Yemen has always been different from the rest of the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. Even the Ancient Greeks thought of it as such, referring to the land that would eventually constitute Yemen as Eudaimon Arabia – “Fortunate Arabia” or “Happy Arabia” – because its rainfall and fertile land made for a stable population.
But the country it has become has rarely been fortunate or happy for long. Located at the intersection of major trade routes, it is an outpost for distant powers seeking access to Arabia. It is a prize peninsular powers have long tried – and always struggled – to control. It is a diverse country, a little more than 200,000 square miles in size, boasting a fertile coastline, mountains as tall as 12,000 feet (3,700 meters), and desert terrain. Its inhabitants are at least as diverse, disconnected as they by dozens of tribal and religious affiliations. Here, diversity all too often leads to volatility, for no one group can control the country for
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