Chapter

Holding the thin red line: retreat from Aden

Aaron Edwards

in Defending the realm

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780719084416
Published online May 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719084416.003.0006
Holding the thin red line: retreat from Aden

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The British Labour government announced a withdrawal from Aden in 1966, departing from the previous Conservative government's commitment to maintain a formal defence link with its allies in the Federation of South Arabia. Britain's withdrawal from Aden was premised on the Federal Administration, along with the South Arabian Army (SAA), taking over internal security from British forces as they transitioned towards independence in 1968. In a secret memorandum to the Foreign Office in the days leading up to withdrawal, the High Commissioner Sir Humphrey Trevelyan hoped that the SAA, which he recognized as being ‘more closely aligned with the NLF than with FLOSY’, could occupy the rebellious Crater district and seize control ‘with or without the collusion of some of the Sultans and/or more of the Opposition parties’. The notion of colluding with local moderates was a recurrent theme in Britain's small wars, as too was the often contradictory (and utterly clandestine) negotiations with extremist insurgents and terrorists. This chapter explores the disharmony in civil-military relations on the question of withdrawal from Aden, arguing that, in dodging the bullet in Aden, Britain opted to come to terms with its relative power in the world.

Keywords: Nasser; British defence policy; NLF; FLOSY; 1966 Defence Review; End of empire

Chapter.  15855 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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