Fast facts: What you may not know about Ali Abdullah Saleh

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Ali Abdullah Saleh was born on March 21st, 1942, in the village of Beit al-Ahmar in Sanhan district in Sanaa governorate to a poor family.

He worked as a shepherd and received his primary education in the village qur’anic school. He then left in 1958 and joined the army at the age of 16.


He ruled Yemen for 33 years but as a child he suffered from poverty after his parents divorced when he was very young.

For many generations, Saleh is the only known leader they have known to rule Yemen.

Picture released on November 1, 1991 of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa. (AFP)
Picture released on November 1, 1991 of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa. (AFP)

He united Yemen after it was divided into two states and restored stability after the country witnessed successive military coups, not to mention the assassination attempts on the Yemeni Presidents which killed 3 of the 5 who ruled Yemen after the overthrow of the rule of Imamate.

In October 1979, a group of Nasserite officers backed by Libya toppled Ali Abdullah Saleh, but the coup failed. After this event, Saleh appointed family members and relatives in the administration of the army and security institutions, hence his brothers from his mother side were granted the most prominent positions.


On June 3rd, 2011, Saleh was subjected to an assassination attempt at the Presidential House Mosque, where he was seriously injured and burned. He was transferred to Saudi Arabia for treatment. He underwent several operations and his powers were transferred to his deputy, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

The Yemeni parliament granted full immunity from prosecution for any “political” crimes he might have committed.

Despite his departure from office, reports claim he was involved in the sudden capture of the capital Sanaa by the Houthi group and then major Yemeni cities without resistance from the army and the authorities in September 2014.

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