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Timeline: Saleh's 30-year rule in Yemen

SANAA (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of Yemenis squared off in peaceful protests for and against the government on Thursday during an opposition-led “Day of Rage,” a day after President Ali Abdullah Saleh offered to step down in 2013.

Here is a timeline of Saleh’s 30-year rule:

July 1978 - President Ali Abdullah Saleh takes power in the former North Yemen.

February 1979 - Saleh crushes an attempt to overthrow him.

May 1990 - Pro-Western North Yemen and socialist South Yemen merge after 300 years of separation to form a powerful new republic dominating the strategic entrance to the Red Sea.

-- North Yemeni leader Saleh proclaims the unification in Aden after the parliaments of both states elect him president.

May-July 1994 - Northern Yemen declares the Yemeni civil war is over after gaining total control of its southern foe’s last bastion, Aden, and ending a bid to revive an independent state.

-- Sanaa declares that former vice-president Ali Salem al-Baidh and his supporters who tried to secede from a four-year merger with the north have been soundly defeated in a bloody two-month civil war and that unity for the Yemen is now assured.

-- Southern leaders led by Baidh, who set up a breakaway southern state on May 21, are forced to flee into exile.

October 2000 - Bombing of USS Cole in Aden harbor kills 17 sailors and blows hole in navy vessel’s hull.

November 2001 - After the attacks on U.S. cities, Saleh declares support for Washington’s “war on terror,” in part to enlist U.S. support against the Houthis, whom Yemeni officials accuse of having links to al Qaeda, Iran or Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

March 2003 - Yemeni’s protest against any U.S.-led war on Baghdad shouting “Death to America, death to Israel.

September 2004 - Yemeni forces kill anti-U.S. rebel cleric Hussein al-Houthi and dozens of his supporters, ending over two months of clashes in which over 200 rebels and troops have died.

-- Houthi was one of a number of rebel leaders in Yemen, but he represented a considerable target having engaged the security forces over a long period.

February 2008 -- A fragile truce is signed with the Houthis, but clashes soon resume. Saleh has yet to crush the four-year-old Houthi revolt by Zaidi Shi’ite tribes in the northwest region of Saada. Saleh unilaterally declares the war over in July 2008. However full-scale fighting resumes a year later.

January 2009 - Al Qaeda’s Yemeni and Saudi wings announce merger in new group called al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) led by Nasser al-Wahayshi.

November 2009 - Saudi Arabia launches a military offensive against rebels after a rebel cross-border incursion.

-- The Houthi deny accusations that infiltrators entered Saudi territory and call the offensive against the group “unjustified” and accuse it of mainly targeting civilians through air raids.

January 2010 - A meeting of Western and Gulf foreign ministers in London aims to bolster Yemen’s fight against al Qaeda.

February 2010 - The Yemeni government and northern Shi’ite rebels agree to a truce aimed at ending a war that has raged sporadically since 2004 and drawn in Saudi Arabia.

February 2011 - Saleh, a key U.S. ally against al Qaeda, says he will not seek to extend his presidency in a move that would end his three-decade rule when his current term expires in 2013.

-- A day of anti-government protests on February 3 draws more than 20,000 people in Sanaa, the biggest crowd since demonstrations hit Yemen two weeks ago.