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National Democratic Front (NDF)


leftist movement in the yemen arab republic.

The National Democratic Front (NDF) was an umbrella organization created in 1976 by six leftist opposition groups in the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR), which sought to move the YAR in a more radical direction and away from the republican-royalist reconciliation that ended the civil war in 1970. The roots of the NDF can be traced to the expulsion of the left from the YAR polity following the Sanʿa Mutiny in 1968. In addition to an increasingly radical program of socioeconomic reform along socialist lines, the NDF sought to unify the YAR with the revolutionary South Yemen; to loosen ties of political dependency with Saudi Arabia; to curb the influence of tribal leaders; and to open up the closed political system of the YAR to popular participation. The NDF first sought through political means to pressure the government to accept it and its goals. Frustrated in this effort, during the late 1970s and early 1980s the NDF waged an armed rebellion against the YAR regime with the support of Marxist South Yemen; it played an important role in the 1979 border war between the two Yemens. The NDF rebellion was largely put down by force in 1982, and many NDF members accepted the regime's terms for reconciliation; almost all of the others reconciled on the occasion of Yemeni unification in 1990, effectively ending the NDF as an organized force in Yemeni politics. Many former NDF leaders ended up playing important political roles in unified Yemen, some in the ruling party of the president and most in the opposition. The NDF was virtually nonexistent by the time of the brief War of Secession in 1994 and hence played no role in it.

see also yemen; yemen arab republic.


Burrowes, Robert D. The Yemen Arab Republic: The Politics of Development, 19621986. Boulder, CO: Westview Press; London: Croon Helm, 1987.

Carapico, Sheila. Civil Society in Yemen: The Political Economy of Activism in Modern Arabia. New York and Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Dresch, Paul. A History of Modern Yemen. New York and Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

robert d. burrowes

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