Yemen / Politics /
Full name: Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din
(1867-1948) Ruler (Imam) of North Yemen 1904-1948. Also known as Mahmud al-Mutawakkil.
Dar al-Hajar, a mansion built in the 1930's as a summer retreat to Imam Yahya near San'a. Photo: RaphaŽl Fauveau
The politics of Yahya were focused on protecting Yemen from foreign influence and control, but also from foreign cultural impulses. Yahya's Yemen was a country of little development and strongly isolated from its neighbours. Even when he received military aid from Italy in the 1920's and 30's he refused further contact, and did not allow any diplomatic missions.
The administration of North Yemen was in fact solely in the hands of local nobles known as sayyids. While some were capable administrators, many were not. Eventually the continous opposition to his conservative and isolationist policy would become an important factor in his assassination in 1948.
1867: Born into the Hamad ad-Din branch of the Rassi dynasty.
1904: With the death of his father, Yahya becomes Imam, hence effective ruler over the mountainous areas of future North Yemen. But the Ottomans who made claim on the area would not recognize his rule, and war between the parties breaks out.
1911: War against the Ottomans ends without a clear victor. His rule over North Yemen is recognized by the Ottomans, but he is forced to operate as a loyal subject to the empire.
1918: With the end of World War 1, the Ottomans lose control over North Yemen, allowing Yahya to establish an independent state.
1934: War with the Saudi dynasty begins. Yahya's forces are totally defeated, but king King Ibn Sa'ud offers him peace without making territorial concessions.
1946: Opposition to Yahya's regime is organized.
1948: Yahya is shot and dies. He is succeeded by his son, Ahmad bin Yahya.