If you are looking for a good but DENSE book about the Middle East, “Eisenhower 1956” may be it. I just finished reading it and it filled in some holes about how the world got stuck in this never ending conflict. The author was David A. Nichols, an Eisenhower biographer and fan.
The book talks a lot about how the various governments there were changing as colonialism died and was replaced by authoritarian, nationalist regimes. The people of many countries there seem to have changed from a peaceful, paternalistic government to a warlike, paternalistic government. This was no improvement.
At this time the Middle East was rapidly changing - Israel had been supported by the Soviet Union and the British had threatened to bomb Israel to punish them for fighting with Jordan! The US refused to sell Israel significant military equipment. European economies had become dependent on oil shipped through the Suez Canal, which had just been nationalized by Egypt. The situation there was as complex then as it is today.
One of the more interesting wars it covered was the “Tripartite Aggression” as the Arabs called it or the “Suez Campaign” as the Israelis called it. The war started on Oct 29, 1956 when Israel invaded Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula. This was to support a secret plan to allow Britain and France to take the Suez Canal back. At that time the Muslim countries in that area did not like Israel, and had attacked it in 1947, but were very much in conflict among themselves. Apparently one of the unforeseen results of the 1956 attack by Israel was to accelerate the unity between their opponents and push them into the embrace of the Soviet Union. The Soviets subsequently became the arms supplier of choice for many of the armies in the region and sold lots of weapons.
I have read several other books about that area, one was “Six Days Of War” by Michael B. Oren and it was interesting to see his version of the history of the Suez Campaign - it describes that attack as a necessary response. From reading several books it appears that the attack was unprovoked, unnecessary, and caused many more problems than it solved.
The Eisenhower book leaves the impression that the 1956 war might have been avoided had Eisenhower not had a major heart attack, a major abdominal surgery, and a reelection campaign in that year. Also, the Warsaw Pact almost had Hungary leave it that year, and they invaded Hungary and violently suppressed a rebellion there.
The book answered a lot of questions that I had about the region and was well written. Apparently the sad situation we are now in might have been much better, had a number of people made much smarter decisions. What if the region had not divided into Muslim/Soviet and Israel/US sides??? It might have been several blocs supported by different major powers; even though Egypt and Israel were at war, the other Muslim countries did not come to the aid of Egypt (for various reasons).
If you are tired of hearing about the Middle East - avoid this book.
20th August, During the Indo-Pak war of 1971.
Pilot Officer Rashid Minhas was a Pilot in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF). Minhas, a newly commissioned officer of 1971 is the only PAF officer to receive the highest valour award, the Nishan-e-Haider (Mark Of The Lion). He is also the youngest person and the shortest-serving officer to have received this award only at the age of 20.
"Having joined the air force, Minhas was commissioned on March 13, 1971, in the 51st GD(P) Course. He began training to become a pilot. On August 20 of that year, in the hour before noon, he was getting ready to take off in a T-33 jet trainer in Karachi, Pakistan. His second solo flight in that type of aircraft. Minhas was taxiing toward the runway when a Bengali instructor pilot, Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman, signalled him to stop and then climbed into the instructor's seat. The jet took off and turned toward India.
Minhas radioed PAF Base Masroor with the message that he was being hijacked. The air controller requested that he resend his message, and he confirmed the hijacking. Later investigation showed that Matiur Rahman intended to defect to India to join his compatriots in the Bangladesh Liberation War, along with the jet trainer. In the air, Minhas struggled physically to wrest control from Matiur Rahman; each man tried to overpower the other through the mechanically linked flight controls. Some 32 miles (51 km) from the Indian border, the jet crashed near Thatta. Both men were killed.
Minhas was posthumously awarded Pakistan's top military honour, the Nishan-E-Haider, and became the youngest man and the only member of the Pakistan Air Force to win the award. Similarly, Rahman was honoured by Bangladesh with their highest military award, the Bir Sreshtho.
Minhas's Pakistan military citation for the Nishan-E-Haider states that he "forced the aircraft to crash" in order to prevent Matiur Rahman from taking the jet to India."
"After his death, Minhas was honoured as a national hero. In his memory the Pakistan Air Force base at Kamra was renamed PAF Base Minhas, often called Minhas-Kamra. In Karachi he was honoured by the naming of a main road, Rashid Minhas Road".
Rashid Minhas (Martyred), 17 February 1951 - 20 August 1971.
T-33 Jet trainers of the PAF
Matiur Rahman, the Defecting pilot, (He was Rashid's flying Instructor)
Rashid Minhas was Identified by his watch and his ID.