2. School of flamethrowers near Cairo
October stood in Cairo 1963 of the year. Less than four years remained until the "six-day" war.
I returned from vacation with my family and received permission to rent an apartment on Zamalik. This island on the Nile has forever remained in the memory of the symbol of the most carefree and happy years of our family life.
Zamalik was considered one of the oldest fashionable areas of Cairo. In the summer it was cooled on all sides by the muddy Nil. A large territory was occupied by the Gezira sports club for the rich with a large green football field, cozy tennis courts, and a swimming pool.
On the streets of Cairo
We rented the first furnished apartment in a four-storey building on a quiet street, not far from the office of the Soviet military mission and the Soviet embassy. The days were warm, and at night we froze under light blankets received from the host.
I was sent as a translator to work at the Department of Chemical Protection of the General Staff. I once complained about the cold in the apartment to Captain Astakhov, the senior Arabic translator.
- And what are you silent! It is fixable. Borrow money, I'll give you a ten. Get ready for the weekend to go to Gaza with a group of newly arrived colonels. Will go on reconnaissance. They need a translator. You will spend the night in Gaza. There and buy warm camel blankets. I bought it myself - my wife is happy.
- Have you been there?
- Not once. Cheaper than in Gaza does not happen. Will you go?
“I'll go,” and immediately got ten pounds in debt.
He ran around his acquaintances, took another twenty. Then it was already decent money.
Pleased his wife:
- Make a list of the most necessary. Then I will go to Gaza again.
The list made up quickly. Comrades came running with money and lists of the most necessary.
- Well, you are with me, like rich Buratino, - the wife joked.
At the start of the 1960's in Palestine it was more or less calm. The blue helmets of the United Nations separated the wall of the Jewish aggressor from the Muslims immediately after the tripartite aggression of the most democratic "democracies" - Israel, Britain and France - from Egypt.
The UN had to separate Israel with a blue helmets cordon from Egypt and Gaza and thereby deprive it of the possibility of new aggression against the Arab states. Gaza was granted the right to duty-free trade, and it turned into a solid bazaar, like Russian cities in the early years of independence from the USSR. All Palestinians, except the lazy, became merchants. Trade flourished in full color. From Gaza, goods were exported to Egypt, but there they were already much more expensive.
In the middle of November 1963, our small group of Soviet officers rushed from Cairo to Port Said on a microbass, and further along the coastal road to Gaza. Microbas rolled on a deserted narrow asphalt road. On the sides stretched a light yellow desert. The eyes of the Russian people are accustomed to the curly greenery of forests and woods, to the green fields and meadows, to the blue winding ribbons of rivers and rivulets. The desert seems to him wretched and boring. Poor and monotonous yellow-brown landscape. Roaming mounds of sand. And that's all. In Khamsin, sandstorm, wandering sands fall asleep on some sites in the Sinai road and railroad. They have to be cleaned of sand in the same way that Russian roads are cleaned from snow drifts in winter.
- pass one tank the desert battalion will pick up such a pillar of dust that it can be found tens of kilometers away, ”said the group’s senior colonel with wide black eyebrows, like Brezhnev’s sitting in a chair next to the driver.
“I don’t understand how you can fight here.” The flight time of the aircraft is a few minutes, and you are in enemy territory. At low altitude, the plane appears over the object suddenly and having bombed away from the air defense fire. Here, the war is won by the one who starts first and bombards the airfields of the enemy. Any delay - death is like, - concluded the full handsome colonel, peveoshnik.
We called him Lemeshev. At concerts of amateur performances on Soviet holidays, he performed old Russian romances no worse than the famous tenor. They said that he was invited to sing at the Bolshoi Theater, but he, as a Russian man, preferred a military, more prestigious profession.
- Yes, in October 1956. Israel launched a war with Egypt suddenly and in a few days occupied Sinai. England and France landed their landings in the Suez Canal zone and bombed Egyptian civilian objects. You rebelled, you see, whether Nasser nationalized "their" Suez Canal, - I said as an old-timer.
We drove in silence for a long time, until we saw how strange the “monument” of the Suez War 1956 was - a short section of the old road with a ripped belly: large pieces of asphalt were dyed on it. So only Israeli sappers could cripple her.
- What kind of barbarism is this !? Exclaimed the black-browed colonel.
- Probably, the Israeli troops, leaving Sinai, spoiled, blew up, destroyed everything they could. Civilized "democracies" ordered the Zionists to spoil Egypt as much as possible. So behaved, as we know, retreating, the Nazi troops in the occupied territories in World War II. What can I say - they blew up entire cities just to cause more harm to the Soviet people. Zionists are nothing better than them.
- What do you want from these racists !?
Again they drove in silence until they saw a pile of twisted rails with sleepers broken in half, sadly hanging on them. The Egyptians did not remove the rails, bent in different directions, and they lay next to the restored railroad bed.
“They were left as a kind of monument to the Anglo-French-Israeli barbarism of the Western democracies and“ fighters for human rights, ”concluded Lemeshev.
The fact that all wars are waged because of money, foreign territories and other people's wealth has been known since the days of Adam and Eve. The fact that in the twentieth century wars were fought because of energy resources and safe ways of their delivery to the countries of Western Europe and America, today only lazy does not know. The Suez crisis of 1956 was a clear confirmation of this.
That's what I thought about, looking at the "monuments" left by the Israeli military in Egyptian soil. Slightly more than 10 years ago, their loved ones died in fascist dungeons, in fascist gas chambers, and what they did in 1956-57. in Sinai?
At that time I did not know that just a couple of years ago, in 1961, the outstanding twentieth-century historian Arnold Toynbey expressed similar thoughts. He spoke publicly, loudly, without fear of accusations of anti-Semitism. In a conversation on human rights with an Israeli diplomat Jacob Herzog, an adviser to several Israeli prime ministers, he expressed the bold idea that the Zionist leadership of Israel was behaving with its Arab neighbors, how the Nazis behaved with England, France, Russia in World War II, that is, like barbarians, terrorists, invaders. In that conversation, he stressed the immoral nature of the war and the occupation of foreign lands in general, and the Arab, Palestinian lands of Israel in particular. Hypocritically speaking of the sufferings of the Jewish people, having achieved equality, the Zionists deprive Palestinians of their equality, he argued.
He reminded his Israeli interlocutor of the events of the Suez crisis: the bombing of civilian objects in Egypt by the British aviation. How so? The British condemn the Germans for the bombing of English cities during the Second World War, and now, as the Nazis themselves, they bombed civilian targets in an Arab country.
Led Toynbee and another example: millions of Jews have suffered from Nazism, many died in fascist dungeons, and the surviving Jews serving in the Israeli army, are suffering like this, the death of Arabs, Palestinians. This is a true tragedy of the Jewish diaspora, when a nation affected by genocide uses genocide against another nation. This is the point of view expressed by Toynbee, an outstanding historian of the twentieth century ...
All the first day we traveled around Sinai. We drove past the UN military base with a blue flag on the stock. We looked at a small town called Al-Arish. Stood on the border with Israel near the tangerine garden. Late, when night fell, we reached Gaza and stayed in a two-story hotel located not far from the seashore. Dinner and lay down to sleep.
In the morning we stopped at the market. Solid rows of shops. Such bazaars will appear on the Soviet land in the black Yeltsin years in every Russian city.
Stalls were full of goods. First of all, I bought a large blanket of camel hair. It saved us from the cold nights in Cairo. Both myself and my wife are sweaters and fashionable short coats made of artificial leather at that time.
At the statue "Revival of Egypt" Muhmud Mukhtar
In 1964, the Arab side turned to Moscow with a request to send it heavy, high-explosive flame throwers and an officer capable of teaching Egyptian officers and soldiers to possess this formidable weapons in mountainous conditions. Moscow sent heavy flame throwers and a Soviet officer.
I was invited by Captain Astakhov and informed that after the departure of the adviser, with whom I had been working for six months, I would work with a new officer.
- You will create with the major school flamethrowers. He arrives the day after tomorrow. You will go to meet him. Come into the office in the evening, ask to be taken to the airfield. Find out where they are going to place it. It is desirable not far from your apartment.
- Will be done. Do not worry.
I did as the senior translator ordered. I went to the office. I talked with the passport officer in charge of meeting and seeing off the mission officers.
I loved the Cairo airport - spacious, clean, cool. He remembered for all his life as a gate to a completely fantastic, fairy-tale world. I had to visit many airports later, but Cairo remained dearer to my heart than all the others I had visited in my life.
We arrived at the airport. They waited for the Aeroflot aircraft. Finding Soviet passengers in the crowd is easy. They are usually dressed in black suits, white shirts, ties, obtained at a military warehouse on Khoroshevskoe highway. They look around fearfully: what if they never meet ?! What then?
I tried to find a flamethrower. He is a major. So younger than Colonel. Just me older. I noticed one fellow in a black suit, but next to him was a woman, as it seemed to me, much older than him. She led a boy of five or six.
Alexey Yakunin was a cheerful and resourceful man. Shoulder, stocky, with an open Russian face. Graduated from college. Sent to serve in the Baltics.
His wife's name was Zhenya. She could not be called beautiful - an ordinary Russian snub-nosed face. Completeness with a short growth of her old.
Son Petrik was like Alexei, like two drops of water. The father in him doted. In his five years, Petrik was funny and simple-minded. He sang nicely. When we later had lunch with the Yakunins or with us, Alexey asked his son to sing. Petrik necessarily climbed a chair, took the singer's position, and sang the same song, “Grandma, get me a gramophone ...”. He had a wonderful hearing and voice, and we applauded it every time. Then he bowed like an adult and got down from his chair to our applause and smiles.
A day later in the morning we went to the Office of Chemical Protection. The Arab Major General was waiting for us in his office. In the chairs sat a few colonels and the captain. The latter was introduced to us as the commander of a company of flamethrowers. We had to work with him. His name was Mustafa.
The general asked Yakunin to prepare a company of flamethrowers for the fighting of the Egyptian army supporting republicans fighting with monarchists in North Yemen. English politeness, aristocratic arrogance, a cup of coffee. The general spoke good English. The generation of Nasser constantly communicated with the English and therefore spoke the language of the colonialists freely.
- We need a company of heavy flamethrowers for fighting in North Yemen. We train light flamethrowers ourselves. They are well established in the fighting in the mountains. Heavy flamethrowers, as far as we know, are very effective in battles in the city and in the highlands. Are there any particular secrets of training flamethrowers?
- Of course have. Two secrets. The first is the psychological overcoming of fear. In the hands of the calculation of flamethrowers hundred kilograms of burning napalm. You can hit the target at a distance of a couple of hundred meters. A shot, and from the hands of two soldiers, a stream of burning fire flies out and flies. Well, if it flies to the target.
- And what can fly and not on target?
- If you pick it off, burning napalm becomes unmanageable and dangerous.
- And if it is installed on the machine?
- They have already installed it, but you cannot drag it along the paths to the mountains. The main advantage of a heavy flamethrower is a sudden use. Intelligence can not always find out the location of flamethrowers. It is not difficult to relocate a company from a reserve to relocate to the right direction at night, for example.
- And the second secret?
- We need special targets from thick iron - stationary and moving.
- What is the difficulty?
- The target is welded from pieces of iron. Fire mixture melts not only the seams, but also iron.
- I think we will find the masters and make the necessary targets for training. The company commander, the rear men will prepare everything necessary for training. How long will it take to plan your classes?
- Until the end of the week we can handle it.
- Good. There will be problems, contact me, my deputies, - and he pointed to two sitting colonels with his hand.
There was a pause.
“It's time to say goodbye,” I whispered to Alexey.
- All clear. Let's start work today.
- I wish you success.
All rose. We said goodbye and went out into the street. The spring sun was shining brightly. Birds were singing in the trees.
The driver of our bus was waiting for us on the street.
- Now we will see the general on the firing and before your departure. He will invite us for a cup of coffee and thank.
- Well, thanks for that.
We got on the bus.
- You see, what a disciplined chauffeur.
I exchanged a few Arabic phrases with the driver.
- Says his boss warned. He knows where to take us.
- How do you manage to speak, without listening to the end of my answer. I was so afraid that you would say some gag.
- This translation is called synchronous.
“And do you translate as quickly in writing?”
- We were taught a military translation. Foreign language is a very funny thing. The more you learn it, the more interesting and difficult it becomes.
- Because you will find out that the Russians and the English express the same thought differently.
- You can in Arabic?
- Only conversational. Found a good tutorial. Very beautiful language. When Nasser speaks on the radio - you will hear. He speaks a common language.
Paused. Alex looked around. Everything seemed interesting to him.
The driver drove out of town on the road to Suez. Then he turned onto a narrow narrow road.
- And what about Yemen do not ask?
- What to ask? Republicans are fighting with monarchists and British colonialists. You read the newspaper, news tell me.
- You did not fight the war. How do flamethrowers know?
- They are in service with us for a long time. The school told us a little about them. They are decommissioned. Mechanized remained. Tracked. In one part, they showed me old high-explosive ones just before departure. Showed how to prepare them for battle and use in the highlands.
Three kilometers we drove past military units. The bus stopped at the last barrier. This was our flamethrower school.
We were waiting. The driver asked the guards where to drive. Those pointed to the headquarters tent. Near it was a gas car.
Captain Mustafa, the company commander, drove faster and was waiting for us at the tent. Next to him were three lieutenants and a captain. Among the pair of rows of tents, we noticed a building without windows. As it turned out, it was a warehouse.
Mustafa introduced us officers. The captain introduced himself in a beautiful London dialect:
- My name is Yusef. I command a company of light flame throwers. I want to learn how to handle heavy flamethrowers. I think this is useful to me.
Mustafa invited everyone to go to the staff tent. He offered coffee. He was prepared by a cook in the kitchen in a tent nearby.
We talked about our joint work plans. The captain was fluent in English. The lieutenants were silent. They understood what was going on, but they spoke in English worse than Mustafa. Therefore, we solved all our affairs mainly with the captain.
- Let's solve the problem of targets.
- They are two types. Stationary and moving. Burning napalm burns iron, melts weld seams. Ten shots and no target. The target is huge - tank in profile or full face. It must be secured in a wheelchair. The stroller must be attached with a long 100-meter iron rope to the car. The car drags the target, and the calculations take turns shooting at it.
- So we will lay the rails?
- Yes. All this must be made and delivered to our landfill. It's all easy to make, - said Alexey.
- It’s easy with us. The state plant will make everything. They have a private trader doing everything, - I mumbled.
The captain thought: we must go to the city, look for a workshop. She is primitive. Somewhere you need to buy wheels from railway workers.
- You set tasks for him for a whole year, and he has to solve them all in a couple of weeks. So quickly they are not accustomed to work. Do not scare him.
- Okay. Tell him: we will go together and find a workshop, we will explain. We will do everything. Now we need to write a work plan for the year, draw up a schedule of classes, draw targets. A lot of work. We need stationery and typewriter. This is the first stage, and it is also quite difficult.
After the meeting, the captain showed us our tent-room. She was standing between the staff and the canteen. The soldiers lived in large canvas tents. There were a lot of them. We reached the warehouse. On it were heavy flame-throwers, painted green and covered with a thick layer of lubricant. I saw them for the first time in my life. These are meter pipes about 10-12 cm in diameter, welded on both sides.
- Empty no. With fire mixture - more than a hundred kilograms. Therefore, in the calculation of two or three people. One does not raise. Say, let ten pieces be washed for training sessions.
“First we will train the officers, then they will begin teaching the soldiers in Arabic.” The lieutenants looked at each other and looked inquiringly at the captain.
Started working on the documents. Yakunin wrote, I translated and typed. The captain was spinning around us, reading translations, asking questions. Alexey replied, drew schemes. They found a soldier who drew diagrams, made beautiful inscriptions in Arabic.
By the end of the week, a package of documents in English was ready. The captain took him to the office and returned pleased.
- One mountain from the shoulders. Now study and targets, - summed up Alex.
The captain and Alexey congratulated each other on the successful preparation of the documents and shook hands. During the week we managed to make friends with the captain.
- A fire mixture? How and who will do it? - I asked.
- Right. I'll write an order. I will detail in what proportion to apply thickeners. Tell him!
Began training weekdays. In the morning we arrived at the service. We went to the training tent. The officers were waiting for us. They drank coffee together and started classes. Yakunin told, showed. I translated. If they understood how juicy Russian Alexey interpreted the truism of flamethrowing art to them! He had the rare ability to talk about serious things in a joking tone. He was remembered to me by free-thinking jokes and jokes.
Used them in conversations with Arab officers. They did not understand his Russian jokes. They did not understand why I chuckled softly, translating Yakunin’s explanations into quite decent English.
After a couple of days, classes were transferred to the terrain. Began to teach the captain and lieutenants how to fix the flamethrower in the sand. We had to dig the sand, cut the pegs with a hatchet, dig a trench. The lieutenants wanted to attract soldiers for physical work. Yakunin explained that commanders must be able to do all types of work themselves. They can only teach soldiers by personal example.
- Do not be afraid of dirty work, guys. Forward and with a song, - Yakunin, in a clean white shirt and black woolly trousers, himself took up a shovel, a hatchet; dug, dug, hammered pegs.
Dissatisfied lieutenants worked together with Yakunin.
Installing a flamethrower in the sand, securely attach it to the ground - it is quite difficult. It is one thing to set it in solid ground, and another in sand.
- Do not fix it properly, it can "play."
- What if we "play"?
- The main thing is that you never go a step away from me on shooting. I will always be in the safe area next to the flamethrower. Right and left a few steps away, he is safe, even when he “plays.” Got it?
- Got it. Now explain to them where the calculation should be and why it is there, and only where I indicate, that you can dig a trench.
- Learn to strengthen in the sand, in hard ground easier to install. In Yemen, in the mountains the soil is solid.
The learning process has begun.
In those days, peaceful life reigned in Cairo. Military experts and translators went in civilian clothes. 9 came to the service in the morning. At two o'clock, they returned home, had dinner, and, as our military doctor recommended to us, plunged into an afternoon nap. From two to five in Cairo, there was a terrible heat. On other days, the thermometer showed 40-45 degrees Celsius. For three hours, shops and institutions were closed. The townspeople waited for the evening coolness.
In the evenings we went to the Soviet villa, drank beer, wine. They played table tennis and volleyball. Arranged competitions of volleyball teams. In the summer months, we bought passes for foreigners to local sports clubs and swam in the pool.
With Yakunin for a walk
On weekends, excursions were organized for officers and their families. Translators went to Cairo cinemas and watched American and French films with jazz, Elvi Presley, Brezdeau, Marlene Monroe. In theaters, easy chairs, cool. You can smoke. Carry soft drinks, cigarettes, sweets. We joined the bourgeois culture. So our life flowed.
A wide street runs across the center of Cairo, but narrows towards the bridge to Zamalik. Every morning at eight, Yakunin and I meet at the corner. We are waiting for the official bus. I buy Ijipshien Gazette from the boys and watch the Egyptian news on the bus.
The street is fully operational since early morning. Petrol fumes and hot dust stands above it. Old maroon buses are smoking with a lot of passengers hanging on the doors. Arabic script trucks poison the air. Keep the car donkeys streams. They do not pay attention to cars and slowly drag two-wheeled carts with fruits and vegetables in boxes.
Suitable bus with Soviet officers. Everyone in civilian clothes, including an Arab soldier driver. We sit on the seats. Exchange news.
We pass the bridge. The hard worker Nile indifferently rolls his still waters. We inhale light coolness coming from the Nile through the open doors of the bus. And now there are cinemas, the majestic building of the Supreme Court, then the railway station with a fountain and a huge statue of Ramses, walking from antiquity to the present.
Vegetable shop around the corner on Zamalik
And everywhere endless streams of pedestrians. White and striped halobey, rumpled costumes, black dresses and shawls, light fashionable clothes, Bedouins in a veil — all layers of the so-called local middle class and the poor — flash. Guys wag in the crowd on bicycles with wide, lightweight grilles on their heads, littered with a mountain of cakes or rolls. Right on the sidewalks, barbers shave and shave. Boys spread black sweet tea to squatting men near the walls of houses. He knocks bronze cups, like castanets, the seller of sherbet, which he pours from a big-bellied big bottle hanging on the straps behind his back.
Short and plump, soft in nature, Captain Mustafa began to go bald in his 28 years. Outwardly, he looked more like an accountant than a commander. He had no commander's voice, no drill bearing, no severity in his gaze. It was a civilian in his heart a person from those who can never coarsen in military service. Such people make good and fair commanders.
As we learned later, after graduating from university he worked for several years in a civilian firm as an engineer. Then he was offered service in the frames of the Egyptian army. He agreed. He finished the courses and year dragged the platoon strap. In the army, he received more money than in civilian life. He was going to marry, the bride is beautiful and young, but he hasn’t collected the money to buy an apartment yet. He had no other sources of income other than a military salary. And his salary was not great, like our company.
“Maybe a loan, and so all hope for Yemen,” he admitted.
The captain carried out all the recommendations of Yakunin without question and on time. Training officers and soldiers went like clockwork. A couple of weeks later we started learning practical shooting with napalm. Officers and soldiers secured the flamethrower in the sand securely. Sometimes there were punctures: when shooting, the flamethrower shifted slightly, napalm flew past the target. But never once has a flamethrower "played", did not fly in the opposite direction. Just in case, during practical shooting within a radius of a few hundred meters, no one but us and Alexey and the calculation with the lieutenant were found. Soldiers and officers watched us from afar.
Safety rules are followed without question. We considered another great achievement that all the officers, including the captain himself, learned to dig in, aim, strengthen flamethrowers in the sand and not be afraid of burning napalm fired from a flamethrower. They taught the soldiers this skill and, as it seemed to us, were even grateful to Yakunin for insisting that they all master the skill of flame throwing.
The possession of soldiers was made easy by the Arab officers. It is easy to handle. Heavy or high explosive flamethrower less mobile. It should be taken by car or horse to the firing line, firmly installed on the surface of the earth in advance, patiently waiting for the approaching enemy. When an enemy appears, flamethrowers open fire from one or more flamethrowers and hit it. One hundred kilograms of burning napalm stuck to a tank or armored personnel carrier is the inevitable death of the crew and combat vehicle.
Napalm was not only used by Egypt in Yemen. American aviation was unusually widely used in the Korean War (1950-1953) and in Vietnam (1964-1973). Napalm was widely used by Israeli aircraft in wars against Arab peoples. Who served in Egypt after the 1967 war, and more than once fell under Israeli napalm rain, he does not know about it from the newspapers.
We became friends with the Arab officers and soon discussed various topics with them. The conversation was often about politics. We told them about the Soviet Union. In conversations, we tried to convince them, people from wealthy families and the middle class, of the advantages of socialism. The Egyptian press daily trumped the advantages of Arab socialism.
The freedom that they automatically acquired with land ownership and property was sufficiently rich. They considered just a system in which the absolute majority of the population languishes in poverty and lawlessness.
Natives of the middle class (there were quite a few of them among the younger officers) dreamed of getting rich. They did not want to notice either the slums or their inhabitants. If they noticed, then according to their conviction the society should be so arranged. Money, the golden calf, special privileges - this is what matters most in the minds of these people in any capitalist country. The more money and higher social status, the more privileges and freedoms! This division into rich and poor is given by God!
But were we ourselves convinced of the advantages of the new Russian socialist civilization? Yes they were. I do not doubt this today. It's not about sausage, but the truth. A sense of justice was brought up in us. What is fair? Equality in the "Khrushchev", the absence of homeless and street children or the division of society into a handful of inhabitants of the palaces and millions of beggars? The duty of every member of society to honestly work for the state of workers or to steal, rob, make millions of dollars for the exploitation of the people and take the loot to American, Israeli and British banks?
What is fair? The right of workers to elect representatives of their labor collectives to the Soviets of Workers' Deputies or the right to elect to the parliament only the privilege defenders of a handful of thieves and thugs? Free education and health care for all citizens, or paid education and expensive medical insurance for a small part of the country's population?
If Mustafa was a hard worker and a silent man, he preferred to work more than talk, then Yussef looked like an aristocrat against his background. The blue-eyed, tall, broad-shouldered, large, slim officer. I can imagine how the Cairo brides chased him: rich, handsome, smiling.
He spoke English better than me - in the London dialect, because he studied in England; in French, because he lived with his uncle and studied in a Paris school. Although he graduated from American University in Cairo, he was a patriot of his homeland. Nuserovsky regime Yusef did not complain and told me a lot of jokes about Nasser and his reforms.
- What kind of patriot are you? - I asked him.
- Nasser come and go, Egypt remains.
- Why don't you love him?
- Why love him? Part of the land we took. Grandfather rewrote all the land for all relatives to fit into the restrictions prescribed by his land reforms. Under threat our family business with France. Nasser does not understand that only the rich can support his regime. But we support his irreconcilable position on Israel.
Alex was interested to participate in our conversations. I briefly translated to him the content of our conversations. He rarely intervened, but this time he broke down and spoke:
- Look, Yusef. Here you are scolding Israel. He is so, sakoy. And this, like, right. But sometimes you have to look in the mirror and at yourself. Before arriving in Egypt, I did not imagine that millions of Arabs could live in such terrible poverty and savage slavery. You can mock the soldiers. They are children of fellahs. Is it possible to mock the young guys like that ?! Is it possible to drive half-naked hungry beggars to the construction of houses and roads? Is this fair? - unexpectedly hotly spoke Yakunin.
- Israel is bad in everything, but is Egypt good in all respects? - I supported him. - I am not sure that the same wild order reigns in Israel in the army as in yours. I'm sorry for the sharpness, but I'm used to telling the truth. All my life I have been taught justice and respect for people.
Much surprised us, the Soviet officers. We are sitting with Alexei in our tent. That brought a soldier's breakfast on the truck. Soldiers huddled around the trough, spread out a piece of dirty tarp on the sand. The driver, through the open rear wall of the body, pushed the pellets with his hands and feet onto the tarpaulin. The soldiers took cakes, tore them in half. It turned out like two pockets. Then they approached the soldier, who poured the broth into these thermos pockets.
- And what they poured into a cake?
- Ful, boiled beans. This breakfast eats all the Arab poor. Cheap and nutritious. Pellets and ful are sold early in the morning on all the streets of Cairo.
- No hygiene.
A couple of weeks we arrived early. A company of light flamethrowers was built on the parade ground. The sergeant drove along the line of the guilty soldier. In the wild heat, they wore a woolen overcoat on it, and he, sweating profusely, stumbled, walked in a goose step on the sun along the line. The soldiers silently watched this mockery of their fellow man.
- What is it? - asked Alexey.
- What do you not see?! Execution. Well, at least a blanket is not thrown over the overcoat.
- Seen with a blanket?
- I had to. We are ordered not to interfere.
When ten minutes later Mustafa ran into our tent, Alexey showed him the parade-ground with his hand and said strictly:
- I ask you, Mr. Captain, in our presence not to make such mockery of the soldiers!
- Translate word for word what I said.
I translated. Mustafa silently went out. He shouted something to the sergeant and went to meet him. He ran to Mustafa. The captain said something to him. The sergeant returned, gave the command. The soldiers turned right and marched forward from the ground. An abandoned soldier in an overcoat fell on the sand. Two soldiers ran up to him and dragged him to a nearby tent.
We met Yusef. He already knew about the incident.
- Punished for AWOL. I went to my father. Helped to harvest. Discipline is one for all.
“And for officers,” Alexey angrily specified.
More until the end of our stay in the battalion of such executions was not carried out. It seemed to us that after this incident the soldiers began to treat us warmerly. Or maybe we just thought.
On weekends we went on excursions with Yakunin. We visited the pyramids and the Sphinx, in the hunting lodges of Farouk, in the Citadel, several times we went to the zoo and there we rolled children on elephants. Every evening we spent at the Soviet villa. It is fifteen minutes walk. Families walked along the embankment of the Nile. When they went shopping, Zhenya usually stayed with the children.
In Cairo Zoo
Sometimes Alexey and I took cameras and went to wander into the center, old Cairo. We met Arabs in white and striped halobey, servants, merchants in shops, fellahi came from villages. There were small servants in washed-over suits and shirts, greasy ties.
In the mornings it was possible to observe how from the ancient wooden carts, preserved from the Pharaoh's time, they were selling pellets and fulem (beans boiled without salt on a slow fire).
In the afternoon, water carriers in haloby with homemade drinks with ice in huge glass bottles hanging on belts behind their backs snapped bronze cups like castanets, advertising their cheap goods.
Most Arab women walked with open faces. Young - in bright beautiful dresses or short, fashionable skirts. Married women are surrounded by young children, in black dresses and black light shawls, even on the hottest days.
In the cafes, elderly well-fed and do not hurry rentiers in suits, some also in Turkish fez with a brush, sat for hours, drinking a cup of strong coffee, smoking shisha, gazing lazily at passersby.
Soviet schoolchildren on the pyramids
Here's a guy in a treadmill on an old bike carrying a pyramid of buns on a large, lightweight tray. The tray holds on to the head. He supports it with one hand, while the other deftly controls the bike, managing not to run into passersby.
Here is a merchant of vegetables from a wooden cart loudly and monotonously advertises its not very fresh product. Here is a group of men in halobey, squatting, drinking sweet and strong tea on the sidewalk of the tea room. Next barber cuts the hair of a young man, skillfully wielding scissors.
Life on the streets of Cairo is in full swing from early morning until late evening. As it gets dark, cabarets and nightlife are opening. Pimps offer Madame or pornographic postcards.
One weekend I went to the Opera Square on the book camber.
I fell into a book disorder as soon as I was transferred from Dashur to Cairo and settled in the Dokka Hotel. There are a lot of good books in English in bookstores, but prices are biting.
Book camber - a long row of second-hand bookshops sticking to each other stretched near the wall of the old garden. Each shop is a wide closet with a canopy and a table littered with dusty books. Books are on the shelves, are piled and scattered on the sidewalk - wherever you can lay them. Buyers rummage in that dusty kingdom from morning to late evening, when the camber is illuminated by bright antediluvian gas lamps produced by the king during the reign of Pea.
Then the square was decorated with a white-stone building of opera and ballet, built a hundred years ago. That same theater, in which Verdi’s opera Aida was first performed after the opening of the Suez Canal, and in which I watched this opera with officers for the first time in my life performed by Italian and Yugoslav singers.
The owner of each shop on the collapse of sitting on the ancient, blackened by time stool or talking, squatting, with neighbors. There is an indifference mask on everyone's face: as if they don't care whether the buyers are looking at the books or not. But out of the corner of the eye every courtier follows the order, and it is worthwhile for the buyer to look around for the owner, to pay several piastres for the purchase after bargaining, the owner jumps up and importantly, with an indifferent face mine, approaches the lucky one. Often, several shopkeepers get together and drink strong tea, ordered immediately in the street tea. Often they silently observe a noisy world moving around them.
I managed to get acquainted with several shopkeepers with whom I found books on tables in European languages. They even tried to look for books on me stories Egypt in English and French. I joked with them in Arabic for a long time. He spoke with mistakes, but they understood me. They told me jokes on modern topics - about Nasser and his socialist reforms, about bribe takers, lazy Egyptian bureaucrats. When I found some necessary book, I bargained with the owner, because it was so accepted. The self-respecting buyer must bargain in order to entertain the owner who dies a little in boredom in Galabey.
Cairo ruin is a kind of world of books with Arabic script on hard and soft covers. This is the world of the Koran and Muslim philosophy, a thousand and one nights fairy tales. Here I admired the simple tiny and gigantic sumptuous editions of the Qur'an, in and without inlaid caskets; in even rows of multivolume tales in twin covers. I took these beautiful volumes in my hands and stroked them with my palm: I liked them so much. It was not once that I regretted that I did not learn to read Arabic freely in order to read this whole lot of books exposed on the collapse.
My hawaga persona (foreigner) attracted the attention of shopkeepers because foreigners rarely appeared in their cheap kingdom. For tourists, open modern stores, not inferior to the wealth of bookstores in London and Paris.
On the book collapse on Opera Square
One day, Youssef and I were dreaming. I remembered my student years and fascination with English literature. I told him that I was going to go to graduate school, and after defending my thesis, work at the university.
He told me in confidence that he, too, would gladly have left for a citizen and left for France to visit his uncle. There would marry a Frenchwoman.
- Frivolous France I like more than prudish England.
- Lip no fool. But what about Israel?
- Yes, we finish it. And then everything will change.
- But Israel can and not finish off. And live with him in friendship.
- With Israel in friendship? Is it possible to live with him in friendship? - Yusef angrily remarked.
- For example, you can peacefully negotiate with Israel. Why not recognize his rights to use the Suez Canal on a par with other states?
Will pay in gold. This is the income for the Egyptian treasury. First, it is not necessary to bear the unbearable costs of the army, armament. The state can use this money for education, hospitals, construction of houses for workers. Secondly, Israel will pay in gold for the passage of its ships through the Suez Canal. Gold does not smell. It can also be spent on the development of industry in Egypt. In addition, many Jews born in Palestine reside in Israel. Palestine is their historical homeland. Even those Jewish children who were brought from Europe by their parents grew up in this state and consider the land to be theirs. Is not it?
“That's the way it is, but it means that the Jews should live in friendship with the Arabs.” Did you know that the seizures of Arab lands by Jewish colonists began in the 30s? Have you read about the uprisings of the Arabs in those years brutally suppressed by the British?
- The first time I've heard.
“So you don't understand.” History must be known. I also feel sorry for the Jewish children who died during the war, but why did not the Jewish soldiers and officers kill the Arab children, the elderly, women ?! Why can you drive the Arabs from the land that belongs to them for about two thousand years?
Yousef spoke evil. His face has changed. In the blue eyes with long eyelashes like a girl's eyes, there was fury and even hatred.
- What are you swearing? - asked Yakunin.
- You know, Yousef, I am not a politician, but for the sake of justice I will say. Well, let's say the Jews in Israel are bad. Fell on the propaganda of the Zionists. But what about Arab sheikhs, kings better? - asked Yakunin.
- Oil is more powerful than any newest weapon! So why is Israel bad and Saudi Arabia good? If it is good, then why does the Egyptian army fight in Yemen against the British and Arabian sheiks? I think that Alexey is right. We must also look for peaceful solutions to the problems of the Middle East, ”I continued.
- At present, there are no such ways and there can not be. Isn't triple aggression proof of this? - said Yusef.
He abruptly rose from his chair and jumped out of the tent.
- And you're wrong, - said Yakunin. “You are actually betraying the Arabs.” This could not hurt Youssef.
Yusef avoided me for several days. In the morning he silently gave me his hand. I was worried. We were frank with each other. We discussed the events around us. It is not in my nature to spoil relations with comrades. I guessed the reason for his resentment towards me. It turned out that I offered treachery to the Egyptians: get rid of hostility, make peace with the Israelis, and peace and friendship among nations will come.
Once I approached Yusef, took him by the arm, took him aside.
- Well, are you angry with me? I understand that I stumbled on stupidity. I'm sorry.
- Ok, sorry, because I know your political views, because you are Russian. How could you suggest that the Egyptians could betray the Palestinians? This is our Arab land, and we will never rest until there will be at least one colonizer on it. We are tired of living under the Turks, then under the British. When we, the Arabs, will be given the opportunity to live, to think about their own destiny. Why is everyone - Americans, Jews, British, French, and Russians - climbing into our teacher? We ourselves can and will decide our own fate.
We buried the hatchets. I went too far. At that time I was an internationalist and therefore condemned any form of manifestation of nationalism. I realized my mistake a few years later when I was on the Suez Canal. But I will tell about it later.
We made peace with Yusef. Soon our relations improved, and we again discussed some political problems.
“Do you approve of Egypt’s war in Yemen?”
- Of course. The British are fighting there too. How much can they mock the Arabs?
- I agree, but the Arab sheikhs and kings cooperate with them. How are they better than the Zionists or the British?
“Why have we expelled Faruk, and the Yemenis cannot expel their Faruk?” We help them establish a republican system. The Arab republics will unite faster against Israel. You told me that you went to Gaza last year. Have you noticed how the Zionists were crippled, retreating, by rail and road?
- Still not to notice. You, Yusef, you will not understand. You are scolding Nasser, laughing at his reforms. You defend his anti-imperialist policy!
“I defend Nasser, because he is not a destroyer, like Farouk, but a creator and unifier of the Arabs.” He wants the Arabs to become a proud and independent people. I scold when he tries to cut down the branch on which he sits. Bourgeois and landowners are also Egyptians, like himself. We must respect their rights.
One morning, our Mustafa handed me wedding invitations to Alexey and me.
- Already bought an apartment?
- Bought. I arranged everything with her parents. So come, please. I have already told my relatives that you will come.
- Be sure to come.
When we were alone in the tent, Alexey asked:
- You promised to come, and will you allow Pozharsky's office?
- Will allow and microbas will give.
- Here's a walk. Let's drink and eat. Sing songs.
- You are deeply mistaken. They do not drink and have a bite at the wedding. I read something about Arab weddings. Most likely, we are invited to celebrations on the occasion of the signing of a contract between the families of the bride and groom.
- What is it like?
“The invited mullah will seal the marriage with a written contract signed by the bridegroom and father. It indicates the property, dowry, which give the bride. In case of divorce, the husband is obliged to return the dowry to his wife.
- Gee! And then?
- A “later” will not be on this day, later - after family receptions in the house of the groom’s father and the bride’s father. "Then" will happen in the apartment that the captain bought. Strictly according to custom, young people should spend the honeymoon together. After nine months, waiting for offspring. If a boy is born, it is a great joy. If a girl, then the joy is much less. She will go to the family of her future husband. Alone expenses.
- What about the service?
- Give a few days of vacation.
We received permission and went to the wedding this Friday afternoon. It took place not in a restaurant, but in some old club located not in a rich district of Cairo.
We were met and led into the hall with a stage. The bridegroom in a black suit and the bride in a white dress and veil sat in gilded royal high chairs. The bride has an unremarkable face. Plump girl, to match our captain. Apparently, they belong to the same class. Observe the same customs.
Near the young children played preschool age. Girls in beautiful bright dresses. Boys in black suits, bow ties, white shirts. Children playing near the young is a wish for the young to have many children. Let them be the same for you!
Mustafa smiled when he saw us. We approached the young. Greet and meet the bride. She did not speak English, and I told them in Arabic the memorized words of greeting that are customarily spoken in this case.
Mustafa invited us to sit on the chairs in the front row. We sat down. The hall looked at us with interest. The Arab guests already knew that Russian officers were invited to the wedding. We realized that the captain was proud that foreigners had arrived at his wedding. Many of those present, apparently, saw Russian people close by for the first time. They knew that hundreds of Russians were working on the construction of the Assuan dam, the metallurgical plant in Helwan, in the army. But to see Russians at a wedding in the company of ordinary Arabs is already exotic.
Japanese garden in Helwan near Cairo
The common people of Egypt treated the Soviet people with caution. They considered us "infidels", and the worst situation - atheists. When they met the Soviet cosmonaut Gagarin in 1961, all of Cairo took to the streets to see and greet him. He became the first foreigner in Egypt, whom the Arab beauty kissed at an official meeting at the airport. Every boy in Egypt knew the name of Yuri Gagarin.
Mullah arrived. Alexey and I were invited to a separate room as witnesses to sign a contract. Young all came to congratulate. Spread sweets and cold drinks on trays. Then there was a short concert. The dancer performed a belly dance. After the concert, the guests began to say goodbye and leave. We approached the young, congratulated them, wished them happiness and said goodbye.
- And now let's go home, let's drink for the young! - suggested Alexey.
We did just that.
Six months passed quickly. Our ward officers and soldiers in training sessions burned with stationary and moving targets, one after the other, with a combustible mixture.
Yakunin already going home to the Union. On weekends I went shopping with them to the Golden Bazaar. We bought gifts and souvenirs for relatives and friends.
Approximate shooting approached, the final exam. Oh, how we worried before the demonstrative shooting! If in Dashur, they were trained by the generals Rasulbekov and Pozharsky, the General Headquarters of the Egyptian Armed Forces, because it was necessary to coordinate the actions of the air defense and air forces, then at our small test site they were trained by Mustafa and Yakunin. It was only necessary to coordinate the movement of the target with the beginning and end of firing. It is possible that someone came from the Chemical Troops Administration, but nobody told us about it.
Mustafa asked at what distance and where exactly is the safest place to accommodate guests with general's buttonholes on the gate.
“It’s on that knoll,” Alexey answered after inspecting the area.
- And if you play?
- To knoll more than 200 meters. You can see everything very well from him - both the target and the flamethrowers. Let's go to the hill and look again at the landfill from there.
We went to the mound. Indeed, flamethrowers and targets from it are clearly visible.
The next day, on the hill, the soldiers began to construct a huge canopy for the guests. He revived the monotonous landscape. Behind him began the slender ranks of the soldiers' tents.
All worried. All fussing, running. We worked as a team, understanding each other perfectly.
The firing promises to be spectacular - from a few “spits” of flamethrowers from a huge target the size of a tank, only charred and twisted horns and hooves will remain.
We had no doubt that our players will demonstrate high skill; that the shooting will take place without a hitch. However, even in the last week, Yakunin in his classroom found fault with trifles, as never before. I read all indiscriminately even for minor mistakes. But no one was offended by him - neither the soldiers nor the officers. It seemed that he had forgotten all his jokes for a while.
He approached each calculation, tried with all his hands to swing the flamethrower, to tear it from its place, to pull it out of the sandy captivity. However, all his attempts were in vain. None of the flamethrower did not give up, did not want to swing or take off.
Everyone understood that Major Yakunin was responsible for all — for the whole company, for Soviet flame throwers. Happen that, God forbid! Moscow on the head does not stroke! Alexey reported to General Pozharsky on the readiness for firing. He promised to come.
And then came the day of the exam for mastery. Yakunin and I showed up in white shirts and black trousers. Wards also did not blunder: all looked good in smooth and starched light uniforms. The bosses arrived around 10.00. Pozharsky arrived early. We had time to talk with him, everyone showed, told and returned to the calculations on the firing line. Mustafa sat down generals and colonels. Something told them, waving his hand in one or the other side of the landfill.
Yakunin once again walked along the firing line, cheering all the soldiers in Arabic:
- Kulia Tamam (everything is ready)!
- Khadr, effendi (sir).
We stopped at the last settlement.
- We will stand here.
- Maybe it's better to stand at the first flamethrower? Suddenly play!
- Will not play. Let him try. Say: let them not tremble. Shoot perfectly well.
Mustafa, breathless, came running. He once again in Arabic explained in detail to the subordinates the combat mission.
- So, let's start? - asked Msutafa.
- Let him give the command "Fire".
The captain waved his hand to the driver, who was standing far away from the truck. That bullet flew into the cabin, started the engine and pulled the target. Here she got into the shelling sector of the first calculation. The flamethrower pulled the trigger, a fiery jet flew low over the desert and hit the target. We heard a loud bang and saw how the drops of fire mixture scattered in all directions. After a minute or two, the second fiery jet soared. Then the third, fourth ... The last calculation, near which we stood with Alexei, sent our jet into the bent and burnt, burning remnants of a thick piece of iron, from which the target was welded. The jet flew over what was left of the target and spread across the desert behind it. The desert was burning.
If the goals were real, then several tanks or cars would have long been frozen forever and flamed with fires after the explosion of engines and gas tanks, and soldiers and officers who were burning and screaming from pain and fear would run around.
The last hissing shot and silence. Deaf and scary. The truck still dragged a blazing campfire. Then he stopped. The driver jumped out of the cab to see why everything was quiet. I saw it out of the corner of my eye.
“Stand up,” Mustafa ordered.
The soldiers jumped to their feet and lined up with their flamethrowers. We turned to the guests, whom we managed to forget during the shooting. Guests stood and applauded. The captain ran to us. The three of us embraced. The officers came running and we, hot and happy, leaned against each other. Stood for a few moments. The soldiers stood at attention.
- At ease! Get separated! - Mustafa ordered.
The soldiers, too, happily embraced: no one missed.
We, the officers, with quick steps, then ran to the guests. Mustafa ran ahead.
Our house on Zamalik
After the departure of Major Yakunin by order of General Pozharsky, I was included in the group of translators, teachers of the Russian language for short courses. Courses were organized at the request of the Egyptian side for senior officers selected to be sent to study at the Soviet military academies. The training program we developed independently. We taught the most popular words and expressions so that, having arrived in the Union, the officers could at first dispense with translators. The officers with great pleasure learned Russian phrases. Pozharsky personally attended classes on our courses several times. A couple of years the officers returned to their homeland. Some of them I met in the army. They spoke Russian fluently and were happy to tell me about their Moscow adventures.
In 1965, I worked with a major from Kiev. He came to train Arab officers to repair the SON-9 gun-tracking radar.
He said that for the first time, in 1957, he had already arrived with a similar mission, but with a Czech passport to Cairo. Initially, the Soviet supply of weapons went through Czechoslovakia.
“The Czech embassy supplied us with beer,” he told me in a joking tone about his first business trip. - Nasser settled us in a floating hotel on the Nile. In the evenings, night moths curled around her. Then came the first group of officers with Soviet passports, we, Soviet officers, were included in it. A political worker who flew in as part of this group began to carry out "educational work" with us, erasing out "bourgeois heresy" from our consciousness. So in Egypt, the first group of military specialists appeared ...
Anything happened with translators, especially after the war 1967. And under the shelling there were more than once. And napalm and burning soldiers and officers, running and screaming, were seen around them more than once. And Israeli pilots killed them on the spot. In war, as in war.
In 1965, our comrade Alexey Kalyabin did not escape the tragic death. He died near Cairo. I remember it happened on Saturday. Our transport IL-12 crashed near the airfield. He was heading to Yemen. The plane took off and "sank" when the flaps were removed. Pilot Major Grisha Kazakov did not take into account the very hot weather. The plane crashed to the ground. Touching the ground, he fell apart in two. The tail part fell at some distance from the explosion of the aircraft with full fuel tanks. Technical failure. Almost all crew members died, including Lesha. Only the shooter, who was sitting in the tail section, survived. He opened the door with incredible effort and managed to run back into the desert. Separate remnants of the crew were sealed in coffins and sent to the Union.
I remember, yesterday, on Friday, we families sat in the pool of the hunting club in Heliopolis, where we moved. Lesch with a movie camera in swimming trunks fussed around the pool. He chose moments to film his wife and son floating in the blue water. Ran past us. So we remembered it with the camera, which he acquired in Yemen. He loved his wife and was betrayed by her heart and soul. He loved his four year old son. They wanted to live, made plans for the future. But all plans collapsed on that “black” Saturday.
The wife, apparently, later regretted more than once that she hadn’t removed her Leshenka on film by the pool that day. This is how the awkward Lesha in swimming trunks is remembered for us for the rest of our lives. Kalyabin was the first translator of my colleagues who died while fulfilling their international duty!
One of my comrades, with whom we flew with on-board translators, almost would not die. His face is disfigured by a fragment of an Israeli bomb. He will cut his face along the line of his mouth, and an eternal smile will forever disfigure his beautiful young face. My other comrade from Leningrad will die in the African jungle, and I will find out about his death in a few years from my comrades when I return from a foreign business trip to my homeland ...
It will take five years. I will come on the second trip after the Six Day War and will serve in the first-echelon division on the Suez Canal. Once we with advisor colonel Afanasyev PA we will arrive at one of the units stationed on the Channel. And there I suddenly meet Yussef. He will see me, come closer and be near, waiting for me to finish translating the conversation of his adviser with an Arab general. I will note that Yusef is already a lieutenant colonel. I will show him with my eyes that I recognized him and that I was glad to meet: wait, finish and talk.
The conversation is over. I walked over to Yusef. We embraced fraternally. Send aside. Yousef said that he fought in Yemen, then with the Israelis in Sinai. Now he is in command of a separate flamethrower battalion of the reserve of the High Command. His battalion is stationed nearby.
- And how is our captain Mustafa? Probably already a colonel?
- Mustafa is long gone. He died in a battle in Yemen soon after his arrival. Bombed the battalion. Back in 1965. Few people survived. I took the battalion after his death.
It is difficult to find out about a person whom you have considered alive and happy for many years, that he has long left our cynical and terrible world, in which we are forced to live, but which we cannot change.
“You can't imagine how happy I was to meet you.” I've been looking for you for a long time. I knew you would come to Egypt again. Let's meet in Cairo. I will come home this Friday. And you?
- I, too. Let's meet for an hour at five at the Opera Square.
We said goodbye.
- Who is it? - the adviser asked me when I, hugging Yusef goodbye, sad returned to his.
- Familiar combat. Five years ago, I helped a good Soviet major train Arabs in flamethrowing. Almost all of them - officers and soldiers - lay down their heads in Yemen. This, thank God, survived, fought at Sinai and now commands the battalion of flame throwers ...
We met with Yusef at the Opera Square. We went to a cafe for the rich. They sat in the far corner, in the shade of the trees and ordered a beer.
- You overtook me. Already a lieutenant colonel, and I'm still the captain. Congratulations!
- Five years have passed. How many comrades died before my eyes in Yemen! Defeat in the six-day war changed us all.
- Have you participated in the fighting?
- Not. I was in Yemen. Mustafa died and soon I was appointed battalion commander. What to tell? You know everything. For six days we were left without an army. Nasser lost credibility. The soldiers did not lose the war, but the generals of the General Staff.
- So maybe ...?
- I remember what you told me in 1964 year. We must recognize Israel and so on. I was offended by you then hard. Thought: wow friends! They came to teach the war, and offer peace with the enemy number one.
- Now I am not saying anything to you, I am not offering. Then I did not understand why it would be necessary to recognize Israel. Then I did not think that it would be not so much Israel as the whole West that would fight with Egypt. In 1956, England and France fought. In 1967, the entire "democratic" to the core of the West fought with the Arabs.
- This is where the problems of the Middle East lie.
“Why didn't your sheikhs, the kings, support Nasser?” Shut off to the tap on the pipelines. And that's all.
- How could they do this if they fought with the British against the Republicans in Yemen? Sheikhs are terribly afraid that people, officers will rise against them in their possessions. They fear the influence of our Egyptian revolution. They are jealous of Nasser, who has become the single leader of all Arabs, not only Egyptian. After two wars, I realized that divide and conquer is the slogan of any colonialists. So they crushed the Arabs into pieces. How do Nasser hate in the West ?! I went on vacation with my uncle in France. I read their newspapers. I watched their television. This hatred struck me terribly. I also saw the protests of the French youth against the US war in Vietnam. And what happened recently in the US? To bring down a wave of protests unprecedented in power after World War II, the West needed a big victory in a small war. And I understood what Nasser did not understand before the war. The Zionists prepared the war, provoked Nasser and suddenly unleashed it themselves. So they distracted public attention from the unpopular and wild war in Vietnam.
- I would not call all Jews Zionists.
“This is your Russian mistake.” You do not understand that all your Soviet Jews work for Israel, that they are all the same racists, like South Africans, Rhodesians, white Americans. Do not understand - cry with them. They will not let you live in peace and harmony.
- You see, we look, as we were taught, to events in the world from class positions. Among the Jews there are simple hard workers and there are rich. Hard workers are not responsible for the affairs of the rich. Secondly, we are taught to distinguish between just and unjust wars. Israeli wars are unjust wars of conquest.
- How are Israeli Zionists different from the Nazi invaders during the Second World War? Yes, nothing. They occupied Sinai, Gaza, West Bank, Galan Heights in Syria. And today we are experiencing all the horrors of the Jewish occupation.
“Zionist,” I corrected.
- Let it be Zionist. But we must look at the Jewish question from a nationalist position. Jew, Jew are the same, that rich, that poor. Bottom do not have your classes. The Jewish rich fear the assimilation of ordinary Jews in all countries where they live. They needed Israel to inflame Jewish nationalism in the hearts of the Jews.
“And turn them into cannon fodder,” I inserted.
- Yes it is. Remember, you asked why the Egyptian communists were in prison, and the Russian communists helped us build Arab socialism? Then I did not tell you that we were taught to hate not only Arab communists, but also Soviet ones. We were told that the Russian are atheists, and the atheists are the most terrible enemies of Muslims. Only now after the war, we realized that the Soviet Communists are our friends. Do you know how the Arab officers hated you in 1968, when you came to revive our broken army? You forced them to work day and night, to live with the soldiers on the Channel. They are not used to it. Remember how Yakunin made us install flamethrowers in the sand. We condemned him for that. But the lesson was not in vain. How many times later I thanked him for it. How many times have I had to help the soldiers when the enemy machine gun mowed us down! Over the year, with your help, we have restored and are training our new army for the war for the liberation of Sinai from the Israeli yoke. We understood that you, Russians, are not like either the British or the French. You are a special race. I tell many friends about you and Yakunin. You were the first Russians I met in my life. And thank you for that. If all Russians are like that, then Russia is really lucky. I have long wanted to see you. I knew that you would definitely come with Soviet advisers.
- Would come to our office in Cairo and you would be told where I serve.
- You're as funny as before. If I came, Mahabharat would take me to a note immediately. Among senior officers there are many who condemn Nasser for his friendship with the USSR today. They are closer to the British than the Russian.
- Are we afraid of today?
- And how! But I tell you honestly that you are behaving in our country wrong. Build Aswan with your money. But why not demand some shares? Upgrade Helwan, and why do not apply for a part of the property? You can not give loans without specific political conditions.
- This is what makes the USSR different from the imperialist countries.
- And if suddenly Nasser will not? Will resign. I did not want this to happen. But in life everything happens! Socialism, we hate many.
- Yes, and you did not seem to be his supporter.
- Today, the main thing is national independence.
- Independence is socialism. Capitalism is slavery.
We sat for a long time with Yusef in a cafe. Agreed to call up.
- Just do not call from your hotel: listen. Call from the machine.