Alec Douglas-Home c. 1963
Dutch National Archives via Wikimedia)

[ 21 July 1964 ]

On 21 July 1964, Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home assured the House of Commons that ‘our policy is one of non-involvement in the civil war in the Yemen.’1 As historians Richard J. Aldrich and Rory Cormac observe, ‘this was simply not true.’ The British government was by then already undertaking extensive covert operations against Egyptian troops. Egypt was backing a republican government in North Yemen against royalist rebels.  London viewed the commitment of Nasser’s Egypt to a path of development independent of the West as a dangerous precedent, and did not want to see other Arab countries fall under his influence or control. Accordingly, the government initiated terror operations, which included arming local tribes, mine-laying and sabotage. By March 1964, Britain was already providing regular air drops of weapons, including thousands of rifles, ammunition and anti-tank mines in an all out effort to force regime change.2


  1. Hansard 21 July 1964 accessed online at https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/commons/1964/jul/21/yemen
  2. Richard J. Aldrich and Rory Cormac, The Black Door: Spies, Secret Intelligence and British Prime Ministers, William Collins, London, 2017, pp. 250-251.

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