Free Yemenis

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Political party of North Yemen in the 1940s.

Founded in Aden in 1944 by such fathers of the modern Yemeni nation-state as Qaʾid Muhammad Mahmud al-Zubayri and Shaykh Ahmad Muhammad Nuʿman, the Free Yemeni party (al-Ahrar) was the first major modern expression of constitutional reform and political opposition to the Hamid alDin imamate in North Yemen. Although their party existed only for a few years, the Free Yemenis led the way from reformism and a constitutional ima-mate to new, more advanced political ideas (republicanism and revolution), organization (such as the Yemeni Unionists), and action. It could be said that a Free Yemeni movement, more than the party itself, traces an unbroken line from 1944 to the 1962 revolution. The Free Yemenis, however, far from being radical political modernists, were initially the mid-twentieth-century equivalents of the Turkish reformers of the Ottoman Empire during the Tanzimat period in the nineteenth century. This did not prevent them from playing a major role in the failed 1948 revolution and in laying a big part of the foundation for the successful 1962 revolution.

See also Tanzimat; Zubayri, Qaʾid Muhammad Mahmud al-.


Douglas, Leigh J. The Free Yemeni Movement, 19351962, edited by Giovanni Chimienti. Beirut, Lebanon: American University of Beirut, 1987.

Robert D. Burrowes