NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE
The Situation and Prospects in Yemen
APPHr>VRD FOR RELEASE DATCl 3
by Hm OIRKTOR OF CENTRAL INTELUGENCE
Concurred in by UNITED STATES INTELLIGENCE BOARD
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NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE
The Situation and Prospects in Yemen
THE SITUATION AND PROSPECTS IN YEMEN
Sallal republican regime, through the support olUAR troops, controls about two-thirds of Yemen,northern tribes, which have been supplied fromremain In control of the mountains in the northA decisive military victory by either side appears)
Yemeni leaders feel that major changes in theregime are required to end the civil war, establishgovernment acceptable to most Yemenis, reduceto manageable slw, and cut down UAR9)
ia under various pressures to reduce hisin Yemen. He is tied down In an inconclusive warcostly in money and casualties and he is facing afrom the Baath in the Arab world. He wouldany settlementemen governmentform, friendly to him. and subjectonsiderableEgyptian influence. , IS)
Arabia wants to see the UAR out of Yemen andprimarily on the US to force Egyptian withdrawals. WeFaysal is not likely to resume large-scale aid to thethe next two months or so. but that unless there is aof the UAR presence by the end of that period, heit.
the best of conditions, the situation during themonths will be fragile and fighting could resume on aat any time. We believe that if there is no resumption
of large scale aid to the royalists,onsequent upsurge in the fighting, and if the various pressures on Nasser toettlement increase, he will in time be forced, thoughtoufficient diminution of the Egyptiantoolitical settlement as describedbove.
F. The USSR has won considerable good will in Yemen by its prompt military and economic support. The Soviets are likely toignificant presence In Yemen for the foreseeable future, although the indigenous Communist movement is small and the population is difficult to manipulate. The USSR will probably get civil air rights and perhaps be able tomall capability to render clandestine support to operations in nearby countries. The Soviets will probably continue to have an edge over the West in Yemen, but we do not believe the Yemenis would grant military base rights to them. )
1earroup of Yemeni nattonallsta overturned the government andepublic with Abdallah Sallal aa its head. They failed, however, in their attempt to kill the recently initalied Imam Badr. who fled to the mountains with other princes of the Hamid-al-Dln family and there Incited many of the northern tribes touerrilla campaign agalnat the republican regime. TheatingemMlvea of Cairo's support before the coup, called on Nasser for aid He responded promptly in the beliefelatively smalla fewEgyptian troops could suppress the guerrillas. Not only was this hope disappointed, but Saudi Arabls. apprehenatve at the Egyptian presence In Yemen,Tallied to Badr'e support with arms and money. Tha conflict continued to grow, and0 UAR troops'* are lockedwith the royalist tribal forces.
Despite some trapping! ofmotor vehicles, thela Inedieval society In whichUalance of forces among powerful, armed, semi-autonomous tribes, urban centers, and tha central government. Yemeni govern men ta have traditionally relied on exploiting Inter-tribal rivalries to prevent any one tribal group developing enough power to threaten the capital. Except to the few Yemenis with modern education,administration in Yemen means rudimentary public order. Islamic law administered by jurists educated in the traditional pattern,rude system for collection of revenue. Yemen's approximately five million people have known no other system. Especially in the northern tribal areas, the rugged mountainous terrain and poorhave made effective direction from the capital virtually impossible, except to the extent that unruly and often rebellious tribal leaders have chosen to cooperate.
Tribal and sectarian affiliations absorb the primary loyalties of most of the population. The powerful northern Zaydl' tribes, number-
' we use ihe term republican lo signifylement* which do not want the restorationonsrehlcal regime We useterm rovalUl to idenUfy those elements ildlng with the princes Ol the former ruling family, although many are against the government or efalnii the UAR presence rather than In favor of restoration of Imam Badr
'White theumber ol UAR troop* In Yemenot known, and chance* from time lo time on soeount ofe believe the presente0 rather than the(inure* tutd by Nasser
'Zaydl* arebranch of the Shllte minority of islam.
Ing about two-fifths of the population, have dominated thecenturies Tor them the Imams have been spiritual as welllthough rfSbSdBrarilOMfl
frequent and Bsdr's two immedtste predecessors werr especially hated. The southern ShafVls. who are Sunni Muslims, have long resented Zaydi dominance andarger ahare of power Despite this division, the population generally haa the feeling of belonging to Yemenistinct political entity which has preserved its Identity for morehousand years. Indeed, limes of national crisis, such as the abortive rebellions85 against the Imams, have found Shaft'is and Zaydis working together It is only In recent years, however, that there hasmall but growing group ofboth Zaydis andseek toodern stale. It was these who were back of2 coup
Tha Republican Govarnmsnf
he Balls] government, backed by Egyptian arms and money, has managed lo stay In office and in at least nominal control of about two-thirds of the country. Its administrative capability has beenow order, even by Yemeni standards It has. however, maintainedlaw and order in those districts which have been largely unaffected by the fighting, principally Ihe area south and westine Hudaydah* Sanaearer to the fighting lines, and In the capital,the UAR has been virtually In charge The regime has made little, if any, progress in modernising the government and putting life Into the varioushe republican regime lacks personnel with administrative and technical axilla It has been unable to collect taxes over much of the country and haa depended on outside sources, principally the UAR, to pay even basic sdminislratlve expenses ilk* salaries.
ft. The San'a regime haa failed toolitical and military base of Its own. and we see little prospect of this happening under Its present ineffectual leadership. Initially, the republicans, by virtue ofighly unpopular dynasty,airly broad base of support In most of the country. Over the past year, however, this support has dwindled. There haset-down feeling as little has been accomplished despite UAR and Soviet economic and mililary assistance Factions have appeared in the republican leadership; the pro-Egyptian element early came to lord it over other republicans; there has been infighting between Zaydis and Shtfl'ls in the government; and personnel quarrels have further split the regime's shaky solidarity Some initially pro-government tribes have become neutral, and others have even swung to the royalists, lured by Saudi arms and gold or
See map attached
repelled by indiscriminate Egyptian bombing sttacks By now, the republic's chief appeal probably Ilea in thea', to mostnd some Zaydls It sttll looks preferable to the archaic regime of the
6 The Imam's armed forces, before the revolution. totsJlsd0 men. They consisted largely ofrgantzed collection of tribal levies, whose basic loyalties were lo thilr particular tribes. In addition there was the Imam's bodyguard ofen. The bodyguard and elements of the army garrisoned at San'a and other cities formed the armed support of the revolution. After the revolution, the tribal levies, by and large, drifted back to the tribes from which thsy came and their loyalties are still determined by their tribal leaders. Most of the small number of officers remained with the republic. Some of the members of the former Imam's army are now with the northern royalist tribes, others support the Sallal government and many are neutral. Those who Joined the royalists do notrained, organized group. The Indigenous military strength at the disposition of the republican regime, as presentlyot sufficient to cope with tho royalists. 0 Yemenis are now being trained In Egypt by the UAR and some training has been given to local military forces In Yemen Itself. The Importance of tbe tribes Is suchational army would require ths supportarge number of them In order toolerable level of security
The Royoliit Forest
hs antl-reglme forces, operating In semi-independent commands
under various princes of the Hamid-al-DIn family, have consistently held the northern mountain area between the coastal plain and the plateau and have operated freely ln the northeastern desert areas. They are able to conduct harassing operation! outside their strongholds,UAR supply lines from time to time, but are unable to hold any Importantubstantial proportion, perhapsajority, of the Zaydi tribes have been active against the centra) regime at one time or another, but allegiances are not durable and have shifted from one side to another and to neutrality. The motivations of the tribes are vsrted; some srs attracted simply by money or by the opportunity to fight; others have seen the Egyptian-dominated governmenthreat both to their tribal autonomy and to their traditionally dominant position in Yemen; relatively few are convinced monarchists The tribal forces, which received extensive quantities of money, arms, andfrom Saudi Arabia until about four months ago. could hold out in their mountain bastionsonsiderable period of time
Tha Present Situation
The Egyptian forces control the coastal plttln and the principal towns and communications routes In the northern half of the country, The southern and the western regions have seen little, if any. fighting. Despite extensive use of air power, including, from lime to time, attacks on suspected supply bases In Saudi territory, the UAR forces have not been able to penetrate the mountain areas or break the guerrillaabilities of the northern tribes. The Indigenous military forces available to the Sails! government have progressivelyassive role, and the fighting has taken on more and more the character of Egyptians versus Yemeni royalists The level of ground fighting has declined in recent months as local truces have been arranged between Egyptians and royalists. This lull Is enabling the Yemenis to gather the fall harvest, and thus to Increase the royalists' ability to operate through the winter.
By midsummer3 many Yemeni leaders had come to feel that major governmental changes were required to bring an end to the civilonference ofotables met at Umran, about thirty miles north of San'a, inhe conference was organized by supporters of the republican government and neutral elements, but leaders of tribes in royalist controlled territory were guaranteed safe conduct to attend and some of them did. The Umran conference presented Sallal and the Egyptianseries of demands, designed to bring broader support to the republic, to give thereater voice, and to refurbish the national army, utilising thepractice of balancing tribal forces within It. Implicit In the Umran demandseneral belief that the UAR role must beand that the Yemenis themselves should put their owntogether. The anti-Egyptian tenor of these demands was promptly recognized by Cairo.
Attitudei of Outside Powers
Nasser agreed in3 toethat the end of the rebellion was In sight and that, withof Saudi aid to the royalists, he could make aof troops without endangering the Sallal government.recognizes now that he is not likely to be able to win amilitary victory. The Yemen war has already cost theillion in military expenditures above normalcosts, plusillion In financial assistancethe republican government. Thiseavyairof It is In scarce foreign exchange, and It has Increasedalready serious financial problems. The Yemen war, withtoll of casualties, Is becoming increasingly unpopular In Egypt
and, apparently, with its military commanders. In addition. Nasser has other problems which compete for his military and politicalHe is involved in the Algerian-Moroccan dispute and has al-readyilitary mission as well as arms to Ben Bella. Finally, the emergence of Baathlst governments In Syria and Iraq and theirclose associationtrong challenge to Nasser.ord, he Is overcommitted. and in Yemen he lares mounting costs and littleof the smashing victory he once hoped for.
asser recognises the difficult situation he Is in but does notolution He has rejectedleanion between Egypt and Yemen.ar his thinking apparently has not gone beyond aof the present government, which hopefully would give it greater strength by attracting the support of more Yemeni! and permitUAR troop withdrawals while permitting Egypt to retaininfluence Although he has agreed to several of the Umran conference demands, he dees not appear yet to have recognisedrastic reduction of the Egyptian influence and presence, togetherirtually new government, would be necessary conditions for asettlement broadly acceptable within the country
aysal believes that Nasser intends to use whatever means are at
his disposal to overthrow the Saudi regime and Install one acceptable
to the UAR. Hence. Faysal has the primary aid of eliminating the threat
which he sees to Saudi Arabiaajor Egyptian position In Yemen
There is no particular feeling nf solidarity between the House of Saud
and the Hamid-al-Dln princes, and we believe that Faysal probably
would withhold support from the latter In favorettlement which
would get Nasser'sat least the great bulk ofof Yemen.
here are strong pressures on Faysal toettlement which would bring relative quiet to Yemen. Saudi support of thetribes has provoked discontent within the country and Faysal may fear growing Baathlst activity in Saudi Arabia. Faysal is aware that the presence of the US sir detachment in his country was madeon his respecting the disengagement agreements He feels that the US Is pressuring him to adhere to his commitment onwhile Nasser Is violating hia part of the agreement Faysalbelieves that the US woukJ not withdraw those forces in theaf some compliance by the UAR with Its disengagementAt the same time, he almost certainly recognizes that there is some risk thai if he resumed large-scale aid to the royalists he might be left without any defense against Egyptian air action and might lose this very important symbol of US commitment to his regime.
British art chiefly concerned with minimising pressureson Aden snd the Protectorate The Aden base looms very largeitratepc thinking, especially since the British expect to losein Kenya They recognise that any Yemeni governmentits clilmi In Aden, but feel thst these claims will beprewd if Egyptisn Influence is great In Yemen. In athe British are concerned that the consolidation of anIn Yemen would threaten their Interests elsewhere inPeninsula. Hence, the British, like the Saudis, seek topresent dominant Egyptian position in Yemen.
The Political Outlook
The UN observation mission (UNYOM) has been extendedanusryayssl takes the position that he agreed to the Yemen disengagement In reliance on US commitments to procure theof UARommitment he feels the US has not kept. However, he did not wish to have blame focused cn Saudi Arabia for refusing to cuntlnus toeaceful settlement through the use of the UN. At the last minute, raysal agreed towo months extension of UNYOM. although with great reluctance We believe that such an agreement means that raysal will not resume large scale aid to the royalists in ths next two months or so. However, he win remain insistent that the UAR proceed promptly with substantial andwithdrawals and will expect the US toajor role In forcing the UAR to do so. Unless there are such withdrawals by the end of this period, Faysal may renew his aid to the royalists.
We believe efforts by Yemeni leaden toolitical solution ln Yemen will continue bul that any settlement probably will take some time to work out snd would have to have the concurrence, however reluctant, of the UAR. In order to get broad Yemeni support, awould have to reduce ths power of Balls, and to eliminate aof his associates who are believed to be Egyptian tools. Thewould have to provideeduction of the UAR presenceoint where the Yemenis no longer felt the country waa being run by thealance would have to be struck between the Zaydl tribal leaden who wish to preserve theirominant position and the Shsfi'ls who feel that the revolution so far has failed to satisfy their hopes for greater Influence. The manner inettlement Is approached, and Indeed the result, would appear peculiar in Western eyes The result probably would be an arrangement which gave tht restively peaceful southern half ofemblance of modernand left the northern tribesraditional semi-autonomous status.
TheDin princes and their hard core of loyal follower* wouldnotty problem. There would be virtually no future for most
ol Ihem in the "new Yemen" and they know it. Hasan. Badr's uncle, would piobibly return to exile if thisecessary conditionettlement, Badr. despite hla efforts to promote some reforms during his few days in power, Is anathema to the republicans. In any case, he would probably quit If the tide turned decisively against him. Of theew could live with the republic, but others would prefer to continue to wage guerrilla warfare ln the Yemen mountains.
lft Despite the pressures on Nasser toay out of the Yemen impasse, there are, we believe, several conditions of movementettlement on which he would be adamant. The first Is that hiswould havr to be gradual. Nasser believes probably correctly, that an early complete withdrawal of UAR forces would enable the royalist tribes to overthrow the regime. udden UAR departure would be construed as an acknowledgementolitical defeat and. in the absence of political arrangements among Yemeni forces, would probably cause chaos In the country Secondly theshould not appearictory for thehe government should remain both republican In lorm and friendly lo the UAR. This would not preclude having an Imamurely religious iesder for the Zayrti tribes* Thirdly, Nsuer would require the retention of ameasure of Egyptian Influence in Yemen, through the pretence of technical and administrative personnel and probably military training detachments
nder the best of conditions the situation during the next few months will be frsgilc and fighting could resume on ascsie st any time, particularly after the harveat or if Faysal resumes aid to the royalists. Faysal simost certainly has already begun to stockpile arms In the border sres Peril stent and heavy pressure will have to be applied on Nasser to continue the reduction of UAR troops in Yemen, and to relinquish more authority to the Yemenis, In order to maintain progressettlement. Pressure will alio have to be applied on Faysal who will be inclined to view any likely UAR troop reductions as inadequate We believe that If there is no resumption of large scale aid to the royalists,onsequent upsurge ln the fighting, snd if the vanoua preuures on Nasser toettlement Increase, he will In time be forced, though reluctantly, toufficient diminution of the Egyptian presence toolitical settlement.
hould the Saudis resume active support of the royslktls. Nasser would be strongly tempted to strike at Saudi Arabia either by renewed air attacks on supply bases or perhaps by Intensifying subversivesgainit Crown Prince Faysal We have little information as to the
orefamilies oi Savvldi -dMcinflantifrom
whom an Imam ecu Id bemoat notably theI HI
inrii Cairo has within Saudi Arabia but doubt that thejr are capable at present of upsetUnf the' regime. The chances of Nasser's striking militarily at Saudi Arabia will dependarge extent on U3 policies and presence ln the srea. If Cairo bellevas that such sctlon would resultS-UAR military confrontation. UAR forces are unlikely to strike much beyond the Saudi-Yemen border. This situation would seriously strain US-UAR relations but would probsbly reinforce Nassers feeling that he mustay out of the Yemen imbroglio.
n anyolitical settlement and calming down of the civil war will still leave Yemen with difficult problems. Turbulence In the tribal areas Is llksly to be endemic for many years. So are border troubles with Aden. The country la capable of feeding Itself on the old subsistence economy basis, but smbltlons and appetites for bigger things have been aroused. Available resources sre meager. At the moment, Yemen cannot even And enough money to pay Its civil employees and ita army. If any progress ls to be made toward economic betterment, Yemen will require loans and other aid. It will be willing and eager to take aid from any source, as long as no obvious strings are attached.
Moscow's ssslstance to Yemen In the esrly months after thelargely took the form of supplying equipment snd technicians to the UAR to enable Cairo to aid the republic more effectively.the USSR soon began sending technicians directly to Yemen to salvage and maintain what they could ofillion worth ofequipment sent to the Imam7 sgrccment. The greater part of this had been neglected for severalew agreement, apparently providing for anillion In military equipment was negotiated lnn addition, the USSR agreed toa large airfield north of San'a, the major part of which has recently been completed, probably using the remaining SB millionillion economic credit negotiated iny such ssslstance and by the speed with which they responded to Yemeni requests In time of need, the Soviets have won considerable good will and have been able to establish an extensive presence In Yemen.
Whether thereettlement or not, ths Soviets, unless ihey make some serious mistakes in handling their affairs, are likely toignificant presence in Yemen for tha foreseeable future. The Soviets will encourage Yemeni claims to Aden and the Protectorate In Yemeni eyes, the US aid program is outclassed by the USSR's, and the US is
mllUoa ofillion credit was used toort at HaCaydah snd SS mil Ken was to ben atricuttaral prelects In addlUon to SovirtCommunist Chinan million eredit to build aa asphalt surfaced niihwav from Hudaydah to San'a.
believed by the Yemenis to be closely associated with the unpopular British Hence, the Soviets will probablyontinuing edge over the West.
Specifically, il is likely that the Soviets will get civil lii rights in Yemen on the completion of Sun'a alrneld. These wouldseful itep forward in the Soviet push to establish civil air links with East snd Central Africa. The Soviets already run the control lowers al Hudaydah and Ta'ixz airfields. They may also be able torivilegedat the new airfield including perhaps controluilding or two and relative immunity from Yemeni customs control. This could give them some capability to lend air support to clandestine opcralloni in nearby areas
The Soviets have control of the operating facilities of Hudaydah port, which is useful tohe port can provide bunkering facilities for Soviet merchant and naval vrasels However, the small capacity of thearrels of all types of fuel including diesel, marine bunkers, aviationtheoot depth of the channel and turning basin limit Its use In this regardotential naval base. Hudaydah has several further drawbacks. It Isiles from the British alrbsae at Aden It lacks any repair facilities andoot wide, five mile long channel Is highly vulnerable to closure.
The Soviets haveeople in Yemen at the present time. More than half of thrse are employed In construction work at the new San'a airfield. Logically, the greater part of them should depart on the approaching completion of the alrneld. However, the Soviets have agreed to train Yemenis in the operation of the construction equipment they have used and this could provide an opportunity for many of them to stay on Other Soviet personnel arc al Hudaydah port and Hudaydah snd Ta'its airfields, and there are about twenty instructors at theschool in Ta'ln
See map attached.
hile Soviet prestige will probably remain highong time to come, converting preitlge Into influence for specific ends Is another matter. Theremall native communist movement ln the principal towns, numbering leu than forty identified adherents atew of whom hold government Jots There are few Institutions which can be ullllsed to manipulate the population The principal Soviet hope probably is to developeriod of time, through scholarships,and technical aid. military training and theadre offor future use. The Soviets hope to capitalise on the return of0 young Yemenis from extended educational tours in the Sovtet Union, particularly as Yemenis generally do not have extensive contacts with the West to offset the Soviet Impact.
or some time, the UAR, even In the eventuch diminished poaltlon followingolitical settlement, ls likely to dispose of far more direct power tn Yemen than ls Moscow and will gusrd Its position against Soviet encroachments. Further, the diflusion of power within Yemen Is likely to persistood manyituation which, combined with the xenophobic tendencies of the country, will inevitably tend to frustrate anyone trying to dominate the whole, be ht Westerner. Egyptian, or Russian. Finally. It Is very unlikely that even theYemenishares the Arab world's emotional reaction to foreigngrant military base rightson-Arab power or accept direction, even from the helpful USSR.
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