Helion's Czechoslovak Arms Exports to the Middle East Vol 4

Author/Artists: Martin Smisek


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 92 pages, softcover
ISBN 978-1-804512-24-1

This volume continues Helion's coverage of Czech arms deals with various Middle East countries. This particular one covers Iran, Iraq and the various Yemen nations from 1948 to 1989. There couldn't be a more stark difference between the these nations in terms of weapons sent and the political situation therein.

Iran in 1948 was still reeling from the events of WWII where they were pretty much invaded by the Soviet Union. Their military force had been reduced to caretaker status and their equipment was either derelict or in poor state. The Czechs did assist by building various factories for building firearms and even helped set up a tank factory to build what were fairly obsolescent Czech light tanks, but this petered out fairly early and Iran was able to get what it needed from the US and the UK. With the fall of the shah in 1979/80 and the introduction of the theocracy that exists today, Iran turned to communist nations for support. Here they found a somewhat willing partner in the Soviet Union and its proxy Czechoslovakia. Again, the Czechs helped to set up factories and supplied weapons of all sorts. This went on until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989.

Pretty much a similar situation occurred in Iraq where the ouster of the British had the government looking for another source to build up their military arms. Again, they were tasked with not only providing arms, but also with building factories and infrastructure. As with Iran, it was fairly lucrative as both nations had the ability to pay for the goods and services. This pretty much ended with the end of the two Gulf Wars.

Moving farther south down the Arabian peninsula is Yemen. Initially two different nations, with the governments continually in conflict with either each other or with local insurgents. What made things different is that these were not wealthy countries. Though some assistance was provided in terms of equipment and training, neither nation or the combined one were able to pay nor were they able to provide men with the capability to learn the various equipment in the numbers needed so much gear ended up in storage, unused. The Czechs lost a lot of money on these deals and was never reimbursed by the Soviets who dictated that they provide the aid.

As with other books in this particular series, the author had done a lot of research into the subject and has provided a considerable number of charts of the equipment sent during the various agreements. It makes for some rather interesting reading, especially into the political machinations that happen with these sorts of deals. The book includes some great period photos along with the usual full color profiles and maps that are part and parcel of the series. I think you'll enjoy this one as I certainly did.

December 2023

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