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Kazakhstani Veteran of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War
Noviy Vestnik (New Herald) Karaganda, Kazakhstan ^ | July 20th, 2005 | Sergey Tereshchenko

Posted on 07/23/2005 2:27:54 AM PDT by struwwelpeter

Original title:


Karagandan took part in the last Arab-Israeli war

Danakan Nurgaliev.Karaganda resident Danakan Nurgaliev is a man with a rare history. He is the only one in our city with the rights and benefits of a soldier-internationalist, though he was never in Afghanistan. Danakan Kasymovich did his duty in a country a bit further away - in Egypt, during the Arab-Israeli war of 1973.

"I was born in the Taldykurganskaya district in 1952," Danakan said. "When called up for military service, I was sent first to Amur, in the air defense forces. After about a half-year they sent us through an intensive training course. A bit later we found out that we were to be sent to 'a hot spot'. They didn't say which one, but we all thought it was going to be Vietnam. Our deployment day arrived and we were dressed up in civilian clothes and told that from then on, oficially we were sports instructors. Then we boarded a ship, but we didn't end up in Vietnam. Our ship docked at the port of Alexandria."
Even today, little is known about the USSR's role in the Arab-Israeli wars. Officially, there were no Soviet soldiers in the Near East. The Soviet Union actively assisted the Arab nations, sending weapons and equipment, what else could they do? The Soviet Union just could not stand by while their eternal enemy, the USA, lavished forces and materials in support of the new Israeli government, which was waging war to the left and right almost from her first day. The first war between Israel and the Arab world began in 1948, when the Israelis seized 7000 square kilometers of Palestine. Nine hundred thousand Arab residents were driven from this territory, even though the land had been assigned to them by a 1947 UN resolution. In addition, Israel grabbed the western half of Jerusalem, despite a UN demand that Jerusalem remain an independent administrative entity. The eastern half of Jerusalem at that time went to Jordan. In 1967, Israel seized the other part of the holy city. Thus, it was not difficult for the Soviet Union to justify helping 'fraternal peoples in a just struggle against Israeli extremists and their overseas accomplices'.

The first Soviet troops started to arrive in Egypt in 1970, mainly as pilots and and anti-aircraft artillery gunners. Their mission was to fix up the nation's air defense forces, since Israeli 'Phantoms' felt themselves to be the undisputed masters of the heavens above the pyramids. One must admit, these 'sports instructors' succeeded rather quickly - overflights soon dropped to zero.
"In Alexandria, we were put on a barge and went up the Nile," Danakan recalled. "An interesting place. Big river, along the banks just a few dozen kilometers of greenery, then nothing put sand. Somewhere in the desert we had a base. I spent eight months there. The conditions were the worst - unusual climate, exotic diseases, a huge number of crawling, jumping, and flying insects. During formation everyone was scratching themselves - soldiers and officers both. Not everyone could stand it, and we had to send a few back home. Moreover, almost every day the Israeli aircraft flew over, and this didn't have a beneficial effect on our nerves. Our base was never bombed, though, and they fed us pretty good. But we never had a real bath or shower for eight months. Sometimes they took us to a nearby city, to a swimming pool. The locals treated us variously. Some regarded us sullenly as enemies, while others were the opposite and greeted us from the bottom of their hearts."

Once Egypt obtained aid from the Soviet Union they were able to consider retaliating against Israel for the first time in many years. So began the 1973 war, the biggest of the Arab-Israeli wars, both in number of combatants and material, as well as in losses. The Americans thought that the Soviets recommended that the Egyptians 'start a little incident' in order to stir up the diplomatic process, but 'those maniacs clearly went too far'. This was not the case: the Soviet Union was well-informed about the Egyptian offensive under preparation - in fact, the day before the beginning of the war, they began evacuating the families of Soviet citizens, and Soviet warships steamed away from Egyptian ports.
Simple Soviet soldiers such as Danakan Nugaliev, however, knew nothing of these political strategems and calculations. They simply did their job.

"Our unit had two missions: testing new weapons systems and instructing the local personnel," the soldier-internationalist recalled. "I remember we were paid in Egyptian pounds. A plain sergeant got as much as an Egyptian engineer. Officers got a lot more. A lot of them bought cars when they got home."

Before their attack on Israel, Egypt made a pact with Syria. As a result, the armies of the two outnumbered that of Israel three to one, in both men and armor, and the first days of the war went poorly for the Israelis. Soon euphoria gripped the Egyptian and Syrian commanders. They ceased listening to their Soviet advisers, and began to make fatal errors. In particular, they stretched their forces too thin, creating a broad, but shallow front. General Sharon exploited this, and with only seven tanks he broke through the front, crossed the Suez canal, and headed straight for the Egyptian capital, Cairo. With reinforcement he could have seized Cairo and, who knows? Perhaps even joined Egypt to Israel, or some large part of it. When Sharon was only 100 kilometers from Cairo, however, the US ordered Israeli forces to proceed no further, otherwise the Soviet Union may have entered the war, and it would not have been a handful of sportsmen in a conspiracy, but the regular army. Soviet air divisions were on alert, and a large part of the air transportation command was preparing for troop deployments to the Near East. Soviet ships were nearing the Egyptian shores as well.
There were rumors of nuclear warheads on board Soviet vessels which were steaming through the Dardanelles towards Egypt, and so negotiations began, and under pressure from the USSR, Egypt and Israel signed an armistice.

Relations between the Soviet Union and Egypt failed after this unsuccessful venture. Egyptian president Anwar Sadat subsequently decided to make friends with the United States, and Soviet soldiers quit Egypt forever.
"First they were going to send us to Syria, but they decided to send us home at last," said Danakan Nugaliev. "They put us back on a ship, which by the way was the one where they filmed the movie 'Elusive Avengers', from the series 'Crown of the Russian Empire'. We were happy to be going home. I'm ashamed to say that after eight months in a foreign country, we didn't see anything but our base. I only saw the pyramids on television. We didn't even bring home suntans. At first we had suntans, but after a bath they quickly faded. I remember the rice. I ate enough for a lifetime, three times a day. When we got back to the Soviet Union, they threw us a holiday supper. So we come in, and there the main course is rice pilaf - what a nightmare! We were so annoyed, we asked for potatoes with herring and a piece of black bread."

After Egypt, Danakan Nurgaliev returned to Amur and served out his term. His relatives did not even suspect the their son had been in such faraway lands.
"It was a big secret," sighed the internationalist. "I wrote letters home, but just generic ones. You know, 'alive and well, serving, all is okay'. If one word about Egypt was ever mentioned the censor would tear up your letter. And so I couldn't talk about Egypt until after demobilizaton."
Danakan Nurgaliev does not use the word 'mission' randomly. No document mentions that he performed international service or took part in combat operations - officially it is modestly called a 'special mission'.
"There is nothing in my military records about these eight months, it's as if I was never outside the Soviet Union," Dakanan said. "No awards nor benefits. It wasn't until 1986 that a congress of the Supreme Soviet made us - the 'Afghanis', 'Koreans', 'Vietnamese', and 'Egyptians' - equals with the veterans of the Great Patriotic War. But, equals or not, just try to prove that you were there! I didn't decide to do this until the 1990s, already after the USSR fell apart. I wrote to Moscow to the Ministry of Defense's central archives. At the enlistment and registration office they told me that it was a just a waste of time. You know, the archives only have one answer - 'no information', but I sent in my request anyway. A year and a half later they sent me confirmation. Take a look."
With these words the participant in the Arab-Israeli war pulls out a well-worn form, bearing the stamp of the MoD's central archives, stating that 'Nurgaliev Danakan Kasymovich was on a special mission in the United Arab Republic (as Egypt was known then - author) and took part in combat operations'.
This document has not brought a lot of benefit, really not much more than a feeling of deep satisfaction. Back then a sovereign Kazakhstan did not have much use for soldier-internationalists. Nowadays this relationship has changed. After many years of hardships, Danakan Nugaliev received a new three-bedroom apartment from the government. He earned it.

Sergey Tereshchenko, photo Valeriya Kalieva

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; Russia
KEYWORDS: 1973; arabisraeliwar; goldameir; meir; middleeast; neareast; nixon; richardnixon; russia; sovietunion; yomkippurwar
Interesting article from a Kazakhstani site. It's a blog, so if anyone has some good rebuttals on their 'roots of the war' nonsense, I'd be glad to post them: Here

A related thread here: Russia's secret wars

1 posted on 07/23/2005 2:27:56 AM PDT by struwwelpeter
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To: struwwelpeter
From the memoirs of another veteran of 'forgotten wars':
An Egyptian tragedy

And then there occurred a whole bunch of catastrophies, as if to spite headquarters. The Jews stole a brand-new radio-location station, using a helicopter. The flew in across the canal, smashed the weak guard detail, hooked the wagon up to the helicopter and just flew off with it. We set up a new air-defense station, but the enemy would just not give up. They flew in before we got them in operation, and blew them to bits. Many of our air-defense officers were killed.

Another big event: three torpedo boats left Port Said to lay some AMD-500 sea-bottom mines. The first boat flopped around and then broke off. The second dropped its mine and then blew up; nothing was left. The third boat turned and took off to who knows where - we searched for it for a long time. The (Egyptian) command had been following them, to review their heroism, but was located on the second torpedo boat which blew up. The Arabs had been laying these mines on their own, without our instructors.

And so, our Soviet command steps in. It's an emergency situation. The entire Directorate of Mines and Torpedoes arrives from Moscow, and the hotel 'Hyde Park' is full of these specialists, though many never made it out of the bar. After this, the Arabs didn't trust our weapons anymore. Bagir (the officer he was seconded to) would follow me around, whinnying like a horse: "I've got six torpedoes at ready and six in reserve. Twelve altogether," and the he'd look at me, to see what I'd say, waiting.

And so, the Egyptians decided to conduct a test. They decided that they would secretly select a boat, point to a torpedo and order it fired. I saw how Bagir was so afraid that he'd be the one. What if it blows up again? But they chose another boat, it launched the torpedo and all went alright. The Egyptian commander came by, bringing with him a piece of the exploded torpedo: "Wow, Mister Volodya!" Why this "Wow!"? He was carrying around this hunk of metal, and shaking all over. Children.

2 posted on 07/23/2005 11:21:02 AM PDT by struwwelpeter
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