Taiz, Yemen, April – May 1967

In the winter and spring of 1967, a half-century ago, my father Ellis O. Jones of blessed memory, then 39 years old, served as a United States Foreign Service Officer in Taiz, Yemen. Taiz is in the southern part of that country, on the road from the port of Mocha to the present capital of Sana’a.

When Dad went to serve in Taiz in early 1967, the United States Agency for International Development (AID) had finished constructing a road connecting Mocha, Taiz, and Sana’a. They had also recently completed a water supply project for Taiz. Their staff, based in a three-story office building had, as Dad put it, “reverted to management roles.”  Dad took over running an “Embassy Office” in Taiz. It was an embassy compound, but the embassy itself had recently relocated to Sana’a at the insistence of the Yemeni government.

Recall other things going on in the spring of 1967: the war in Vietnam, the takeover of Greece by a junta of colonels on April 17th, the British preparations to relinquish their protectorate in Aden the next year, the runup to the Arab-Israeli war, and so forth. At that time the pan-Arab expansionism of Egyptian president Gamal abdel-Nasser’s United Arab Republic (UAR) was in full swing. The Saudi kingdom, and the US, saw Nasser as a socialist aligned with communist ideologies.

At that time the rule of Yemen was contested. In Sana’a were royalists backed by the Saudi kingdom. Centered in Taiz were advocates of a republic backed by Nasser’s Egypt.

A series of unfortunate events unfolded, culminating in the overrun of the US diplomatic compound in Taiz by a mob on April 26th. Dad recounted these events in his Oral History, starting on page 40.

The New York Times covered the events. Here are that newspaper’s stories.

April 5, 1967 Peril in South Arabia Editorial — The New York Times

April 13, 1967 Yemenis Report 2 U.S. Aid Officials Will Be Tried — Eric Pace The New York Times

On April 17, the Times ran two longer background articles reporting on the Republicans and the Royalists.

April 17, 1967 The Republicans — Dana Adams Schmidt The New York Times

April 17, 1967 The Royalists — Thomas F. Brady The New York Times

April 17, 1967 Yemen Wants U. S. To Step Up Its Aid. Seeks Rise Despite Arrest of Employes as Spies —  Dana Adams Schmidt The New York Times

April 17, 1967 Danger in Yemen — Editorial The New York Times

April 26, 1967 U. S. Office Stoned by Mob in Yemen — Hedrick Smith The New York Times

April 27, 1967 U.S. Denies Charges — The New York Times

28 April, 1967 Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts —  Secretary of State Dean Rusk

April 28, 1967 Yemen Reported Spurning U. S. Aid. 2 American Aides Accused of Trying to Destroy City —  The New York Times

April 28, 1967 U. S. Will Withdraw Yemen Aid Mission — Hedrick Smith The New York Times

On April 29, the events in Taiz merited mention in the newspaper’s summary of news.

April 29, 1967. News Summary and Index. The Major Events of the Day — The New York Times

April 29, 1967 U. S. Evacuation Beginning in Yemen — Eric Pace The New York Times

Dad’s work in looking after the USAID people imprisoned by the republican Yemeni authorities was published May 3.

May 3, 1967 2 Held In Yemen Fed by U. S. Aides. Detained Americans Drink Wine and Play Cribbage–  Eric Pace The New York Times

May 7, 1967 Yemeni Chief Sets Terms for Accepting U. S. Aid — Eric Pace The New York Times

A background story on the situation on the southern Arabian peninsula ran May 14.

May 14, 1967 Middle East. Sharpening the Knives in South Arabia — The New York Times

The squabble continued, with threats and posturing. Finally the US prevailed upon Nasser’s government to intervene and end it.

May 12, 1967 U.S. Secret Files An Issue in Yemen. Americans Refuse to Allow Them to Be Examined — Hedrick Smith The New York Times

May 15, 1967 2 Held by Yemen Could Get Death. Sana Radio Says Americans Will Be Given Public Trial — The New York Times

May 16, 1967 Cairo Mediation Seen on Americans in Yemen — The New York Times

May 16, 1967 Jeopardy in Yemen — Editorial The New York Times

May 17, 1967 Yemen Releases Jailed Americans. 2 Aid Officials, Accused of Sabotage, Fly to Ethiopia —  The New York Times

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