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Aden and the Protectorates were the 

>r of Empire, avoided by colonial 
seeking lofty careers. A molten 
ock and sand with an aroma all 
i and a raffish reputation as the 
, t , | 0 r divorcees and alcoholics, 
en had its fair share of both, yet 
years the hardy overcame the 
f the climate, the sheer ugliness ot 
d the remarkable sights and 
f its backstreets to stay, perhaps 
by the very strangeness of it all, 
and dedicate their lives to its 
So it is no accident that more 
1V e been written by the British 
,uth Arabia than any other similar 
es This book is different, 
tracing the historical background 
first to describe in graphic detail 
I days of British rule when South 
.vas'thc last frontier of Empire and 
of world attention. Only in 
le did the British withdraw in such 
id leave behind such chaos. The 
ay be controversial as it does not 
■ to indicate those, both British and 
,ho behaved badly or with 
ncc. The story is not all tragedy and 
,litics— these arc leavened with a 
e of humour. It was written for the 
, especially those who remember 
Vrabia with nostalgia and a certain 
crment as to how it all came to an 
quickly and so badly. This book 
•ovide some of the answers. 

lar Publishing 

9071 5 J 08 6 

design: Colin Lurkin 

holograph: United Press International 

Shifting Sands 

First published by Peninsular Publishing 1983 
©D Ledger 1983 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be 
reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any 
lorm or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, 
recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the 
copyright owner. 

ISBN 0 907151 08 0 

Produced by Scorpion Pica 

Edited by Leonard Marrow 

Designed by Colin Larkin 

Assisted by Dale Dawson and John Orley 

Typeset in Melior Roman 

Printed and bound in England by 

Hazell Watson and Viney. 

Distributed in UK. Europe and North America by 

Scorpion Communications and Publications. London. England. 

Photographic credits: 

R Lewcock: 2: Daily Express: 3; UP1: 11, 12, 17, 18. 19. 20. 21. 
22, 23, 24, 25. 26, 27. 29. 33: C H H Coles: 31; Imperial War 
Museum: 38, 39 



iv— vi 



Note on Endpapers 




I Happy Arabia 


11 Aden 


m i ne Revolutionaries 


IV Funeral in Aden 


V Federal Government at Bay 


VI This Month 's Magicians 


VII Change at the Top 


VIII The Mutiny 


IX The Fall of the Sultans 


X War with Two Fronts 


XI ...So Depart 






Appendix— Political Organisations 





Aden and Shaikh Uthman 



The People's Democratic Republic of Yemen 


events which they desuibe. com For m 

have commanded their regiments or risen tonignp 

Srvice. Others have made their ownwa^ and ^ he most p ^ 

success. Triendsrups ;ma South ^^^^^^0* 

old times ore remembered a shadow » 11 * a ^" , th is the suggestion 

South Arabia was not quite right ^^Jj";™^, wh & was 

that the British broke faith «^ J^,^, Uemence by 

dishonourable. This view is he Id in vai ^8 Thi$ 

many. Whether there is truth in this or not .s h t reader «> J * of 

book does not pretend to be a history or an , authout > buns a 

events as I saw them, if in writing ^^^J^Kbia. and 

then the labour has been worthwhile. ^intpr the 

Haideri, and friends from all parties in South Arabia whe , have di splaj 
much kindness and tolerance with my enquiries into heir a and 
lastly to mv family, who will now be able to rega.n the use of the dining 

David Ledger 
Dartmoor, January 1983 

A Note on the Endpapers 

An Anecdote by the Artist 

I painted this picture 'on spec' in the early 1960s. As it was Ihe Queen's Royal Irish 
Hussars who took me along the Dhala Road on this once in a lifetime trip, 1 obviously 
put them in the resultant painting— being strongly advised that 'they had plenty of 
money and could easily afford the £90'! They said they couldn't— and that price 
included the frame! 

The painting did me an immense ammount of good, however, being hawked 
around from one regiment to another, getting me a great many commissions, and it 
didn't worry me that I hadn't sold it. 

Eventually it was bought by the British Officers serving with the Aden 
Protectorate' Levies (APL) for their mess in Seedaseer Lines, but before it was 
delivered I was asked to alter some of the detail to link it more closely with the APL. 

The alteration can be seen by comparing the painting with the later print. The 
print, which is donated by Lt Colonel G H Coles (ex-API.), was found by him in a 
Shell house magazine in a dentist's waiting room in Aden. The alterations include: 
painting out the aircraft, altering the tac-signs and uniform of the scout car and crew. 

David Shepherd 

An End to the Tale by Major General J D Lunt CBE 

When we completed the new officers' mess for the FRA in Khormaksar in 1962, 1 
suggested we should purchase 'The Dhala Convoy' and give it to that mess. 

The snag was that the original painting was of the Royals (not the QRIH who did 
not go out to Aden until my time there.) I believe the Royals were offered it for 
purchase but for a sum much in excess of £70. They turned down the offer and we 
bought it for, I believe, £700. David Shepherd turned the British officers into Arab 
ones, changed the vehicle markings and, rather to my sorrow, removed the Twin- 
Pioneer which featured in the original. He did lliis. I understand, under the 
misapprehension that we did not receive support from the RAF in the FRA. 

The painting was a gift from the British officers serving with the FRA. We hoped 
in due course that the Arabs would take over peacefully and that the picture would 
serve as a memento of old comradeship. As you know, things turned out rather 
differently three years later. 

By then Brig (now Maj Gen) Jack Dye was commanding the FRA. It fell to his 
unhappy lot to amalgamate the FRA with the National Guard to form the South 
Arabian Army, and shortly afterwards to deal with the mutiny of his troops. Shortly 
before leaving Aden, Dye, and another British officer, succeeded in removing the 
picture from the mess. It was taken out of its frame and brought home. Then, 
reframed, it hung in the GOC's house in Colchester (where Gen Dye was 
commanding) until Brig C G T Viner drew my attention to the picture; he had been 
one of my battalion commanders at the time we bought it. I was Vice Adjutant 
General at the time and I got in touch with Jack Dye, by then Director of the 
Territorial Army. He agreed with'me that since the APL/FRA was 90% infantry, and 
Since most of the British who had served with the force had been from the infantry, 
the picture's proper home was the School of Infantry. 


The author gratefully acknowledges the permission to reproduce here as endpapers 
the two versions of 'The Dhala Road' by the artist David Shepherd, and the artist's 
publishers, Solomon & Whitehead (Guild Prints) Ltd, with thanks also to Colonel 
Charles Lane of the School of Infantry, Warminster, where both versions now hang, 
and to Major General J D Lunt CBF. for his account. 



It is jar better to be Britain's enemy than Britain's .friend. If you are 
the former there is a possibility of being bought, but if you are the 
latter there is a certainty of being sold. 

Attributed to the Sherif Hussain of Baihan- 1966 

it is said that the reason for the British Government's decision is 
economy. You must understand that you arc economising at the 
expense of the lives and prosperity of other people. 

.Sultan Salih of the AudhaJi to Lord Beswick— 17 February 1966 

The days of the Queen's Arabia were numbered arid the grace and favour of 
Her Majesty's Protection were to be withdrawn from Her South Arabian 
subjects. The great military base of Aden dismantled, the port abandoned, 
the land and people left to their own devices. 

By early 1366 South Arabia had become an embarrassment to the British. 
International hostility, revolution, the loss of British lives and most 
significantly the rising financial costs had convinced the Labour 
government of Harold Wilson that the time had come to pull out. 

Once the decision had been made and a timetable of withdrawal settled, 
there only remained the task of breaking the news lo Britain's South 
Arabian allies then engaged in a desperate battle for survival. 

The time— 11 am on 16 February 1966. The place— the Chamber of the 
Supreme Council of the Federation of South Arabia, in their capital city of 
al Ittihad across the bay from Aden. The chosen instrument— Lord 
Beswick, His audience, twenty or so Arabian chiefs sitting with their 
Adeni colleagues, flanked by British advisors. Lord Beswick in his dark 
suit, dark. moustache, was a heavy, deliberate figure. The Arabs wore 
brightly hued kilts like so many Scottish clansmen, their clan identified by 
the fashion of the headgear, a high golden turban for 1 .ahej, a white band for 
the Audhali, the Adenis in suits and ties. The British wore a uniform of 
sunburnt faces, white shirts and ties for the occasion. 

A sense of duty had brought Lord Beswick to this moment. This was his 
first excursion into Arabian politics and it was clear that he did not like it. If 
the Arabs were mercurial and elusive, then their British advisors were 
equally baffling. A lifetime devoted to Labour politics, the Co-operative 
movement and the Church was no preparation for dealing with a society 


which did no! comprehend political form, as he knew them. Part of the 
^^■KESESSSt iSdSulhttocommandth. 

Already the British „oo,,s c evotmg much o the, ^ >° 

federation achieved planned '"JJJd £ Wt to f2. their 

defence treaty with the new state and that tney wuuiu u C 

^T^lmbs knew that if this policy was carried out they were rained and 

with the Federation. Government saying 

The South Arabian reply was b.ttcr. k the Brit w 

X™,"' ;» Ive dd us is dishonourable ot the 

^SXSK- »o„, o„ to ask tor aid and 
thpv «nt a little of both but not enough to make any ddierence. in ui 
Yorne'n the Egypt ans abandoned peace talks, reinforced then- army an 
increase!) their support for terrorism in South Arabia: elsewhere the world 
response was apathetic. 


, , Beswirk w». home and prospered. All the South Arabian, who 

What follows is the s on h d how Soviet warships came to 

last days as the -J^CS the nationalisation of a Sou h 

that his people are the first ,n the world to 

aC ^IiXSnd what happened we have to go hack a long way. 

Chapter I 

Happy Arabia 

Anybody who claims lo understand South Arabian politics has been 
sadly misinformed. 

Brigadier Lun! — The Barren Rocks 

The basic trouble is thai the peoples of South Arabia have never been 
united m a single state and have rarely owed allegiance to the same 
overlord. The golden age of the land, if there ever was one, has long since 
passed The empires which grew on the riches of the spice trade have 
crumbled away. The famous sacred road, hallowed bv history and ancient 
tradition along which trod Roman and Greek. Egyptian and Phoenician 
bearing frankincense and myrrh bound for the Mediterranean, had 
disappeared. Only a few Himyaritic remains and shadowy legends passed 
down from father to son over the centuries record the splendours of a 
forgotten civilisation. As each kingdom fell its survivors sought refuge in 
the mountains, adding to thodiversity of South Arabian peoples dwelling 
in sheltered valleys almost untouched by the passing of time. For most of 

recorded history the land has been in a state of anarchy. 
Aden has been famous as a port since the dawn of history, its fortunes 

fluctuating with those of the people living in the vast hinterland. 

Sometimes a foreign conqueror would seize it as a base for his ships and 

Aden would prosper. When he left, it would decline. 

In 1728 the chief of the Abdali tribe styling himself Sultan of Lahej 

renounced his alliance to the Imam of (he Yemen. Seven vears later in 

alliance with the tribes of Yafa' he stormed Aden and expelled the Imam's 


The British visited Aden frequently and in 1802 concluded a treaty of 
friendship with the Sultan. 

Consequent relations proved difficult and the British administrators in 
India began to perceive the strategic advantages of Aden, its possibilities as 
a base for trade and as a coaling centre for the steamships which were 
beginning to make their appearance. 

The excuse for conquest arose when Sultan Muhsin of Lahej 
incautiously allowed his men to pillage an Indian ship flving the British 
flag which had been wrecked on the coast. This may have been an early 
insurance fraud, but it was enough for the British. In January 1839 Captain 


Stamford Beresford Haines of the Indian Navy commanding Her Majesty's 
steamer Voltage, twenty eight guns, and Cruder, ten guns, with 300 British 
and 400 Indian troops stormed and captured the port. Aden thus fell into 
the hands of the British, the first new accession of territory in the reign of 
Queen Victoria. 

Captain Haines stayed on as the first Governor of Aden. He soon found 
that if he was to be left in peace then he had lo come lo some 
accommodation with the peoples who lived outside his perimeter. The 
Sultan of Lahej had never quite got over his loss and made two attempts to 
recapture the town, each of which was easily defeated, but the problem 
remained. At length Captain Haines embarked on a policy to persuade the 
tribes to sign 'treaties of friendship' which meant they were drawn within 
the British sphere of influence and were expected to behave themselves 
towards the British. In return they received a small annual present. Haines 
soon realised that there was no need to conquer the hinterland lo make 
Aden safe. Although the land was traditionally part of the Yemen, the 
Imam of Sana had lost control a hundred years before. The tribes lying 
between Aden and the Yemen proper were Sunnis of the Shafa'i Sect who 
looked upon the Imam, who was head of the Shi'a Zaidi Sect, with the deep 
suspicion of sixteenth-century Calvinists for the Pope and they had little 
desire to see him back. 

Haines remained Governor in Aden for 15 years, only otico leaving his 
post through illness and then he had to be forcibly carried lo the ship taking 
him for recuperation. Shortly after his appointment the Government of 
India changed and the expansionists who had encouraged the capture of 
Aden were replaced by those who entertained doubts over the enterprise. 
From then on Haines had a difficult time, not made any easier by his own 
prickly nature. No slight was too small lo pass notice and the records are 
full of his quarrels with military commanders. Yet his personal relations 
with the natives, Arab, Indian and Jew, were exccllenl. His efforts to 
promote trade were only a partial success, and he financed il bv employing 
1 reasury funds to back special ventures. Theaccounts were a shambles and 
tiie son of the former Governor of Aden let him down. A commission of 
enquiry called Haines to account and although he was cleared of 
embezzlement the authorities held him personally responsible, as 'a 
gentleman Thrown into a debtor's prison he was released a few davs 
"etore his death in i860.* 

cast! , v "'. ,? s brou 8 hl lo trial on three counts of baud and embezzlement. The prosecutor's 
dronne'l • ! ,&' " ev p rt,l «'ess the jury acquitted Haines on two counts and the government 
k , Ho » vcver - ,he establishment had no intention of letting Haines 

"elicit" ad l,ee »ma<le. during and before Die trial, of his willingness to pav Ihc £28.000 

instalments fr^T , U|J ,V, n lo l ,onour his 1'leuge. Haines probably intended lo pav bv 
unable In Lui -ri S ry ' VVhen tarfid with a demand for immediate repayment ho'was 
Kf'vornmeni 1 c ? nvmced '' ord HIpbinslone that he was a 'rascal' and bv order of the 

to the /)„ ,„ r, ",'. d ? tasl "ered and thrown into jail. Haines was bankrupt although according 
£10 0U0 IF , - , ii ° mpU and Cou "'« r (31 luly 1854) he had accumulated savings of over 
Murray 1 ifi« f j"^ 0 Haines' career see Sultans of Aden bv Cordon Waterfield. John 
>■ ui'8. and Aden under British Hule by R | Gavin. C Hurst & Co.. 1975.) 


In 1871 the Turks launched another invasion of North Yemen and on 
their own behalf subsequently asserted the imam's claims to Aden's 
hinterland. Bv so doing they exposed the vulnerability of 'the Inendly 
relationships' between the tribes and the British in Aden. A more formal 
connection was required to counter the Turks. Yet the British m India, 
haunted bv the ghosts of an army lost in Afghanistan, hesitated at 
involving themselves too deeply with peoples alarmingly like those who 
had given so much trouble on the North West Frontier. A compromise was 
reached and gradually the tribes were persuaded to sign a form ol 
protection treat v. These treat ies were negotiated with tribal leaders and as a 
result of this haphazard process a series of British Protectorates evolved. 

In return for Queen Victoria's gracious favour and protection' the tribal 
leaders undertook to 'refrain from any correspondence or agreement with 
any foreign nation and not to cede, sell, mortgage, lease, hire or otherwise 
dispose of anv territory other than to the British Government'. From the 
Arab point of view the treaties not only assured a regular income but there 
was always a chance that powerful protection would be available against 
raids from their fierce Zaidi neighbours. Moreover, as the British displayed 
little interest in their internal affairs the tribes did not feel they were 
surrendering their independence. 

In the seventv-five vears between 1839 and the outbreak ot the Hirst 
World War. British influence grew and the jumble of protected states 
extended until thev stretched along the southern shore of the Arabian 
Peninsula as far as the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman in the east and away 
into the great sands of the Empty Quarter and mountains of the Yemen in 

the north. ( 

The treatv policv, although admirable at the time, contained seeds ot 
later disaster. The lack of fertile land had been the cause of end less d isputes 
and bloodv feuds. Over the centuries the custom had grown up whereby a 
much smaller tribe of outsiders had been used as mediators between, two, 
three or more larger ones, so keeping the balance. 

At Dhala in the west, it was the descendants of a rebellious Turkish 
Satrap who apportioned the fertile wadi beds. In the east, the Ashraf of 
Baihan, descendants of the Prophet, traditional peacemakers of Islam, 
protected the waterholes without which the wandering nomads of the 
desert would perish. Peace-keeping was a dangerous business: not 
infrequently the peacemakers would come to a violent end or be held to 
ransom bv their tribesmen. 

There were exceptions. Since the days when men worshipped the sun, 
the Affifis, priest kings of mountainous Yafa\ are said to have held part 
temporal and part spiritual sway over their turbulent subjects, while the 
Aulaqis claimed to trace their lineage to the rulers of the ancient kingdom 
ol'Maan. , 

Generally speaking the people with whom the British negotiated, 
although holding influence at the time, did not control the people whom 
thev claimed to represent. 


fir reio«nismg and protecting the mediators, and most important by 
"L \ h em the annual gifts of money and arms to distribute to the tribes, 
11, Rrilish made them rulers and their spheres of influence into states, so 
viz r ^ an ever-shifting situation. While these had money to give, 
■oaoons to distribute and British protection to rely on, the tribes paid hp 
rvire and seethed with envv and frustration at the trick which fate had 
Hve'd them Mo state was without its dissidents; there was many a nasty 
murder to decide who was to be the leader of the ruling house. 

Over the vears both the British and the rulers persuaded themselves that 
(hey really did rule the people they claimed to. It was a mistake for which 
both were to pay dearly. 

After more lhan thirlv vears of intrigue and protests the Turks accepted 
the position and by ratifying the Anglo-Turkish Convention in 1914 
recognised a frontier between the Yemen proper and British South Arabia. 
Efforts to delineate the border with exactitude failed. A joint commission 
set up for the purpose gave up its task, confounded by tribal disputes. Only 
some sixtv miles were surveyed, the remainder demarcated by a line 
arbitrarily drawn on the map at forty-five degrees from a point just north ot 

Dl The British had gained a cruel land, rich in wild untamed scenery but 
little else The heart is a highland massif which gives way to sands in the 
north and the Gulf of Aden in the south. Except for fringes of desert it is a 
country of rock and gorge, mountain and plateau. In all South Arabia not a 
single stream rising in the highlands flows all year or successfully traverses 
the coastal plain to the sea. 

It was during the First World War that the South Arabian people had 
their first taste of British protection. In response to an appeal by the Sultan 
of Lahoj to help repel the invading Turks, a British force set out from Aden. 
The whole episode was a military disgrace. British and Indian troops 
began to march across 40 miles of desert at midday. Many collapsed and 
over thirty died of heatstroke. Aden's seven motor vehicles were 
commandeered and used to rush ice to the exhausted troops. On the 
arrival o f the survivors in Lahej the Sultan rode out to greet them. 
Regrettably thev mistook him for a Turk and shot him dead. Then without 
engaging the enemy they fell back on Aden. A replacement general 
succeeded in recapturing Shaikh Uthman after which operations were 
limited to patrol actions as the Turks cut off from their homeland 
resolutely held a line of fortifications based on Lahej. Eventually after the 
armistice was signed with the Ottoman Empire the Turkish Commander 
Ali Said Pasha came into Aden with 3,000 men to surrender and a hero's 

With the collapse of Turkev at the end of the First World War her troops 
evacuated the country leaving behind the Imam as ruler in Sana. The Imam 
Yahva was a remarkable man who utterly personified the isolation and 
backwardness of his country. Born and bred in the highlands he had never 
left the Yemen or had even seen the sea. His election as Imam in 1904 had 


been the signal for a general uprising against the Turks and for the next 
eight years the Yemen was continuously at war. 

Sometimes the Imam fought the Turks, at others he was struggling 
against his own people to consolidate his position. By 1912 the country 
was exhausted and all sides had had enough. The Turks, fought to a 
standstill, recognised the Imam as a semi-independent ruler, their 
commander remarking that 'ail Europe could be conquered by such men as 
I had to subdue.'* For his part the Imam undertook to observeaten year truce 
and have relations with no other power. The agreement was scrupulously 
observed by both sides and throughout the First World War the Imam 
remained loyal to his former foes. 

Once the Turks had left the Imam was quick to reassert his claims to 
Aden and take over from the Turks much of the territory in South Yemen 
which they had occupied during the war. British protests were of no avail. 
A diplomatic mission to Sana ended in complete failure and it was not for 
eight years that 'King George's gracious favour and protection' was shown 
to be worth more than the paper it was written on. For his part the Imam, 
who believed he had a divine mission to bring all the Yemen under his 
control, pursued a consistent policy of strengthening Imami authority in 
those British Protectorates which he had seized. From his experience of the 
British he had no reason to suppose that he would not be successful. But 
things had changed since the war and the Imam, secluded in his 
mountains, knew little about the development of the aeroplane. The British 
had discovered that a single squadron of bombers could effectively become 
an instrument of peace. Experience in Iraq, India and Somaliland and 
elsewhere had shown them that air power could be used to 'pacify' 
insurgents with the minimum of fuss and expense. In 1927 they were ready 
to apply the results of the lessons learnt to the Imam. In September that year 
a party of Zaidi tribesmen rampaged through Subaiha in northern Eahej, 
burning and looting as they went. A second column moving south from 
Dhala was cut to pieces by the tribes of Radf'an supported at the crucial 
moment by the RAF. The Radf'an tribesmen gleefully dumped sacks of 
Zaidi heads at the foot of an RAF officer who travelled up from Aden to 
assess the results of the battle. The other Yemeni raiders immediately 
withdrew on a forty-eight hour ultimatum that they would be bombed. 
Berating his troops the Imam sent them back into the field so that in 
February 1928 a further party of Zaidi troops raided across the border and 
kidnapped two Protectorate Chiefs. British patience had worn out and the 
reply was as swift as it was effective. Taiz and other Yemeni towns were 
bombed and so shaken was the Imam that almost all occupied territory was 
immediately abandoned. 

* Ahmad Inzat Pasha (Ingrams. The Yemen, p, 61) 


The Imam quickly revised his ideas about British strength and turned his 
„ ies to expanding the divinely ordained frontiers of the Yemen in 
ther directions. He was again unfortunate. In the north he came face to 
face with Ibn Saud, a man of similar ambitions to himself. In the swift war 
vhich followed the Saudis invaded the Yemeni coastal strip known as the 
Tihama and so completely defeated the Imam upon his northern frontiers 
t h-!t within two months he was suing for peace. In the meantime with the 
Saudi war brewing the Imam had found it expedient to come to terms with 
the British. In January 1935 he withdrew his forces from the parts of the 
Dhala and Audhali stales which he still occupied. He did not withdraw 
from the Rassas Sultanate although, according to the Anglo-Turkish 
Convention this territory was within the British sphere of influence. The 
British had no 'legal' treaty with the Sultan of Rassas, one had been 
negotiated but not signed as the officials in Bombay thought his demand 
f or ° two hundred and fifty gold sovereigns as a yearly stipend excessive. 
The matter had been overtaken by events, and as a result the land fell 
permanently to the Imam. The wretched Sultan paid for his mistake by 
spending most of his life in an Imami dungeon. 

The fate of the Sultan proved no stumbling block when the Imam 
welcomed a proposal that Colonel (later Sir Bernard) Reilly should visit 
Sana and discuss a treaty. The eventual result was the controversial 'status 
quo' Treaty of Sana which in effect provided for a forty-year truce. Much of 
the later trouble revolved around Article 3 and particularly the word 
'frontier' appearing in the English text. In brief, to the English this meant a 
line of the map over which neither side would seek to cross into the other's 
territory. To the Yemenis it meant that the British would stay in Aden and 
would not try and increase their influence outside the Colony. The Treaty, 
with all its seeds of future trouble, was signed on VI February 1934. The 
British recognised the Imam as ruler of the Yemen. To thorn this meant the 
ex-Turkish part, to the Imam it meant the lot.* 

Even if the British had understood the Arab interpretation of theTreaty it 
is doubtful whether they would have been unduly disturbed. In 1934 
British policy was still of minimum involvement in the Protectorates 
although force of circumstances had already begun to erode this rather 
complacent attitude. 

Medieval and despotic as the Imam certainly was, at least he had 
contrived to bring some form of rough and ready law and order to his 
turbulent land. After nearly one hundred years of British influence the 
Protectorates were just as backward and chaotic as before. The arrival of 
significant numbers of modern rifles which followed in the wake of the 
First World War had greatly exacerbated the already endemic blood feuds. 

British official opinion cm the interpretation of this Treaty and the policy il represented was 
not as unanimous as was later asserted. Colonel Jacobs in a memorandum >" 1930 was able to 
™te the view of Sir Mark Svkes put forward in 19 IB that the whole of the Protectorate be 
ceded to the Imam leaving a small buffer around Aden'. 


Every South Arabian tribesman is honour bound to avenge the murder of a 
kinsman. Tribal feuds became bloodier. As the casualties mounted the 
weaker tribes were steadily pushed up the sides of the barren mountains or 
out into the deserts away from the water and the wadi beds. Often a tribe 
would be both hunter and hunted, feuds which had begun for some long 
forgotten reason continued over the years in a seemingly endless trail of 
blood. Trade was brought to a standstill and those who held fertile land 
could only till it under the rifles of their friends lest they fall to some 
neighbour with whom they were at war. Anarchy was king in a country 
whose people had famine and fear as their constant companions. 

Gradually the feeling was borne in upon the officials of Aden that if the 
British were to justify the continuation of the Protectorate then something 
would have to be done. The start was modest enough. From time 
immemorial the tribes had respected the freedom of the road. Even in times 
of war it was possible to move around the country by means of systems of 
'companions' who escorted the traveller through their own tribal area, 
handing him on to a similar 'companion' in the next, and so on. In the early 
1 930s banditry and highway robbery had become rife and the fee paid for 
'companions' rose so the number of merchants brave enough to venture far 
outside Aden fell in proportion. Initially British political officers such as 
Belhaven and Rickards went into the country with the sole intention of 
trying to keep the roads open. Steadily the scope of their mission grew 
wider as they became more and more in demand as mediators in tribal 

The real breakthrough came when Harold Ingrams was sent to the 
Hadhramaut, which lies in the east far from the troublesome Yemeni 
frontiers. At this time it boasted two recognised governments, Qaiti and 
Kathiri. Although the once powerful ruling houses were run down and 
their writ ran no further than their city walls, it was something to start on. 
Little was known about the country and the attentions of successive 
Residents in Aden was confined to what Ingrams has described as the 
occasional 'How D'you Do and Goodbye' visit. 

Ingrams was given the task of trying to bring some form of ordered 
government to the area. The mission and the man coincided. Ingrams had 
first become fascinated with the Hadhramaut from the tales of Hadhramis 
he had met whilst serving in Zanzibar. Far from the restricting 
encumbrances of the cable office and the telephone he set to work with a 
will. Stumping around the countryside he made a direct approach to the 
tribes, holding out the prospect of a three-year truce. The country was sick 
of bloodshed and the results were spectacular. When Aden learnt of what 
Ingrams was doing he was promptly told to desist but by that time the truce 
was almost in the bag. Between thirteen and fourteen hundred tribal 
leaders had agreed to it and peace had come at last to the Hadhramaut. In 
his dealings Ingrams had always been careful to act in the name of the 
rulers and not the government. Nevertheless the government and its air 


3 One for the family album. Captain Johnny Ricketts in front of the Egyptian 
transport aiiaafi he prevented from taking offal Lodar. Colonel Ricketts 
commanded the Welsh Guards in the Falklands, 1982. 

4 The Bedouin Boys' School. iVlukalla. established by the British to provide recru 
for the Hadhrami Bedouin Legion. 


pr were always discreetly there in the background. Further, being an 
an and therefore a neutral, .he tribesmen could accept us 
mediation without the all important loss of face. There can be no doubt that 
.v,»v did so with relief. , 
* The fame of 'Ingrams' Peace spread and his colleagues, operating with 
th om d-ing approval of the Aden government, achieved similar success 
■S thTwest. So zealous did these peacemakers become that the Governor m 
Aden exasperated at mutual complaints of poaching drew a line dividing 
his officers' territories between east and west. Henceforth British relations 
with the Eastern Aden Protectorate as it became known, would be 
nn ducted through a Resident in Mukalla, and those in the Western Aden 
KSatn through a British Agent based on Aden Colony. Both posts 
remained under the authority of the Governor. 

This was the first step and the second was bound to follow. Once again 
the east led the wav. In 1937 and 1938 the Qaiti and Kathiri Sultans signed 
advisorv treaties with the British, under which they agreed to accept a 
resident adviser for the 'good government and welfare of their countries. 
To the rulers it meant British support to maintain and extend their 
authority to the Colonial Office it meant introducing British notions ot 
good oovernmcnt and development. The two points of view did not always 
coincide and the 'advice' was often imperceptible from 'direction . 
' The success of these treaties in the east led to attempts at their 
introduction in the west. Here the position was more difficult None ol he 
states approached the size of either Qaiti or Kathiri and Uhcj alone boasted 
anvthing resembling a state government. There was a constant background 
of tribal turbulence and Yemeni interference so thai to construct 'status out 
of the loosest and most fluid of tribal confederations was a slow and 
unrewarding task. Bv the end of the Second World War only five of Hie 
eleven principal chiefs had signed the Treaty and the 'forward policy , as 
it was grandly called, had ground to a halt. It was particularly unfortunate 
that in three of the five states which had consented to be 'advised the rulers 
had been deposed for one reason or another. The Fadhli Sultan was as mad 
as the Amir of Dhala was cruel, while the ruler of Lower Yafa ell 
somewhere between the two. The other chiefs, alarmed at their examples, 
regarded 'advice' as a euphemism for control and held aloof. But the 
twentieth centurv would not be held a! bay for ever. The mam tactor which 
swung the situation towards the British was renewed intervention in the 
Protectorate bv the Yemenis. Nothing was more likely to throw the Shata l 
chiefs into thearms of the British than the spectre of a Zaidi Imam hovering 
over the horizon. For his part the Imam of the Yemen regarded the British 
'forward policy' as a direct controversion of the Treaty of Sana and set 
about counterbalancing increased British influence in the area with some 
intrigues of his own. Thev were successful in stirring up short-lived tribal 
revolts in Shaib and Dhala. but the real result of their machinations was the 
very opposite of what had been intended. Fear of renewed Yemeni 
domination broke the back of opposition and with one eye over their 


shoulders the chiefs hastened down to Aden to sign up. There was a gap of 
si ^^ars while some of the prouder or, at the other end of the scale, the 
emo! "ruler made their minds up but by 1954 even the suspicious and 
ercentrir u ers of Mahra and Socotra had been coaxed into conforming. 

Adtise t t the rulers had a del icate and difficult task. Their prune aims 
were to speed up development, keep the peace and try to drag the country 
nto 'the wentieth century. Often these aims were in d,rect conflict with the 
v" she o the ruler concerned and customs of the country which although 
It 1 acceptable in South Arabia were distinctly out of place m a modern 
and S world. For instance, the slaves of the Qaiti Sultan were tactfully 
?ran ormed "nto the nucleus of .he local defence force and the habit of the 
WahSi Shaikhs whereby an enemy was boxed in a crate and shipped out o 
sea the more he was hated the smaller the holes, was allowed to fall into 

di WdU were dug, roads cut through the mountains and doctors and 
tea* rhe s introduced to areas where they had never been seen before. A 
SnSg -heme in the potentially rich Abyan delta flourished 
b? in° ing undreamed of wealth to the farmers. A strong government kept 
fh Saw vet although the land seemingly prospered the gun remained 
SeSTsman's most* prized possession, and the ways ol the people 
remained unchanged. 

1947. VVahkii 194'J. Mahra 19S4. 

book? He looked up in astonishment - V* hat sen '^" ^ ^^V.., e S unrecorded. 

soldiers at the end ot a six hour toi up the procip V.^VuVm 'J tt Fn und.^r. Chairman. Committee 

Then there was the gult «'>*"^ 
and sole prolessional of the Ba han Co l - ul >. No IK. in„ i m;1| . r .hed nit into the Rub al 

record for the loosest hole in the wo Id hc'.l n bo m ™ ^ , ntorn , ec l. 

Khali, and taking a piece nt especudly pnn re< i ^^.^fomptv spaco In from of him the 
the South Africans made an ^ ou ' J e Cons e a ion in ohannesburg and shortly 

verification. . «hich served as I he Ramadhan gun broke 

bright or ingenious 

ircular from the nepartment ol Health vvarmng oU^ 

is pronounced it insanitary rtci arai aiiu i watched pre 

shaft. The Bedouin for whom the well was me on y sou ^ — — t Unruffled, he turned 
with increasing alarm and now began to show serious signs oia. ^o nic ignorant o 

Relief Fund at a poker party lor his friends. 


already anachronisms which could never 

which made up .the f union was require( l if they were o 

survive separately. Clearly someo federation began to 

be considered m bo* Lond^ ^ Kcnnedy) ^ 1Q52 whe h 

was ongmated b C K N ^ ^ Protectora te. It provided 

was as Br * ^jj 0 en^ Protectorate and one for 

f0rU wTn a The scherne'took into account the more advanced 
the Western. The scheme 1 historica i background and the 

development m the caj lk dl » er ^ , hcir brethren in the West. 
r n Sn?t^ Br t sf C^ve no° r in /den would preside over both councils 
S as a first step to unity the twenty-three existing customs orgamsations 

would be eliminated Government House, Aden in 

The Pl^n -as presented to he ^-^^ Awadh bin Sa i ih the 

)anUa ?" ndtr of the Upper Aulaqi Sultanate, had not left his Nisab house 
eccentric ruler ot the upper nu aq dismite with his neighbour 

for fifteen years. The Sultan 0 . H ;. l ^ 0 t,ftS t Lahej was attending 
over their common border^ 

a contravention of the Treaty ot Sana ana a airet -' h borders 

and authority. Tribal troubles were once again ^^^^^^ 
and the weaker chiefs were sent warnings of the dire consequent 
falling in with the 'plot of imperialism'. 

The imam* realised that the time had ™- o^ em Uon - 
scale. He found his opportunity m Aulaqi coun n nr 
between three states, Lower Aulaqi, the Upper Aulaqi Sheikhdom and 
Upper Aulaqi Sultanate. ma c:«nf rnrk 

Between Aulaqi and Dathina .ribes to the west lies " ul ^™^X 
and mountain with the Wadi Halib the only pass. From ™"^es ttie 
masters of this wilderness have been the Ahl Shams Rabiz whc e me a 
precarious living playing one side off against the ^ 
merchants who dared to pass through their land. They ert aheach 
chaffing under the loose authority exercised by the Aulaq Sulta m N sab 
wh en the British decided to drive a motorable road through the Wadi 

.'The Yemenis, particularly .he Zaidis. yarded 'he Prole— ehief^ith — ^ 
This is exemplified by a meeting between .bra s |P nhrt. e. U ^ Rri , h 
and the newly appointed Amir °f Dnala. .? h ^ J ,™, ,„ .. it h the Amir and referred lo 
repres«ntativesin May 1936 in Dhala. The Qadhi refused K talk u 
him in a loud voice as 'You Shaikh of the day before vesterciay. 


concealed inherent unreliability. 

^ s eci „ s «*« . «~ ^»--l:3SS2 '2 

the Yemen [0 receive money and arms whicnw 

: u ^^i^^ r ^^'.. f oppressions Of 

"S'flSm- the Rabiz began a J-J^K g^SSS 
were burnt, pumps smashed and flocks >- d t0 be 

fort at Robat became a nightly target for snipers, fcverj con j 
escorted, every hilltop guarded. ambushe d by the Rabiz, three 

In June a convoy en route to Robat was "™J™ ^ jlh five Ara b 
officers two British and one Arab, were failed together . 
oS. In the following month the fort was *°*Z^£fi% who 
tSe Rabiz celebrated bv blowing it sky lugh^ong ,vn h a ocalres den^ ^ 

- tribal 

Ru biz had nothing I. shoo, at and the Imam s at ent, » " « & 

troubles at home. In April 1955 he faced . full scale coup or ;an 
brothers Abdullah and Abbas. The rebels held hin, , p .80 uer m h s P J 
Taiz but were unable to agree on policy or on what they shouic ° J 
him In the meantime his son al Badrhad raised the northern tribes and 


hesitation in dealing ^ r ^J° r ^ brib i n gtheheadsmentoensurca 
-headed, the relatives ot the condei Tine a j i k cxccu iions began 

^ d r\1SW^ that th rr re 

to appear in the Aden bazaars, m i , ransp \red that the Imam 

■\rab League mission visited lawin t « au boun(| t0 supp0 rt 

^ not have been much '^Pf ^ifX People s Republic of China 
he imam as a fellow member. 1 1956 bo h P jn 1956 a SovU! , 

asked the British to delay the ^ f ™ ,f ousV an d suspicion. Wahidi 
floundered on the rocks g}^^^ be kno wn he preferred lo ,o.n 

— bK^ 

powerful neighbour also J°PP^ 

Secure once again and u^th unaccusto Km sincc 

opened the 1957 season in fyle. His pu n u bordM 
1948 the former Amir. Haidara had been b ro odm ^ tafore rifle5 

Qataba. Now the Imam espoused l is cause v " us \ d jn hundre ds. 
had been handed out in dozens they were now hst I t rf a 

Very soon nearly every Uhala ^"fj^^^u. The rulers of 
well-known peacemaker became the s>gna to §^ab absconded to the 
Alawi and Muflahi, small states on the border ^ 
Yemen. Thev were shortly followed J^.^f^^Sadhali in 
vassal the Qutaibi Shaikh of Radfan. Tribal , « mgjb. ote out in 
the centre and Baihan in the north-east. Neare. .Men ^ he A n ^ 

the field and threatened to cut the roads to the east J™ , the 

. serious and the British took firm actio " J^J^ ^n to their 
rulers to do likewise. The RAF persuaded the Dha la t * * to 
allegiance whilst Sharif Hussain in Badjan ^^^WNakhai soon 
sallied across the border and routed heir oppo«n£ ™* A and made 
withdrew. The Alawi, Maflahi and Qutaibi Shaikhs came non 
their peace in time for the late harvest paramount British 

Times were changing m the Middle Eas 11 u _o P b&se 
influence was fast on the wane. Thev had aw bom 8 
astride the Suez Canal. A new dynamic figure m the persoi 


Jamal Abdul Nasser had appeared on the scene m h the gospel of Arab 
Socialism to unite the Arab world. In the years to follow came the Anglo- 
FrPnch disaster at Suez. Then came the overthrow of the pro-Western 
egin in So, and the subsequent collapse of the Baghdad Pact. The 
Cyprus revolt followed and everywhere the British were seen to be on the 

" The effects of those developments were soon felt in South Arabia. Cairo 
Radio, with its steady stream of anti-British invective became part of the 
daily lives of the people. Tribal uprising was given a new lustre as the 
revolt of the Arab people against Western Imperialism; every opponent of 
the British was a hero and every friend a traitor. 

The powerful effect of Cairo Radio over the years cannot be 
underestimated. By its very nature propaganda must accurately reflect the 
policv of the government which employs it. If the government is weak, 
conciliatory and vacillating, then this will show up in its propaganda 
Despite its "distortions, exaggerations and often ludicrous hes, the crux of 
the message of Cairo Radio from 1954 onwards was always the same- the 
British are the enemies of the Arabs,' 'they will leave you in the lurch and 
'they are going.' . 

In 1958 the imam made his final attempt on Dhala The Amir Haider* 
was established on the Jebol Jihaf Massif supported by regular Yemen 
troops. These were promptly ejected by the Aden Protectorate Levies (APL) 
supported by two companies of British troops and for good measure the 
RAF demolished the barracks at Qataba. This was the Imam s last fling, he 
had become tired and suspicious of his new found friends, his health was 
failing and in Aprill959 he travelled to t re ^ n «' "| 
al Badr as regent. The latter attempted to use the opportunity to institute a 
programme of mild reform. In the absence of the Imam's strong hand he 
Regular Armed Forces mutinied for more pay. Al Badr appealed to the 
tribes for support and this was forthcoming only on paymen of a large 
sun, In August the Imam returned and at once tried to retrieve » 
The tribes refused. The Imam then arranged to mee the Shaikh , of the 
Usavmat, paramount Shaikh of the Great Hash.d Contention, together 
with his son under safe conduct. A heated argument took place during 
which the Imam ordered both his guests to be se.x.ed and taken to the* 
stronghold at Hajjah and executed. The Hashid never forgave Imam Jo 
this act of treachery and within a few years were able to revenge themselves 

on his son. , l . 

The imam was equally decisive in dealing with the Egyptians , whom he 
discovered plotting behind his back. The diplomats were expe ed, and £e 
Imam broadcast a scurrilous poem attacking President Nasse. on, Sew 
radio. From then on the Yemen ceased to be a member of the Urn ted A la 
States in all but name. In July 1958 Yemeni delegates met with the Bntisn 
Diradowa in Ethiopia to seal the truce. , 

Ahmad was a sick man dependent on morphine. He suil ere i 
hallucinations and increasingly retired to a special room fitted out 


C rtff ^S^ult on Dhala the British Faced a 

; :S Sionalism nearer Aden. The South Arabia League 

founded in 1951 with the object of bringing about an 
(SAL) uas founded n i ^ induding North 

j^rt K n ral alms of ^pX were not too different from those of 
It BHti h but it was the method of achieving it which brought he Ivvo 
1^ to conflict The founders were the Tifri clan. At one tracht-onal 
Imso to "he Shaikh of the Upper Aulaoi Shaikhdom they became 
1, nllv redundant after the ruler signed his advisory treaties with the 
S " aS oSe family moved to t ahej where they became friends 
-md confidants to the Sultan Ali bin Abdul Kanm KBh 

The Sultan succeeded his brother who had fled to the Yemen m 1952. 
Thk foUouecl a wild nigh. when, more than usually irritated with his 
r i e , he a d had thr°ee of them dragged from ^ their be, s and bod to 
Se in the garden, and then shot them himself from the fla roof of the 
house His vounger brother Ali was clever, ambitious and wol -oducat^ 
Th Sul tan of I .ahej had always been pre-eminent amongst the chie & of the 
Protectorate and he strove to re-establish this posit , on. Advisee, by .he Jifn 
considerable progress was made in reforming state administration and 
ex i ing the cotton plantations. On the political front progress was les 
easy The Sultan tried to persuade the British and his fellow rulers to gran 
Lahei over-riding powers in the Federation then under discuss on. With 
h demands finding little favour he turned to the League. A rederat.on 
office was organised in Lahei and elsewhere in the state 'to educate the 
people' as the°Sultan explained. The line taken was bitterly onU-Bntoh » 
tone. This was the time of the Sue/, crisis and the League lost no 
opportunity to twist the lion's tail. , , , oi 

The results of the Sultan's attempts to spread his influence outsiders 
were mixed. In the Upper Auk.qi Shaikhdom where influence was still 
strong, the Sultan, supported by the League backed one side in an 
unseemlv squabble that was taking place over the succession. The League 
organised demonstrations complete with Egyptian flags and loud speakers 
and Sultan Ali let it be known that as Ruler of Lahej it was customary tor 
him to be consulted in such matters. A committee of rulers setup to resolve 
the issue was a fiasco when they could not agree where to meet. In the end 
his opponents proved more practical, by supplying their proteges 
with the arms and monev necessary to ensure their election. 

After the defeat in Aulaqi the League looked around or other 
opportunities and it was not long before their efforts were rewarded. 

" Alto the revolution the Imam's possessions » m put out on display a d an * ill ha "tn I ' * 
prions in a special museum in TMz. Class cases preserve a vast ™ I echo n o i »»^~P^ 
)«wellfirv and bath soap as well as superb rifles and a teasel presented by the British, tot 
sum visitors may be accompanied by the official guide, a mute. 


The rich farmlands of the Abyan Basin were shared by Lower Yafa' and 
Fadhli. In the case of Lower Yafa' it represented the only part of the state to 
be administered. The rest, more often ranges of mountains bisected by the 
occasional narrow wadi, stretched away to the Yemeni border, a forbidden 
territory, inhabited by fiercely independent tribesmen who stoutly resisted 
any interference to the old ways, its customs and superstitions. The Ruler 
of Yafa' had a mystical as well as temporal hold over his people to whom he 
personified the spirit of Yafa' in human flesh. Sultan Aidrus was well 
qualified to be the ruler of such a people being a! the same time half mad 
and half wise. An old man by this time, a normal conversation would often 
degenerate into incomprehensible ranting with foam flecking the old 
man's lips and his eyes dancing a fandango to a time of their own. 
Something of a shock to those who had not met him before. The Yafais 
adored him. 

The sultan's eldest son Muhammad was a chip off the old block, volatile, 
impetuous and deeply suspicious. Yet he could be charming and retained 
a magical hold over his people. Muhammad was appointed to the 
Abyan Board and became Naib for that part of the state in which the Board 
operated. He became a supporter of the League and its chief agent in 
the urea. 

Soon he realised that the farmers of Lahej were receiving more cash for 
their crop than those of Abyan. The Abyan Board had made considerable 
capital investment and the dividends reflected the repayment of loans. 
Muhammad claimed that the imperialists were exploiting the people and, 
backed by the League, canvassed this idea amongst the farmers. Conditions 
within the Board worsened and when the British refused to bomb a Yafa'i 
shaikh who had annoyed him, Muhammad decamped to the hills. His 
nominees were ordered to agree to nothing in his absence. The work of the 
Board ground to a halt. No cotton could be sold, no dividends distributed, 
and no crops sown until Muhammad returned. Eventually the patience of 
the Board, many of whom were farmers themselves, ran thin, and they 
elected one of their members, Haidira Mansur as Naib to take Muhammad's 
place. The following day Muhammad suddenly appeared at the head of a 
tribal army, rampaged through Ja'ar. the administrative centre for the 
cotton growing area, and carried off £10,000 from the treasury. For a few 
weeks it looked as if Mother Yafa' was coming to claim her own. 
Muhammad and his commandos made forays against the crops of those 
who had opposed him. but the new order held and Muhammad 
disappeared into his mountains not to emerge until after the British had 

1958 was a crucial year for the League. They had failed in the Upper 
Audhal i Shaikhdom and although a great deal of fuss had been caused they 
had little to show for their efforts in Lower Yafa'. The leaders of the party 


had for some time been in contact with the Imam Ahmad then making his 
final assault on the Protectorates.* 

Army convoys going north to the threatened State of Dhala were often 
held up by demonstrating crowds. The ruler of the tiny State of Alawi who 
it was said never slept without the permission of his neighbour Lahej was 
the first to depart to the Yemen. The League's hand was seen behind the 
revolt of the Ahl Nalkhai and in Aulaqi [ifri supporters, the Ahl Bubakhr 
bin Farid, forsook their oaths of reconciliation and took to the hills. The 
British remained firm, the Imam was defeated, the Ahl Nalkhai went home 
without firing a shot, the Ahl Bubakhr manoeuvred with the Yemen. 

On the political front the Sultan and the League suffered equally severe 
setbacks. The other rulers alarmed fit the activities of the Imam and 
growing Egyptian influence approached the Governor of Aden with a 
request to resurrect plans for federation, plans in which the Sultan of Lahej 
played little part. The Jifris issued a stream of propaganda against the 'fake 
federation', known troublemakers were given asylum and efforts made to 
subvert the APL and Government Guards. These were not wholly 
unsuccessful. There were a number of grenade incidents in Aden, carried 
out by soldiers, and a British medical officer attached to the API, was 
grenaded whilst asleep. The Sultan demanded independence and prepared 
to abrogate his treaty with the British bringing in the Egyptians instead. 
This was the final straw. Sir William Luce, then Governor of Aden, ordered 
the arrest of the Jifri brothers who escaped to the Yemen. Sultan Ali left for 
London to complain to the British government and on receiving no redress 
moved to Rome and thence to Cairo, having first made arrangements for the 
Lahej Regular Army to deca tn p to the Yemen complete with brass band. The 
British government formally withdrew recognition and a successor was 
elected by the Lahej electoral college who had taken their leaders, 
discomfiture with amazing calm. 

The power of the League was broken but the affair had an interesting 
sequel. The new sultan, Fadhl bin Ali, went on a tour of his state and sent 
word to his Director of Agriculture, Qahtan al Shaabi, that he was about to 
call for lunch. When the messenger, Fadhl Hassan Aulaqi, an Arab official 
of the Protectorate Service, arrived at the agricultural offices, the director 
w ho had been implicated in the shadier activities of (he League, hitherto 
unsuspected, thought he was about to be arrested and look fright. He leapt 
mto a Landrover and, prudently collecting the agricultural funds on the 
way. fled to the Yemen. 

In Cairo the League was soon rent by internal squabbles. In 1962 al 
anaubi, who acted as Public Relations Officer, was accused of embezzling 
Party funds. He took refuge in the Yemen and joined the 'Shaikhs of the 
outh . a rather tired collection ofdissidents still drawing meagre pensions 
from the Imam. 

cons,',?,,, 1 " 1 'i ur 'nli^ al!; f ' lu (:on 'es|jondene:e was intercepted and read bv the British who were 
•Muently able to anticipate every move made by the League and the Sultan. 


After the humiliation of the League and defeat of the Imam the rulers 
began to understand the new threat posed to their existence by the 
Egyptian brand of Arab nationalism.and within eighteen months six of the 
more important were pressing for agreement on new plans for federation. 
The British doubly welcomed this approach because it removed the stigma 
of British inspiration from the federation proposals just when some new 
form of arrangement was needed to protect Aden, then acquiring a new 
importance in British defence thinking. 

The negotiation of agreement between the six states on a federal 
constitution and on a new agreement with Britain took longer to conclude 
than was at first expected, but eventually the Federation of South Arabia 
was born on 11 February 1959. * 

The Dathina Confederation, the Lower Aulaqi. Haushabi and Lahej 
Sultanates had all asked to join before the ceremony but arrangements for 
them were not complete until much later. 

Eventually all states of the western area joined except Upper Yafa'. 

A capital city, al Tttihad.t was built for the new states on the borders of 
Aden and Agrabi. 

An embryo civil service was created and state functions were put in 
charge of ministers. More important, the British who had never been lavish 
in their aid to the area, before the Second World War it had never exceeded 
£100,000 and in 1954 was only £800,000, produced £5 million to fund the 
project. Pleasure that the Federation had at last got underway was not the 
only reason for Britain's generosity. The loss of British bases in Iraq and 
Egypt and uncertainty about those in Cyprus and Kenya greatly increased 
the importance of Aden in British defence planning. Aden was regarded as 
a vital link in the safeguarding of British interests in the Gulf and policy 
east. The formation of the Federation was an important step in creating a 
buffer to protect the base. 

For the first four years of its existence the Federation made steady 
progress. There was little dissident activity, the land knew peace and a 
measure of prosperity. Revolution and anarchy were at hand. 

* Founder members of the federation, initially known as the Federation of Arab Emirates ot the 
South, were Baihan. Farihli, Dhala. lx>\verYala\ Audhali and the Upper Aulaqi Shaikhdom. 


Chapter II 


Tell Daddv we are all happy under British rule. 

Banner welcoming Edward Prince of Wales 
on his visit to Aden, July 1921. 

If thirty years of peace and outward stability for the Protectorates was one 
of Britain's greatest achievements in the area, then the development of 
Aden as a port and as a social and political force in Arab affairs was surely 

When the British seized Aden they found virtually nothing. The port, 
long neglected and abused by its rulers, had fallen into decay so that 
Captain Haines was able to note in his diary that he found the community 
in a 'condition of most indigent poverty'. 'How lamentable a contrast', he 
went on, 'to Aden's former unrivalled celebrity, its impenetrable 
fortifications and flourishing commerce.' Under the British, Aden soon 
began to revive, first us a coaling station and then, after the opening ot the 
Suez Canal in 1869, its harbour became famous again as the first port east of 
Suez on the imperial highroad to India and Australia. 

The genius of the British administration allowed all races to trade and 
prosper so that Aden once again flourished as a commercial centre. 
Opportunity was unrestricted. The Swiss-French family of Anton Bessc* 
made a vast fortune out of the trade with Africa, the British themselves 
tended to concentrate on the port where Luke Thomas, Peninsular & 
Orient, Cory Brothers and Mitchell Cotts maintained major branches. The 
banks reflected the various interests, the Bank of India, the Habib, the 
Chartered, the British Bank of the Middle East, the Arab Bank. The great 
Parsee Trading Companies of Palanjee. Dinshavv and Bhicajee Cowasjee, 
made their fortunes in Aden. Shafai merchants, such as Havel Said A mam 
so controlled trade with their country that by 1962 80% of North Yemen's 
goods came through Aden. Hadramis were everywhere with particular 
interest in property and construction. 

Anton Basse was generous. Aden Technical Colle°e and many other social causes were the 
Beneficiaries of numerous bequests. I le also gave over £1 million to Oxford University to lound 
Anthony's College. 


6 The Prince of Wales' visit to Aden 

In 1954 British Petroleum built the refinery al Little Aden so that in 1964 
Aden could boast to being the fifth largest bunkering port in the world after 
Rotterdam. Liverpool. London and New York. 

In all this commercial activity the peoples of the Protectorate were not 
involved in any major fashion. The rulers and warrior classes felt trade was 
beneath them and preferred to use agents such as the Persian family ol 
Hassan Ali * to conduct their business affairs. For lesser folk tradition and 
lack of education prevented their major involvement. In return the 
Protectorates were not a major market for the Adeni merchants. Lack of 
direct Protectorate interest in Aden's prosperity and Adeni ignorance of 
the hinterland was a basic factor in the difficulties in merging Aden with 
the Federation. 

By the early 1960s, when Aden's prosperity was at its height, me 
magnificent harbour was filled with every conceivable type of shipping- 
Great ocean liners whose passengers poured ashore to buy tax-free bargains 
from the bracelet of shops which clustered under the shadow of the jagged 
hills, oil tankers calling at the British Petoleum refinery on the other side ot 
the bay, stately dhows making their annual journeys from Zanzibar and 
East Africa to the Persian Gulf, bumboats and battleships, tramps and 

* Amongst the later activities of the Hassan Ali familv were the tegular purchases ot arms and 
ammunition which the rulers were allowed to import by the British. In 1967 2.000 30: ntle.s ai 
an average price of £15 wen; exported by (tie Crown Agents. Wadia Hassan. All pocketed to 
commission in addition to what he received from his principals. The rulers sold the weapons km 
as much as £100 a time. The British also rewarded tribesmen with like presents, so that it came a. 
no surprise that manv dissidents w ere armed with British weapons firing British bullets. 


trawlers, all bringing affluence and employment to the Adenis. 

At the same time the British decision to make Aden her principal 
military base in the Middle East injected a further £19 million into the 
economy. Aden boomed. Within the space of two years the number of cars 
on the roads trebled. Modern blocks of flats sprang up as merchants 
competed to lease them to the British services and their families. Whole 
new towns appeared in the formerly sleepy suburbs of Maala and 
Khormaksar. Labour was at a premium, wages rose and with them the 
! iving standards of the people climbed steadily upwards. 

The Adenis were rich and furthermore they were educated, hver since 
the British had landed they had been spared the misfortunes ol their 
brethren in the Protectorates. In a sea of turbulence Aden was an island ot 
peace and good order. From early days there were schools and a medical 
service No arms were allowed to be carried in the streets and there were 
courts of justice where a decision did not depend on a family connection or 
a bribe. 

Aden owed much to its cosmopolitan character. Somalia, Yemenis, 
Indians and Jews had all settled under the protecting wing of the British, 
influencing the culture and language of the people. Nevertheless Aden was 
' always emotionally Arab and civil strife between the various communities 
was never far beneath the surface. After the influence and number of Jews 
had been reduced by the riots of 1931 and 1947, it was the Indians and 
Pakistanis whom the Arabs regarded with the greatest suspicion Although 
many of those who were Muslims had intermarried with the Arabs, they 
were never wholly accepted, a fact of life which more than one would-be 
Arab-Indian nationalist was to learn to his bitterness and cost. 

When the Colonv was administered from Bombay it was natural that 
many of the clerks and middle-ranking government officials were Indian. 
Being more sophisticated than their Arab neighbours, they also came to 
provide many of the lawyers and doctors as well as a large proportion of the 
powerful merchant community. In short, Aden was in danger of becoming 
an 'Indian Colony' and the British 'rulers' tended to be cushioned from 
daily contact with their Arabian subjects by a waddage of English-speaking 
babus. The process received its first check in 1932 when the control of 
Aden passed out of the hands of the Bombay Presidency to the Centra 
Government of India. In 1937 in response to Arab petition, the Colonial 
Office took over the administration. At the time this development as 
considered an act of liberation. 

Political government in the Colony took the same well-trodden road 
taken by British colonies elsewhere, In 1947 a Legislative Council was set 
up and'eight vears later it boasted four elected members. By the time the 
ill-fated Legislative Assembly embarked on its final term ot office in 1964, 
sixteen of the twenty-one members were elected, four nominated and one, 
the Attornov-General, ex-officio. 

Organised political activity began in Aden with the Moslem Association 
founded in 1946. This drew its inspiration, not from the Arab world, but 


India and Pakistan, whose achievement of independence caused great 
excitement amongst their fellow countrymen in Aden. 
Aden was also the base for the 'Free Yemenis', a group of intellectuals 
dedicated to the overthrow of the Imami regime. In 1948 with more 
traditional forces they assassinated the imam Yahya* and set up a short- 
lived provisional government, before the coup was brutally crushed by the 
Imam's son Ahmad. Two Adenis who were to become prominent in South 
Arabia, Muhammad Ali Luqman and Muhammad Hasan Obali, played 
leading parts in the coup and after their return to Aden founded the Aden 
Association. Still much influenced by Indian social dominance and by 
memories of the troubles in the Protectorates they stood for Aden for the 
Adenis and modest construclural advance, and as such, dominated the 
early sessions of the Legislative Assembly. They pinned their hopes for 
advancement on the visit of Lord Lloyd, Under Secretary of State to the 
Colonies. They were disappointed, addressing the Assembly the Minister 
made it clear that he entertained no such ideas. 'There has been much 
speculation recently about the political future of Aden Colony. Such 
speculation, unrelated to practical possibilities is harmful to the 
commercial interests of the Colony', and went on, 'Her Majesty's 
Government wish to make it clear that the importance of Aden both 
strategically and economically within the Commonwealth is such that they 
cannot foresee the possibility of any fundamental relaxation of their 
responsibilities for the Colony.' 

The Association was snubbed and the British had missed an 
opportunity. The Federation was forming in the Protectorates and by 
granting Aden early self-government and the prospect of independence 
with the Federation when it came into being may have allowed time to help 
keep the political initiative. Already more discordant voices were being 

The United National Front (UNF) first made its appearance in 1954 as a 
party demanding the total elimination of the British presence and the 
merger of Yemen, the Protectorates and even Oman into a single state. 
Certain of its founders were found amongst the more extreme surviving 
Free Yemenis and others amongst the organisers of the vicious anti-Jewish 
riots in 1948. It probably began in one of the football and social clubs in 
which Aden abounded, the movement very quickly formed close ties with 
the burgeoning Aden Trades Union Congress [ATUC) which had been set 
up with the help of British trades unions. The movement owed its 

"There is a coffee shop on the road south of Sana whore the Imam Yahya and his grandson were 
gunned down. The heroic: manner of his death as he tried to shield the young hoy with his body 
made a profound impression on public opinion and helped his son Ahmad defeat the plotters. 

It is said that the killing fulfilled an old prophecy. Many years hefore when the Imam was 
fighting the Turks he had been told that he would live so long as no impression of his features 
was published. Consequently cameras were absolutely forbidden and visitors searched before 
entering his presence. A few 'weeks before a French Canadian journalist had sketched the Imam 
from memory. The portrait appeared in the Washington Post the day the Imam died. 

• tion from E»ypt and some of its funds from the Imam, who was not 
inSP1 iliin» to dabble in the muddv waters of Aden politics. Due to its 
organisation at street level the Front could always be relied on to produce a 
mnh for a given occasion. 

In 1957 both organisations broke up. The Aden Association destroyed 
. , f on a social rather than a political issue and this concerned the 
hallowed subject of qat.* Qal is a small, mildly narcotic shrub which grows 
n the Yemen, Ethiopa and Kenya. The green leaves which look and taste 
rather like privet are chewed and produce an effect similar to that of 
benzedrine- an effect which the Adenis discovered was heightened if 
washed down bv copious quantities of Coca Cola. Qat chewing was the 
national pastime" of the Yemen. Kvery afternoon the whole male population 
seemed to retire into the house or clubs and begin a rhythmic and bovine 
munching, cheeks bulging with a wad of green cud. There was not a man in 
the place who did not seem to be determined to dribble, spit and chew his 
way through enough green stuff to feed a cow. Qat customs varied. In 
Dhala. whose people were lucky, or unlucky enough to grow their own 
supplies, the Amirs would run up and down the hill after lunch to gain the 
necessary appetite for the afternoon session. In Aden there was the 
mabraz which with classic understatement means 'the place where things 
emerge,' This was a qat chewers' club. Any number of the fraternity would 
steadily get more and more excited and incoherent. It is worth 
remembering that many of the decisions which were to affect South 
Arabia's future were made whilst the participants were similarly engaged. 

In Aden qat had reached the proportions of a national catastrophe. The 
people spent more than £1 million a year on the stuff, and it was not 
unusual for an ordinary labourer to spend half his salary on qat whilst his 
family went hungry. In 1957 a Bill bann ing qat from the Colony was passed 
unopposed by the Legislative Assembly. Within weeks the village of Dar 
Saad just across the border in Lahcj had been turned into one vast qal 
chewing den. Huge convoys of cars jammed the roads out of Aden as the 
people, eager for qat, made nonsense of the ban. 

The Aden Association now split. Bayumi, a great qat chewer himself, 
called for the lifting of the ban which upset Muhammad Ali Luqman who 
led the anti-qat chewing lobby. Bayumi won, as he was bound to, and 
Luqman went off in a huff and founded his own party, 'The People's 
Congress'. Although Luqman became the first Adeni to air his views 
before the United Nations Committee of 24 on Colonisation in New York, 
his party was not popular. The Adenis were already suspicious of the vast 
Luqmani clan, which numbered over 140 strong. Luqmani males held key 
positions throughout the length and breadth of the Colony's government 
and commercial life and his attempts to ban qat won him further 
unpopularity. This was a pity because Muhammad Ali was a wise old 

introduced into the Yemen from Ethiopia along with coffee in 1541). 


gentleman and his calm counsel would have benefited his fellow 
countrymen in the years ahead.* 

In time Bayumi founded the United National Party (UNF) which was to 
become the rallying point for those Adenis who believed in federation. 

The break up of the United National Front was a much more squalid 
affair and basically concerned money. The Trade Union movement in 
Aden had grown rapidly. The first unions had been registered in 1 953 and 
by 1956 the number had risen to 25, all of which were affiliated to a newly 
formed body called the Aden Trades Union Congress [ATUC). All 
members of the ATUC's executive council were office bearers of the UNF 
and through unions, funds collected from the workers financed the party. 
Some of the funds were emhezzled by members, union and non-union 
alike, and other sums were misused. Union members accused the rest of 
living it up at their expense and the whole party collapsed in mutual 
recriminations of treachery and bad faith. From there on until the founding 
of the People's Socialist Party (PSP) in 1962 it was the ATUC which 
provided the more vocal opposition to the British and their Federation. 
Their tactics in the main consisted of political strikes which in the end 
provoked the Aden government to retaliate by passing an Industrial 
Relations Ordinance making it illegal to strike unless the case was first 
brought to arbitration. 

After the break up of the UNF, the ATUC was comparatively quiescent. 
Much of their thunder was stolen by the South Arabian League (SAL) 
which was basically a Protectorate party and organised the first 
'nationalist' revolt in 1958. The party's objects were a united South Arabia 
but they attempted to bring it about through the then Ruler of Lahej who 
saw a chance of regaining the glories of Lahej and the prominence of her 
sultan in the affairs of South Arabia. The details of the revolt are 
discussed elsewhere but suffice it to say the object was not so much unity of 
South Arabia as unity of the rest with Lahej. The movement was strongly 
supported by Egypt and the Yemen and failed when the leaders took flight. 

By 1960 the parties were already beginning to polarise into those which 
supported the British, including the Federal government, 'the right', and 
those which supported the UAR and Arab nationalism, 'the left'. Once 
battle was joi ned in South Arabia there could never be any accommodation 
between the two, it was a case of all power for the winner and death or exile 
for the loser. The so-called 'moderates' consisted of those who had not 

- The Luqmans founded Hie most advanced newspapers at that time in the Arabian 1 enmsula. 
The Arabian Fniat til Jozirat competed with the equally influential Af Ayyom edited by 
Muhammad Ali Bashara Heel and a host of lesser titles. In the British tradition the press was 
free. I.uqman's English weekly. The Aden Chronicle, was widely read by the European 
community and the forces. , ... . ,„-. f u p 

Its earnest columns were occasionally the target of practical jokes. In May 1961 me 
archaeological review faithfully reprinted a letter from a correspondent who claimed to have 
discovered an interesting metal pot on a well-knowr iLahe; | dig and N ^ed the help of rcv.ders 
to interpret its inscription which read: TISA PI SSPO TA ND ATI NO NF. A I 1 HAT (Ceorge 

, in their minds which way to jump. The words -democracy the 
m3de I k", ons and 'the rights of man' were used by the left merely as 
Unl,0d n the ladder to power. Likewise 'elections' which nobody had any 
n '? S nl n on o holding were used by both parties. Individuals could 
r f tide but onlv one party could win. Everyone was an oppor 
Ch T.f " w- s onlv one object, the retention or assumption of power, it was 
aA ? V ■ t t"uo basic aid one disadvantage of the moderate Adems and 
p0 | ltl cs at its niosi ^ Hnt , sh mlcs 

th d S ^unahl i to X the Jokyll and Hyde tactics of .heir opponent. 
■r\ p St were well understood by the South Arabians. A comprehension 
F fJ vcr struggle goes a long way to explaining the apparent 

° f taSons of n ob^uctlveness of Mho left' and the stubbornness ot 
Z A which was to give the British so many headaches and cause 

^XXXX^TJZs was the unholy alliance 
. tt <!oc alisf ?TUC and the Imam Ahmad. On the face of it no 

as ^similar. - Ahmad the Victorious' as he was known 
o hfs s b ert inside the Yemen or 'Ahmad the Devil' as soon as they got 
Lot was a medieval despot who made the Protectorate rulers look 
nosit ve v progressive bv comparison. Ahmad ruled his country with an 
ire S d and his solution to most political problems was to lop o f a few 
e ds Not unnaturally for a man in his position he loathed soaa hsts and 
libera s and particularly disliked the Aden brand i whom he he Id 
Sensible foHhe assassination of his father In 1948. J"^^™ 
pleased to subscribe to ATUC funds and help them on the w der pol tical 
' front. For their par. the ATUC were only too wel aware of the Imam S 
limitations as a 'socialist hero', yet he was anh-Bntish, a respected member 
of the Arab community-the Yemen having been accepted as a J 
the United Arab Republic alongside Syria and hgypt, and much of he 
ATUC's support came from the Yemeni immigrant labour m Aden- And 
then of course there was always the money. Neither side had any illusmns 
about the other. The Imam brusquely turned down an offer from the A t UO 
to organise unions in the Yemen. For their part the ATUC were not above 
plotting behind the Imam's back in the hope that somebody more 
respectable would emerge. Indeed, for the last two years of the Imam s rule 
relations between him and the ATUC were decidedly cool. I his followed 
naturally from the Imam's discovery of an Egyptian sponsored plot to 
replace him with his son. , B ... , „. e : v iio« 

The second dilemma faced by the ATUC in the fil .es and early six es 
was the question of elections in Aden State. The franchise was particularly 
narrow, out of a population of around 200.000 only 20,000 or so possessed 
the right to vote. On the lace of it even when allowance is made tor he 
traditional custom followed bv most Arab countries of denying women the 
franchise it was very limited, it had been initially devised by the Adems m 
the Legislative Assemblv who were fearful of becoming a minority in their 
own land. The bulk of support for the ATUC came from 80,000 Yemeni 


workers who would stay 2 or 3 years in Aden to earn sufficient money to 
return to their villages and live in reasonable comfort. The ATUC therefore 
demanded that these workers be enfranchised knowing thai the British 
would never agree because it would mean giving the vote to a group who 
had virtually no stake in the country and owed their primary allegiance to 
another government. Il was also next to impossible to keep stock of the 
number of Yemenis in Aden at any one lime. Both the ATUC and the 
conservative Adcnis turned down an alternative suggestion that the 60,000 
or so Protectorate workers in Aden should have the vote, fearing perhaps 
that the representatives of the traditional rulers would end up as the 
Legislative Assembly. The Nationalists were by this time being ably led by 
Abdullah al Asnag whose cherubic appearance gave little hint of his 
capacity for rabble rousing or the brilliant political ability which enabled 
him to remain at the head of the many diverse and quarrelsome elements 
that made up the ATUC. Asnag put it abroad that the reason for his 
opposition was that votes were being given to Indians, Somalis and the like 
but denied to Arabs. He therefore called for a boycott of all the elections so 
that in 1955 and 1959 only around 50% of the electorate voted and not until 
Aden's last elections in 1964 was there a reasonable lurnoul with 76% of 
the electorate going to the polls. The real reason for the boycotts was that 
Asnag appreciated that his party could not take the risk of either failure or 
more important, success; had he been elected there was chance of his being 
dubbed pro-British and he would have been forced to try to keep his 
promises to his supporters. This he knew was impossible. Almost certainly 
the leadership of the ATUC could have passed into other hands. 

The other question on which the ATUC displayed considerable 
ambivalence was the political issue that dominated Aden politics from 
1960 onwards: whether or not the Colony should accede to the new 

The nationalists dreaming of Arab unity, advocated unity with the 
Yemen, yet flung up their hands in horror at the suggestion that Aden 
should merge with the Protectorates. Many claimed that the rulers were a 
band of semi-literate pirates, feudal throwbacks from the Middle Ages and 
British stooges to boot. The doubts of the ATUC were also shared by many 
of the Adeni old guard and merchant community. They had learnt from 
childhood of the tribal bogeyman who lived in anarchy in the not too 
distant mountains. Very few even dared to venture into the Protectorates to 
find out the truth for themselves and those who did were rarely reassured. 
In short, all Adenis of all shades of political opinion were terrified lest 
closer contact with their brothers in the Protectorate meant the loss not 
only of their freedom but their household goods as well. 

The ATUC] emerged from comparative shadow in 1961 to conduct a well 
organised campaign against the merger. Following the example of other 
colonial liberation movements elsewhere they sought sympathy in the 
House of Commons and those sections of the British press where it was 
most likely to be found. They cultivated lobbies of supporters in those 


, e who could be relied upon to harass the British government and 
P fl^nrp British public opinion. To the Labour Party in particular they 
tlrl themselves as honest trades unionists, fellow socialists who 
P1 ' eS ,l,l onlv he too happv to talk reason if only those stubborn officials in 
" uid condescend to get down to their level. They were quick to take 
a Tntaoe of the fact that manv people whose geography was none too hot 

I r«tnrid ' '\deiv to be svnonvmous with the rest of South Arabia. Asnag 

M H-iim with justification that he had support in Aden even if it was 
°h in v based on immigrant labour and was careful to spread the illusion 
Hial his oartv onjoved equal support everywhere else. In fact he was almost 
... iJnorant as his audience of the true stale of affairs in the Protectorate 
haviri" not at this time journeved more than an hour's drive from the border 
nf the' Colony Not a few were convinced. Critics of the proposed merger 
were legion/but none ever produced a sensible alternative. The absurdity 
of an independent Aden State within the Commonwealth had died with he 
Aden Association, and a sight of the map was enough to persuade most that 
Aden and the Federation could not be separated. In 1962 two Labour 
Members of Parliament. George Thomson (later Minister of State at the 
Foreign Office) and Robert Edwards, visited Aden as guests oi the ATUC. 
Thev made no secret of their sympathies and obviously regarded Asnag as 
a future Prime Minister. They attended a mass meeting of 6.000 workers. 
Most of the proceedings were in Arabic and Edwards was seen to 
enthusiastically applaud the speakers all of whom were anti-British. The 
visit of the two MPs had a powerful effect on Aden public opinion. The 
illusion qui cklv grew up that the Labour Party thoroughly disapproved of 
the Federal government, and once it obtained power would hand over 
unilaterally to Asnag and his colleagues. 

Shortly "after the MP's visit the People's Socialist Party (PSP) was 
formed, most of its 'Supremo Council' were members of the ATUC. In Aden 
they were seen as the same but abroad the PSP enabled Asnag lo ventilate 
his views without upsetting genuine socialists who disapproved ol union 
participation in politics. 

On the home front the ATUC/PSP were equally active and their 
campaign consisted mostly of intimidation of Legislative Council 
members. The British were having difficulty enough in getting the Adcnis 
into agreement with the Federal government that it is a wonder that these 
tactics were not successful. 

Hasan Bayumi had emerged as the leader of the pro-Federal party. He 
was one of the few Adonis who knew the Protectorates and understood the 
rivalries and jealousies which separated the various states. He realised that 
the Protectorate opposition could be divided although he had difficulty in 
persuading his colleagues of the fact. After nearly a year of talks Aden State 
eventually came to an agreement with the Federation on the terms of its 
entry. A conference in London in July 1962 straightened out the details, the 
most important of which was that Aden State would have four ministers on 
the Supreme Council to everybody else's one and 24 members to the 


Federal Council instead of the usual six. On the 24 September tU 

Suf /PSP TJ ™' a ^ ratincd ' he a « reement w h««t suppo "rs of t 
ArUC/PSP waited Asnag was alreadv in jail havino hi 
sentenced to a month's imprisonment two days before fo avino tak en Z 
•n illegal processions. Even as they voted events were taking 
Yemen which changed forever the face of politics in the area ^« 

Chapter III 

The Revolutionaries 

29 September 1962-31 September 1964 

Some may ask, why fight for independence when the British will 
grant it freely in 1068? Comrades, true independence is not given 
but taken. For th is reason, my brothers in the South, there is noway 
out of war and armed struggle. For this reason the people must 
wage armed revolution against the enemy, in which they must pay 
the highest price in life and blood. 

Cairo Radio, 18 January 2965 

'War, violence and sudden death are no strangers to South Arabia. The 
diversities of the tribes, a thousand years of isolation from the main streams 
of cmhsaUon together with the all embracing poverty in a land rich in rock 
and sand but little else have ensured that chaos and anarchy have been the 
order rather than the exception. It is the all too brief periods of peace that 
Have been remarkable, momentarily rising above the tangle of bloodshed 
and treachery before falling back to be swallowed bv the sands. From the 
beginning of time rebellion and civil strife have been a normally accepted 
eature ol South Arabian life. In such a society continually at war within 
itselt it is natural for the disaffected to seek and receive refuge with the 
enemies of their opponents. 

tr,^ USCS i° f '', eVOlt and foud have alwa - vs been basically the same: 
act t tonal rivalries between the main tribal groups sometimes encouraged 

exislnr . e ' t f° metim , eS " 0t - ,hc P aucit y of lund and thB hand-to-mouth 
su S 1 ] T P c l °' S ° that the Potion a vvell often meant 
toTm^L f W }° f ° Ught ° Ver Lack 0f land and ™^P)ovment also led 
spears .mrf?? trad ! tion -* V oun 8 men with nothing else to do hiring their 
vShint 1 th n rg, , mS '° thft highest bidder - Squabbles over leadership 

brououY J tak '. n 8 * ,des ' Tf| o 20th century and the coming of the British 
on a ° trihll st, . muIants for dissension. The impact of modern civilisation 
experte \ r S ° C | 10,y 1 s ? n,e,lmes caus «d resentment where it was least 
son's k n n f C0U mcan thR ' OSS ofcus,oms dues: a S!:,, ool the loss of a 
■ labour when the rest of the family were working to gather in thc 

^^■n^^'tX* Ul * qi a " d t,1<! 1 ' adrami and Mau *>"* ^ Upper Vara" .re particularly 


harvest. The rise of Arab nationalism and the invention of the transistor 
radio reinforced the natural xenophobia of the people. Further, in fighting 
the British and building a new society they could be sure of applause from a 
watching world. 

On 19 September 1962 the Imam Ahmad confounded his enemies by 
dyiri" in bed. He was succeeded by his amiable son Muhammad al Badr* 
A week later, on the night of 26 September, in Yemen north and south the 
mould of traditional politics was smashed when Lt. Ali Abdul al Moghoy 
used the few armoured cars and tanks in the Yemeni army to bombard the 
Bashour Palace in Sana. The attack was not pressed home and al Badr 
slipped through the rebel cordon and escaped to the northern tribes. At the 
critical moment al Moghov was supported by the newly promoted Chief of 
Staff, Brigadier Abdullah Sallal.t The Yemen Arab Republic (YAR) was 
born and Sallal became its first President. 

The conspiracies against the Imam had been orchestrated by the 
Egyptian Charge d'Affaircs Abdul Wahad. In the first week of October the 
troopship Star of Sudan docked at Hodeidah bringing the first Egyptian 
forces to defend the Republic. 

In Aden the nationalists were jubilant. Flags of the new Republic were to 
be seen everywhere in the streets and on the highly decorated lorries, the 
main mode of transport to the north, countless pictures of Sallal alongside 
that of President Nasser were displayed. The bazaars buzzed with talk of 
Arab unitv and revolution. There can be little doubt that if the coup had 
taken place two days earlier the passage of Aden's merger bill with the 
Federation would have been impossible. 

The ATUC/PSP were ecstatic, local issues were forgotten as they 
organised truck loads of volunteers to go north and fight for the Republic. 
Manv soon returned disillusioned. Victory for the revolution had not been 
as complete as was first reported. The Imam, many times reported dead, 
was alive and fighting back. 

There can be no doubt that from the first the Egyptians intended to 
exploit their position in the Yemen to drive the British from South Arabia. 
Over the course of the struggle the political positions of Egypt in North 
Yemen and Britain in the south ran curiously parallel. Both were trying to 
set up administrations in a country which knew nothing of them. Both 
aroused the xenophobia of the people. Both had the same political problem 
of trvin" to unite the urban intellectual, who spoke a language that was 

• According to Yemeni custom, imams named _ Muhammad arc sumamed 'al_ BauY ™™' d n .f 
■nZ 1 1,,™,,.' a<s those named Ahmad arc <:a Wed 'al Shams meaning the sun . In Munamnw 
the name ,.„ck^.?S.fof his lather it was only used by .he must sycophant,,. 

tTwciUvfivp years old. t.t Ali Ahdul al Moghov was the instigator of the coup. He had been 
r nod in a mlmarv college in Kgvp. and on his return 

armoured corps. Sallal whose own conspiracy was not reader ee l to p the rc he s « n 
were shelling the palace on condition he he made president Oye „ \ u '"^^Valist 
al-Moshnv agreed. A lew weeks later Sallal sent him with ...adequate forces against ku. 
tribes in Khawlan and he was killed. 

real po" 
Aden to 
series of 
marry in 
tough tn 
mirage o 
large pat 
the Brit 
years bo 
leave th 
midst ot 
All th 
in Sana 
they w 
fan out 
chief r 
the Brit' 
Dr Abdi 
for a 
their ' 
to the 
the de 


tpri hv the outside world, with the tribal leader who represented the 
accepted m ^ ^ r(}flectBd in the pro blom of getting 

rea l P° wer ; f „ t in tha Federation. For the Egyptians, a frustrating 
Ad ? n "fYP neni oovernments, and as far as South Arabia was concerned 
Sene vil al -Ksnag and his Adonis with their international reputation to the 
ma 'Tt tribal rebels who provided the South Arabian revolt with most of its 
tough tnb i nenc ^ h E tians had ideology in winch the 

A^bSity and the magneUcappeal of President Nasser played a 

I .rthJr" in the political double standards of the times the Egyptians were 
Sd of vocal international support. They could do no wrong whereas 
Kr ish could do no right. Against this ideology the Bn.ish had the 
lue ce nd rus, built on 125 years of occupation. Over the next four 
" ars 1 oth the British and the Kgyptians were to betray then es and 
W the Yemen, north and south, within a day of each other and ,n the 
midst of humiliating defeat. • 
All this was hidden in the future when the firs. Egyptian troops arrived 
in S n o make the Yemen safe for revolution. Everywhere in the towns 
Lv X e weloimed and could have been forgiven for presuming then 
nreLnce was no more than a victory parade. They were very quickly 
5 sEnad. The Imam al Badr had escaped and within a few weeks us 
nb sinen e e inflicting bloody defeats on Egyptian troops as they tried to 
fen out into the countryside. There was considerable pressure on the 
British government to recognise the new Republican regime Many 
influential people in and out of Whitehall considered that because of he 
historical position Britain was always compelled to back . the ha h t o al 
regimes in the Middle East against the new order of revolution. Here in the 
Yemen was a chance to switch over. But it was not to be. Britain had two 
chief reasons for declining to recognise the Republicans. The British 
criterion for recognition is not whether the regime has the approval ot 
London but whether, with appearance of permanency, H contro s tne 
allegiance of the majority of the inhabitants and the greater part ot national 
territory. In this case neither condition appeared to be met. Furthermore 
the British were reinforced in their belief when they were approached by 
Dr Abdul Rahman al Baidani the deputy President who asked lor support 
for a breakaway Shafai state in the southern part of the Yemen, tree ot 
Egyptians and dissidents.' The United States on the other hand tends to 
recognise regimes of which it approves and considers will undertake 
their international obligations. President Kennedy extended recognition 
to the Republicans in December 1962 on the understanding that the 
Egyptians would withdraw. Recognition alone had been the object ot 
Egyptian diplomacy and they quite blatantly went back on their part ot 
the deal and reinforced their forces instead. To cover up their error 
American diplomats tended to exaggerate Republican power whilst the 
British became partisans of the Rovalists. It was not the first time that the 
interests of the Western allies in the Middle East had clashed. In the event 


8 Qahtan al Shaahi, leader of the NLF. 


YAR expelled the US consul in Taiz in June 19B7. 
The Federal government were bitterly opposed to recognition. Fleet 
> >i and many British diplomats thought that they sided with the Imam 
V-ause like themselves, he was a traditional ruler. They cared not a jot 
ho ruled from Sana so long as it was a regime well disposed to the 
Federation. They argued that by extending recognition to the Republic 
Brit-un would be helping Egypt, the Federation's most malevolent enemy, 
nd'destroying those who for reasons of their own were fighting I hem. It 
has been said that if Britain had recognised the Republic early on then Egypt 
would not have mounted her campaign of terror and subversion against 
South Arabia. There is no evidence to support this contention. It was a 
carrol hung out hopefully by the Egyptians. From as early as November 
1962, six weeks after the revolution they were announcing the formation of 
a -National Liberation Army.' They had been nibbling at British power 
since 1954 and their treatment of the Americans suggests that they 
regarded negotiation and agreements as stages in the struggle which can 
only end when final victory is achieved. 

Amongst the very first to declare himself for the revolution was Qahtan 
al Shaabi who, at the time, was eking out a meagre existence in Taiz. as a 
pensioner of the Imam. As a reward for his zeal the Egyptians made him 
head of the 'National Liberation Army' formed out of South Arabians who 
had flocked north to join the Republican army. Most of these were 
disillusioned soon after arrival and the Egyptians wasted little time in 
trying to form them into regular units. 'They were quarrelsome and lazy 
people given over much to fighting amongst themselves.'* 

Cadres of the 'National Liberation Army' were sent to Cairo for military 
training. A special camp was set up in the old Imam's palace at Salah near 
Taiz as a headquarters and training depot for the force. The initial 
object was to set up an army on the lines of the Algerian FLN, an aim 
which was never to be achieved. 

In the meantime the Egyptians looked around for areas to cause trouble 
in the Protectorates and their eyes soon lit on the Radfan. The Radfan is an 
extensive and savage tribal region some 50 miles north of Aden straddling 
the road to Dhala. The country is mountainous with no roads penetrating 
the narrow valley although some, notably the Wadi Taym, has fertile land 
capable of exploitation if the factious character of the people would permit 
it- It is amongst the roughest country in the world to light over and the 
People had a tradition of raiding the Dhala road or their neighbours and 
then returning to their mountain strongholds, which lor centuries no 
enemy had been able to penetrate. Technically the tribes of Radian owed 
allegiance to the Amir of Dhala to whom they had all sworn oaths of 
allegiance. The ruler maintained a naib at Thumair on the Dhala road but 
th e links wore thin and the Radfanis would not infrequently try and assert 

Maior (later l.t Culrmell Hanuida of the Egyptian Army. (Utlar Dec. I9H:1) 


• , B n,.ndenrc In general there was a mutual understanding that so 
th6ir m fhSe "were left alone they would cause no trouble, and although 
10118 8 * mitie for tribal blackmail on the road occasionally proved 
the oppo tu m ties u short .| ived . 

irresistible the ca i re temp difference to their agreeable status 

^Z^f^™*™*™* shaikh of the Qutaibis °St 

qU0 '' H -ivv n to Aden and complained that he had been 'oppressed by the 
C8me HI \ a bv his inclusion in the Federation. This was an unusual and 
Am ,r ot Dl laid b. t is in c hief and to the surprise and 

S ,° pbi v ffi ^ Son°other lesser Radfan shaikhs followed sint 
dismay ot s p e0 ple's Socialist Party began to publicise their 

Significantly a A na s Peop Commission knew what was 

f e ' V ZZ t t h d risi on their ha^ds. The real cause of trouble was 
oKTl g s£lab! sitting in the border town of Qataba handing out money 

i r ;fl ot tn all witli promises of more to come, 
""on 4 Ortobe 1963 the Amir of Dhala's naib in Radfan on a rou me tour 
tnVl ed in the Wadi Tavm. The Radfan Revolt had begun. A rash of 

SSltn h d encountered since the Ahl Bubakhr bin Fand had boe„ 
f a nt» thn Yemen in 1960. And so in November the Federal torces 
£w - Nulcracker- with the limited military aim of clearing 
h road. The military objectives were quickly and easily 
there was no political success to back them up 1 he muddle started m he 
Fe<leral government itself. It could not decide whether to release the 
Radian is in the Federal forces on leave for the duration of the operations as 
manv of the ministers wished or to keep them on. The 1- ederal Armv _ argued 
that some were in key posts and were necessary lor the success o the p am 
in the end a bad compromise was reached whereby the rank and file wore 
allowed to depart and the senior officers con tinned with their duties, jo he 
deepl v suspicious Radfanis it seemed that the latter were traitors whi st the 
rest received due praise for having refused to fight against heir fell™ 
tribesmen. Right from the start the Federal government allowed dissension 
and lack of confidence to creep into the ranks of (he armed forces upon 
which thev relied. Further, the danger in Radfan was not appreciated and 
no real political effort was made to follow up the military success. It was 
assumed that having been taught a lesson the tribes would come down to 
Aden and make their submission as they had under similar circumstances 
in the past. The effect of the massive distribution of arms and the presence 
for the first time of agitators from other parts of South Arab.a combined 
with the publicity given to the affair bv Radios Cairo and Sana was under- 
estimated in Aden. When the Federal forces withdrew from their positions 
the Radfanis saw it as a great victory and for the first time all the tribes 
co-operated in the revolt. By the New Year the situation on the road was 
worse than before. 


There were two schools of thought as to how to deal with the problem 
The Federal government and most of their British advisers came down on 
the side of air action with limited ground support, which had proved so 
successful in the past. Air action they argued was cheap, effective and 
humane. Planes always overflew target villages an hour before the raid was 
duo to take place, dropping warning leaflets to avoid loss of life 
Nevertheless there was considerable international pressure against this 
sort of action; and the 'hawks' of Middle East Command supported an 
alternative solution; massive ground action which would crush the 
rebellion and bring the Rudfan to order for once and for all. Air action alone 
could at best be a temporary solution. The latter view won the day. British 
troops were sent to support Federal troops in the Kadfan and eventually 
rose to brigade strength. 

The Radfan operation lasted from the January of 1964 until May, and 
from the military angle it was a model of success. The whole area was 
occupied with the minimum casualties but from every other aspect it was a 
disaster. The presence of British troops had excited a far greater opposition 
than would otherwise have been the case. In the event air action had to be 
used. The population as a whole fled into the Yemen and it was months 
before they could be induced to return, but the greatest damage of all was 
clone by the publicity. 

From the military point of view the prime object of publicity was to 
increase recruiting. Radfan was a showpiece and so every facility was 
granted to journalists to go and see things for themselves. Accordingly 
enormous coverage in the British press was assured and an outbreak which 
was minimal when compared to the rebellions of 1 954 and 1958 was blown 
up in precisely the way that the propagandists of Cairo wanted; a 
nationalist rebellion being crushed by British troops in support of their 
Federal puppets. The publicity reached its height over the so-called 'heads' 
incident. In April 19(54 a patrol of the SAS operating deep in Radfan 
territory was surrounded and forced to fight its way out, two of the soldiers 
being killed and their bodies abandoned. 

General Cubbon, the British Army Commander, gave a press conference 
in which he claimed that the heads of the two dead men had been exhibited 
over the gates of Taiz. the Yemen's second capital — he meant lo say Qataba, 
the border rebel base. Not unsurprisingly the General's statement caused a 
considerable furore in the United Kingdom and he was asked to provide 
proof, which he was unable to do. especially as the US consul in Taiz 
denied the reports. The removal of heads was traditional in Radfan and the 
headless bodies were later recovered. 

Whi 1st the Radfan venture was a setback to the British and Federal cause 
as a whole, in the area itself the benefits soon became apparent. Eventually 
all the tribes except two very minor ones returned and were given 
considerable development aid with which they soon recouped their losses. 
Generally for the rest of the emergency the area was quiescent and became a 


Federal showpiece of what could he done if they wore given the chance. * 

In the spring of 1963 the Federal government had its first taste of the 
United Nations. For some time the PSP, SAL and others had heen 
nearing before the Committee of 24 on Colonisation to complain about 
•British injustice in South Arabia'. They had been carefully shepherded 
a j on g the spacious corridors and into the lobbies by the delegates of Iraq 
•tnd Egypt, and reports of their allegations and activities were beginning lo 
attract international attention. The Committee on Colonisation was already 
oaining a well-deserved reputation for rant, prejudice and racialism. As 
the Federal government were lo discover, the only standard to be observed 
was that proteges and supporters of the British were automatically 
condemned whilst their enemies and opponents were given an 
enthusiastic welcome. The Federal government were worried by the 
reports coming in and believed that they had only lo appear before the 
Committee to put the matter right so they despatched Muhammad Karid, 
the Oxford educated Minister of Finance, to present the Federal case. When 
he arrived in New York he found that two other petitioners from South 
Arabia had already preceded him. Sayid Hasan Sohbi. an articulate Aden 
lawyer, spoke on the behalf of I he PSP. condemned the Federal 
government, condemned British colonialism and demanded union with 
Yemen. He was followed by the rhetorical Shaikhan al Habsh i l or the South 
Arabian League who agreed with everything that Sohbi had said except he 
rejected union with the Yemen and sought the unity of the whole of British 
South Arabia into one state, the process being carried out under the 
guidance of SAL. Although the policies of the two speakers were 
contradictory, the Committee felt they were on the right lines and both 
received a sympathetic hearing. Muhammad Farid, on the other hand, had 
a cool reception. He gave a concise resume of the Federal case but his words 
tell on deaf ears. The Committee appeared lo be more interested in kicking 
the British than listening to facts. As soon as he bad finished the 
Cambodian delegate read a long denunciation of the British and their 
presence in South Arabia. True to form the Committee later passed 
resolutions both anti-British and anti-Federal in content. These were due to 
oe placed before the General Assembly in December. 

December was also the month earmarked for the next South Arabian 
Constitutional conference in London with the object of setting a date for 
independence and bringing Aden, whose status was still that of a colony, 
m to line with the other members of the Federation. In London and New 

ork. South Arabia would be in the news, a fact which did not go unnoticed 
'r\ ', ? E8y l 1tii,ns - tnR p SP and other opponents of the British Federation. 

'erndy sorneth ing dramatic should happen in South Arabia to prove to the 

SW>"ian! ti u W '>'">' given by British newspapers to tin; Radian did not always improve the 
limp i- ' . ! V i u ' 1 i ' 1!i "-" !rs - secretary working for the Hi^li Commission in Aden Colony at this 
"upuvof't • ' tullfm 'i»S '(-'tier from her aunt: 'Dear R. What terrihle news from Aden. I do 
. ™ Hon t nave lo drive through Radian on \ uu r wav to work.' 


i i ,u„ nnnnl,-'s reiortion of British colonialism. The Egyptian forces 
H i 2 the £meni borders were alreadv plaving the Imam's old 
an e o stirring up the tribes, but something more spectacular was needed. 
The r'fo e the Aden High Commission were not surprised when a few days 
SoreUedelegaUonsvveredue.oleaveforLondontheForce Umoncame 
out on s^ike over some minor matter. This was of course ,n defiance of the 
inc u rial ordinance and the ATUC expected the leaders to be arrested, 
L in' them the excuse to call a general strike and an opportunity 
for ample regarding British oppression ol honest trades umons. 
For once thfi authorities took firm act ion. Most of the strikers were Yemenis 
and as such illegal immigrants. A batch was promptly rounded up and 
deported The strike broke down and Asnag found hnnself surrounded by 
Yemeni complaining about the deportations lor they held him 
re^on^. There were to be no dramatic trials but the trades un.omsl had 

^"A^h^rdorktnfho evening of 9 December 1963 a group of men 
o*he£ f on thV£ a - beach just to the east of the Queen Elizabeth 
Ho Si was lo be a fateful meeting. Amongst those present were 
Abdullah al Asnag, two of Ms closest henclmiem Muhamtnad Sjkj 
Bislndwah and Mahmud Saddiq, Muhammad Ah Abdu a leaning 
me, beT of the PSP who had once coined the phrase TB germs to 
StetheVederal ministers. Muhammad Mi-.aclerk^ AjW 

he should use a machine gun As an officia of Ac on J lrv ^ 
presence on the tarmac would be unremarked. He sugg .* *ec tha 
should hide the gun in his trouser leg and approach theparj « ^ 
were about to board the London bound plane. He would hen pull o 
gun and empty the magazine into the closely packed 9^^^ 
killing as many as possible Asnag vetoed the ^"^^ would 
Khalifa would be caught red-handed and PSP/ ATUC, mvolvemcn 
be impossible to deny. nnrsuaded that a 

He wanted to call the whole thing oH but wa a. last per ade 
arenade would fulfil his conditions for anonymity. The ,„ 
with Khalifa going off with Basindwah to collect a gren ad e. ]a 
For some time the High Commissioner had been cn K ^ 
conversation with Asnag in the ^f^^^^te*** 
apparent policy of destruction. Most of these ^' cr f ° r ^2 s u „ion 
the telephone. According to Sir Kennedy he would n g , f *e t«d be 
leader at around eight in the Invariably the depho u ^ 
answered hv Asnags mother, her son still lying abed. Consequent 
Sir Kennedv rang at seven before departure to the airport and the 


orw i hp was surprised to hear that he was not only up but had already 
anS 7o, business and indeed had only just returned to the house. When 
bRCn ° ooke sTr Kcnnedv though, he sounded a little flustered and 
A,na Ld that a demonstration condemning the conference had been 
expected " ,a . , , , h ai ort he was rcasS ured; there was 

a,T f 86 LVe v hu looked peaceful and normal. Most of the delegates 
n0,h, ;Lc v S 0" ^« tannac together with a host of well wishers and 
"' e '"al ts fathered to see then, off. The spectators' gallery which 
,0U , Xok the tarmac had its usual collection of onlookers; a couple ol 
T d officials shepherded passengers out to the plane for Dj.bouli. a 
tilin ■ Sonudis and Indians briefly mixing with the Arab ministers 
Za Br Sh officials awaiting their barn. It was a colourful scene and one 
which Khalifa, looking down on it from the flight observation room was 
•p use to He had already been in position for five minutes and sine .led 
\ M h from the onlv other occupant of the room, a man called Qashbar. 
J d m le h vav to the window hiding the grenade under his hat which 
1 ^ heed on 'the ledge. Moments later something was seen to fall from 
P ' 1£ 5 immed iate.y by a deafening explosion as the grena e 
van off For some minutes all was pandemonium. The splinter, had cut a 
Wide swathe through the crowd on the terrace. Some not realising that the 
a been hit themselves turned to help others who had fallen on the 
gmuncUn the middle of it all stood the Sharif of Baihan blood ncklrng 
down his face brandishing an enormous revolver and looking tor 
somebody to shoot. Yet despite the apparent carnage the grenade had 
missed its main target. Sir Kennedy had been |erked out of the way by his 
deputv George Henderson and escaped with scratches. Henderson was 
unluckv and received a splinter in the liver. He died a fortmgh later in the 
Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The only other fatality was an hid .an woman 
transiting through Aden en route for Addis Ababa with her husband and 
three children. She had never been to Aden before and was the lirst of man, 
innocent people to be killed in the Strife which followed over the next four 
vears. . , 

" The grenade injured over fifty others, none seriously but the 
psychological scar remained. The conference was postponed, rtie t-edera 
government proclaimed a state of emergency and Sir Kennedy followed 
suit in Aden. Under its terms a man could be detained without trial it the 
authorities had reason to suspect his implication in terrorism. Ihe 
authorities immediately took the opportunity to round up known 
troublemakers including Asnag and all the principal participants in the 
airport bomb plot and ship them off to prison in the Protectorates. There 
was to be no more serious terrorism in the Colony for nearly two years. 

Khalifa and Mia were arrested on the afternoon following the explosion. 
Nobody had told Asnag about the grenade lever which springs oft as the 
h onib is detonated. In this case the lever was found on the airport root and 
by the simple expediency of throwing a dummy grenade and watching 
w bere the lever landed the authorities concluded the only place from 


which the bomh could have been thrown was the flight observation room. 
The rest was easy. It was soon found that Khalifa who had no business in 
the office had been there when the bomb was thrown. Qashbari's evidence 
clinched it and Khalifa was charged with murder. Everything seemed set 
for a trial but it never took place. Incredibly Qashbari was allowed to go 
home. He was got at and fled to Cairo. The only people who seemed 
surprised were the Aden Police. The trial proceed ings wore suspended and 
Khalifa was immediately rearrested and detained under the State of 
Emergency . 

If the Aden and Federal authorities were satisfied with their actions 
others were not. From Damascus to Moscow. Cairo to the United Nations, a 
chorus of protests arose condemning the State of Emergency, and 
demanding the release of Asnag and his colleagues. 

More important, a posse of Labour Members of Parliament descended on 
South Arabia. They made it quite clear that they had not come to 
sympathise with those injured by the bomb but to bring succour to those 
detained after it. The confidence of the Federal government was badly 
shaken bv the actions of the MPs which gave added credence to the belief 
that the Labour government would sell them out to Asnag and President 
Nasser. From this date began a macabre interest in British bye-election 
results which would continue almost until independence. That the MPs 
were sincere and that thev thought they were putting wrongs to right there 
can be no doubt, but it is also undeniable that their actions constituted a 
grave disservice to Britain and to South Arabia as well as those democratic 
principles which thev claimed to care so much about. 

The protests were successful. All those detained were released in the 
next months. Nearly everyone subsequently took an active part in the 

terrorism. . 

Events in Radian reinforced by the Aden airport bomb and tie 
subsequent declaration of the State of Emergency encouraged the 
Egvptians to continue with their plans to start trouble elsewhere. 
Sometime in the spring of 1963 they had finally decided on an all-out 
offensive on the British in South Arabia. In November a parly ol Egyptian 
Intel ligence officers had arrived in Taiz to set up rebel bases on the frontiers 
and enlarge the National Liberation Army. With Radian going well tnej 
decided to reactivate the Imam's old base at Baidha which, with its sultan 
released from prison by the revolution, was not unnaturally staunchly 
pro-Republican. . . 

On 1 December 1963 eleven Egyptian officers boarded an »'y u& "'" 
transport plane at Taiz and headed for the town ninety miles away to tn 
east. Unfortunately the pilot had never flown the route before on 
navigation was not his strong point. Seeing an airfield through a gap m 
clouds he brought the plane down into a perfect three-point ^dmg rig 
beside the Federal Army camp in I.odar, thirty miles due south and 
feet lower than his destination. Immediately realising his mistake the pi 
re-revved his engines but it was too late. A British Army captain raced 


i r0 \ er onto the strip and blocked the take-off. The Egyptians came out 
/The aircraft in some embarrassment, the pilot pausing only to smash the 
Vols They staved in Lodar for three days making conversation with the 
£aib and politely side-stepping gentle questioning by the astounded 

Br AftSr some courtesies on each side, the Egyptians led by a suave and 
h-rmina major called Hamuda were repatriated. The aircraft, however 
c 'wed It was repaired bv the RAF and parked on Khormaksar airfield 
whore "in the spring of 1967 it was still causing the Egyptian government 
unou"h embarrassment for plans to be hatched to blow it up. * 

Down in the steamy nationalist circles of Aden the People's Socialist 
P'irtv had not beer, able to make all the capital it wished out of the Radfan. 
This was presumably because most of the leaders, including al Asnag, were 
in detention following the airport bomb when the operation was at its 
height. A campaign to raise money for the 'Radfan Martyrs' gained little 
support as the Adenis were becoming chary of contributing to the PSP's 
frequent appeals. Rumours of embezzlement seemed to be supported by 
the apparent affluence of many union leaders. Asnag was finding it 
increasingly difficult to remain at the head of the trades union movement. 
The man who preached democracy in I -ondon was reluctant to pract ise it in 
Aden. Elections within the unions and the Trades Union Congress were 
overdue and there was every indication that were they to be held Asnag and 
his supporters would have been thrown out. A second generation of 
unionists eager for the known prestige and money which office would give 
them were on their vvav up. For the next year Asnag. increasingly 
concerned with maintaining his position, found little time to provide 
co-ordinated opposition to the British and the Federation. The PSP 
collapsed soon after Asnag's release from detention, like its predecessor 
the United National Front the main cause of dissension amongst its 
members seemed to be money. 

The discontented unionists began to find political expression in another 
organisation. The Free Officers of the South' occupied a wooden shack in 
the depths of Crater; it was a qat chewing club whose founder members 
were an uninspiring bunch drawn mainly from the criminal fringe. 
Sometime in early 1963 the club underwent a dramatic change. The drunks 
and addicts moved out and a dozen or so earnest young men, some of 
whom were minor union leaders, others officials struggling for a place in 
. the sun on the Asnag dominated ATIX. Under the leadership of Abdul 
Malik Ismail of the Petroleum Workers' Union they affiliated themselves to 
the Arab Nationalist Movement and the party of George Habbash in Beirut. 


! 3 

rhe aircraft was held bv the British in exchange lor some British army vehicles lost some two 
months before. A iiartv of service men irnrl women mainlv clerks from Middle Hast Command 
ni ,7 ,"!,'., un » weekends adventure training, inadvertently straying across the Yemeni border at 
Srm h , e Yemenis believing that thev were being invaded shot up the convoy, killing two. 

0,110 1)1 'lie servicemen were taken to Taizand eveoUiallv repatriated hut the vehicles were held. 


This group soon joined a Nasserist cell made up of ex-Aden Coll 
students led by a schoolteacher Muhammad Ali Haithem and with ot^ 
support from the Badhib brothers who were well known as Aden's n i 
avowed Marxists. m V 
In the autumn of 1963 Zaki Fraij, a young Jordanian insurance salesman 
arrived m Aden with the purpose of indoctrinating the Aden branch in th 
principles of Arab nationalism. In the meantime the group had been in 
touch with Qahtan al Shaabi in the Yemen, probably through his nephev 
Faisal who was employed in the Aden Co-operative market. Al Shaabi had 
been under pressure from the Egyptians to start terrorism in Aden Colonv 
He was hampered by a personal dislike of al Asnag which may have none 
back to his South Arabian League days, in any case al Asnag was still 
recovering from his detention, grappling with his own political problems 
and in no position to organise a terror campaign. Al Shaabi first relied on 
the odd tribesmen to come down to Aden, throw a bomb and disappear 
This was hardly satisfactory and the emergence of a fully formed cell with 
strong union connections must have been a godsend. Messages passed to 
and fro between his cell and Yemen. The Arab Nationalist Partv 
disappeared, went underground and began to call itself the 'National 
Liberation Front'. Arrangements were made for the passage of arms* when 
suddenly the whole group was betrayed and arrested. 

Somehow the Aden Special Branch had got onto Zaki Fraij and as a result 
of papers found in his possession most of his colleagues, including Abdul 
Malik Ismail, found themselves in prison. From the authority's point of 
view it is perhaps unfortunate that they pounced a little too early. As there 
was nothing concrete to connect their prisoners with terrorist activity they 
were released, Abdul Malik Ismail promptly leaving for Cairo," Fraij 
repatriated to Jordan but murdered a year later. According to the Aden NLF 
this was because they believed that he had betraved them to the British. 
The arrest and subsequent release of the NLF leaders gave them increased 
prestige which enabled the movement to penetrate many of the sports 
clubs as well as the unions. These sports clubs were especially useful in 
recruiting terrorists as they provided a pool of the young and idealistic- 
more easily persuaded to risk their lives than their elders. In the final weeks 
of 1964 they were ready once more to mount an offensive against the 
British and their allies in Aden Colony. 

In the meantime the Federal government had been grappling with the 
problem of its constitutional evolvement, particularly its relationship with 
Aden Colony. The conference due to take place in December 1 963 had been 
postponed because of the airport bomb and it was not until the following 
June that the delegates gathered in London. The purpose of the conference 
was to agree on a date for independence which brought into focus the 

* It may he that some of these arrived and the Aden branch of the KLF were responsible for a 
number of "renarie incidents which occurred in Little Aden during the summer and autumn of 



whole, question of British sovereignty in Aden and the Colony's 
relationship with the rest of the Federation. Circumstances had changed 
since the conference had been planned eighteen months before. Following 
the airport bomb the British were no longer agreeable to handing over the 
internal security of the Colony, so putting il on a par with the other states. 
The leadership of the Adenis had changed. Hasan Bayumi had died 
suddenly of a heart attack and had been replaced by ZainBahroon. The latter 
was a merchant who had travelled extensively in the Middle Fast. Affable 
but prickly he was liable to retire into long silences behind a pair of dark 
glasses, and although pro-Federal by instinct he knew little about the 
country outside Aden and consequently there was little communication 
between him and the Federal ministers which led to many 
misunderstandings. The delay in holding the conference had also 
seriously weakened the position of the Aden government. The life of the 
Legislative Assembly like that of the Conservative government in Britain 
was drawing to a close. Elections already twice postponed were due to be 
held the following October and like politicians elsewhere the Adenis 
found the temptation of playing to their electoral gallery back home 
irresistible. They could best do this by raking over all the old ground 
covered in the 1962 Conference which had settled the conditions for 
Aden's entry. Federations in general were unpopular in Britain at the time 
and the South Arabian one was suffering from skilful lobbying by Asnag, 
the publicity engendered by Radian and the 'Harib Affair'. 

In the spring when the Radian campaign was at its height the Egyptians 
in the Yemen had won what was to be their greatest victory of the war 
Smashing through the Royalist-held mountain massif of al Jauf in Central 
Yemen they broke out in the eastern plain capturing the two towns of 
Manb and Harib, sealing off the border with South Arabia. During the 
operation a Yemeni Republican force had occupied the border village of 
uar at b u l uhaif. The village was in disputed territory and despite pleas 
from the Sharif of Baihan the British were understandably reluctant to 
wive the occupying forces out for him. Egyptian air attacks on Baihan 
nidges soon followed, including one napalm stack in the Wadi Ayn on 
March 1964. The Sharif demanded protection under the terms of 
nam s Defence Treaty with the Federation. The British prevaricated, 
act iT ! y , p0SSiblc defellce a g aitlst atta ^s of this kind was retaliation, an 
Nntinn T"' 0 ^ be considered far less sympathetically in the United 
TheK il elsewhere than the Egyptian attacks which provoked them. 
tarepinF 5 f ™' msters fel1 that in supporting Britain they had become the 
thev h *' ldes P road criticism and both individually and collectively 
undent 1 thrca,ened with death because of it. Now thev were the 
had th " cnms nf outright aggression and Britain did nothing. They 
caused 6 " t0 , GXpeCt Bri,ain t0 honour her undertakings even if it 
broader ,T embarrassment in Whitehall. To London contemplating the 
kerned •> m °? com P Iex P icture of international politics this may have 
«» Parochial argument but when a few days later a helicopter 

blatantly ml 
inside Baiha 
and demolis 
warning leaf 
a dozen Re[ 
There was ti 
1966. Presidi 
avenge Haril: 
their bags an 
avenging Kg; 
made the ex 
the reprisal, 
rumours ncv 
British press 
British lives 

So when 
Bahroon kic 
Federation w 
a sympathet 
dramatic wa 
threats from 
month's liar 
reached and 

The agree: 
conference fi 
1968 and of ( 
retain her r 
sovereignty i 
the forthcom 
meeting of re 
•he future no 

A few ho 
"'ember of t 
Cairo. The n 
implex as t 
be «n one of t 
'he most bit 
fjfPort bomb 

Kh oni U tksar. 
driving at tr 

blatantly machine gunned the Federal Guard fort at Jebel Bulaiq well 
inside Liaihan territory, they could delay no longer. Hunter jots attacked 
and demolished the Republican fort a few miles south of Harib. The 
warning leaflets were read but for some reason not acted upon and over 
a dozen Republican soldiers killed. The local purpose was achieved. 
There was to be only one more Egyptian air attack, on Baihan in July 
1966. President Nasser made a dramatic appearance in Sana and swore to 
avenge Harib. Yemenis living in Shaikh Uthman suburh of Aden packed 
their bags and moved out of the town expecting it to be flattened by the 
avenging Egyptian air force, but nothing happened. The United Nations 
made the expected noises. Ignoring the Egyptian attacks they deplored 
the reprisal. In the academic corridors of the Foreign Office there were 
rumours never acted upon of resignations and a significant section of the 
British press were highly critical of the action. Was it not enough for 
British lives to be lost in Radfan than to compound the mistake by 
jeopardising British policies abroad in support of such questionable 

So when on the opening of the conference in its public first session 
Bahroon kicked off with an unexpected speech strongly critical of the 
Federation which he described as having been 'born paralysed' he received 
a sympathetic press. This, together with advice from Aden to stage a 
dramatic walk-out if 'Aden's rights' were not granted in toto, and dire 
threats from Cairo about the fate in store for 'traitors to Arabism'. 
encouraged the Adenis to be at their difficult worst. Nevertheless after a 
month's hard and patient negotiations islands of understanding were 
reached and agreement arrived at. 

The agreement was not spectacular but laid the foundations for future 
development. It was agreed that the British government should convene a 
conference for the purpose of fixing a date lor independence not later than 
1968 and of concluding a defence agreement under which Britain would 
retain her military base in Aden. With regard to the surrender of 
sovereignty in Aden Colony it was agreed that 'as soon as practicable after 
• ne forthcoming election in Aden the British government would convene a 
meeting of representatives of Aden and the states of the Federation to agree 
arrangements for the transfer of sovereignty.' There was also agreement on 
the future constitutional shape of the Federation and elections. 

A tew hours before the agreement was signed a bombshell hit the 
conference: Sultan Ahmad bin Abdullah, the Ruler of Fadhli. founder 
"lumber of the Federation and its Minister of Information, defected to 
ano. The reasons for the defection can only be guessed at and are as 
^ m plex as the character of Ahmad himself. A man of great energy he had 

en one ot the driving forces in the Federation, and the subject of some of 
airn" 10 ^ hi 'ter diatribes from Cairo Radio. He had been injured by the 
^ Port bomb, and on return to his state had revived an old Fadhli claim to 
arn° rnU1 ' CSar ' ^' nen next ne travelled by air he created a sensation by 
vm 8 at the airport surrounded by tribal guards. The release of Asnag 


and his followers whom hefelt to be responsible for his wounds, theattitude 
of the British press, the Labour MPs who had visited his state and the 
apparent reluctance of the British government to honour its commitments 
to the Federation convinced him that he would be left in the lurch. The 
Sultan was also subject to more private pressures. He had recently married 
Kamila. the beautiful daughter of Ali Ismail Turki. an influential Aden 
hotelier, and she in turn was influenced by her brother Ismail studying in 
London and a prominent member of the PSP-dominated South Arabian 
Students' Organisation. It was Ismail who arranged the Sultan's flight to 
London airport and then to Cairo where he was received, not as a feudal 
despot, but a nationalist hero. In Fadhli the dolfl were 'persuaded' to 
depose Ahmad and appoint h is brother Nasir ruler in his stead. 

The excitement of Ahmad's defection had barely died down when 
campaigning for the Aden State elections got underway. The election was 
fought on a narrow franchise, only Aden-horn males having the right to 
take part. This pleased neither the Federal government who considered 
that its narrowness encouraged separatist tendencies in Aden and 
excluded their own nominees, nor the militant opposition who wanted to 
include the Yemeni immigrant labour. As usual Asnag called for a boycott 
but it was an utter failure. His People's Socialist Party had already broken 
apart at the seams and some ignoring their leader's plans offered 
themselves as candidates. These included Fuad Barahim the lawyer and 
'Grenadier' Khalifa still held in detention following the airport bomb. 
Sixteen seats were contested and after the election six more members 
would be nominated bv the High Commissioner. The principles of 
democracy were not strictly adhered to and votes were quite blatantly put 
up for sale and bid for by most of the 43 candidates who evidently 
considered it to be worth a great deal of money to secure a seat m the 
Assembly. The Khudabux Khan brothers Hasan and Hussain had brougnt 
this kind of electioneering to a fine art, transforming their constituencies 
of Crater North and South into rotten boroughs. They were immensely 
wealthy having made their money from properly interests as well as more 
doubtful activities. Although they usually took a militant line (Asnag was 
later to marry Nadhira, daughter of Hussain), they were heartily detes tea 
by most sections of the community. Nothing loath they entered tne 
elections with enthusiasm and secured votes by the simple expediency or 
inviting a potential voter to swear on the Qur'un to support tnei 
candidature, then cutting the required number of notes in two they wouj 
give one half to the voter and tell him to return and collect the rest wne< 
the brothers were elected. Owing to the complications of the elector 
svstem the voters in Crater North were entitled to send three member* 
the Assembly. It was in this constituency that Abdul Qawi Mackaw 
supported by Besse, the powerful shipping firm of whom he i was 
director, stood alongside 'Grenadier' Khalifa. For Khalifa it was his ° 
backyard and he was supported by the vast Khalifa clan w 
campaigned on his behalf. Every voter having three choices insureu 


ccess. They would not have been human if many had not been taken 
SU »h the romantic lure of voting for the detained local boy and taking a 
swipe at authority at no cost to themselves. 

Despite the boycott there was a 76% turnout and no incidents. Most of 
the old stalwarts were returned. Khalifa gained over 1.000 votes and came 
top of the poll. Bahroon, Husain Bayumi brother of the late Hasan, Ali 
Luqman who had succeeded his father as leader of the People's Congress. 
Mackawce and needless to say the brothers Khudabux* got in without 
difficulty. In Little Aden a local pro-Federal fisherman, Salim Ahmad 
N'aiqa, easily defeated his PSP opponent, and in Shaikh Uthman a young 
airline executive. Hashim Umar, already a secret member of the NLF 
'entered public politics for the first lime. Amongst those nominated were 
Abdul Rahman Girgirah, leader of the United National Party and Sayid 
Hasan Sohbi, lawyer and one-time member of the PSP. An attempt was 
made to offer a place to al Asnag but he refused. 

Although bis boycott had failed al Asnag could take comfort that seven 
of the new members were sympathetic to his party. The Federal 
"overnmont were also quite pleased, noting that not one of the candidates 
had demanded the withdrawal of Aden from the Federation. Bahroon 
formed the new government. 

Elections had also taken place in Britain and the Labour Parly under the 
leadership of Harold Wilson had gained a small majority in the House of 
Commons. Duncan Sandys was replaced as Secretary of Slate for the 
Colonial Office by Antony Greenwood who as a gesture of goodwill 
released Khalifa from detention. 

The new Secretary of State, with the disarming simplicity born by long 
years of exile from office, believed it was more the actions of his 
predecessors rather than the facts of the case which had caused so many 
difficulties. He came to office determined to clear up the mess in South 
Arabia. He had been in contact with Asnag for some time and saw the issue 
as not one between Egypt and Britain but between Asnag's blue collar 
socialists and the reactionary Federal rulers. There was no doubt as to 
W'here his sympathy lay. He was a leading member of the Committee for 
Liquidation of Colonialism and a Vice President of the Society for the 
Abolition of Blood Sports. In many ways a brilliant politician he can be 
forgiven if the harsh realities of power politics in South Arabia were not 
his metier. 

The first change made by the new Labour administration was to retire the 
High Commissioner. Sir Kennedy Trevaskis, who had been the chief 
architect of federation, and was fell to be too closely identified with the 
federal government to give credence to the new look policy which 

'embers ol the Legislative Assembly were allowed to carrv weapons for their personal 
In the case of Hasan Khudabux this led (o personal misfortune. One day his pistol 
11 o't as h 0 was putting on his trousers. His secretary telephoned Government House to 
>est the urgent assistance of an armv doctor to 'sew on Mr Khudabux's penis'. 


Greenwood envisaged. For his part Sir Kennedy frankly expressed his 
disquiet at the plans shaping in the Minister's mind. The new High 
Commissioner was Sir Richard Turnhull who had the reputation of being 
one of the finest administrators in the Colonial Service and had recently 
retired as High Commissioner in Tanganyika where his tact and diplomacy 
had ensured asmoothtransferof povvertoNyerere. In Sir Richard theLabour 
government felt ihey had a man of immense prestige who was sympathetic 
to nationalist aspirations. 

At the end of 1964 Greenwood arrived in South Arabia to see things for 
himself. He had talks with Federal and Aden ministers as well as 
independent bodies. His visit reached a climax when the Federal and Aden 
governments issued a joint statement in favour of a 'unitary sovereign 
state". Manv Adenis had long sought the development because they 
bel ieved that the Federal system perpetuated the authority of the rulers. In a 
unitarv stale they felt it would be easier for them to attain political power. 
Not unnaturally the Federal ministers had always opposed the suggestion. 
The impasse vvas resolved by the Sharif of Baihan who suspected that the 
purpose of Greenwood's visit had been to take Aden out of the Federation 
and seized the concept of the unitary stale as a method of preventing this. 

The Federal ministers were inadequately briefed on the implications of a 
unitarv state and to some it only seemed to be a mere statement that they 
were 'united', a condition which along with all other Arabs they always 
claimed hut never achieved. This lack of comprehension was underlined 
when the proposals came up for formal consideration by the Federal 
Supreme Council. It vvas approved in five minutes flat whilst the other item 
on the agenda, the interminable border dispute between Wahidi and the 
Upper Aulaqi Shaikhdom vvas not resolved in two hours' intense 
discussion. In a unitary state all stale borders arc necessarily abolished. 
Greenwood went ahead with plans for a new conference scheduled to take 
place in March 1965 to bring the new state inlo being. 

As 1964 drew to a close the Federation was faced with new threats to its 
security both in the Protectorates and in Aden. The Egyptian Major 
Hamuda had at last installed himself in Baidha. I Ic was an astute and clever 
intriguer. Backed bv substantial quantities of arms and money he quickly 
raised the tribal Caliban throughout the central area. Dathina was soon the 
nightly scene of attacks on Government forts and administrative 
centres.The usual pattern of minelaying and attacks on livestock and 
i rrigation works was repeated and in August the rebels were strong enough 
to trv and storm Mudia fort in broad daylight. They were beaten off with 
heavv losses by the Federal Guard and this proved lo be a turning point. 
The lesson of Radian had been learnt and British troops were not called in. 
Disheartened by their failure more of the rebels returned to their homes and 
the hard core to the Yemen. „ 
In Audhali Hamuda's tactics had their most spectacular success, n- 
concentrated on the Naib, the same Jaabil who had so effectively trounce 
the Imam's agents back in 1958. Jaabil's headquarters, the Audhali town o 


Mukaiiys facing Baidha across the border, came under regular attack from 
,hel' bunds who concentrated their efforts on the Naib's house. Ilamuda 
backed up the physical attack by threats on the Naib's family steadily 
reducing his morale. Soon Ilamuda established a dialogue with Jaabil and 
. u .rocsted that it was all a misunderstanding, if a man of Jaabil's standing 
would only come and speak to President Nasser personally he Ilamuda 
believed that the whole thing would be called off. It worked, the little man 
fell for it and on 8 November crossed into the Yemen to join the other 
Federal rebel Ahmad bin Abdullah of Fadhli in exile. 

The Federal government was deeply shocked. Jaabil was one of their 
oreatest supporters and was regarded as something of a champion in the 
fioht to maintain control. His defection lowered their morale at the crucial 
period of Greenwood's visit. In the event Jaabil was to prove more of a 
liability to the Egyptians than an asset. He realised that ho had been tricked. 
The Egyptians never tried lionising him as they had done Ahmad bin 
Abdullah. His attempts with the former Fadhli Sultan to raise tribal 
rebellion were at best half-hearted and in the end both returned to the 
Federal fold. For Hamuda it was a hollow victory. The Rassas of Baidha 
were already asserting their traditional dislike of central government from 
Sana be it Republican or Royalist and were beginning to work it off on the 
Egyptians' presence. Hamuda himself came under daily attack, a 
development which was not discouraged by Naib Nasir. who had 
succeeded Jaabil in Mukairas and Hamuda was soon forced to return to 
Tfl v/ 

In Aden the NLF carried out their first significant assassination. On 27 
December Inspector Khalil of the Aden Special Branch was gunned clown 
in the Crater qat market. The murderers escaped. Hash im Umar, the recently 
elected memberfor Shaikh Uth man North in the Legislative Assembly , took 
a prominent part in the killing. 

Such was the position at the close of 1964. The Federation faced an 
uneasy future. To survive much would depend on the successful outcome 
of the conference scheduled to take place in the following spring. The 
Federation would have to arrive at a meaningful agreement with the 
Adonis and gain a significant measure of independence from the British, 
including internal security power in Aden as well as obtain full British 
support against Egypt. The NLF in Aden was still only a tiny minority. The 
militants were in disarray. Al Asnag was fighting for political survival and 
al Shaabi was shortly to be packed off to Cairo by the Egyptians exaspcraled 
at his penchant for dipping his fingers into the till and his refusal to 
co-operate with al Asnag. The Radfan operation was as good as over and 
the rebellion in Dathina defeated. Terror in Aden could be halted if the 
authorities took decisive measures lo combat it. 1965 represented Britain's 
'ast chance to bring South Arabia to successful and friendly independence 
and save her face in Aden. Unhappily for South Arabia and for Britain none 
°f these desired developments took place. The road to ruin is paved with 
good intentions and the new British government took it with scarce a 
backward glance. 

Chapter IV 

Funeral in Aden 

1 January 1965-28 February 1967 

Myself against my brother. My brother and J against my Father. My 
familv against mv uncles. My tribe against the stranger. 

Arabian Proverb 

The first victim of 1965 was the constitutional conference scheduled to 
take place in March. Following Anthony Greenwood's visit to South 
Arabia the Federal ministers had found time to explore the concept of the 
unitary state to which thev had so flippantly committed themselves. What 
they saw thev did not like, and when it became clear that the coming 
conference was not just another get-together with the Aden government, 
but that political parties, which presumably meant al Asnag would be 
invited to take part on equal terms they prevaricated and raised every kind 
of difficulty. Briefly the Federal government felt that the gains made under 
Duncan Sandvs had been abandoned, that their own position was being 
undermined, and that if Asnag wanted to be represented then he should 
have stood in the Aden elections and accepted the responsibility o 
oovurnmcnt liko everybody else. Further, it must be said that they were still 
deeply suspicious of Greenwood and the 1 .abour government. The Co onia 
Secretary's previous associations with the PSF and other 'colonial 
liberation movements' were not forgotten. And any favourable 
impressions ho mav have made during his tour of the territory were diluted 
when it became known that al Asnag had received a Christmas card horn 
the Secretary of State addressed to 'Aden Occupied South Yemen I was 
an error probably made by Greenwood's secretary as she noted down 
al Asnag's address from a piece of ATUC or PSF notepaper. but in the 
suspicion-racked world of South Arabia it was an incident given 
significance it did not have. m „nnt 
In the course of their manoeuverings the Federal government came new 
unnaturally into conflict with Bahroon. Insults were exchanged and wn 
Bahroon proposed to issue a strongly worded statement critical ot - 
Federal government. Sir Richard Turnbull banned its broadcast a 
Bahroon tendered his resignation. The threat of resignation was 
accepted part of South Arabian politics and was rarely meant to ™ 
seriously. It usually came after a rebuff and was offered mcre \ as * 7L as 
of saving face and obtaining consolation. During the year that ne 


Father. My 

nan Proverb 

scheduled to 
sit to South 
mcept of the 
selves. What 

I he corning 
ig, would be 
id every kind 
! made under 
m was being 
an he should 
onsibility of 
hey were still 
The Colonial 
ner 'colonial 
- favourable 

were diluted 
las card from 
emen'. It was 

noted down 
er, but in the 
dent given a 

lent came not 
? ed and when 
critical of the 
iroadcast and 
ation was an 
nt to be taken 
sly as a means 
r that he was 

iWs Chief Minister Bahroon must have tendered his resignation on half 
^ Vn o casions and consequently he was much affronted when thus time 
f h l°Sf"r was snapped up. When the news reached London Greenwood 
,h nstp red his conference to allow a new team to play itself m. A first 
S wanted the job of forming the new government but eventually 
\ h i Qavvi Mackawee allowed himself to be persuaded that he possessed 
\t ecessarv qualities to face the task ahead. Girgirah and Bahroon who 
had boen much irritated by Mackawee's dog in the manger criticisms ot 
i r actions from the safety of the opposition bench, rather ™Uc.ously 
; L -d him on. Mackawee was a naturally pleasant and affable man, 
t iest when at home with the wife and children. He was to rue the day 
S he ever left them. Coming from a leading Adeni family he neverthe ess 
d more than a dash of Indian blood which made him defensive wto i 
endencv to extremism. Mackawee's greatest achievement was that he h ad 
been appointed local director of Besse, the Aden Stopping and frad ng 
lo nv Although thev retired him early the company made a great deal 
of S o Mackawee. perhaps to veil the fact that they had no other Arab 
lector, and gave him help in furthering his political career. Yet despite 
0 , nmercfal success even his closest friends agree thai one of the 
outstanding characteristics of the man was his inability to take a decision 
o ever hold an opinion of his own, in business or out of it. A few months 
fater when his notorie.v as Chief Minister was at its height and after some 
particularly successful twisting of the lion's tail Mackawee met his closest 
fates and admirers in the newspaper office of Muhammad Basharatol, 
who was the influential 'al Ayyam' and until that point had su ppor ed him. 
As he entered those present gave Mackawee a standing ovation W ben the 
applause died down somebody asked the Chief Minister what he planned 
to do next. With obvious sincerity Mackawee replied, '1 was rather hoping 
that vou would tell me.' . 

Mackawee took three weeks to form a government, an uncommonly long 
time bv Aden's standards. Kven on the day of the swearing-in ceremony 
there was a most undignified squabble between two of the members both - 
of whom assumed that he had been promised the valuable portto ho ot 
Lands. The disappointed aspirant had to make do with the lesser 
distinction of becoming the Minister of Wnq/s (Religious Endowments 
and Tourism. Other members included Hashim Umar as Minister of Civ. 
Aviation. Savid Hasan Sohbi with a delicate task as Minister ot labour ami 
Welfare, and 'Grenadier' Khalifa whobecame Minister of Finance, hven the 
Adenis who had voted him to power were taken aback at the last namec . 
Before his arrest Khalifa's chief claim to fame had been as a local football 
star. His unpredictabilitv was well known. At one memorable match m the 
Crater Stadium, booed bv the crowd for some foul or other, he retaliated by 
dropping his pants and exhibiting his own disapproval in startling 
fashion. His onlv executive action in seven months as Aden's Minister ot 
Finance seems to have been to order the removal of the Queen's portrait 
fr °m his office. 



Once in the saddle Mackawcc soon realised that the task, was beyond 
him. The day to day administration was ignored as the Chief Minister and 
his colleagues got down to the serious business of baiting the British. The 
twenty-four Adeni representatives in the Federal Council were withdrawn 
and the British troops accused of organising terrorism themselves. 
Terrorism in the Colony was increasing as the NLF gained ground. One 
month after taking office Mackawee disassociated himself from the 
curfews imposed by the security authorities and followed this up by 
demanding an end to the state of emergency and the formation of a 
provisional government which meant dissolving the existing Federal one. 
Mackawee soon found the United Nations Resolutions which it will be 
remembered called for the removal of both the British base and the Federal 
government. The demand for the implementation of these resolutions 
hecame the answer with which he rebuffed any Federal or British initiative 
to seek a formula along which ordered constitutional development could 
take place. 

Most of Mackavvee's government was made up of former members of 
follow travellers of the FSF. There is strong evidence to suggest that 
al Asnag. keeping prudently in the background, influenced many of the 
decisions. 1 le at least had a policy. In an attempt to answer the challenge of 
the NLF he had in February merged his now defunct PSP with the South 
Arabian League and a group of tribal dissidents, the most important of 
whom were Muhammad Aidrus and ex-Sultan Ahmad bin Abdullah of 
Fadhi. into the Organisation for the Liberation of the Occupied South 
(OLOS). Asnag's object was to bring about a breakdown of British policy 
and the 'democratic' form of government in Aden. Having done so he 
hoped that his influence in the lobbies of Westminster would ensure that 
he was invited to step in and fill the vacancy. In Mackawee he had found a 
willing tool. 

Sir Richard Turnbull who had been so successful in dealing with 
nationalists elsewhere made effort after effort to coax the Chief Minister to 
adopt a more reasonable path. Each succeeding interview seemed to hold 
out the promise of success but as soon as Mackawee returned to his friends 
and other opinions his mood changed and he took the line of least 
resistance by playing to the mob. 

In an effort to gain his confidence Greenwood suggested that a two-man 
constitutional committee should visit South Arabia to advise on what steps 
should be taken to prepare the territory for independence. This was sailing 
close to the wind with the Federal government which was demanding a 
return to the course proposed by the 1964 conference, and only acquiesced 
after hard lobbying by the High Commissioner. Mackawee promptly 
rejected the proposal but Greenwood persisted, appointing as members Sir 
Evelyn Home, a former Chief Secretary of Aden, and a distinguished 
Sudanese judge. The Sudanese soon withdrew under pressure from Cairo 
and Mackawee brought off a spectacular coup de grace by declaring Sir 
Evelvnan illegal immigrant, so preventing his arrival. 

This farce had been watched with fascinated attention in South Arabia. 


Nobody gave the British, or for that matter, the Federal government any 
nlit for trying to come to a reasonable accord. It was seen as a clear 
Tctory for Mackawee and everybody awaited the next round with interest. 
V1 Nothing loath. Greenwood hurried out to Aden in an attempt to 
ierS uade < all parties to gather round the conference table. At first the 
Federal government insisted on the principle established in London in the 
irevioussummer. which confined seats at the conference table to members 
0 f the Adeni and Federal governments. It says much for Greenwood's 
diplomacy and tact that he achieved a compromise and managed to 
persuade them to sit alongside al Asnag and an OLOS delegation as well as 
representatives from the three states of the Eastern Aden Protectorates, in a 
•working party" which was to draw up an agenda for a future conference, 
the same conference which had been postponed in the spring. 

The 'working party' assembled in London during August and achieved 
nothing. Asnag and Mackawee remained obdurate in their insistence on 
the full implementation of the UN Resolutions and, encouraged by Gairo, 
refused to budge. Perhaps during their talks Greenwood realised for the 
first time what he was up against and that not all men were as reasonable 
and gentle in their approach to the problem as he was. Muhammad Salim 
Basindwah. a member of the OLOS delegation, shocked the delegates by 
his hysterical outbursts and insults, some directed personally at the 
Secretary of State. It had long been the wonder of the people of Aden as to 
why Asnag tolerated his baby-faced henchman with his mincing ways and 
little to recommend him except an enormous capacity for spite. Like the 
shark with its attendant pilot fish the two were inseparable although they 
had the occasional tiff. Two years later, in a fit of temper. Basindwah was to 
make an unsuccessful attempt to abandon Asnag for the NLF, but in the 
event they proved to be the most durable duo in Yemeni politics. 

The talks had one result in that they convinced Asnag that the British 
were not so willing to desert the Federal government as he had thought. He 
had other plans in mind and a few days later arrived in Gairo to take an open 
part in the direction of terrorism. Mackawee returned to Aden where 
coincidentlv terrorism had taken a vicious turn lor the worse. On the first 
day of September Sir Arthur Charles, the Speaker of the Legislative 
Assembly, was mortally wounded as he left the Crater tennis courts by the 
NLF commando' Hasan al Zaghir. The murder shocked both the Arab and 
British communities alike as Sir Arthur was a universally respected figure. 
He was also a man of habit and his routine of leaving the tennis courts at 
6.30 p m gave his assailant the chance he wanted. Routine also played a 
lai'ge part in the downfall of the next victim, Harry Barrie, Deputy Head of 
f h(> Aden Special Branch. F.very Sunday the former Palestine policeman 
urove to work al 7.15 am and on Sunday 4 September the NLF were 
wailing for him. They shot him dead as his car stopped at a halt sign. A 
third killing, that of Bob VVaggitt. the Head of Special Branch, was only 
avoided when the would-be assassin found himself unexpectedly 
Confronted by an enormous British soldier bodyguard who was sitting in 



the policeman's lounge pouring himself a beer. Unfortunately for the 
authorities the soldier had removed the magazines from his sub-machine 
gun as a safety precaution and before he could refit them the man escaped 

Under Mackavvee's leadership the Legislative Assembly formalh 
regretted the murder of their Speaker but intentionally refrained from 
condemning the killers. The situation hatl become intolerable and a few 
days later the long-suffering Hritish government suspended the Aden 
Constitution, dissolved the Assembly and the High Commissioner 
assumed direct rule in the Colony. 

13 y any standards this was a retrograde stop, but Mackavvee's behaviour 
had made his removal inevitable il'any ordered constitutional progress was 
to be made. Unhappily the timing of the British decision was 
unfortunate. Ever since the Labour government had come to power 
one of the ambitions of its foreign policy had been to come to terms with 
President Nasser. After careful diplomatic overtures it was arranged that 
George Thompson, now Minister of Slate at the Foreign Office, should visit 
Egypt and endeavour to reach agreement on a number of issues including 
South Arabia. As the Minister arrived in Cairo the BBC announced the 
removal of Mackawee, an act which the Egyptians not unnaturally 
construed as an intended slight. Thompson never even saw the President. 
He went back to London empty handed whilst the Egyptians exploited 
another propaganda victory at the expense of the British. 

It is inconceivable that the British Cabinet were not aware of cither the 
decision to remove Mackawee or Thompson's mission. The Mackawee 
government had lasted for nearly seven months* and a few more days 
would not have mattered. If Thompson had managed to bring off a deal 
with the Egyptians then Mackawee would have been brought to order and 
his dismissal unnecessary. If he had failed then the dismissal could have 
gone ahead as a sign that the British meant business. As it was, Thompson 
had no chance of success and suffered an unnecessary humiliation. 

Shortly after his dismissal Mackawee fled to Cairo where he joined 
al Asnag". No demonstrators had come into the streets to protest against his 
downfall, in fact most Adonis seemed relieved that the pantomime had at 
last been brought to a halt. The whole thing took place with the minimum 
of fuss. The onlv painful incident occurred when one of the Mackawee 
ministers, listening to Sir Richard Tumbull reading the instrument ot 
dismissal, had a fit and had to be carried screaming out of the conference 

r ° The Federal government was reassured. They saw the removal ot 
Mackawee as a sign that Britain intended to go back to the 1964 charter. 
Direct British rule in Aden would not be expected to last lor long ana 
seemed at the time to be a first step towards handing over sovereignty to the 
Federation. In London the F.arl of Longford replaced Antony Greenwood as 
Colonial Secretary. 

* a March-25 September 


... „ ac lvanta°e of the breathing space, the Federal government took a 
f'rd look at its constitution. In August it had obtained the services of 
long . Um(} and Sir Gauain Bell to 'consider and recommend suitable 
SlP tnents to the constitution . . . as a result of consultation with all major 
am °i" sts in South Arabia, to prove acceptable as far as possible to their 
■"tomsMnd satisfv aspirations.' 

" \ Hone md Bell settled down to their task Lord Beswick. Parliamentary 
rt Ipr Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Colonies. 

' ed South Arabia, lor which he had assumed responsibility, and took 
the opportunity to repeat that it was Britain's aim to establish a United 
nnublic which included the three eastern stales by 1908. He also had 
another mission. The British had decided to remove Ihcir military base 
from Aden and Beswick was to probe possible Federal reactions to the 
decision In fact the Federal government did not so much mind the removal 
of the base which would be a political liability and detract from their 
independence What thev did nol realise was that Britain also intended to 
rule out anv notion of a defence treaty yet, at the same time, hang on until a 
'broad based' government was established. In short from the British side 
the 1964 agreement was forgotten. Beswick misunderstood the Federal 
.reaction just as thev misunderstood the true nature of his mission. If this 
had been appreciated then there can be no doubt that the Federal ministers 
would have raised hell even before the Minister had returned to London at 
the end of his first visit, and before the public announcement was made. 

The impl i cations of the British Defence Review February 1966 have been 
discussed elsewhere, but suffice it to say that the announcement came at a 
moment when the militants were in disarray and the fortunes of their 
Egyptian sponsors at their lowest ebb. 

In March 1965 the Royalists in the Yemen had recaptured Ilarib and 
beaten off a counter-attack by strong Egyptian and Republican forces. 
Throughout the summer the Royalist offensive gained momentum. One by 
one Egyptian-held towns in Eastern and Central Yemen fell to the 
tribesmen. 15,000 Egyptian troops surrounded in the Jauf by the Amir 
Muhammed bin Hussain were allowed lo march out only after they had 
surrendered all their stores and heavy weapons. Other smaller Egyptian 
garrisons were cut off and in |une the Royalists had captured the strategic 
Sirwa Pass and were threatening Sana. The Egyptians could draw little 
comfort from, the performance of the Republican government. The 
enthusiasm which followed the revolution had quickly passed away and 
the factions within the Republic multiplied, turning it into a political 
ant-heap. Basically thev were divided inlo those who wished to come to an 
accommodation with the Royalists and those fervent Republicans, 
including some whose deeds had placed them beyond the reach of 
reconciliation, who would accept nothing less than the complete removal 
of the Imamate and exile of the Royal family, the Uamid al din. The 
%'ptians had long supported the second party led by President Sallal 
and his Prime Minister Hassan al Amri. The conciliators were initially 


led by the venerable Qadhi Zubairi who was murdered in obscure 
circumstances in the spring of 1965. * 

Faced with military disaster the Egyptians removed al Amri, shipped 
Sallal off to Cairo for a year's exile, and appointed as Prime Minister 
Ahmad Muhammad Muman who had been Zuhairi's deputy. In June 
President Nasser made a dramatic trip to Jedda to meet King Faisal where 
the two leaders reached agreement for an immediate cease fire in the 
Yemen, the withdrawal of Egyptian troops, and arranged for peace talks to 
be held between the two sides in the Northern Yemeni village of Haradh. 

The talks began in November and dragged on without sign of agreement 
before breaking up for Ramadhan. The visit of Lord Beswick to Aden and 
the announcement of British withdrawal came soon afterwards. President 
Nasser let out a cry of joy, proclaimed his intention of staying in the 
Yemen 'to liberate South Arabia' and reversed his plans to withdraw. The 
Yemeni war once again spluttered into life. 

When Mackawee joined Asnag in Cairo as a leader of OLOS the 
Egyptians put into action their plans for uniting the organisations with the 
NLF so creating one revolutionary body. They realised that the NLF were 
the more effective terrorists but at the higher political level they had 
nobody possessing the international reputation of either Asnag or 

Qahtan al Shaabi had been removed from the scene of operations. He had 
proved expensive, quarrelsome, and did not have the tribal standing to 
obtain the co-operation of fellow rebels such as Muhammad Aidrus or the 
ex-Sultan of Fadhli. Al Shaabi was first installed over the Reuters Office in 
Cairo. Journalists tell how he got into the habit of asking if any news had 
come over the ticker and if the answer was in the negative he would potter 
back upstairs, write a communique and a few minutes later deliver it as 
news from the front, in the end the exile proved the salvation of al Shaabi. 
His followers forgot their leader's defects and the passing of time built him 
up into a legendary figure in the imagination of the people. 

With al Shaabi safely out of the way living on an Kgyptian pension the 
Egyptians proposed that OLOS should merge with the NLF to form a single 
organisation, the Front for the Liberation of South Yemen (FLOSY).t as a 
first move towards forming a 'government in exile". The suggestion met 
with a mixed reception. Many of the NLF leaders agreed, those who had 

"The murder took plate ;i( Barat tribal tenia- ul the Uhu Muhammad in Nurllierii Yemen. Both 
Republicans and Royalists accused each other of the killing. Three tribesmen confessed in an 
interview with an Egyptian magazine fo have carried out the deed on Kovalist instructions. They 
were later reported to have escaped from a Republican prison. 

The Rovulists maintain the killing was arranged bv Abdullah CJuzai lan. later Depulv President 
and then head of Republican Intelligence on the orders of ihe Egyptians who feared Zubairi's 
growing campaign for peace. Cuzailan hailed (ram Barat. 

tThe speedy dissemination of the English abbreviation FI.OSY for Hie Arabic jubha Arabiyo 
fi tnhrir junub al Yemen ill muhlui gave the organisation a vaguely ridiculous taint at the outset 
and was one of the subtler strokes of Federal propaganda. The sponsors preferred to be known 
as The Liberators'. 


ctions with the trades union movement in Aden being the most 
C ° n "fl am i exceptions. Amongst the rank and Hie — especially those who 


'uerilia attacks — there was general feeling 

, ( 1 ta ken part in terrorist or ; 
tl at they were being taken over by Adenis who had sat on Iheir backsides 
•hilst others were risking their lives in "the struggle for independence'. In 
Edition. Mackawee was openly accused of being a capitalist' and 
receiving a British salary. Indeed until mid-1967 his eldest daughter 
remained at school in Britain on a Federal government scholarship. 

Opposition to the merger was well known to the principals who kept the 
matter quiet until the last moment. 

The announcement was made in Taiz on 19 January 1966 during a 
dinner at the Republican Palace in honour of President Sallal who had 
just returned from Cairo and consented to grace proceedings with his 
revolutionary presence. Mackawee and Asnag spoke for OLOS and Ali 
Ahmad Sallami for the NLF. The speeches were not without interruption 
from some NLF members who thought that they had been invited along 
for a free meal and had no inkling of what was in the wind. The most 
raucous of these were removed by the guards. Further interruptions were 
caused by the frequent failure of the electricity which at the best of times 
only produced a dull glow. 

Before long the Yemeni President had had enough am) went off to bed. In 
the morning the merchant who held the electricity concession was thrown 
into jail. 

If the Egyptians had thought that by forming FLOSY they put an end to 
union rivalry in Aden they did not have to wait long to realise their 
mistake. The pro-NLF unionists in Aden were incensed by the merger 
which they felt to be a betrayal. Where Asnag was once undisputed king he 
was at first disliked and then hated. The unions opposed to the Aden 
Trades Union Congress (ATUC) had been careful to avoid an open clash. 
The frustration produced by the formation of FLOSY to which as NLF 
sympathisers they nominally owed allegiance enabled extremists lo expoit 
the situation. Ali Hussain Qadhi. the ATUC President and the most able of 
Asuag's lieutenants in Aden, was their first target. He was shot dead as he 
answered the door of his Maalla house barely three weeks after the 
emergence of FLOSY. 

The murder created a sensation in Aden. The pistol which had been 
dropped at the scene of the crime was soon traced to Anwar Khalid, a 
federal agricultural officer, who subsequently turned out lo be an 
important figure in the NLF. He had obtained the weapon on loan from the 
British Under Secretary to his Ministry. In turn he passed it on to Abdul 
'atah Ismail a schoolmaster who had taken part in the murder of Barrie in 

R Previous autumn with instructions lo carry out the killing. The post of 
kroner was held by Ashraf Khan a close friend of Asnag. He issued a 
Warrant for the arrest of Anwar Khalid who had fled, but disguised the 
Fl°nQ RS '° r " 1U crimu by^ accusing British Intelligence of plotting it. As a 
JSY sympathiser it was hardly politic for him lo reveal a split in the 


organisation so soon after its birth. Retribution was close at hand. Qadhi 
was a Yemeni from Baidha and his brother a major in the Republican Army 
The major made his way to Aden and shot a pro-NLF unionist — the blood 
feud had arrived. 'I'ension between the rival parties ran high. Then came 
the announcement of British withdrawal and the implication that they 
would shortly abandon the Federation to its fate. The militants received a 
much needed shot in the arm. In the euphoria which followed 
reconciliation was soon effected. It was a patchy truce at best but it lasted 
for a vital eight months during which time terrorism increased and the 
sound of exploding grenades and gunfire became a common occurrence in 
Aden's streets. 

For their part the Federal ministers complained bitterly that 'Britain-is 
leaving them at the mercy of Egyptian aggression and Russian 
penetration.'* For the next twelve months they continually lobbied the 
British government in the hope of obtaining a reversal of the decision on 
the defence treaty. By the time their efforts met with success it was far too 
late. The Labour government were still chasing the mirage of a compromise 
with the militants and now that the base was going they prodded the 
Federal government into accepting the United Nations Resolutions, t only 
to be told by FLOSY that these were no longer a basis for agreement. 

The High Commissioner had the thankless task of trying to persuade 
Adonis to fill the twenty-four seats on the Federal government. FLOSY 
threatened to murder any who did. In spile of this five agreed, including 
Girgirah, Hussain Bayurni, Salim Ahmad Naiq and Muhammad Hassan 
Obali, who were made Federal Ministers. 

Throughout the long hot summer the morale of Federal supporters fell 
steadily in face of increasing attacks by the Yemen based FLOSY. Then 
suddenly the Federal government sprang to life. The ministers were 
anxious to put their draft constitutional amendments as prepared by Hone 
and Bell to the Federal Council so that they could get on with the job of 
working out the details. With only negligible Adeni presence in the 
Federal Council its approval would be politically meaningless, both inside 
and out of South Arabia. The ministers realised that if they were to rectify 
this unhappy state of affairs and persuade Adenis to come forward then an 
answer to FLOSY intimidation would have to be found. The Federal 
government therefore broadcast a warning to the Yemeni Republicans, 
threatening that if there was further terrorism in South Arabia and the 
militants continued to receive shelter on Yemeni soil and continued to 
have use of Taiz and Sana Radio stations then the border would be closed. If 
further outrages continued, Yemenis working in Aden would be deported. 
A grenade exploded — a man was shot and the Federal government good as 
its words closed the frontier. 

* The Sunday Times. 12 March 1966. 
1 13 May 1»66. 


. . s n0 emptv gesture but a telling blow. Roughly three-filths of the 
i imports came through Aden. Closure o/the border meant that the 
Ye Ti eI rn hi\i of the country suffered a serious shortage of such basic 
soutfiftr i ^ petroleum. The cost of bread in Taiz trebled and a 
pr ?l n drum of kerosine for stoves went up by 400%. and soft drinks 
i ie i luxury that onlv the rich could afford. Local decrees were 
•induced to prevent hoarding and the Egyptians were compelled to 
Hivert much needed grain ships to Hodeidah. Yemen's only significant 
wrt to South Arabia was qat. The price of a bundle shot up in Aden as 
forrv loads of the stuff queued up on the other side of the border. The 
Yemeni rival whose only real exchange market was Aden Suq fluctuated 
wildlv dropping from around 6 to between 2-3 shillings. It never 
recovered Nor did the closure do much direct harm to Adeni merchants. 
Most of the Yemen trade was in the hands of Yemenis who had opened 
offices in Aden to run it. Their voices joined the chorus of protest which 
assailed the ears of the Republic administration from Yemeni families who 
relied for their livelihood on assistance sent home by relations working in 

In Aden the decision dramatically changed the political atmosphere. 
There has always been an undercurrent of animosity between the Adenis 
and the Yemenis whom some felt to he interlopers and parasites exploiting 
Aden's prosperity. Whereas a few weeks before the High Commissioner 
and the Federal government had found it virtually impossible to attract 
any Adenis of standing outside the old guard into the Federal council they 
now flocked in. ELOSY threatened death and one Abdul Rahman 
Basindwah* was assassinated the night before the Council was clue to 
meet. However, such was the faith in the Federal government's intention to 
restore its prestige that two more councillors allowed themselves to he 
sworn in before the session began, bringing the total Adeni membership in 
the Federal Council to twenty-two. 

South Arabia looked to the Federal government to revenge Basindwah 
and carry out its threat to deport Yemenis. Several systems had been 
proposed to carry the policy out. amongst them was the suggestion that the 
nearest fifty Yemenis to any incident would be deported and the 
householders of the street fined. To carry out this policy the Federal 
government had to have the co-operation of the High Commissioner and 
through him the British government. Although an initial 14H 
u nemployed Yemen is of no fixed address were shipped over the border, the 
British government declined to continue the policy. The deportations 

wgi-p minmal,1(!l1 in some circles that the N'l.F carried out Hie killing on orders from Taiz. They 
seli.rt 81 | V u n u ft llalul as tfl lv ' licn victim thev chose from amongst the councillors and 
Asnv n' si i''° ,ratl because he was closelv related to Muhammad Salim Basindwah. al 
Kedera? '■'eutenant in FLOSY . fiv doing so thev achieved a double blow against the 

had be 80 , v . < f,' nmonl antl FLOSY. Asnag is reported to have been furious when he learnt who 
within FI OSY mciliunt aggravated the already uneasy relations between the factions 


offended a basic principle of the rule of law in that those punished h 
received no trial and had committed no crime. The prevailing view f 
South Arabians was that though this was perfectly reasonable in Whitehall 
K was a pity that the British did not uphold the law of which they were 
proud in other ways. No terrorist or murderer had been punished since th° 
Emergency began and the militants were able to attack British troops with 
impunity safe from a judicial deterrent. The Federal ministers complained 
that the conditions which had thrown up the policy to close the borders 
and deport had been largely created by British inability to implement the 
laws. The bluff had been called and once it was realised that the Federal 
government was helpless in the face of British opposition, FLOSY soon 
regained the lost ground and the terror continued. Few incidents did more 
harm to the Federal government in the eyes of their people. They felt it was 
a puppet indeed, tied to Britain's apron strings and smacked' down if it 
showed any initiative of its own. 

Before the full extent of the Federal humiliation became clear thev 
chalked up another victory. Muhammad Hassan Obali the AdeniMinisterof 
Education confounded the critics and brought off a feat considered 
impossible by even his closest colleagues. For more lhan a vear the schools 
had been closed. Encouraged by FLOSY the students had stayed away from 
school and had formed the nucleus of many a pro-FLOSY demonstration 
The schools were due to re-open in September. FLOSY told the students to 
stay away, the Federal government told them to go back. On the first day of 
term there was a 95% attendance. Obali succeeded bv brilliantly exploiting 
the momentary upsurge of Federal prestige and the frustration felt by the 
bulk of the students who saw their future threatened by continued absence 
frou the classroom. He also initiated his opportune tactics bv forming his 
own bands of pro-Federal students who routed and eventually took over 
officials at the Ministry of Education made prim noises about the ethics of 
the Minister's tactics yet there can be no doubt that without them 
thousands of young South Arabians would have lost another vear's 
schooling through no fault of their own. 

The border remained closed until December when it was re-opened as a 
conciliatory gesture to the United Nations. For the last two months the 
effectiveness of the sanction was seriously weakened bv the activities of 
smugglers. Many thousands of pounds worth of Yemeni qat was seized and 
burnt by the Federal authorities but enough got through to brim- the Adeni 
market back to normal. 

The prest ige of the Federal government was wan ing fast and many of the 
mm isters were losi ngheart. Even the news that part of the NLF had formally 
broken with FLOSY in November failed to cheer them up. British control 
had made them look foolish and had isolated them from the people. British 
civil servants provided much of the cement which held the Federation 
together yet their presence so necessary to put Federal administration on 
its teet was fast becoming self-defeating. A traditional and important 


punished had 
liling view 0 f 

0 in Whitehall 

1 they were so 
shed since the 
:h troops with 
•s complained 
is the borders 
nplement the 
at the Federal 
FLOSY soon 
ent.s did more 
hey felt it was 
ed down if it 

ie clear they 
t considered 
ir the schools 
ed away from 
ic students to 
ie first day of 
ly exploiting 
in felt by the 
nied absence 
' forming his 
1 ly look over 
juth'. British 
the ethics of 
ithout them 
other year's 

-opened as a 
months the 
activities of 
is seized and 
lg Ihe Adeni 

many of the 
lad formally 
itish control 
yple. British 
t Federation 
istration on 
1 important 

aspect of Arab rule is that the ruler should be accessible to the people high 
or low, and it is through the personal contact that he takes decisions and 
maintains his influence. In their states the Federal rulers were able to 
continue the custom. The complicated machinery of Federal government 
with its finance votes and committees made it impossible. Even its most 
basic decisions especially those concerning security which as often as not 
also involved the British Services and Aden Police became bogged down in 
endless exchange of minutes and meetings. One example will suffice. Two 
shanty towns of perhaps five hundred people had grown up on the 
outskirts of the Federal capital of al Ittihad. They had both provided cover 
for bazooka attacks on ministers' houses and were obvious security risks. 
They should have been cleared away. The decision was soon taken in 
principle but never tarried out due to interminable haggling over 
compensation to the inhabitants. One, Hiswa, was jusl inside Aden 
Colony. Federal servants driving through it to work one morning were 
appalled to see two large NLF flags flying from the gables of huts on either 
side of the road immediately next door lo an Aden Police Post. The Federal 
authorities asked the Aden Police to remove them. The Aden Police 
demurred: no offence had been committed. The talks went on until one 
man driving back stopped his car and pulled them down himself. Such acts 
of initiative were few and far between. 

By the time the ninth anniversary of the Federation's inception arrived 
on 11 February 1967 little enthusiasm was left for what most now regarded 
as a lost cause. The outward appearances were still there. The Federal Hag 
flew from al Ittihad and there was no part of the country which the rebels 
could claim to hold. The Federal forces still gave an appearance of loyalty, 
and the administration appeared to work. Yet the facade was' fast 
crumbling as the cancer of revolution spread outwards from Aden into the 
army, the police and the very Councils of the Federation. On the day of the 
celebrations Aden was paralysed with a general strike, al Ittihad had been 
rather ineffectively mortared and a battery of projectiles timed to go off 
during the parade discovered and disarmed. A mine was found on the 
helicopter pad where Sir Richard Turnbull was scheduled to alight and it is 
small wonder that the attendance was unusually small. The faint-hearted 
, trie d to persuade the High Commissioner to stav awav as there was real 
tear or an attempt on his life. He refused and carried off his part with 
Plomb. Although the 'festivities' passed off without further incident and 
ere was a good deal of forced jovialitv. evervbodv was glad to gel back 
™ sate and sound. * " 

the Atlen su k urD °* a ' Mansura lies some eight miles across the bay from 
towi"T n P ° rt ' n a W ' de ex P anse of br °vvn desert. It was built as a model 
i 1 , ! p m the early sixties, with an extravagantly designed market and 
out jail. The British administration regarded it as the major 

well laid 

^ThT a" ? d " Ve t0 solve tne Sony's chronic housing shortage, 
desert Ff iokirigl - v caI1 al Mansura 'City of Sand'; the surrounding 
otters no protection and the high monsoon of summer brings 


smdstorms which make life unbearable in the narrow streets. Sand i s 
everywhere in a vellow fuzz that cloaks the town, making it almost 
invisible from the nearbv coast road to Little Aden. Nevertheless with the 
cheap government rents and modern conveniences the square, gaily 
painted houses, proved a great attraction. Demand soon exceeded supply, 
and it was no surprise that at least one member ol the Aden government 
earned himself a considerable amount of money and great popularity by 
ensurin" that his constituents and friends secured the best houses. Later, 
when the "oing became harder he wisely abandoned public office and 
opened a bar instead. This was in the good old days: by the evening of 27 
February 1<J67 things were different. Al Mansura had already achieved that 
air of studied neglect common lo most Arab cities: ihe effect heightened by 
the presence of rival slogans daubed on walls and bullet scars which 
disfigured many of the houses. 

Scarcely a night went bv when the silence was not broken by the crump 
of a "renade or the chatter of machine-guns as su pporlers of the FLOSY and 
NLF carried out their attacks on British patrols. Men were often killed or 
injured: some unluckv enough to be at the scene of an incident were struck 
down bv splinters from a grenade or answering fire from British troops- 
others found bv relatives lying in the street labelled as an mpenalist 
stooge" shot bv the obsequious unknown gunman, or rubbed out as a result 
of some dark Arabian feud. Law and order almost completely broke : down. 
A man could be arraigned before the courts on a parking offence, but the 
most he could expect for murder would be a well paid stay in the Al 
Mansura jail used as a detention centre for captured terrorists. In the .Aden 
of 1967 murder was commonplace and alter dark sensible folk stayed 

It was the time of evening meal and the streets were almost deserted. A 
few urchins played Arabian hop-scotch at a street corner while the 
occasional black and vellow taxi cruised by hopefully '«°k'^ f ° la J^ 
By 7 pm most families settled down for the night, preferring the delights 
Aden television to the uncertain dangers of the streets. 

In one of the grander houses on the outskirts of the town a ™ddle-agea 
woman preparing supper for her family happened to glance out o * 
window. Two men had climbed over the purdah wall «h> 
surrounded the house and were struggling to place a large « 
explosives on the windowsill. The woman screamed. As the men tie 
three sons of the house came out to see what all the was about 
eldest was despatched to the house of the family fnend and 
Aden's Assistant Commissioner of Police. Hamed Khan ^ J» C e 
returned with two constables. A brief discussion fo lowed and ^one o 
policemen, helped by an old and sleepy tribesman who was suppose? 
he watchman, gingerly carried the explosives out into the roaci. 

•January- 12 killed. 82 wounded. February- -M killed. 146 wounded. 


explosion could be heard twelve miles away in Government House where 
Sir Richard Turnbull was about to have dinner: when the dust settled, three 
sons of Abdul Qawi Mackawee, political leader of FLOSY, lay dead 
together with their watchman and police companions. 

Mackawee, charming, personable and ineffectual. How many times in 
the previous two years he must have regretted leaving his comfortable 
job. By this time Mackawee was way out of his depth. His book-keeping 
methods, learnt in the quiet of an Aden counting house, proved a dismal 
failure when applied to the ways of up-country tribesmen — he had never 
in his life been far out of Aden and was baffled by the complex and 
unsophisticated nature of the people with whom he had to deal. It was 
small wonder that he preferred the cool of his air-conditioned villa in 
Cairo to campaigning in the rugged mountains of the Aden Protectorates. 

In Aden people liked Mackawee, they sympathised with him and 
considered him harmless, a victim of circumstances beyond his control. 
All were deeply shocked by the murder of his sons and if some felt that he 
had brought the disaster upon himself by giving unspoken consent to 
cold-blooded killings carried out in the name of his Front, then they kept 
their thoughts to themselves. 

Adenis dearly loved a good funeral: they have an almost Irish attitude to 
death and in the past have sometimes put on the most convincing displays 
of grief for the most unlikely people. On this occasion there was no doubt as 
to a genuine feeling of sympathy for Mackawee, and FLOSY agitators were 
quick to take advantage of it. The party was already competing on the 
ground for su pport with the breakway KLF and this was a not-to-be missed 
chance of rallying an impressive d isplay of public solidarity. 

Throughout the night white-shirted young men slipped from house to 
house organising and co-ordinating the morrow's procession while their 
mothers and sisters sat up sewing banners and painting slogans on 
placards. Not to be outdone, the NLF condemned the killings and promised 
to send a delegation while the pro-FLOSY Aden Trades Union Congress 
declared a general strike and a day of mourning. 

Of course, the British were blamed. Cairo Radio declared that it had 
positive proof that British Intelligence was responsible for the killings, and 
Mackawee himself seized the microphone in the Yemeni capital of Sana to 
threaten revenge against the 'Imperialist murderers'. Despite all the noise 
and propaganda, most people had more than a sneaking feeling that the 
real culprits were amongst the hard faced men. who gathered under the 
banners of the NLF for the funeral in the steaming Arab town of Crater on 
the following day. 

For some time past the FLOSY High Command and its Egyptian backers 
had been desperately striving to unite all the extremists in one organisation 
and in the process had been quietly liquidating some of the more 
recalcitrant NI.F supporters. In consequence, the NLF had private y 
warned Mackawee of retaliation unless he put a stop to this policy: they 
had intended the fatal charge to underline this, not anticipating the tu 


f those who gathered in Crater on that hot afternoon must have 
MaIl | > cd the truth: although one prominent FI.OSY supporter* had been 
suspect ^ on , v Uv0 (lays beforc it was s tjll heresy to suggest differences 
8Unn ?olutionary ranks. Both sides made strenuous efforts to preserve the 
facade of u ni, >' : in yny caSe there WCr ° m ° re vulnorable scy Pegoats on 
ha "f Sollt [ 1 Arabian League had never been happy as partners with Asnag 
nmS The marriage was short-lived as Presidenl Nasser did not look 
kindly upon the League's habit of accepting money and advice from Faisal 

° f \n 1966 [hev decided to return to Aden. The real leaders held back to see- 
how things worked out, and instead sent the garrulous Shaikhan al Habshi 
to look after their affairs. Things worked out badly; unwilling to share the 
responsibility of ruling with the Federal government, yet at the same time 
openly consorting with the British and Saudis, the party fell between two 
stools They were hated by the extremists for having 'betrayed the 
revolution' and regarded by the Egyptians as being Saudi stooges. On the 
other hand, the League were mistrusted by the British and Federal 
authorities as they could never bring themselves to climb down off the 

fei Thus after the death of Mackawee's sons the day before, the arrival of a 
tense little group of SAL supporters to take part in the funeral procession of 
'revolutionary martyrs' infuriated the extremists. High words were soon 
exchanged, scuffles broke out and a SAL banner was ripped down and 
trampled underfoot. Enraged, two SAL men drew pistols and fired a 
number of shots at their tormentors before fleeing to the sanctuary of a 
nearby mosque. The mob howled in pursuit and cornered the luckless 
Arabs in the minaret. There, after a brief struggle, they were both hurled 
down to the waiting crowd below and savagely beaten to death with wood 
torn from nearby packing cases. The Aden Civil Police looked on. Still 
twitching, the bodies were then triumphantly displayed to the 
international press before being dragged around the streets of Crater: a 
swift eddy in the stream of the procession, spat upon by the women and 
kicked by the urchins. 

These excitements threw out the well-planned organisation of the 
procession so that it was not until after four o'clock that the head of the 
crowd turned into the long straight road which leads to the Aidrus Mosque. 
The oldest and most famous of Aden's holy places, the Aidrus Mosque with 
jts ancient history and tall minaret standing out white against the sullen 
backcloth of the surrounding hills had been a natural choice for the burial 
ground. The six coffins draped in the red, white and black flags of Arab 
revolution were slowly borne up the street to the accompaniment of a 

2 8Pt'bru a S v ' ' S "" mli - Minister ot Ixiisil Gmfimmenl in (tie Mankaivcc shot in Ma.ilhi 


steadily increasing chant of 'Mack-a-vvcc', 'Mack-a-wee' as the to 000 
strong crowd responded to the expert direction of its cheer-leaders. Apart 
from FI.OSY and the NLF most of the unions and sports clubs were 
represented. Each contingent marched under its own banner and many of 
their supporters held aloft pictures of Mackawee and his sons. Far and 
away most impressive was the 500-strong block of black-cloaked* women 
whose shrill voices screaming for revenge could be heard above all. 

By the time the crowd reached the mosque, emotion was at its peak: the 
sound of chanting and stamping of feet rose to a crescendo and the people 
were ready for anything. A party of youths who had been biding their time 
all afternoon flung themselves across the road in a cordon to prevent 
anybody from dispersing and small boys scurried to and fro distributing 
water to the thirsty marchers. 

Suddenly, as the coffins entered the gloom of the mosque — there was 
si lence, a moment of truth — a time when the whole world seemed to pause, 
it was a chance which the agitators took with both hands. Anonymous 
shouts of 'down with the League', 'death to the traitors' were immediately 
taken up by thousands of voices, and with one accord the crowd turned and 
headed back down the road for the SAL headquarters about half a mile 

The South Arabian League's Headquarters in Aden was a long, one- 
storey building surrounded by a high wall on the outskirts of the town. 
About twenty members who had been discussing the day's events heard 
advance news of the crowd's intentions and now took up positions on the 
roof. All means of escape were cut off so they were harangued by Shaikhan 
al Ilabshi and, with a miscellany of weapons, prepared to defend 
themselves to the last. 

One of the more clear-headed rang up the Aden Armed Police to demand 
protection, the rest contented themselves with firing random shots down 
the street from which the crowd was likely to appear. The sound of firing 
and the sight of two lorry loads of steel-helmeted, black-belted armed 
policemen speeding towards the SAL bu ikling, had a sobering effect on the 
advancing crowd so that in the event, only a hard core of KLOSY and NLF 
supporters faced a hurriedly formed cordon of police outside SAL's 
wrought iron gate. The hiatus which followed was quickly broken by SAL 
themselves, who opened up a steady fire on their attackers, killing three. 

Everybody then shot at everybody else and lor the next five minutes 
confusion was compounded and only brought to an end by the timely 
arrival of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers who briskly dispersed the 
crowd and stopped the fighting. The NLF and FLOSY gunmen quickly 
melted away so that when the mob had disappeared, the troops were 
confronted with the amazing spectacle of what seemed to them to be twenty 

* Exactly one year later on 28 February 1968 a party of some 30 women attempted to ma 
to the mosque ami lay wreaths on .the' six graves. Within a few minutes they were pouni 
upon by NLK militia and driven off in tandrovcrs. The wreaths were hurnt in the street. 


(1 terrorists thanking AJ lah and the British for having saved their lives. 
ar Grimly the troops moved in. The hapless South Arabian Leaguers were 

mptly disarmed and lined up against the wall of their headquarters as 
jhe soldiers commenced to search the building. 

Twenty minutes later the telephone rang in the house of a British 
D0 ]itica! officer: it was Shaikhan al Habshi. 

Eventually the Arabian accent gave way to Northumbrian. 'What do yer 
mean, he's allowed to carry a pistol, this bloody joker has got two 
landmines under his desk! - 

The list of other unlicensed arms and explosives sei/.ed at the SAL 
Headquarters included: three 36 grenades, one clamp mine, three pistols, 
one tear gas grenade, two tins of detonators, four pistol magazines and a 
quantity of assorted ammunition. 

The violence of the day was not yet over. That evening. Foreign Office 
man, Tony Ingeldovv, and his pretty dark-haired wife were giving a 
cocktail party in their spacious Maalla flat. They were a popular couple and 
the party was well attended, so that a good cross-section of Aden's middle- 
ranking British officialdom chatted gaily over their drinks while the two 
children of the house slept peacefully in the next room. If the unexplained 
absence of one of the white turbanncd Arab servants who unobtrusively 
handed round the refreshments was noticed, il was only as a domestic 
inconvenience, common enough in South Arabia, and the whole 
atmosphere was relaxed. 

Three wives working as telephonists at Government House swapped 
notes on their charges, bronzed secretaries sipped their gins and flirted 
with the younger men, whilst their seniors gossiped happily in the corners. 

At precisely nine o'clock there was a blinding flash of light as a 
landmine, hidden in the bookcase, exploded and cut a swath of destruction 
across the room. Of the three telephonists, two lay dying and the third was 
maimed for life; nine others were wounded to some degree. The uninjured 
recovered quickly. Some went off to guide the ambulances which were 
soon on their way. as the remainder gave rudimentary first aid to the 
wounded. An RAF dentist who had himself been hit by flying splinters 
made a valiant but futile attempt to save one of the dying women: Ken 
Brazier, the BBC correspondent, who lived in the flat above, rushed down 
to help b 0 f ore hurrying off to the cable office. * 

The British community were stunned by the tragedy. Although attacks 
were a daily occurrence, they were directed mainly against the troops and 
casualties were relatively light. This was the first time that terrorism had 
struck at the sheltered heart of British social life and it was the first time 
•hat a trusted servant had turned against his employers.* 

hi the next few days dozens of houseboys were given notice, families 

bookcisp' 1 ^ n nidcle " in the cupboard of a bookcase. Tidying up before the party, the 

onto its s i I i " su . 1 s lraighl and books arranged upright. This apparently knocked the mine 
ue . otherwise tho destruction would havu been much greater. 


making plans to bring their children out for the Easter holidays thou«h 
again and some started arrangements to send their belongings home Th 
security rule limiting twelve guests to a party which had already been * 
force for some time, was from now on strictly applied and the era of the 
Aden cocktail parlies was brought to a close. 

The day's events had in various ways made an equal impression on the 
people of Aden. " e 

That night, forced to take the bodies of their dead to l.ahej. having been 
prevented by the mob from burying them in Aden, the remnants of the 
South Arabian League quietly packed their bags and moved their 
headquarters to the strongly guarded residential area of Khormaksar. At the 
same time, many of the parly's frightened supporters, using the allegation 
that the men had fired on the funeral procession from the mosque, so 
breaking Muslim traditions, as an excuse, faded away. 

On the other hand, Fi.OSY were jubilant: I he success of the procession 
had exceeded their wildest expectations and they openly accused the NLF 
of being responsible for the Mackawee crime, boasting that the murderers 
would shortly meet their just deserts. 

Over the water in the NLF stronghold of Little Aden they took the hint. 
Meeting in darkness lit only by the eerie glow given off by burning waste 
from the massive oil refinery. NLF leaders concluded that the way to 
survive was to cam' on an all-out campaign of murder and intimidation 
against their FLOSY rivals and so regain control of Die revolutionary 

In Aden Pandora's box had been opened with a vengeance and from this 
day on the various communities which had at one time combined to make 
it a prosperous and happy place, finally broke apart. The final descent into 
chaos and bloodshed had begun. 

* A seventeen your old girl was killed as a result of a tjronadc thrown at a children's Christmas, 
party in Christmas 1904 but few of the British in Aden in \m? were around at that time. 

Chapter V 

Federal Government at Bay 

Autumn 1966-Spring 1967 

Often able politicians in South Arabia, six arc in the present Fee/era J 
Government. Un/orlunoteiy 1/iey all seem to hold different views. 

Visiting British Official March 1967 

Dr Haatgcldi is not tin Arab — he is impartial. 


President of Amnesty International 
19 October 1066 

The Federal government wore worried. In their half-built capital of al 
Iltihad the Shaikhs watched events in Aden across the bay with increasing 
alarm. The mounting tide of terrorism in the Colony meant that the 
Fedcralis were losing their grip and much of the armament being used 
against the British in the streets of Aden had either passed through Federal 
territory without the rulers' knowledge, or with their tacit consent. 

The fundamental weakness of the Federal government coincided with 
that ol the territory as a whole — there was no leader. South Arabia had no 
Nkrurna, Kenyatta or Nehru to lead it to independence and it was forced to 
fall back on lesser fellows. Predictably, the dominant personality in the 
Federal government, the black bearded, bespectacled Hussain bin Ahmad 
al Habili, Sharif of Baihan, had retired to his stale I wo years previously and 
had steadfastly refused to return to al Ittihad. The Sharif was the one man 
whose prestige, intellect and experience could have held his quarrelsome 
colleagues together. Instead he preferred to stay in Baihan watching events 
V a ^.Vniral eye and amusing himself by plotting with the Saudis and 
nrowmg hard-boiled eggs at visiting journalists. All the while he kept his 
ands firmly on the valuable portfolio of Federal Minister of the Interior, 
.ack ot a leader was one problem, the ramshackle Federal constitution 
^<js another. Under the existing system the offices of President and Prime 
cha'i' Stfir i"' ' 10t exist ' lnsteai1 on f,,e eleventh dav of each month a new 
gove' 1 dcd the Supreme Council, which was the cabinet of the 
result' lm ? nt ' and eacn of tne four leen ministers took the chair in turn. As a 
one ° the exiJerts could say who led the Federal government at any 
iealou" 710 system was initially introduced to dampen the tribal 

nine ^ nuinuu suspicion rarely absent from Federal Councils. After 
- fia rs it had become ridiculous. The constant change at the top not 


only reflected the Federal government's lack of leadership but -it 
prevented the ministers from doing themselves justice. The inartieul a t° 
fisherman Naiqa prepared to lace the United Nations: Ihe brilliant but 
immilitary Obali found himself scampering along lines of immaculatel 
turned out Federal soldiers with the brigadier in hot pursuit: Nasir bin 
Aidris. the young chain-smoking Sultan of Lower Aulaqi, grappled with 
the intricacies of protocol, while others more suited to the tasks in hand 
shuffled in the background. 

The Federal government readily appreciated the harm done to them bv 
their own constitution and as previously mentioned had invited two 
experts, Sir Ralph Hone and Sir Gawain Bell, to adjust it. These eminent 
gentlemen suggested a two-house system, rulers being members of the 
upper and less powerful house while elected members would eventually 
sit in the lower, which would provide the Prime Minister and the Cabinet. 
The President was to be a member of the upper house with the privilege of 
selecting the Prime Minister. No ruler could be a member of the lower 
house — if he wanted to be, he had to resign his position within his state. 
There were other suggestions concerning state representation and the 
elevation of Aden as the capital city which, although hotly debated at the 
timu, had little bearing on the course of future events. 

The Federal government rejected the idea of an upper house, principally 
on economic grounds: South Arabia was not a rich country and members of 
parliament drawing large government salaries had to be kept to a 
minimum. After some debate they agreed that no ruler could be a member 
of the Cabinet. They then set about selecting their President and Prime 
Minister and defining their respective powers. No ready solution being 
available, a plethora of committees to study the matter sprang up. As 
expected they decided to offer the Presidency to the Sharif of Hainan and as 
expected, the Sharif declined. 

The Sharif's refusal left the field wide open. The main contestants for 
office were Sultan Salih, Minister of Interior — conservative, endlessly 
patient and vastly knowledgeable of tribal affairs— and his rival, 
Muhammad Farid al Aulaqi, the Minister of External Affairs, whose 
excellent English and dapper exterior cloaked relentless ambition. The 
root of the trouble was that Muhammad Farid could not make up his mind 
whether he wanted the power of Prime Minister or the glory of the 
President. He would not risk serving under Salih who had the theoretical 
power to dismiss him and at the same time could not bear the thought o 
somebody else pulling the strings. Farid dreamt of the day when the Aulaqi 
nation would once again dominate South Arabia and concentrated his 
efforts to this end. He had found common cause with the shy retiring Fadh 
bin Ali of Lahej. Minister of Defence, as both had long standing feuds with 
the South Arabian League whom they rightly suspected Salih of arming^ 

As Sultan of Lahej. the largest and richest State of Aden, Fadhl bin A 
should have dominated Federal politics. lie always dressed in the sty a 
an Indian Maharajah and had been brought up in a world where the Au aq 


spoke onlv to Lahej and Lahej spoke only to Got!— represented in South 
Arabia by the British Governor in Aden. The Sultan vvas therefore put out 
by ihe small fry with whom he rubbed shoulders in the Supreme Council 
and could not bring himself to engage in the necessary social and political 
activities which would have brought him more prominence. He contented 
himself by throwing his not inconsiderable prestige behind Muhammad 

Sultan Salih was supported by Abdul Rahman Girgirah, the Minister of 
Information who, as the longest-serving Adeni, could normally control the 
votes of his three Aden colleagues on the Supreme Council. Girgirah was 
President of the United National Party and a man of considerable political 
experience. When his interests were not involved he could be relied upon 
lo give sound advice. Girgirah had been suggested as a compromise for 
both posts but he settled for deputy President and Minister for Aden 
Affairs, a new portfolio which had been proposed by Hone and Bell. 

The dispute wrangled on. By mid-March it was politically important for 
the Federal government lo produce their new constitution due to the 
imminent arrival of a United Nations' Mission lo investigate the territory's 
progress to independence. Eventually a meeting of the Supreme Council 
was called to decide the matter. Sir Richard Turnbull, the High 
Commissioner, who had been getting more and more impatient, was to 
attend later to hear the Federal decision. 

The meeting was opened by Shaikh Ali Atif. the pedantic and grubby 
Minister of Health from Lower Yafa'. 

'Well,' ho said, pushing his turban to one side, 'this is an Arab country 
and we must abide by Arab traditions.' 

Naturallv evervbodv present nodded in solemn agreement. 

■It is well known', the Shaikh continued, 'that the most successful Arab 
monarch i n recent history was King Abdul Aziz bin Saud of Saudi Arabia. 

This was old ground and again everyone agreed. 

•He uniled Saudi Arabia and the way he did it', said the Shaikh, was to 
rnarrv from each of the tribes. If the President of South Arabia is to unite the 
country then he must rnarrv a girl from each of the seventeen States. 

All might have been well if Salim Naiqa had not overheard Muhammaa 
Farid remark. -Well that lets out our Adeni friends— they can't manage on . 
woman, let alone seventeen.' ■ I 

Naiqa. a baldheaded bull of a man from Little Aden, normally sai 
nothing, hut now he was furious. Rising from his seat he seized a tied 
glass ashtray which he bashed on the table shouting, 'I've got tourtee 
children from one wife! Can anybody beat that?' 

Somebody replied that it vvas performance and not production tnai 

required. , „,,ttins 

Taking advantage of the laughter. Shaikh Ali went on. M am not pun » 
myself forward but I should like it to be put on record that I am M 
capable of this. Furthermore, in order that everything should ° e ' Df 
board, the girls should be inspected regularly.' He then suggested 


mnes his Permanent Secretary, be appointed to take on the task. 
Ce r e rtainly not." roared his colleagues. "We must have a neutral doctor. 

on ^™|?ah intS^n A ed toteing the meeting back to practical lines, but 
feelings had been ruffled and the problem of the constitution was never 

rCS , 0l l£ meantime the Federal government had other things on its mind 
hi less than the arrest of the Sultan of Wahidi and the Federal 
?r„,ctPr of Agriculture for complicity in mass murder. 

i ein the afternoon of 22 November 1966 a Dakota of Aden Airways left 
Jill town of Maifah. the Wahidi capital, on a routine flight tor Aden. As 

fll s a crew of three it had on board twenty-eight passengers including 
Muhammad bin Said, the Prime Minister of Wahidi. Major Tim Goshen, a 
British political officer. Graham Macglashen, a young representative o 
Shell arid Kventv-five other passengers including one carrying a faded 
Aden Airways bag. Some fifteen minutes later the plane crashed and all 

ab ?SSors arriving at the scene of the crash soon found irrefutable 
evidence that it had been caused by an explosion in the passenger cabin. 

• The Sultan of Wahidi. Nasirbin Abdullah, was in al Ittihad at the tmieof 
the disaster. He was a small man in stature and intellect, perpetually 
dwarfed bv a large mauve turban. His brief moments of animation were 
usually confined to conversations about fishing with Ins friend Salim 

Ma when the news of the tragedy was first broken to the Sultan there can be 
no doubt that he was deeply shocked and later when the implications 
became known he made an emotional speech vowing to do anything in his 
power to bring the murderers to justice-it was a speech which profoundly 
impressed his colleagues in the Supreme Council and convinced some ot 
his innocence. Investigations soon revealed that Muhammad bin Said was 
a bitter personal enemv of the Sultan who feared his growing influence in 
the state. The Sultan had as his naib in Wahidi a younger brother, the Amir 
Muhammad, whose hatred of the Prime Minister verged on mania and who 
had made two previous attempts to assassinate him. Just after the Dakota 
left the Amir remarked that the plane would crash. Witnesses would later 
testify to seeing him hand a package to a passenger about to board the 
aircraft in Maifah. 

The Amir Muhammad and two close associates were arrested and 
brought to Aden, but the case got no further until the arrival of two 
detectives from Scotland Yard. Questioning of witnesses was difficult 
because of fear of retaliation but slowly the bare facts of the story began to 
emerge. The Federal government was later told that the Sultan's animosity 
f or his minister was well known and Kgyptian Intelligence, over quick to 

l,v T xf ! lor >' of ,tlG meeting seems improbable but it is as described to the author ami a colleague 

• Muhammad Hasan Obali. Minister of Education, who was present. 


seize the main chance, saw a way in which it could got rid of an outstandi 
opponent and at the same time discredit the Federal government 
Sultan was contacted and an agent visited his house in al Ittihad and mad 6 
up the fatal charge in an airlines bag. The charge was then taken hy air to 
Ataq and thence to the Amir Muhammad in Maifah. Almost certainly th 
Sultan had no idea that his brother would place the charge in an aeropl ar , e 
and probably intended it for the Prime Minister's house: the circumstantial 
evidence against him convinced the majority of his colleagues that at anv 
rate he was morally responsible. 

At a heated session of the Supreme Council it was decided to place the 
Sultan under a form of house arrest, the chief dissenters being Salim Naiqa 
for reasons of friendship and Sultan Nasir of Fadhli who. as Minister of 
Justice, saw he might have some nasty decisions to make. 

After the meeting the Sultan was called to the office of the Ministry of 
Internal Security and Sultan Salih lold him thai he was to be held under 
arrest pending further investigation. The Wahid i emphatically reiterated 
his innocence and there was a slight moment of tension" when his 
bodyguard, standing outside the glass door, lowered a sub-machine gun 
and for a moment looked as if he would take matters into his own hands. 
He was efficiently disarmed by a Federal Guardsman who had been 
standing by waiting for just this moment. 

A few days later the Sultan was replaced as Ruler of Wahidi by Ali, son of 
the murdered Prime Minister. 

The Federal government never brought Sultan Nasir lo trial, mainly 
because they were engrossed in other problems and the machinery for 
trying him did not exist. He stayed under house arrest until October when 
he was joined by his brother the Amir Muhammad, released from detention 
in al Mansura. Doth informed the Red Cross that they had carte blanche to 
leave the country but in tended to go to Wahidi. When the NLF took over the 
Sultan was arrested and charged with high treason and helping to set up 
'the bogus Federation'. He was given a ten-year sentence to be spent 'in 
construction work for the benefit of the people'. As far as is known the air 
disaster was not mentioned in the court. Three months later the Sultan was 

The interrogation and detention of the Amir Muhammad was similar to 
that undergone by several hundreds of Arabs between December 1963 and 
October 1967. The State of Emergency empowered the High Commissioner 
to arrest and detain without trial any person suspected of being connected 
with terrorist activities. However, nobody could be arrested merely on 
account of his political opinions— there had to be clear indications that he 
was connected with activities of violence. Therefore, according to the 
British, the inmates of al Mansura prison and the Fort Morbut interrogation 
centre were not political detainees in the normally accepted meaning of the 
term but suspected terrorists. 

* The Sullun and his brother now live in Abu Dhabi, where the Sultan's eldest son is an officer 
in the Defence Force and graduated from Sandhurst. 


Under the State of Emergency no provision was made to deal with 

rorist suspects except by trial by jury. In the prevailing conditions in 
\den this was clearly out of the question. Any Arab sitting on such a jury 
' -on Id have been an obvious target lor intimidation, as would be witnesses. 
The chances of the authorities collecting either witnesses or a jury 
prepared to bring in an unbiased verdict after the Khalifa trial * were nil. 

Sir Richard Turnhull asked for further powers to deal summarily with 
suspected terrorists but the Labour government always refused his 
requests and it was not until the summer of 1967 that his successor. Sir 
Humphrey Trevelyan. obtained permission for magistrates to pass severe 
sentences in such cases. 

The result of this policy, coupled with the knowledge of British 
withdrawal, was a steady increase in terrorism. t There was no deterrent 
and captured terrorists could look forward to a comfortable stay in al 
Mansura and a regular allowance from the government. When the people 
realised that no effective action was being taken to hall the spread of 
violence, the flow of intelligence to the authorities dried up. Although it 
was technically against the law to call a general strike, by March 19G7 at the 
.merest hint from FLOSY or the NLF the shutters went up. the markets were 
deserted and the bus and taxi services ground to a halt. The Aden is wore 
not willing to risk property, life and limb for a government which was loo 
feeble to enforce its own laws. In the four years of Emergency no terrorist 
was executed or even brought to trial, with the solo exception of Khalifa. 

Very early on the NLF appreciated that if they were to survive then the 
Arab Special Branch officers working with the Aden Police would have to 
be eliminated. During 1965. by assassination and intimidation, the Arab 
Special Branch was wiped out. The intelligence organisation which 
remained consisted solely of Britons, many of whom had newly arrived in 
the territory and few of whom could speak Arabic. 

After 1965 the principal source of information on terrorist activities left 
to the British was the Fort Morbut interrogation centre. The interrogation 
centre was a narrow, (wo storey building situated within an army 
cantonment perched high upon Ihe cliffs overlooking the harbour 
entrance. It commanded one of Ihe most beautiful views in Aden. 
Originally it had been the headquarters of the Military Special 
instigation Branch but was now surrounded by barbed wire. The upper 
oor was used for interrogation and offices, the lower contained six cells 

1 jcn opened out onto a small exercise yard. The interrogators were 

airily drawn from the army which alone could provide men with the 

s «-' Chapter m. 

'ii'ul 'm 4 tl! ' ri - ,risl aotivitv resulted in A killed and 32 wouncJud. In 1HB5 this had risen In killed 
Aden -Ym oundwl - >" ' !JWi H'cro were H I killed and 426 wounded |lh is included 2« killed in Ihe 
'axtnl'iv I T l;r:,s ' 1 )- first lour months of 1H67 claimed 60 dead and ,'ifi-l wounded and Ihe 
killed in l' MKS "'iiclii'd twin neaks in |un«j (112 killed and 200 wounded) and Ocluher |2K() 
' around 400 wounded). The total killed lor 1967 exceeded 900 with 2.000 wounded. 


necessary training and linguistic ability. Strict instructions weredrawnu 
prohibiting the use of violence or physical force. This was not only fo r 
humanitarian reasons but experience has shown that information gained in 
this way is usually unreliable. From the outset the interrogation centre had 
considerable success and provided information which led to the recovery 
of caches of arms and thearrestofa large number of terrorists. 

Egyptian Intelligence soon realised the danger posed by Fort Morbut 
and cast about for ways to reduce its effectiveness. Surrounded as it was bv 
a heavy guard, physical destruction was out of the question and in any case 
only a temporary measure. So they hit upon the ingenious method of 
interfering with the centres work by propaganda. Terrorists undergoing 
training in Cairo and Taiz were instructed that if captured they were to 
complain at the earliest possible moment of ill-treatment and at the same 
time told that if they kept silent no harm would come In them. Before long 
lurid tales of torture and brutality began to appear in the Egyptian press and 
on Cairo Radio. The cry was quickly taken up by the Afro-Asians and the 
Kastern Bloc in the United Nations. 

The stories also reached the ears of Amnesty International, the 
organisation concerned with the welfare of political detainees throughout 
the world. The Swedish branch of Amnesty appointed Dr Salahdin 
Rastgeldi. a gynaecologist of Kurdish origin, to investigate the matter. Dr 
Rastgeldi, supported by Peter Renensun, a founder member and President 
of Amnesty in Britain, applied to the Foreign Office for permission to go to 
Aden and carry out an investigation. In a letter later published, Walter 
Padley. Minister of State at the Foreign Office, refused. The Minister 
pointed out that Andre Rochat, representative of the Ked Cross, was 
making regular visits to both al Mansura and Fort Morbut, that a mission 
such as the one suggested would amount to a judicial inquiry and 'would 
lead to demands from parties less disinterested than Amnesty'. Further, as 
the detainees in Aden were not political detainees, Rastgeldi and Amnesty 
had no locus standi. 

Nothing daunted, Rastgeldi set out for Arabia. His first stop was at Cairo 
where he spent a week conferring with FLOSY leaders and the Egyptian 
Foreign Office before flying to Aden where he arrived on the 28 July 1966. 
The doctor made an early call upon Sir Richard Turnbull to demand 
permission to visit the detainees. lie hinted that unless his request was 
granted he won Id see to it that a considerable 'international scandal' would 
ensue. Armed with his copy of Padley's letter Sir Richard refused. His bluff 
having failed the doctor stalked angrily out of Government House and back 
to his room in the Rock Hotel where during the next five days he 
interviewed Trades Union representatives, released detainees and FLOS* 
lront organisations, returning via Cairo on the 4 August. 

According to Benenson, the Foreign Secretary, George Brown, 
approached him on the 19 September and asked him to prevent the 
publication of Rastgeldi's report. He refused. There is no doubt that the 
British government were worried about the reports coming out of Aden 


and George Brown was considering the appointment of an investigator. 
The announcement was scheduled for November but in the event was 
brought forward by the precipitate action by Amnesty. On 17 October Hans 
Frank, a Swedish lawyer, handed a copy of Rastgeldi's report to the British 
Embassador in Stockholm together with an open letter to Harold Wilson. 
The letter alleged that during his visit to Aden Dr Kastgeldi had 
investigated three-hundred cases of torture. 'British troops', the letter went 
0 n. 'had torn nails from hands and feet, extinguished cigarettes on 
detainees whom they had also starved and beaten." In answer to questions 
in the House of Commons on the following day the Foreign Secretary 
announced his intention of appointing an investigator and later, on 24 
October, it was learnt that this was to be Sir Roderick Bowen QC. a former 
Liberal MP and Deputy Speaker. 

Bowen, a Welshman of considerable wit and reputation, spent eleven 
clays in Aden, during which he made exhaustive inquiries, and returning to 
the United Kingdom on the 9 November he settled down to write his report 

In the meantime the Rastgcldi allegations had given rise to considerable 
controversy. Given that Dr Kastgeldi was an exceptional man, during his 
seven day stay in Aden to interview the minimum of three hundred 
persons he must have worked very hard indeed. Working a maximum 
sixteen hours a day in the heat of Aden he must have been able to interview 
three men an hour. Benenson. vyho supported the allegations, flew into 
Aden in an attempt to gain more evidence. It appears that he was already in 
disagreement with his colleagues in Amnesty over matters other tiian 
Aden detainees. The details of the dispute are clouded with allegation and 
counter-allegation, but it may be assumed that he badly needed to be 
proved right on Aden to maintain his position. 

During his three-day stay Benenson met the FLOSY 'Mayor' of Aden, 
Hiad Khalifa, as well as members of the FLOSY front organisation 
Graduates Congress'. On the second day, 15 November, he announced his 
intention of giving a press conference. Accordingly the press trooped up to 
the bar of the Kock I Intel where the Amnesty President sat, a small grey owl 
°t a man. nervously nibbling peanuts and twiddling with his waistcoat 
uttons. It soon became apparent that Benenson believed he had obtained 
"e information which ho sought. He reaffirmed his belief in the veracity of 
Jstgeldi's report and stated he had obtained new evidence to support it. 
e also announced his intention to request the British government to 
Ppomt an ombudsman, paid by the British but selected by the 
oc . c e "\ at ! nruii Gonfederation of Jurists, to investigate allegations as they 
cur r ' " Uas a ' so ::i PP aren t 'ha! Mr Benenson was no expert on the 
• j_rent situation of Middle Eastern affairs in general. 

gover VtSU 0ccurred at a timfi wne " tne best P art <>' ll,e Republican 
cjetenti 1 " 611 ' ° f ne ' 8nbourin 8 Yemen had been taken to Cairo and placed in 
Repuh'] 0 '' ' J " f; SVP tians who were supposed to be supporting it. 
R oya]i lc:an refugees were flooding into Aden to join the hundreds of 
s Yemenis already there. Vastly impressed by the interest and 


propaganda created by Amnesty activities over Aden some of the 
Republican exiles turned up at the press conference and attempted to 
interest him in their affairs. Benenson appeared to be taken aback— the 
kidnapping of a government, tales of the use of poison gas and the massacre 
of hundreds bv the Egyptians in the Yemen was not what he had come for. 
He seemed hard put to explain that while the prisoners of the British were 
of 'interest, those of the Egyptians were not. Eventually, when the Yemenis 
saw Mr Benenson was under the impression that their detained Prime 
Minister, Hasan al Amri, was an Egyptian, even they realised that there was 
nothing more to be done. 

The Bowen report was published on the 20 December, Rastgeld. s a day 
earlier Bowen criticised the Aden High Commission for 'a most 
regrettable failure to deal expeditiously and adequately with allegations of 
cruel " lie went on. -During the period from 18 October to 26 December 
1965 serious allegations came to light as shown by the hies of the Legal 
Advisor and Director of Medical Services. Both had pressed for 
investigation following two cases, one of severe bruising and another o 
torn ear drums. An officer of Special Branch investigated and reported hat 
The complaints are more or less localised to two rooms o the interrogation 
centre and circulate around three men.' Hicklmg. the legal adviser had 
approached the Director of Army Legal Services who in a memorandum 
Fated the complaints and medical reports did no. in the -m appear 
substantiate the allegations but expressed the view that the allegations 
no Id bf put to the three men if the Director of Intelligence agreed 
Consent was not forthcoming. By that time the three men hac left .the 
Command Mr Bowen added, 'I am satisfied that any suggestion that they 
weTspi rited away because of the allegations would be unjustified. The 
SS remain' that it investigations, had been carried out they would have 
been readily available.' . f ., m 

Bowen produced seven main recommendations Five of than, 
concerned with the tightening up of procedure for mv t gating 
complaints and the introduction of increased medical to 

detainee., were accepted: the ^-^"/H^J^^Staiy 
interrogation centre to al Mansura and the replacemen to . m > 
interrogators by civilians. Both recommendations J^^JU* 
grounds of practicability. Al Mansura was under daily at ack rorn 
Uthman-based terrorists and there were no civilian ^ le ^^ tth e 
the army personnel. Mr Bowen went out of his way to ™P^» 0 „ the 
latter recommendation 'was not intended to reflect m .any was 
present members of the interrogation staff or to sug ges 1, thaMn ^ 
personnel are any less suitable than civilians for this «ork . bu ^ ^ 
Purpose is to make the interrogation team ^P ons * ,e .^„ 5 protecting 
•High Commissioner'. Mr Bowen also said. 'The mam s tram °* E> r0 ljtary 
the population and dealing with the terrorists falls upor i 
personnel and the police. I certainly gained the ™press,on that 
speaking thev discharge their onerous duties great restraint. 


„-hat surprisingly Amnesty welcomed the Bowen Report and 
S °"l that 'Wo completely consider that the report vindicates Dr 
^'^pldi as a serious, impartial observer. - 

Ra o g tat di's report in the main reflected Amnesty's open letter to Wilson. 

h!Sn ''Many innocent people have been arrested since the 
HC .Son of the State of Emergency' and continued to list alleged 
Pr ° t rP and brutalities. His estimate of between two hundred and three 
L°mdred detainees compares with Bowen's precise figure of one hundred 
A»n \ copv of the report had been sen. to the United Nations 
rmmittce on Colonialism where it became a matter of some concern tor 
tv,°p Afro-Asian and Eastern Bloc members. 

The nffair had a curious aftermath. Following the Mackawee funeral in 
February. Benenson suddenly claimed that British troops had killed over 
£ Arabs and that the press had been prevented from reporting this 
because of strict censorship imposed by the authorities Every leading 
newspaper in Britain with correspondents in Aden refuted Benenson s 
rharees and denied that their dispatches had ever been tampered with. Ken 
Brazier made headlines himself with his denial on the BBC pomtu^ou 
that it would be impossible for fifty people to have been killed in a small 
nlace like Aden without the press hearing of it. 

That was that. A few days later Amnesty disclaimed Benenson s charges 
and the former President, who had been resigning on and oft since 
December, finally withdrew from the scene. 

In the strained conditions of Aden; the heat of street fighting and raids 
upon rebel hideouts, undoubtedly some people were roughly handled. 
Equally the conclusion is inescapable that the methods of interrogation 
and detention emploved by the British in Aden were the most humane in 
the Middle East and compared favourably with those used in similar 
circumstances anvvvhere else in the world. 

Long before the controversy over the detainees became headlines in the 
world press, a representative of the International Red Cross was making 
regular visits to both al Mansura and Fort Morbut. Andre Rochat was a man 
who had found his true vocation. He was a tall, spare Swiss, usually 
clothed in a grev lightweight suit and tropical trilby which he raised 
frequently with a grave continental courtesy. He possessed a deep sense ot 
conviction and if he found anything which he considered either unjust or 
unreasonable he did not hesitate to give the authorities, or for that matter 
the detainees, the full benefit of his opinions. Rochat's Arabic was 
. execrable and when excited his English was difficult to follow. This 
sometimes led to misunderstandings and the ill feeling engendered by the 
Rastgoldi affair did not make his task any easier. Nevertheless Rochat was 
respected bv both sides and his mission was general ly successful. This was 
Particularly so in the last few months before independence when the 
situation in al Mansura became explosive. By August, the prison was 
continuously under fire and the number of detainees had reached a record 
Peak of around two hundred and thirty. The staff, mainly senior NCOs of 


the army, were perilously thin on the ground. Incidents in which they were 
insulted, spat at and attacked became frequent, only their discipline 
prevented them making reprisals and so making matters worse. A surprise 
search of the four blocks resulted in the discovery of an alarming 
assortment of home-made weapons, including clubs and a form of Molotov 
cocktail. The possibility of a full-scale prison riot was an ever-present 
factor. Rochat and his elderly assistant, Francis Rais, bent their energies to 
prevent this and the fact that the riot never came off must partly be due to 
their efforts. 

When on dutv Rochat appeared to be covered in red crosses. There was 
one on his hat, his breast pocket and his brief case. His car, a white Renault 
station waggon, was adorned with red crosses on every side and these were 
splendidlv reinforced bv a large flag. Even so he never appeared to be 
surprised when people asked, as they frequently did, who he was. 

Although the Red Cross Aden Mission was important, Rochat is best 
known for his work in the Yemen. The civil war between the Yemeni 
Royalists and Republicans with their Egyptian allies began in 1962 and 
continued with much slaughter on both sides in the succeeding years. The 
Red Cross Mission mainlv concentrated on ihe Royalist side, providing 
hospital and medical treatment in the remote areas. Early on in the war, 
stories hegan to circulate alleging the use of poison gas by the Egyptian Air 
Force in their attacks on Royalist tribesmen. This was always vehemently 

denied by Cairo. , 
Towards the end of 1906 the number ol reports intensified and the Ked 
Cross medical teams refused to continue their work unless they were 
issued with gas masks. Because of the political neutrality ot the 
International Red Cross they were withdrawn; to accede to the request 
would have been tantamount to stating that the reports were true. 

In January 1907 the Royalists invited a large party of the international 
press to their mountain stronghold of Kitaf which they claimed had been 
gassed three weeks before. On 5 January the American entrepreneur, 
lushrod Howard, a remarkable figure with horned rimmed spectacles, 
orchid, and flowing Arab cloak lined with golden sovereigns, chaperonea 
the party of twentv journalists, including two women, who made m 
formidable one hundred and twenty mile journey by donkey ana ro 
across the mountains and sands from the Saudi Arabian border town 

Na Onarrival in Kitaf with its brown buildings half invisible against the 
mountainside, the press saw a remarkable sight. Animals f ""'"^ 
their stalls stone dead and the carcases of others strewn about tho s 
and fields, over forty newly dug graves and a number of wide but sn 
craters. The survivors of the raid, mostly children, illiterate tribesmen 
the old, to a man described the same thing. The aeroplanes, th « bom ° nuth . 
blue smoke followed bv the choking, the blistering, the frothing m ^ 
blindness and death. The journalists were particularly .mpressea y ^ 
fragments of bomb casing still in evidence. Having endureu 


nforts of the journey, they knew too much about Yemen, powers of 
diSC Sion to believe that this was a gigantic hoax. The Royalists claimed 
orga Sred and twenty people had fallen victim to the attack and at the 
0116 „ htKDital doctors said they had treated one hundred and eighteen 
N T^ When Bushrod offered to have one of the graves opened so that the 
Tl \t held could be inspected they refused; they had already seen 
b y J In the light of this evidence it was obvious that had 
eI1 »v iouslv been considered rumour could quite well have been fact 
. pr t °n husiastic was Bushrod to prove the existence of gas that he had the 
° P of' a dead cow from Kitaf transported back to Jiddah tor 
^amin-ition Unfortunately the sun and Arabian delay did their work and 
£ stench when the cow eventually arrived at its destination was reported 
rpmarkable even by local standards. 

On the way back to Jiddah to file their stories, the journalists spent the 
nioht in the Najran customs house. Early in the morning they awoke to the 
«mnd of exploding bombs as the town was attacked by Egyptian planes. 
Fortunately the bombing was inaccurate, the only immediate casualties 
hein« two children. Several of the bombs did not explode on impact and a 
German television team rolled them into position to take the necessary 
nictures The team, led by Walter Mechtel (who was later shot in Aden) 
learned afterwards that some of the bombs had been fitted with delayed 
action charges and later had exploded, killing two Saudi policemen 

Despite the press reports Egypt continued to stoutly deny the charges 
and a certain amount of doubt remained because of lack ol reliable medical 
evidence. The final expose was to be provided by Rochat. 

In Mav 19fi7 reports reached Rochat. then in northern Yemen, ol a gas 
attack in the Wadi Hiran, thirty miles east of the Republican-held capita ot 
Sana. On 10 Mav. determined lo verify the facts for once and tor all, Rochat 
set out together with two Swiss doctors and an Italian journalist for the 
stricken area. On the second day of the journey the parly camped for the 
night in the lower reaches of the Wadi. As was customary each ot the 
vehicles carried prominent Red Cross insignia and. to make certain they 
could be easily identified from the air, a twelve-metre square red cross was 
laid out in the camping area. At 7.45 on the following morning Rochat 
stretching his legs after breakfast, saw the first plane appear from behind 
the screen of mountains. His instinct warned him that something was 
wrong and with a cry of warning to his companions he dashed to the cover 
of a nearbv grove. Guards, doctors and journalists were quick to follow but 
•the head guard, Yahya Salih, stayed in the open gesticulating towards the 
enormous Red Cross'flag on the ground. The plane had been joined by two 
others: thev replied with a hail of machine-gun bullets. The guard fell to 
the ground, his blood spattering the flag. Four times the planes returned, 
m achm e -g Unning and bombing: luckily there were no further casualties. It 
ma V be that the Egyptians believed they were attacking a disguised 
Royalist arms convoy but the Red Cross presence in the area was well 
known and thev did have reason to fear what the doctors would discover on 


the following day. 

Rochat and his party proceeded to the scene of the gas attack and (he- 
investigation proved beyond all shadow of doubt that seventy-fiv^ 
tribesmen had been killed as a result of phosgene gas poisoning. The 
Committee of the International Red Cross in Ceneva studied Rochat's 
reports and for the first time in its one hundred and four year history the 
Committee issued a public statement which indirectly accused the 
Egyptians of using gas, a form of warfare forbidden by the Geneva 
Convention to which the United Arab Republic is a signatory. 

On his next visit to Cairo, Rochat personally protested about the attack 
on his convoy to the Egyptian Foreign Office and was understandably 
surprised when they blandly informed him that he must have been 

In all, the Egyptians are thought to have made over seventy gas attacks 
during their five-year occupation of the Yemen. The last known raid of this 
kind was on the Bani Qais, a tribe living somesixtv miles due west of Sana 
on the 17 June 1967, after the war with Israel. 

After some political manoeuvring, the matter was brought to the notice 
of the United Nations by Saudi Arabia but was not thought worth debate. 
Similarly, the Bcrtrand Russell Peace Foundation, engrossed in 
condemning American action in Vietnam, easily reconciled its conscience 
on gas by considering that this was an internal matter in which it could not 

All classes of South Arabians were appalled by events in the Yemen. 
Nobody wanted the same thing to be repeated in their country. The United 
Nations enjoyed considerable prestige and everybody had looked forward 
to the visit of a United Nations' Mission which they were sure that if all else 
failed would bring a happy end to their troubles. 

Chapter VI 

This Month's Magicians 

April 1967 


It is outrageous, they are showing 'Bonanza' instead of our 

Keila of Mali 

The hloody British have been responsible for more bloodshed in the 
world than anybody else. 

Shalizi of Afghanistan 

Towards the end of February 1967, Shaikh Muhammad Farid, the Foreign 
Minister, who was internationally the most presentable member of the 
Federal government, flew into London accompanied by Abdul Rahman 
Girgirah, the Minister of Information. Their aim was to try and persuade the 
British government that it was useless to fix a date for independence unless 
there were cast-iron guarantees for the protection of the new state. 

By this time Girgirah was nearing the end of his lether. He was a firm 
believer in the Federal system and had taken part in the negotiations from 
the start. For nine long years he had borne the abuse of his fellow Adenis 
not to mention Cairo and Sana Radios and the pressure was steadily 
increasing. Two of his cousins, leading members of FLOSY, were actively 
plotting his assassination and family insistence that he leave South Arabia 
grew as threat succeeded threat. Slowly it became apparent to his 
colleagues in the Supreme Council that Girgirah would far rather be sent on 
missions abroad than sit in his Ministry at Steamer Point. The break was to 
oome later, but for the present he was content to accompany Shaikh 
Muhammad on his talks with the Foreign Office and Members of 
janiament. They were promised nothing in the way of material aid but 
^ r ere successful in compelling the British government lo acknowledge that 
im ° U . Araoia u ' as to become independent by the end of the year, it was 
Fe ? eratlve f o find a government for it. The only one available was the 

c eral government. Although the British regarded it as too narrow in its 
P -sent state they felt at least it would form the nucleus of the future 
■no-opendent government. 

British p /5Ua '~ )ia WaS uecornin 8 atl increasing embarrassment to the British. 
f he U ■, f S T erfi being lost t0 1,0 Purpose; British diplomats castigated at 
v vorld i ^ ations and British relations with the remainder of the Arab 
unduly complicated bv the issue. From 'the maintenance and 


15 Minister of State, George Thomson (the only Labour Minister to be trusted b 
the Arabs). 

security of the base' through to 'the intention to guide South Arabia to 
peaceful independence and leave behind a strong and stable government,' 
the aims of the British South Arabian policy had been abandoned one by 
one. By the time Farid and Girgirah arrived the aim was 'to get out as 
quickly as possible'. 

On the 17 March George Thomson, Minister of State at the Foreign 
Office, was sent out to try and do a deal with the Federal government. 
Independence in November with the promise of air cover for six months 
afterwards. Thomson's visit came as a complete surprise to the Federal 

He arrived on a Friday, the South Arabian rest day, so that many ot 
ministers had left for a weekend in their home states and heard the news c 
the BBC. They returned hurriedly to al Ittihad. 

The Federal government were shocked by the proposals and the speed 
with which they were expected to decide. Shaikh Muhammad Fand 
complained 'You have come here without any warning and expect us m a 
few hours to make a decision of this importance which will profound y 
affect the future of our country. Sir, this is not reasonable.' With this ne 
accurately reflected the views of his colleagues. Despite his inauspiciou 
start, Thomson made a great personal impact. He was the only Labo 
minister to meet the Federal government whom they actually Ii* e ^ 
Afterwards several expressed the hope that he would be put in ch ^ rg ® te 
their affairs. By the vigour of his personality Thomson kept the de 
going until long into Saturday night but to no avail. The Fecie 


; on 


nment sensed a weakening in the British attitude and felt that if they 
SuKld out for longer then they would get more. Thomson went back 

6in n ^iTthe Minister's visit the Federal government took the opportunity 
°S Lme P oposals of their own. They demanded to be allowed to take 
t0 fntemal security in Aden S.ate. As a colony the secunty was the 
° VCr lib itv of the High Commissioner as Governor of Aden. It was in the 
[ CSP ? n f he Xdon Police and Armed Police, the latter an armed mil it ia and 
rtuad supported by British troops who provided the main interna 
r v force The Federal government argued that in the vast majority of 
fases the British troops, although highly competent neither knew the 
£ nor the customs of the people with whom they were dealing 
This- lid the Federal government, is the chief reason for the lack of 
Zl able intelligence. Arab troops know Arab people better than any Briton 
r 'n ever hope to know them so let our Federal army begin to take over and 
u " " n end to this matter, With every day that passes the toll of terrorism 
tnH MI F/FLOSY influence increases, let us in before it is too late. 

For 'their part the British government believed there was every 
' possibility the Federal army would use violently repressive measures 
S orts of which would do the British no good in the work! at large. They 
did not therefore, wish to remain in the picture once the Federahs moved 
in This concern, the attempts by the British government to appease world 
opinion, was often in practical conflict with its efforts to leave behind a 
stable and friendly government. In the end neither of these objectives were 
achieved. The continual sacrifice of the second to conciliate the first was a 
major reason for the failure of Britain's policy in South Arabia. 

The Federal government had vet another reason lor wanting the Federal 
forces to get to grips with the militants on the streets ol Aden. They were 
beginning to suspect the loyalties of several of the Federal army units and 
wanted to put the matter to tost while there were still the British to rely on. 

The Federal government also brought in the vexed question ot the 
Eastern Aden Protectorate. In any debate with the Federal government, 
whenever the fateful words -Eastern Aden Protectorate' were mentioned 
the whole conversalion would veer into the land of make-believe. The High 
Commission sometimes felt that the Supreme Council primed a member to 
bring up the subject whenever agreement seemed about to be reached on 
some crucial matter. 

The three Sultanates of Qaiti, Kathiri and Mahra, comprising two-thirds 
• of the area and three-fifths of the population of South Arabia, had never 
been over enthusiastic about joining the Federation. The Hadhramis of 
Qaiti and Kathiri were an adventurous and talented people, far in advance 
of their brethren in the west. The people of Vfahra on the other hand were 
Primitive Bedouin, men of the vast deserts and barren mountains, 
descendants of an ancient people who held the land before the coming of 
the Arab. Thev spoke their own language and only accepted the rule of 
their Sultan Isa on the condition he kept to his island of Socotra and did not 


set foot on the mainland. They were deeply suspicious of all foreigners and 
that meant anybody nol hailing from their own barren soil. 

All three states looked askance at the troubles of the Federation. They 
wen: conservative at the best of limes and were not encouraged by what 
they saw. A typical I Iadhrumi attitude was succinctly expressed by 'Major 
General' bin Sumaidhia, head of the Qaili Regular Army, during a visit to 
Aden in 1966. 'We have got three sultans ourselves and this is trouble 
enough; we don't want to inherit another seventeen. ' 

The 'Major General' had obtained his exalted rank through a mistake in 
translation. It was intended he be promoted Colonel. When the application 
lor the new badges of rank were sent off to a military outfitters in London a 
misunderstanding arose over the translation of the Arabic word Jiwa and 
badges for a major general were sent back. Nobody had the heart to tell him 
and it did nol matter really as he was the senior officer in any case. Even so, 
it caused quite a flurry during a subsequent tour of the United Kingdom. 

The Qaitis. who were by far the largest of the three and whose territory 
totally enclosed that of Kathiri. had another motive for not wanting to join. 
The Pan American Oil Company were exploring lor oil in the territory and 
the Qaitis feared that if they joined in some form of Federation they would 
have to share their oil revenues with everybody else; the other rulers were 
notoriously poor. In point of fact Pan American's activities were centred 
deep inside Mahra territory but this did not worry the Qaitis. They 
promptly claimed the land as their own. 

The sea port of MukalUi was the capital and chief town of Qaiti. In 1967 a 
traveller arriving via the airport of Riyan faced a bumpy fourteen-mile 
Landrover journey across sand and rock before turning a bend in the cliffs 
to come suddenly upon one of the loveliest sights in all Arabia. The town, 
situd on a narrow strip nestling under lowering brown cliffs, looked an 
oriental dream come true. Minarets and tall buildings which glistened 
white in the mid-day sun wore offset by the deep blue expanse of the 
harbour with its majest ic dhows and h igh prowed fishing boats. Only when 
the traveller got closer did the stench and corruption of the place rise up 
from the verv streets. 

The old palace, then the British Residency,* was set back in its own 
compound and built in the style of an old world country house in New 
England or Virginia. It was complete with nineteenth-century cannon, 
which the British seem to leave behind in abundance wherever they go. 
Opposite and by far the biggest building in the city stood the Rulers 
palace. One of the last outpourings of Indian Gothic architecture in the 
classic stvle. its resemblance to an enormous iced cake was startling. r 
the top floor of this monstrosity the young Sultan Ghalib strived to come to 
grips with the problems of his realm and. when things became too muc • 
plaved with his collection of swords. Sultan Ghalib was only nineteen an 

* Visitors knew it as Dysentery Hall. 


16 SuJlan Ghalib of Qa/ti 

just back from an English public school where he obtained four A levels. 
He never stood a chance.* His father, the Sultan Awadh, had died a few 
monlhs before. A descendant of a long line of Yafai mercenaries, he had 
been bom a spastic and developed hypochondria. The drugs used to cure 
his often non-existent illnesses turned him into an addict so that for the last 
decade of his reign be had been little more than a human vegetable and bis 
power had passed into the hands of his wazir. Ahmad al Atlas. Al Attas was 
a tall and imposing figure with powdered cheeks and painted bps: a 
malevolent influence in Qaiti affairs and a born intriguer in the pay of 
Egypt. He controlled the creaking machinery of Qaiti government from the 
Secretariat overlooking the harbour. L.ike many buildings in Mukalla it was 
white and imposing from the outside. Inside the layers of dust, piles of files 
and stains of human excrement in the corners told their own tale. 

Under Al Attas the factions in the state multiplied. For several years the 
South Arabian League formed the chief opposition to the government. 
Gradually their influence declined under the impact of fresh waves oi 
revolutionary ardour provided by the Arab Social ist Party and FLOSY who 
were busy organising taxi drivers and labourers into trades unions. By 
September 1966 all factions had combined to destroy the South Arabian 
League. On the 12 September a grenade exploded amongst a crowd, mainly 
school children, demonstrating outside the League offices in Mukalla. One 
schoolboy was blown to pieces and twenty other people injured. The 
grenade was thought to have been thrown by a South Arabian Leaguer. The 

n,„ , was assisle i! bv his younger brother Umur who wanted to become a pilot. Umar was 
popular in the su<| and had taken an early opportunity to impress his character on the 
EJ""?; Al ll,e "Se «f four. Riven a tricycle by the' British Resident he rated around 
Kate it, WUh , a lar R° Q uiti "as strapped to the handlebars. As he pedalled throuuh the main 
s ie in e j, uard was obliged t0 |um ou( amJ |)resem amis. 


League was also a target for demonstrations at Sai'un, the capital of 
neighbouring Kathiri, where Abdulla Jabiri, a member of the League, was 
held on charges of firing shots at a crowd of demonstrators. The excuse was 
taken to round up all the leading members of the party and force them to 
stand trial. This trial dragged on for months as no-one wished to face the 
responsibility of passing sentences and in the meantime tension between 
the various factions increased. 

The situation in the town was further complicated by an influx of some 
thousands of refugees from Zanzibar who could be seen hanging around 
the streets discontented and unemployed. The condition of the 
countryside was as bad. Two years of severe drought had had a devastating 
effect on the crops and herds of the tribesmen, many of whom were on the 
point of starvation and depended on supplies dropped by the Royal Air 
Force from Aden to keep alive. 

In January 1967 a chieftain of the Saar, one of the great nomadic tribes of 
the desert, was on a rare trip to Mukalla to purchase supplies. Under the 
impression he was being cheated by a merchant in the market, a furious 
exchange ensued. 'By God.' he shouted, 'when the British and their 
aeroplanes have gone you shall pay for this thieving. We shall come and 
take what is rightfully ours and none shall hinder us.' 

When asked what good would come of loot and plunder, the chieftain 
turned his wizened face, with its kohl-rimmed eyes and tufted beard, and 
cracked into a smile. 'Why then we shall be back to the sands and away for 
will we not be richer than before?' 

Such was the lladhramaut which the Federal government so much 
wanted to join: some would have said they had trouble enough. 

Ever since he became Foreign Secretary, a major objective of George 
Brown's Middle East policy had been to re-establish diplomatic relations 
with Egypt. He was personally on good terms with President Nasser and in 
March wrote to him asking him to call off the terror campaign in South 

President Nasser must have smiled at George Brown's letters. He 
probably had neither the desire nor the ability to do as he was asked. He 
flatly turned down the request and the letters gave the Egyptians an 
opportunity of playing their favourite game of twisting the lion's tail at no 
cost to themselves. George Brown was undoubtedly sincere in these efforts 
to bring peace to South Arabia but in Aden his letters were regarded by the 
British as a humiliation and by the Arabs as a further sign of weakness. 

George Brown had another card up his sleeve. After months ot 
exhausting effort and debate a United Nations' Mission was on its way to 
South Arabia to solve the territory's problem. In retrospect the hope ana 
importance which all parties attached to this Mission seems incredible. Its 
arrival in April was awaited with relief and expectancy. 

The United Nations had interested itself in the affairs of Aden and South 
Arabia since 1962 and in May 1963 the Special Committee of 24 on 
Colonialism decided to send a Mission to investigate the problem. Sir 


, n««n the British delegate in New Yorkat the time, reaffirmed that it 
PatF v Ssh intention to bring Aden to 'independence at the earliest 
was the an i . ^ (hen wfis , ha( thfJ Mission amounted to 

possible cui . . domestic affairs [t was consequently refused 

interference ^'^.^ It vvenl t0 Cairo instead. There it naturally 
admission ^ adverse picture of the British presence so that the 

obtainea i - * n , rcport described conditions in the territory as 
Committee ^ intemationa ) peace and security' The 

' ^trbimed that there was a stong desire of the people for union with the 
report cu ^ elcctions Qn , he basis of imiv crsal adult sutterage. It 

TIV^ usual noises about British repression and the imprisonment of 
ml a prisoners. All this was duly denied by the British delegates but the 
ffneral Assembly in its autumn session of 1963 approved the report and 
railed for the carl'v removal of all British forces. This was not accepted by 
Hi British who appeared to he intent on keeping their base or by the 
Federal government who wished to retain the British presence in some 

form or other. . 

On the other hand the Aden rnilitanls quickly appreciated the political 
oossibilities and from 1963 onwards 'acceptance of the United Nations' 
Resolutions' became their parrot cry. During the period of Mackawee s 
premiership in Aden State 'United Nations' Resolution!' was his 
oovernmenl's replv to any querv concerning constitutional advance. 
° Gradually the British and Federal governments gave ground. After the 
announced" British withdrawal from the base the main obstacle to 
acceptance was removed. On the 13 May 1966 the Federal government 
formally accepted the Resolution in the hope of bringing all the parties 
together. In turn, on the behalf of FLOSY, Mackawee announced the 
decision as a farce and a mockery': terrorism continued. 

Both FLOSY and the Federal government had sent delegations to the 
United Nations' autumn session of 1966. Apart from Mackawee the FLOSY 
delegation, the composition of which had been the subject of much 
squabbling in Taiz and Cairo, included Muhammad Salim Basindwah, the 
babyfaced "henchman of Asnag, and Sail' Ahmad al Dhalai of the NLF. When 
the time came for them to appear before the Committee of 24 they were one 
short as Basindwah had vanished into the depths of Harlem. The Federal 
government were represented by Shaikh Muhammad Farid and Hussain 
Bayumi. the courageous if muddleheaded brother of the founder of Aden's 
United National Party, who was serving as Federal Minister of Aviation. 

Under the system of procedure adopted by the Committee of 24 the 
Petitioners from the territory under discussion are heard first and 
questioned, then the matter is debated by the member countries. 

Mackawee. suave as ever, said the usual things. He condemned the 
British, demanded the instant withdrawal of British troops, the release of 
f he detainees and the removal of 'the Federal Sultanic and puppet 


102 ; 

Shaikh Muhammad and Bayumi.had a cool reception. Bayumi i n 
particular came under fire from several of the members. Eventually his 
formidable wife Adilla caused a minor stir and brought to light an odd 
practice. Wandering around behind the delegates as her husband was 
being questioned she noticed the Sudanese delegate reading a question 
from a piece of plain paper . Similar pieces of paper were in the possession 
of the Somali and other delegations. Being a down-to-earth no-nonsense 
woman she asked the Sudanese where he had got it. The diplomat replied 
that an Egyptian friend had asked him to put the question. A complaint was 
promptly "registered with the Sudanese Ambassador and other pieces of 
paper quickly disappeared. Similarly, messages from state councils and 
South Arabian organisations in support of the Federal government and 
intended for circulation amongst the committee members somehow never 
got there. Later, when the British delegate complained, he was assured 
that there had been an administrative error which prevented their 

The British also accepted the United Nations' Resolutions but with 
certain reservation concerning the State of Emergency. Their case was that 
they were quite prepared to raise the stale of emergency and release all the 
detainees if and onlv if FLOSY. the NLF and the Kgyptian government 
called off the terror campaign. Lord Caradon, the chief British delegate, 
reversed the earlier British objection to the United Nations' participation 
and called for a UN Mission to facilitate South Arabia's advance to 
independence. British policy towards the United Nations had changed 
because it was appreciated that by ensuring UN participation in the state- 
making process she also ensured international recognition of the new state 
and she hoped the United Nations would provide a focal point where the 
contending parties could meet without loss of face. They were tobequickly 
disillusioned on the success of the second of these aims. As soon as the 
Trusteeship Committee of the United Nations had agreed in principle to 
send the Mission on 2 December 1966. Mackawce denounced the move as 
an 'Imperialist plot'. He and his backers realised that no fairmmded 
mission would impose FLOSY as the sole representative of the people oi 
South Arabia which was the Front's constantly-avowed claim. FLOSY a s 
appreciated, as did all the Arabs, but the British and the United Nations a.a 
not that no 'coalition' or 'broadlv based' South Arabian government maae 
up of the different parties would work. They would spend their oner ^ 
destroying each other. Individuals could change sides but only a sing 

partv could rule. ahians 

FLOSY did not stop at merely denouncing the Mission. Soutn >\ M "' 
were warned on pain of death not to contact it and Taiz Radio, which * 
FLOSY controlled, assured the Mission that they 'would not leave bo 
Arabia alive' if they dared to set foot in Aden. The threat was prooa j 
made bv an over-zealous announcer without the consent of Macka > 
Asnag or the F.gvptians, but it nevertheless underlined the cornp ^ 
reversal of traditional FLOSY policy. The NLF. once again maKu „ 

» followed the FLOSY line in as much as it totally 
separate appr^^manded the lifting of the State of Emergency 
prejudged the issue- rh, ^ undertaking by the Mission that , 

Se release ol P° l ^^ona concerned with the Federal government 
would refuse ,u ' . et tbe Mission. 

before they wouk 1 agree to ^ find . bcrs t , h 

Meanwhile U Than" « ° and lobb ing beh ind the scenes it was 

Mission. Aft«r considerable dc Pe rez-Guerrero, head of the 

finally decided it would b e led b> knowledge of Arabic 

Venezuelan de leg. ™' ante far the Yemen in 1963. The members 
who l»d v ;sited^ 

t0 be Abdul Sattar Sha 1. . an ^ ^ ^ des( , nbed b 

Afghanistan, and Mussa Lc o m i diplomat trying to sell 

? h 8 e Observer as 'gentle an ^loas^a and lastly by 

him to the Federal gov^merrt ^ ^ ^ in ^ bar of A(1 
an American journalist over ms do ^ w ond [Q 

C ^^£-^V^^^ -ere not best pleased at the 
T St ^ ; del u le on S who they though, would optically side 
choice of a delegate uom h f , th t it WHS Keita who was 

with the militants, but drew c^ some vjdous 

coming and not Amadou Mo1 ^™^ 

The portents for the Mission's success were ^'^ ^/ ^It a a wizard 
which it was regarded by the South Arabian man m the st r« t a a «iz- 
which would cure all evils within the space of a ev ^ ^ 
undiminished. For years the NLF, FLOSY and then : Predece o , s had been 
calling for "the implementation of the United Nations Kesolut ions and 
latterly the British and Federal governments had joined m too « lor the 
most part it was reasonable to assume that the troubles we o ^ most ove r 
thev were to be disappointed. Even before the Mission left . Nav York its 
task was made virtually impossible. Us terms of reference 
themselves for although the General Assembly were »™.nmoust at tne 
members should not go to Aden without pre-conditions for ™W e f^ 
at the same time it endorsed recommendations of the Commit te . of 24 on 
Colonialism which were wholely anti-British and anti-Federal « 
terms of reference presented the three members ot the Mission with a. 
insurmountable problem and were a principal cause ot the subsequent 
failure of their task. Thev described the Federal government as 
•unrepresentative'. This meant that if the Mission stuck rigidly to its 
charter thev would be unable to deal with the Federal government m any 
way. The problem was insurmountable. Technically if the Mission wan tod 
to move out of Aden Colony then it could only do so with the sanction ot 


, j government, '['he use of a Federal army truck or escort or any 
thG , | oovernment facilities including the Aden-based radio station, 

M he tantamount to recognition of a government which by virtue of 
"'■'brief the Mission had already condemned. The Fedejal government 
th T med the Mission in the hope that once it arrived then it would treat 
h f°cts as they were and not as they were viewed from New York. They 

d (o be sadly disappointed. The fact that the Mission was sent on these 
^is must go down as a defeat for British diplomacy and a government 
Hliohted'toliave made it with the United Nations on South Arabia at last 
was°complacent enough to believe that everything could be sorted out on 
the "round. 

In Aden preparations went ahead for the Mission's reception. The first 
nroblem of the High Commission was accommodation. For the purposes of 
neutrality, comfort and access, a hotel was the obvious choice. No hotel in 
Aden was desirous of the honour. The choice finally fell on I he Seaview 
and the High Commissioner used his emergency powers to lake it over 
from a pairof Italian restauranteurs who had recently moved in and were 
already famous for their mussels and spaghetti. The hotel was the largest 
building in the area, facing Khormaksar beach, well away from the 
trouble centres. 

Because of the threats by KI.OSY and the N'LF security was taken 
seriously. The beach road was blocked off and a barbed wire compound 
soon encircled the building, a searchlight was mounted on the roof and the 
whole area was guarded by a contingent of the Aden Civil and Armed 
Police. The British services provided the cooks and catering services. Other 
than the fact that the Mission was interested in archaeology and ancient 
remains the High Commission was unable to find out much about them. 
There was some speculation concerning how long they intended to stay or 
what sort of programme they wished to undertake. 

Assuming that the three diplomats wished to see as much of the country 
as possible a special committee produced a plan which took them into all 
the states of the Federation and the Kastern Aden Protectorate as well as 
Aden itself. It was a difficult administrative problem, not only clue to the 
state of unrest but because it also involved the co-ordination of security 
arrangements in dozens of Arab towns and villages. Whilst the Committee 
went about its labours, others were planning a totally different kind of 

In the pink and blue Pluzu de Toro-like structure that was the Aden 
Hades Union Congress headquarters, the mosques of Crater and the 
shacks of Shaikh Uthman. the young men of FLOSY were planning their 
" 10s [ ambitious scries of demonstrations and attacks to date. FLOSY was at 
ie height of its power in Aden. The wave of popular support which 
o owed the Mackawee murders had not yel spent itself. Moreover, the 
fo 6 ?'. the mem hers had been strengthened by the emergence of armed 
ice which had begun to make its appearance in the streets. The People's 
ganisation of Revolutionary Forces (PORK) had been formed by the 

1 06 

19 The funeral of a FLOSYguerilla gunned flown by the rival NLF. FLOSY'shabi 
o/givingelaborate/unerals to theirsupporters allowed (heirrivalstoidenti/ythe: 
next lorget. 

Egyptians as the militant wing of FLOSY. It was directly supervised, paid 
and trained by Egyptian Intelligence officers from a special barracks at 
Salah. the Imam's former palace, fourteen miles from Taiz. 

The Egyptians had formed the new organisation for a variety of reasons. 
They had always aimed to produce a Liberation Army on the lines oi t 
Mgerian FLN and to this end cadres of South Arabians had been receiving 
military training, nol only in the Yemen but Egypt as well. It was hoped 
that these men would prove a unifying force for the discordam 
revolutionary groups and bv the beginning of 1967 a protection forr-LLtoi 
members against their more ruthless NLF rivals. Lastly and by no means 
least the Egyptians had despaired of distributing arms through ne 
political heads of either FLOSY or the NLF. Mackawee always seemed ij 
distribute them to the wrong people and Qahtan al Shaabi had been JOCBJj 
up more than once on the suspicion of selling them on the si de 
Egyptians soon appreciated an old proverb well understood by 
British counterparts— 'You cannot bribe a man ol the South, only tiir ^ 
for the afternoon/ Arms were still given direct and in liberal quanta 
both organisations but the main effort was steadily diverted to 1 UK _ { 
The NLF saw PORF as a direct threat to their survival and the outD . ^ 
inlerfront killings which began in the first weeks of April was spar* 
by a PORF attempt to encroach into their preserves. hit were 

' The Mission dulv arrived in London on the 10 March and aftervv n < 
officially described as 'useful talks" and a round of clock gol \wiW j 
Brown it headed for Cairo where it arrived on the 25th. 'he f 


, were in a quandary. They had voted lor the Mission to visit 
aovernmcm ; , « ere 1 c ^ ^ enc()Uraged KLOSY l0 boycott .« 
^uth Arab"- > L ^ h Egyptian capital. 'Voice ol the Arab 

* ven l^'^u ia. controlled radio stations were calling or, the faithful* 
and other t.g« L Nevcrtheless . wi ,h an admirable disregard for the 
boycot >%* X 2Zssmv<>\v expressed regret for the FLOSY attitude and 

factS ' ' 1R , E o the British. Some unconfirmed reports state that contact 
blamed it all : nto me n ^ Mackawfie am) the {act rcmains that 

was made between ^ ^ Qn , he ev(J ot 

3fl f th T ( nee he members appeared to be solidly pro-FLOSY. 
'"t^ 6 C iro thev journeyed on to Jiddah where the Saudi Arabians 
F, ' 0 H t£m it was all the fault of the Egyptians. Here the Mission met its 
ass ured tkm - ^ ^ had strong support 

firS nn 2 Tt th c fih^ni merchant community of Saudi Arabia and a 
amongst the man petition. Another figure who, rather 

>n"h X S o n The scene was Abdul Rahman Girgirah. In hi, 
S i t o President of the United National Party he was clutching a sheaf 
™S^ ? s views on the problem, a copy of which was sent to the 
Ui«ion although its arrival was never confirmed. 

I Ade. hin«s were warming up. The main trouble centres were as ever 
ShiiWi m man md Crater but W had commenced its assault with an 
attack on al Ittihad. the Federal capital. The weapon used was a curious 
Saption wh ich became known as a 'drainpipe mortar' U consisted of a 
five foot length of ordinary drainpipe, blocked off at the base end and 
containing a mortar bomb. The open end of the pipe was then aimed at he 
target and a simple timing device detonated the charge , which sent the 
bomb on its wav at the appointed time long after the crew had disappeared. 
Although ingenious the -mortars' were usually a failure Often the timing 
device failed to detonate the bomb and even when it did, the bomb raielv 
hit the target. However, this attack on al Ittihad achieved its object. 

On the 30 March two batteries of six drainpipes were lined up i under 
cover of sand dunes facing the white box-like residences o Federal 
ministers. At around twelve midnight they went off, the bombs tailing 
around the houses of Abdul Rahman Girgirah and Muhammad Hasan 
Obali. Little material damage was done and nobody was injured but tor 
Girgirah it was the last straw. Terrified, his wife implored him to leave and 
ho consented, departing for Jiddah the following day. It was the end ot a 
long career. Never again would Girgirah play a meaningful part in South 
Arabian politics. The first crack had appeared in the facade of the Federal 
government. The attack had quite a different effect on Obali, who, late as 
the hour was, rang up his friends all over Aden to recount the details ot 
something he appeared to regard as a joke. On the following morning he 
found his five-vear-old daughter plaving with the bomb which had fallen 
°n the roof and onlv half exploded. This he proudly placed on the 
mantelpiece and it was onlv with some difficulty that a bomb disposal 
squad persuaded him to part with it. 


20 The Lancashires struggle through the flood 

1 April was the eve of the Mission's arrival in Aden. The militants made 
their final preparations, the British troops in the streets looked to their 
guns the High Commission had a last look at their schedules, the federal 
government and others to their petitions. God had a surprise lor everyone. 

For more than anything else Aden is a byevvord for heat, barrenness a a 
lack of rainfall which, even in a good year, seldom exceeds an 
on the morning of 1 April it started to rain heavily and to the aslomshmjj 
of all. the shower continued unabated for six hours. Aden was not geare 
for this sort of thing. There are no proper drainage facilities and soon 
streets were under two and three feet of water. Worst hit vvere Crate . 
Maalla and Steamer Point where the water, streaming olf the rui is. ^ 
aside the packing case shacks that housed thousands of immigrant ib 
and Somali labourers. In Crater the torrent was so fierce that d ° z *j n , n 
were piled one against the other in the narrow streets and cut- ae- ^ 
Steamer Point the RAF used canoes to cross the lake which on me i g 
day had been their cricket pitch. Normal activity quickly d , 0 

stop. Few people attempted to get to workand most who did were, 
abandon their cars on the way. For Arab and Briton alike t hougn i Qut 
and insurrection were forgotten as they struggled to dry tnems 
and clear up the mess. 


Perhaps the only -nan who was thoroughly pleased « A he nxn o 
events was an old Indian in Steamer Point who stood up to hi taees i n 
water happily tolling tales of Aden's last visitation m 1943 and proudly 
holding aloft'tho umbrella he had prudently bought alter it. 

The following day, as Aden concentrated on getting back to norma 1, Jthe 
Mission slipped in almost unnoticed. The next morning they had what « as 
to be their firs, and only formal meeting with the High Commissioner It 
quickly became apparent that the Mission's approach to the problem was 
very different from the High Commissioner's. The first casualty was me 
programme which the Mission would not even discuss. Further, may 
refused to deal with the Federal government except through the Hign 
Commissioner and turned down flat a suggestion that they should meet 
Federal ministers and other leading South Arabians informally over lunch. 
Instead they elected to return to the Seaview to discuss matters between 
themselves and promptly vanished for two days. Press enquiries and. more 
important. Arab petitioners were brusquely turned aside. The Federal 
government received no acknowledgement to a letter of welcome Mm this 
was later found, together with several other letters setting out l edera 
Policy and a copv of the ill-fated Hone and Bell report, in the hotel 


Meanwhile the Mission grappled with the problem of fitting i ts 
conflicting terms of reference lo the realities of the situation. Their 
knowledge of both the geography and the current situation in the territory 
appeared skimpy. Shalizi. who liked lemon in his tea but did not approve 
of the lemon provided, asked the caterer to go out and buy some more. On 
learning there was a general strike in progress he told the cook to use his 
i nitiati ve and 'take a five-minute drive to the next town'. The next town was 
either Lahej, thirty miles away, or Zingibar, forty-five miles up the beach 
and which some of the UN staff who accompanied the Mission insisted on 
calling Zanzibar with resultant confusion. 

Sir Richard Turnbull, suspecting that the bill of fare at the Seaview was 
not all that it might be, sent down a hamper of luxuries together with 
champagne and fresh lime. This was indignantly rejected by Shalizi who 
seemed to think it was a brihe and the wine a studied insult to his Muslim 
faith. An offer of a boat trip around Aden Harbour was similarly turned 
down on the grounds that the Mission was 'not interested in Aden's 
economy'. The lack ol a common language added to the Mission's 
difficulty. Keita spoke excellent French but little English, Shalizi spoke 
oood English but little French; Perez-Guerrero spoke a bit of both. For two 
days the Mission studied the problem, their sole relief being a film show 
provided bv the Armv Information Team. 

Outside "in the streets the battle was raging. The main trouble centres 
were Crater and Shaikh Uthman. The militants, their plans disorganised 
and their spirits dampened bv the rain, took two days to get into swing. 
FI OSY was at the height of its power in Aden and this was to be its big 
effort against both the British and the recalcitrant NLF. In the event it was 
the NI.F who struck first. After a clash between their supporters in Crater, 
two FLOSY men were found riddled with bullets in a back street. 

The battle between the two fronts which had been going on 
inlermittentlv since the 16 March broke out with renewed vigour, the 
funerals which FLOSY supplied for the dead provided the NLF with an 
opportunity to identify their enemies. There was a murder a day as 
supporters" of the rival organisations pursued their v f ldet, f a ^ G ^^' ad 
FI.OSY had the worst of it. Salim al Amudi. father-in-law of Muhamrnaa 
Salim Basindwah, was shot and died in hospital. Abdul Rahmirr U assi "; d 
former minister in Mackawee's Aden government, a top FI.OSY m ^ 
senior executive of Aden Airways, was gunned down as he returned 
from visiting the dying Amudi. . ri ] 

Crater was essentially the FLOSY stronghold. By Monday the J n 
crowds of its supporters were out demonstrating, tearing up tne ^ 
mains and burning piles of tyres in the streets so that a black pal ° ^ 
hung over the town. FLOSY command intended to use the crowds 
to draw the British troops so they could be attacked with g"f acle *' ^ 
to fire back at their assailants from fear of injuring unarmed dem0 ", en Lt 
The troops involved. Northumberland Fusiliers led by their ou ts P oS y 
ColonolBlenkinsop.learntquicklyand refused tobedrawn. Several 


(acks backfired and .he grenades fell amongst their own people, on one 

'"iSS British troops at this time won a great deal of praise ortnc num bers. Loading articles in 

fcom ^ C p i ted out that feu- armies can match the British tor 
sev(; ral new ron(exl dis(;iplinc (:ame into its own and 

< SB ; S dv under extreme provocation. The press were 
the soldiers h M j - of them had jus( u . ilncsS e,l French 

P« rtk : uU t V s m ar d clstances. In Djibouti, the capital ol the French 
reaCt 7ihnd oppot te Aden on the other side of the Red Sea. the Soma 
^T? nn riotin" Or, 3.) March French Legionnaires advanced .nio the 
h8d ? ?nd opened fire on the crowds, killing eighteen no tors. The 
^Tufssne sTthoir action shocked many correspondents although the 
f X Z wont ,o point out that there were no more riots ,n DpbouU. 
Fr6 A hnoToh tl ev m ade a lot of nose. FLOSY attacks were rarely pressed 
Although tn n commandos were young and 

h ° mC '|3 he bHter-nai 1 concentrated its efforts on the Nl F. 

tath of fis an 1 was studiously avoided by his colleagues tor sovera days 
IZ^L These FLOSY tactics produced a record number o men e ; 
1.078 during the period of the Mission's five, ay s toy. bu only seventeen 
soldiers were slightly wounded as a result After he 4 - Apr. e 
disturbances in Crater died down and the trouble centre ransfen d j tl e 
dusty desert town of Shaikh Uthman on the other side ot the Colony . where 
something of a takeover bid was in progress. 

In the meantime the Mission had come to a decision. At around mid-day 
on the 5 April thev informed the High Commission that they washed o v sit 
the al Mansura jail, which at this time held one hundred and twelve 
detainees. The arrangements were duly made and at about 5 pm three cais 
flying UN flags and escorted bv Aden Civil Police arrived the 
prison gates. The sound of firing from nearby Shaikh Uthman could he 
heard in the distance. The inside of al Mansura was arranged in live 
one-storev blocks. Each block was built in the shape of a hollow square and 
surrounded bv wire. As soon as the three diplomats arrived in the prison 
the detainees crowded to the wire and began howling abuse and 
obscenities, having been ordered bv their parent organisations to have 
nothing lo do with the United Nations. The diplomats, whose knowledge 
of the local idiom was weak were under the impression that this was some 
f orm of jovous Arabian welcome and advanced accordingly, waving with 
ci, gnity to the detainees on either side. Kifai. their pleasant Syrian 
"Uerpreter. quir.klv disillusioned them and the three men retreated into a 


hurt huddle. 

Appeals to the detainees to come forward and present their views onlv 
brought forth further invective. The detainees were beginning to enjov 
themselves and were encouraged by the sound of firing which was drawino 
over nearer the prison gates. Kventually to their delight the 'camp idiot" 
announced that be was prepared to address himself to the Mission. After 
much palaver a sack was placed over his head to conceal his identity and he 
was led to the three men. What he said and whether they gained any benefit 
from it remains a mystery, although later the Mission claimed to have 
interviewed a member of FLOSY. A grenade exploded four hundred yards 
down the road and men of the Anglian Regiment guarding the prison were 
coming under increasing fire. In such circumstances it was decided to lift 
the Mission out by helicopter. A Wessex arrived. The Mission climbed 
aboard and were fired on as the aircraft flew over the prison. The Mission 
appeared to have been badly shaken by their experiences but their only 
recorded comment was that they 'would not fly in the machine again' since 
they said it was smelly and had poor vision through its windows. 

As the United Nations' Mission was leaving al Mansura the fighting in 
Shaikh Uthman was reaching its height. All day the Anglians, supported 
by armoured cars, had been rooting out snipers. By early evening all 
resistance was over except for a pocket holding out in the Al Nur mosque. 
Under the rules, mosques could not be searched or attacked by British 
troops whose infidel presence in the holy places would have given offence 
to the Muslim population and provided ammunution for Cairo 
propaganda. Federal Army troops were therefore called in to clear the 
mosque and a company arrived from the nearby Lake Lines training camp. 
Without any hesitation the Arab troops raced to their positions and in a tew 
moments had assaulted and occupied the mosque. The defenders escaped 
over the back wall. Keen observers noted that as the Federal troops 
approached the white walls the firing died away and there were no 

When the Mission had had iheir meeting with the High Commission 
thev had asked that broadcasting facilities be arranged for them. 5>ir 
Richard explained that the local Arabic radio and television station, me 
South Arabian Broadcasting Service, was under the control of the FBCle 
government but foresaw no difficulty. Their first communique, a tw 
statement of arrival, was broadcast the same day. On their return trom 
Mansura the Mission let it be known that they wished to address . 
people of Aden and South Arabia' on the following day. A o ^ 
television camera team and a representative of the High Commissto 
Federal Ministry of National Guidance were lold to report to the £>ea\ ^ 
9.30 am to record the statement, but it was not until 12. :K) pm < ^ 
Mission eventually appeared and delivered Iheir statement. 1 he tap ^ g 
then taken to Husain Bavumi. the Federal minister concerr ' cd - . tJjd 
request that it be broadcast at 8 pm that night. For the moment Bayi 
nothing. Later i n the afternoon, when joined by Obali and Naiqa, • 

1 15 


, the tape. Alreadv upset at the lack of acknowledgement to 
mi "'Tt?ors and" the fact that the'rcquesl for broadcasting had been made 
the " oh the High Commission, they were deeply outraged by what they 
thr0 j°Obali realising that the British would try to bring pressure to bear to 
h : fs broadcast took the tape off to al Ittihadand hid it undera cushion. 
f ° r if s interesting to studv the statement because it reflects the Mission's 
rff ' iltv with their terms of reference which endorsed the Committee of 
ol on Colonialism calling for the -abolition of the puppet Federal 
rnvernmenf. After giving the United Nations' background to the 
M ssiotvs task t he statement went on: 'In the territory we have been in touch 
•ith the Hi°h Commissioner and his staff as representatives of the United 
Kingdom which is responsible to the United Nations as the administering 
nower It is with them that we will deal officially in the territory and not 
with the Federal Government. We insist oil having assurance from the 
administering power that wc will have full opportunity of free and 
unimpeded contacts with representatives of all shades of opinion. It is in 
this manner and onlv so that the Mission will be able to discharge its 
responsibilitv. To this end the Mission has let it be known by Press and 
Radio and we repeat it here that wo would like to encourage anyone who 
wishes to get in touch with the Mission to do so — ' 

The statement wont on 'Our visit yesterday to detainees at al Mansura 
was another reminder of how important it is for this country to be liberated 
from colonial rule. Once this goal has been achieved the energies of this 
young people and their brothers outside the prison walls will be available 

to build up their own independent country in unity and peace ' 

On the first point the Federal government felt that to broadcast this 
would clearly reveal them as 'the puppets of the British - that the United 
Nations claimed they were. It would he a clear admission that they had no 
power of their own and would completely undermine their authority . They 
also regarded the Mission's call forall shades of opinion to come forward as 
blatantly insincere. 

liver since the Mission had arrived in Aden. Federal ministers, 
supporters of the Federal government and representatives of various 
moderate parties still in existence such as the South Arabian League and 
'he United National Party, had been ringing up the Seaview to obtain a 
hearing and had been rudely turned away. 

On the second point, the Federal government felt this was clear 
encouragement to FLOSY and the N T LF with whom they were engaged in a 
fight for survival. The 'energies of those outside the prison walls' was 
Presumably a reference to the terrorists who were daily trying to ki 11 British 
and Scleral troops and their supporters. Lastly the Federal government 
n °ted that there was no appeal for an end to the violence which had 
Dr °ught the territory to a virtual state of civil war and had seriously 
m Pairod the Mission's own chances of success. 

Only in the late afternoon did the High Commission learn of the Federal 
government's intention. Desperate efforts and telephone calls were made 


to regain the tape but it was loo late. Obali had it hidden under the purple 
and gold cushions on his sofa. Back in the Seaview the Mission had settled 
down in front of the television waiting lor themselves to appear. At 8 pm a 
notice appeared on the screen to the effect that this was the Federal 
Television Station and any announcement on it could only he made with 
the consent of the Federal government, then the programmes continued 
w ith a popular cowboy serial. The three members of the Mission were 
furious. They regarded the affront as a del iberate plot by the British to force 
them to deal with the Federal government and have never accepted any 
other explanation. They pointed out correctly that nobody had bothered to 
inform them of the trouble although on the other hand Obali later claimed 
to have tried to contact them by telephone three times but had had the 
receiver slammed down on him on each occasion as soon as he revealed his 
identity. Very shortly after the non-broadcast they decided to pack their 
bags and leave. On the following morning they received a telegram from U 
Thant telling them to remain and Sir Richard Tumbull expressed hisregret 
at the decision, but they remained obdurate. Later at a press conference in 
Geneva on the 10 April. Perez-Guerrero stated 'nobody had prevailed upon 
them to stay' and complained that the security restrictions had effectively 
cut them off from the people. In reply to a question as to why they did not 
see the Federal government 'as one of the varying shades of opinion' he 
recalled that the United Nations' Resolution had described this 
government as 'unrepresentative' and added that it would therefore 'have 
run counter to the Resolution if the Mission had had any official contacts 
with the Federal Government'. 'The Mission had had discussions with the 
South Arabian League representatives in both Cairo and Jiddah but in Aden 
the position was different' 

The Mission issued no statement about its impending departure but the 
news had quickly leaked out so that as they lefl the hotel they were forced 
to give an impromptu press conference to about fifty correspondents 
gathered outside. The throe diplomats, who had already struck a new low 
in the art of publ ic relations, attempted to fob off their quest ions with a few 
photographs and a bald statement of departure. Then matters were made 
more difficult by an unexpected intervention. , 

Ever since the Aden Airways explosion the previous autumn the Roya 
Air Force had tightened up security. No passenger was allowed to board *" 
aircraft without having his baggage thoroughly searched. Because ot e 
suddenness of the Mission's departure, this procedure had not pe 
explained and a squad of RAF Police turned up to search the Miss ^ e 
baggage in private at the hotel. For a moment Guerrero looked as 1 
would comply but his two more volatile companions soon made it p 
that thev considered it an insult that the suggestion had ever been ih °^" h 
of. let alone applied to them. Keita pointed out that in any case the u 
would look foolish if something had been placed amongst the l ^ ( f he 
Shalizi declaimed that if his suitcase was touched 'then the baggage _ 
British Ambassador in Afghanistan would be searched seven days a v 


•« time the press had caught on and began crowding around asking 
By c This infuriated Shalizi, who blamed them for the Mission's lack 
questions- ■ ^ ^ suitcasc he staled lhat ,he search 

° f '"'hf into question his honour as a diplomat. The RAF MCO in charge, 
br0U ght in find , ng himse , f in the front Une 0 f a diplomatic 

'"MS and secure in his regulations, took this opportunity to interrupt: 
!° , U the <\f«han that his honour was risking the lives of one hundred and 
, ? npoolp 'Mv honour, my honour above all.' was the response. 
,h !I^ P too much for the press who had been watching proceedings 
]\ , n orv delight: even to those who had observed United Nations' antics 
■ V ' 1p f'nn°o thts was to be something of a collectors piece. 

2nd vour honour.' a voice shouted. 'It's not only my honour but my 
nrinciplcs are also at stake,' retorted Shalizi. «F... your principles, the 
Zmo voice came back. Then followed a heated exchange in which some 
^ unkind things were said about Venezuela. Mali and Afghanistan and 
Mr Shalizi let himself go with some equally unkind remarks about the 
United Kingdom. 

•Can we quote you?' howled the press. 

'Yes vou bloodv well can!' bellowed Shalizi, and quote him they did. For 
the first and perhaps onlv time in his life the Afghan made world headlines, 
destroying completely the assertion that the Mission was or had at any time 
been impartial. , , 

Up to this point, Keita had appeared lobe enjoying himself but now with 
a flourish of his leopard skin briefcase he entered the arena. 

'I am not a terrorist.' he announced with dignity. 

'Well vou look like one,* somebody told him. 

Pandemonium broke out. but suddenly everybody realised that things 
had gone far enough. 

A considerably embarrassed Guerrero stepped in. The baggage was 
searched and the other hundred or so passengers who had spent ninety 
minutes sweltering in their seats on Khormaksar airfield were relieved to 
hear that the three were finally on their way. 

The Mission s topped off in Rome to pour out their troubles to U Thant 
and then to Geneva for further brushes with the press and a return to 
comparative obscurity. 

Chapter VII 

Change at the Top 

May-June 1967 

Not only have we every confidence in Sir Richard but we also have a 
profound admiration for him. 

Lord Shackleton 
Aden, 13 April 1967 

The echoes of the United Nations' debacle resounded through the corridors 
of Whitehall. George Brown, the Foreign Secretary, quickly denied 
allegations by the Mission that British non-co-operation had led to it 
failing its task and tried to placate the members when the Mission arrived 
in London on a second visit. Quite obviously something was wrong with 
Britain's South Arabian policy. The Cabinet acted immediately and 
appointed Lord Shackleton. a senior Labour peer and son of the Arctic 
explorer, Minister with special responsibility lor South Arabia. 

The concern of the Cabinet was reflected in subsequent exchanges in 
Parliament. George Brown informed a crowded House that he was puzzled 
hv rumours of British non-co-operation. 

Philip Noel Baker sprung to the defence of the Mission. 'Who', he 
demanded, 'launched the lying rumours which were deliberately designed 
to make the Mission look anti-British and ridiculous?' He then called for a 
complete reappraisal of the situation and consultations with all parties, 
including FLOSY. 

The Foreign Secretary, why at this time had not seen the Mission since 
their trip to Aden, could only repeat the bare facts of departure. He 
acknowledged that the United Nations' Resolutions prevented the Mission 
from dealing with the Federal government and that this had given rise to 
some difficulty even before they had ever set foot in Aden. The For ^Jj 
Secretary went out of his way to affirm confidence in Sir Richard Turn u 
and his staff and at the same time announced the departure ot lo 
Shackleton. i( j 

For the Conservative opposition. Sir Alec Douglas Home also p_ 
tribute to the High Commissioner but pressed for Lord Shackleton s e ^ 
of reference. George Brown seemed unwilling or unable to give them rove 
stressed the need for having a senior minister on the spot to ,m ? he 
communications with the government and confirmed his confidence 1 ^ 
High Commissioner. Yet it was clear to all that Shackleton's appoint 


26 Sir Richard TumbuJI with Lord ShuckJeton 

was an affront to the High Commissioner. At the very least it suggested that 
the Cabinet considered that Sir Richard could not cope on his own ian y 
longer. It also made things very difficult for him. He would be obliged to et 
Shackleton make all the decisions although he would still bear the 
responsibility for the results. II was explained that Shackleton s 
appointment was on the same lines as Macmillans mission to Algeria 
during the Second World War. although this did little to dispel speculation 
that the Cabinet was unhappy about its High Commissioner and 
particuarlv his handling of the Mission. Sir Richard could have countered 
but didn't, that the blame if anv lav with Lord Caradon and the British 
Delegation at the United Nations who had foisted upon him a mission 
whose charter was unworkable and whose members impossible. A 
scapegoat had to be found for the fiasco and there was not much doubt as to 
who it was going to be. 

Not unnaturally rumours about the future of the High Commissioner 
began to appear in the press. Reports of impending resignation were firmly 
rebutted bv the Foreign Office shortly after the Mission had departed. Sir 
R| chard himself never considered it: he considered that he was the best 
man lor the job and that it was his duty to soldier on. Both Lord Shackleton 
a "d Ceorge Brown in their public statements encouraged him to believe 
•hat the government at home still had every confidence in him. Just the 


same, whispers that all was not well continued to circulate. 

Personally Sir Richard had nothing to gain by continuing i n 0 ffi Ce 
except added lustre to an already distinguished career. A tall benign 
fifty-eight, as a colonial administrator he had played a major role in 
crushing the Mau VJau. Later as governor in Tanganika he had guided that 
country to successful independence. In South Arabia the task was more 
difficult. He had the complex job of holding the ring whilst the government 
decided whether it wanted to support the Federal government or not, to 
crush terrorism without the political backing which might have enabled 
him to do it effectively and to bring to the conference table militants who 
plainly would not come. 

To the outside world the High Commissioner wore his troubles lightly. 
He relaxed by going for long treks over Aden's hills and by teaching his 
parrot the Lord's Prayer. Sir Richard had his own particular brand of 
humour which may not have been appreciated or even understood by his 
political masters in London. 

Shackleton wasted little time. He gathered together a team of civil 
servants led by Samuel Falle, an Arabist specially borrowed from the High 
Commission in Malaysia and arrived in Aden on 12 April, From their 
headquarters in the 'Princess Alexandra' suite at Government House 'the 
team' as it became known, set about trying to contact and assess the various 
South Arabian parties who were struggling for power. 

Shackleton was not the only British emissary to appear in Aden at 
around this time. That stormy petrel of politics and outspoken critic of the 
Federal government, Tom Driberg. MP for Barking, had preceded him by a 
fortnight. As a socialist he has espoused common cause with socialists the 
world over and in the case of South Arabia the party he had chosen to 
support was FLOSY. Presumably with at least the unofficial blessing of the 
Foreign Secretary he set out to contact Abdullah al Asnag in the guise of a 
reporter of the Evening Standard. Arriving in Aden via Khartoum where he 
made contact with Grenadier' Khalifa he was soon to be seen in the 
company of FLOSY personalities. The High Commission knew nothing of 
his arrival until he was found in a bar by a political officer on the day of the 
Mission's departure. Using his FLOSY contacts Driberg made the trip to 
Taiz and saw al Asnag. According to Hussain Bavvazir, a leading FLOSY 
commando and Trades Union leader, who escorted him. the conversations 
were brief. What astonished Bawazir most of all was the aplomb with which 
the Member of Parliament had driven with armed 'commandos' throug 
road blocks manned by British troops. Nothing seems to have come of the 
visit and Uriberg contented himself with an article and speculation on 
future of the High Comrn issioner. . 

When he arrived in South Arabia Lord Shackleton may have snar 
Driborg's views on FLOSY. but he had gone to South Arabia with an op ^ 
mind and as he and his team pursued their inquiries they slowly cam 
tho reluctant conclusion that the High Commission were right after a 


The general calibre of the Federal government appalled most visitors but 
as one High Commission official, paraphrasing a famous remark, pointed 
out. The Federal government are no great shakes but they are the best 
government we've got.' There was nobody to take the places of the Federal 
ministers who. together with their advisers, pressed their case hard. Both 
militant organisations. FLOSY and the NLF. had taken up extreme 
Positions and would only negotiate if everybody else was left out. 

Taiz Radio underlined the militants' position. 'FLOSY refuses to hold 
any official or unofficial talks with the British Government unless the 
P u PPet South Arabian Federal Government is abolished. British 
Occupation forces pulled out and FLOSY recognised as the only 
representative organ of the people in the South.' This moved Lord 
ahackleton to replv. 'It's time we stopped exchanging remarks at long 

. FLOSY was also losing the battle with the NLF. Further. Shackleton's 
5*yesligators soon exploded the myth that Asnag was all-powerful in the 
I e ' n tr «des union movement. One by one the Aden trades unions had 
awa y ""oni the FLOSY- dominated Aden Trades Union Congress. 
- b>lft r.ted their own leaders and declared for the NLF. This was not 


because they necessarily supported the NLF, most had only the vagu es t 
idea of its organisation. The reason was, it provided a revolutionarv 
alternatve to Asnag. FLOSY was also losing popularity among the ordinary 

On the 29 April seven children were killed and thirteen others injured 
when their school taxis exploded on a mine. It had been laid on a dirt trac k 
near the Federal army training camp at Lake Lines in Shaikh Uthman and 
may have been intended for British observation vehicles that often parked 
near the spot. 

The crime was loudly denounced by FI.OSY. Kurmarianos, an Egyptian 
Greek who was running the Taiz Radio English Service, accused the 
British, pinpointing an official in the High Commission as the man 
responsible. Few believed the fiction, certainly not the womenfolk 
searching the wreckage for the satchels and plimsoles of their children. 
One of these, contorted with grief, began to tear at her clothes, screaming 
curses at FLOSY and the Egyptians before being led sobbing from the scene 
by her family. This mine incident, which took place in 'FLOSY territory', 
highlighted the indiscriminate nature of terrorism. 

Similarly, out of Aden in the Protectorates, traditional enemies of the 
rulers and other dissidents all tended to support the NLF because FLOSY 
was becoming more and more identified with the urban Adenis. The old 
rivalry was assorting itself. Tribesmen would take arms and money from 
FLOSY but resented any attempt at control. The NLF, with most of its 
loaders under house arrest in Cairo, made little attempt to do so. This 
appealed to the independent tribal spririt so they called themselves NLF. 
NLF stood lor complete change but had no visible leaders and few 
Spokesmen. Nobody, whether it was Qahlan al Shaabi in his Cairo villa, the 
union leaders in Aden or the tribal rebels, realised the full extent of its 
power or the magic of its name. Because of its lack of organisation it was 
impossible for the British. FLOSY or the Federal government to crush. It 
was also impossible to contact the NLF as there was nobody with the 
authority to speak on its behalf. Gradually a brotherhood was born. The 
success of the Aden branch against FLOSY earnt the NLF considerable 
prestige in the Colony and support for it grew steadily. 

On 7 May Shackleton. Turnbull and Caradon arrived in London for talks 
at the Foreign Office concerning the role Britain wanted the United Nations 
to play. The three-man mission was at last reported to have told Britain the 
terms under which it would return to Aden. The same day the leaders ot 
FLOSY and the NLF were reported in Cairo ironing out their differences. 
The Mission never returned, the differences were never ironed out u . 
oven as he reached London Airport. Sir Richard's fate had been fina 3 
decided. , of . 

There are various versions of how Sir Richard was dismissed. C* 00 ^' 
Brown gave his in an article in The Sunday Times on 7 April ^'"^.^ 
another point in the Aden saga when I felt that I had to make the s ^ sir 
from Sir Richard Turnbull. the very distinguished Governor of Aden, o 



28 Sir Humphrey Trevelyan, Britain's last High Commissioner in South Arabia 

Humphrey Trevelyan, I doubt that it could have been done as easily in any 
other atmosphere. One of (lie most painful things that I ever had to do was 
to tell Sir Richard that I had decided to make the change. I remember telling 
him over the side of the fire, over a very relaxed drink, after he had clearly 
come to tell me how successful he was. He left the room nobly, whereas he 
and I know that he must have been the most disappointed, perhaps the 
most stunned man on earth. I then called Trevelyan in round the same fire. . .' 

This is a curious story as even the Foreign Secretary must have known 
that the news had already been leaked and the newspapers were full of 
rumours. When the Foreign Secretary eventually made his statement to the 
House ol Commons he "very much regretted the leaks'. 

There was considerable sympathy in Aden for the High Commissioner 
and anger at the summary fashion in which he had been treated. On Sir 
fhg c ard ' S r0t . Um from London he **as met by all heads of department and 
support " e C:hif!ts Wh ° lurned U P ;lt thc airport to greet him in a gesture of 

that h 6 0n '" V rCas0n George Brown ever gave for dismissing Sir Richard was 
Treveltr a v rc !P ladn " an administrator with a diplomat. In Sir Humphrey 
statu/ 3 ciiplomat Par excellence. Early in his career his small 

He U^ nd [Jromi nerit ears earned Sir Humphrey the sobriquet of 'Jumbo'. 
Khrus h U0SSeC ' swords 10 arivan lagc with both President Nasser and 
^osco Tl U ' 1Rrl ,lnldin 8 the P° sts of British Ambassador in Cairo and 
fos mind W8S nothing va C'Hating about Sir Humphrey. He made up 
quickly and decisively. Moreover, he possessed an uncanny 


diplomatic sixth sense which enabled him to forecast the trend of events 
and adjust his mood to thai of the people with whom he dealt. These 
qualities quickly won him the confidence of his staff. 

On arrival in Aden Sir Humphrey called for the formation of a 'central 
caretaker government, broad based and representing the whole of South 
Arabia'. To this end ho proclaimed himself ready to talk with any South 
Arabian party. He added 'It is clearly necessary that all violence should 
stop, it is intolerable that all efforts to make progress towards 
independence should be threatened by a handful of people acting in a way 
totally opposed to the true interests of South Arabia.' This was a clear 
invitation for the militants to come forward. There was no response. This 
utter lack of co-operation on behalf of the militants was a further factor 
which helped persuade t.ord Shackleton to support the Federal 
government; another was the Arabs' June war with Israel. 

Only people who have lived amongst the Arabs can really appreciate the 
intensity of emotion with which they regard the problem of Palestine. Over 
tho years it has become more than just a question of 'occupied' land. For 
centuries Jews have lived amongst Arabs and have generally been treated 
as an inferior race. The very existence of Israel is not only an affront to Arab 
self-respect but is regarded by them as a slur on Arab manhood. Every 
subsequent defeat only intensifies the feeling. Jews were seen as merchants 
and artisans, rarely soldiers, a community useful as a source of wealth and 

The opening moves of the crisis, the withdrawal of the United Nations' 
troops, the Egyptian occupation of Sharm al Shaikh and the closing of the 
Straits of Tiran, were closely followed in South Arabia. The unexpected 
pact between President Nasser and King llussain was hailed as a victory 
for Arab unity and both the Federal government and the Aden Trades 
Union Congress proclaimed their support and called for volunteers to 
fight bv the side of the Arab armies. 

As soon as news of the fighting broke out all else was forgotten. The first 
reports from Cairo claiming the destruction of four hundred Israeli planes 
were greeted with cheers and crowds formed in the streets to listen to 
transistors. Slowlv other reports filtered through and as the days passed tn 
overwhelm ing extent of Arab disaster became known. The early jubilation 
was replaced bv a fierce anger. Much of the bitterness was directed again* 
the Egyptians. For years the Arabs had been deluged with propagan^^ 
proclaiming Egyptian military invincibility. The reputation 01 
Egyptian armv had been more than a little tarnished by its P Brforinan ' kets 
the Yemen, but the innumerable photographs of tanks, aircraft and ro 
had convinced many people that only a smali portion of their forces e. 
be involved there. . , ut in 

The undeniable fact that this magnificent army had been wipea ^ 
three days was unbelievable. Stories that the rockets were m< - 
cardboard and the Egyptian officers had deserted their men abo ^ 
Reports, never confirmed, said two battalions of the FLOSY l 


wimt) three hundred Yafais under training in Egypt, had been sent to 
Arm ( ' ' nt -md annihilated south of the Mitla Pass when they refused to 
the t havin» been deserted bv the Egyptians on either side of them, were 
re -Hv believed and increased the conviction that the Kgyptians had not 
It is well as thev might have. Scapegoats had to be found. President 
f< ? er's assertion that British and American planes had aided the Arab 
j foal received a mixed reception. Some believed it because they wanted 
Others wanted to but were unable to reconcile the truth of the claim with 
!h evidence of their own eves. The British were not slow in giving 
maximum publicity to the presence in Aden Harbour of the aircraft earner 
HMS Hermes which the Egyptians alleged had supplied many ot the 
aircraft which had helped the Israelis. The people's anger turned on the 

l0< In 1948 Aden had a colony of over ten thousand Jews. The founding of 
[snel riots and the ever-present threat of violence at the hands of their 
Arab neh'hhours hud steadilv reduced the Jewish community. In June 1967 
only around six hundred remained. Shortly after the crisis broke two 
elderly jews were attacked and beaten to death by a mob in Crater. The 
remainder rushed to sell their shops and businesses and the High 
Commission, realising that thev could no longer guarantee their safety, 
made arrangements for them all to leave. Charter aircraft, some laid on by 
the British Zionist Association, ferried the Jews of Aden to new lands and a 
new life. There were harrowing scenes at the airport where families refused 
to part Willi great bundles of household goods, not believing they would be 
forwarded on. By the middle of June only one Jew remained— an old man 
who steadfastly refused to leave the land of his birth. 

The Adonis did not seem to be aware of the Jewish exodus and the 
destruction of Jewish property continued. In desperation Arab merchants 
who had bought Jewish businesses hung large notices outside such as 'This 
property is owned by Muhammad Ahmad Bazara, an Arab and a patriot', 
often to no avail. One of the first targets was the Marina Hotel in the 
Crescent area of Steamer Point. It was soon reduced to a smoking ruin by 
incendiaries. Looting was prevalent. British troops, later replaced by Aden 
Armed Police, stood guard over the property concerned. In the latter 
instance this only tended to regulate the looting as the policemen were not 
unknown to pocket a fee to allow a looter a -lucky dip' amongst the debris. 
In Crater the Armed Police themselves looted a Jew's house in Section A 
and openly auctioned the contents in the street. 

In the Protectorates there were anti-Israeli demonstrations, and from the 
"ills of Haushabi came a macabre story of a tribesman who burnt his wife 
alive because her grandfather had been a Jew. 

The Federal ministers, who could barely conceal their satisfaction at the 
reversal to Egyptian arms, were deeply shocked by President Nasser's 
subsequent resignation. They had little reason to love the man whose 
actions were largely responsible for bringing their country to the edge of 
ru 'n. He had caused each of them to be 'sentenced to death' and day by day 


Cairo Radio had heaped instills upon them. But such is the charismaf 
appeal of Nasser that, like many other Arabs, the Federal ministers ha'd 
difficulty in reconciling a great Arab leader with the deeds of the Fevm; 1 

News of President Nasser's return was received with a mixture of relief 
and jubilation amongst the ordinary people. Curiously, although the 
Egyptians began to be despised and hated by those who had lived under 
their rule in the Yemen, the reputation of the President was not seriously 
affected until the affair of Hakim Amcr's 'suicide' two months later.* 

A lasting effect of the June War on South Arabia was the closing of the 
Suez Canal. Aden bad founded her prosperity on bunkering ships passin" 
up and down the Red Sea. With the Canal closed there were no ships, the 
great harbour was empty except for a few dhows and trade brought to a 
standstill. Even before the war terrorism had seriously affected the 
economy. In 1962 over 203,000 tourists had stepped ashore to purchase tax 
free bargains, in 1966 this had dropped to 120.000, the first five months of 
1967 brought 6,000. June brought 2. 

The Arab-Israeli War also had a profound effect on the Yemen. The 
Yetnen civil war had been in one of its periodic stages of stalemate, the 
Royalists controlling most of the north and east. The Republicans had forty 
thousand Egyptian troops holding the coastal plain and the main cities of 
the south and west. Shortly after hostilities commenced Egyptian Air Force 
units in the Yemen left forSinai. Numbers of troops were also withdrawn, 
Some of those Egyptian soldiers were captured by the Israelis. They 
complained they had no knowledge of where they were, no maps and no 
idea of whom they were fighting. 

Despite the warnings of their leaders the Royalist tribesmen thought the 
Egyptians had gone for good. Breaking out of their mountain strongholds 
they swarmed down the coastal plain, over-running the town of Haradh 
and nearby port of Maidi. Whilst laying siege to the fishing port of Lialiya 
some five thousand were caught in the open by remnants of the returning 
Egyptian Air Force and an armoured column operating out of the Egyptian 
base at Abs. The tribesmen were decimated and driven back to 
their hills with great slaughter. Egyptian bombing of the tribes 
recommenced with redoubled ferocity. There were reports of gas attacks 
from all parts of Royalist Yemen. One report spoke of three hundred and 
seventy five casualties in the village of Maibar near Hajja, which had been 
occupied following the Egyptian withdrawal. None the less, the majority of 
the Egyptian Army units lo survive the Israeli holocaust were in the Yemen 
and their return home became a matter of necessity. Continued Egypt' 311 

' Field Marshall Hakim Amer. Deputy President of the United Arab Republic and ''^"^J 
friend of Nasser, was d ismissed following the June War. He was later arrested on 2 Sep t - {g 
charged with negligence leading lo the Egyptians' defeat and being involved in a I . j( j e 
overthrow the President. On 15 September i'l was announced that ho had committed s " hoot 
rather than face trial. A story widely believed was that tie had been poisoned with or w 
the President's knowledge. 


-pare in the Yemen was impossible. They were soon making plans for a 
final withdrawal. 

The British forces in South Arabia were also beginning their phased 
■ 'thdrawal. The first combat troops to leave were the South Wales 
Borderers and at the end of April the evacuation of service families. 
■Operation Relative'. Iiegan with Ihe deparlure of a VClO from Khormaksar 
,. irrv ing eighty-eight wives and children. Eight thousand were to be flown 
out within the next three months. 

For ten years the serviceman's wife and children had been an integral 
part of the Aden scene, contributing much of its economy and adding to its 

Soon ihe girls sunning themselves on the beaches of the Tarshyne Club 
and the Lido were gone for ever. Gone too were the tedious guards kept day 
and night on the service blocks in the Maalla Straight and the four while 
buses, heavily protected with rnesh wireand armed escorts, which drove in 
tight convoy twice daily from Maalla lo Steamer carrying the children to 

An official estimate pul (he direct contribution of service families lo 
Aden's economy al fifteen million pounds per annum. The total 
contribution of the services was around nineteen and a half million 
pounds. Their departure considerably increased Aden's economic woes. 
The base employed around sixteen thousand workers and several thousand 
others depended indirectly upon it lor their monthly wage. Too late union 
leaders such as Ali Abdul Rahman Aswadi. FLOSY leader of the Forces' 
Union, realised that by demanding Ihe removal of the base they had talked 
themselves out of a job. By the end of July the unofficial total of 
unemployed had risen to about thirty thousand. For the moment Ihe effect 
was cushioned by the granting of generous redundancy benefits and Ihe 
departure of many of ihe workers to their homes in Ihe Yemen, the 
Protectorates and Somalia. [I would be some months before the full impact 
ol what was happening struck home. 

After the end of the Israeli War the dockers, in obedience to Cairo, 
boycotted British and American ships. For a shorl while this seriously 
|mpeded the steady transfer of the British base to Bahrain. A large generator 
•n particular was a problem because it was far too heavy to airfreight. The 
uirticu It y was solved by a Russian cargo ship unable to get home because of 

' blocked Suez Canal. Business being business, ihe world over, the 
captain readily agreed to make two trips to Bahrain carrying Ihe generator 
as well as other equipment. 

Egyptian action in closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping and the 
Question of freedom of the seas which it raised highlighted the position of 
Rr 'm Island at the southern end of the Red Sea. strategically placed in the 
il! Mandeb, the 'Gate of Tears'.* Whoever occupies the island can 

s'Vprsj'.'" 5 ! tr ! "'"I'ljon llifl Straits .sained their name because it was at this point that early Arab 
■'"null thi.<r human cargoes across from Africa to the markets of Arabia. 


theoretically control shipping passing through the Straits. George Brown 
offered the island to the United Nations, envisaging some form 0 f 
international control. On 31 August the thirteen Arab nations wrote to U 
Thant vigorously opposing the offer and the matter was then dropped. 

This was no surprise. Ever since the British first arrived in Perim in 1799 
everything that they touched had been doomed to spectacular failure. 

The island is two miles from the Yemeni mainland. It is flat and strewn 
with black boulders, the desolation relieved only by a solitary tree, it is one 
of the most forlorn places on earth. In 1H57 the British formally took 
possession of the island and it became part of the Settlement of Aden. For 
some time Aden sent a Commissioner to administrate the small fishing 
village and the embryo coaling station which was growing up there. This 
was not a popular posting. Legend has it that one incumbent was met by a 
senior official of the Colonial Office walking down the Strand. It 
subsequently transpired that for a number of years he had been 
administering Perim through the agency of his Indian clerk from the 
comfort of a London flat. 

For a time the coaling station prospered and the island boasted an hotel 
amongst its facilities. In the late twenties the manager of the coaling station 
realised that greater profit could be gained if one hag in three humped 
aboard ships bv the coolies was dropped over the far side into the sea. A 
dredger prudently parked around the corner would emerge after the ship 
had departed to recover the coal which would then be resold to the next 
caller. Gradually' the word got around and the company went bankrupt. 
The manager went insane, burning all records including those of the 
government and departed together with what was left of the cash. The hotel 
was abandoned and the houses of the workers fell into disrepair, giving the 
island an added touch of eerie dilapidation. 

In 1963 following the British withdrawal from Somaliland it was 
decided to set up a relav station for the BBC Overseas Service which had 
formerly been sited in Hargaisha. On 31 March 1963, shortly after _tne 
station came into operation, it was burnt down in a mysterious tire, mis 
project was then abandoned. . , 

Britain's plans to internationalise the island once more put Perim inn . 
news and a partv of journalists accompanied Leslie V\.nk 
Commissioner for Perim' on one of his last visits of inspection. 1 he pw 
touched down on the rough landing strip and was greeted by * 
electrician and the lighthouse keeper, who stood stiffly to atten ■ 
saluting with opposite hands. The Commissioner gravely returneci .1 ^ 
greeting. A few moments later a Landrover. one ol the is ana ; 
veh icles. appeared bumping over the boulders flying the Union Jack 1 p 
down. It carried Muhammad Shabir. a little round Adeni of uncertai. ^ 
who was our man in Perim' and had been on the island as long as any ■ 

could remember. . (our of 

Muhammad was delighted with the unexpected guests- a ^ 
inspection began with a visit to the immaculately kept lighthous 


■ omnor dutifullv signed an exercise book which had been in 
the COm vo l sinr^ th ighthoJse had begun its operations in 1924 
service eve since i « , vided by the island s Armed 

, he Commissioner t . hc £ fullv in(licat(!(J the spot where a 

P° lice8a T^ P nre the last Englishman to command it. had been 
LiCUtC Td toSbv his troops. 'Then as now,' Muhammad beamed in 
bay onet cd to cleat ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ . fi , h(J Y e „ e „. 

mad also told the tale of the coaling company and confided that »n 
KjSo^ol manager's clerk he had though, up the scheme. 'Since then. 
i.,innd disarminglv. 'I've had promotion. 
Much imp resstid I he par t y moved on to the ramshackle village. Here the 
m nhab tant a reputed one hundred and four years old who had 
° l f H s t d e in 1918. was wheeled out for inspection. This ancient 
t'etn o' l^occainal 'praise be to God' and dribbled fitfully into his 
Sard vvhist the press stood around drinking lukewarm peps, cola and 

" NoSo^" m is complete without a study of the graveyard and the 
visit was rounded off with a look at a £30,000 recreation centre. I was 
ompleted three months or so after the station was burnt down and had 
bei intended for the staff of the relay station. It stands today as a 
monument to the British taxpayer. 

Lord Shackleton returned to London from Aden on the 30 May. his 
mission completed. George Drown then studied his report and the 
recommendations of the new High Commissioner. On 19 June he r 
Secretary announced to the House of Commons that the British 
government could supply £10 millions' more aid in the lorm ol 
monev. armoured cars and field artillery for the South Arabian Army and a 
military mission after independence to help with advice. 

The announcement was a supreme example of a decision taken loo late. 
Years of vacillation and indecision had taken their toll. Kven as the Foreign 
Secretary was speaking events were in train that would make his efforts a 
useless exercise. On the following day, 20 June, the South Arabian Army 
mutinied. The Federal government were doomed and British influence in 
South Arabia with them. Empires are not lost or made by momentous 
decision but by the smallest changes in policy. The margin of error is often 
no wider than a minister's pending tray. 

Chapter VIII 

The Mutiny 

19 June-2 July 

! am sonv but something appears to have gone wrong. 

Colonel Sharif I laidar apologising to the 
Federal Supreme Council on 4 July 1967. 

Mr Fuad Mahfudh Khalifa (who) is a progressive intelligent young 
' DrHastgeldi in his report, December 1966. 

'Power" mused the Sharif of Baihan. -grows from the edge of a sword' and 
with that succinctly summed up his fellow countryman s attitude to 
politics. South Arabia is basically a tribal society which has been at war 
with itself for centuries. The people have learnt to be canny and cautious^ 
In the event of any struggle they hold back unti l .hoy see which su , h» he 
most strength and the most guns before joinmg . . Once the Br tish f 
South Arabia they assumed that the strongest force m the area would ^ he 
South Arabian Army. These soldiers were the real kingmakers . he par£ 
which gained their allegiance would have the strength to crush their 
opponents, that which lost it was doomed. riril f,rtions 
' .ike the rest of South Arabia the armed forces were riddled ^ ^ 
and rivalries and although it kept itself in the background during Bnhsn 
residency the dominating influence remained tribalism 

To understand the history of the force one must go back to 192 1 « 
Colonel Lake raised a local Aden militia and with a sl 'P^ ^£ trv . 
future political implications named his orce the hirst Yemen Mnfa. 
The Colonel had a strong Indian Army background and th oughou ^ 
historv the force which he raised has been endowed with In .an - $ , 
traditions. liven in 1967 the headquarters were known as Seedasec 
after an obscure battle fought by the Maharatta Rog'inen.. «hc buU of 
The turbans of the immaculate camel troop seemed to come strain ^ 
Hyderabad, and polo playing enthusiasts were never lack u g <m H 
seconded British Officers. Initially the force had been < les gned to ^ 
the Governor and political officers on their visits into tl e ™ fron , 
uive support to British and Indian regiments in the event ot >™°* 0 f 
The Yemen. In those clays Aden and the Protectorates were , .he p ^ fl 
the Roval Air Force and the deterrent threat ol the.r bombing poue q{ 
rough 'and readv peace. At the same time British policy vv 


Men o/the Federal forces, mercenary, impulsive and unreliable. 

minimum intervention in Protectorate affairs and the number ofoocBMffl* 
that the Governor left Aden to visit his charges upcountry wererare mdee* 
So Colonel Lakes force had very little to do and was eventually disbanded 
in 192:,, only to he reformed in 1928 as the Aden Protectorate , Lev es (APL) 
For the next twenty years most of the officers were provided by Ae Royal 
Air Force and other lhan exchanging long range l.rc wit h tr. bal < Jssid .its 
the force saw little active service. During the Second World War. some 
elements were sent to help the British in their Somahland campaign 
against the Italians but they arrived too late for the fighting. Around tnc 
same time an anti-aircraft battery shot down an Italian bomber during a 
raid over Aden. Called into Aden for the first time by St Reginald 
Champion during the 1948 Jewish riots the new force behaved so badly mot 
the Governor then requested a British battalion be sent to the Colony to 
control anv further disturbances. 

In early 1955 an APL convoy was ambushed by the Ahl Shams Rabiz. a 
dissident tribe in Yemeni pay in theWadi Hatib. Two British officers, an 
Arab officer and five Arab soldiers lost their lives. A year later a battalion 
was sent to help the Trucial Oman Scouts eject the Saudis horn the Burami 
Oasis. They succeeded in their task only to later mutiny, murder two ot 
their British officers and be sent home in disgrace. Shortly after this the 
administration and training of the force was taken over by the British Army 


although RAF officers continued to be attached. They showed improved 
form in 1958 when after two attempts supported by the Shropshire Light 
Infantry and British airpower, a battalion stormed the precipitous Jebel 
Jihaf and drove a strong force of Yemeni troops and rebel tribesmen back 
over the Yemen Dhala border. 

The formation of the Federation, Kgyptian presence in the Yemen and 
the subsequent troubles in Aden and the Protectorates gave added 
importance to the force. It already had good supporting and ancillary units 
including a first class signals regiment. RAF-run hospital and a squadron 
of Ferret armoured cars. The force changed its name in 1961 and became 
tho Federal Regular Army and in 1964 a fifth battalion was raised. 

Parallel to the evolution of the Federal Army was that of the Federal 
Guard. In the late 1930s, when political officers were concentrating their 
efforts on bringing peace to the tribes and opening up the roads, the 
choleric but occasionally brilliant Lord Belhaven realised the need for a 
local force to help maintain internal security. As a result the government 
and tribal guards were formed. Al the birth of the Federation these two 
forces were handed over to the control of the Federal Ministry of Internal 
Security and renamed Federal Guard I and Federal Guard II. Federal Guard 
I was based on Champion lines and operated throughout the Federation 
except, of course, Aden Colony. The Federal Guard II operated only within 
their own state borders. Aden Colony had an unarmed Civil Police which 
wore supported by the two hundred and fifty strong Aden Armed Police 
who acted as a riot squad and guarded banks and government buildings. 
The chief difference in training between the Federal Guard and Federal 
Regular Army was that the former were an armed police force while officers 
and men of the latter received a more sophisticated training. Another 
important difference was the system of promotion. Officers of the Federal 
Guard were nearly all commissioned after training and drawn from the 
tribal aristocracy. All Federal Regular Army officers worked their way up 
through the ranks. Promotion was by merit only and reduced nepotism toa 
minimum. Consequently a middle class of men who had reached their 
positions by their own skill and determination came into being. To a 
certain extent they became detribalised and their traditional allegiances 
were worn thin by the passing of time. The social differences between the 
Federal Army officer and his Federal Guard colleague was otten 
demonstrated when he went back home on leave. It was not unusual to find 
a Federal Army Major sitting below the salt whilst a Federal Guard 
Lieutenant enjoyed the conversation of his tribal elder of Shaikh. Ihe 
thought that the Federal Army might one day assert itself never seemed to 
occur to their aristocratic brethren. , 

In the beginning of the Emergency, Federal Army and Federal Guar 
units took part in several savagelv fought skirmishes with rebel ban s, 
particularly in the Radfan and Dathina. After Lord BesWlc m g 
announcement of withdrawal in February 1966 their enthusiasm for 
Federal cause began to wane. Nevertheless despite the constant urging 


30 The Federal forces relied on British air support 

Cairo Radio to revolt there were no signs of trouble and the number of 
desertions remained insignificant. Whilst they continued to draw their pay 
Federal soldiers were content to give lip service to the Federal government, 
getting in touch at the same time with NI.F and FLOSY elements. The 
Federal Guard in particular were not slow to profit fron the situation. 
Manning lonely and remote forts they were difficult to supervise. 'The fort 
of Waalan was attacked by the corrupted ones from the north and cast and 
firing continued fiercely for four hours. There were no casualties. Please 
send forty thousand rounds to replace our ammunition'* was typical of 
many telegrams received from Federal posts from the Ministry of Internal 
Security at al Ittihad. The ammunition was usually sold and Federal Guard 
were not unknown to arrange the 'attacks' or fire on their own fort to get it. 
Undoubtedly from the middle of 1966 Federal Army and Federal Guard 
officers, whose vehicles were absolved from search, were engaged in 
smuggling arms into Aden. 

In their search for greater security the Federal government had asked for 
British help in increasing the strength of the armed forces. The role of the 
Federal Army was extended to include a battery or artillery previously 
supplied by British troops. A South Arabian Air Force with jet Provosts. 
Uakotas and helicopters was formed with Barry Atkinson, a Royal Air 
orce Wing Commander who had previously seen service with the Sultan 
Or Muscat's Armed Forces, at its head with maintenance provided by 
Airwork and pilots on special contracts. Similarly a South Arabian Navy 
Harb ^''''^ ' nsnore minesweepers began to make its appearance in Aden 

' Apocryphal but typical. 


As part of its expansion and co-ordination of the armed forces \U 
Federal government increased the size of its army by merging f 0 ^ 
battalions of Federal Guard with it. The remainder of the Federal Guard I 
together with Federal Guard II and later the Aden Civil and Armed Poli ce 
were to merge into a single police. The amalgamation took place at^ 
ceremony attended by Fadhl bin Ali of I.ahej. the Federal defence Minister 
on 1 June 1967. the two forces becoming the South Arabian Army and the 
South Arabian Police. 

The South Arabian Army was commanded by a British officer, Brigadier 
Jack Dye, and the problem of who was to succeed h i rn had much exercised 
the minds of the Federal government. When the British first raised the Arab 
forces they wisely paid strict attention to the tribal balance within them 
recruiting was done on a tribal basis and theoretically no tribe was allowed 
to exceed its quota. Over the years social and political circumstances had 
gradually brought about a breakdown in the system. In 1948 Haidara the 
Amir of Dhala, was removed and Dhalais were considered subversive, so 
no Dhalais were recruited that year, in the 1950s it was the turn of the Yafais 
and so on. Other tribes such as the Baihanis and Lahejis tended to serve for 
a short time only and then leave, so reducing their tribes' influence in the 

The result was that at the time of the amalgamation the South Arabian 
Army was dominated by the Aulaqis who represented 33% of the officers 
and 28% of the men. 

Under Brigadier Jack Dye, the senior Arab officer was Colonel Nasir 
Buraiq Aulaqi, a small pug-like figure who presided over the Seedaseer 
Lines headquarters staff. Nasir Buraiq had never commanded a battalion 
and rarely moved upcountry. He was a born intriguer and kept a firm hold 
over army administration. There was little which escaped his keen eye and 
despite the limitations imposed by the British system of army accounting 
he contrived to make himself a fortune. Rumour had it that every sweeper, 
every contractor employed by the army and many of its soldiers paid the 
Colonel his dues. A large block of flats in Shaikh Uthman stood as 
testimony to his financial acumen. The British had tried to get rid of him for 
years. Brigadier Dye had even gone to the extent of refusing to take up his 
appointment until the Colonel resigned. Nasir Buraiq hung on and the 
Brigadier was forced to give in. The secret of 'the Colonel's success was 
two-fold. Firstly as an Aulaqi he automatically had the support of 
Muhammad Farid, the Aulaqi Foreign Minister, secondly he had won the 
confidence of Fadhl bin Ali, the Minister of Defence. Fadhl bin Ali was a 
shy man and his elevated position in South Arabian aristocracy was a 
further barrier to mixing with the hoi pvhi of army officers. Nasir Buraiq 
was not deterred. Although he was a man who had risen to a high position 
from nothing he made a determined and successful attempt to get on well 
with the Sultan. Sultan Fadhl was at first flattered and then interested in the 
Colonel's attentions and the two became firm friends. Scarce a night went 
by without the Colonel railing upon the Minister in his palace at DarSaad 


•it and a bunch of qat. Sultan Fadhl fell he knew and trusted Nasir 
for a c ia s{aunch j v re f use d to countenance his removal. 
BU Q a 'rolonel Nasir Buraiq. as a senior Arab officer, automatically became 
u Lander-designate of the South Arabian Army. The choice of 
C n H in command was equally difficult. There were two candidates in 
S f C °fi Id Lt Colonel Muhammad Ahmad Aulaqi, an able and sophisticated 
ffirer who had won the Military Medal in the Wadi Hatib. and Lt Colonel 
i rif Haidar the senior Arab officer of the Federal Guard and nephew ol 
ft f Sharif of Baihan. Colonel Haidar had long intimated that he would be 
re red t0 serve as second in command but not move down into third 
nlace Colonel Chaplin, the British Military Secretary in the Federal 
Defence Ministry, who had already had a frustrating time trying to get rid 
of Nasir Buraiq, threatened to resign unless his recommendation that 
Muhammad Ahmad Aulaqi get the job was accepted, on the grounds that 
he was a better qualified soldier. The Federal government reluctantly 
agreed and an unfortunate compromise was reached. Both men would hold 
the appointment of second in command, Colonel Haidar in charge of 
administration, Colonel Muhammad in charge of operations, but in the 
absence of the commander Colonel Muhammad would take over. In other 
words both men were equal bul the Aulaqi was more equal than the other. 
In effect not only did the Aulaqis provide the two most senior South 
Arabian Army officers but the quartermaster and seven out of ten battalion 
commanders were Aulaqi as well. 

Colonel Haidar was not taken in by his high-sounding title and set to 
work gathering support for a 'redress of grievance' to be submitted to the 
Federal Ministry of Defence along with a request for a redistribution of 
senior posts. He had little difficulty in his task. The rest of the army was 
alarmed and jealous of the Aulaqi predominance and the three most senior 
non-Aulaqi colonels agreed to add their names jointly with Haidar on the 
petition. * 

As was Arab custom the petition went the rounds of the battalions and 
others less prominent also appended their names. Behind the scenes 
support for Haidar was for thcoming from Colonel Ali bin Ahmad, nephew 
of the Minister of Defence and commander-designate of the South Arabian 
Police, who did not wish to annoy his uncle by coming into the open. 

Armed with their petition and convinced of the justice of their case the 
four colonels presented their demands to the Federal government. 
Brigadier Dye had just returned from Malta and on the advice of his staff 
took firm action and persuaded the Federal government to suspend the 
colonels from duty pending investigation. Rumours went through the 

AshaP' Y Ure - L ' C '" lo,1 °' Ahmad Muhammad Hassaini of Dathina; LI Colonel Hussuin Uthman 
a few , i °'i UaWaa - and l.l Colonel Muhammad .Said of Yalu'. The last named left the army 
folWi,!; e . ,0 re,,Jr " "«'»« and look after his brother Haidar released from Broadmoor 
u! »g a tribal murder in a .Sheffield factory in 1954. 


31 The Minister of Defence with his loyal officers, 2 February 1967. 
Back row Jeff to right: Col. J.B. Chaplin DSO, QBE (retdj, PS to Min of Defence, now 
bursaro/ a giris' school in Kent; Qaid Salem Abdullah Abdalli, CO 4 FRA, supporter 
of the NLF, murdered shortly after independence; Qaid Abdullah Ahmed Aulaqi 
MC, CO 2 FRA, supporter ofFLOSY, now in exile; Qaid Abdul Qaivi Muhammad 
MafJahi, CO 1 FRA. supporter of the NLF, killed by landmine in Dhala; Qaid 
Muhammad Said Yafai MBE. CO Trg Bn FRA, retired /rom the army before 
independence to look after his brotherreleased from Broadmoor, active supporter 
of the NLF and now coordinator of transport in the Third Covernaie; Qaid Ali 
Abdullah Maisuri, CO 5 FRA, the NLF's chief organiser in the Federal Armed 
Forces, prime instigator of the mutiny, made commander in 1 968 but murdered on 
the orders of the NLF High Command. 

Front row left to right: Aqccd Ahmed Muhammad 1 Jassani, Comd Area East, active 
member of the NLF who became close supporter ofQahtan ai Shaabi.fled abroad 
on his overthrow and died in mysterious circumstances in 1974; Aueed Muhammad 
Ahmed Aulaqi MC, Deputy Comd ( Designate}, late convert to the NLF, rode in the 
independence cavalcade with the President, but dismissed shortly afterwards and 
is now confined to a smallholding in his" tribal area ; His Highness Sultan Fadhl Bin 
Ali al Abdali, Minister of Defence, now in exile in Jeddah; Zaim J.B. Dye QBE, MC, 
Comd FRA, became a general and now retired; Aqeed Nasser Buraik Aulaqi MBE, 
Deputy Comd FRA. now in exile in Jeddah, the occasional Generalissimo of armed 
resistance to the present regime. 


, jjj^y u iklfire- The colonels had been dismissed, the colonels had been 
arm ^.j sonec j; their supporters planned demonstrations with the object of 
ojtin 0 their leaders reinstated. How deeply the colonels themselves were 
^volved in the events which followed is obscure. Certainly they knew that 
something was being planned on their behalf and on Monday the 19 June, 
the ni°ht before the demonstrations were due lo lake place, they visited 
Fadhl bin Ali in his Daar Saad palace and warned him that the only way to 
avoid trouble was to have them reinstated immediately. The Sultan refused 
and in any case it was too late, men with motives more sinister than mere 
tribalism had taken a hand. 

Lt Colonel Hussain Uthman Ashal, of the Federal Guard, was deeply 
involved with the NLF as was his friend and opposite number in the 
Federal Army. Lt Colonel Ali Abdullah Maisiri. It was this man who set 
about organising and co-ordinating the demonstrations which were 
envisaged to be of a peaceful nature. During a final meeting of fellow 
plotters at the Lake Lines Training he was interrupted by a telephone call 
from I.t Colonel Coles, a British officer with the Middle Kast Command 
under whom he had previously served. Coles asked him if anything was 
wrong and if he could visit Lake Lines. Colonel Maisiri answered shortly 
that a visit was out of the question and 'it was too late to stop anything.' 
Forty -eight hours later when everything was over Colonel Coles was sitting 
in his office. The telephone rang, it was Colonel Maisiri. 'I am sorry,' that 
was all he said. 

The British had already had indications of the impending trouble. That 
night the Aulaqi orderly officer at the BirFuqum training camp had learnl 
of a plot to seize the armoury. Locking the store he sent his orderly running 
with the keys across the volcanic hills to 24 Brigade headquarters in Little 
Aden from where they were eventually delivered to Brigadier Dye. This 
was the first splut tur of the mutiny which on the morrow was to spark like a 
jumping jack to and fro across Aden and destroy forever the unity of what 
on paper was one of the finest Arab forces in the Arabian Peninsula and at 
that time, apart from the Kuwait Army, the best paid in the Middle East. 

Like every other morning in South Arabia, 20 June dawned bright and 
clear. Fi rm action had been taken by the Arab officers in Bir Fuqum. felt to 
be the main centre of possible trouble, and all was quiet. 

At 7 am troops on muster parade at Lake Lines suddenly broke rank and 
surged through the camp shouting slogans in favour of the suspended 
colonels, breaking windows and setting fire to two of the office blocks, 
jjioroughly a ' a mied. South Arabian Army headquarters in Seedasccr 
a " es u ' n 'ch was quiet under the tight control of Colonel Masir Buraiq. sent 

equest to the South Arabian Police in Champion Lines to stand bv to 
eS ^ ro ord er. This was a fatal mistake. 

salt r! a " lpion Lirles ''es about a mile to the south of Lake Lines across the 
and th ^ ° ccupied land between the Khormaksar-Shaikh Uthman road 
C an , e . air Port. On the opposite side of the road was the tented Radfan 
P. hen garrisoned by the Lancashire Fusiliers, and looking towards 


the sea stretched a vast expanse of marshy brown sand where the rifl e 
farther to the north, bombing ranges were situated. The South Arabi 
Police were in the middle of their own protest when the order came f 1 " 
them to stand to. They could hear the noise of the Lake Lines riot and w ° T 
in no mood to stop it. Rumours that British troops would be used to rest^ 
order abounded. The policemen became very excited and milling about 
began to fire shots in the air. A bren-gunner was despatched to the moso 
tower which, although only thirty feet high, dominated the area. Bv'th' 6 
time Arab officers in Lake Lines had themselves restored order The 
disturbances in the South Arabian Army were over, they had been enough 

Random shots from Champion Lines began lo fall in the civil airport area 
behind the camp, bringing all traffic to a halt, and across the road into 
Radfan Camp. The first casualties occurred at about 10 am when an Aden 
Police officer apparently wondering what the noise was all about, stopped 
his car at the camp gate. He was promptly shot dead along with his driver. 
A few minutes later a Briton working for the Federal Public Works 
Department was killed passing the barracks in his car. British army trucks 
could be seen driving towards the camps from the rifle range opposite. 
Whether the bren-gunner on the mosque thought they were coming to 
attack will never be known but he took no chances and opened up. Caught 
in the open at a range of four hundred yards without a vestige of cover the 
British soldiers, men of the Royal Corps of Transport returning from their 
annual range classification, stood no chance. Might were killed and for the 
next three-quarters of an hour the machine gunner kept himself amused by 
firing bursts at the survivors hugging the ground for cover whenever he felt 
he saw them move. The youngest subaltern of the Lancashire fusiliers in 
Radfan Camp was also mortally wounded by a stray shot. 

Nobody knew what was happening, least of all the Federal government 
who hurriedly reinstated the colonels, who in turn immediately withdrew 
their petition and despatched Colonels Ali bin Ahmad and Sharif Haidar to 
Champion Lines to see what (hey could do. At the same time, Fearing for the 
safety of British officers attached to the South Arabian Police, they asked 
British troops to help restore order. The King's Own Borderers moved into 
Champion Lines and with the help of loyal Arab officers quickly brought 
things under control with the loss of only one soldier and killing tour 
policemen including the machine gunner on the mosque. The focus of the 
mutiny now transferred to al Ittihad. 

The Federal capital had a small garrison of South Arabian Police tor 
guard duties and until 1 1 .30 am all was quiet. The Federal ministers and 
their senior military and civil advisors had met for their normal weekly 
meeting in the map-line operations room, concluded the trouble was over 
and returned to their offices. Shaikh Muhammad Farid was the first to hear 
of further trouble. While giving the BBC 'Panorama' television team the 
Federal views on George Brown's speech the previous day he heard 
developments in Champion Lines. He quickly finished the interview an 


f 0 r°etting that ' 10 " ac ' another witn the South Arabian Broadcasting 
Service, left. 

Around this time the South Arabian Police heard their colleagues were 
bein" attacked by British troops. Panic fed on rumour and was reinforced 
bv the sound of gun fire which could just be heard over the roof of the 
Secretarial. The officers promptly bolted and the troops began to run wild. 
Thev had no motive other than fear: no direction and their uncertainty of 
what to do was quickly illustrated. Major Peter Bartlett a British officer 
with the South Arabian Army was driving his blue Renault down the dual 
carriageway to the main road where he was approached by three of the 
policemen. The first pointed his rifle, the second waved his arms and the 
third presented arms. Bartlett drove on. 

Meanwhile the troops poured into the Secretariat. Some pushed up and 
down the corridors shouting and smashing everything breakable: others 
lined the roof and. pulling down the Federal flag, prepared for the arrival of 
the British troops. Not all the ministers had fled. Kadhl bin Ali together 
with Colonel Chaplin locked themselves in their office and oblivious of the 
sound of breaking glass telephoned round in an effort lo restore order. 
Sultan Salih. who as Minister of Internal Security, was responsible for the 
South Arabian Police, remained calm and tried lo contact the officers. He 
gathered two English secretaries and some English officials into his office 
where they were later joined by the Minister of Defence. Obali, M inistcr of 
Education, also distinguished himself. While working in his office he 
heard a rifle butt go through the outer windows. Peering round the door he 
saw his staff had left and. wisely concluding that Ibis was no lime to be 
walking abroad, lie returned to his files. 

1 he atmosphere was explosive. For a space it seemed as if the scene was 
set fora general massacre but the disturbances fizzled out as quicklv as thev 
had begun and nobody was hurt. 

When at last the officers were found they returned and persuaded their 
men to go back to barracks. When those on the roof saw the British had not 
Put in ihe expected attack they wandered off to lunch and that was that, 
bultan Salih described the events as "the blackest day in the history of the 
f ederation'. He was right, but the most tragic and far-reaching incident was 
still to come. 

t | le rh ° ( r J ' ralGr p ass is one of the highest points around Aden. The view from 
e 'Wide car park, once famous as the most romantic spot in the Colony. 
the°l I ) nPa ' S i SeS th ° fowns °f Maala and Khormaksarand stretches awav over 

of th T tf rb0 ' lr t0 31 " ttihad on thc other si(,e of thc bay 10 ,tlt; mountains 
an e in the distance. It is a focal point of thc old fortifications and 

Bord"° rmOUS mul, '- coloure d I'laque pays tribute to the South Wales 
tower t erS U helped 10 build them - A solitl roundhouse of Ihe Martcllo 
untiHt' Pe perched ni 8 Q 011 tne sio" 0 of the crater guards the pass which, 
handful Was . vvidened h >' a dual carriageway, could have been held by a 
1 against an army. From thc pass the road drops steeply into the 


town of Crater. To the left blocks of flats back onto the mountains - 1 

(he right houses sink below the level of the road and give vvav to th a* ° n 

Police barracks and civil prison at the bottom of the hill. ' e Ar med 

In times of trouble it was British army practice to use the police ba 
as their headquarters. Throughout the morning of the twent ,f acks 
disturbances were reported from Crater, but because of the T " 0 
uncertainty it was decided to man the operations room in the barrack" 01 " 31 
in case. A mixed patrol of Northumberland Fusiliers and ArevH '"!! 
Sutherland Highlanders in two Landrovcrs moved down from the 
What they did not know was that the Armed Police had received' 
mysterious telephone call to the effect that British troops were att u-ki * 
the South Arabian forces, which in the case of Champion Lines wa 
partially true. As usual, rumour bred rumour and the police had quickk 
convinced themselves that the whole of the South Arabian forces wer 
locked in a death struggle with the British. They also decided that an 
attempt would be made to disarm them. Prom the very start of the 
Emergency the Armed Police had been a centre of terrorist activities, so 
FI.OSY and NLF elements were soon and easily contacted. About fifteen 
'commandos' together with some thirty policemen, took up positions in 
the flats and behind walls facing the junction whore a patrol would have to 
turn to enter the barracks. 

Unaware of the danger the patrol drove on. It was not until a burst of gun 
fire hit the lead Landrovcr, instantly killing its driver and front seat 
passenger, that they realised they had been ambushed. In a few minutes it 
was all over. Caught in their vehicles at point-blank range the soldiers in 
the Landrovcrs were quickly killed. Only one escaped. 

Fusilier John Storey was travelling in the rear of the second Landrover 
when the vehicles were hit by a hail of fire from the Armed Police 
supported by insurgents. The lead vehicle swung out of control and 
exploded against the wall of the police barracks. A bullet struck Storey 
across the ribs and he was shot in the arm as he ran across the dual 
carriageway and took shelter in the doorway of a block of flats. 

Looking back, he saw that none of his companions had survived and 
made his way up the stairs to the roof. There was silence in the street 
below, the whole action had taken about three minutes. The time was 12 
noon. Retracing his way down the stairs, he tried each of the flats in turn, 
they were locked. A new burst of firing brought him back to the roof ten 
minutes later. There, overhead, a solitary helicopter hovered, a silver 
speck against a cloudless blue sky. On the other side of the road, two Arabs 
were firing hopefully into the air. Placing the catch of his Sterling sub- 
machine gun on automatic, the soldier took careful aim and emptied his 
magazine. Both Arabs were hit and fell, and then like lightning, he raced 
back into the shelter of the building. As the insurgents began to surround 
the building, Storey waited on a landing. An Arab carrying a child came 
up the stairs. Storey forced him to open his flat where the family of women 
and old men were huddled. Storey divided the family and sat with the 


m en and waited. Outside, the insurgents were searching the flats, 
following the trails of blood up and down the stairs but were unable to 
discover their quarry. Then came the unmistakable sound of flats being 
searched one by one. 

The men pleaded with him to leave. If he was found in their flat, they 
all expected to be killed. The building was built against the side of the 
crater and although Storey was on the fourth floor, the rock wall stood 
eight feet or so from the rear balcony. He leapt out and slithered to the foot 
of the slope below, lacerating his right leg. His flight was spotted and, in 
no time, he was trapped in a narrow alley way between two buildings 
which had been stocked up by breeze blocks as a security measure. 
Families in the flats above leant over their balconies and directed the hunt. 
Darkness was falling and, in the gloom, the police approached with great 
caution not realising his ammunition was exhausted. Storey shouted for 
an officer and offered to be arrested. This was accepted so he flung his 
weapon over the wall and was taken by a sergeant to the police Landrover. 
Bodies from the road were being placed in the back, Storey sat in the front. 
The vehicle was soon surrounded by an angry mob, screaming for blood. 
On the right of the crater far above the scene, British troops suddenly- 
opened lire. The crowd dispersed, the driver of the Landrover leapt from 
his cab and Storey was alone, but by this time faint from his injuries. He 
remembers being taken into the barracks, his wounds tended and a little 
while later, an ambulance took him to the safety of Khormaksar Hospital. 
This was shortly after 6.00 pm, the longest six hours in John Storey's life. 

Ominous radio silence and the sound of firing led to a second patrol in 
two armoured vehicles of the Queen's Dragoon Guards led by 2nd Lt Davis, 
being sent to investigate. On reaching the bottom of the hill they were mot 
with heavy fire. The observers could see army Landrovers and bodies lying 
m the road. They decided to return and left four men behind to investigate 
further. Nobody knows for sure how these soldiers died. Five minutes after 
their patrol returned for reinforcements a heavy burst of firing was heard 
ana then silence. A third patrol again in two armoured vehicles returned 
na engaged the mutineers in a short fierce gun battle. The armoured cars, 

eir tyres shot away and machine guns bent by the bullets of their 

of fn , WRre forcad t0 retire bul not before frev had claimed the lives 
ot tour pohcemen and five 'commandos'. 

eithe? B " t ' S, 1 l troo ' ,s wcre novv facefl with a crucial choice. Thev could 
service 80 /" 1 ? PUl fl ° VV " the mutin y b >' force - or wait U P°" events. The 
action^- h a ' ld ' he High Commissiotlier - believing that precipitate 
forces an t SPark off wholesale mutiny amongst the South Arabian armed 
involved U , ncertain of the exteut to which the Armed Police had been 
"iticised t " S °- th ° latter course - Although the decision was much 
were dead vr tlme ' events were to P mve thcm right. The twelve soldiers 
tlle whole f t m ° re W0U ' d have bcen kiIled trying 10 rccover the b(,(1 ies; 
mutineers It] Al med Police would have been forced to side with the 
• • - 1 the British, intent upon revenge, had descended into Crater in 



For the moment all was panic in the Armed Police barrarl™ r , ■> 
was expected any moment and the mutineers abandoned their, f' ""^ 
and rushed to urge their stunned colleagues to join them Thl „ P ° S ' t,0, 's 
that when the British returned their fury would „oh Stl 2 °»< 
the m.nonty of mutineers and the majoritv of onlookers Thi, eiin 
point and the others reluctantly agreed to take up defcnsS - their 
Fortunately the .natter was never pot to the tes Th P ° slhon «- 
schizophrenic behaviour of the Armed Police who on one lv nH apparent 
to carry out their duties guarding banks, government b Zm ^ 
looking after a wounded British soldier and" worn o h tfl ^ 
shooting a. his lellows-.his puzzled the British for days early 

At about 1 pm a turther incident occurred when a Siouxhelicopter lift:,, 
off a picket of the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers from the ruin ' f l 8 
crater was h.l by rifle fire. The pilot. Sergeant Forde of the [ r 
wounded in the knee but nevertheless was able to set hU TlS, w' ^ 

One suffering a broker, leg. the other Fusil ier Duffy returned into the flameS 
to drag the m,ured pilot clear. He then went back again to re c e h 
wireless ^ith .which he rad ,oed lor help. For this exploit TusilioS v Ja 
awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal ' 

tooThoa^andt'' ** ^ in,1 r ireXpCClBda i )pearanc ^^niuti„eers 
took heart and began lo snipe at the troops on the pass. Most of Crater 

wSl'tZ M it ti ? 1 ei , r u hauses bol,in S " nd l ™8 their doors fearfully 
awaiting the bloodbath that never came. 

By nightfall lavy and order in the town broke down completely. Looting 
was prevalent and some one hundred and thirty convicts held in the civil 
prison broke out and made good their escape. In the evening an army 
tifil .copter hovering above the town in the hope of spotting some clue as to 
wnat was happening was hit by sniper fire and crashed into theside of the 
mountains. Miraculously the crew of three escaped with injuries. 

I hereafter Crater was given over to the mob and the night brought 
lirebugs to the streets who set aflame cars and stal Is and shops in an orgv of 
destruction. The first target was the Aden Legislative Assembly which 
stood aloof on its rock, unused since the davs of Mackavvee. A former 
cnurch and a permanent reminder of British efforts to indict their form of 
democracy on an alien race. It was an irresistible temptation lo hooligans 
and revolutionaries alike. By 8 pm troops manning the road block on the 
beach road were watching the weird shadows plaving on the mountains 
illuminated by the blaze. Some hours later the roof fell in in a shower of 
sparks and by morning all that was left was a pair of blackened gables-a 
gri m signpost of things to come. 

That night, in the comparatively peaceful surroundings of the 
conlerence room at Government House, the British administration met to 
face the unpalatable fact that Crater, the heart of the commercial life of 


were h.'imslrung 
able to follow the 

Aden Colony, was in the hands of insurgents. They 
through lack of intelligence. Without it Ihey were unum- u „, :i .m in 
course of events and distinguish between friend and foe. the altitude of the 
South Arabian forces was of particular concern both in Aden and 
upcountry in the Federation. 

Nowhere was I he unpredictability of the South Arabian Army better 
illustrated than at al Anad. a tented camp between Lahej and Radian at the 
junction of the main Yemen and Dhala roads. In the morning a company 
had been detailed to move down into Aden in case it was required to restore 
order in hake Lines. It left without a murmur or anv sign of trouble. Later in 
the day after odd pieces of news had filtered through the company that had 
been left behind suddenly took off and headed down the road in their three 
tonners to join in the fray. Behind raced a l.androver full of officers 
beseeching them to return. They were met half wav hv Major Bartlett who 
was having an exciting day. He told them that all was well and persuaded 
them to return to camp. 

The colonels' petition had been circulated amongst the upcountry 
garrisons and demonstrations of support had been planned. Slogans were 
shouted in Dhala and for some time a company was out of control In 
Mukairas British and Arab garrisons confronled each other across the air 
strip but the moment of danger soon passed. While in Hainan the men 
refused to parade until the Sharif himself came down to the camp and 
adjusting his spectacles, quietly informed thorn that unless Ihev obeved the 
order h, s tribesmen would slaughter the lot. Thev did as thev were told and 

Aden for thedav '° ^ '° E " 8 " sh * ,8l,d up from 

heafed T !T °u er bV ' 0Ur °' clo<:k 011 lhc ^v«mi«th but the scars never 
healed. In most Arab eves, when British troops were called in to restore 

alotsl ' a T n J'" 1 " 8 ' " 1H Feti0ral « overnme »t had ranged ilself 
B S t 7 f °i f ISracl againS ' (heir ldlmv Arabs - F(,r *eir P^' 1 the 
Itti a I V r e ° P y d 1 lsappoinUjd that nono of ,hc Fftdcral ministers in al 
ir he F 7 3 1P(0 f ° Padfy the ,ro °P s «"d H'eir remaining confidence 
tie Federal government diminished accordingly. 

defeat in of* tlX ; Bri,ish wilhd ""™l Crater was a humiliating 
Iwttle Jl I n \ a " n moun,ains - bv ™«n««ess camp fires and 

the ZZ i, T ,H ! ,y ' k was ,he sam «- th « British were finished and 
the u , u " Th VOrU m,Shftd Wi,h them ' Thc tribcs ,00k no «« and looked to 
anarch" Th i am,V , a ? d the ° f South Arabia was " n 'he march to 
'hat from th t r (i,vls,ons the army had broken into thc open so 
tu ke anv H lonvard 't was commanded by a committee unable to 

mutineers ' e f Ct> ° n ht fear ° f doin{? itself irreparable harm. As the 
Supreinfi C'nirVf u gh the mockorv of apologising to the Federal 
youn« er offi , m| sdeeds and otherwise went unpunished the 

t0 carry on, T " sold ,ors realised the extent of their power and refused 
orders unless they personally agreed with them. The sh ield of 


the Fed oration*, as the army was hopefully called bv the Aden Radi 

stand aside and watch the government which had lathered it ,->-,, °;) vast o 

collapse. ' ' t( ' rilmb 'eand 

The political effects of the mutiny were not immediately apm 
Aden wh ich was undergoing a period of increased terrorist acti vity ^ 
fillip by the loss of British control in Crater. At dawn on the twentv fi^ 
Fl.OSY •commandos' who had occupied the Turkish fort on the hei«l t 
the pass during the n ight, began firing random shots at traffic nassimf \ S ° f 

the Khormaksar-Maalla road below. Royal Marines were called '• 
winkle them out and found themselves seeking cover beneath the car" 1 
wall. Their automatic weapons made little impression on the six foot uYk 
walls which would disappear behind clouds of dust and smoke but when 
everything had cleared remained to all intents and purposes intact 
Eventually the troops obtained permission to use a Saladin armoured car 
with its powerful 70mm gun. One shot was enough. The 'commandos- 
tumbled out of the fort like weevils out of cheese and were cut down by the 
supporting smal 1 arms fire. The heights were then occupied by the Marines 
for the duration of the siege. A Carl Custav anti-tank gun' was used to 
demolish the nearest house in Crater which was being used by snipers. 

In Crater two days later the mob moved on to sack the Supreme Court. At 
about the same time Government House received an irate telephone call 
from the Chief Justice, Sir Richard le Gallais. It seems nobody had informed 
that gentleman of the British withdrawal and he had been intending to 
attend Thursday Court as usual. Only with difficulty was he persuaded°not 
to journey to complain personally. The private reason given was that Sir 
Richard's temper would ignite the thousands of gallons of oil flowing 
across the Tawahi-Maalla road following a bazooka attack on the BP 
storage tank. In a day eighteen thousand tons of crude oil flowed into Aden 
Harbour. Large tanks are easy targets and a few days later a similar attack 
was made on the Caltex tanks across the harbour. 

In answer to appeals from Cairo the militants turned their attention to 
government buildings and foreign business establishments. In the 
following fortnight Mitchell Cotes, Bata and other foreign companies 
suffered from their incendiaries. In a fit of revolutionary passion FLOSY 
burnt down the immigration offices and the Maalla customs house. A 
current FLOSY pamphlet explained after freedom there will be no need for 
these badges of colonialism." 

On 30 June an Aden Airways Viscount was blown up on the runway. The 
incident was somewhat surprisingly described by the airport officer as 'a 
triumph for security'. As the plane was destroyed in a departure area and 
not actually in flight he may have been right. 

The saga of Aden Airways is a book in itself. They served South Arabia 
wel 1 for eighteen years before they were destroyed by their own Arab stair- 
They had more than their full share of nationalists, including al Asnag. 
'Grenadier' Khalifa, Abdul Rahmin Qassirn of FLOSY and the NLr 
terrorists Tawfiq Ubali and Hussain Duqmi. By their unreasonable and 


e r increasing demands over the years these revolutionaries made il 
f^ossible for the company to continue. The wrecked Viscount was their 

' dS The revolutionaries who had so quickly and unexpectedly gained 
■ontrol of Aden's main commercial and trading centre soon found 
themselves divided into hostile camps. 

The root of the trouble was the murder of a KI.OSY gunman. Haidar 
Shamshir. by the NI.F in the previous April. The dead man's widow had 
been imploring her family to take revenge and had shamed them by- 
refusing to discard her black dress of mourning until they did so. After the 
destruction of the British patrol the NLF had taken to walking openly 
around the streets and this gave FLOSY their chance. Led by al Baihani, a 
convict who had escaped from jail the previous day. a group marched into 
the Maidan where they found the NLF leader Ahdulla Mudram sitting in a 
cafe. After a brief exchange Baihani shot Mudram dead and the triumphant 
party then dragged the body through the streets to where pretty Fawzia 
Shamshir waited at her window. 

With a cry of anguish the girl spat upon the corpse, tearing off her robe. 
Family honour had been satisfied but the NLF were furious and were soon 
clamouring for vengeance. The presence of the British soldiers on the hills 
- was temporarily ignored as the revolutionaries sel about liquidating each 
other. At the end of throe days of intermittent fighting the ever-present 
threat of British re-occupation compelled the leaders of both sides to meet 
under the shadow of the Aidrous Mosque. The NLF delegates were 
adamant. The fighting would continue unless Baihani was surrendered. 
FLOSY agreed and the luckless ex-convict was dragged screaming from the 
slaughterhouse where he had taken refuge. 

Having succeeded in this the NLF promptly increased their demands. 
They pointed out their prisoner was an ex-convict, a person of no 
consequence, hardly a worthwhile exchange for the dead Mudram. The 
NLF claimed the way to keep the balance was for the FLOSY leader to 
surrender himself as a hostage for the future good behaviour of his party. 
1 he demand was refused and both sides settled down to an uneasy truce, 
he silence which hung over Crater was intermittently broken as the 
revolutionaries amused themselves bv sniping at the British soldiers on the 
Pass above. 

KfUT FL0SY leuder in Crater was none other than the Mayor. Fuad 
the ' T t al '• dark ' urbane and speaking impeccable English, he came from 
same family as 'Grenadier' Khalifa of the airport bomb fame and like 
n, ^"' assI i«htly unbalanced. 

immeT '\ became obv '°us 'he British had left Crater and were not 
and ai v retur rmig. Fuad hoisted the red flag above the Municipality 
annni !?° L T ed the birttl of the 'People's Democratic Republic of Crater r . 
Tel 8 himsR,t as its first President. 

•ocal C » UI1 | Ulation " f u ' ca,tri vvas ln « prime motive behind involvement in 
Politics and Fuad used his position as chairman of the Aden 


Municipality lo amass as much as possible. Over the years his name had 
become a byeword for bribery and extortion on the grand scale. Sometime 
in 1965 Fuad hit on the idea that terrorism could be used as a cover for 
armed robbery. Employing his family and official position he soon became 
a senior FLOSY member whose gangs he used to raid banks and merchants. 
At a conservative estimate they netted over £1 million. Some of the money 
was used to finance FLOSY. the rest salted away. The NLF were well aware 
of Fuad's reputation and hatched a plan to kidnap the FLOSY leader and 
hold him to ransom in exchange lor a share of his loot. 

Perhaps because Crater was predominantly FLOSY Fuad became 
careless and over-confident. F.very Sunday it was his custom to drink beer 
and chew oat with cronies in a secluded cafe on Crater's Sira Island. The 
fact that the town was besieged and in a state of virtual civil war made no 
difference. The Mayor was a man ol'habit and liked to keep up appearances. 

By five o'clock on 27 June the party was in full swing so that a dozen 
heavily armed NLF had little difficulty in holding his friends at bay. Fuad, 
together with h is chief lieutenant, was bundled into his own Mercedes and 
driven away down the short causeway that connects the island to the town. 

Fuad Khalifa has not been seen in Aden since. After his kidnapping he 
was drugged bv Ba Faqih, a pro-NLF doctor, and smuggled out of Crater in 
an ambulance.' He was then taken lo the NLF stronghold in Wadi Buran 
near the Yemen border with Dhala. Here he was forced by his captors to run 
barefoot over sharp rocks and was last heard of working with a road 
construction gang for the good of the people. 

Two davs elapsed, then paratroopers on patrol in Shaikh Uthman heard 
shots coming from the first storey of a terraced house. Bursting in, the 
soldiers were just in time lo glimpse an NLF gunman escaping over the 
roofs Ho had been thwarted in the attempt to murder the prisoners who lay 
bound and gagged on the floor. One of the men was dead, two others 
suverelv wounded: the fourth was unhurt but speech less with terror. 

The dead man turned out to be none other than al Baihani last heard ot in 
besieged Crater: sealed off by British troops who gave passage only to 
police and ambulance vehicles and these received more than a cursor) 
inspection. Not surprisingly the discovery gave the authorities food i 
thought. Ba-ihani and most NLF prisoners had been taken out ot Urarer 
fire engine. It clanged its bell imperiously and, preceded by a pone - . 
was alwavs speedily waved through the mad blocks and past the 
civilian cars which sweating soldiers searched fruitlessly to the in 
irritation of the occupants. v,oH been 

The paratroopers, at their headquarters at the police station, 
alerted bv an anonvmous telephone call from a FLOSY supporter. man 
in turn were tipped off minutes before the raid by a shalKn their 
policeman and preferred to kill their captives rather than ano 
rescue. , , the most 

After the High Commissioner it was generally agreed in * befor e 
difficult post in Aden was held by the Commissioner of Police, l. 


, f Emergency the Aden Civil Police has possessed an unhealthy 
the State o ■ ^ corruption on a wi dc scale. No sub-inspector was 

reputation • ^ ^ ^ . ( waj . commo[1 knowledge that the pirate 
without a < ^ i er of the [aw (o swejjp com p et i ku -s off the streets, 

taxis weit * e ^ hablv eyen bcfbrei the p0 | it;e saw ,he British had no 

, A S of upholding the law they buckled under the threat of terrorism 
1 iqfi? the. -Vlen Police harboured more than its fair share o 
By n i wnrs fellow travellers and. most dangerous of all. men who would 
j rhino for a quiet life: a number of active terrorists sheltered in Us 
tk^ad he force was split from top to bottom between NI.K and FLOSY 
'Z nvovears policemen had been actively engaged in the smuggling of 

L nto Aden, the FLOSY cell in Steamer Point, for instance, relied for 
Sr supplies on the police launch which ferried their arms across the 
Sour Yet at the same time the police still had the appearance of an 
organised force and its record of apprehending common criminals 

re TheM$t 0( of Commissioner was held by Peter Owen, a large genial 
Fnalishman who had come to Aden straight from the race riots ol Guyana. 
On arrival ho faced a crucial decision, either to clear up the police, which 
virtually meant disbanding (he lot and starting again, or trying to hold the 
force together so there would be something to hand over to the new 
government. At the same time, the vast extent of 'revolutionary 
penetration was not appreciated and with independence just round the 
corner, Peter Owen soldiered oh. 

After the withdrawal of the British from Crater the only means the 
administration had of keeping in touch with events in the town was 
through the Civil and Armed Police both of which, in the main, continued 
to report for dutv. Through the police, electricity and water supplies cut 
during the siege and subsequent riols were restored and arrangements 
made for ambulances to pass freely in and out of 'besieged' Crater. 

A week after the mutiny Owen considered that things had quietened 
down enough to permit a tentative reconnaissance and. accompanied by an 
adventurous television team, became the first Englishman back into Crater 
with a short visit to the Armed Police. On the surface all appeared normal 
and there was little sign of the ferment underneath. The streets had been 
cleaned up and barricades set up by enthusiasts to resist the expected 
British counter attack had been dismantled. Armed Police were going 
about their duties normally and arrangements made by which a large 
amount of money to pay the rest of the Colony's salaries was taken out of 
one of the banks went off smoothly. What Owen did not realise was that the 
Armed Police were taking time off to snipe at the British road blocks on the 
Marine Drive, taking part in the interfactional fighting which normally 
f ared up as soon as night fell and during daytime rounding up 'stooges' for 
the benefit of FLOSY's 'kangaroo courts'. This last practice died out with 
the kidnapping of Mayor Khalifa. 

The presence of an insurgent Crater in the heart of Aden Colony was a 


continuing embarrassment and humiliating to the British but the probl 
remained of how to regain control without precipitating bloodshed 6 " 1 
further mutiny amongst the South Arabian forces. At first it was sues *°a 
that the South Arabian Army should take on the job themselves but th 
wore in no condition to accept and turned down the offer. The problem 
further complicated by the presence of Laheji State Guards in the Sultan^ 
Crater palace, a large brown gothic pile of indescribable ugliness that 
looked out onto Front Bay. The Sultan's guards had come to an 
understanding with the militants so that a state of armed truce prevailed 
between them. The Sultan himself, not unnaturally fearing for his 
property, sought assurances from the military that they would not attack it 
As snipers were clearly firing from cover of the corners of the buildin° the 
soldiers were not inclined to give the required guarantees and charged that 
the guards themselves were not above taking the occasional pot shot at the 
Argylls across the bay. The Sultan reiterated that his guards were likely to 
defend the palace against all comers, militants and British troops alike. In 
an attempt to solve the difficulty one staff officer went so far as to suggest 
that the Laheji should only fire upon Ihe British if the troops entered the 
confines of the palace. His more clown to earth colleagues were not slow to 
point out that anybody under any circumstances who fired on them was 
liable to get a hot reply. There the matter was allowed to rest. 

From the very first day of the siege hundreds of families streamed out of 
Crater for other parts of Aden. After the first few days the flow decreased 
but. with ihe continuing three-cornered battles between the NLF, FI.OSY 
and the surrounding troops, it stepped up again. Almost fifteen thousand, 
mostly women and children carrying all manner of household goods, 
passed through the road blocks in search of peace and security. 

From his headquarters on a rise in the centre of die town Abdul Hadi 
Shihab, the senior Arab police officer, watched events in Crater with 
practised eyes. A bom opportunist. He had long been in contact with the 
NLF and appreciated its lack ol co-ordination and aspired to become its 
leader. Although the majority of the Aden Police sympathised with 
FLOSY. Abdul Hadi did not hesitate to use his position and resources to 
further the cause of the NLF. Despite this the balance of interactional 
fighting was beginning to favour FLOSY so as ihe days passed Abdul Hadi 
saw the increasing possibilities of his organisation being wiped out and 
h i msolf with it. 1 le therefore began to work for the return of the British. As 
chief police officer he was in daily touch with the High Commissioner and 
Headquarters. Middle East and meaningful dialogue began to take place 
between him and Brigadier Dunbar, the dour Chief of Staff. 

On the night of 2 July when the 'siege* was thirteen days old. Dunbar let 
the time was ripe for an exploratory probe. A company of troops v. . 
landed by helicopter at Ras Marshag. a rocky promontory on the far sic « 
the town and one hundred and twenty men of the Argylls moved in to 
the Marine Drive. The two forces joined up at the crossroads near scv ^ (1 
banks. One party smashed down the door of the Chartered Bank and rus 


32 General Philip Tower, accompanied by Police Commissioner Abdul Hadi 
Shihnb, inspecting tile Armed Police as a gesture of reconciliation following 
the mutiny. 

to the roof from which they had a commanding position over the southern 
part of the town. The surprise had been complete. Only one sniper had 
resisted a fierce exchange of gunfire: he had been shot dead. The citizens of 
Crater awoke in the morning to ihe sound of Scottish pipers playing the 
reveille from the hank roof. The people of Crater were nol the only ones to 
be surprised. The security of the operation, code named Stirling Castle' 
had been excellent. The High Commissioner barely knew of it and the 
Federal government had received notice ten minutes before it took place. 
The ease and panache with which the British look Crater astonished 
everybody, even ihe planners themselves. The Armed Police, who would 
have been the backbone of possible resistance, had remained in their 
barracks although they must have heard ihe initial shots. 

In the following three days the Argylls. unopposed, took over control of 
the rear of the town and Crater was once again in British hands. 

The extent of Armed Police involvement was still a mystery to the 
British and efforts were made to renew co-operation with them. It was 
decided that an inspection by a senior British officer should be carried out 
as a gesture to mark the reconnection. Initially it was envisaged thai LI 
Colonel Colin Mitchell, the commanding officer of the Argylls. take the 


parade. In the event he deferred to General Philip Tower. * In the prevailing 
political atmosphere the parade may have been a sensible suggestion but 
the more emotional British correspondents who turned up for it did not 
think so. 'On the barrack square (sic) where a fortnight ago twelve British 
troops were killed in a mutiny . . . General Tower inspected . . .' was typical 
of several reports. In the coming weeks Colonel Mitchell's feel forpublicity 
was to prove surer than his general's. 

So the 'mutiny' came to an end and with it the Federal government 
staggered on to final disintegration: the South Arabian Army, having felt 
its strength, became a law unto itself; the tribes were finally convinced of 
British departure: the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders settled down to 
their controversial occupation of Crater. With sinking hearts political 
observers had noted that the whole time Crater was in the hands of the 
insurgents no leader had emerged— as time went on the chaos had only 
compounded itself. 

* General Tower had succeeded the able and popular Sir John Willoughby. 

Chapter IX 

The Fall of the Sultans 

3 July-3 September 1967 

The Federal Government— it has gone with the wind. 

1 ne t ccitiu. Hussain Bayumi 

28 July 1967 

ThP Federal <>overnment were stunned. Privately many of them had 
S (Xd tl e reli.bil itv of the armed forces for some time. For the most part 
fht Ste ontent lo keep their suspicions .Irmly under the, turbans 
Ind ore bn-ed not to look too closely at what to many must have been o very 
Sptt m5h. The events of the 20 June had finally confirmed aH their 
worst suspicions. The South Arabian torces, the of the Federal 
Government and its main pillar of support, was revealed ruldled with 
£ u.terlv UI1 predictahle and master unto themselves. U. during .ho 
confusions of -he mutiny, a Federal minister had had th^^o 
himself and try to pacify the rebellious troops or later the Hedera 
government as a whole had possessed .he will to purge the forces ot 
unreliable elements, then events may have turned ou d.t ter cntl , To 
embark on the last course would have been to take the bull by the horns. 1 
rnav have precipitated further disturbances and even resulted in the 
immed iate overthrow of the government. But it was the Supreme Council s 
last chance. Rv accepting the empty gesture of apology and by avoiding the 
principle issue at stake-the assertion of its authonty-the Federal 
government surrendered the right to lead and the right to govern 

The South Arabian forces recognised the signs of weakness and realised 
that there was no fear of being held to account for their actions. In the 
coming weeks either bv standing aside or by direct intervention they were 
to assist in sweeping their former masters from power and from South 

While the Federal government were reluctant to take firm action against 
their armed forces, the mutinv did impel them to take the initiative in 
trying to obtain a political solution with the militants. For many months 
'he phrase 'broad based government' had been aired and now the Supreme 
Council realised that to survive they must widen their representation m an 
effort to present a more favourable image, both internally and 
'nternationallv. For their part the British had been urging this course on the, 
Federal government for some time. Appreciating the importance ot 
recognition for the new regime thev still hankered after participation in the 


state-making by the United Nations. In order to convince the UN Mission 
sulking in New York of the sincerity of Britain's intentions, it was essentia! 
for the Federal government lo put on a new look. 

The decisive meeting of the Supreme Council was held on 5 |ul v 
Muhammad Farid. the suave Foreign Minister, began by carefully 
explaining the position and revealing that with a little wheeling and 
deal i ng a number of FLOSY members with whom he was in touch could be 
attracted into the government. He had reckoned without the bellicose 
Hussain Bayumi. The bull in a political china shop, Bayumi lacked 
understanding on the liner points of diplomacy and prided himself on his 
'contacts' with militants in Aden. 'Empty talking.' he kept on shouting. 'I 
can bring in the NLF and FLOSY within a fortnight.' Eventually his 
interruptions had the effect of causing the Foreign Minister to lose his 
temper. 'All right,' he snapped back, 'you prove it— you do it.' It was a test 
of wills and not wishing to back down and look foolish Bayumi agreed. The 
Supreme Council promptly voted him Prime Minister designate with the 
task of forming a committee which would select the broad based 
government to accept independence from the British, and gave him twelve 
days in which to do it. 

Bayumi set about his task with cheery optimism. In Aden his courage 
was greatly respected, lie had known most of the FLOSY leaders all his life, 
although ho had been on the worst of terms with most of them for the 
greater part of it. His chief hope lay in the NLF whose amorphous quality he 
recognised. Taking advantage of his position as Minister of Information, 
Bayumi issued appeal after appeal over the radio asking 'honest citizens' to 
come forth and join him in a bid to unite the country and save it from ruin. 

His Khormaksar house with its high wire fence and sand-bagged gunpits 
became a campaign headquarters. Innumerable meetings were held, 
usually in the middle of the night, and a trail of prospective ministers, 
hangers-on and journalists trooped in to gain audience with the 'Prime 
Minister designate'. All were welcome but before obtaining their objective 
each had to brave a courtyard full of stray dogs, chickens and guards. 
Visitors were uncertain which peril was the more deadly, the snapping 
dogs or the South Arabian policemen who lolled around chewing qat and 
watching events with bored indifference, nonchalantly cradling their 
machine guns and occasionally breaking off to frisk a visitor or slaughter a 
goat for lunch. The names of every visitor to the Bayumi household a? tn 
time were carefully passed on to the militants. . , 

Both the NLF and FLOSY were taken aback by the speed with vvhii:^ 
Federal government had commissioned Bayumi. Consequently they w 
some davs in preparing a replv and this hesitation gave rise to hope 1 1a 
move had been successful. Elements of the Shaikh Uthman NLF, conIU oe g 
bv the organisation's delay went so far as to contact Bayumi and ATTati ° d 
midnight meeting. FLOSY were the first to make their position de * ckt0 
denounced the move as the usual 'Imperialist plot'. The NLI' were qu ^ 
follow, the Shaikh Uthman branch as if to make up for their apparen 

• .olutionary ardour, were the most violent in their denunciations. 
°! re tenin" death to anv South Arabian taking the offer up'. 

r vumi'did have some takers. Amongst the first to come forward were 
•Lriblc twins'. Naih Jaabil of Audhali and ex-Sultan Ahmad bin 
th . c , [| a 0 f 'r-adhli. Since their defection from FLOSY in the previous 
nmn these two had dreamt up something called The Front for the 
f t eration of South Arabia' which had the right sounding title but little 
Shaikh AH Mussaid Dabakri of Wahidi who had recently entered the 
FederaU'Overnment as Minister of Aviation was the third recruit. A former 
nior political officer, he was described by a fellow minister as having the 
head of sheep, the brain of goal and the heart of lion. With that serious 
support ended. 

Bavurni tinkered with the idea of bringing in the South Arabian Army. 
The officers refused, although they promised him their support. The 
prospect of one of their number being elected to ministerial rank with its 
unlimited opportunities for graft and nepotism tilled them with alarm and 
threatened the already precariously balanced rank structure. 

So Bayumi was forced to concentrate on his fellow Adenis. The cards 
were stacked against him. He suffered from the handicap of being a Federal 
minister. More important were the vociferous threats by the NLF and 
FLOSY and the fact that he could offer scant protection to any supporter. 
Consequently onlv the stupid and the recklessly ambitious came forward. 
One of these was promptly kidnapped by the NI.F. A second, British 
trained lawyer Husain Aulaqi. for several days held forth in his braces to 
captive audiences in the Bayumi household but withdrew quickly at the 
first threat. Maurice Cent, who had succeeded Kenneth Brazier as Aden's 
BBC correspondent, was rung up at 2 am by a terrified Aulaqi who pleaded 
that news that he had withdrawn from Bayumi be broadcast as quickly as 
possible. 'Please.' he wailed, 'give your word as an Englishman that the 
announcement will be made as soon as possible.' Gent demurred and 
explained that he had no power over what the BBC did and did not put out, 
but Aulaqi was lucky— the BBC considered his resignation news and 
broadcast it the following morning.* 

Several ministers who had confidently expected Bayumi to invite them 
to join him were much piqued when he didn't. It did not take them long to 
realise that in their haste they had given Bayumi the power to put them out 
of a job. Hurriedly they consulted the minutes of the Supreme Council and 
their fears were confirmed. Then cooler heads look over. Muhammad 
Obali, together with Muhammad Farid, ordered another set adding a vital 
Paragraph to the effect that Bayumi's men had to be approved by the 
Supreme Council before they look power. Technically, as the minutes had 
not been passed, thev wore within their rights in doing so. Bayumi was 
'"nous and took off to confer with the Sharif in Baihan. On his relum he 

*2l lulv 

was handed a message at Aden Airport from the Supreme Council fort 
withdrawing his mandate on the grounds that he had overrun hisr 
limit. Bayumi promptly banned the announcement from being broad" 116 
over Aden Radio. He was then summoned to al Ittihad and alter tortu^ 
discussions persuaded to withdraw. He was granted permission to o\y US 
press con Terence. ' o 'e a 

The Prime Minister's' press conference had been something of a six-d- , 
wonder in Aden. Every morning for a week Bayumi had let it be known h 
would 1 ike to see the press al 2 pm every lunchtime. having been dissuaded 
by Federal representatives who rightly suspected he planned to produce 
the two sets of unfortunate minutes, he cancelled the appointment. The 
press, who had appreciated that his chances of forming a 'committee' were 
diminishing, were at first intrigued and then frustrated so that the final 
invitation on 28 July came as something of an anticlimax. 

Bayumi received the correspondents in his ornate lounge in which 
monkey skin rugs vied for prominence with brass ornaments. He had 
promised his Federal colleagues that the whole thing would be buried as 
decently as possible but the presence of an interested and sympathetic 
audience proved too much of a temptation. 

After reporting the failure of his mission he said. 'I have stepped down to 
save the Council's reputation and to avoid a further deterioration of the 
situation." Then suddenly with a flourish he produced the two sets of 

'No,' he said in answer to questions, 'I do not think that my colleagues 
have behaved dishonourably, they have merely forged the minutes.' 

'Yes, I do consider that they (the Federal government] were a major 
obstacle in preventing the fulfilment of my mission.' 

'No, I shall not bring the matter of forgery to the attention of the United 
Nations. I think that I have done enough for one day.' 

All the while, an etching of Hussain Bayumi's brother Hassan, the Adeni 
pioneer of Federation, glowered down blackly at proceedings; doubtless he 
was turning in his grave. 

When the Supreme Council heard of their Information Minister's 
outburst they were not surprised. 'We always said', they shrugged, 'that 
Bayumi was no good.' If the Federal government treated the Bayumi fiasco 
with equanimity then the High Commission did not. 

Using the Bayumi move as evidence thai Ihe Federal government was 
willing to change its image. Sir Humphrey had left for New York to 
persuade the UN Mission to resume its good offices in South Arabia. His 
journey to New York had the additional advantage in that Mackawee was 
already there in surreptitious touch with the Mission, but in the event the 
two men did not meet. 

FLOSY were increasingly worried about the influence of the NLF and as 
the time for independence drew nearer hoped to use the UN Mission to 
break into the government. To this end they were also continuing desultory 
contacts with the British but never seemed able to bring themselves to enter 
serious negotiations. As George Brown had pointed out, the times an 


places at which FLOSY were meant to turn up were legion. Unfortunately 
they never seemed to arrive. 

Alarmed at the FLOSY presence in New Yorkand indications that things 
might be moving to a settlement with Britain, the NLF followed suit and on 
25 July cabled the Mission announcing that it too was prepared to send a 
delegation to New York. Only a few days previously the NLF had 
condemned the High Commissioner's trip as 'an empty gesture' and on 21 
July had cabled the Mission to say that it was unable to attend meetings in 
New York and vowed to continue the revolution. This change of heart was 
in itself a minor diplomatic triumph for Sir Humphrey who followed it up 
by exerting his not inconsiderable charm in persuading the Mission of 
Britain's sincerity in desiring a broad based government which included 
NLF and FLOSY participation. The three men then undertook to renew 
their mission and set off to Geneva to hear the evidence. No sooner did they 
arrive than the NLF changed its mind again and withdrew their earlier offer 
protesting against the presence of the sultans and stooge parties. 

As can be imagined, Sir Humphrey was not best pleased when he heard 
the details of the Bay u mi shambles and bl untly told the Supreme Council 
that they could not hope to exist on their own. His suggestion that they 
should go to Switzerland and present themselves to the UN Mission 
received a mixed reception. The Supreme Council's previous experiences 
with the Mission wore no recommendation that they would receive a fair 
hearing on this occasion. Even so some of the rulers were secretly relieved. 
Odd things were happening in their states and the journey would provide 
the all important opportunity to save face and avoid trouble when it came. 

Throughout the months of June, July and August the British troops 
upcountry were being withdrawn into Aden. One by one the garrisons at 
Baihan, Dhala, Makyras and lastly Ilabilain hauled down their flags and 
drove off down the dusty roads to Aden. They were never to return. The 
timing of their departure could not have been more unfortunate for the 
Federal govern rnent who were at their lowest ebb. Their British allies were 
going and above all were seen to be going. It only needed a spark to set the 
land aflame. The first one was to come from a totally unexpected quarter. 

Apart from 'cabinet forming' Hussain Bay u mi had other problems. As 
federal Minister of Information he was responsible for the Aden Radio and 
elevision Services. There had never been any question of these organs 
F e 'ng impartial. Right from the start of the Emergency they hud beaten the 
Weral drum and roundly condemned terrorism, the NLF, FLOSY and 
especially the Egyptians. Throughout British and Federal propaganda had 
ciVl liantIy orchestrated by Tony Ashworth, a former colonel turned 
V] servant. The militants were furious. Many attempts were made to 
in?!' radi ° stalion 11 P- ln J anuar y 1967" PORF were successful 
Vital? 11 1? 8 . explosives which demolished most of the inside of the station, 
of f 0 t fi ' Cal equipment was v i rtua Hy unharmed and after a brief interval 
attent , VU nii nutes the broadcasts continued unabated. Particular 
tfi leph'° n ,Jeen !Jaki t0 the staff ' Ano "ymous letters, threatening 
°n« calls and the ever-present possibility of assassination were the 


lot of the announcers, but surprisingly all survived. Slowly the strai 
began to tell. At first commentators had declined to read the more violent 
denunciations* then, after April and the United Nations episode staff 
began to join the innumerable strikes. To counter the threat, Bayumi had 
turned a room in his house into a makeshift studio. Here, during strikes 
news and commentaries were taped by loyalists and played out over a 
radio station manned by a skeleton staff. In these activities as in most 
Others Bayumi was greatly assisted by his wife. Adilla Bayumi was a star 
broadcaster and TV personality in her own right. Her steady voice was 
famous throughout the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula and never 
quavered as she denounced her husband's enemies. 

The most enthusiastic broadcasters were the Yemenis. Nearly all of them 
were or had been Republicans, full of disillusionment and bate at (he 
Egyptian occupation of their country. The flood of refugees to Aden had 
increased during and after the purges of October 1966. Amongst those to 
arrive were Abdullah Abyadh, the former Republican director of Sana 
Radio turned Royalist, and Muhammad Yazili. former director of Press and 
Publications who remained a supporter of Republican General Hassan al 
Amri. These two immensely tough and ruthless little men organised two 
programmes. Voice of the Yemen' and 'Cry of the Yemeni Revolution', 
which for six months daily castigated the Egyptian presence. 

By their sheer violence, variety (there was never any shortage of 
Yemenis coming forward with harrowing talcs of gas and torture) and 
wit.t the programmes soon had a wide audience. Vulgar, crude, but with 
that magic spark which compels listening, the programmes were amongst 
the most effective anti-Egyplian propaganda to be produced. Eventually 
President Nasser was moved to refer to them in one of his many speeches, 
and it seems that more privately he instructed his intelligence chiefs to 
deal with the matter. PORF were given the job. From the end of April to 
mid-July twenty-four of these broadcasters were assassinated and Bayumi 
was helpless to protect them. Still the volunteers came forward. Sadly 
Uayumi turned them away. The June war had called a pause in the Arab 
propaganda war and in any case the game was lost. 

On 4 July the Qadhi Ghazzali was shot dead outside his Maalla House. A 
tall, imposing old man with a dyed red beard, he was never without his 
rosary and a brace of revolvers. A leader of the squabbling Aden Royalist 
Community, the most arresting feature about him was his English. For 

'One; of tin: first commentators lo decline was UmaiGirgirah. a nephew of Itie Acleni politiciun-. 
As the voung man was steadfast in his refusal he was eventualiv hauled before the Shunt o 
Bailian at that time acting us Minister of Information. The Shunt was sitting in his office quiet > 
smoking a Gauloise. i understand, niv son. that von have refused to read a ro,nm £ nt ?i l fi t :|| 
defence of your country. Why is this?' Because father.' the voung mat) replied, 'the NLFwili m 
me.' The Sharif blew a smoke ring and leaning forward tapped him on the knee. 'You m< - 
umlerstand.' he said gently, 'it's not only the NI.F that can shoot people.' After that. Aden Kuo 
had a no more enthusiastic announcer than l.'marGirgirah. 

t A poem punning the name of the Egyptian Commander-in-Chief. Talat Hassan, which 
roughly translated means 'he who mounts well" became particularly famous. 


venteen years Ihc Qadhi had followed the calling of a 'Muslim Hot 
s , e DC [] er ' in the Deep South of America. He never lost the idiom, inevitably 
referring to his enemies, and there were many, as 'Dem damn trash people'. 
The murder completely demoralised the Aden Royalists, following as it 
did hard upon the heels of that of a more famous companion. 

The best known and most flamboyant of the Yemeni broadcasters was 
Rovalisl Major General" Shaikh Salih Ali Fidama. He had been at it for 
vears. His raucous voice and frank expression had infuriated Nasscrists 
and heartened their opponents since his defection from the Republic in 
1963. Still a handsome man at fifty, he cut a striking figure and always 
dressed from turban to toe in startling black or white set off by an enormous 
da°°er. His colourful appearance matched his career. Not least amongst the 
Shaikh's achievements was the attainment of the rank of Major in the 
German Army and winning an Iron Cross on the Russian Front in 1944. 
Quarrelsome, boastful and utterly fearless, he never bothered to hide his 
contempt for lesser beings and strode through the Adenis like a 
magnificent peacock amongst off-colour chickens. The Shaikh's refusal to 
take normal precautions brought about his end. 

At the beginning of July be prepared to travel from Aden to Royalist 
Yemen and made no secret of the fact that he was carrying a large amount of 
money. The Shaikh broke his journey and spent the night at the Dathina 
village of Urn Qulaiytch. In I he morning Fidama bade bis host farewell and 
ten minutes later was ambushed at point blank range as the Landrover 
struggled around a rocky outcrop. Within seconds the Shaikh's bullet- 
riddled body and that of his younger son and driver were dumped 
unceremoniously by the side of the road. The attacking tribesmen, cousins 
of Abdul Qadir al Sha'a, Naib of Dathina, quickly seized the cash and drove 
off in the Landrover. only to run into Fidama *s late hosts who had come to 
find out what all the shooting was about. The attackers fobbed them off 
with an excuse that they were carrying out the orders of the federal 
government and hurriedly departed. 

A complaint was duly registered with the Naib and justice demanded. A 
guest had been murdered and the deed had taken place on the 'sacred' road 
and by tribesmen from another territory. The killing of this Royalist 
chieftain who nobody much cared for led directly to the collapse of Federal 
rule in Dathina and its takeover bv the NI.K. 

Naib Abdul Qad ir was in a quandary. The Federal government to whom 
he owed al legiance demanded an inquiry, a major tribe threatened to start a 
blood feud unless he took action, yet blood is thicker than water and the 
South Arabian Police on whom he had to rely thoroughly approved of the 
murder. The Naib prevaricated and at length the issue polarised into one 
between the Federal government and 'the people'. The people won. 

Dathina was a hybrid, brought into being by the British in 1944 because 
he three main tribes refused to give their allegiance to anybody else. They 
were administered bv a naib and bv a feat of historical gymnastics called 
themselves the 'Oldest Republic in the World'. Hundreds of Datfiinis went 


down to Aden to work and many were attracted into the revolutionary 
movements. Dathinis shared with their Audhali neighbours the reputation' 
of being the principal centres of NLF and FLOSY support outside Aden. 

Consequently it was easy for the NLF to exploit the discontent caused by 
the Fidama affair. On 14 August several hundred tribesmen demonstrated 
in Mudia. the capital, storming the prison, they released the prisoners and 
helped by the South Arabian Police raised the NLF flag over the fort. Naib 
Abdul CJadir. who seems to have had foreknowledge of events, resigned 
and went back to farming. Significantly, four Federal ministers* left the 
same day for Geneva. The NLF in Dathina were emboldened in their action 
by reports of stirring events coming in from the west. 

The Federal rulers had long considered Shaikh Qasi rn bin Abdul Rahman 
('Muffles' to his friends), ruler of Muflahi State, as something of an odd 
fellow. Elderly, grizzled and forever trying to adjust a Wizard of Oz turban 
spangled with its galaxy of stars and crescents, he rivalled even Nasir, 
Sultan of Fadhli, for his performances in the marriage stakes. Here to all 
intents and purposes his usefulness ended. From his remote and 
mountainous little state he viewed all politics from the narrow standpoint 
of Upper Yal'a's tangled tribal feuds. He had once defected to the Yemen 
and on return had been made to stand down in favour of his son Faisal. 
Unfortunately Faisal was almost as bad as father and the light of Federal 
administration and progress shone but dimly in their rocky eyrie of Khalla. 

When news broke in Aden that Shaikh Qasim had been kidnapped, it 
was at first dismissed as one of his escapades. The day was Sunday, 13 
August and the NLF had seized power in its first state. The South Arabian 
Army in Dhala, the nearest military base, was ordered to send a patrol to 
investigate but delayed an ominous four days before reluctantly carrying 
out its instructions. They installed Faisal and once again raised the Federal 
flag over Khalla Fort. A few days later Faisal too disappeared bound for an 
eventual fate working on a road gang 'for the good of the people'. 

By this time events in Muflahi had lost their impact. The revolutionaries 
had struck much nearer home. 

Of all the states in South Arabia Lahej was the biggest and its sultans the 
proudest. In perhaps no other state had the ruling family drifted so far apart 
from their people. They lived in shabby splendour and could not conceive 
a time when sultans would no longer exist. Consequently their political 
vision was introspective and concentrated on intrigue within the family- 
Over the past decade Lahej had been unfortunate in its rulers. The young 
Sultan. Fadl Abdul Karim, was a megalomaniac, a character defect which 
caused him to tie two cousins to stakes in his garden and use them tor target 
practice. For this outrage he was deposed by the British and exiled to 
Jiddah. He was succeeded by his brother. Ali Abdul Karim. Sultan Ali was 
personable, intelligent but recklessly ambitious and aspired to become t ie 

* Naiqa, Obali. Girgirah and Bayumi. 


, 0 f a l| South Arabia through the agency of the South Arabian League 
"'ci when these plans tailed he went off into exile. Thoroughly alarmed at 
?h > qu irks of their young rulers the Lahej electoral college played safe next 
time and selected the steady middle-aged Fadhl bin Ali. In a quieter age 

! ■ ' c ) w ice would have been excellent but these were times of trouble and u 
tou"h resolute character was needed at the helm. Sultan Fadhl never 

soired to be more than he was: a country landowner, and like his forebears 
before him. he treated Lahej as a personal fief. In the spring of 1967 of two 
hundred and twenty irrigation pumps at work in the Lahej Oasis, a 
hundred and ninety belonged to the Sultan. 

Sultan Fadhl soon upset his family. Lahej's palaces were filled with 
unmarried daughters of the ruling house who were considered to be too 
highly born to bo married to any old shaikh. So they were far from pleased 
when Sultan Fadhl married Halla, a pretty Jordanian schoolteacher whose 
progressive ideas did not include that traditional diversion of sultans, 

Because of the threat to his position from nephew Ali Abdul Karim the 
Sultan, together with most of his family, had a fixation about the South 
Arabian League. They did not hesitate to take advantage of the League's 
long periods of unpopularity with other militants operating from the 
Yemen. A glance at the map shows Lahej to have bv far the longest border of 
any state with the Yemen. Yet throughout the Emergency the number of 
attacks on Laheji forts were few and ineffective. An attempt to blow up 
Sultan Fadhl as he drove to his Dar Saad palace, a bazooka attack in Lahej 
and the Shaikh Uthman ambush of the Lahej police chief. Colonel Ali bin 
Ahmad, were all the work of the South Arabian League who returned the 
Sultan's feelings with interest. 

In March 1966 the Lahej government were rumoured to be donating 
useful amounts of money to the FLOSY war chest and a year later senior 
member:, of the ruling family met FLOSY chiefs in a secret meeting in the 
village of Wahl. By force of geography all arms reaching Aden from the 
Yemen had to pass through Lahej territory. After the Beswick 
announcement in February 1966 none were ever captured. The villages of 
VVaht and Dar Saad, just over the border from Aden, were notorious as 
terrorist arms stores and bolt holes. Raids on these places by British and 
Federal troops always produced negative results. It almost seemed as if 
they were expected. 

The precise details of what happened in Lahej are unclear On the 13 
A u 8»st demonstrators first appeared on the streets, apparently protesting 
against a decision of the civil court. As the days passed the demonstrations 
•ncreased in number and violence. The prison was stormed and its 
occupants released while the court itself was sacked. The two hundred 
strong Laheji government militia who dignified themselves with the grand 
title of 'The Lahej State Police', tied up their officers and went on strike. The 
Sultan's naib in Lahej. the clever grasping Amir Abdullah bin Ali, realised 
'hat the game was up and fled through the night to Aden. 


The mob and the militants took over. As alw ays there wore too many 
contenders to the claim that they had overthrown the sultans. Within a day 
fierce little gun battles were being fought up and down the state between 
the supporters of FI.OSY, the NLFand SAL. 

The man chosen to restore order in Lahej was Colonel Ali bin Ahmad. 
Assistant commissioner of the South Arabian Police and nephew of the 
Sultan. Of a younger generation, quick to point out the defects of the old. 
Colonel Ali bluntly told his uncle that he did not intend to restore order to 
place the sultans back in power. The Colonel who had a well earned 
reputation for being ruthless and decisive had been called in months too 

A battalion of the South Arabian Army was sent to Lahej to reinforce the 
South Arabian Police and help the Colonel. They did neither. 

Other than impose a truce amongst the warring factions the Army 
declined to arrest malefactors, or seize stores of -illegal' arms. Within a few 
davs Colonel Ali realised his task was hopeless. Compelled to drive 
through streets bedecked with NLF and FLOSY Hags and powerless even to 
remove a large notice hung over the gate of the empty prison which 
proclaimed him to be a 'stooge and tail of imperialism' the Colonel became 
hollow-eyed and his normal healthy complexion turned grey with fatigue. 

At this stage lie was found by the press louring the Federation at the 
request of the Federal government. 

On the IB August the BBC broadcast a Renter report that the NLF had 
seized control in four states, Shaib, Muflahi. Dhala and Lahej. The Federal 
government were most upset. They were advised that if the reports were 
untrue as they maintained the best way to disprove them was to send a 
party of journalists en tour to each of the states concerned. Although most 
of the rulers present, which included the Sultan of Lahej. must have known 
that there was some foundation in the reports, they readily agreed. A 
helicopter was obtained and three journalists* accompanied by a British 
major with the South Arabian Army, a member of the High Commission 
and two boxes of ammunition, set off for the last trip by Britons around the 
western area of the Federation before i [dependence. 

First stop was Habilain. Strangely forlorn, the last British units had 
departed a fortnight before. Traffic at the huge airstrip, once the busiest in 
the Federation, was almost at a standstill. Even the giant Beverley transpor 
which some months previously had struck a mine on take off and had a 
at the end of the runway likesome giant silver bird with a broken wing, n 

" The South Arabian Army's Commander in the West, Col °"^ 
Muhammad Ahmad Hassan i. received the journalists, treated them to 
obligatory soft drinks and explained that all was quiet. And it was, dea 

" S Bonner. AP. M Gent. BBC. K Ludlow. VicNcws. 


Tliu partv flow on to Avvaabil. administrative centre of Shaib. The 
. , iroP ter left the Dhala Road behind. Climbing higher and higher into the 

minlains the passengers peering through the windows had a bird s eye 
" L of some of the roughest country in the world. Black brown hills with 
" ynr sharp ridges stretched as far as the eye could sec, bisected by deep 

rrou- wadis. Occasionally there was a flash of green where cultivation 
h»d been attempted or a glimpse of a tiny fort with a hamlet huddled for 
protection around it. This was Halmain. never administered even by the 
venturesome British and the home of people as old and hard as their 

'"Tvaabd is a pleasant surprise. Sprinkled high on the edge of a cliff 
overshadowed bv another, local legend has it that this is the lirst town that 
God made and although the irreverent add that it doesn't seem He has been 
back since it is not easy to understand how the place has survived. Unable 
to scratch a living from their own barren soil, hundreds of Shaibis have 
emigrated abroad to seek their fortunes. Thriving communities can be 
found in Cardiff. Sheffield and Birmingham. Others have gone lurther 
afield to the United States and South Kast Asia. Only rarely does a Shaibi 
settle permanentlv in the land of his work. Most return to Shaib. 

Awaabil is dominated bv the Naib's Castle. A large brown lort whose 
grim visage seems to promise tales of dark deeds and deep dungeons. This 
contrasts with the BeauGesto headquarters of the South Arabian Army just 
up the road whose mortars point purposefully towards the Yemen a tew 
miles away across the gorge. _ 

The press were enchanted. The clean air. champagne to Aden s bail 
burgundy, was in itself enough to cheer them up. They trooped ott happily 
into the town to chat with friendly people who as always mostly consisted 
of women, children and old men. The younger men were either abroad or 
with the rebels. What the journalists did not know was thai the day belore 
the South Arabian Army had politely told the Naib that it could no longer 
support him and that even as they wandered around Naib Yahya was 
franticallv packing his goods and chattels. Neither did they realise that the 
polite man in the Robin Hood hat and revolver who had greeted them by 
the Army fort had quicklv stuffed an Nl.F flag into his shirt to avoid giving 
offence to these unexpected guests. The helicopter overflew Muflahi being 
unable to land as (he South Arabian Army had only that morning tound 
time to carry out its orders and send a patrol to investigate the kidnapping 
of Shaikh "Qasim. The helicopter flew low over Khalla Fort and the 
journalists were reassured by the sight of a Federal flag being raised fron 
the tower. 

After Awaabil. Dhala was a return to the normal atmosphere of tension, 
suspicion and doubt. The party landed and were driven straight to army 
headquarters where thev were entertained in the officers' mess and later 
taken to the house of Muhammad Qasim, the young NI.F-inclined political 
officer. Their requests to visit the Amir and the town were Firmly refused. 
T o put it mildly the situation had been delicate for some time. 


Th e town of Dhala clusters around the skies ol Fa small hill 
i w™l hv the magnificent bulk of Jebel ihaf. The squat brown 
r su^outcd" fe the imposing white palace of .he ruler The 
v 1 'of this building bore the scars of over forty bazooka shells-the A mir 
,1 v ,vs d vlv referred to these as 'South Arabian air conditioning . 

S haa f u 1 b i u A 1 i CMG. Amir of Dhala. was a small slight man with 
sou u I in wn eves and tremendous pluck, for nearly .wen y years he had 
u 11 " state with skill and energy. He was only too well aware o he 
necessi v of keeping a balance between the tribes, who were amongst the 
IsTfer ious and vfcious in all Arabia. The biggest ol these the Sham had 
r»nienviable reputation for treachery and violence and did not hesitate at 
Se murder of holv men or the robbery of any untor.una e p.lgnm who 
into their ^ands. They ^ ^Z^^^^ 

he was personally popular. f . f the 

It was in Dhala on the day of Iho mutiny lha t t he h ™ s] & { 
impending break up of the Federal government : appe red- 
buzzed with rumours ol what wus happen ng - Aden ^ P 

2S officers could 

regain control of them. - i„H hv one Ali Anlar.* 

The chief Shairi rebel gang in the area was led by one. At 
Grasping and completely ruthless, ho was a born eader and ful % 
Piqued at having been summoned to far, to ex,. » n ^ oSY t0 the 

of a rival.t he had recently trans erred Ins al leg an cm * 

town should be made to leave that day. ition to 

With the army still arguing in their camp tteAm^* ^quickly as 
refuse and messages were sent to the two men to get d*aj 

• Amor is .he nickname of Ali Ahn»d N«ir al Bishi, now (1983) the Minister of Defend for 
the People's Democratic Republic of the Yemen. 

TAli bin Ali Hadi. 


Major Paxtoa an a c: aPtf B S — Sly 

VC S uncertain of the a.t.tu J °^^hhi had their wives living with 
nmnlv Until a few weeks prev '° u ^J h fl h ~ 0 the lJnion Jack. New they 
Xn n the square stone houses d efia> t jfl>^, ^ ^ ^ (ak , y 

diorwav of the house returned to his village. 

% days passed it became X^S^^los^ 
, ou ,d do -thing positive to keep ^ By mid . August the 

placed the soldiers in a f oi on tte other hand, due ,o the 
the Amir who was under the. protec on ^ ^ {o (anglfi 

uncrirtalnlies of the general po l.t.c a o u ^ Ant 

with the rebels who might ^"P^J^ attackc a the army they would 
and his men readily appreciated that tncy 

almost certainly come oft worst on a visit to Aden to 
The hiatus was broken vh 1st the Amir iq (hfi amy 

ask for help. His bro^ cond ui„n was that the 

camp and compelled to agree " 'ea enfo i k an d possessions. 

army would give protection to <h Am w om D n the way 

A convoy of three-tonners wound up ■ > e ™^ . ;C and lhe so ldiers 

bock the drivers stopped the trucks ond pipped his 

stood hv whilst the mob looted the Amir 0 

womenfolk of their ornaments. , m hol a ing out 

At the time of the press visit on 1/ August the 

in his palace. „i„Hpd their trip in hahej where they 

After Dhala the journalists conclu de h 0 ^ over as a military 

interviewed a tired Colonel Ah Ahmad in a garden 

headquarters. Then they returned to Aden. although there 

Reports were duly written and broadcast < t and 
had clearly been trouble in the our states ^ stU1 

under the control of the South Arabian Ar m t nc ^ 
identified with the Federal go vernment. i ul . itdklthcm 
government's last gamble and although t had pa.t J ^° area and 

little good. In fact thev had lost control over the whole 
thev were shortly to be toppled from power in the ^ their 

As the hot and tired journalists were le av g tea u. heK ^ ^ 

despatches, another blow was struck at Federal power, 
Ittihad itself. 


Captain Jeff Jefferson was well known in the corridors of al Ittihad where 
ho worked as an administrative officer with Federal Intelligence. Stolid 
and capable, he was one of the most cautious men in Aden. On the daily 
fourteen-mile drive in his battered red Dauphine he would never stop to 
pick up Arab hitch-hikers and as he passed through the squalid little 
shanty village of al Hizwa one hand never strayed far from a loaded 
automatic in the pocket. As usual al 1.20 pm Jefferson left work, drove 
down to the main road, passed through Hizwa village and was never seen 
alive again. When he did not arrive home for lunch his friends became 
worried and organised a search. In time his body was found slumped in the 
seat of his car. He had been killed instantly by a burst from a machine gun. 
From information gathered later il is almost certain that the Dauphine was 
followed out of al Ittihad by an open blue sports car which overtook it on 
the other side of Hizwa village, a passenger letting fly with a burst of light 
machine gun fire as itdidso. It was over in a flash. The Dauphine ploughed 
off the road into the desert while the sports car passed on its way. So 
quickly and efficiently was the murder carried out that colleagues of 
Jefferson's passing the scene not more than three minutes later noticed the 
car well off the road, mused thet it might be Jefferson, but dismissed the 
thought as the car looked too dirty and knew that the Captain would not of 
his own accord have left the road. 

The reason for the killing was not hard to find. A few weeks previously 
the Intelligence Office driver Hassan had been unmasked as a senior 
member of PORF. He was responsible amongst other things for laying the 
mine for Sir Richard Turnbull's helicopter on that last Federal Day* parade 
back in February and the 'drainpipe* mortar attacks on the Federal 
ministers' houses at the time, of the UN Mission. t Hassan had been 
whisked away to Fort Morbut. His friends presumably sought revenge, 
accomplished by the murder of Jefferson. 

With the death of their administrative officer coupled w ith the fact that 
the Supreme Council to whom I hey reported bad ceased to function, the 
Federal Intelligence apparatus folded up. 

Professional terrorism with lone Britons as targets was on the increase. 
Two days afterwards an RAF sergeant was shot while being served with 
petrol in Maalla's Esso station. A few minutes later two other RAF men 
suffered a similar fate as they wheeled their l.ambretta in for repair to the 
BP station opposite, one, not more than twenty, managed to gasp 'he wore 
black trousers' before he died. For some lime lone killers had been loose in 
Steamer Point. 

On the 12 July Norman Pritchard, the British manager of an Aden 
shipping company, was shot in the back of the head; within a few days Bill 
Curtis, an information officer, was killed in the same way whilst on a lone 

* See Chapter IV. 
t See Chapter VI. 


-I oping expedition before returning home: Michael Booth, an accountant 
'th the British Bank of the Middle Fast, was lucky to escape with a bullet 
"'the fa'^c- and 011 ,he 21 Au 8 ust :l soldier of the Prince of Wales' Own was 
"hot in the back in the liny bookshop opposite the High Commission as he 
s selecting magazines for his friends on guard. A day later twenty 
"minds of gelignite was discovered in the Aden Government Secretariat 
^t'ter an anonymous telephone call. If it had exploded it may have caused 
areat loss of Arab life, and as always it was the Adenis who suffered most for 
the continuation of terrorism. In the months of July and August fifty-eight 
adenis. including four women and four children, were killed by the 
revolutionaries, and a further forty-eight 'terrorists' were shot by British 
troops, as opposed to a total of eleven British deaths. 

As a result of the August killings Middle Kast Command tightened up 
security instructions, virtually confining their men to camp and the High 
Commission withdrew its officers still living outside the wire into secure 

Whilst the NI.F and its associates had been seizing power in the states. 
FLOSY had not been idle. In the firsl week in August Asnag, Mackawee and 
Basindwah. amongst others, had held an important meeting in Taiz and 
decided to take advantage of diminishing Federal control with an armed 
invasion across the border. First they had to deal with trouble amongst 
their own supporters. 

Fgvptian instructors training the "FLOSY Liberation Army", presumably 
because they did not know what to do with their charges, suggested they 
practise digging trenches. The six hundred South Arabians replied hotly 
that they were not workmen and the only holes they were prepared to dig 
were Egyptian graves. With that the Egyptians boiled. The real cause of the 
trouble was that the troops hadn't been paid for two months and many were 
deserting. Asnag had brought the necessary cash from Cairo and after brief 
negotiation the matter was solved. 

FLOSY were unfortunate in their military adventures. Their first probe 
was a raid by sixty heavily armed men against the border village of al 
Hazza. Almost the lasl remaining supporters of the Amir of Dhala. the 
villagers Hung back their attackers in a fierce night battle. They were 
Helped at the decisive moment by pro-NLF elements who thereafter 
claimed their allegiance. 

FLOSY's next venture was more ambitious and led by Asnag and 
Basindwah themselves. Acting against the advice of their military 
advisers, on the 14 August they moved over the border and seized the 
Laheji border post of Kirsh. Two clays later Taiz Radio issued a manifesto 
Irom 'Liberated Territory' but by this time FLOSY had already been driven 
°ut In response to a Federal request. Hunters of the Royal Air Force had 
swept low over Kirsh. This was enough for Basindwah who leapt into a 
Landrover and together with £14.000 worth of Federal customs dues led 
the retreat back over the border. His men were not slow to follow. A similar 
invasion into Audhali also failed. The next FLOSY effort, carried out 

33 Abdullah al Asnag, the leader of FLOSY, [left), with supporters. 

mninivhvPORF was to be more successful. , 

rldhl \ uhsin the Naib of the I iaushabi Sultanate, was much distu bed 

trouble actually occurs, by shooting up h.s 0W ^ F '^^ cam9 in 
a sharp halt with the establishment o a permanen Fu e . Army P 
the area. There were, however, other practices i hich _x e.c ^ 
lucrative. With the full co-operation of his young smas.erju Un T-J - 
Sarur he opened negotiations with everybody-Yemen s i.g 
Rov a lis FLOSY and the NLF. to facilitate the passing of amis across 
So^hrough which ran the main road from A en to = J 
These machinations certainly involved the most n a it. I f j 
the state-lhe Sultan's mother. Sharp as a needle w. h a k en ^ 
anything connected with money from a rifle to a tractor, th.s old dame 
held in awe by both her son and his naib. „. rontTW the „ it was 

if the rulers of Haushabi were to be considered c ^ cn ^ , ™J slopin 
J5 they shared with their people. ^^ ^^ ^ 
foreheads give a profound impression of he, ■ nt ice 
Haushabi ran several dissident gangs. A great deal ^"™ U rar 
and many fierce battles fought but the noted there 



:h disturbed. 
;o learnt that 
ed like many 
ys out when 
ctice came to 
rrny camp in 
vere equally 
:un Faisal bin 
>, Kgyptians, 
ms across his 

ial person in 
keen eye &>' 
old dame was 

then it was a 
; and sloping 
ual capacity- 
add be caused 
re were rarelj 

„• -.nH then one of these gangs would surrender a 
any ^^ZZS^ «*« « — * tr " m ' 

„ ciis dent of the old sctoo 1 h.s so 1 J hobia ()t tho Holy Man 
h tTnndelfronUhesacre^ 

Appealed to his ^^^^S^ n exten<le<l .he principle to the 
the foreign^ and much « ; rSavknJ b a id found it necessary to 

Lvptians-The story goes that " he "^ r ^ - wouW onlv consent to do so 
Averse with h. o^-s P hu^ ^ ^ ^ (hc fa(;es ol tl 
throU «,h a curtain sc t a ' h ^°, u!rc hav(3 been recorded cases, espec, tl v 
mo,;:rlS S'dirihuted. that Say,. Ubaid contnved to 

Muhsin. The slow tempo ot ^ T f^ ^f vmn up . More and more he 
S too quickly and he toond dfi,uHy n kjepm ^ 
recoursed to the bott Ic , oi ■ J * ^ ^ Wow ^ vh 

and blue cushions o fhis re « cpt.on c ^ ^ m()UIltalns „ th 

heard that a strong force ot NLr v Lit n " H aushabi lor the NLF. 

c avowed intention of suizmg him °"f ifl d ^ l ^ 0 „ d the news that they 
fho Naib had been conh den. ly cxpec ^:^ h {he d(!Sertion of half 
had been driven out ot nearby Ki«h tome <J m d _ , md senl an 

his guards ^VV? rf ^ e h J^*^5^ Si filing U but either forgo, 
incomprehensible telegnm o al un ^ ^ Aa 

or couldn't bring himsell to rnc1 , ^" ° theNa , b prepared to scuttle, 
puz/.ledarmvofficersporedoverthetelcg amt^^ led bv none other than 
He had left i. too late, .he NLF we c up J • - Muhammad al 
Faisal al Shaabi. the hard-eyed nep l eu ol Qahtan. ^ 
Bishi. organiser of the Dhala stronghold ot t^ Musaiymir 
Fifty NLF 'commandos' swarmed m. the ^Ha ^ I ^ fort:0(l his 
and after a short, sharp \ ^^X-atively easy victory the 

remaining guards to surrendei. Attci t us V - [h , he Naib and 

NLF left a few men in the fort and marched m og tl c ^ ^ 

several other prisoners. As they -ere cro^ m the fay 
Musaivmir stands like a., island, the NLF « ere taken ^ - | - rhe rKS , 
PORF and were completely routed. Perhaps a <lo x w ^ pQRI , 

fled or. together with the two leaders we. • taken p ^ ^ 

column, some one hundred strong had was sec. ( ^ 

previously and headed straight tor Musa.vm r. 1 hue s ^ 
suspicion tha. thev had made some arrongemen s w t , r 

wh 1 thev had long been in touch. At al 1 events it thev had. v 

* Kstimattw varv l»mvum snai am. litti'iMi. 


Here they made a lata! mistak*. following the FI.OSY 

The South Arabian Army had 1^"^ had Ulkcn up posilio ns 
ta k«, over and subsequent ^ ' - d t0 break through back to 
commanding the road along u hid PORF plan ^ 
,he Yemen. There was no need to PORI to atlarX 
slipped round. Perhaps they were ove .„ the dark , nobod , 
success, perhaps they merely bumper n to the a - u h ; , 

^■^^f^^^X^ ouf the two leading 
Saladin armoured oar and this qi c > scattered bands 

Landrovers. PORF then . wisely aban lo cd A e oad . ^ 
fought their way to safely acros t ho b order takm e I ^ ^ 
them, in the morning the sun rose o rc e w ^ ^ 

between them and the NI.F. , thc W est had 

So bv 20 August the traditional rule o : albnajor st ^ 
been overthrown. Other than the abortive r LOSV ' disCT edited 
was made anywhere to set up an ac minis r . on to e place ^ ^ 
Federal government. In.ertnba hgh ng * M being 

broke out almost immediately "« the ne. i aUhough 
particularly bloody in Dha la I he am, J— ^ one facti on or 
nanv of its soldiers were taking time o t to i n h as it 

a other. The west had always been turbu lent an Idee ,pm ^ rf 

w08 had not changed the lives of the peop 1 aT ^jn Wd « much as ^ 
Audhali, Lower Yaf^Fadhh and Datm a development, 
state administrators were more /''P ,l ' s 1 " tt J lU and Lower Yafa 
Particularly in agriculture, more ^ ^JX ^w'enty years the 
between them share the new iert.le Ah >< n BoMrn he h 
oonius of British administration had transtom '" .^bia becoming the 
cotton land, some of the poorest tnbesmen m S > Ambu ^ ,„ 
richest as a result. This development was to a certain 

. v jiiag(! ol 

- oth-r PORF men arc nortec, tohavu ia.erdierl D f their uou.kIs in .he Yemen, 


P U,UiaU i-ecl and most ably governed of aU thc country 

ad!n 1 n 1 l a i ruler, were strong and capab e a 1 mo ^ 

Th °.i; i dU -Vdea into plateau and ptan. At the. he ^ sh()ring up the 

, i Vnm the market town of MaKairas ' , ■ L H e was a 

rU led t ,om tnc n Ymcn soon found to t g ^ of 

intrigues had 

ttll e tannlV, position in the state. mm;id held sway. 

" On 'the plai n below his cousin the Na b Ms bm ■ ^ ^ 

NO od "I o has ever seen this ^^Xg^vmiL of an Aden dawn, 
aciss the tarmac of Khormaks^^ slung acrossh, 

T dne or machine gun wrapped in a poi ruth l CS sness. Cold 

shoulders could even doubt lus X e was perhaps the most 

survived had it not been for une man (he AudhaUs had 

F< r vears laabal Aqil ot the Am Shaa n s.ij j rBason {or his 

be an implacable enemy of the . ruhng tanu b 1 h J ^ ^ 
hatred is lost in the dark recess es of b » P< ^ and ever y waking 
fioure gave off an odour ot al, -««?^™ to encompass their downfall, 
hour seems to have been ^^^tu,ly complaining ot some 
His high rasping voice was o e. i heard qi am sho - oiTi the advent 

injure, real or imagined at then hand^ to) ^ ^ - n c tac:t w th 
of the revolution was a godsend. ^ ^ q{ arms and men down he . 
the Egyptians, facilitating he <}« f /^fere outside Aden did the NUF 
Audhal i cliff beneath which he Nou he ^ |he mln of , he 

have a more effective leader and lew did more 

Federation than this embittered old man. uridc r-estimated as 

His activities had long beer, s u *d ™ hvand itsaysa great deal 
mere tribalism because of his we 1 k^Sii. months a rebel leader, 
for Egyptian security that Naib Jaabil. tor ugme 

* See Chapter HI. 


his namesake's importance. Apart from the orgamsa lion ot 
ne ver guessu s na M[Qwms m Aden t0 mdu l gP in 

arn.s snu.ggl n!, - » shou , d lh ever bc forced to flee. 

NaturalK his ma ,n ^ dcs iroved ihcre. the odd mme was laid 

P un | P " Tris Sm d U kept at hav bv the competence of feib Nas.r and 
0,1 ' J" '' H 'if e ho ad his hand too much the retribution to,- the Aq, of 
the tear that it he M . f , violent W hen Dathina declared tor the 
ASS Hill^ S ,o,ne. threw off his mask and cailed for 

* h h 1 "tcHV turns'on'small things. One may wonder if the course of events 
td havXen changed if the ruling family had been more ge nerous to 
would ax e nee « f h violls J( . Instead of handing out 

thcir tribesmen on t e occas oa o h p ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ de 

thB ""I he" S i^s ?h yTad nested on selling them althou gh there 


"^ tZ^ to his orders. Sir Humphrey suggested he order J. 
army to make the request. No request was forthcoming. ™c B"Ush v u , e 
not in the habit of bombing villages without due wa.m ng a nd v e,c no 
convinced that the Federation was done tor. rh.s was the deci n o moment, 
if they had succeeded they may have pu back the com, k e uctor 
for reVolu.ion until alter independence. The leelmg preva ed . 
manv British lives had already been lost to no purpose. The oh, J v a to 
get as manv out as possible and avoid further mv olveme, t The l « a a 
risk. The traditional authorities provided the only proper ad lm ms a ti . 
■ the chaos which was taking its place may well have engultecl the British 
leading to far greater casualties. That it didn « is a tribute to h 
Commissioner's diplomatic sixth sense. Even so the incident doe t ie to 
encourage those who persist in the belief that Britain always stands bv her 
friends in their hour of need. . . 

If N-aib Kusir had returned to Audhali immed.ately alter hea ■ g he 
High Commissioner's refusal all may still have been well. 1 h x. ul.n. 
tarn ilv alone numbered more than three hundred men, their capita 1 ^ara 
was virtually impregnable and they were wcl supplied with a ms an 
ammunition. The blow bad been psychological rather than and 

•AlilaljriAuilhali.tlirmi.n wspmisibl.; for tlu> Maulla tioniliaiiionxst iIuhii. 


the Naib resigned himself to defeat and sulked around Aden for a vital 
throe days. By tho time ho had regained heart his followers had lied, the 
rebels had seized his capital and captured the arms which his family had 
been at such pains to preserve. When the tribesmen broke clown the Zara 
arms store they found several hundred rifles and over a million rounds of 
ammunition as well as a Few machine guns. Henceforth Audhuli was to be 
the centre from which the NLF were to extend their influence to the East. 

The fall of the Audhalis was the death blow to the Federal government 
and the repercussions were immediately felt in the neighbouring states of 
Lower Yafa' and Fadhli. 

Before Sultan Nasir of Fadhli had left for Geneva he had given orders to 
release the leading rebels held in his jail. The reason for this gesture is 
unknown. He may have already been coming to some agreement with the 
militants and hoped to stave off personal disaster by a quick 
accommodation. When the news of the Audhal i debacle reached Zingibar, 
the state administrative capital, the former Sultan Ahmad realised that his 
only chance was to try and gather support from the tribes in the north east 
of the stale. He knew' that the de-trihalised Abyan delta was riddled with 
NLF cells and he could expect little help from them. Travelling fast in a 
convoy of Landrovers Ahmad held a tribal meeting at Am Surra near the 
border with Audhali. He declared himself for FLOSY, the first sultan to do 
so and gained promises of support. Turning back, the former ruler and his 
party were ambushed on the Urqub Pass by the Qashmimis. a band of 
semi-political bandits who had long been a thorn in the side of the 
administration. What happened is lost in legend. According to some 
Ahmad leant out of his Landrover and personally shot the leader ol the 
attackers. Ali Lahman Qasmimi, dead. It seems more likely, however, that 
Ali Lahman was firing a bren gun from behind cover when the bipod 
collapsed and the bullets ricocheted off the rocks striking him in the lace. 
At all events he was killed and his men dispersed. Ahmad, learning for the 
first time that Zingibar had declared against him and the Audhali NLr in 
force were coming down the road fast with the avowed intention ol 
stringing him up, wiselv decided to cut across country to the safety ^ot 
Aulaqi and Baihan. Afterwards even pro-NLF Fadhli tribesmen boastea 
of his exploits, contrasting the performance of 'their sultans' with those 
of Audhali. , , 

The much maligned Shaikh Ali Atif was at this time Chairman ot me 
Supreme Council. Hearing rumours of the NLF' takeover ol fadhli n 
decided that his place was at the side of his young master. Sultan M, " 
bin Aidrus of Lower Yafa', when many of his more illustrious colleagu 
had taken themselves abroad: he never got there. As his I. and rover turner 
bend on the road to Jaar it found a roadblock. A partv of twenty-live am ■ 
men stepped out from their hiding places and the Minister's guards liu b 
up their hands in surrender. He had been betrayed by his driver, vv • 
annoved at a refusal for a pav rise, had sent word ahead to the Fadh !" The 
Shaikh Ali Atif was the first Federal minister to fall into NLF hands. 

1 73 


, sultan Mahmud was taken the same afternoon. TlKMapture oHhese 
"ylh otablos.oacbvFadhlis.carriedtheseodsoffuturetroublswhich 
,w0 £te hidden, by the general chaos. The Yafais are probably the 
* \ int nselv tribal people of all South Arabia and although they said 
r H n lie first flush of revolutionary triumph, they did not forget that the 
' u lie of all people had laid hands on one of their chieftains. 
h u- h he NI.F takeover in the central area they held nine of the states 
rh, s' s ill in the hands of the Federal authorities were in the east and 
< isted of M-laqi. Wahidi and Baihan. Muhammad Fond, the Aula.,, 
r" ' e n Minister, en route to the United Nations, had broken his journey ui 
S l a nd come to some agreement with F..OSY. From the,, on t he Auloq.s 
i o remained loyal to. heir rulers and included a bloc^cot 
S, h Arabian Arm v officers, counted themselves as supporters of r LOSY. 

The Federal government was finished. In a desperate attempt to save 
something from the wreck. Shaikh Ali Musaid Buhakri. who succeeded the 
unfortunate Shaikh Ali At if as Chairman, asked the army to take over. They 
o,p o dceplv divided themselves to accept. Shaikh Ali MusaLd hex, left 
Aden for U'ahid, where he too declared for F..OSY and rallied the 
tribesmen to fight the local South Arabian Police who had turned NLP 

The onlv Federal minister left in Aden was the Sultan ol Lahe, and he 
had gone into hiding. Bayumi. ebullient as ever, returned *™<£™* to 
join him. announcing that he was willing to stay m office un .1 the u 1 o 
he people was implemented." He had no illusions as to he ate ol he 
Federal government, and his views were shared by the High 

Commissioner. . . . . n 

Sir Ilurnphrev Trcvelvan flow to London to explain the position. Un 
his return on the 4 September in a broadcast over Aden Radio he put the 
official seal on the end of the Federal government of South Arabia, 
declared that Britain recognised "the nationalist forces as representatives 
of the people' and was ready to have immediate discussions with them. 
The subject of these talks would, he said, include British recognition o 
'an effective Government formed by the nationalist forces', withdrawal or 
British forces and the carrying out of the United Nations' Resolutions for 
the area. , , . , . 

In the few duvs before Sir Humphrey made his historic broadcast. 
FLOSY and the NLF were in a state of open warfare. Qahtan Ash Shaab.. the 
legendary M.F leader released from detention in Kgypl. had given Ins lust 
press conference in Zingibar. the east was in turmoil and away in the noit i 
the Sharif of Baihan. last of the traditional leaders, had departed lorbaucii 

Chapter X *y» 

War with Two Fronts 

4 September-November 1967 

There is no such thing as the N/.F— we ore one revolutionary body. 

Abdullah al Asnag. f lead of the Fl.OSY politician body 

Taiz, April 1967 

Showing openmindedncss and tolerance KLOSV has always treated 
the NLF like a vounger brother. 

Abdul Qauee Mackawee, Secretary-General of FLOS Y 
to UN Mission in Cairo, September 1967 

FLOSY are a gang of Zionists. 

\'LF leaflet— Shaikh (Jthman 
October 1967 

The small stockv man in turban and sunglasses didn't look like a leader of 
revolution. Onlv when he began to speak did the intensity of his words, 
accompanied hv dramatic gestures, give a hint at the fanaticism which tor 
most of his fortv-two vears had made Qahtan al Shaabi a dedicated 
dissident. Journalists had been called to Zingibar forty-five miles along the 
beach from Aden and recently taken over by the NI.F. Here the NLF leader 
had chosen to make his headquarters and for the first time address the press 
in South Arabia. Surrounded hv three hundred vvel l-armed tribesmen and a 
wildlv enthusiastic crowd in which South Arabian Police were prom men , 
the NLF leader let it be known that he was willing to meet the High 
Commissioner provided that the British first publicly announced that n 
NLF was the true representative of the people. FLOSY would be allowed!" 
live in peace in an NLF state— no more— and the United Nations Mission 
had no right to interfere. c- 

Qahtan al Shaahi's press conference took place two days botore . 
Humphrey Trevelvan's broadcast offering to negotiate with 
national ists. When the offer came the NI.F rejected it outright. They had n 
been accepted as the only party with whom the British were prepare 
talk and also thev were not yet strong enough to accept. 

Although Qahtan al Shaabi appeared confident enough ' r 

privately he must have been worried and not a little perplexed. The r ^ 
Director of Agriculture had come a long way since the days when ne The 
been driven to fabricate 'news items' in his dingy Cairo office. 


nrovious two years had boon spent in semi-detention in Egypt, tar rom the 
c n t a tioru and he had only been released in the aftermath of the une 
Wa He can have had no idea of the extent of his movement^,* unwell 
acceptance of his leadership was based on the resul o early Egyptian 
propaganda Ud his own efforts at public relations which had made him 
E known of NLF figures. I Us enforced absence Iron, the Yemen and 
South Arabia had blurred a reputation for quarrelling and alone ,of to *M 
leaders had at no time come to an accommodation with ^SY^rom oii 
over South Arabia, tribesmen, trades unionists Students and „ l n with 
cause to fear headed for Zingibar to assure their "leader how they bad long 
supported the NLF and helped it to victory. Al Shaab. had little means of 
telling which of his wellwishers were genuine and which were inot. _The 
members of the NLF High Command steadily expanded from the ft fteen 
announced in Zingibar to an unwieldy forty-three by the end of October 
and nobodv. not even the leader himself, seemed able to agree on he 
names. In the event this proved to be a decisive strength ior the NLF as the 
better-organised FLOSY knew quite well who their supporters were and 
gave short shrift to any fairweather pretenders. The uncommitted, the 
isolated, the junior civil servants and the ordinary men in me street who 
wanted nothing more than to be left alone, soon caught on and flocked to 
swell the ranks of their rivals. , VT P 

The Zingibar press conference was not the first to be given by the NL ■ 
For days before Nagwa Mackawee (once graphically described as Sou h 
Arabia's answer to Rosa Kleb). whose dislike for her uncle had led her to 
become a vociferous leader of NLF women in Aden, had gone to the 

3 76 

Crescent Hotel and invited pressmen to DarSaad. Here they met 'Naqib'a 
voung schoolteacher flanked by two 'commandos' carrying Russian sub- 
machine guns. The crowd outside the police station cheerfully chanted 
NLF slogans whilst Naqib' explained thai he and his men had taken over 
the village from the Lahej authorities. A week later the press returned, this 
time to a FLOSY conference. 'Maqib' had been driven out and perhaps 
killed: of his headquarters one wall remained standingand thesame crowd 
shouted lor FLOSY with equal enthusiasm. The lighting was the first 
pitched battle to be fought between the two factions in Aden and was an 
indication of things to come. Over the next six weeks efforts were made by 
organisations as divergent as the South Arabian Army, the United Nations' 
Mission and the Arab League to bring the two Fronts together. All failed. 
Often when a successful solution appeared to have been arrived at in Cairo 
or elsewhere bursts of violent fighting would break out in South Arabia and 
destroy the efforts of the peacemakers. 

Both sides were evenly matched. FLOSY were generally stronger in 
Aden although the oil refinery workers of Little Aden and the powerful 
dockers' union represented an impressive bloc of NLF support. Upcountry 
the west was almost entirely in the hands of the NLF although the 
tribesmen of Radfan and Hausiiabi and the Jebel Jihaf continued to support 
FLOSY. This gave FLOSY control of the main road from the Yemen which 
enabled it to continue to send reinforcements to its forces in Aden forsome 
time to come. The important central area was completely under NLF 
control but in the east former Federal rulers held most of VVahidi, the Upper 
Aulaqi Shaikhdom. the Upper Aulaqi Sultanate and Baihan in the name of 
FLOSY. The NLF had two other advantages, not immediately apparent but 
nonetheless important. Their leaders had nearly all returned to the south 
while apart from the renegade Federalis those of FLOSY preferred to 
expend their energies in Cairo and Taiz. II is said that Abdullah al Asnag 
paid a brief visit toal Mansura but left before the fighting with promises to 
return with aid which were never to be fulfilled. 

So the NLF were seen as a national party, something indigenous to South 
Arabia, and had survived despite Kgyptian opposition. Alternatively, 
FLOSY were seen as an Egyptian and therefore foreign creation. The 
sii pport of most South Arabians for President Nasser is qualified. They had 
been critical observers of Egyptian performance in the Yemen and 
interference in South Arabia. They were prepared to pay lip service to the 
great man only so long as he didn't come to South Arabia. Later, when a 
known anti-Egyptian commentator on Aden Radio, Abdul Rahman 
Haideri, was brought before an NLF tribunal and asked ,'Why did you 
speak out against our Egyptian brothers?' he replied with some courage, 
'Because they have caused great harm to our country.' The president o 
the tribunal said, 'He is absolutely right' and instead of being taken out 
and shot as he expected, the man was reinstated in his position. 

The Egyptians were amongst the first to realise the weakness o 
FLOSY position and made strenuous efforts to persuade the two factions 


„ oocrate. The release of Qahtan al Shaabi was not the least of these 1 hey 
, h-md icapped bv their consistent efforts in the past to impose FLOSY 
lVC nv rrvbodv else and because at one time or another they had supported 
° r v mrtv'in opposition to the British. For years the white-robed 
f/ Mmmad Ali al Jilri of the South Arabian League had been lionised by 
S ue and as Rgypt wished to gain maximum Arab supp.n-t for 
her South Arabian Policy. Muhammad Ali al Jitn had perforce to be 
in'r-luded in the peace talks. 

The \rab League stumbling upon something everybody else had been 
)rv n2 to bring about for years, called a conference of all contending parties 
in South Arabia to bring about a form of coalition government Jo receive 
dependence. Much to his surprise even Bayumi found himself invited. 
The conference, held in Cairo, never really began. Bayumi was the first 
' u a,,- In typical fashion he Hung away whatever chances he had by 
msulting his Egyptian hosts. Sitting drinking coffee with Colonel Izzat 
Sulaiman who u'as organising the meeting for the Egyptians and a host of 
'journalists in Cairo's Hilton Hotel. Bayumi heard the rumble of Israeli 
mortar fire from across the canal, something which had been tacitly 
ignored bv everybody else. 

Well ' he said, jovially addressing himself to the company at large. 
-ban<> bang, bang-just like home. Reminds me of Mansura and Shaikh 
Uthman but of course we have Egyptian mortars there and being of our 
Arab brethren so to speak, they rarely hit the target. Still, how the world 
turns, who would have thought of it in Cairo ol all places. 

The Egyptians were furious and that was the end of Bayumi. 1 hat was 
also the end of the conference as the organisers sooo realised that the only 
parties who counted were those with men and guns in South Arabia. 

In the earlv days of September, KLOSY leaders in Cairo were sanguine of 
coming to an agreement which would give them the bulk of control m 
'revolutionary government'. They believed that they held a trump card in 
the persons of Faisal al Shaabi and Muhammad al Bishi. captured in the 
fight at Musaivmir a month previously. 

Several days were spent negotiating an agreement with these two but it 
was announced onlv to be instantly repudiated by the NLF in South Arabia 
and through their spokesmen in Beirut. As Mackawce rather querulously 
complained to the United Nations' Mission, he had discovered that those 
who claimed to speak on the behalf of the NLF Supreme Council had no 
authority to commit that body. The British could have told him some 
stories about that. 

For their part the NLF cleverlv announced that it was willing to meet 
FLOSY on any part of 'liberated' South Arabian soil, knowing that territory 
still held bv the pseudo-FLOSY rulers could hardly be termed 'liberated in 
the best revolutionary sense of the word and that anywhere else they would 
he able to bring intolerable pressure on any FLOSY delegates. FLOSY 
declined and suggested a list of Arab capitals as possible meeting places. In 
the middle, the South Arabian Armv issued an ultimatum to both sides and 


when this expired without result on the 20 September extended it until ,u 
c "d°f the month. Suddenly and to thosurpriseofmanv. including * e 
of the NLF, Qahtan al Shaahi announced that he would take I 
delegation to talk with Fi.OSY and on 4 October he led a fc ,^ 
delegation plus two advisers to Cairo. f °ur-man 

Whilst they were away, engaged in their desultory negotiations matt 
were taken out of their hands by the course of events back in South Arab 

In the final analysis, victory for cither party rested on Ihe attitude J?L 
South Arabian Army. It was divided on what were essentially tribal linl 
Most of to Aulaqis, although by no means all. supported FLOS Y the ^ 
the NLF. The FLOSY chances of success rested therefore on [he ext t tn the Aulaq, officer corps could maintain their positions in the ace S 
rising opposition. Because of their divisions, the army, logether w tlu he 
South Arabian Pohce, tried to keep up a formal position „f neu.ralitv and 
use their influence to bring the two sides together. At the same time 
Colonel Basir Buraiq. ,he Commander-designate, was sending hs 

on-Aulaq commanders upcountry were actively assisting the NLF For 
no sake o appearances a committee of seven colonels had been formed 

Sduih s n h dul Hadi Shihab ' lhc N, - F hftiid 0f the Ade " Poli ' IS 
Abdulla Sahh, his opposite number in the states. Colonel Abdulla, known 

as number seven was an Aulaqi-a minor member of the ruling family 
u ho considered hat his cousins had no. given him his dues in the past and 
was consequently a fanatical member of the NLF. The majority of the 
colonels sympathised with the NLF but for a while the power remained 
with their rivals. Following the taking of Dar Saad the armv took its first 
steps to try and keep (he peace in Aden. Appeals were made over the radio 
calling upon the factional forces to withdraw from the areas around the 
borders ol Aden Colony, winch would become a military area. On the next 
day. / September, they mounted -Operation Victory' and entered Dar Saad 
just in time to .prevent three thousand pro-NLF tribesmen who were 
gathering to counter-attack the occupying FLOSY -commandos' from 
carrying out their intent: but they were unable to prevent further violence 
in Aden itself. 

Tempers between (he factions were running high and when in Shaikh 
b tnman PORF erected a lookout post in what was held to be NLF territory it 
was enough to start widespread fighting. A bitter and prolonged gun battle 
continued throughout most of 10 September as the two sides struggled for 
supremacy. Over forty people, mostly non-combatants, were killed and 
kidnapping was carried out by both sides on a major scale Although some 
units ot PORF deserted to the NLF early on. FLOSY were again victorious, 
driving their opponents from all but a corner of the town. 

Throughout this time Shaikh LFthman was under the nominal control of 
the British. The Parachute Regiment which normally patrolled the area had 
strict orders to keep out of (he fighting and onlv returned when it was over 
to help clear up Ihe mess. This brought into locus the usefulness of British 


troops who were daily risking their lives to no purpose and whose 
continued presence may have been preventing the South Arabian Army 
from intervening to save further bloodshed. 

Their phased withdrawal to redoubts guarding (he Government House 
area in Steamer Point and the vital Khormaksar airfield was speeded up and 
the decision made to hand over the control in the various townships to the 
South Arabian Army. 

Utile Aden was selected to he the scene of the first transfer of internal 
security for a pari of Aden. The great base which cost an estimated £17 
million had only recently been completed. The modern workshops of 
Fallaise camp, the long lines of soldiers' accommodation, the swimming 
pools and the army church. Perhaps this last was constructed with an eye 
to the future as it was shaped like a mosque and very shortly the crescent 
was to replace the cross on its whitened dome. All was overshadowed by 
the bulk of the oil refinery, the reason for Little Aden's very existence and 
whose British staff would remain behind after the troops had gone. 

The handing-over ceremony was short and took place around the 
Queen's Own Hussars' flag pole. The Hussars' flag was lowered and the 
South Arabian Army flag raised as the band played marches. The South 
Arabian Army's ceremonial camel Iroop, adorned in green and yellow, 
dipped their pennants as the British troops drove out, a regimental dog 
howling in the back of a truck. 

Hardly had the dust settled behind the retreating British vehicles than 
the NLF were on the streets. Landrovers and cars full of cheering youths, 
some openly carrying weapons, careered around the streets, NI,F flags 
appeared everywhere and looting over the vacated British camps began 
almost immediately. The South Arabian Army Commander was Colonel 
Ali Abdullah Maiseri who had been chosen for the task on account of his 
known NLF sympathies. Within two days he had contacted the local NLF 
command and had brought conditions back to normal. From then on until 
the British finally left there was no quieter and more secure place in the 
whole of the Colony than Little Aden. 

One Union Jack still flies in Little Aden where a white cross stands as a 
landmark over the military cemetery of Silent Valley. One hundred and 
twenty eight men and women lie here, guarded by the two volcanic peaks 
of Aden's hills which seem to pierce the sky. By strange coincidence there 
is one grave for every year of British blood, sweat and tears in South Arabia. 

1'herc were no bands playing when the troops pulled out of Shaikh 
C' thmart and al Mansura, last held for the British by the Parachute Regiment 
and the Royal Lancashire Fusiliers. Of all districts of Aden Shaikh Uthman 
"■ as the most difficult to control. From a central core of stone buildings the 
shanty town spews out into the desert in all directions. The accessibility 
and active participation by Aden Police and South Arabian Army units 
made gunrunning impossible to prevent. The nearby Lahej border and 
Milage of Dar Saad into which the troops could not pursue without 
authority, provided the easiest of escape routes. The wood and cardboard 


huts housed an ever-shifting population of Yemeni immigrants Sornal' 
tribesmen down from the hills to seek work and criminals fleein° fro' 
justice. To keep a check on them would have required a division. A patrol 'at 
n ight through the streets was an eerie experience, aptly described as a walk 
down a street with a thousand watching eves.* The Paratroo 
headquarters, named Fort Walsh after their commander, hacked onto 
Shaikh Uthman Zoo. Never amongst the most magnificent of spectacles 
wh ich Aden had to offer, the coming of war. lack of visitors to the gardens 
and regular feeding reduced the few animals to a pitiful condition so that 
the Paras added their care to their many other duties. Once when a shell 
shocked python escaped from captivity, the whole town, used to daily 
sounds of battle, was almost paralysed with terror until the thins; 
disappeared. h 
The Lancashire Fusiliers in al Mansura had an equally thankless task It 
consisted mainly of escorting convoys to the al Mansura jail which thev 
had also made their headquarters. Scarce a convov got through without 
being sniped at. Each column of Ferret scout cars and personnel carriers 
had to pass around the roundabout on which stood the al Mansura picket. 
Looking out across a wide stretch of open ground broken by a few half-built 
houses whoso construction had long since been given up, the picket post, 
surrounded by a high wire fence to ward off bazooka shells, claimed with 
justification to be the most shot-at place in Aden. A notice which read, 
'Please do not fire rockets at this structure which is unsafe', seemed to have 
little effect. 

Towards the end the Lancastrians were beginning to have suspicions, 
never proved, that they were being used lor target practice by the South 
Arabian Police. Often in the late afternoon two or three truckloa'ds of police 
in civilian dress would pass through the Lancashires' check point and 
disappear into the town. A few minutes later the trucks would drive out 
empty and sniping would commence at the British positions. Then, just 
before darkness fell, the trucks would return, colled their load of police 
and head back for barracks. About this time the firing would cease. 

During the night of 23 September the British troops withdrew from both 
townships, handing over their positions to the South Arabian Army. Most 
ot the detainees had been released over the previous weeks but some 
forty-five were shifted to the Royal Air Force guardhouse in Steamer Point 
before the prison was abandoned. 

On the clay of withdrawal a hand of Paratroopers were climbin" onto a truck near the 
municipal market place. A tribesman slipped out of the stone doorway and flung a grenade at 
them. I he author, some distance away, flung himself to the ground, but a private of the 
I aratroopers knelt and shot the fleeing man dead- this while the grenade was still in the air 
and apparently coming straight at him. The soldier rolled out of the wav and the grenade 
exploded harmlessly. 

Another man to have a miraculous escape was Captain Ciwain Hawkins of the Royal Army 
Urdmance Corps. Leading .1 patrol one night through the darkened streels ho was struck in the 
face by a grenade tiling Irom a rooftop. The grenadeliouiiced away and IheCaplain escaped with 
a bruised law. 

37 British troops leave Aden. The last pickel: men of the Royal Marines board a 
Wessex helicopter on Ihe Khormakeat salt flats. 

The following day there was dancing in the streets to celebrate the 
British withdrawal, the blind Shaikh Muhammad al Daihani. the most 
prominent religious figure, asked the mosques to hold special sessions to 
recite passages from the Qur'an in thanksgiving. Kor the first time in two 
years shops, restaurants and coffee houses did not close down their 
shutters at dusk. Some proprietors even went SO far as to give their 
customers free coffee to mark the occasion. 

The Paratroopers now took up positions around the airfield and the 
Lancashires left for home. The British still controlled a large part of the 
Colony. The Marines held Maalla and the Prince of Wales' Own patrolled 
the dusty streets of Steamer Point. 

In Crater the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders maintained a brooding 
peace. Ever since their re-occupation of the town following the June 'siege' 
'he Scots had been a regiment apart. Thev were the only regiment ever to 
approach the problem of maintaining internal security in Aden as 
occupying troops in a hostile country and to a large extent it paid off. The 
Scots soldiers shared the talent in common with many another British 
regiment, of being tough yet at the same lime getting on with the local 
Population at street level. In Crater the Argylls were hard, perhaps they had 
'o be. Houses were searched with scarce regard for the occupants or their 
Property, men waiting to be searched were forced to stand for hours in the 
sun. machine guns had a fixed line on the door of every mosque, a favourite 


sanctuary for grenadiers, and would open up after an incident. 

The Argylls claimed an impressive 'bag' of 'terrorists' although in some 
quarters this was thought to be a little too good. The citizens of Crater were 
not long in complaining of the Scots' severity. In July two hundred had 
signed a petition alleging brutality by the soldiers which they presented to 
the High Commission. They received scant sympathy from John Wilton, 
the Assistant High Commissioner. In a passionately worded letter to Ali 
Muhammad Maqtari, one of the eleven leading Adenis who had visited 
him iti his office, Wilton wrote 'It is not the British who have paralysed and 
destroyed the administrative, commercial and industrial life of Aden. It is 
not the British who have burned and wrecked property worth thousands of 
pounds and placed hombs in the houses of innocent people and reduced 
Aden's Port, the source of most of its wealth, to such a condition that the 
shipping lines of the world are anxiously looking for an alternative. How 
many people were killed and kidnapped when the British withdrew from 
Crater? The answer is that probably nobody knows.' Mr Wilton said that he 
was not raising these points in any spirit of bitterness or reproach. 'I say 
these things merely to point out that many of the evils which Aden is 
suffering from will not end with our departure.' Britain would do 
everything she could until independence to bring Aden to a peaceful and 
happy future. It was up to the respectable citizens of Aden to play their part 
in achieving this aim. 

The Argvlls were not unopposed in Crater. A careless or otl-guarded 
moment usually resulted in an attack. Two Scotsmen were killed by a 
grenade and a lookout was shot through the head by an armed policeman 
from the parapet of the Crater police station . A clutch of well-aimed mortar 
bombs fell on the roof of the heavily guarded Chartered Bank building 
which they used for Iheir headquarters, killing a corporal and injuring 
others. The mortar was used again and despite the most intensive 
searching the Argylls never discovered the identity of their assailants. 
Their intelligence officer. Major Nigel Crowe, was on the point of guessing 
when they eventuallv pulled out. He and his men must have seen the 
red-painted fire engines of the Aden Police dozens of times hurrying to and 
from scenes of incidents as they made way for them at the road blocks; a 
brief inspection would have revealed the mortar pipes in the holes where 
the hoses should have been. 

Although thev have been strongly criticised for their methods the tac 
remains that Crater under the Argvlls never blew up as Shaikh Uthman, a 
Mansura and. to a lesser extent. Steamer Foint did. When one considers 
that the town, packed with weapons, had been in a state of open rebeJLio 
for a fortnight immediately previous to the Argyll entry then tn 
subsequent bloodshed was remarkably light and much less than the mo 
optimistic had predicted at the time. . 

The Arabs were not the only ones with whom the Scots were u n P°P u 'j n 
Contrarv to the hallowed traditions of the services the regiment had gon - 
for some aggressive publicity. It seemed as if the senior officers \ 


„„,red to hold forth at any time on any subject, preferably in front ot the 
S n cameras, an officer was delegated to look alter the regimen s 
tG hi ! tv requirements and the regimental photographer was never far 
PU 5 whenever the colonel, Colin Mitchell, went abroad. These activities 
8 ; ide ablv irked Middle East Command and other units equally worthy. 
C " JkTt home in the United Kingdom to the public, sickened by the 
T; lv news of squalid death and British retreat, the Scots explo.ts came as a 
,.lrornu relief, a rav of sunshine on a uniformly dull day. 
W ht the British were withdrawing, the politicians arguing and the 
South Arabian forces making up their minds the NLF were winning 
J D acular victories in the east. After the fall of the central area there had 
a pause and it was thought thai Shaikhdoms east of the Aulaqi hr e 
cod chance of survival. The South Arabian Army commando rs ,, 
SlarT and Ataq. second .own of the Upper Aulaqi S a, hdom. ad o h 
ideas Both men. non-Aulaqis and strong supporters of the NLF. did all 
their power to overthrow the remaining sultans. 

Their first success came in the Lower Aulaqi Sultanate. 1 he local South 
Police had got together with the foo.bal. loom to force .he 
resignation of the two naibs.t who were dc jacto rulers o the state. Ihe 
voung Sultan Nasir bin Aidrus, who had spent much of his time m al 
Shad and was not unpopular, they left alone and he continued o live ,n 
house Shortly after the coup a loyal officer of the police left tor Aden 
an British authorities that unless they ac.ed ^thero ^ 

possibility of bloodshed. The Ba Kazan. Lower Aulaq^v-arhto 
mercenary tribe, were reported to be on the march. ^ ™" ^ f 
unknown, but whatever it was the likelihood of it ending vvith h sack of 
Ahwar. the state capital, was a distinct possibility Apparency the 
presence of the two naibs was embarrassing the w ho had 
no desire to kill them bul may have been torced to do so in order to placate 
the Ba Kazan if thev appeared. The decision was made to try and htt he 
naibs off to a mi nesweeper and I IMS Yarton left Aden for the two hundred 
mile trip up the coast with Bill Heber-Percy. lately the Senior Adviser for 
the Kastcrn Area, to carry out the necessary Heber-Percy 
landed on the coast and spent a gloomy hour waiting whilst a man was sent 
to the town with news of his arrival and mission 

Whilst sitting on the beach he met a group of fishermen with whom a tew 
weeks previously he had arranged to set up a local co-operative society. 
Thev were friendly and he asked how the society was gelling on The 
fishermen grinned shvlv and pointed to a large NLh flag flying 

nVhils. most Briton., approval Colon,.! Mitchells ^^-^^ |^"a 
critic. Fred Halliwell. tlieVw commentator wrote: ^^^h^mc imporialist 
surreal relic of Britain's colonial past: a crazed fusion ot a Celtic mailman, ncingcr v 
anil cantankerous military commander.' 

1 Ali Aidrus. Hubakcr bin Ahmad. 


ostentatiously from a nearby police point. The revolution has come.' they 
said, 'we no longer have need of societies as we now have the Sultan's 
money to spend.' 

A few minutes later an emissary from the NLF appeared and another 
meeting was arranged further down the coast. The NLF. led by the former 
assistant State Treasurer, appeared on time in two l.androvcrs together 
with the two naihs. The Sultan, believing himself safe, had declined an 
offer to leave. Saying 'This was my father's home and his father's before 
him, I see no reason why 1 should leave.' The local NLF saw no reason 
either and he stayed. They may have been happy about the Sultan but were 
obviously perturbed at letting the naibs go scot-free. To cover themselves 
they endeavoured to persuade Heber-Pcrcy to sign a paper to the effect that 
Britain was responsible for all the money 'which the Naibs had stolen from 
the people over the past twenty years.' Heber-Percy demurred and tactfully 
pointed out that unless the parly were soon back on board the minesweeper 
there was a 1 ikelihood of il opening up with its large guns on Ahwar's small 
fort. This was thought reasonable enough and everybody had a good laugh 
when the two naibs tripped over each other as they clambered into the 
dinghy which was to carry them to the minesweeper and safety. 

A few days later the Ba Kazam, organised by fellow tribesmen in the 
South Arabian Army who had heen sent down from Ataq for the purpose, 
arrived on the outskirts of Ahwar. They were met by a delegation from the 
town who thanked them for coming but assured them that the revolution 
had already triumphed. A few of the leaders then went into Ahwar and paid 
their respects to the Sultan and, much to the surprise and relief of the 
townsfolk, left. The news of these goings-on shortly reached the ears of 
Qahtan al Shaabi in Zingibar. A cadre of 'indoctrinated' NLF were 
despatched to take charge. The Sultan was whisked off to captivity, the 
local committee mostly replaced and the rest reprimanded for not acting in 
the true spirit of the revolution. 

Although a breach had been made in the Aulaqi wall, the real fighting 
was yet to come and the NLF were not able to repeat this easy and bloodless 
victory elsewhere. In the neighbouring State of VVahidi the situation was 
confused. Towards the end of August the Hakim Ali bin Muhammad, son 
of the man murdered in the Dakota aircrash the year before, was in Beirut 
when news came through that some of his tribes had declared for the NLF . 
The Hakim hurried for home but when he arrived in Ataq he found that the 
Aulaqis deeply suspicious of the garrison, were manning the hills ana 
preventing movement to the south. As the Hakim had to pass through their 
territory to reach his capital at Maifah he was stuck and, not being so 
politically astute or well informed as his neighbours, appealed to the army 
for help. After a lot of prodding from Aden the army reluctantly agreed to 
place a Sioux helicopter al his disposal. 

Karly on the morning of 3 September the Hakim began his fifty-mile 
journey accompanied only by Major PeterGooch, a Briton still serving ;wit 
the South Arabian Army, and the pilot, a sergeant in the Army Air Corps. 


The South Arabian Police in Mait'ah had been alerted of the Hakim's 
imminent arrival and asked to make the necessary preparations. However, 
the Commander, Mahdi Muhsin, correctly forecast trouble and decided 
that it would be more diplomatic if he took his men out on patrol. Thus 
when the helicopter circled the town it was unable to land as usual on the 
football field because of a mass of people moving across it with nobody to 
c ontrol them. Consequently the pilot was forced to put his aircraft clown in 
a nearby wadi bed. What happened next is uncertain. According to eye 
witnesses the tribesmen gathered on each side of the wadi which served as 
a border between those who still supported the Hakim and those who did 
not. A band of schoolboys stood on the edge of the crowd clutching an NLF 
banner, a few slogans were shouted by both sides but otherwise there was 
little sign of imminent violence as the Hakim, accompanied by Gooch, 
moved towards a small committee which had moved into the wadi bed to 
greet them. There was a brief exchange, Gooch was seen to shake the 
Hakim's hand and walk back towards the helicopter. At this juncture a 
single tribesman ran down from the other bank waving a sub-machine gun. 
Gooch quickly climbed aboard and the helicopter began to lift off. Then the 
Major appeared to reach down beside his seal as if for a weapon or grenade 
and as he did so the tribesman fired a burst into the cabin. The Sioux 
continued to lift. Other bursts followed and the cabin was smashed. About 
forty feet up the stricken Sioux staggered in the air before crashing to I he 
ground and bursting into flames, both occupants perishing. 

The firing then became general. Utterly dismayed by the turn of events, 
supporters of the Hakim fled taking him with them. He first moved to his 
house in Azzan and then, together with Shaikh Ali Musaid Bubakri. held 
out against his enemies for several weeks before being forced to retire to 
Saudi Arabia due to the general collapse around him. 

The NL1'' supporters were equally dismayed by the disaster for the very 
good reason that they were fearful of British air retaliation. A bulldozer was 
quickly brought into action to bury the remains of the Sioux. This was 
successful in hiding it from the aircraft which came out to search lor the 
missing helicopter and it was several clays before the authorities in Aden 
learnt what had happened. 

Even as the Hakim of VVahidi climbed aboard the helicopter on the start 
of his ill-fated journey, a far more significant event was taking place further 
north. The Sharif Hussain bin Ahmad al Habili. CMG, founder member and 
elder statesman of the Federation, terror of the revolution and the most 
powerful personality in all South Arabia, was departing for Saudi Arabia 
together with his son Salih, the Ruler.* and seventy Baihani leaders. Why 

Hy a quirk of tribal tradition the Sharit Hussain was nut the ruler in his ow n state. He. was the 
youngest of his father Ahmad and w hen the old man lav dying he realised thai ot all his sons 
Hussain was the most fitted to rule. To nominate him directly as successor would have caused 
Woodshed so he nominated his eldest grandson. Salih. then about a year old. so that the child s 
lather. Hussain. automatical^ became Regent during his minority. 


he left is not least of the riddles of South Arabia but in doing so he made the 
greatest mistake of his life. There is no doubt that the party intended to 
return. Valuable chattels were left behind and the daughters whom the 
Sharif adored above all living things remained at the family seat of Naqub 
some twenty miles north of Baihan. It seems probable that having observed 
the chaos around him the Sharif hoped to come to some arrangement with 
King Faisal whereby Baihan became an autonomous province within the 
Saudi Arabian Kingdom. He took the tribal leaders with him as a token of 
his support and also to ensure that they got up to no mischief in his 
absence. If this was so. then he grossly underestimated the situation. Kino 
Faisal, relieved that the Egyptians were finally withdrawing from the 
Yemen, was concentrating his efforts on seeming disengagement and was 
in no position to aid Baihan. hundreds of miles away across some of the 
worst desert in the world. 

As the Sharif drove away on his desert journey he may have given 
thought to the hundred or so dissidents that lurked in the mountains but if 
so it was only a passing thought. They were a fairly wretched lot and he had 
never experienced much trouble keeping them at bay. He may have more 
deeply considered the problem posed by the South Arabian battalion 
sitting in Baihan. He must have known that he was taking a gamble but 
then his nephew, Colonel Sharif Haidar. was high in the command, he had 
personal assurance of loyalty from the local commander as well as many 
the past two years and he knew his not inconsiderable prestige ensured an 
awe amounting to fear of the consequence should anyone make so bold as 
to kick over the traces. After all. had not his mere presence been enough to 
quieten the troops on the day of the mutiny? * 

To ensure against trouble the Sharif left his nephew Faisal behind with 
adequate guards and supplies to hold out if attacked. This was the worst 
mistake of all. 

As soon as the Sharif had left the army officers got in contact with the 
dissidents, who were mostly drawn from the Masa'bin, but for a time 
nobody could bring themselves to take action. Then Colonel Haidar 
decided to pay a visit to his home state. 

Two days after the Colonel's arrival the Sharif Faisal invited the army 
officers to the palace for lunch following the Friday prayers. He wasn't to 
know that they had also planned a party at the same time and the same 
place. As they were sitting down to eat a small demonstration, mostly 
composed of soldiers, formed up outside the palace shouting pro-NLF 
slogans. Faisal went out and spoke to them and they dispersed. When he 
returned he asked the officers to take steps to arrest the ringleaders. 
Somehow the resu It of this was a larger demonstration which made its way 
to the jail and, with the help of South Arabian Police, released the 

* See Chapter VIII. 


prisoners. Colonel Haidar then left for the camp and spent the next hour 
and a half arguing furiously with the local commander, Lt Colonel Nagi 
Abdul Qavvi Mahlai and his officers before he succeeded in persuading 
them to call off their men. Haidar then returned to the town and was 
astonished to find that Faisal together with his guards and loyal members 
of the South Arabian Police had decamped to Naqub. Haidar followed in 
their wake but was unable to persuade them to return. There was nothing 
more to be done and within a few hours the NLF flag was flying over 
Baihan. The army then produced the dissidents, who proclaimed a 
People's Government' and look up uneasy residence in the palace. 

The Sharif's younger son Qaid, who had been to Geneva for talks with 
the United Nations' Mission had returned to Aden the same day and Haidar 
flew from Baihan to see him. Both men tried to return to Baihan the next 
day but failed due to unscrviceability of the aircraft. Haidar alone at length 
succeeded and when he arrived on Baihan airstrip he found himself 
surrounded by yelling soldiers shouting, 'Wc wan! Qaid', whom they 
believed to be on the same aircraft having received a signal to this effect 
from their headquarters in Aden. Qaid not forthcoming, the soldiers settled 
for his cousin Haidar and for some minutes it seemed as if the Colonel was 
in danger of being lynched. Eventually he was rescued by his fellow 
officers and lodged in the officers' mess. The next day, 12. September, he 
was flown back to Aden. 

Hussain Uthman Ushal solved the problem of Naqub. Even as Haidar 
was on his way back to Aden, he sent a messenger to the Sharif Faisal and 
arranged a meeting under flag of truce. He brusquely told the Baihanis 
that the British had abandoned them and that unless they moved out of 
Naqub into Saudi Arabia they were to be bombed. When the Sharif Faisal 
refused to believe the story, the Colonel pointed dramatically to his 
watch. 'In ten minutes', he said, 'the RAF will be here.' Sure enough, 
exactly on time, RAF jets flew low overhead. The Ashraf, convinced, 
packed their belongings and in vehicles lent them by the army they made 
their way into exile. The RAF, oblivious of the role they had played, flew 
back to Aden. They had been asked by the South Arabian Army to fly a 
routine patrol of the Naqub area because of possible frontier trouble. 
Whether any of the British officers at Secdaseer Lines guessed the real 
purpose of the operation remains a mystery but it seems that at least one 
may have done and played a large role in conceiving it into the bargain. 

So Baihan, stronghold of the sultans, fell without a shot being fired. The 
Colonel's ruse had succeeded. For the NLF it was a remarkable victory, for 
the rulers still in the field and by inference, FLOSY, a crippling blow. 

On hearing the news the Sharif hurried back to the borders of his state 
convinced ho could win back what his family had so easily surrendered. 
On arrival at the Royalist town of Harib he received the message that 
dashed his hopes. Sir Humphrey Trevelyan warned the Sharif and his 
Saudi allies that British policv was to support the South Arabian Army and 
that in accordance with previous practice the Royal Air Force would 


support thorn against any attack across the frontier. 

The Sharif of Baihan was the oldest and staunohest of British allies in 
South Arabia. He was still under British protection and could protest that 
the South Arabian Army still nominally under the command of a British 
officer and paid and armed by the British had overthrown his government 
and taken his property. The rebels were no friends to the British and 
constituted no political entity as such. Yet in the interests of a peaceful 
British withdrawal Sir Humphrey felt he made the right decision. 

The Sharif fully realised that it is far more difficult to get back into power 
than to stav in it. Wisely he decided that the time was not ripe for a 
comeback and withdrew,' sending his shaikhs home to make their peace 
and biding his time for the day when British air power could not be 
umplnvod to oppose his plans. 

Thenows of the Sharif's downfall spread like wildfire, causing dismay 
or elation, depending upon the recipient's politics. For one man above all 
others it was ospeciailv welcome and he hastened lo send word to Baihan 
of his impending arrival. This news was greeted with mixed feelings; the 
army had known of and feared their visitor lor years and the 'NLF 
Government', until a few davs previously, had been his pensioners. 

Out of the west came a cloud of dust and three trucks filled with 
Yemeni tribesmen lurched to a halt outside the palace. The tribesmen 
amused themselves by firing shots of welcome in the air whilst their 
leader stalked inside. 

The man who swaggered into the Sharif's hall was none other than the 
Awadi Shaikh, known throughout the Yemen as 'the contractor' for his 
habit of telling the Republican government he would take such and such a 
town or subdue such and such a tribe for so much hard cash. His present 
mission was the recapture of Harib. a small border town held by the 
Royalists more easilv approached from the Baihan side of the border. 

It must have given the Shaikh considerable pleasure to be in Baihan as he 
was a bitter personal enemy of the Sharif arid had long intrigued against 
him. In addition he bore a special grudge against the Baihanis for giving 
refuge to the Ahl Muqbil. the only section of the Awadhi's tribe to side with 
the Royalists in the Yemeni war. Indeed, much of the Awadhi's grisly 
reputation was founded on the manner in which he had dealt with those 
dissidents. . 

Some eighteen months before the Awadhi had enticed the leaders ot tne 
Ahl Munbil to a peace conference in a small stone fort. After two days ot 
fruitless discussion the Awadhi unexpectedly gave in to their conditions 
and a celebration lunch was arranged to seal the bargain. In fact the Awadhi 
had only been stalling until the arrival of an ancient Soviet armoured car 
borrowed from the Republican garrison of Baidha to impose a nna 
settlement of his own. , 

The Ahl Muqbil suspected nothing and twenty-six turned up tor lunc^ 
discarding their weapons on entering in accordance with custom. Unc 
thev were all inside the hosts seized the rifles and withdrew. The building 


« surrounded bv armed men and the armoured car emerging from its 
I" r dace bcoan to shell the building. Very soon the luckless tribesmen 
h,d l Shat*tc survive thev would have tobreak through their and 
'f o tnev rushed out. Only six managed to get away and seek refuge m 
«; han "the rest were mown down by .ho waiting riflemen 

The shooting finished, the Awadhi. accompanied by h.s brother 
Muhammad, strolled over to inspect the bodies. . ( . 

M Th "Shaikh of Ahl Muqbil had received a burst full .n the chest but m 
J, "so had shielded his fourteen-year-old son who lay shamming dea h 
C t s father's side. As the two Awadhi brothers approached the hoy eap. 
t and pulling out a revolver shot Muhammad between the eyes . The , fc y 
Ja nuicklv slaughtered and the outraged Awadh, offered to pay the Shaaf 
o su ender the refugees, a request which the Shard flatly re used 

It was this man then who. sitting in the Sharif's own chair m the palace s 
,„ r c 1 chamber, set about persuading the South Arabian Army officers 
a" he local NLF that it was in their intern* that they help him succeed in 
n mission to oust the Rovalis.s from Harib. He pointed out. reasonably 
no g S ^ uthcSharifwith'histremendousinnuenceamongsttheRoyahst 
" I s m ig use the town as a base for the recapture of Baihan 1 he soldier 
and ?h! local NLF needed little convincing. They lived m daily dread of the 
Sharif's return and readily agreed with the Yemeni's sugges ion. 

The Awadhi. well pleased with his success, drove ott in a boi rowed 
arm landrover to view his objective and gather his forces, while he army 
sent alarmist messages down to Aden claiming they were about to be 
attacked bv 18.000 Royalist tribesmen. hnndrod- 
Three davs later the Awadhi returned at the head of a five hundred- 
strong tribal army which, passing through Baihan territory debouc ed 
i„lo the wadi facing Harib. The town was held by about two unchc d 
Rovalist irregulars who were expecting the assault and were well prepared. 
As . soon as the attackers crossed the border thev came under accurate 
mortar attack and suffered casualties. rtVw»hnmh« 
In the event this proved to be the Royalists' undoing. Some ol the bombs 
fell near or within South Arabian borders and the army, using the _ excuse 
that thev were under attack, opened up on the town with their 2. 
pounder field guns. As a result of their telegrams forecasting imminent 
attack bv overwhelming Royalist forces they had received a plane-load of 
shells the dav before and so were able to keep up t he bombardment for 
several hours! reducing the .own to rubble. By noon the hist de endeis l ad 
• been driven out and Harib. or what was left of it, was in Republican hands 
for the first time in thirty months. For the time being Sou h Arabia s 
northern borders had been made safe for the revolution and the South 
Arabian Armv could be said to have gained its first battle honour. 
" The Yemeni Rovalists protested vigorously about the incident through 
their legations in Jiddah and London. King Faisal also let U be known ha 
he was displeased and it came as no surprise a while later when ™ 
Saudi defence contracts thought at one time to be earmarked for the Bi itish 

I !)() 

wont elsewhere. The King had other reasons for being annoyed with his 
British friends: by a neat piece of diplomacy over three thousand needy 
South Arabian refugees, mostly members of the ruling class, had been 
flown into Jiddah and dumped on his doorstep. Many of them were almost 
penniless and others who were not would soon be so, depending for their 
existence on Saudi charity and what they could get out of the British 
Embassy, which wasn't much. 

At times the three states which made up the Eastern Aden Protectorate 
seemed far away from the strife which was ruining their western 
neighbours. The people lived a sheltered existence far from Aden and 
separated from the Yemen by vast stretches of desert and mountain. That is 
not to say that trouble and discontent were absent. The young men and 
intellectuals of the Hadhramaul had provided many of the 'nationalist' 
leaders in Aden itself although on home ground, naturally quarrelsome 
and influenced by family ties, they found difficulty in finding a common 
cause or even a common target. So in time much of the leadership of 
incipient nationalist movement in Mukallaand Seyun fell into the hands of 
comparative newcomers. Young men. more Indonesian. Indian or African 
than Arab, sons of immigrant Hadhramis forced lo return to their own 
barren shores by the xenophobia of other peoples. 

Hero economic discontent rapidly found its outlet in political 
extremism. This was a comparatively late development and perhaps 
because of this disturbances were minimal when compared to the rest of 
South Arabia. There had been a few explosions in Mukalla and the 
commander of the Hudhrami Bedouin Legion had been murdered by one of 
his men, but otherwise the only major upheaval had occurred when the 
nationalists joined the administration in liquidating the South Arabian 
League. * 

Qaiti was far and away the richest and most populous of the three states 
and politically the most advanced. What was decided in Mukalla usually 
went for Seyun and to a lesser extent Ghaida as well. Perhaps if the Qaiti 
sultans had been stronger then they would have maintained their own and 
their colleagues' positions. The spastic Sultan Awadh had only recently 
died after years of ineffectual rule during which power had passed into the 
hands of his competent but occasionally corrupt and unscrupulous civil 
service which became the chief target of the nationalists and the mob. At 
his succession the young Sultan Ghalib was welcomed by almost every 
class. The majority of the people confidently expected his first act would be 
to purge the administration, but the Sultan was too young and the advisers 
too clever. He never ever got his hands on his own treasury. The people 
soon grew tired of waiting, nothing ever seemed to change in Mukalla. 

Worried by the general trend of events in the west the three Hadhrami 
sultans met on 10 August to try and work out a common policy. Their 

* See Chapter VI. 


principal concern was the future and control of the Hadhrami Bedouin 
Legion. This British-trained force was the South Arabian Army's 
counterpart in the East and British prevarication as to whether it was to be 
disbanded or subsidised after independence had greatly increased the 
atmosphere of uncertainty. The sultans came to a working arrangement on 
the problem and decided to continue their discussions during a trip to 
Geneva where they had accepted an invitation to meet the United Nations' 

Far from being alarmed by the increasing reports of sultanic disaster in 
the west the throe sultans made a leisurely progress back to the 
Hadhrarnaut, enjoying the airs of Beirut and Cairo before taking a ship to 
Mukalla. They eventually completed their cruise on 17 September when 
the Saudi Arabian Steamship came to a rest in Mukalla roads. A surprise 
was awaiting them. The customary delegation put out from the shore and 
climbed aboard, but instead of the usual welcome the delegation brusquely 
told Sultan Ghalih that 'the people now ruled in Mukalla' and persuaded 
htm to sign an instrument of abdication. The ruler of Kathiri was offered 
safe conduct to his state, this the old gentleman wisely declined and the 
delegation left the boat as abruptly as Ihey had arrived, their business 
completed in less than an hour. The boat was persuaded to turn around and 
the three sultans sailed off to Saudi Arabia and exile. 

When Sultan Ghalib had departed Mukalla for Geneva he left behind a 
committee to carry on the work of government. Like many committees of 
this kind it was composed of the ancient, the unscrupulous and the wary 
and was quite incapable of reaching a decision on anything vital. In this 
case, the trace of only one meeting, the inaugural, can be found. The British 
in the Residency had packed up and left a month previously and the VVazir 
al Attas had thoughtfully decided the time had come to resign and so had 
left the country for a comfortable retirement in Bahrain. The nationalists, 
seeing their chance and encouraged by NLF successes elsewhere, 
contacted their supporters in the Legion and seized the armoury. Then 
almost negligently they went around Mukalla arresting all of the 
administration and their political opponents who were taken completely 
by surprise. In no place were the insurgents opposed. As elsewhere it was 
the honest who suffered most, the sly and corrupt had already come to 
terms. Among the arrested was 'Major General' bin Sumaida, a staunch old 
soldier whose involvement in politics was confined to conversation, and 
Badr al Qasadi. the elderly Governor of Mukalla. Later, when the revolution 
had turned sour, these two old men were forced to parade before the mob 
and al Badr to shave off his moustaches. 

After the taking of Mukalla, with the help of the Legion, NLF 
Committees were set up in the town of the Wadi Hadhrarnaut. On the 2 
October, the local football team announced that it had taken over Kathiri in 
the name of the NLF. The tribesmen of Mahra soon followed suit although 
what happened on the distant island of Socotra remains a mystery. 


Nationalist control of the Hadhramaut was principally con hned to the 
urban areas the tribes never declared themselves and watched upon 
eve's Some, rather previously as it turned ou.. though, that the time had 
™ for a return to the old ways and gathered to looi the northern towns 
before being effectively dispersed by an RAF hrcpower demonstration 
This incident was taken up by the three sultans, then ,n Jiddah, who cabled 
the United Nations' Mission complaining of -unwarranted action by the 
British Roval Air Force againsl loyal tribes which have so far retrained from 
rero «n£n° the British-backed minority group of terrorists . pathetically 
enSgthcTr message with a plea that any reply should be sent care of the 
liddah Palace Hotel, Jiddah. . 
' Control of the Hadhramaut by forces acting i n their na ™ »n».d^b y 
strengthened the NLF and it was this which may have hna ly ed to Qahlan 
a ShibTs decision to talk with FLOSY in Cairo instead ol msis ing on 
home "round. He considered that he had more than adequate proof that the 
VI F was in control of most of South Arabia and had no difficulty m 
nnfn tainin- h front that he was the mastermind controlling a vast 
oZ Son which stretched from one end of the .country to the other. 
This he was convinced, should be enough to bring FLOSY to terms. 
T S military position of the NLF was also «'nside™bly »t^tan« by 
possession of the Hadhramaut. It meant that the pseudo-FLOSY forces o 
IS rulers holding out in Wahidi and the Upper Aulaqi Sultanate could 

M ^r.^.°h. 8i Xto«bor and October Shaikh Muhammad 
bin Mu ^i Uhe grim old ruler of the Upper Aulaqi Shaik hdom Md be n 
consolidating his position. From the family sea. of Said he had wa .I d the 
disintegration of the rest of the Federation and took steps to ensure that no 
a e u hat he, the chief of the Aulaqis. would remain when all othen had 
fed away. Due to the predominance of "f^^T^^ 
was better informed on the South Arabian Army ban most of f is s haiWilj 
col ea-ues He suffered from no doubts as to the true meaning o the r 
■pr Son' and politely refused permission for a convoy ol supp - 
pass through his territorv to the hard-pressed South Arabian 
K! the south. As .he days passed the ^^^™^SZ 
and when the army garrison at Ataq in the north of the state ri 
detach the Ahl Khalifa from their allegiance, an unspoken state ot 

existed between them. . tn c aic i a nd 

From all over Aulaqi country tribes were summoned to Sai . a 
despatched to defend Us borders. Tribesmen s.ood to the passe m he 
o rft and south through which an enemy must com c Con.a <X v as 
Sabli hod with Shaikh All Musaid. still fighting in Wah.di and » ^ 
Ahl Bubakhr bin Farid. rebels in the Yemen for a W™*™**'^* 
home and mostly declared their intention to give up their quarrel 

* Report UN Mission. Annos 111. page 181. 

Kh °'! , "h M hTS "lgnrfioT^AuW«,l re b.l, S ..»dl.l.»r. 
Fund, who led the nli , ahhoug h surrounded as they 

The weeks went by and s ,11 t c M ^ ™ ^ v pr0 . NLF tri besmen 
vve re on three s.des, h« ld J™* it seemed as if the rulingfamily of 

Upper Aulaqi Sha khdo m uo u 0 , he only force strong 

smi ^ t 7La P ^ l ^ ^Ung was likely to 
P"f P ' tdt V h ^Sh remained adamant in his refusal to let patrols enter 

of Arabia have been notor.ous throughout e ^ n0 exception. 

a hyX first week in October «h« Pos^rede. ^ ^ 
in his village firmly believing ho had ea n h » J had 
Muhammad bin Muhs.n stormed and raged o it e av a 
almost run out and everybody seemed inlen o r '^^^ l0 nd 
there were gardens to be tended and a man could not bo expec ea v 
hislys away from his family ^Z2^Z^^ ^^ 
enemv that never came. Muhammad Bu ,b ing 

! ife,i1 ^ 10 *> 'XeN^St litre ^Kw^iTough.oUk. 
Ihe^run^Tna ^V^^UnuLJro r el^ on th. honot.rod methods o, 

supposed to be guarding the approaches to Sa had J t it J 

labelled "spare parts for typewriters- 1 hese rifle ^ eruh. nded o rf 
South Arabian Police for "Iraming ^'^^"JPf^ number already 
Champion Lines where they were substituted im ■ * hk l nu r . fles 
there. The exchange was necessary d ue to Br ..ish - ^ d 
could be released only on the firm understanding that tticy 


for the purpose stated and a subsequent inspection revealed that the 
smuggled arms were in place although a full inspection would have 
revealed the deficiency. 

The rifles were forwarded to Lodar where only four hundred Audhali 
and Dathini tribesmen had gathered to take pari in an expedition to 
conquer their hereditary foes the Aulaqi. The force never set off although 
the rifles got through. Alone they were not enough, money was needed and 
here the NLF had their second stroke of luck. 

When the NLF took Mukalla they seized the currency reserves held there 
and this amounted to several hundred thousand pounds. This was more 
than adequate although the problem remained as to how to get it to Ataq. 
The Aulaqi Shaikh controlled all practical roads between Mukalla and 
Ataq and even in times of peace the movement of such a large sum across 
Arabia would have been a hazardous undertaking. The difficulty was 
solved in spectacular fashion. 

Since Aden Airwavs had folded up. Air Djibouti had flown a service 
between Djibouti , Aden and Mukalla. Air Djibouti was one of the last family 
airlines still in existence. The single Dakota flown by Pere Astroud, his 
wife and daughter act as hostesses and another relative, reputedly his son, 
is the engineer. On 1 1 October he landed in Riyan. the airport for Mukalla, 
and found himself seized bv the local NLF who rushed him off to the town 
where he was detained in the former British Residency. The money was 
then loaded aboard the aircraft and the Pakistani co-pilot told to fly to Ataq. 
Twice the plane set off and twice returned, the unfortunate Pakistani being 
unable to find his destination. The plane was guarded on the airfield 
between flights, a large NLF flag protruding from the cockpit. It was third 
time lucky and the cargo was safely delivered. Having succeeded in their 
mission Air Djibouti was allowed to retake possession of their aircraft and 
Pere Astroud thankfully flew back to Djibouti never to return. 

The army in Ataq were delighted, the tribes paid off and the Shaikh, 
realising his position was untenable, pulled out with the remainder of his 
supporters but not before he had personally mortar bombed the houses of 
those in Said whom he believed to have gone over to his enemies. With his 
fall resistance in Wahidi also ceased and both parties made their way 
overland to Saudi Arabia. The rulers of the shaikhdom had been amongst 
the most unpopular in the Federation and their resistance gives a hint as to 
what may have happened if others had shared their determination. 
Muhammad bin Rubakhr was installed as the NLF representative in their 
place, so in a sense the Ahl Farid still ruled in Aulaqi. 

To the east of the shaikhdom and south of Baihan in the armpit of Soutn 
Arabia lies the Upper Aulaqi Sultanate. Here the rulers had easily defeated 
the forces sent against them and stood cut off from everybody and forgotten 
bv all until after independence. 

" Wh i 1st the NLF were bribing their way into the shaikhdom their brethren 
in the west were carrying out a similar operation with regard to the Radian 
tribes. Not least amongst the ironies of South Arabia is the fact that the 


tribes of Radfan whose revolt in 1963 had entered national folklore and 14 
rtober, its anniversary, is enthusiastically celebrated by the Nl.K came 
out in solid support lorFl.OSY. But everybody has a price and in this case i 
u "s the arms handed over to the South Arabian Army when the British left 
} fabilain that paid for the quiescence of the Wolves of Radian . 

Meanwhile in Aden the struggle for power with.n the South Arabian 
-\rn.v was resolving itself. At long last Colonel Nasir Buraiq had been 
moved into a position where he was forced to retire. The I fall of the Federal 
oovernment with the disappearance from the scene ol Fad hi bin All, the 
Minister of Defence, and Muhammad Farid al Aulaqi. the Minister tor 
Fxternal Affairs, had seriously weakened the Colonel's position He had 
c-ause to complain that everybody was against him. The British had tried to 
remove him time and time again: the NLF and non-Aulaqi faction within 
he araiv rightlv saw him as the main obstacle to their ambitions and even 
the vounger officers of his own faction regarded him as a symbol 
ol everything old and traditional which gave them a bad name and had o 
be "Ot rid of. Evervbodv combined and the Colonel was cornered. With 
somewhat bad grace he agreed that if promoted brigad ier he won Id at once 
go on leave and retire with of course a brigadier's pension and gratuity in 

Hl AUheTast moment it seemed as if the old soldier would change his mind 
but the announcement was made on 1 November without moident. I he 
occasion was marked by a tea party in the officers' mess and was attended 
bv all the senior officers. Aulaqi and non-Aulaqi. FI.OSY and NLF as well 
as the few remaining British officers attached to the South Arabian Army. 

It started off as a typically Arab affair with everybody saying nice things 
thev did not mean about everybody else, but suddenly the atmosphere 
changed. The Colonel rose to his feet, scowled at his audience and declared 
•I must speak freely. I don't think enough has been said about my thirty- 
three vera' service. I have been forced, yes. forced to resign by a lot of 
political manipulators, some of whom are polluting the air with their 
hypocritical presence. ' He paused for effect. 'They have even accused me o 
meddling with politics.' His audience boggled and it looked as it the 
Colonel was going to carry on in like manner when the situation was saved 
from an unexpected quarter. 

Throughout the party the blind preacher. Shaikh Baiham. had bee 
sitting in a corner nibbling biscuits. Very much a Vicar of Bray, he had 
weathered the Aden political storms well, going right through the 
spectrum from cursing cinema-goers as idolaters in 1954 when a p. ar of 
religion to cursing the High Commission in 1967 when he was a pillar ot 
progression. He was the sole survivor of the old guard still allowed to 
preach from his mosque and of late had come to play more and more the 
role of conciliator. He now saw his chance and hobbling forward 
proceeded to address the officers with all the considerable oratory at his 
command. There is no language like Arabic spoken well to numb the 
senses. The old Shaikh spoke it beautifully, after all that was how he earned 


his livin* and within minutes everybody was entranced, the Colonel 
momcntaTilv forgotten. His message was simple. It was a caller all tribes 
and tor all political factions to come forward and re-decl.cate themselves to 
the cause of an independent South Arabia. Emotionally ensnared by well 
spoken and high flown phraseology the officers surged forward and each 
one recited after the Shaikh a "great oath" in which they swore to torge their 
differences. The partv then broke up and. emotionally exhausted, the 
officers made their way homewards. In the bloodshed which was to come 
only a few days later it is doubtful whether any of them gave a thought to 
the Shaikh or to his oath. . 

Earlv the following morning Masir Buraiq. appropriately dressed m the 
uniform of a hrigadicr, inspected a farewell parade complete with camel 
troop in Seederseer Lines. At precisely 8.26 am on 2 November the new 
brigadier sulkily bade his brother officers farewe 1 and chmbed aboard a 
helicopter which was to take him home to the Wad. Yashbum his pockets 
bulging ominously with the proceeds of his gratuity and the pen S1 on 
which he had wisely commuted. sf „u, 

As the helicopter disappeared into the distance so did the last chances of 
FLOSY fade away and the scene was set for the final phase ot the struggle. 





Chapter XI 

... So Depart 

2 November-29 November 1967 

In these circumstances some things which the United Kingdom 
-Pacted to settle More ^^^f^Co^ 

2 November 1967 

Oh mv people! The dogs are howling in the streets and the corpses of 
my brethren are blocking th^er,^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ 

Aden Radio, 4 November 1967 
When I come to toll the f all story of Aden and how we recovered from 
the mess Sandys left us .n . . . ^ Sundfly TjmRS 

10 April 1968 

On 2 November 1967 George Brown rose before a Jd ^ se ol 

Commissioner had declared his rea hncss o ^ 

who continued to press (or supremacy. <M> on 
.roups ne a otia,in 8 in -"S*"-' 

possible moment. _ nhiiontions which the United 

He had little difficulty in ■ disposing of any o bl.«at. ons^ h k 


quite clear that the British government had serious doubt about the 
soundness and durability of the Federation of South Arabia. Since then 
events had justified those warnings and reservations. He had also pointed 
out that events in Yemen, South Arabia and the Middle Kast in general 
could have effects which might make it essential to reconsider the 
proposals he had announced at that time. However, the United Kingdom 
retained the objectives it had so often stated, namely to withdraw her forces 
in good order and to leave behind, if possible, a united, stable and 
independent country, but events since June had caused it to reconsider 
these objectives, therefore 

1 The independence of South Arabia would take place in the second half 
of November and all British forces would be withdrawn at that time. The 
precise date of independence would be announced by the middle of the 
month , in other words, a fortnight before it was d ue to take place. 

Early withdrawal would reduce any danger that British forces might 
become involved and sustain casualties in any renewed violence. Mr 
Brown considered that radical nationalist and other groups (the rest of 
South Arabia) must face and resolve their own problems. In these 
circumstances some things which the United Kingdom had expected to 
settle before independence might be left pending. Karlv withdrawal 
would also help the South Arabian forces who were ready to take over 
I ully now. 

2 The changed circumstances (Egyptian withdrawal) in the Yemen had 
removed the danger faced in June, thus the British offer of naval and air 
forces for a period alter independence had become irrelevant. 
Consequently the United Kingdom had cancelled its plans although a 
substantial naval and air force would cover the withdrawal. 

3 The offer of financial support to the Federal government for three years 
after independence and the offer of support for forces in the Kastern 
Aden Protectorate had always been subject to review if political 
circumstance made their continuance inappropriate. These questions 
would be left for a later decision when the future might be clearer. The 
formation and attitude of the new government would be important 

George Brown concluded by giving official burial to his plans to 
internationalise Perim. The island would stay with South Arabia unless its 
inhabitants against expectation were to demand otherwise. 

Lord Shackleton underlined his government's view while speaking in 
the House of Lords later the same afternoon. He declared 'We consider we 
are not in a position to help South Arabia any more by our presence. We 
still hope that there will be a government there but if there is no 
government to hand over to. we can't hand over to a government.' 

Humiliating as it all was there was nothing else for the British 
government to do except pack up and go home. 

The decision came as no surprise in Aden. Since September there had 
been speculation that the dateof withdrawal was to be brought forward and 


it seemed that it would depend only on how fast the services would remove 
their remaining men and stores. Throughout the past three months the pace 
of withdrawal had been gaining momentum. The remarkable assault ship 
I IMS Fearless had been ferrying vehicles to Sharjah and Bahrain and 
joined a naval task force gathering off Aden which was finally comprised of 
twenty-four ships including the 54.000 ton carrier EagJe. the flagship 
Intrepid and even a submarine in the biggest gathering of British naval 
might since Sue/. It was a magnificent sight and one which must have 
warmed the cockles of the admiral's heart as he gazed out over the wide 
bay. His command normally consisted of a few minesweepers. The land 
forces were also reinforced. On 5 October an advance party of 42 Royal 
Marine Commando flew in, the main body arriving six days later aboard the 
commando carrier Bulwark. They were to take over security duties in 
Steamer Point from the Prince of Wales' Own who were being withdrawn. 
Under the plan of withdrawal the Royal Marines would be the last troops to 
leave South Arabia on the eve of independence. 

Landmarks were passing quickly now. The headquarters of Middle East 
Command at Steamer Point, once the nerve centre of a great base, was 
abandoned, Lt General Tower moving with his staff to a temporary 
headquarters on Khormaksar Airfield. Admiral Sir Michael I.e Fanu, the 
Commander-in-Chief, went aboard his flagship whence he continued to 
direct operations ashore. Government House, the traditional seat and 
symbol of British authority, whence the decisions of the government 
in London were passed down to the people and long the political and social 
centre of South Arabia, was also given up and the High Commissioner and 
staff moved down the hi 1 1 to a new embassy. 

A stroll through the empty house was an eerie experience. True, from the 
outside it looked the same. The bougainvillea still splashed scarlet against 
the white walls, the two great cannons pointed impotently towards the 
gates, the peacocks still strutted around the car park and preened 
themselves in front of the long mirror which somebody had leant against a 
wall. Inside the silence was oppressive. It seemed as if the ghosts had 
walked in when Sir Humphrey walked out. Over the staircase the pictures 
of past governors stared reproachfully at the present and the patio, scene of 
so many memorable parties, was deserted. It was here that Sir Richard 
Turnbull's guests, pistols tucked in cumberbunds. had played skittles, a 
cabinet minister had got uproariously drunk and a Liberal peer announced 
that he had come to put the 'Zionist point of view on Palestine to the South 
Arabians'. The Duke of Gloucester, wiping a great expanse of white turn 
with his napkin, had the last word on Aden. Eventually coaxed into 
conversation by his hostess, he declared, 'It's damn hot.' 

Fll Lt Morris, last of a long line of ADC's, remained behind to clear up, 
pack away the Governor's crockery grandly stamped with the British 
Crown and make arrangements for the occasional meeting which 
continued to be held in the long council chamber. The furnishings 
remained and the house was redecorated as a present to the new 


government il it should emerge. New people, vastly different from the old 
with other ideals, standards and way of life. 

The new embassy was something of a come-down. A lot of thought had 
gone into its selection and choice eventually fell on the headquarters of the 
Public Works Department, planned on grandiose lines with every 
mechanical comfort in the great days of the base and just completed in time 
for independence. It is a long low block built around an air-conditioning 
plant and overshadowed by the nearby cliffs. Light does not seem to have 
been amongst the primary aims of the designers so as one official quipped, 
'The British are spending their last weeks in South Arabia in the dark both 
literally as well as metaphorically." No embassy is complete without a 
statue and the requirement for the British Embassy in Aden is filled by 
Queen Victoria. Sculptured by a little-known Briton, S C Tweed, she was 
unveiled in 1911 on the occasion of a visit by the then Prince of Wales. She 
had been forgotten in Steamer Point Gardens until August 1967, when it 
was suddenly feared (hat the old lady might suffer indignities at the hands 
of the mob. So one night, working under floodlights, a party of Koyal 
Engineers unceremoniously heaved the 2-ton statue onto a truck and 
dumped it onto a pedestal facing the embassy. Throughout the whole 
operation the expression on Queen Victoria's face never changed but then 
she was good at controlling her feelings. 

Other bastions of British society were also being abandoned. For eighty 
years membership of the Khormaksar Union Club had been a must for 
aspiring socialites. The committee was once said to be the most powerful 
body in Aden. According to legend, during the First World War when the 
Colony was beleaguered by the Turks it had been responsible for impelling 
the general to mount a long overdue offensive. The trouble had apparently 
been caused when members enjoying their Sunday rounds of golf had been 
disturbed by Turkish mortar fire based on nearby Shaikh Uthman. 

Race meetings hud continued to be a feature almost up to the end and 
even after the closure brigadiers and colonels continued to play on the polo 
pitch, guarded by armoured cars. Once again history repealed itself. Much 
to their fury the General banned his senior officers, and anybody else for 
that matter, from playing polo after a game had come under mortar fire. The 
attack was obviously intended for the nearby airfield but due either to 
faulty aiming or the sight of a more attractive target several bombs fell near 
the pitch. There were no casualties. One colonel stood up in his stirrups lo 
get a better view and was promptly thrown. Another took advantage of the 
interruption to score a hotly disputed goal. Afterwards the game 

The withdrawal went on. A seemingly endless convoy of tanks, guns, 
vehicles, equipment and secondhand furniture wound its way to the 
dockside for shipment back lo the United Kingdom or to the new base at 
Sharjah on the Gulf. Air traffic between Aden and the United Kingdom 
was continuous, reaching its height on 2 November when forty transports 
flew out under the protective cover of the naval task force. 


Despite all these obvious signs of British withdrawal the militants still 
vied with one another lo carry out at lacks on the British troops. Inevitably it 
was the Arabs who suffered the heaviest casualties yet the madness 

There had been no real rational reason for terrorism since way back in 
1964 when the British had publicly declared their intention to bring South 
Arabia to independence by 1968. Until Lord Beswick's famous visit in 
1966 the base had been an obstacle to acceptance of the United Nations' 
Resolutions but the battle, instead of diminishing as the Labour 
government had hoped, intensified and entered its second stage: the 
struggle for power after British departure. 

On arrival in South Arabia Sir Humphrey Trevelyan had appealed to the 
militants to join the government with no result but an intensification of 

When the Federal government fell to British minds the last conceivable 
incentive to terrorism disappeared yet still it continued unabated. The civil 
war between FLOSY and NLF was certainly one of the reasons. Abdul Hadi 
Shihab whilst Commissioner for the South Arabian Police and a known 
member of the NLF explained at the lime that the NLF must continue to kill 
British soldiers to keep up their nationalist image. Each side wanted to gain 
the glory of having driven the British from the sacred soil. Since 
independence a member of FLOSY has explained privately lhat the last 
'offensive' by the organisation in Aden was an attempt to sabotage 
independence! According to this man the FLOSY command, realising thai 
they were losing the battle with the NLF. wished the British to stay and 
retrieve the situation for them. What they had lost on the battlefield I hey 
hoped to regain at the conference table, relying on their friends in 
Parliament to help them. Apparently they did not believe that the British 
would leave Aden in complete chaos. George Brown's speech on 2 
November shattered these hopes. 

Neither organisation had complete control over its followers. In the 
areas given up by the British. NLF and FLOSY Haunted their weapons and 
even opened offices. A gun or grenade could be had for the asking and 
munv a voting man took advantage of the offer and went off lo prove 
himself against a retreating foe. Not infrequently it was the last thing he did 
and in the final weeks the militants suffered their highest casualties. The 
troops, attacked several times a day by venturous bands, whom they were 
politically prevented from destroying, were naturally edgy. In these 
circumstances it was not always the guilty that suffered: an old man was 
killed in Crater, in Maalla a laxi was accidentally shot up during a mortar 
attack, the occupants slaughtered and so on. 

In the middle of October the pattern took a sinister turn with a reversion 
to indiv idual killings in Steamer Point. It is now known lhat at least three 
terrorists specialising in the 'shot in the back of the head' technique were 
active in the area and all three operated during the final period. 

Ali Thompson, who had never forgiven his grandmother for marrying an 


3« Ahmad Nnsir Khamati, the sniper of Steamer Point. 

Rngl ish sergeant and whose red hair did not allow him to forgot it. ruled the 
back streets from behind the facade of a Youth and Sports Club — 
intimidating, extorting and occasionally to show off to other young men 
went into the Crescent and shot somobodv in the back. Ali was a member of 

Of all the waiters in the Crescent Hotel. Abdullah was perhaps the most 
cheerful. His gold teeth glinted in a friendly fashion as he doled out the 
green pea soup. At night, and he always preferred to operate at night, he 
was a 'lieutenant' in the NLF and afterwards wore his uniform to dispel 
any doubts. In his case terrorism ran in (he family as his brother had been 
responsible for the Maalla bomb outrage. 

Finally there was Ahmad Nasir Khamati. Young and pleasant in a 
mischievous sort of way, like many another 'commando' he was a well 
known local footballer and something of a playboy, a familiar sight racing 
around Aden in his blue VIC which he had prudently purchased with the 
aid of a large loan from the government before independence. He had once 
been a fervent supporter of the Federal government and worked as a news 
announcer in broadcasting. Disillusionment had set in with defeat and he 
first joined forces with Ali Thompson and later set up on his own with 
vague connections with the NLF. His area of operation was between the 
Prince of Wales Pier and the post office and it is hard to escape the 
conclusion that Khamati killed for the sheer pleasure of it — it was so much 
more exciting than football. 

Derek Rose, the youngest political officer still serving with the High 
Commission, was the first victim. A brilliant Arabist. Rose was one of the 
last Englishmen still in contact with the Adcnis. He was immensely 
popular with all races in the past two years and had seen it all. riols and 


ounbattlcs as well as the seemingly endless political manoeuvring and 
betrayal but his faith in the essential goodness of humanity remained 
apparently untouched. .,„.,, n i 

At 11.30 am on 20 October he bade goodbye to M. Rais. Ihe Red Cross 
representative, in the Crescent Hotel and drove back towards the new 
embassv a mile and a half away. Shortly after noon the Aden Police found 
his car'smashed up against the wall of the pier and Rose inside shot 
through the back of the head. 

The remaining members of the British community were shocked and 
saddened. It was not only that Rose was well liked, it was the waste and 
futility of it all. As one man remarked, 'If I lost a son in Vietnam then 
perhaps I would be comforted knowing that it was for a cause, in Aden it 
would be for nothing.' 

A week later a Danish Sea Captain. J S Thiesen, who was a regular caller 
in Aden, was shot in the back after visiting his shipping agents whilst his 
wife and daughters waited for lunch on board his 219 ton ship riding at 
anchor in Aden harbour. There was no doubt that this was an Nl.r killing 
and even they seemed to realise that there was no excuse for it. Publicly 
claiming Thiesen was a 'spy' they privately apologised. 

The evening before Thiesen was murdered Alan Macdonald. Ihe Public 
Service Commissioner to the Federal government and a colonial servant o 
many years standing, had finished his dinner in the Crescent Hotel as usua 
and was walking the hundred yards from the main building to the hotel 
annexe where he lived. He noticed that there did not seem to be anybody 
around although he thought little of it. Half way to his destination at the 
end of an ill-lit side street he heard somebody running behind him. He 
turned quicklv and grappled with a small man who had been about to shoot 
him in the back. Spare and strong. Macdonald was more than a match tor 
his opponent who wrenched himself away and fled into the night, bul not 
before shooting the Scotsman in the leg and stomach. Macdonald 
staggered on into the annexe and was rushed to hospital. A tew days later, 
backin the Roval Air Force hospital at Wroughton in Wiltshire, he was up 
and ahout serving less hardy patients with their early morning cup ot tea 
Then there was Walter Mechtel. former officer of the German Army turned 
television reporter, eight vears a prisoner of the Russians. A veteran of 
Stalingrad and Vietnam. One afternoon, sitting in the Crescent Hotel 
lounge he complained of a headache and announced that he was going to 
walkTthe half mile to the post office and post a letter to his wife of one 
month Other journalists tried to dissuade him and Arabs on the hotel statt 
hearing his intention, offered to go and post the letter themselves. Mechtel 
brushed his wellwishers aside and stepped out into the sunlight. A quarter 
of an hour later he was dead-two bullets in the back of the head in the 
usual fashion as he turned away from posting his letter. He was the last 
European to bo killed in South Arabia before independence. Nobody had a 
grudge against him and his sole offence was the possession ol a white face. 
The NLF disclaimed responsibility and arrested several people, including 


the waiter and Khamati. Later all except Khamati were released, an NLK 
spokesman alleging that he had carried out the murder on the "orders of 
British intelligence' and would be charged and pul on trial. In fact Khamati 
had recently taken it upon himself to execute what he believed to he traitors 
to the NLF. including Faisal Luqman, a senior executive in the Aden Port 
Trust, lie had become something of an embarrassment and the NI.F kept 
him under guard where he could do no more harm. After independence he 
was released. 

British dead and injured were always taken to the large RAF hospital 
al Steamer Point and when that closed down to the RAF hospital at 
Khormaksar Beach which was also used by the South Arabian Army. 
During the last lew weeks casualties were flown out to the naval task force. 
Arabs went to the Queen Elizabeth I lospital. The five hundred bed hospital 
was once the boast of Aden and one of the finest in all Arabia. Tribesmen 
and their families from all over South Arabia, the Yemen and even Saudi 
Arabia flocked to its doors to ask for the free treatment which they duly 
received. Like every other government department or organisation in 
South Arabia the staff were affected by the winds of revolution and towards 
the end became bitterly divided amongst themselves. Aden had more than 
its share of trained doctors although most of these preferred to practise 
outside South Arabia in the Bayswater Road and elsewhere. Many of the 
doctors and senior nursing staff at the hospital wore therefore Indian or 
British. As the situation worsened the Indians gave notice, weakening the 
already shaky morale of the staff. 

The civil war between FLOSY and the KLF entered the very wards. 
Casualties from either side had to be very careful which bed they were 
placed in. The oath of Hippocrates was set aside and there is more than a 
suspicion that some patients did nol receive the kind of treatment they had 
a right to expect. The walls of the formerly spotless hospital were daubed 
with multi-coloured slogans which shouted the political opinions of the 
staff. 'British get out*. 'Death to Asnag'. 'Long live FLOSY' and so on. Despite 
this, relations between the British staff and the Arabs had always been most 
cordial. This happy state of affairs came to an end one day at the end of 
August. Dr Charles Murphy, the Senior Medical Officer, was getting into 
his"car in the hospital park when a male nurse passed by and tossed a 
grenade. Fortunately the bomb rolled under the car. and exploded 
harmlessly. A second nurse saw what happened, pulled a pistol out of his 
pocket and shot down the doctor's assailant. Then frightened by the 
temerity of what he bad done he fled the same day to Taiz to explain 
himself at FLOSY headquarters. 

A week later the first heavy fighting between the factions broke out in 
Shaikh Uthman and the wounded poured into the hospital. Differences 
were momentarily forgotten and the staff coped, but only just. The 
experience had come as a shock and came in time to prepare them for 
things to come. 


As Delegate-General for the Red Cross, Andre Rochat was profoundly 
inv ested in the problems of the Queen Elizabeth. The shortage ot doctors 
S • e ".ore critical as independence approached and a fur her 
nntb reak of filling would cause a complete breakdown ,n the hosp.ta s 
eac h o ^ 0 strainc-d resources. Rochat therefore suggested putting he 
ho u tal ut der Red Cross protection. The health needed 1, tie 
" rs, ading. Muhammad al Bar, successor to Murphy, was enthus as u 
M ho 1 up to that poinl discussions had been confidential a Bar at once 
cabfthe world on behalf of his NLF-aligned Arab Doctors Assoc, , 
demanding that the Red Cross take over immediately, r ho I . gh 
Commission agreed instantly. Rochat was reasonably cer a., that 
Macfc «e and Asnag would consent to respect Red Cross neutrality on 
betialf ot FLOSY. He therefore set off lor Zingihar to gain the agreemen o 
O „ | Shaabi. The NLF leader harangued him tor two hours- -Bung 
?u, V li" br ng doctors, mv people are starving. Do all you can. But when 
Tea n t th t the Red Cross flag would fly over the hospital and that , 
wou ld become neutral terrilorv his attitude changed. Not one inch ot South 
Arabian soil could he giver, up-the suggestion infringed ^U^ s 
sovereignty but als<:> on the dignity of the NLF It was useless to. RochaUo 
explain that 124 nations had signed the Red Cross Convention, al SI abi 
Sulci have nothing of it. His answer was a Hat no. * 
loader's derision the Arab Doctors' Association hastily withdrew their 
irHer appro? du min«? that the hour of crisis had passed. This no more 
Sin a week be te the most savage and bitter fighting of the whole pre- 
Independence period was to erupt in the streets of Shaikh Uthman and al 

M BvTll' logic the first few days of November should have brought 
opt ml Sc. relief. The fighting seemed over. George Brow, had 
announced British withdrawal in no uncertain tern s The d ™on, 
between FLOSY and the NLF had seemingly come to a surxesstu 
conch sion in Cairo and they were reportedly talking about a ,o.n 
Sg ion to receive independence from the British. Even more ,rnpor ant 
to some people Aden Port looked forward to the arrival of two 
ankT v K crude oil for the refinery. Instead an air of tension lay across 
Sen like a cloud Few people were on the streets and in the areas of Aden 
^fS "ntrd no nis hand strayed far from his gu. The = 
was not hard to find. With sweeping NLF successes ,n Ah« ^te Ito *d> 
stronghold left to FLOSY were the Aden townships ot a Mansu a. S lha.k * 
Uthman and Dar Saad. Since their tactical victory in the I rs t da>s ot 
Se ember the FLOSY position had been seriously weakened. I hey had 
be en unable to prevent infiltration and over three thousand armed 
tribesn en mainlv Audhalis. roamed the streets. When asked why they had 
tribesmen. nidini> awa it the new government 

3S wiS ^^eTe^eT^ sultans.' Most of these tribesmen 
were from states under the control of the NLF and it took little to persuade 
them that FLOSY stood between them and their gold. 


FLOSY also know that supplies had been cut off. Like the British in the 
South, the Egyptians in the Yemen were also withdrawing. As they 
retreated into a bridgehead around Hodcidah FLOSY were abandoned to the 
Yemeni Republicans. The Republicans had nothing against FLOSY but 
confiscated their arms dumps as like everybody else (hey needed them. 
More important still with the removal of Colonel Nasir Buraiq from the 
South Arabian Army the chances that it would side with FLOSY or even 
remain neutral virtually disappeared. 

If the delegates conferring in Cairo dreamt that the success of their 
discussions would prevent a flare up in Aden they were mistaken. Neither 
side could control its supporters and relations between the FLOSY and 
NLF commando in Shaikh Uthman could not have been worse. They haled 
each other. The NLF openly boasted that after independence their rivals 
would bo put up against a wall and shot. FLOSY, nervous, trigger-happy, 
yet confident in the knowledge that they were well armed, had plenty of 
supplies and in every previous encounter in the area they had come out on 

The South Arabian Army arbitration council which consisted of three 
colonels, three members of the NLF and three of FLOSY, was at work every 
day holding the two sides apart. The final break came at one of their 
meetings. Tempers were unusually high as both parties considered that 
they had been betrayed by the Cairo talks. According to FLOSY the NLF 
tried to ambush their party on its way back from the last meeting. The NLF 
have it the other way around and claimed that three of their supporters 
were killed 'when a gangster hurled a grenade.' Whatever the truth of the 
incident it was the spark which set the town alight. The battle started at 
about 2 pro on 3 November and by nightfall over fifty lay dead and many 
hundreds more wounded. FLOSY and the NLF alike shot at anything 
which moved so that most of (he casualties were civilian. The army issued 
appeal after appeal to both sides to slop the fighting but only achieved 
limited success here and there. As before FLOSY at first seemed to be 
winning. From three strong points— Dar Saad. al Mansura and Colonel 
Buraiq's flats in the centre of" Shaikh Uthman they began to slowly 
surround their enemies. At the decisive moment the South Arabian Army 
took a hand. 

The army was essentially NLF in sympathy and only needed an excuse 
to interfere. This was soon provided. At about 10.30 on the morning of ihe 
4th a patrol left al Mansura jail and moved through the town. Some minutes 
later it reported thai it was under fire and requested permission to fire back. 
It was given very quickly. An urgent message to headquarters and the 
affirmative reply. From then on whether they liked il or not and most of 
thorn did. the army was committed to the NLF. The fighting raged on 
decisively all day with the army intervening more and more against 
FLOSY. In the evening they were able to impose a truce and curfew. At the 
same time they told both sides to withdraw all armed men from the area 
within three days. Although the appeal seemed reasonable on the surface it 


was ingenious. The NLF could comply with ease. FLOSY had nowhere to 
go to and retreat into the desert would have been suicidal. During the night 
senior army officers met the NLF command and concerted plans for the 

At first light the fighting was renewed with increased ferocity. At first 
the army confined itself to skirmishing. The officers were still unsure of 
their men and their position awaited the outcome of the political battle in 
headquarters which controlled the situation and most of the Aulaqis were 
had been dragging their feet. On the previous day one had refused lo bring 
his battalion into Shaikh Utliman and were making a last minute bid to 
save the situation. The current was too strong for them, it was the 
headquarters which controlled he situation and most of the Aulaqis were 
out of it commanding battalions. They were virtually unable to 
communicate with each other and were leaderless. In the end ten senior 
officers, including three battalion commanders, resigned. When the news 
that the resignations were pending reached Shaikh Uthman the army- 
open ly sided with the NLF and set about wiping out the FLOSY forces with 
all the power at its command. 

The first strongpoint to be assailed was their former colonel's flats 
defended by strong forces led by his son, himself a lance corporal in the 
army. The defenders put up a desperate resistance and even after Saladin 
armoured cars with their powerful 76mm guns had been brought in I hey 
still held out. Eventually the building was dynamited. A patrol of Hrilish 
Hussars watching the battle through a telescope from a windmill on I he sail 
flats saw it jerk into the air and crash into the street like a pack of cards. The 
surviving defenders were shot down as they struggled out ol the dust, arms 
raised above their heads. The body of their commander was later found 
lying amongst the rubble. Some say that he had been slabbed. 

The FLOSY defenders of al Mansura were equally stubborn. They even 
sallied out and surrounded the army contingent in the jail. Late on the 5th 
they were driven back onto their own strongpoints, which were 
demolished one by one with the aid of Carl Gustav anti-tank weapons. 
The fighting in Dar Saad into which most FLOSY remnants retreated, was 
the most bitter of all. No quarter was asked or given as the army and NLF 
hunted down their enemies house by house. By dusk the battle was over. 
Few FLOSY survivors managed to escape and the NLF with the army at 
its back were in complete control. 

Early in the day a belated statement had been issued from Headquarters, 
South Arabian Army.* lo (he effect that it recognised the NLF as the sole 

" In Army I leadquarters, British influence was fast disappearing. The daily situation report had 
always been produced in English and Arabic. Until 1 November the translation had always been 
made from the Knglish. On this dato responsibility for the production of the report passerl into 
South Arabian hands, and the procedure reversed. 

Only four bi-lingual reports were produced, the last containing the following paragraph: 
Little Aden. Throughout the morning the office of the Commander, Little Aden, was 
surrounded by forty women who refused to go away until he bad personally satisfied each 
one.' South Arabian Army Sitrep. 4 November, paragraph A. 


representative ol' the people and called upon the British to negotiate 
independence with it straight away. To keep in with the times it also 
renamed itself the Arab Armed Forces of Occupied South Yemen. The 
purge of the Aulaqi officers, begun during the fighting, was completed a 
few days later when seventy-four officers were asked to resign. They took 
their commuted pensions and gratuities and left, mostly for the Upper 
Aulaqi Shuikhdom. In many ways they were fortunate. The senior Arab 
officer (the force was still under the nominal command of Brigadier Dye) 
remained an Aulaqi. Colonel Muhammad Ahmad Aulaqi owed allegiance 
only to the army and continued as Brigadier-elect. 

By local standards the carnage was severe. There was no reliable count of 
the dead who probably exceeded three hundred including twenty soldiers. 
Hundreds were wounded. The staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, 
working night and day. soon ran out of blood and broadcast that it was 
pointless to bring in wounded without a blood donor. Still bloodstained 
the taxis turned in through the gate to dump their grisly loads of dead and 
dying to get whatever treatment was possible. On the first day of the 
fighting a gang of armed men had turned up and kidnapped two of the male 
nurses under the eyes of the horrified staff. They were whisked away to 
Shaikh Uthman to look after NLF wounded and later taken upcountry to do 
the same there. After this more armed police were drafted in. ostensibly to 
protect the staff from more intrusions. They soon made known their NLF 
sympathies and those who si ill had any regard for FLOSY quickly forgot it. 

Whilst the main contest was being fought out in the Shaikh Uthman. al 
Mausura. Dar Saad complex there had been other outbreaks elsewhere. In 
Steamer Point the NLF rounded up Ali Thompson and his men while the 
Marines and pressmen had a grandstand view of the fighting from their 
posit ion on Clock Tower Hill. In Li tile Aden FLOSY killers firing from a car 
gunned down a pro-NLF policeman silling with his family outside his 
home. Only Crater, soundly pro-FLOSY and under the tight control of the 
Argylls. remained quiet. There was real fear that to gain conlrol the NLF 
would have to turn Crater into another battleground. The danger was 
removed by the South Arabian Army and Police who went from door to 
door quietly arresting loading FLOSY personalities whilst the Argylls held 
the ring. 

Once in conlrol the NLF. often accompanied by army or police escorts, 
went openly about the Colony arresting those suspected of being 
sympathisers of the former regime. FLOSY or the British. Nobody was safe, 
not oven the army. On 8 November about twenty officers and soldiers were 
arrested during the night and taken to Zingibar for interrogation. Major 
Muhammad Salih, a minor member of the Fadhli ruling family, was 
standing outside the officers' mess in Sccderseer Lines when three armed 
NLF civilians tried to bundle him into the back of a truck. Breaking away 
the Major ran into the operations room, manned by two Arab and one 
British officer. They stood aside as the Major was dragged away. With such 
things happening in the army there was no hope for anybody else. Cen 


gotiate [ones, the Director of Health Services and the last British civil servant still 

it also at work with the South Arabian government, finally laid down his pen 

n. The when armed police broke into his Khormaksar office and hauled off a 

leted a member of the staff. 

ay took Many of those questioned by the various NLF command were released 

Upper after a few days but the fate of others is uncertain. Frison camps were set up 

>r Arab in Zingibar and I.odar. At independence an NLF estimate put the number of 

sr Dye) people held there as 1.500, including some four hundred in the Zingibar 

igiance jail, built to hold fifty. 

The fierce fighting in Shaikh Uthman and the general deterioration ol 

ounlof conditions seriously alarmed the High Commissioner who produced a 

ildiers. plan— code named operation -Figgis— for the crash evacuation ol the 

ispital. hundred or so remaining British civilians. Most of these lived in two 

it was guarded compounds at opposite ends of the Colony. Each individual was 

stained handed instructions to pack a suitcase, collect twenty-four hours' iron 

ad and rations and a blanket. As soon as the words 'Figgis Figgis Figgis' were 

of the broadcast over the Forces - Radio they were all to head for assembly points, 

lemale the whereabouts of which were passed by word of mouth for increased 

way to security. From here they were to be airlifted by helicopter to the waiting 

vlodo fleet. 

iibly to The plan was greeted with calm and a certain amount of good humoured 

arNLF cynicism as those with a nervous disposition had long since departed, 

got it. Conversation mainly speculated at the odd code name, 

nan. al ll was soon revealed that Figgis was a legendary political officer in the 

lore. In Hudhramaut at the time when British paternalism in the area was at its 

die the height. Figgis, so the story went, was wont to disappear into the desert with 

n their a crate of gin and decline to answer any signals sent to him. Eventually in 

ma car replv to persistent queries regarding his views on the situation he 

ide his telegraphed 'AH Bedouins are bastards— Figgis' and was promptly 

1 of the dismissed by a scandalised Governor. Ever after, when political officers 

le NLF found life unbearable, the High Commission would receive a signal which 

er was merely read 'Figgis was right.' By November 1967 most Britons still in 

loor to Aden would have thoroughlv agreed with him. 

Is held As soon as the extent of the Nl .F victory became known their delegation 
in Cairo not unsurprisingly broke off discussions with FLOSY and 

scorts, appealed to the British for direct talks. There was a throe day delay whilst a 

being dialogue with the High Commission was established through Colonel 

as safe. Abdullah Salih. The South Arabian Police Chief was fast becoming a 

s were power in the land and was quick to use his not inconsiderable contribut ion 

Major to NLF victory to consolidate his position. On 14 November it was finally 

y. was announced that talks would begin a week later and the venue was to be 

armed Geneva. 

\ away During the three day wait for the announcement the last attacks on 

id one British troops took place in Steamer Point. A young Marine was seriously 

hsuch wounded, the last British casualty. Mechlel was murdered a week later, 

e. Cen Throughout the final period Andre Rochat was in his element. He had gone 


into Shaikh Uthman in the thick of the fighting to relieve the misfortunes of 
the inmates of the lunatic asylum, abandoned by their nurses and without 
water Now he turned his attention lo the remaining deta.ness. 1 hirty-one 
were still held in the Steamer Point guardhouse, more as hostages to fortune 
than anything else. They were by no means leading terrorists and were 
mostlv amongst those captured by troops in the last skirmishes. Twenty- 
one of these were members of FLOSY and unan.nuu.sly doc: ared they had 
no intention of trusting themselves to an NLF-ruled South Arabia. Rochat 
made arrangements for them to be flown to Egypt. On 1f, November the 
prison «atos opened and the FI.OSY men boarded a United Arab Airlines 
plane whilst the NLF were noisily feted through the streets ot Maalla. 

Now the NI.F were in various ways acting as interim government. 
Through the armv they issued a two-day ultimatum railing tor the 
surrender of all weapons in l.ahcj and Aden. Anybody holding arms after , 
expired would be subject to dire penalties, including death. Here they met 
their first difficulty. NLF commandos declined to comply and the 
ultimatum had to be extended 'because it was proceeding so 
satisfactorily^ Elsewhere difficulties were beginning to arise, n the 
'liberated' states NI.F commissars, often young schoolteachers and even 
students, had been sent to enlighten the tribes. At first they were received 
with i nterest as possible bringers of gifts, afterwards when they began to ask 
for taxes the attitude changed. The Audhalis of Aryab succinctly summed 
it up 'We did not get rid of our sultans to pay taxes to the likes of you, they 
declared to a young unfortunate sent to treat with them Some tribes were 
completely bevond the pale. The NLF command at Fadhl, received a short 
answer lo the letter sent to Salih Lahman al Qashmimi, the famed bandit of 
Ahl Jabal demanding allegiance. 'I have received your letter, ran the reply, 
•and as we have assisted you in ridding ourselves ot the false Sul ar please 
be so good as to set aside his Zingibar house and a car. preferably the one 
with automatic gears, as my just reward.' There were going to be no taxes 

f Tot^s^ 

beginning to realise that the sultans had not been so rich after all and he 
country was on the brink of financial disaster. Nearly three-quarters of the 
Federal hudgett had been covered in one way or another by British 
subsidies. Most of the rest came via Aden port, now lying idle. ™e armed 
forces, large in proportion to the country's means, would have to be pa d 
lest it turn against its new masters. Unemployment with the closing of the 
base amounted to over thirty thousand and of course the tribes would 
expect to receive their dues. No wonder NLF leaders meeting in Geneva 
were deeply concerned with the financial problems of a United Kingdom 
facing devaluation. 

* Nl slutemmil 20 Novel) ibnr. 
t£12'A million nut oi £17 million. 


Those Problems were thrust into the background as Briton and Arab 
pr ^ed 'to celebrate independence ^^'^up the naval task 
P 0 P n 25 November the J^.' b ^ , uit and 

force stood ,n revtew * r > r vvaving enthusiastically at 


flags and slogans hail appeared as ?» ™ 8 £ ""p- A [ rttihad was 
independence. withdrawal almost as if the other 

was still one day to go. , „ iti u i e d hv Lord 

Sultan Of Muscat as a birthday present and the British, alter c 

s^s^t^sl^s ^^^^^^^ 

muttered ahout the consequences. The new flag had a blue tr.anglc 
it to show the NLF concern for its 'overseas territories . 



i • . ,u,. ...a The Nl.F demanded £60 
The other stumbling block was pre, the tBrritoiy over 

million down ■«^; rS;E m -. They got £12 million 
thB previous one hundred and - nt > ^ romise that furthc r aid would 
mos , of which was ^adyjn Aden ana ^ ^ ^ 

N'ov-bor with Old ^ '^"^ i sh i p p cd Vi ome Early the next mornin, the 

Amw to Colonel Muhammad Ahmo«l d dfmcing , n thc 

in the evening there were t°rchh*ht process ^ ^ 

streets, rhythmic tattoos were bea* on rt.e mot c ^ rf 

wero chanted by wildly exeded ^^^^ nd ^Hably the black 
Qahtan Shaabi. There were w Id m o t n . de an ^ ^ 

veiled women were there beat ng tar bou ; ht 

voices to the chorus There u as no , thc airport to greet 
Fn the early mom.og a vast cro« d a^mW«« « jncvitably tho black 
Qahtan al Shaabi. There ^^Z^ ^ ^ 
conference he started off on a * «> revolu(ion WBS victorious, the 

prided „,«. «*. XritL» S™L. i »Hy.h, ! >«o„.y. 


George /eels desperate because it's different to what he promised. 

His (George Brown's) colleagues considered it a wonderfully lucky 
and fortunate result. That the regime he backed should have been 
overthrown by terrorists and forced our speedy withdrawal is 
nothing but good fortune— chaos will rule after we've gone and 
there'll be one major commitment out— thank God. 

Richard Grossman's diary entries for 25-30 October 1967 

on South Arabia 

In the former British military camps the last air conditioner had been 
prised from the walls and trundled away, and the police had sold every 
stick of furniture looted from the houses of the former Federal Ministers. 
The gala arches proclaiming independence still stood but the enthusiasm 
which greeted its arrival soon ebbed. 

In Government House, now renamed The Palace of the President, 
Qahtan al Shaabi had formed his first government. By explaining that 
world leaders did not respect statesmen under the age of forty, he 
persuaded his younger colleagues to make him President and Supreme 
Commander of the Armed Forces. The rest of the government were young 
men in their thirties, all named had been known for years as NLF members 
but dismissed as men of little importance. The Minister of Defence was 
Ali Salim al Baidh, a Hadrami and a Marxist who had made his name with 
mortar attacks on Government House. Foreign Affairs were handled by 
Saif al Dhalai, a student surveyor. The Petroleum Union leaders, Mahmud 
Ushaish and Abdul Malik Ismail, the real founders of the NLF in Aden, 
were rewarded with the portfolios of Industry and Labour. The President's 
nephew Faisal Abdul Latif al Shaabi became Minister of Economic 
Planning, while the primary schoolteacher turned killer, Abdul Fatah 
Ismail, became Minister of Information with special responsibilities for 
relations with North Yemen. Muhammad Ali Haithem, a Dathini who had 
played a role in bringing the army in on the side of the NLF, became 
Minister of Finance and Adhil Khalifa, just out of school, became Minister 
of Justice and together with Abdullah Khamari set about organising show 
trials of Federal supporters who had fallen into their hands. There was, 
however, to be little retaliation against those who had worked directly for 


the British: but for friends, relatives and supporters of the former Sultans 
and of FLOSY it was a different matter. Some two thousand of these were 
thrown into jail and the number of political prisoners held without trial 
has remained fairlv constant at around three thousand up until the time 
of writing. The dead and executed were replaced by later opponents of the 
regime. Judith Hart when Minister for Overseas Development used the 
record of the People's Republic of South Yemen on human rights as an 
excuse to cut off Britain's aid commitments. A Red Cross request to visit 
them was rebuffed by the government and the International Committee of 
Jurists has expressed disquiet without effect. 

Internationallv the new state was recognised and took its place at the 
United Nations' Administratively the country was divided into six 
Provinces which roughly coincided with the cell organisation of the NLF 
when it had been underground. 

The economic situation was precarious. The troubles, combined with 
the closure of the Suez Canal had cut the port of Aden's trade by 80 per 
cent The evacuation of the base put another 10,000 out of work and the 
virtual ceasing of British aid meant the loss of some 60% of the country's 
income. Furthermore, as most of the merchant community had left, the 
new regime did not scruple to hold relatives who had remained behind to 
ransom. The minoritv communities, the Somalis, the Indians and even the 
Yemenis felt that the time of troubles had come and quietly packed their 
bags. In the six months after independence the population of Aden was to 
drop by over 100,000. 

Politically the NLF soon found itself divided between the traditional 
nationalists led by Qahtan al Shaabi, who wanted to maintain the 
traditional structure of society, and the Left led by Abdul Fatah Ismail who 
wanted radical socialist change. The armed forces which held the balance 
of power sided with the traditionalists. 

Conflict was postponed by dramatic events in North Yemen. In 
September 1967 Saudi and Egyptian representatives had reached 
agreement in Khartoum. The Egyptian forces agreed to withdraw and 
Saudi Arabia to cease giving aid to the Royalists. On VI October the 
Kgvptians evacuated Sana taking with them all the heavy equipment, 
armoured cars and field guns. On 5 November President Sallal left the 
Yemen ostensibly to attend the fiftieth anniversary of the Russian 
Revolution in Moscow: privately he had let it be known he would not 
return and was retiring to Iraq. The next day in a quiet military coup he 
was declared deposed. 

The Royalists and the Zaidi tribes went onto the offensive and by 
Decembc/some 20,000 were besieging Sana led by the Imam's cousin 
Muhammad bin Hussain. Memories of the sack of the city by the Imam 
Ahmad in 1948 strengthened the resolve of the 3,000 defenders. Al Amn 
flew in to take command and issued arms to the citizens who were lormed 
into special Republican brigades, the Popular Resistance Force (PRF). As 
it was Ramadan, the Royalists were not too active in the first days of the 


siege and this allowed the Republicans to bring in reinforcements. Algeria 
and the Soviet Union carried out a massive air lift of aid and also gave 
financial support. In January 600 volunteers came into the city from Aden 
whilst further South Yemeni support was sent to Hodeidah together with 
arms and ammunition. Around Harib and Baihan in the east, South 
Yemeni and Republican forces co-operated in a diversion against Royalist 
tribes. Muhammad bin Hussain launched three vain assaults but was 
unable lo co-ordinate his forces who began to drift away, and on 8 February 
1968 a force, including South Yemeni volunteer units, climbed up the road 
from Hodeidah and relieved the city. Russian and South Yemeni aid had 
contributed to the victory but the immediate success had been won by the 

No sooner had the siege been lifted than the Republicans split into two 
opposing camps: the Republican tribalists led by al Amri and the Shaikhs, 
and the Shafai Left, comprising most of the PRF, and encouraged and 
supported by the South Yemenis. In Hodeidah Abdul Fatah Ismail had 
organised a trades union and a People's Militia which in March 1968 tried 
to seize a shipment of Russian arms. Al Amri, then in Cairo, hurried home 
and gathering a tribal army, marched into the port, crushed the PRF and 
shot their leaders. The final showdown came in Sana in August when the 
PRF and the tribes fought a three-day pitched battle in which over 1,000 
people were killed and much of the town destroyed. The Left were routed. 
The tribesmen, much reinforced by Royalists who had been deserting the 
Imam since the spring, were all Zaidis, the losers all Shafais. Once the 
threat from the Left had disappeared al Amri opened negotiations with the 
Royalist chiefs. The Saudis indicated they would stop supporting the 
Imam if the Republicans held down the Left and adopted a foreign policy 
in line with their own. The war ended in 1970. On 28 March a Republican 
delegation to the Islamic Conference in Jcdda reached agreement with 
King Faisal. Fighting would cease as would Saudi aid to the Imam. The 
embryo Republican National Assembly was enlarged to include eighteen 
Royalists and Royalist ministers joined the government. Only the Imam's 
family, the Hamid al Din, were barred from returning. The Imam retired 
to England where he still lives, deserted by all he trusted, a forlorn figure 
known locally as 'the Squire of Chobham'. 

In South Yemen independence had not brought the rewards which 
many who had helped the NLF achieve power had expected. The first to 
be disillusioned was probably Nagwa Mackawee, head of the NLF 
women's movement in Aden. Reunited with her detainee husband she 
soon found that marital bliss was not to be. On the day following 
independence he threw a kettle of scalding water over her and appalled 
colleagues quickly arranged for Nagwa to be flown to hospital in Cairo. 
The Aden Police Commissioner, Abdul Hadi Shihab, who had done so 
much to help the NLF in Aden was soon disabused of any remaining 
thoughts he may have had of maintaining his power. Given the job of 
clearing up the dumps of arms in which Aden abounded he found himself 


Tia unable to resist the temptation to put aside one lot which had been 

lve imported by a relative. Betrayed by a constable, he was thrown into his 

len own jail. , 

ith On 19 December the NLF felt strong enough to purge the army. Colonel 

Ith Muhammad Aulaqi was removed and Colonel Ali Abdullah Maiseri made 

[ ist Commander, whilst another Dathini, Husain Uthman, took overthe former 

ms Federal Guard and became Chief of Staff. Colonel Ali Abdullah was later 

ary ' murdered on the orders of Abdul Fatah Ismail. By this time the final 

)a d pockets of resistance had been overcome. The last remaining Federal 

ta d Minister in the field, the Amir Muhammad bin Abdullah of the Upper 

lh. e Aulaqi Sultanate, held out in Nisab for some months. The army moved in 
but resistance was strenuous, the trihes inflicting severe losses before 

wo being subdued by 25 pounder guns brought down from Baihan. The Amir 

hs, was captured and thrown into jail. His uncle, the aged Awadh bin Salih, 

nd nominal Sultan of the Upper Aulaqi, was turned out of his house and went 

ia d to live in the suq. The old man had suffered from diabetes for years and 

ied the illness had already cost him a leg. His supply of insuli n cut off he soon 

me fell into a coma and died. 

nd Still one Sultan remained, Muhammad Aidrous of Yafa' who ever since 

the ^ 1958 had watched events from his mountain eyrie at al Qara. He was 

100 suspicious but eventually flattery overcame his doubts and he went to the 

ed. beach at Zingibar expecting to be greeted as a hero. Instead he was seized, 

the disappeared into prison, and some say he was shot." 

the The general policies of the Hadrami NLF, even if they were often 

the proclaimed as more than rhetoric, were often in conflict with the Aden 

the based leadership. Attempts by the NLF Secretary General, Faisal al Shaabi, 

icy ' to discipline the Hadrami sector met with no success. A leading figure in 

:an the disputes was the Minister of Defence Ali al Baidh, himself a Hadrami. 

ith In January 1968 he flew to Moscow on receiving the promise of aid, and 

'he on his return dismissed the British officers still serving the South Arabian 

sen Forces. Qahtan al Shaabi was furious, he had not been consulted and 

n's realised that the Russians were backing his opponents, 

red The clash between the two wings of the NLF came at the Fourth 

are Congress, 2-8 March 1968, called to agree on a programme for the future 
of the country. The divisions within the Party now became public. The 

ich President was opposed by the Left who demanded a Marxist state and by 

; to tribal representatives who felt they had been insufficiently rewarded. The 

LF Congress gave overwhelming support to the Left. Whilst the army 

; he supported the President and saw the Loft as a threat to its power, especially 

ing resenting the decision to raise a People's Militia and attach Political 

led Commissars to the Regular Units. 

ro. Later in the month the army broke up a NLF meeting in Aden and so 

so prevented a Leftist coup. The nerve of the President failed, instead of 


;elf 4 He was machine-gunned to dealt, in the company of his two half-brothers on the beacli near 


supporting the army he issued a bewildering service of conflicting orders. 
Faced with pro-Left demonstrations in Abyan and the Hadramaut he 
ordered the arrest of the army officers responsible and as a further boost 
to his image rushed through a land reform under which confiscated lands 
were handed over to NLF supporters. The Hadramaut broke off relations 
with Aden and announced de facto secession. Other groups decided on 
rebellion but the plans for the uprising only partly materialised. On 14 
May 400 extremists seized Ja'ar some thirty miles east of Aden in the 
foothills of the Yafa'i mountains. They had the support of most of the tribes 
but one, the Yafa'i Ahl Shams, who were reluctant. Their village was 
promptly surrounded and the men massacred. In their mountains the 
Yafa'is had felt slighted ever since Shaikh Ali Atif had been captured by 
the Fadhli NLF the previous autumn, the arrest and murder of their own 
Sultan, and they were further enraged by the attack on the Ahl Shams 
which finally goaded them into action. 

Apparently unaware of the hornets' nest that they had stirred up and 
the storm gathering in the dark hills above the town, the rebels returned 
to Ja'ar, where they greeted a fresh batch of supporters who had arrived 
from Aden and gave themselves over to discussion. 

One of the leaders, Hassan al Zaghir, the killer of Sir Arthur Charles, 
was sent down the coast on reconnaissance with a bazooka and machine 
gun party. Here on 22 May he was found by the first government patrols. 
He put up a spirited resistance until deserted by his men. He was shot 
through the head and his body dragged behind an armoured car. 

The army, loyal to al Shaabi, advanced on Ja'ar. It took them no time to 
discover that others had preceded them. The town was a smoking ruin. 
Over 300 hodies, many of them women and children, lay in the streets. 
The Yafa'is had taken their revenge and withdrawn to the mountains. All 
that the army could do was to clear up. Some of the rebels escaped and 
retreated up the Wadi Bana. Here they fell prey to the wolves of Radfan, 
still stubborn supporters of FLOSY, and were decimated, only a handful 
of survivors making their way to the comparative safely of the Yemen. 

No sooner had the President dealt with the Left than he was faced by a 
serious uprising in Aulaqi instigated by the former Rulers who had 
recaptured Said. In August Colonel Abdullah Salih Sabah, who had done 
so much to ensure the NLF takeover in the East, changed sides once again 
and defected to the Yemen with 200 of his men and their armoured cars. 
The army held firm and by the end of the month Said was recaptured and 
the rebels driven out. The government's position now appeared stronger, 
having dealt with serious challenges from both extremes, but the President 
was unable to take advantage of the situation. Always unstable, his nerves 
deteriorated and for some months past he had conceived an obsession 
which blamed all the world's ills on President Johnson. The US Charge 
d'Affaires, Eagleton, was more than once forced to listen to anti-American 
tirades from al Shaabi who formed the embarrassing habit of giving vent 
to his views in public. 


The exiled Sultans kept up their pressure with uprisings iri iBaihan and 
„ Jfan Fared with increasing discontent in the army, the President 
?id5 come o an accommodation with the defeated Left. 
r imieSlv led by Abdul Fatah Ismail who had sought refuge in 
-"I Marxists once more joined the governor, 
,nH determined to remove al Shaabi when the opportunity arose. As the 
"esiden came under increasing pressure his behaviour became more 
? ,!L„t in Anril 1968 he was forced to relinquish the post ot Mime 
K5 "nd i i June the Left sided with Muhammad Ali Haithem in a 
dl putTover the command of the armed forces. Al Shaabi was forced to 
Sn all hTs posts in June, and was for a time imprisoned in the house a 
S Mar Tag once J mansion of the Director of Aden Airways. He spent 
Ms time in an empty room promulgating decrees and haranguing invisible 
audircerCoIisideLd harmless, he was released and eventually died in 
1 979 His nephew Faisal al Shaabi was arrested and shot 

Thumbs become known as the 'corrective move' by the Marxists 
an? given equal prominence in national celebrations with Revolution 
Day 14 October, and Liberation Day, 27 November, The country now 
became the People's Democratic Republic of South Yemen (PDRY . 

Once in power the Left soon ousted the remaining moderates. 
Muhammad I li Haithem was replaced as Prime Minister in December an 
a olane carrying Saif al Dhalai and others opposed to the Lett exp oaea 
and crashed in mysterious circumstances during a tour of the Provinces 
Th new ident was Salim Rubai Ali who had the rebels in a a 
Ud he was supported by Abdul Fatah IsmaiL » ^J^* £ 
NI F Bv the time the Fifth Congress met m March 1973 the country naa 
been sub ected to an orgy of Marxism. Government sponsored uprisings 
^ ribesmen against landowners resulted in further land redistribution 
and the ^collapse of commercial agriculture. In November 1969 all 

Is insurance companies, trading houses and 
nationalised. Private property was progress.vely, ^^.^^ 
timp Ahrilll Fatarl Ismail visited Moscow m 19/9 he could boast that an 
Z, ^oftntpo't Tncluding bicycles, had been ^ appropriated by the 
people. The country became a police state. The yellow car of he Secret 
Police organised by the East Germans, became a symbol of terror. Those 
£5 It of opposing the State were taken away, often to disappear 
Conscrip 8 tioiAnd compulsory political education were ' *J 
vouth of both sexes. To speak to foreigners was forbidden and a pass was 
"reauired to travel from one town or province to another 
T^e purity of South Yemen's Marxist attitudes sometimes embarrassed 
bo^e Soviet Union and the ^M^^ 
international matters the PDRY stood far to the left of -anj jrtht .r Arab 
oovemment On Palestine the PDRY opposed the UN Resolution ot 
No^mber 967 which the Soviet Union had sponsored and criticised the 
inu\ umuei ±a Vmnt an H Aleeria, to which the Soviets had 

petty bourgeois character of E ^™£^^ 
given favourable encouragement. The PDRY also cnncisea 


their continued support of the Sudan after the liquidation of the Sudanese 
Communist Party in July 1971. They criticised both powers for their 
attempts at detente with the United Slates of America which was 
considered as the greatest threat to world peace. 

These moves were not without opposition within the government. In 
particular the President sought reconciliation with Saudi Arabia. He 
agreed that i n return for massive economic aid PDRY would cease attempts 
to export its revolution to Oman and the Gulf and give up assistance to a 
group of Yemeni Army officers who had fled south following the 
assassination of Ibrahim al Hamdi in October 1977. This policy was co- 
ordinated through the new North Yemeni President, Ahmad Husain al 
Ghashimi. Then the Left struck. Sometime on Friday 23 June 1978 
President Salim telephoned his North Yemeni counterpart to say he was 
sending a special envoy to Sana. The envoy arrived and was shown into 
the North Yemeni President's office and they were both killed when a 
bomb exploded in the envoy's attache case. 

In Aden the NLF militia led by Ali Antar attacked the President's house 
while Cuban flown jets strafed it from the air. The Regular Army attempted 
to support the President but they were uncoordinated and defeated. That 
evening Aden Radio announced that the President had been tried and 
executed along with two of his Ministers. Abdul Fatah Ismail became Head 
of State, styling himself Chairman of the Presidential Council. Links with 
the Saudis Who had already paid some $50 million out of a promised $200 
million were immediately severed. The Soviet Union quadrupled its aid 
and sent crude oil for the refinery which the State had taken over from 
British Petroleum in May 1977. 

In October 1978 Abdul Fatah Ismail signed a Treaty of Friendship and 
Co-operation with Soviet President Brezhnev foreseeing twenty years of 
military and general co-operation between the two states. This was a mark 
of great favour by the Soviet Union to its protege. Twenty years is longer 
than the periods covered by similar treaties in Afghanistan and Ethiopia 
and reflects the importance the Soviet Union attaches to the strategic 
importance of PDRY. This was the summit of Abdul Fatah's achievement. 
The strain of ten years' Marxist rule had cooled revolutionary ardour and 
in April 1980 he was replaced by his Prime Minister Ali Nasser 
Muhammad. Unlike his predecessors Abdul Fatah was allowed to retire 
to Bulgaria. 

Today there are signs that the PDRY is trying to mend its fences with 
Oman and Saudi Arabia. A limited amount of 'free enterprise' is being 
allowed and emigrants encouraged to return. 

The departure of the British created a power vacuum. British aid which 
had been running at about £12 million pre-independence was cut to £6 
million of which over £3 million was paid. After the dismissal of the 
Military Mission in 1968 Britain showed little concern for her former 
possession. Western interests were ably represented by the Americans but 
they received little encouragement from home, and in October 1969 

diplomatic relations were severed altogether. Even if they had wished to. 
the NLF had nowhere to turn but the Eastern Bloc. The Soviet Union 
onsolidatcd its position after 1968. In 1972 the strength of the Army and 
Militia was increased from 6,000 to 14,000 with Soviet aid and advisers 
From then on the Soviet Fleet used Aden as its main base m the area and 
was granted communication facilities on the island of Sooolra. 

The apogee of their co-operation was in defence of the Marxist regime 
in Ethiopia, which was assailed by neighbouring Somalia and riven by 
internal rebellion. The Soviets launched a massive air bridge from Aden 
which ensured the Ethiopian regime's survival. South Yemeni troops arc 
said to have actively supported the Ethiopians in the field but this has 
never been admitted. According to some, the Yemenis proved so 
unreliable that thev had to be sent home— not for the first time. 

As a matter of course the NLF support all radical groups, give them 
sanctuarv and provide guerilla training. The infamous Carlos, members ot 
the Baader-Meinhof, the Red Brigades, and especially extreme Palestinian 
-roups, all passed through Aden. The NLF always maintained its links 
with George Habbash so it came as no surprise when after Beirut lei to 
the Israelis in 1982 the 1,000 commandos of the People s Front for the 
Liberation of Palestine found sanctuary in the PDRY. 

Western influence has not disappeared altogether. The Japanese run a 
commercially very successful fishing concession alongside similar 
Russian and South Yemeni projects. By 1977 the income from fish had 
overtaken cotton and provided some 10% of the GNP The Japanese 
provide aid, as do the Gulf States and the International Monetary Hind. 
Britain remains a leading trading partner. 

The achievement of the NLF is considerable. They snatched Powerfrorn 
the British when most of the pressure had in fact come from FLO SY and 
its sponsors. Furthermore they have held onto their power ever since They 
have transformed a backward society and to an extent broken down tribal 
divisions. The cost has been heavy. The country is amongst the poorest m 
the world, most of the educated have fled, hundreds have died and untold 
numbers are still imprisoned; the dream of a Marxist Utopia is fading fast. 

A word must be said about Yemeni unity. By history, origin and 
temperament, the Yemenis North and South deserve to become united m 
one nation. However, despite the rhetoric and occasional declarations by 
both governments proclaiming unity this is presently impossible if only 
because of the difference between the two societies. In the past the two 
have been under a single rule but rarely, and then it was always the 
stronger North which has been able to impose its hegemony. 

The years after independence held many ironies. Of the three parties 
engaged-the NLF, the exiles, and the British-trie future prospects of he 
NLF and the people they ruled were incomparably the worst. Many of the 
NLF leaders who had won power from the British were killed, imprisoned 
or exiled as the result of fratricidal strife. South Yemen became a land of 
fear and poverty. The regime admitted in 1982 that between independence 


and 1978 over a million Yemenis, nearly half the total population, had left 
the country. * 

The life of the former Rulers and their supporters, of the Adeni 
intellectuals, of FLOSY and the myriad factions which make up the 
Yemeni opposition in exile, is generally cosier. 

Most of the Rulers are based in Saudi Arabia. Sultan Salih bin Hussain 
al Audhali still holds court in a Jedda villa. The Naih Jaabil leads a 
somewhat insubstantial Army of Liberation supported intermittently by 
the Saudi and North Yemeni governments at 20 rivals per head per month. 
The Sharif Hussain and his sons, lofty and disdainful to the end, live upon 
a mountain in Taif.t The Amir Ghalib of Mukalla has taken up history as 
a hobby. His brother Umar breeds horses and was married for some time 
to a girl from Yorkshire. Ahmad Abdullah al Fadhli, now divorced from 
the beautiful Karmila, is selling secondhand plant from Houston. His 
forays into business being more successful than His Highness of Lahej who 
left such matters to his wife with unfortunate results. 

As a political force the Rulers count for little. When in power they would 
not be persuaded that to maintain it opportunity had to be open to all. Now 
in exile, relying on the crumbs of Saudi charity the disunity continues. 
Some, the Baihanis, the Audhalis and Aulaqis still have influence with 
their people, but this tends to be on a tribal rather than a national basis. 

Those members of FLOSY slill active in politics congregate in Cairo. By 
far the most successful is Abdullah al Asnag who was for several years 
Foreign Minister of North Yemen. Muhammad Salim Basindwah followed 
in his wake as a deputy minister. In 1980 Asnag was arrested and tried for 
high treason. His apparent crime was to write a pencilled note to a friend 
in which he described the President as insignificant (Ar. tafif). Sentenced 
to death, this was commuted to ten years' imprisonment after many 
representations by governments, including the British. He has since been 
released to house arrest in Sana. Basindwah continues as adviser on the 
affairs of the South but is out of favour. Abdul Qawi Mackawee is still 
politically active and lives in Cairo where he teamed up with Muhammad 
Ali Hailhem the former NLF Prime Minister. 'Grenadier' Khalifa prospers 
and holds the prime job in Yemeni Airlines as their representative for the 
Gulf and the Far East. Yemeni Airlines employs many Adenis including 
Abdul Rahman Haideri as the Editor in Chief of its house magazine. 

Husain Bayumi, Abdul Rahman Girgirah and Muhammad Hassan Ubali 
have all died in Jedda. Bayumi's wife, Adilla, married a Swede and now 
lives with her son in Taiz. 

* MEED. 14.1. 83. 

t The Sharif Qaid, however, has been estranged from his family and is allowed to live in A' 
lending credence to the story that he was a supporter of the NLF and helped engineer 
family's downfall. 


Generally Yemenis inside and outside South Arabia are mystified by 
British policy after 1964. How, they ask, could a Great Power expend much 
effort and vast treasure to build up a base and promptly abandon it; a 
countrv expert in the process of decolonising an empire leave a territory 
for which it had been responsible for over 100 years to a government it 
hardlv knew and which was hostile to its interests? 

In 1964 the Labour government of Harold Wilson inherited their 
predecessors' pro-Federal policy. Whilst in opposition members of the 
Partv had given encouragement to the nationalists, especially the Aden 
Trades Union Gongress. In truth the Party had paid scant attention to the 
details of the problem. For their part the nationalists had nobody who 
understood the nature of British politics. They had not mixed with British 
intellectuals and had not received higher education in Britain. The Labour 
Colonial Secretaries, Lord Longford and Anthony Greenwood had 
expected to deal with a Nvererc or a Nkrumah, but instead were faced with 
Mackawee and al Asnag. What little chance they had of dealing was 
destroved by liming; by the time the British were ready to talk Asnag was 
not in'a position to deliver. His power in Aden, considerable on paper, 
had gone out of control and he was forced to try and win back support by 
adopting even more extreme positions. In the end George Brown, finding 
no socialists to talk to, was forced to go back to the policy of his 
Conservative predecessors. By that time it was too late. 

These were the days before the realism of Northern Ireland and the 
explosion of oil prices. The Foreign Office, unnerved by memories of Suez 
and anxious to shed the image of Imperialism, sought to appease wor d 
opinion, especially in the Third World. They were embarrassed by South 
Arabia The effect of these croakers was to tic the hands of the British forces 
and their Federal allies. Consequently after the advent of the Labour 
government no firm action was taken against insurgent bases across the 
border The Federal government was given no opportunity to take matters 
into its own hands and were sometimes actively prevented from doing so. 
The rule of law was not upheld and legal means to prevent terrorism totally 

'"The 0 British supporters of the Federal government also made their 
contribution to the tragedy. Officers attached to the various Rulers, to the 
Federal Army and the Police too often forgot whom they were supposed 
to be serving, the interests of Britain or even of the Federal government, 
and instead advanced the often conflicting interests of their princelings 
and organisations. 

Even to the end it was almost heresy to suggest the Federal forces were 
engaged in acts of terrorism; whereas history and experience suggested 
this was the area where these problems usually began. An NLF cell was 
detected in the Armed Police in Crater as early as 1964 but no real attempt 
made to follow this u p. The Aden Police were well known to be thoroughly 
corrupt but it never occurred to their British officers that the fmancia 
dealings of the men could have expanded into arms smuggling. Yet until 


the British left, police vehicles passed through check points unsearched. 

Those South Arabians who believed that the British government was 
obsessed by the minutiae of their troubles must have been disappointed 
by the published memoirs of the great men concerned, for judging by their 
reminiscences, South Arabia and its problems could have occurred on 
another planet. 

Harold Wilson mentions giving lunch to 'the feudalist, almost pre- 
biblical rulers of the South Arabian Federation'.* More significantly he 
comments on the attitude of Duncan Sandys and the suggestion that his 
government had broken British pledges to South Arabia. 'We had one 
difficulty after another arising out of Mr Sandys's ministerial obsession 
with Federation: Rhodesia was a problem deriving from the failure of the 
Central African Federation, there had been the Malaysia break-up and now 
there was the problem met in dealing with Ministers of more than one 
country. "But Mr Sandys", they said, "had given us a pledge" that the 
British Government would do this or that. The trouble was there was no 
written record, note or minute, and we were more than once accused of 
bad faith over an alleged Government pledge whose existence we could 
neither confirm nor deny.'t This is misleading of the former Prime 
Minister. In the case of South Arabia he only had to refer to the relevant 
papers. The White Paper (Cmd 2414) issued after the 1964 Conference 
states, 'The South Arabian delegates asked that Britain should agree to 
independence for the Federation whilst continuing thereafter to assist in 
its defence. They requested that as soon as practicable the British 
Government should convene a conference for the purpose of fixing a date 
for independence not later than 1968, and of considering a Defence 
Agreement under which Britain would retain her military base in Aden 
for the defence of the Federation and the fulfilment of her worldwide 
responsibilities. The Secretary of State announced the agreement of the 
British Government to this request.' This agreement was made by a 
Conservative government according to several Federal Ministers and their 
British advisors.* Harold Wilson, the Leader of the Opposition, met the 
delegates after the 1964 Conference and assured them that if Labour won 
in the coming election he would honour the agreement. No mention is 
made of this in his The Labour Govemmczif 1 .964-1 970. A Personal Record. 

George Brown, sometime Foreign Secretary, the man who promised to 
reveal all,§ had clearly thought better of it when the time came to write 
his memoirs. South Arabia gets an indirect mention through a tea party 
and a round of clock golf which he gave to the unfortunate UN Mission.^ 

* The Lcibour Government 19fi4-19/0. page 128. 
t The Labour Government ! 9G4-! 970, pase 232. 

* Muhammad Farirl, Suloh bin Hussain. Donald Foster. Landscape with Arabs, page 159. 
§ Sunday Times. 10 April 19G8, 

r In My Way. page 158. 


Richard Grossman's diaries, which give a candid insight into the 
workings of the Labour Cabinet, mention South Arabia but briefly. Lord 
Shackleton's appointment as resident Minister in Aden 'was a disaster as 
he was a key figure in our reform group.'* For the entry of Friday 27 
October George Brown started a discussion on Aden by apologising for 
having to tell us that we'll be out in November instead of January. The rest 
of the Committee couldn't be more pleased. Really we've been 
miraculously lucky in Aden — cancelling all our obligations and gelling 
out without a British soldier being killed (sic). But George feels desperate 
because it's different from what he promised. 't 

Of the last three High Commissioners, two have written their versions 
of events. Sir Kennedy Trevaskis chronicles in detail the tribulations of 
Federation until his replacement in 1964. Very different is Sir Humphrey 
Trevelyan who stood by as all that his predecessors had striven for 
crumbled away. Sir Humphrey was given a clear task to extract the British 
from South Arabia with as little cost as possible. This he achieved despite 
many difficulties. He was a man with a job to do. He may not have liked 
it, and it was a curious end to a distinguished public career. It was his duty 
and he did it. Outdated treaties and leaving behind a friendly government 
were very much secondary considerations. 

Sir Kennedy Trevaskis went into business and after some adventures 
formed a partnership with Muhammad Farid and a Canadian oil company. 
He is now rumoured to be a millionaire. Sir Humphrey Trevelyan went 
back to the city, his directorships and to the House of Lords. Sir Richard 
Turnbull hasn't written a book. After South Arabia he was never asked to 
work again. The Socialists never forgave him for failing to achieve the 
impossible, the Conservatives for trying. For the supporters of Federation 
he was too liberal, and for those who believed that the answer lay in 
accommodation with the Nationalists too tough. He has retired and lives 
with quiet dignity in Ihe Scottish borders. 

The last Commander in Chief of Middle Hast Command, Admiral Sir 
Michael Le Fanu was appointed Chief of Imperial General Staff but, 
tragically, ill health prevented him from taking up the post and he died 
shortly afterwards. General Tower achieved a lifetime's ambition and 
became Commandant of Sandhurst before retiring. Lt Colonel Colin 
Mitchell failed in his campaign to preserve the Argyll and Sutherland 
Highlanders* as a separate entity, left the army, became a journalist, a 
Conservative Member of Parliament, and now heads a management agency 
in London. Colonel Richard Lawson, a staff officer with the Federal Army 

* Crossman Diaries. Tuesday 11 April, page 341. 
t Crossman Dion'es, 27 October 1 967, page 389. 

t There was perhaps a darker side to the activities of the Argyll*. In January 1981 three soldiers 
lrom the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were given life sentences for the killing of two 
farmers during their service in Ulster. The convictions were obtained following disclosures by 
a fellow soldier who was concerned that one of the men involved may have been the Yorkshire 

(cont. on p. 2261 


during the last days, leads the list of South Arabian veterans who have 
succeeded. He is now Lt General Sir Richard Lawson, KCB DSO OBE, Nato 
commander for North West Europe. Colonel George Coles still travels the 
Middle East, now as an editor for an Arab trade magazine. Major Peter 
Bartlett is export director for a company specialising in security aids. 
Fusilier Storey left the army shortly after his adventures for a tough career 
as a diver. When not working abroad he lives in Hull with his wife and 

Bill Heber Percy married King Hussain's secretary and worked for a time 
as Development Secretary with the Sultans of Oman. He now farms on the 
Welsh borders. Tony Ashworlh is another who has gone on to greater 
things. British information chief in Hong Kong at the time of Vietnam he 
is now personal adviser on information affairs to the Sultan of Oman and 
divides his time between Muscat and Hong Kong. 

Only in Palestine did the British leave a territory in such confusion. It 
is too early to evaluate what harm, if any, was done to British and Western 
interests by so abrupt a withdrawal. In any case the time had come for the 
British to go and it would have been unwise to linger for long. 

If the Federal government could have survived for a few more months 
with the Egyptian withdrawal from North Yemen, it may have been 
possible to establish a moderate pro-Western State. This would certainly 
have been more benign than the para-Marxist regime which eventually 
gained power. The biggest losers were the South Arabian people. 

Kipper. His name has not been publicly revealed. During the investigation the informant also 
gave details to the Army -Special Investigation Branch of alleged atrocities committed in Crater. 
As far as can be ascertained no action was taken. 

In the weeks following the trial the soldier, now discharged, approached the Glasgow Sunday 
Moil who conducted a careful and comprehensive investigation. Scores of former soldiers were 
interviewed and manv maintained that no impropriety look plane. Eventually a dozen men 
signed sworn statements detailing robberv ami murder by officers and men. One soldier 
admitted personally' shooting down five unarmed Arabs in different incidents. Several alleged 
murder of men bv" morphine injections and shooting. Others claimed to be the distressed 
witnesses to the brutal killing ol a teenager found in a cafe after curfew and hayonctted to death 
on the orders of an officer. Road block duly, they claimed, was the opportunity for wholesale 
theft. All this and more was published by the Sunday Marl in their editions of 26 April and 10 
Mav 1981. In the davs follow ing publication the newspaper kept two telephone lines open tor 
reaction from the public. A lot of calls were abusive but a significant number were from former 
soldiers supporting the allegations, including some of those who had formerly denied them. 

The dossier was sent to Ceorge Younger, then Secretary of State for Scotland and himself a 
former Argvll. He passed it to the legal authorities for investigation. Then, after an interval of 
22 months'the Crown Agent wrote to the Editor of the Sunday Mail on behalf of the Lord 
Advocate: 'A full report has been submitted to the Lord Advocate who has decided that no 
proceedings should be instituted. This investigation has taken a long time but as you will 
appreciate there was difficulty in tracing some of the officers and men who were serving in 
19B7 and who had since left the Arniv. The Lord Advocate instructed me to thank the Sunday 
Mail for bringing the matter to his attention-' (Sunday Mail, 27 March 1983). The passage ol 
time and the legal complications involved in prosecuting offences committed long ago in a 
foreign land were also taken into consideration. . , 

Throughout the allegations there was no suggestion that the Commanding Oliicer, Lt Colonel 
Colin Mitchell, knew of. or was involved in, any of the alleged atrocities and he steadfastly 
refused to comment in public on the claims. , .. 

The Argylls themselves asked for an enquiry. At the Regimental Headquarters in Stirling 
Castle the'baltle honours and combat mementoes covering a long and proud history are 
displayed; reference to Aden is much muled. 


Were the British fortunate to get out with so little loss as Richard 
Grossman suggests or did the withdrawal have a domino effect causing 
British evacuation of the Gulf and the subsequent explosion in the oil 
price? Does it matter that the Soviets are firmly entrenched on the Western 
approaches to the Indian Ocean? They were equally well established in 
Egvpt but left. Only time will tell. 

Time is rapidly eradicating the memories of the British presence. 
Outside Aden the country was hardly touched. On the road through 
Radian the battalion signs remain cut into the rock but they are fading fast, 
and the people remember with surprising affection the old times. Britons 
are still welcome and a team organised by the Crown Agents is repairing 
the old road to the Yemen. 

In Aden the signs are more prominent, the port, the Prince of Wales Pier, 
as it is still known, barracks and churches, and the old fortifications 
persist. Yet the most permanent legacy is the widespread use of English 
and the education of many of the Adenis who spread throughout the 
Arabian Peninsula, particularly to North Yemen where they now provide 
the infra-structure in government and commerce which is slowly bringing 
that country into the modern world. 


In the winter of 1982 a traveller flew into Aden and discovered on arrival 
that his baggage had been lost. Taking the limited compensation offered, 
he set off to purchase some clothing. In all of Aden's markets, once the 
most flourishing west of Singapore, nothing was to be found. Eventually 
he found himself in a State Emporium where the only possibly suitable 
goods on offer were a heap of serge suits, all the same size and cut, 
produced for a figure both squat and portly by an unnamed factory of the 
Eastern Bloc. . 

On learning the nationality of his customer the assistant picked up a 
pair of trousers as if for display, glanced around to make sure he wasn't 
overheard and whispered behind the makeshift screen, 'It was so much 
more comfortable when the British were here.' 

South Arabian Political Organisations 

Free Yemenis Date /ormed: 1945 

Plotted to reform North Yemen and behind the attempted coup of 1948. The leaders 
were captured and executed but many of the survivors later played leading roles in 
Yemeni and South Arabian politics. They used Aden as a base. 
Leaders: Ibrahim Hnmid al Din, Abdullah al Wazir. Muhammad Ahmad Noman, 
Muhammad Ali Luqman. 

Muslim Association IJntefonned: 1946 

Aden's first political party. Founded by a Pakistan lawyer; later merged with the 
Aden Association. 
Leaders: Pan Islamic 

Aden Association Datc/ormed: 1 949 

Aim: constitutional advance within the Commonwealth. Split and dissolved in 
1957 over the issue of qat. 

Leaders: Muhammad Ali Luqman, Hasan Bayumi, Muhammad Hasan Obali 
South Arabian League (SAL) Dale/ormed: 1951 

Aims: unity of South Arabia and the exclusion of foreign influence. Did not support 
Yemeni unity, supported by Egvpt and later Saudi Arabia. Briefly joined OLOS. 
Overwhelmed by FLOSY and NLF in the period before independence. Still in 
existence in exile. 

Leaders: Sultan Ali Abdul Karim ofLahej. the Jifri brothers, Shaikhan al Habshi. 
Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM) Dale/ormed: 1 954, Palestine 

The Pan Arab Society of George Habbash from which the leaders of the NLF drew 

United National Front (UNF) Date formed: 1954 

Aims: unity of the Yemcns and all Arabia, and expulsion of foreign influence 
combined with radical reform. Broke up in 1957. 

Loaders- Shaikhan al Habshi (later with SAL), Aidrus al Hamid, Abdullah al ji/ri 
(later with SAL), Abdullah al Asnag (later ATVC and FLOSY), Abdullah Badhib, 
founder of the Yemeni Communist Party, in 1983 a leading figure in thegovernment 

Aden Trades Union Congress (ATUC) Date /ormed: 1 956 

The organisation of labour, later the mouthpiece of radical nationalism. Initially 
encouraged by the British TUC, it was later supported by Egypt, the Yemen and 
many radical countries. Split up between NLF and FLOSY unions. Ceased to exist 
after independence. 

Loaders: Abdullah al Asnag, Ali Husain Qadhi, the brothers Asivadi. 


United National Party (UNP) Dole formed: 1957 

The PLO Federal Aden Party. The Federal government as such never had a political 
partv This was a basic reason for its failure. Despite pressure from the British, the 
Rule'rs could never commit themselves to such a radical conception. 
Leaders: Hasan Btiyumi, Husain Bayurni, Abdul Rahman Girgirah. 
People's Congress Daleformcd: 1958 

Aim: independence for Aden. Faded on the approach of violence, 
(.coder: Muhammad Ali Luqman. 

Shaikhs of the South Date/ormed: 2960 

Anti-Federal grouping formed by the Imam Ahmad out of dissidents living in the 
Yemen. Dissolved in 1962. 

Leaders: Amir Haidera, Muhammad Aidrus, Qohtan al Shaabi. 

People's Socialist Party (PSP) Date/ormed: 1962 

Political arm of the ATUC. Broke up in 1963. 

Leaders: Abdullah al Asnug, Said Hasan Sohbi. Hadyu Isnnallah, Fuud Barahim, 

Free Officers of the South Date/ormed: 1 963 

Anti-ATUG'FSP nationalists who provided a forum for adherents of the Arab 
Nationalist Movement and later the Aden wing of the NLF. 
Leader: Abdul Malik Ismail. 

National Liberation Front (NLK) Date/ormed: 1 963 

Formed by K°ypl as a force to combat British and Federal interest. Quickly broke 
away and turned to the far Left for the solution of social, political and economic 
problems. Drew inspiration from several sources including Nasser, the ANM, the 
Baath and Communist Parties. Victors in the Civil War, snatched power from the 
British. The ruling party of South Yemen. 

Leaders: Qahlan al Shaabi. Abdul Malik Ismail, Muhammad Ali llailhcm, Abdul 
Fatah Ismail, Ali Abdulla Maiseri, Ali Snlim Rubaya. 

Organisation forthe Liberation of the Occupied South (OLOS) Date/ormed. 1 965 
A shortlived combination of dissidents put together by al Asnag at the behest of the 
Egyptians. Later merged with FLOSY. 

Leaders: Abdullah al Asnug, Muhammad Aidrus, Ahmad bin Abdullah al Fudbli, 
Jaabil bin Hussain. 

Front for the Liberation of South Yemen (FLOSY) Date formed : 1 966 

Formed after the failure of OLOS and in attempt to gain co-operation between 
various factions including the NLF. At sometime included all the major opponents 
of Britain and the Federation. Losers of the Civil War between the factions members 
did most to put political pressure upon the British and bring about the failure of 
the Federal policy. After the disappearance of the Federal government many Rulers 
and their supporters joined FLOSY. 

Leaders: Abdullah al Asnug, Muhammod Salim Basindwah. Abdul Qawi 
Mnckan-eo and many others.