By Helen Lackner, Catalyst

The military coup is known in Yemen as the revolution rather than as a coup, although, objectively, it was a coup. But it was generally described by most people in the country and is perceived today as the overthrow of the imamate and the beginning of a republic. It came about after decades of frustration against the imam.

The imams ruled very autocratically and oppressively — particularly the penultimate one, Ahmad bin Yahya. There had been a large number of uprisings, the most famous being the ones in 1948 and 1955, when groups of educated elites opposed the imam and tried to overthrow him militarily. They were very severely repressed: a lot of heads were cut off and put on display to the public in various locations.

Soldier fighting in the ranks of the legitimate army against Al-Houthi militia in Taiz City .

You had a regime that many describe as retrograde and comparable to the one that existed in Oman prior to 1970. The characteristics of that regime included heavy taxation throughout the country, which made life difficult for the population at large, and very limited investment in any of the modern aspects of life that people were interested in, such as health and education. The imam had also sent a number of officers for training to Iraq. They came back with Arab nationalist ideology, and therefore with anti-monarchical sentiments that made them ready to get rid of the imam.

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