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Fifty-one years ago, Yemen king dethroned

On Sept. 25, 1962, the newly crowned King of Yemen, Imam Muhammad al-Badr, was dethroned by a plot conceived by Abdullah al-Sallal, who then declared Yemen to be a republic.

At the time of the coup at least four plots were going on in the capitol Sanaa. Each headed by a different military leader with different aspirations or different agendas. A lieutenant, Ali-Abdul al Moghny, headed one; another was conceived by al-Sallal, which merged with the third conspiracy conceived by a Hashid tribal confederation that wanted revenge for the killing of their highest sheik and his son. A fourth plot surprisingly was conceived by a young princess who sought to rid him from the throne but not the monarchy altogether. The only people who knew about these plots were Egyptian diplomat Abdul Wahad (chargé d’affaires) and al-Badr himself.

The day before the coup was to occur, Wahad told al-Badr that he had information from Egyptian intelligence that al-Sallal and 15 other officers were planning a revolution. This was done to cover himself and Egypt in case the coup failed and to group the three plots into one while forcing them into action. Being aware of the plot, al-Badr began to assemble forces in order to protect himself. Wahad then went to the leaders of the revolt and told them that al-Badr had somehow found out about the coup and that if they could hold the airport and the radio broadcast center that the whole of Europe would recognize them as legitimate. Al-Sallal ordered the military academy to be on full alert and issued weapons to all the junior officers involved. He then gathered all the known nationalist movement leaders and gave them orders that had to be carried out when the shelling of the palace that al-Badr was in commenced.

During the evening of Sept. 25, 1962, the shelling of the palace began. At this time al Moghny sent an armored car to al-Sallal’s home where he was asked to join the revolution. He agreed, on the condition that he would get to be president when the smoke cleared. All together, the coup d’état was carried out with 15 tanks from the Badr Brigade, six armored cars, two mobile artillery pieces and two anti-air guns. When the tanks arrived at the palace, al-Badr and his guards were asked by microphone to surrender and give up al-Badr peacefully so they could exile him. The guards responded by opening fire, which prompted the rebels to return fire with tanks and artillery. The battle continued until the guards surrendered the next morning.

By late morning on Sept. 26, the whole of Sanaa had been secured and the radio broadcast that Imam al-Badr had been overthrown by the revolution. Revolutionaries throughout Yemen began securing key areas such as airports, ports and armories.

Matt Bair is a junior studying history, political science and classics. Feeling historical? Chat history with him at

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