|This 1983: Doomsday page is a Stub.|
Yemen, also known as the Republic of Yemen, is an Islamic presidential democracy located in the southern region of the Arabian Peninsula, in southwest Asia. It is bordered to the north by Saudi Arabia; east by Oman; the west by the Arabian Sea; and south by the Gulf of Aden. It consists of the former nations of North Yemen and South Yemen which officially merged in 1985, after South Yemen was devastated by Doomsday and collapsed. As of 2010, its request to join the Gulf States Union is currently under review by that body.
Prior to Doomsday, Yemen existed as two separate nations with different governments.
North Yemen originally gained its freedom in the mid 17th Century when it successfully broke away from the Ottoman Empire; however, due to internal dissent, the Ottomans were able to re-establish control over the area a century later. Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918, the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen was established by Imam Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din. The al-Qasimi dynasty continued to rule until 1962 when it was overthrown by soldiers inspired by the Arab nationalist movement led by Egyptian President Nasser. They seized the capital of San’a and proclaimed the Yemen Arab Republic, setting in motion a violent civil war which pitted the revolutionaries, backed by Egypt, against the royalists, supported by Saudi Arabia. The war finally ended in 1970 when the republicans were officially recognized by Saudi Arabia and a true was established.
In 1839, the British seized the port of Aden on the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula as a coaling station. The port’s importance grew over time and it was eventually proclaimed the Royal Colony of Aden in 1937. The inland regions surrounding Aden and the historic Hadhramaut area to the east eventually came under the control of the British as well via treaties of protection. In 1963, these areas were consolidated into the Federation of Saudi Arabia, which included Aden, and the Protectorate of South Arabia. The Federation of Saudi Arabia gained independence in 1967 after British forces withdrew following a bloody five year insurrection. The Protectorate of South Arabia dissolved at the same time eventually merged with them to form South Yemen. Two years later, a radical Marxist wing of the National Liberation Front, one of the two main insurgency groups who ousted the British, seized control of the country transforming it into the PDRY the following year. It quickly allied itself with major Communist powers, especially the USSR, who provided weapons and training to the military.
At the time of Doomsday, the USSR viewed South Yemen as both a strategic and dependable ally because of its unique location near the strategic Bab-el-Mandeb Strait which connected the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. The Yemeni government allowed the Soviet military extensive use of their ports, anchorages, and airfields. At least 5,000 Soviet bloc advisors provided assistance and training to the Yemeni military and government, and the USSR was allowed to operate electronic intelligence gathering sites at several locations, including radar direction finding and intelligence collection post manned by Soviet and Cuban military. As of September 1983, a large structure was under construction in the mountains behind Aden to house a command and control facility for Soviet Navy.
At approximately 3:45 AM local time on September 26, 1983, both the PDRY military and Soviet forces operating on its soil, received a flash communiqué from the Soviet high command regarding the impending attack against the USSR and the launches against the west. Given the early morning hour, the PDRY military and government were still mobilizing when a US Navy nuclear submarine operating in the Indian Ocean launched its ICBM missiles just over 15 minutes later. The missiles targeted sites in the Soviet Union, its Indian Ocean Fleet, and client states of Afghanistan, Syria and South Yemen.
At least two of these missiles targeted South Yemen, deploying more than a dozen warheads at key military targets throughout the nation. They included the following:
- The capital of Aden was hit by at least three warheads which detonated over the port, Aden International Airport, and a Soviet facility under construction. The resulting explosions, along with subsequent firestorms, reduced the ancient port city to charred rubble. With the exception of a few officials out of the capital, the entire government, including President Ali Nassar Muhammad, as well as many high ranking members of the Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), perished.
- The port of Al Mulkalla
- Perim Island, location of a Soviet electronic intelligence (ELINT) gathering post
- Socotra Island, used by USSR Indian Ocean Naval Fleet as an anchorage and resupply base, was hit by two warheads
- Al Anab Airfield, where Soviet military aircraft, including the Tupolev Tu-142M-Z, the Beriev A-50, and the IL-38 surveillance airplanes, carried out SIGINT and ELINT aerial reconnaissance
- The Yemeni Air Force Airfields of Al Mukha, Al Riyan, Al Ghayhad, and Lawdar
Prior to Doomsday, the population of South Yemen had stood at approximately 2.2 million people. Because of the unavailability of accurate figures, it is not known exactly how many perished as a direct result of the attacks or from injuries including fallout. Yemeni officials would later estimate at least half of the population, some one million people, perished as a direct result. This included between 500-600,000 who died in the destruction of Aden.
North Yemen was not directly affected by Doomsday, although some fallout was carried over its territory by winds.
To be continued…