The Al-Qasimi family rose to prominence as religious and temporal leaders in the 16th century in what is now northern Yemen. Of the Shi’ite faith, the Al-Qasimi led resistance to the Ottoman Empire and to tribes from the area of modern Saudi Arabia, winning independence in the 17th century, but losing it in the 19th. As Ottoman power receded in the early 20th century, Yemen reasserted itself politically under Imam Abdullah, winning autonomy in 1913 and independence in 1918. In 1926 Imam Abdullah declared the Kingdom of Yemen, and himself King Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din. The Kingdom of Yemen occupied the territory later known as North Yemen.
The first years of the Kingdom were consumed with conflict against both the House of Saud and the British Empire. Yemen and Saudi Arabia competed for territory on the peninsula, and Yemen refused to recognize its southern boundary with the British Aden Protectorate, cobbled together from Ottoman holdings at the end of World War I. The conflict was eventually settled in 1934. King Yahya Muhammad died in a coup in 1948, and was succeeded by his 57 year old son, Ahmad bin Yahya. Under the rule of Ahmad bin Yahya Yemen would briefly become part of the United Arab States (with Egypt and Syria), and continued its efforts to bring about the end of the British protectorate over Aden.
Ahmad bin Yahya died peacefully in 1962. His son, King Muhammad Al-Badr, ruled for only eight days before being deposed in a coup. Muhammad Al-Badr survived the coup and fled into the wilderness, where he helped lead resistance to military rule. This resistance eventually developed into a proxy war between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with the Egyptians supporting the government and the Saudis supporting the King. Inevitably the conflict took on a larger significance, with the Egyptians receiving Soviet support and the Royalists receiving assistance from Iran and the United Kingdom. Although initially optimistic about the prospects for victory, the Egyptians quickly became bogged down in Yemen, letting their military posture against Israel suffer and contributing to their defeat in 1967. After the Six Day War the Egyptians began a draw down and disengagement from Yemen, finally leaving in 1971. The Royalists weren’t able to capitalize completely, and Saudi Arabia withdrew its support in 1970. A compromise peace was eventually agreed to, and the King left for exile in the United Kingdom.
King Muhammad Al-Badr died in 1996, and was succeeded as claimant by his son, Ageel bin Muhammad Al-Badr. Discontent continues in Yemen, both in the north and between the north and what briefly became South Yemen following the British evacuation east of Suez. Prospects for a return to the throne are uncertain, but probably not high.
No trivia; Deposed Monarch Blogging will return on January 6, 2008.