even by many fellow Zaidis, of secretly being converts or followers of the Twelver sect, which is the official religion of their ally and backer Iran.[47][50][51][52]

Ethnoreligious groups in 2002.Zaydi Shi’a followers make up over 42% of Muslims in Yemen.[53]

The Houthis have asserted that their actions are to fight against the expansion of Salafism in Yemen,[50] and for the defence of their community from discrimination, whereas the Yemeni government has in turn accused the insurgents of intending to overthrow the regime out of a desire to institute Zaidi religious law,[54] destabilising the government and stirring anti-American sentiment.[55][56] The Yemeni government has also accused the Houthis of having ties to external backers, in particular the Iranian government.[57] In turn, the Houthis have countered with allegations that the Yemeni government is being backed by al-Qaeda and Saudi Arabia,[58][59][60] The discord has led some publishers to fear that further confrontations may lead to an all-out Sunni-Shiite war.[61]

Flag and slogan[edit]

The group’s flag reads as following: “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam”. This motto is partially modeled on the motto of revolutionary Iran which reads “Death to US and death to Israel”.[62] Both Houthi supporters and leaders stress that their ire for US and Israel is directed toward the governments of America and Israel, rather than Americans or Jews as individuals. “Regarding the words ‘Death to America’, we mean American politics, not the American people,” says Hussein al Hamran, head of Foreign Relations for Ansar Allah.[4] Ali al-Bukhayti, the spokesperson and official media face of the Houthis, has also rejected the literal interpretation of the slogan: “We do not really want death to anyone. The slogan is simply against the interference of those governments [i.e. US, and Israel]”.[63]

Relation with Jewish people[edit]

The Houthis have been accused of expelling or restricting some members of the ancient and impoverished rural Jews of Yemen. There have been also reports about supporters of the Houthis bullying or attacking the members of the Yemeni Jewish community.[64][65] Houthi officials, however, have denied any involvement in the harassment, asserting that under Houthi control Jews in Yemen would be able to live and operate freely as any other Yemeni citizen. “Our problems are with Zionism and the occupation of Palestine, but Jews here have nothing to fear,” said Fadl Abu Taleb, a spokesman for the Houthis. But despite insistence by Houthi leaders that the movement is not sectarian, a Yemeni Jewish rabbi has reportedly said that many Jews remain terrified by the movement’s slogan.[65] As a result, Yemeni Jews reportedly retain a generally mixed sentiment towards the Houthis.[66]


Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi

Motives and objectives[edit]

When armed conflict for the first time erupted back in 2004 between the Yemeni government and Houthis, the then-Yemeni President accused Houthis and other Islamic opposition parties of trying to overthrow the government and the republican system. However Houthi leaders for their part rejected the accusation by saying that they had never rejected the president or the republican system but were only defending themselves against government attacks on their community.[70] Zaidi Shi’ites compose one-third of the population of Yemen and Houthis have often voiced the grievances of the Zaidi population.[6]

The group has also exploited the popular discontent over corruption and reduction of government subsidies.[6] According to a February 2015 Newsweek report, Houthis are fighting “for things that all Yemenis crave: government accountability, the end to corruption, regular utilities, fair fuel prices, job opportunities for ordinary Yemenis and the end of Western influence.”[71]

Hassan al-Homran, a former spokesperson for Ansar Allah has said that “Ansar Allah supports the establishment of a civil state in Yemen. We want to build a striving modern democracy. Our goals are to fulfil our people’s democratic aspirations in keeping with the Arab Spring movement.”[72] In an interview with Yemen Times, Hussein al-Bukhari, a Houthi insider, said that Houthis’ preferable political system is a republic with elections where women can also hold political positions, and that they do not seek to form a cleric-led government after the model of Islamic Republic of Iran for “we cannot apply this system in Yemen because the followers of the Shafi [Sunni] doctrine are bigger in number than the Zaydis.”[73]

Ali Akbar Velayati, International Affairs Advisor to Supreme Iranian Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, stated in October 2014 that “We are hopeful that Ansar-Allah has the same role in Yemen as Hezbollah has in eradicating the terrorists in Lebanon”.[74]

Activism and tactics[edit]


During their campaigns against the ousted Hadi government, Houthis used civil disobedience. Following the Yemeni government’s decision in July 13, 2014 to increase fuel prices,[75] Houthi leaders succeeded to organize massive rallies in the capital Sana’a to protest the decision and to demand resignation of the incumbent government of Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi for “state-corruption”.[76] These protests developed into the 2014-2015 phase of the insurgency. Similarly, following 2015 Saudi-led airstrikes against Houthis which claimed civilians lives, Yemenis responded to the Abdul-Malik al-Houthi‘s call and took to streets of the capital, Sana’a, in tens of thousands to voice their anger at the Saudi invasion.[77][78]


The Houthis have also held a number of mass gatherings since the revolution. On January 24, 2013, thousands gathered in Dahiyan, Sa’ada, and Heziez, just outside Sana’a, to celebrate Mawlid al Nabi, the birth of Mohammed. A similar event took place on January 13, 2014, but this time at the main sports stadium in Sana’a. On this occasion, men and women were completely segregated: men filled the open-air stadium and football field in the centre, guided by appointed Houthi safety officials wearing bright vests and matching hats; women poured into the adjacent indoor stadium, shepherded inside by security women distinguishable only by their purple sashes and matching hats. The indoor stadium held at least five thousand women — ten times as many attendees as the 2013 gathering.[4]

Combat and military[edit]

In 2009, US Embassy sources have reported that Houthis used increasingly more sophisticated tactics and strategies in their conflict with the government as they gained more experience, and that they fought with religious fervor and courage.[79][80]

Houthis have been accused of violations of international humanitarian law such as using child soldiers,[81][82][83] shelling civilian areas,[84] forced evacuations, executions andhuman shielding.[79][85]

Houthi spokesman Al-Bukhati has denied that the Houthis use child members under the age of 18 in combat roles. He said those who are engaged in direct combat for the group have gone through extensive training to prepare them for fighting. However, he admitted there are armed Houthis under the age of 18 being used in certain supportive roles for the group, such as manning checkpoints. He also said that it is not a Houthi policy to actively recruit children. Yemen Times reported that most children working for the Houthis, are Houthi supporters but not combatants.[86]

An HRW researcher, quoted in 2009 US embassy report, has downplayed the repeated allegations by the former government of Yemen accusing the Houthis of using civilians as human shields, by saying that they did not have enough evidence to conclude that the Houthis have been intentionally using civilians as human shields.[79][80]

Armed strength[edit]

Situation in March 2012

Saudi and former Yemeni officials have claimed that the Houthis have received significant support from Iran in the form of weapons, money and training since 2004, while Houthi leadership denies having received weapons or financial support from Iran.[6][87] Also, Tehran denied the allegation of Houthis arm support by Iran.[88] A December 2009 cable between Sanaa and various intelligence agencies disseminated by WikiLeaks states that US State Dept. analysts believed the Houthis obtained weapons from the Yemeni black market and corrupt members of the Republican Guard.[79] On the April 8th edition of PBS Newshour, Secretary of State John Kerry stated that the US knew Iran was providing military support to the Houthi rebels in Yemen, adding that Washington “is not going to stand by while the region is destabilized”.[89]

Despite being less in numbers and equipment than the Saudi-led coalition, Ansar Allah managed to inflict heavy losses and destroy dozens of invading vehicles in the city of Ma’rib on the 14th of September 2015.[90] In addition, Ansar Allah managed to capture a Saudi soldier, Ibrahim Araj Mohammad Hakami whose confession was broadcast on AnsarAllah news channel Al-Masirah TV.[91][92][93]


According to the 2009 US Embassy cable leaked by WikiLeaks, Houthis have reportedly established courts and prisons in areas they control. They impose their own laws on local residents, demand protection money, and dispense rough justice by ordering executions. AP‘s reporter, Ahmad al-Haj argued that the Houthis were winning hearts and minds by providing security in areas long neglected by the Yemeni government (currently ousted) while limiting the arbitrary and abusive power of influential sheikhs. According to the Civic Democratic Foundation, Houthis help resolve conflicts between tribes and reduce the number of revenge killings in areas they control. The US ambassador believed that the reports that explain Houthi role as arbitrating local disputes were more likely than the sinister[unbalanced opinion] suggestions.[79][80]

Areas under administration[edit]

Map last updated 30 January 2015

The Houthis exert de facto authority over the bulk of North Yemen. North Yemen was united with South Yemen in 1990; the Yemen government has repeatedly suppressed separatist protests by force.[94] The Houthis’ direct administration includes the following territories:

Southern Movement

Southern Movement
Participant in the South Yemen insurgency
the Yemeni Civil War, and the Yemeni Revolution
Flag of South Yemen.svg
Active 2007–present
Ideology South Yemeni independence or autonomy
Leaders Ali Salim al-Beidh
Hassan al-Ba’aum
Area of operations Southern Yemen
Opponents General People’s Congress
Al-Islah “Dahabish”
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

The Southern Movement, sometimes known as the Southern Mobility Movement, Southern Separatist Movement, orSouth Yemen Movement, and colloquially known as al-Hirak (Arabic: الحراك الجنوبي‎)[1] is a popular movement active in the former South Yemen since 2007, demanding secession from the Republic of Yemen.


Current military situation in Yemen. Territory controlled by the Southern Movement is shown in pink.

After the union between South Yemen and North Yemen on May 22, 1990, a civil war broke out in 1994, resulting in the defeat of the weakened southern armed forces and the expulsion of most of its leaders, including the former Secretary-General of the Yemeni Socialist party and the Vice-President of the unified Yemen, Ali Salim al-Beidh.[citation needed]

After the 1994 civil war and the national unity which followed, many southerners expressed grievance at perceived injustices against them which remained unaddressed for years. Their main accusations against the Yemeni government included widespread corruption, electoral fraud, and a mishandling of the power-sharing arrangement agreed to by both parties in 1990. The bulk of these claims were levelled at the ruling party based in Sana’a, led by President Ali Abdullah Saleh. This was the same accusation given by the former southern leaders which eventually led to the 1994 civil war.[citation needed]

Many southerners also felt that their land, home to the much of the country’s oil reserves and wealth, had been illegally appropriated by the rulers of North Yemen. Privately owned land was seized and distributed amongst individuals affiliated with the Sana’a government. Several hundred thousand military and civil employees from the south were forced into early retirement, and compensated with pensions below the sustenance level. Although such living standards and poverty was ripe throughout all parts of Yemen, many residents of the south felt that they were being intentionally targeted and dismissed from important posts, and being replaced with northern officials affiliated with the new government.[citation needed]

In May 2007, southern strife took a new turn. Grieving pensioners who had not been paid for years began to organise small demonstrations calling for equal rights and an end to the economic and political marginalization of the south. As the popularity of such protests grew and more people began to attend, the demands of the protests also developed. Eventually, calls were being made for the full secession of the south and the re-establishment of South Yemen as an independent state. The government’s response to these protests was dismissive, labelling them as ‘apostates of the state’.[citation needed]

This gave birth to the Southern Movement, which grew to consist of a loose coalition of groups with many different approaches and aims, the more radical elements favouring a complete secession from the north whilst others preferring to work with the new post-revolution government led by President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.[citation needed]

The movement remains popular and is growing across the south of Yemen, especially in areas outside of the former capital Aden where government control is limited. In the mountainous region of Yafa – now termed the ‘Free South’ or الجنوب الحر – the rule of law is imposed by a network of tribes who have all pledged allegiance to the South Yemen Movement. Just minutes outside of Aden, flags of the former South Yemen can be seen raised in the open and graffitied upon many walls, a practice which has now been made illegal by the government. Many Northern Yemeni citizens involved with the 2011 Yemeni uprising against Saleh’s government are trying to develop an alliance with the South Yemen Movement.[citation needed]

After the 2014–15 Yemeni coup d’état by the Houthis, Southern Movement demonstrators and militants seized control of government buildings in Aden, as well as Aden International Airport, where they hoisted the flag of South Yemen, and bloodlessly took over police checkpoints in Ataq. Officials in Aden Governorate and several others, including Hadhramaut Governorate, said they would no longer take orders from Sana’a as a result of the coup. The Southern Movement reportedly deployed armed fighters in and around Aden to counter a “possible attack”.[2][3][4]

Regional movements[edit]

Not all secessionist movements in the South are in support of complete secession from the north. The secessionist camp is generally broken down into three; hardline factions calling for a complete and uncompromising split from the north, elements (and arguably the majority) pushing for a two-state federalist solution, and elements who were in favour of working with the post-revolution government led by Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Groups backing the more radical approach of complete secession are known to have the support of figures such as former South Yemen President Ali Salim al-Beidh, whereas those calling for a two-state federalism have the support of another former South Yemen President Ali Nasir Muhammad.[5]

Much smaller separatist movements have also emerged, such as in the Hadhramaut region, which prior to 1967 comprised three sultanates of the Protectorate of South Arabia;Qu’aiti, Kathiri and Mahra. Supporters of this movement claim that the inhabitants of the region (originally scheduled for independence on January 9, 1968) are opposed to rule from either Sana’a or Aden, and that Hadhramaut is a distinct nation of its own.

With this three-way breakdown of the southern camp, ideological differences have become evident, and often blamed for the movement’s inability to create one united solution. Tribal, Islamist and royalist elements in the south who are also opposed to the regime and have their own agendas further complicate matters.

Casualties of the Movement[edit]

Although the movement claims that their aims are to be achieved through peaceful means, some of their organised protests have turned deadly. However, many southerners feel that the government’s inability to control the protests or even unwillingness to compromise on their demands has led to their use of other, more violent tactics. In most cases, government forces initiated the violence by opening fire on unarmed protestors, often spawning retaliatory attacks. So far, hundreds of civilian protesters and scores of soldiers have been killed in a growing problem which has attracted the limited attention of the international community.

A government clampdown on journalists and restriction of free speech, such as the seizure of Al Jazeera broadcasting equipment,[6] means that most footage of protests and attacks comes from amateur footage uploaded onto YouTube.

A report published by the Yemeni Government said that there were 245 ‘protests and strikes’ and 87 ‘bombings and shootings’ in the first three months of 2010, which cost the lives of 18 civilians and wounded 120 as well as killing 10 members of the Yemeni security forces.[7]

A report by the Yemeni Ministry of Interior claimed that 254 soldiers and officers had been killed and 1,900 had been injured by the South Yemen Movement from 2009 to the first half of 2010.[8]

Southern Movement leader Brigadier General Ali Mohammed Assadi, who deserted to support the Southern rebellion in 1994 claimed that as of July 2011 there were some 1,300 “martyrs” for the Southern movement.[1]

Revolution and aftermath[edit]

Protest in Sana’a, 3 February 2011

  Controlled by Houthis and Saleh loyalists
  Controlled by Hadi loyalists
  Controlled by al-Qaeda and Islamic State-affiliated Ansar al-Sharia
  Controlled by Southern Movement

The 2011 Yemeni revolution followed other Arab Spring mass protests in early 2011. The uprising was initially against unemployment, economic conditions, and corruption, as well as against the government’s proposals to modify the constitution of Yemen so that Saleh’s son could inherit the presidency.

In March 2011, police snipers opened fire on the pro-democracy camp in Sana’a, killing more than 50 people. In May, dozens were killed in clashes between troops and tribal fighters in Sana’a. By this point, Saleh began to lose international support. In October 2011, Yemeni human rights activist Tawakul Karman won the Nobel Peace Prize and the UN Security Council condemned the violence and called for a transfer of power. On 23 November 2011, Saleh flew to Riyadh, in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, to sign the Gulf Co-operation Council plan for political transition, which he had previously spurned. Upon signing the document, he agreed to legally transfer the office and powers of the presidency to his deputy, Vice President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.

Hadi took office for a two-year term upon winning the uncontested presidential elections in February 2012, in which he was the only candidate standing.[255] A unity government – including a prime minister from the opposition – was formed. Al-Hadi will oversee the drafting of a new constitution, followed by parliamentary and presidential elections in 2014. Saleh returned in February 2012. In the face of objections from thousands of street protesters, parliament granted him full immunity from prosecution. Saleh’s son, General Ahmed Ali Abdullah Saleh continues to exercise a strong hold on sections of the military and security forces.

AQAP claimed responsibility for the February 2012 suicide attack on the presidential palace which killed 26 Republican Guards on the day that President Hadi was sworn in. AQAP was also behind the suicide bombing which killed 96 soldiers in Sana’a three months later. In September 2012, a car bomb attack in Sana’a killed 11 people, a day after a local al-Qaeda leader Said al-Shihri was reported killed in the south.

By 2012, there has been a “small contingent of U.S. special-operations troops” – in addition to CIA and “unofficially acknowledged” U.S. military presence – in response to increasing terror attacks by AQAP on Yemeni citizens.[256] Many analysts have pointed out the former Yemeni government role in cultivating terrorist activity in the country.[257]Following the election of new president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, the Yemeni military was able push Ansar al-Shariaback and recapture the Shabwah Governorate.

Saudi-led air strike on Sana’a, 12 June 2015. Saudi Arabia is operatingwithout a UN mandate.

The central government in Sana’a remained weak, staving off challenges from southern separatists and Shia rebels as well as AQAP. The Shia insurgency intensified after Hadi took power, escalating in September 2014 as anti-government forces led byAbdul-Malik al-Houthi swept into the capital and forced Hadi to agree to a “unity government”.[258] The Houthis then refused to participate in the government,[259] although they continued to apply pressure on Hadi and his ministers, even shelling the president’s private residence and placing him under house arrest,[260] until the government’s mass resignation in January 2015.[261] The following month, the Houthis dissolved parliament and declared a Revolutionary Committee under Mohammed Ali al-Houthi to be the interim authority in Yemen. Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, a cousin of the new acting president, called the takeover a “glorious revolution”. However, the “constitutional declaration” of 6 February 2015 was widely rejected by opposition politicians and foreign governments, including the United Nations.[39]

Hadi managed to flee from Sana’a to Aden, his hometown and stronghold in the south, on 21 February. He promptly gave a televised speech rescinding his resignation, condemning the coup, and calling for recognition as the constitutional president of Yemen.[42] The following month, Hadi declared Aden to be Yemen’s “temporary capital”.[45][262] The Houthis, however rebuffed an initiative by the Gulf Cooperation Council and continued to move south toward Aden. All U.S. personnel were evacuated and President Hadi was forced to flee the country to Saudi Arabia. On 26 March Saudi Arabia announced operation al-Hazm Storm and began airstrikes and announced its intentions to lead a military coalition against the Houthis, whom they claimed were being aided by Iran, and began a force buildup along the Yemeni border. The coalition included United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar,Bahrain, Jordan, Morocco, Sudan, Egypt, and Pakistan. The United States announced that it was assisting with intelligence, targeting, and logistics. Saudi Arabia and Egypt would not rule out ground operations.


Main article: Geography of Yemen

Haraaz landscape, Yemen

Mountains of north Yemen

Yemen is in Western Asia, in the southern half of the Arabian Peninsula, bordering the Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea. It lies south of Saudi Arabia and west of Oman, between latitudes 12° and 19° N and longitudes 42° and 55° E.

A number of Red Sea islands, including the Hanish Islands, Kamaran, and Perim, as well as Socotra in the Arabian Sea, belong to Yemen. Many of the islands are volcanic; for example Jabal al-Tair had a volcanic eruption in 2007 and before that in 1883.

At 527,970 km2 (203,850 sq mi), Yemen is the world’s 50th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Thailand and larger than the U.S. state of California. Yemen is at 15°N 48°E.

The country can be divided geographically into four main regions: the coastal plains in the west, the western highlands, the eastern highlands, and the Rub al Khali in the east.

The Tihamah (“hot lands” or “hot earth”) form a very arid and flat coastal plain along Yemen’s entire Red Sea coastline. Despite the aridity, the presence of many lagoons makes this region very marshy and a suitable breeding ground for malaria mosquitoes. There are extensive crescent-shaped sand dunes. The evaporation in the Tihamah is so great that streams from the highlands never reach the sea, but they do contribute to extensive groundwater reserves. Today, these are heavily exploited for agricultural use. Near the village of Madar about 50 km (30 mi) north of Sana’a, dinosaur footprints were found, indicating that the area was once a muddy flat.

The Tihamah ends abruptly at the escarpment of the western highlands. This area, now heavily terraced to meet the demand for food, receives the highest rainfall in Arabia, rapidly increasing from 100 mm (3.9 in) per year to about 760 mm (29.9 in) in Taiz and over 1,000 mm (39.4 in) in Ibb.

Temperatures are hot in the day but fall dramatically at night. There are perennial streams in the highlands but these never reach the sea because of high evaporation in the Tihamah.

The central highlands are an extensive high plateau over 2,000 metres (6,562 ft) in elevation. This area is drier than the western highlands because of rain-shadow influences but still receives sufficient rain in wet years for extensive cropping. Water storage allows for irrigation and the growing of wheat and barley. Sana’a is in this region. The highest point in Yemen is Jabal an Nabi Shu’ayb, at 3,666 metres (12,028 ft).

Water reservoir, Haraz, Yemen

Yemen’s portion of the Rub al Khali desert in the east is much lower, generally below 1,000 metres (3,281 ft), and receives almost no rain. It is populated only by Bedouin herders of camels. The growing scarcity of water is a source of increasing international concern. SeeWater supply and sanitation in Yemen.


Main article: Politics of Yemen

As a result of the Yemeni revolution, the constitution of Yemen is expected to be rewritten, and then new elections held in 2014. The national government administers the capital and largest cities, but some other regions are outside of its grasp, governed by armed militant groups which expanded their control during the chaos of the 2011–12 uprising. The two major groups are Ansar al-Sharia (a branch or affiliate of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), which has declared several “Islamic emirates” in the southern provinces of Abyan andShabwah, and the Houthis, a Shia rebel group centered in the Saada Governorate.

Yemen is a republic with a bicameral legislature. Under the 1991 constitution, an elected President, an elected 301-seat Assembly of Representatives, and an appointed 111-member Shura Council share power. The President is the head of state, and the Prime Minister is the head of government.

The 1991 constitution provides that the president be elected by popular vote from at least two candidates endorsed by at least fifteen members of the Parliament. The prime minister, in turn, is appointed by the president and must be approved by two-thirds of the Parliament. The presidential term of office is seven years, and the parliamentary term of elected office is six years. Suffrage is universal for people age 18 and older, but only Muslims may hold elected office.[263]

President Ali Abdullah Saleh became the first elected President in reunified Yemen in 1999 (though he had been President of unified Yemen since 1990 and President of North Yemen since 1978). He was re-elected to office in September 2006. Saleh’s victory was marked by an election that international observers judged to be “partly free”, though the election was accompanied by violence, violations of press freedoms, and allegations of fraud.[264] Parliamentary elections were held in April 2003, and the General People’s Congress (GPC) maintained an absolute majority. Saleh remained almost uncontested in his seat of power until 2011, when local frustration at his refusal to hold another round of elections, as combined with the impact of the 2011 Arab Spring, resulted in mass protests.[255] In 2012, he was forced to resign from power, though he remains an important actor in Yemeni politics.

The constitution calls for an independent judiciary. The former northern and southern legal codes have been unified. The legal system includes separate commercial courts and a Supreme Court based in Sana’a. Sharia is the main source of laws, with many court cases being debated according to the religious basis of law and many judges being religious scholars as well as legal authorities. The Prison Authority Organization Act, Republican decree no. 48 (1981), and Prison Act regulations, provide the legal framework for management of the country’s prison system.[265]

Foreign relations[edit]

Saleh at the Pentagon, 8 June 2004

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. At the same time, Saudi Arabia maintained direct contact with Yemeni tribes, which sometimes strained its official relations with the Yemeni Government. Saudi Arabia remained hostile to any form of political and social reform in Yemen[266] and continued to provide financial support for tribal elites.[267]

In February 1989, North Yemen joined Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt in forming the Arab Cooperation Council (ACC), an organization created partly in response to the founding of theGulf 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 Persian Gulf crisis, the ACC has remained inactive. Yemen is not a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council mainly for its republican government.[268]

Yemen is a member of the United Nations, the Arab League, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and also participates in the nonaligned movement. The Republic of Yemen accepted responsibility for all treaties and debts of its predecessors, the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) and the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). Yemen has acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, 29 July 2013

Since the end of the 1994 civil war, tangible progress has been made on the diplomatic front in restoring normal relations with Yemen’s neighbors. 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. Until the signing of the Yemen-Saudi Arabia peace treaty in July 2000,[269] Yemen’s northern border was undefined; the Arabian Desert prevented any human habitation there. Yemen settled its dispute with Eritrea over theHanish Islands in 1998. The Saudi – Yemen barrier was constructed by Saudi Arabia against an influx of illegal immigrants and against the smuggling of drugs and weapons.[270] The Independent headed an article with “Saudi Arabia, one of the most vocal critics in the Arab world of Israel‘s “security fence” in the West Bank, is quietly emulating the Israeli example by erecting a barrier along its porous border with Yemen”.[271]

Human rights[edit]

Main article: Human rights in Yemen

The government and its security forces, often considered to suffer from rampant corruption,[272] have been responsible for torture, inhumane treatment, and extrajudicial executions. There are arbitrary arrests of citizens, especially in the south, as well as arbitrary searches of homes. Prolonged pretrial detention is a serious problem, and judicial corruption, inefficiency, and executive interference undermine due process. Freedom of speech, the press, and religion are all restricted.[273] Journalists who tend to be critical of the government are often harassed and threatened by the police.[225] Homosexuality is illegal, punishable by death.[274]

Since the start of the Shia insurgency, many people accused of supporting Al-Houthi have been arrested and held without charge or trial. According to the U.S. State Department International Religious Freedom Report 2007, “Some Zaydis reported harassment and discrimination by the Government because they were suspected of sympathizing with the al-Houthis. However, it appears the Government’s actions against the group were probably politically, not religiously, motivated”.[275]

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reported several violations of refugee and asylum seekers’ rights in the organization’s 2008 World Refugee Survey. Yemeni authorities reportedly deported numerous foreigners without giving them access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, despite the UN’s repeated requests. Refugees further reported violence directed against them by Yemeni authorities while living in refugee camps. Yemeni officials reportedly raped and beat camp-based refugees with impunity in 2007.[276]

Yemen is ranked last of 135 countries in the 2012 Global Gender Gap Report.[277] Human Rights Watch reported on discrimination and violence against women as well as on the abolition of the minimum marriage age of fifteen for women. The onset of puberty (interpreted by some to be as low as the age of nine) was set as a requirement for marriage instead.[278] Publicity about the case of ten-year-old Yemeni divorcee Nujood Ali brought the child marriage issue to the fore not only in Yemen but also worldwide.[279][280][281]

Human trafficking[edit]

The United States Department of State 2013 Trafficking in Persons report classified Yemen as a Tier 3 country,[282] meaning that its government does not fully comply with the minimum standards against human trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so.[283]

Yemen officially abolished slavery in 1962,[284] but slavery is still being practiced.[285]


Main article: Military of Yemen

Yemeni soldiers

The armed forces of Yemen include the Yemen Army (includes Republican Guard), Navy (includes Marines), Yemeni Air Force (Al Quwwat al Jawwiya al Yamaniya; includes Air Defense Force). A major reorganization of the armed forces continues. The unified air forces and air defenses are now under one command. The navy has concentration in Aden. Total armed forces manning numbers about 401,000 active personnel, including moreover especially conscripts. The Yemen Arab Republic and The People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen joined to form the Republic of Yemen on 22 May 1990.[286] The supreme commander of the armed forces is Field Marshal, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Al-Hadi, the President of the Republic of Yemen.

The number of military personnel in Yemen is relatively high; in sum, Yemen has the second largest military force on the Arabian Peninsula after Saudi Arabia. In 2012 total active troops were estimated as follows: army, 390,000; navy, 7,000; and air force, 5,000. In September 2007, the government announced the reinstatement of compulsory military service. Yemen’s defense budget, which in 2006 represented approximately 40 percent of the total government budget, is expected to remain high for the near term, as the military draft takes effect and internal security threats continue to escalate. By 2012 Yemen now has 401,000 active personnel.

Administrative divisions[edit]

Main article: Governorates of Yemen

Governorates of Yemen

As of the end of 2004, Yemen was divided into twenty governorates (muhafazat – the latest being Raymah Governorate, which was created during 2004) plus one municipality called “Amanat Al-Asemah” (the latter containing the constitutional capital, Sana’a).[287] An additional governorate (Soqatra Governorate) was created in December 2013 comprising Socotra Island (bottom-right corner of map), previously part of Hadramaut Governorate.[288] The governorates are subdivided into 333 districts (muderiah), which are subdivided into 2,210 sub-districts, and then into 38,284 villages (as of 2001).

In 2014, a constitutional panel decided to divide the country into six regions—four in the north, two in the south, and capital Sana’a outside of any region—creating a federalist model of governance.[289] This federal proposal was a contributing factor toward the Houthis‘ subsequent coup d’état against the government.[290][291][292]

Economy and infrastructure[edit]

Main article: Economy of Yemen

Graphical depiction of Yemen’s product exports in 28 color-coded categories.

According to the CIA, Yemen as of 2013 has a GDP (ppp) of US$61.63 billion, with an income per capita of $2,500. Services are the largest economic sector (61.4% of GDP), followed by the industrial sector (30.9%), and agriculture (7.7%). Of these, petroleum production represents around 25% of GDP and 63% of the government’s revenue.[293] According to the FAO, agriculture previously represented 18–27% of the GDP, but its apportionment began changing due to sector dynamism, emigration of rural labor, and structural changes within the sector.[294] Principal agricultural commodities produced in the nation include grain, vegetables, fruits, pulses, qat, coffee, cotton, dairy products, fish, livestock (sheep, goats, cattle, camels), and poultry.[293]

Coffee plantation in North Yemen

Most Yemenis are employed in agriculture. Agriculture in Yemen is diverse. Sorghum is the most common crop. Cotton and many fruit trees are also grown, with mangoes being the most valuable. A big problem in Yemen is the cultivation of Qat, a mild narcotic plant that releases a stimulant when chewed, and accounts for up to 40 percent of the water drawn from the Sana’a Basin each year, and that figure is rising. Some agricultural practices are drying the Sana’a Basin and displaced vital crops, which has resulted in increasing food prices. According to the World Bank, rising food prices, in turn, pushed an additional six percent of the country into poverty in 2008 alone.[295] Efforts are being made by the Government and Dawoodi Bohra community at North Yemen to replace qat with coffee plantations.[296]

Yemen’s industrial sector is centered on crude oil production and petroleum refining, food processing, handicrafts, small-scale production of cotton textiles and leather goods, aluminum products, commercial ship repair, cement, and natural gas production. As of 2013, the country had an industrial production growth rate of 4.8%.[293] It also has large proven reserves of natural gas.[297] Yemen’s first liquified natural gas plant began production in October 2009.

According to the CIA, the labor force as of 2013 totals 7 million workers. Services, industry, construction and commerce together constitute less than 25% of the labor force. The unemployment rate as of 2003 was 35%.[293]

As of 2013, exports from Yemen total $6.694 billion. The main exported commodities are crude oil, coffee, dried and salted fish, liquefied natural gas. These products were mainly sent to China (41%), Thailand (19.2%), India (11.4%), and South Korea (4.4%). Imports as of 2013 total $10.97 billion. The main imported commodities are machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, livestock, and chemicals. These products were mainly imported from the EU (48.8%), UAE (9.8%), Switzerland (8.8%), China (7.4%), and India (5.8%).[293]

DNO drilling for oil in Yemen using a land rig.

As of 2013, the Yemeni government’s budget consisted of $7.769 billion in revenues and $12.31 billion in expenditures. Taxes and other revenues constituted roughly 17.7% of the GDP, with a budget deficit of 10.3%. The public debt was 47.1% of GDP. Yemen had reserves of foreign exchange and gold of around $5.538 billion in 2013. Its inflation rate over the same period based on consumer prices was 11.8%. The nation’s external debt totaled $7.806 billion.[293]

Beginning in the mid-1950s, the Soviet Union and China provided large-scale assistance. For example, China and the United States are involved with the expansion of the Sana’a International Airport. In the south, pre-independence economic activity was overwhelmingly concentrated in the port city of Aden. The seaborne transit trade, which the port relied upon, collapsed with the closure of the Suez Canaland Britain’s withdrawal from Aden in 1967.

Since the conclusion of the war, the government made an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to implement astructural adjustment program. Phase one of the program included major financial and monetary reforms, including floating the currency, reducing the budget deficit, and cutting subsidies. Phase two will address structural issues such as civil service reform.

In early 1995, the government of Yemen launched an economic, financial, and administrative reform program (EFARP) with the support of the World Bank and the IMF, as well as international donors. These programs had a positive impact on Yemen’s economy and led to the reduction of the budget deficit to less than 3% of gross domestic product during the period 1995–1999 and the correction of macro-financial imbalances.[298] The real growth rate in the non-oil sector rose by 5.6% from 1995 to 1997.[299]

Water supply and sanitation[edit]

A key challenge is severe water scarcity, especially in the Highlands, prompting The Times of London to write “Yemen could become first nation to run out of water”.[300] A second key challenge is a high level of poverty, making it difficult to recover the costs of service provision. Access to water supply sanitation is as low as in some sub-Saharan African countries. Yemen is both the poorest country and the most water-scarce country in the Arab_world. Third, the capacity of sector institutions to plan, build, operate and maintain infrastructure remains limited. Last but not least the security situation makes it even more difficult to improve or even maintain existing levels of service.

The average Yemeni has access to only 140 cubic meters of water per year (101 gallons per day ) for all uses, while the Middle Eastern average is 1000 m3/yr, and the internationally defined threshold for water stress is 1700 cubic meters per year.[301] Yemen’s groundwater is the main source of water in the country but the water tables have dropped severely leaving the country without a viable source of water. For example, in Sana’a, the water table was 30 meters below surface in the 1970s but had dropped to 1200 meters below surface by 2012. The groundwater has not been regulated by Yemen’s governments.[302] Even before the revolution, Yemen’s water situation had been described as increasingly dire by experts who worried that Yemen would be the “first country to run out of water”.[303] Agriculture in Yemen takes up about 90% of water in Yemen even though it only generates 6% of GDP – however a large portion of Yemenis are dependent on small-scale subsistence agriculture. Half of agricultural water in Yemen is used to grow khat, a narcotic that most Yemenis chew. This means that in such a water-scarce country as Yemen, where half the population is food-insecure, 45% of the water withdrawn from the ever-depleting aquifers is used to grow a crop that feeds nobody.[302]

Due to the 2015 Yemeni Civil War, the situation is increasingly dire. 80% of the country’s population struggles to access water to drink and bathe. Bombing has forced many Yemenis to leave their homes for other areas, and so wells in those areas are under increasing pressure.[304]


Main article: Demographics of Yemen

Ethnoreligious groups in 2002

The population of Yemen is 24 million according to 2014 estimates, with 46% of the population being under 15 years old and 2.7% above 65 years. In 1950, it was 4.3 million.[305][306] By 2050, the population is estimated to increase to about 60 million.[307] Yemen has a hightotal fertility rate, at 4.45 children per woman. It is the 30th highest in the world.[308] Sana’a‘s population has increased rapidly, from roughly 55,000 in 1978[309] to nearly 2 million in the early 21st century.

Yemeni Children in Sana’a

According to the CIA World Factbook, Yemeni ethnic groups are predominantly Arab, followed by Afro-Arabs, South Asians and Europeans.[293] When the former states of North and South Yemen were established, most resident minority groups departed.[310] Yemen is a largely tribal society.[311] In the northern, mountainous parts of the country, there are 400 Zaidi tribes.[312] There are also hereditary caste groups in urban areas such as Al-Akhdam.[313] There are also Yemenis of Persian origin. According to Muqaddasi, Persians formed the majority of Aden‘s population in the 10th century.[314][315]

In addition, Yemenite Jews once formed a sizable Jewish minority in Yemen with a distinct culture from other Jewish communities in the world.[316] Most emigrated to Israel in the mid-20th century, following the Jewish exodus from Arab lands and Operation Magic Carpet.[317]An estimated 100,000 people of Indian origin are concentrated in the southern part of the country, around Aden, Mukalla, Shihr, Lahaj, Mokha and Hodeidah.[318]

Most of the prominent Indonesians, Malaysians, and Singaporeans of Arab descent are Hadhrami people with origins in southern Yemen in the Hadramawt coastal region.[319] Today there are almost 10,000 Hadramis in Singapore.[320] The Hadramis migrated to Southeast Asia, East Africa and the Indian subcontinent.[321] Maqil were a collection of Arab Bedouin tribes of Yemeni origin who migrated westwards via Egypt. Several groups of Yemeni Arabs turned south to Mauritania, and by the end of the 17th century, they dominated the entire country. They can also be found throughout Morocco and in Algeria as well as in other North African Countries.[322]

Yemen is the only country in the Arabian Peninsula that is signatory to two international accords dating back to 1951 and 1967 governing the protection of refugees.[323] According to the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Yemen hosted a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 124,600 in 2007. Refugees and asylum seekers living in Yemen were predominantly from Somalia (110,600), Iraq (11,000), Ethiopia (2,000),[276] and Syria.[324] Additionally, more than 334,000 Yemenis have been internally displaced by conflict.[323]

The Yemeni diaspora is largely concentrated in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, where between 800,000 and 1 million Yemenis reside,[325] and the United Kingdom, home to between70,000 and 80,000 Yemenis.[326]


Main article: Religion in Yemen

Religion in Yemen consists primarily of two principal Islamic religious groups: 60%–65% of the Muslim population is Sunni and 35%–40% is Shia, according to the International Religious Freedom Report.[327] Sunnis are primarily Shafi’i but also include significant groups ofMalikis and Hanbalis. Shias are primarily Zaidi and also have significant minorities of Twelver[328][329] and Ismaili Shias.[328]

The Sunnis are predominantly in the south and southeast. The Zaidis are predominantly in the north and northwest whilst the Ismailis are in the main centers such as Sana’a and Ma’rib. There are mixed communities in the larger cities. About 1 percent of Yemenis are non-Muslim – adhering to Christianity, Judaism, or Hinduism or having no religious affiliation[citation needed].[330]

A 2015 study estimates a mere 400 believers in Christ from a Muslim background in the country.[331]


Face from Sana’a 11

Modern Standard Arabic is the official language of Yemen. Yemeni Arabic is spoken in several regional dialects. In the Mahra area in the far east and the island Soqotra, several non-Arabic languages are spoken.[332][333] Yemeni Sign Language is used by the deaf community.

Yemen is one of the main homelands of the South Semitic family of languages. Mehri is the largest South Semitic language spoken in the nation, with more than 70,000 speakers. The ethnic group itself is called Mahra. Soqotri is another South Semitic language, with speakers on the island of Socotra isolated from the pressures of Arabic on the Yemeni mainland. According to the 1990 census in Yemen, the number of speakers there was 57,000.[334]

Yemen was also home of the Old South Arabian languages. Of these idioms one, Jabal Razih, appears to still be spoken in the far northwestern corner of the country.

There are a significant number of Russian speakers, originating from Yemeni-Russian cross-marriages occurring mainly in the 1970s and 1980s. A small Cham-speaking community is found in the capital city of Sana’a, originating from refugees expatriated from Vietnam after the Vietnam War in the 1970s.[citation needed]


Main article: Culture of Yemen

The National Museum in Sana’a

Typical Yemeni House

Yemen is a culturally rich country with influence from many civilizations, such as the early civilization of Sheba.


Main article: Media of Yemen

Dance in Sa’dah, northwestern Yemen.

Radio broadcasting in Yemen began in the 1940s when it was still divided into South by the British and North by Imami ruling system.[335]After the unity of Yemen in 1990, Yemeni government reformed its corporations and founded some additional radio channels which can broadcast locally. However, it drew back after 1994 due to destroyed infrastructures by the civil war.

Television is the most significant media platform in Yemen. Given the low literacy rate in the country, television is the main source of news for Yemenis. There are six free-to-air channels currently headquartered in Yemen, of which four are state-owned.[336]

The Yemeni film industry is in its early stages; only two Yemeni films have been released as of 2008.


Main article: Theatre in Yemen

The history of Yemeni theatre dates back at least a century, to the early 1900s. Both amateur and professional (government-sponsored) theatre troupes perform in the country’s major urban centers. Many of Yemen’s significant poets and authors, like Ali Ahmed Ba Kathir, Muhammad al-Sharafi, and Wajdi al-Ahdal, have written dramatic works; poems, novels, and short stories by Yemeni authors likeMohammad Abdul-Wali and Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh have also been adapted for the stage. There have been Yemeni productions of plays by Arab authors such as Tawfiq al-Hakim and Saadallah Wannous and by Western authors, including Shakespeare, Pirandello, Brecht, and Tennessee Williams. Historically speaking, the southern port city of Aden is the cradle of Yemeni theatre; in recent decades the capital, Sana’a, has hosted numerous theatre festivals, often in conjunction with World Theatre Day.


Football is the most popular sport in Yemen. The Yemen Football Association is a member of FIFA and AFC. The Yemeni national football team participates internationally. The country also hosts many football clubs. They compete in the national and international leagues.

Yemen’s mountains provide many opportunities for outdoor sports, such as biking, rock climbing, trekking, hiking, mountain jumping, and other more challenging sports, including mountain climbing. Mountain climbing and hiking tours to the Sarawat Mountains and the Jabal an Nabi Shu’ayb, including the 3,000 m (9,800 ft) peaks in the region, are seasonally organized by local and international alpine agencies.

The coastal areas of Yemen and Socotra island also provide many opportunities for water sports, such as surfing, bodyboarding, sailing, swimming, and scuba diving. Socotra island is home to some of the best surfing destinations in the world.

Camel jumping is a traditional sport that is becoming increasingly popular among the Zaraniq tribe on the west coast of Yemen in a desert plain by the Red Sea. Camels are placed side to side and victory goes to the competitor who leaps, from a running start, over the most camels. The jumpers train year round for competitions. Tribesmen (women may not compete) tuck their robes around their waists for freedom of movement while running and leaping.[337]

Yemen’s biggest sports event was hosting the 2010 Gulf Cup of Nations in Aden and Abyan in the southern part of the country on 22 November 2010. Yemen was thought to be the strongest competitor, but was defeated in the first three matches of the tournament.[338]

The Yemeni national football team has never won a championship, though it includes many renowned Arab players.

World Heritage sites[edit]

High-rise architecture at Shibam, Wadi Hadramawt

Among Yemen’s natural and cultural attractions are four World Heritage sites.

The Old Walled City of Shibam in Wadi Hadhramaut, inscribed by UNESCO in 1982, two years after Yemen joined the World Heritage Committee, is nicknamed “Manhattan of the Desert” because of its “skyscrapers.” Surrounded by a fortified wall made of mud and straw, the 16th-century city is one of the oldest examples of urban planning based on the principle of vertical construction.

The ancient Old City of Sana’a, at an altitude of more than 2,100 metres (7,000 ft), has been inhabited for over two and a half millennia and was inscribed in 1986. Sana’a became a major Islamic centre in the 7th century, and the 103 mosques, 14 hammams (traditional bath houses), and more than 6,000 houses that survive all date from before the 11th century.

Close to the Red Sea Coast, the Historic Town of Zabid, inscribed in 1993, was Yemen’s capital from the 13th to the 15th century, and is an archaeological and historical site. It played an important role for many centuries because of its university, which was a center of learning for the whole Arab and Islamic world. Algebra is said to have been invented there in the early 9th century by the little-known scholar Al-Jazari.

The latest addition to Yemen’s list of World Heritage Sites is the Socotra Archipelago. Mentioned by Marco Polo in the 13th century, this remote and isolated archipelago consists of four islands and two rocky islets delineating the southern limit of the Gulf of Aden. The site has a rich biodiversity. Nowhere else in the world do 37% of Socotra’s 825 plants, 90% of its reptiles and 95% of its snails occur. It is home to 192 bird species, 253 species of coral, 730 species of coastal fish, and 300 species of crab and lobster, as well as a range of Aloes and the Dragon’s Blood Tree (Dracaena cinnabari). The cultural heritage of Socotra includes the unique Soqotri language.


Main article: Education in Yemen

New Sana’a University in Sana

The adult literacy rate in 2010 was 64%.[339] The government has committed to reduce illiteracy to less than 10% by 2025.[340] Although Yemen’s government provides for universal, compulsory, free education for children ages six through 15, the U.S. Department of State reports that compulsory attendance is not enforced. The government developed the National Basic Education Development Strategy in 2003 that aimed at providing education to 95% of Yemeni children between the ages of six and 14 years and also at decreasing the gap between males and females in urban and rural areas.[341]

A seven-year project to improve gender equity and the quality and efficiency of secondary education, focusing on girls in rural areas, was approved by the World Bank in March 2008. Following this, Yemen has increased its education spending from 5% of GDP in 1995 to 10% in 2005.[225]

According to the Webometrics Ranking of World Universities, the top-ranking universities in the country are the Yemeni University of Science & Technology (6532nd worldwide), Al Ahgaff University (8930th) and Sanaa University (11043rd).[342]


Main article: Health in Yemen

A Yemeni doctor examines an infant in a USAID-sponsored health care clinic

According to 2009 estimates, life expectancy in Yemen is 63.27 years.[293] Despite the significant progress Yemen has made to expand and improve its health care system over the past decade, the system remains severely underdeveloped. Total expenditures on health care in 2004 constituted 5% of gross domestic product. In that same year, the per capita expenditure for health care was very low compared with other Middle Eastern countries – US$34 per capita according to the World Health Organization.

According to the World Bank, the number of doctors in Yemen rose by an average of more than 7% between 1995 and 2000, but as of 2004 there were still only three doctors per 10,000 people. In 2005 Yemen had only 6.1 hospital beds available per 10,000 persons. Health care services are particularly scarce in rural areas; only 25% of rural areas are covered by health services, compared with 80% of urban areas. Most childhood deaths are caused by illnesses for which vaccines exist or that are otherwise preventable.[343]

Sana’a may be the first capital city in the world to run out of drinking water.[344]


The flora of Yemen is a mixture of the tropical African, Sudanian plant geographical region and the Saharo-Arabian region. The Sudanian element dominates the western mountains and parts of the highland plains which is characteristic by relatively high rain fall. The Saharo-Arabian element dominates in the coastal plains, eastern mountain and the eastern and northern desert plains. A high percentage of Yemen plants belong to tropical African plants of Sudanian regions. Among the Sudanian element species the following may be mentioned: Ficus spp., Acacia mellifera, Grewia villosa, Commiphora spp., Rosa abyssinica, Cadaba farinosa and others.[345]

Among the Saharo-Arabian species, the following may be mentioned: Panicum turgidum, Aerva javanica, Zygophyllum simplex, Fagonia indica, Salsola spp., Acacia tortilis, A. hamulos, A. ehrenbergiana, Phoenix dactylifera, Hyphaene thebaica , Capparis decidua, Salvadora persica, Balanites aegyptiaca and many others.

The characteristic genera of the Irano-Turanian which occur in the eastern and northern east of the country are: Calligonum spp. Cymbopogon jwarancusa and Tamarix spp. and of the Mediterranean regions are: Teucrium , Lavandula, Juniperus, Brassica and Diplotaxis.