Czechoslovak Arms Exports to the Middle East, Volume 4

Algeria, Morocco and Libya, 1948–1990

Martin Smisek

Ground-breaking research about Czechoslovak arms exports to the Middle East, based on official documentation.
Date Published :
May 2023
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Language:
English
Series :
Middle East@War
Illustration :
c 120 b/w photos & maps, 20 color ills
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781804512241
Pages : 104
Dimensions : 11.7 X 8.3 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order
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$29.95

Overview
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During the Cold War, communist Czechoslovakia was one of the largest arms exporters to the Middle East among the Soviet Bloc countries. The final volume of this mini-series describes the history of arms export from Czechoslovakia to Algeria, Morocco and Libya including related military assistance.

In 1957, Czechoslovakia began with the clandestine deliveries of infantry weapons for the National Liberation Front resisting French authorities in Algeria. The reasons were strictly commercial – the shipments enabled Prague to dispose of obsolete infantry armament in exchange for US dollars. A series of minor and larger mistakes made by various Czechoslovak officials led to the diplomatic disaster caused by French interception of the Czechoslovak merchant ship Lidice loaded full of weapons for Algerian rebels in 1959. Bearing in mind future political benefits, Prague decided two years later to carry out the shipment of surplus weapons free of charge. Despite the efforts made, Algeria did not become an important customer for weapons produced in Czechoslovakia. The situation began to change only in the late 1980s, when Algiers purchased L-39 Albatros jet trainers and T-72M1 tanks. However, further deliveries of Czechoslovak armament were prevented by Algerian payment problems and the civil war.

Czechoslovak military cooperation with Morocco was intense but very short-lived. Between 1967 and 1968, a relatively significant numbers of OT-62 and OT-64 armored personnel carriers and T-54AR tanks, along with ammunition and spare parts, were delivered to Morocco. In the early 1970s, a service facility was established in Morocco with Czechoslovak assistance for the military hardware supplied from Czechoslovakia in previous years. However, this was the de facto end of military cooperation between communist Czechoslovakia and Morocco.

The military coup in Libya in 1969 led by Muammar Gaddafi heralded the golden age of Czechoslovak arms exports. The first major contract was signed during the following year. During the 1970s and early 1980s, Libya obtained immense quantities of Czechoslovak made armored fighting vehicles, multiple rocket launchers and jet trainers. As part of Operation Litomyšl, several hundred Czechoslovak military advisors and instructors were deployed to Libya, representing the largest continuous deployment of Czechoslovak soldiers abroad during the entire Cold War. However, the oil glut coupled with Libyan economic mismanagement during the 1980s meant that deliveries of weapons to Libya ultimately resulted in massive debts for the state treasury of communist Czechoslovakia.

Using declassified original documentation, this is the most comprehensive account of the Czechoslovak military involvement in the Middle East during the Cold War which has ever been published.

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