The 30-year-old Soviet military presence in the region began with the support of Egypt, which intervened in the civil war in Yemen. Moscow more strongly encouraged Aden, who chose the socialist path, nevertheless maintained military ties with the traditionalist Sana, who was moving along a pro-American course.
26 September 1962, a group of left-wing officers led by Colonel Abdullah Salyalem, overthrew the young king Mohammed al-Badr and proclaimed the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR). Supporters of the monarch - the militia of the Shiite Zaidit tribes launched a guerrilla war against the Republicans with the financial and military support of Riyadh. Now their heirs, the Housits, are fighting against the Saudi coalition.
Manual for mercenaries
Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser sent troops to help Republicans Aviationheavy artillery and Tanks. Great Britain supported the monarchists, as its strategically important protectorate of Aden (South Yemen) came under attack. London relied on a covert operation involving mercenaries. The core of the team were special forces veterans - the Special Aviation Service (CAC), which were led by Major John Cooper on the battlefield. To cover the recruitment of mercenaries, Keenie Meenie Services was created, which became the prototype of the currently widespread private military companies. French intelligence SDECE helped the British to attract a detachment of "soldiers of fortune" (mainly foreign legion veterans) under the command of mercenaries Roger Folk and Bob Denard who had already appeared in the Congo. Paris was also concerned about the situation in Yemen, fearing for the fate of its African colony of Djibouti. Israel provided mercenaries weapon and other help.
In the four and a half years of the war in Yemen, the composition of the group of mercenaries never exceeded 80 people. They not only trained the al-Badr troops, but also planned and conducted combat operations. One of the biggest battles took place in the town of Wadi Umaidat. One and a half thousand soldiers of the 1 th royal army and various tribes, led by two British and three French, cut off the strategic supply line of the Egyptian troops and almost a week beat off the attacks of superior forces. But the rebel attempt under the leadership of mercenaries to take Sana in 1966 ended in failure. The commander of the royalist troops did not give the order to attack.
Jim Johnson, in a secret memorandum from 1 in October 1966, invited the British government to withdraw all the mercenaries from Yemen. He demanded and received from the Saudi government a monthly severance payment for his fighters, hinting that undisciplined French people like to blow up planes of unscrupulous clients. In addition, he was able to remove all weapons, including heavy mortars, from Yemen. It is precisely known about one French mercenary killed in this war and three British servicemen.
Under the Egyptian flag
The participation of the USSR in this war consisted primarily in the work of the military transport aviation (VTA). From the summer of 1963 to January 1966, the Soviet transport workers An-12 flew from Kryvyi Rih - Simferopol - Ankara - Nicosia - Cairo, from where BTA aircraft with identification marks of the Egyptian air forces deployed troops, weapons and military equipment to Sanaa by Nasser. Flights were carried out only at night, any radio communication was prohibited.
The losses of the USSR in this campaign are two military advisers (one died of illness) and eight crew members of one of the transport workers who crashed during takeoff.
From the middle of the 50's, Soviet military equipment was exported to monarchical North Yemen. Deliveries continued after the revolution. In 1963, 547 of Soviet military specialists already worked in Yemen, who helped to improve troop control, study and master IWT, organize repair and maintenance, create a training and material base, and build military facilities.
The Egyptian and Yemeni Republican troops did not achieve decisive success in several years of struggle against the supporters of the king. After the defeat in the Six-Day War with Israel, Nasser decided to wind down the Yemeni operation. At the Khartoum Conference in August 1967, an agreement was reached between Egypt and Saudi Arabia: Cairo withdrew its troops from the YAR, and Riyadh ceased assistance to the rebels.
The last Egyptian soldier left Yemen’s territory a month before British troops left her. 30 November 1967 was proclaimed by the People’s Republic of South Yemen, renamed as the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) in 1970. The civil war in North Yemen ended with the reconciliation of the Republicans and monarchists. It was time for conflicts between the two Yemeni, in which the USSR, despite active military support for the South, was politically equidistant.
All tank sisters
From 1956 to 1990, the Soviet Union put YAR and XDRUM 34 launchers of Elbrus tactical P-17 and Tochka and Luna-M tactical missiles, 1325 tanks (T-34, T-55, T-62) ), 206 armored infantry fighting vehicles (BMP-1), 1248 armored personnel carriers (CGT-40, BTR-60, BTR-152), 693 MRLS, aviation (MIG-17, MIG-21, bomber-bomber-fighters, bomber-fighters, bomber-fighters, bomber-fighters (MIG-20, MIG-22, Brigade-23) -28М, MiG-24BN, Il-205 bombers, Mi-1400 helicopters and naval equipment (missile, artillery and torpedo boats of the project 183У, XNUMXМЕ, XNUMX). Total - for more than seven billion dollars on credit or free of charge.
Although the USSR began military-technical cooperation with North Yemen much earlier, South received the lion’s share of our weapons and military equipment, since in 1969, two years after the departure of the British, Aden announced a socialist orientation. Northerners after the civil war began to create a kind of market economy with the preservation of the influence of religious and tribal elite.
From 1968 to 1991, 5245 was visited by Soviet military specialists in South Yemen. The USSR tried not to interfere in the political process, complicated by clan and factional contradictions.
For Moscow, the need to strengthen military ties with the Democratic Republic of Yemen was determined primarily by the strategic position of the country, which essentially controlled the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb. The Soviet ships initially had the right to anchor, to replenish stocks in the ports. Then a naval base was actually built with a maneuverable base station for the Soviet Navy. From 1976 to 1979 the year she adopted the 123 Soviet warships.
The strategic value of the Democratic Republic of Yemen increased when the USSR, supporting Addis Ababa in the war for Ogaden (“Implacable Allies”), lost all of its military infrastructure in the previously friendly Somalia. The facilities, including the space communications center, were transferred to Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Yeast. The entire Soviet airfield equipment was transferred to the South Yemeni airbases.
The different state structure, the unsettledness of border issues, as well as the mutual support of the opposition forces predetermined the confrontation of the Democratic Republic of Yemen with both its northern neighbor and Saudi Arabia and Oman.
Soviet military advisers were in battle formations of the Aden army during the first armed conflict between the YAR and the Democratic Republic of Korea in the fall of 1972. On September 26, detachments of South Yemeni immigrants and mercenaries from Arab countries entered from North Yemen into the territory of the Democratic Republic of Yemen in the areas of Dali, Mukeyras and the island of Kamaran. The main enemy forces were concentrated in the area of the village of Kaataba (120 kilometers from Aden) and in the valley along the Yemen ridge. At night, using a workaround, the strike formation squad, reinforced by a tank company, went to the rear of the enemy and defeated him.
In 1973, Soviet military advisers guided amphibious operations for the transfer of tank units to enhance the defense of the oil-bearing areas of Tamud on the border with Oman, and armored vehicles and artillery to the island of Perim to close the Bab el-Mandeb Strait during the Arab-Israeli war.
In June, 1978-th in Aden, fighting broke out between supporters of the head of the presidential council Salem Rubey and his opponents in the government. The Soviet BDK "Nikolay Vilkov" came under fire. The president was arrested and shot.
The confrontation between Aden and Sana led to another 1979 border war in February-March. This time, the South Yemeni troops invaded the YAR and captured a number of settlements. The conflict again did not end with anything and a year later flared up again. From that moment, a sharp increase in the number of foreign military advisers in the Democratic Republic of Yemen began - up to a thousand Soviet military specialists and up to four thousand Cuban. According to some reports, ours participated in hostilities during the armed conflict of the Democratic Republic of Yemen with Saudi Arabia from December 1 1983 to January 31 1984.
Battle of Aden
Paradoxically, with the constant armed confrontation the question of uniting the two Yemen was constantly discussed and gained more and more supporters both in the North and in the South. In May, the 1985 th leaders of the two countries signed a document providing for the principles and nature of the interaction between the YAR and the PDRY.
13 January 1986-th in the Democratic Republic of Korea overturn. The guards of President Ali Nasser Mohammed (an opponent of the socialist path and a supporter of the union with North Yemen) shot several active members of the opposition. Fighting began between supporters of the current government and followers of the leader of the socialists Abdel Fattah Ismail, who was supported by a large part of the army. On the side of the president were the fleet in full and part of the Air Force.
Soviet military experts were in the center of events. Major Military Advisor Major General V. Krupnitsky gave the order to maintain neutrality. Everyone decided for himself what to do. Chief Advisor fleet Captain of the first rank A. Mironov with a group of colleagues and a hundred Yemenis managed to capture the pilot boat and motobot and go to sea, where they were picked up by a Soviet ship. Their couriers were recaptured and shot.
Some military advisers and specialists remained with their commanders and were dragged into the war. One person died - Colonel Gelavi. In total, at that time, there were two thousand military experts in the country, up to 10 thousands of civilians and their family members, about 400 Cubans.
The decisive battle unfolded in the port of Aden between the missile boats, the coastal batteries of the pro-presidential Navy and the tank group of opposition forces supported by the Air Force. At the same time in the harbor there were several Soviet ships, including the fully loaded tanker of the Pacific Ocean fleet "Vladimir Kolechitsky". The opposition won the battle for the capital, the presidential rebellion was crushed.
Military cooperation between the USSR and the Democratic Republic of Yemen was not affected. In 1987, North and South Yemen once again came together in a tank battle at the border, and in 1990 they joined together. A year later, with the collapse of the USSR, the era of the Soviet military presence in the region ended.
"And on the fourth day we were told at the door that negotiations did not make sense, since" your country is no more "
How the Soviet-Yemeni military cooperation ended, recalls Andrei Medin, a well-known journalist, currently the Men's Health creative director.
In Yemen, I ended up in September 1991. By that time, it was already a single state, but in the southern part with the main city of Aden, where I flew in, there were still external signs of the Democratic Republic of Yemen - slogans on the streets, the uniform of the military and the police, signs of state institutions.
That I would have to serve as a translator in Yemen, I learned in mid-June at the final examinations at the Military Institute (then - VKIMO). I remember that in the morning we were built before the head of the course, after the greeting he began to call the names of the graduates and the country where we should go to serve: Libya - nine people, Syria - five, Algeria - three, and suddenly Yemen - one. To be honest, I was surprised that I was the only one. Moreover, they gave me a sea uniform, unlike all my comrades, explaining that I would serve at the communications center that belongs to the fleet. He wore this form only two times - for graduation from the institute and for a memorable photo session with his parents. While serving in Yemen, we all went "in the civilian world" in order not to attract the attention of foreign special services.
First impressions: wild heat (even at night around 30 degrees) and a language a little like that of the Arabic literary with some intersperses of the Egyptian dialect as the most common that we taught at the institute. I was met by a translator whom I changed at the communication center. He was a civilian from the University of Tashkent, after which he served two years in Yemen. We had two weeks to bring me up to date and adapt to the local dialect.
I figured out the language quickly. Even if he did not understand individual words, the general meaning of what was said was captured. But with the external situation was more difficult. At that moment, serious changes began in the relations between our countries and in Yemen itself, too. Before the unification in the southern part of the country of Soviet experts of different specialties, there was so much that on the streets of Aden the Russian language sounded almost like Arabic. People used to joke that the Socialist Republic of Yeast is the 16 Republic of the USSR, and the young Yemenis were happy about it. There were Soviet oil workers who drilled wells in the desert, but could not find anything, and builders of pipelines and highways, and sailors from Soviet cargo ships. The Aeroflot office worked and the hotel was attached to it - Soviet aircraft landed at a local airport to refuel and change crews on their way to African countries.
But after combining the course has changed. The president of North Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, became president; he was burdened by the West. He appointed to the key posts in the administration of all the South Yemeni structures of his people, who began to curtail cooperation with the USSR. And in just a year, almost nothing remained of the former Soviet diaspora in Aden - by September 1991 only the consulate worked with its hospital and school, the Aeroflot office and two military facilities - our communications center in 40 kilometers from Aden and the military airfield desert, where once a week flew transport aircraft from Moscow with food, equipment and other necessary cargo.
The translators, respectively, were also reduced - there are two of us left in Southern Yemen (the second is at the airport). Plus, the consulate staff, many of whom knew Arabic, but they did not resolve military cooperation issues. Therefore, I had to deal with the most diverse problems of the functioning and functioning of the communications center, where more than a hundred Soviet officers (many with families) and sailors lived at the same time. I met new employees at the airport and escorted those who had served them, traveled to a local bank for a salary for everyone, called and escorted utilities during various accidents with running water and sewage, transferred during urgent operations at a local hospital when our specialists got there as patients. Weekend, of course, relied, but had to constantly be alert and in shape in case of an emergency call.
Meanwhile, the situation in the country was heating up - functionaries from the former South Yemen showed dissatisfaction with the distribution of posts after unification and their subordinate position. Of course, they still ruled the whole situation in the southern provinces, and therefore, by the way, Soviet specialists maintained friendly relations at all middle and lower levels of government, which helped me a lot in my work. But they were dissatisfied with their superiors, who came from the North, who did not do anything, but occupied high positions and received a large salary. This eventually led to a civil war in 1994. But then I was no longer in the country.
In the USSR at that time there were big changes that, although with a delay, affected our work. The military leadership in Moscow ordered the Soviet flotilla to be withdrawn from the Indian Ocean (assigned to the Pacific Fleet), the link with which was provided by our communications center. And its further existence, as well as the Soviet airfield near Adenom, began to raise questions both in Moscow and in Sana'a. In addition, the next term of the agreement on military cooperation between our countries ended. The Soviet military leadership was going to extend this lucrative cooperation (for training its military in our universities, supplying weapons, etc. Yemen paid in dollars) and sent a representative delegation in December 1991 for negotiations. For some reason, there were no translators in its structure, and I had to urgently leave Sanaa (from Aden by car almost a day across the whole country) in order to work with my colleague from the embassy in negotiations at the Ministry of Defense. The Yemeni side every day changed the conditions and its position (at night we copied the texts of all the documents), and on the fourth day we were told from the door that the talks did not make sense, since "your country is no more." It was December 8 immediately after the signing of the Bialowieza Accords.
There was a long strip of uncertainty. About the former Soviet sites abroad for a time forgotten. There were less and less instructions from Moscow, airplanes flew less frequently to a military airfield, and we continued to perform our daily tasks.
Until August, 1992, when I returned to Russia, managed to get another military rank and medal from the Yemeni armed forces for valor and zeal. I keep as a memory of the year of service in this country.