TRAN KIM TUYEN PREDICTS DIRE PROSPECTS FOR THE DIEM REGIME IN SOUTH VIETNAM

Created: 9/24/1963

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SUBJECT: TRAN KIM TUYEH PREDICTS DIRE PROSPECTS FOR THE DIEM REGIME IN SOUTH VIETNAM

Summary. Tran Kim Tuyen, exiled without his familyonsulate post in Cairo, daisied on3 that if the Diem Regime in South Vietnam continued for six more months, all would be lost; then netoup d'etat could save Vietnam. ew Regime is installed fairly soon, however, it mightighting chance, but with Ngo Dinh Khu's skillful divide and conquer tacticsthe opposition. It Is unlikely. Tuyen claimed that Nhu is now trying to delude American Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge,nto believing that the Regime plans real reforms and that its faults have been exaggerated by its enemies among the American officials in Saigon. Tuyen's friends, such as Lieutenant Colonel Phum Hgoc Thao, inspector of strategic hamlets attached to the Presidency, are in danger as suspected subversives. Pressure meanwhile is mounting among young Buddhists, students, and junior army officers; General Tran Van Don and several colleagues realize they played into Hgo Dinh Khu's hands but arc now helpless. As the situation deteriorates, extremists fearing the considerable risksoup attempt, will turn to assassination plots in desperation. This would lead to retaliation by loyalists against Americans and to hopoless civil war.

Up to the time of Dr. Tuyen's hurried departure oneptember, the Government of Vietnam (GVK) was trying to restore appearances of normalcy and to portray itself as laboring under difficulty or Communist plots among students and

tidil'itsle. Under Hgo Trong Hieu, known now <rnong the Saigon populace oa "The Pope wf the Pals?, t'aeuy plavrl do: lie Buddhist priests and monKs In all pagodas. His talk of releasing arr-sisl-rdf'.ins waitial law however impressed many Westerners. The lifting of martial law is purely nominal; many of tbe allegedly "Comounist student plotters" manhandled and arrested were younger brothers and sons of prominent government officials and military officers; GVK repression and brutality has actually driven many embittered students who were not Communists to flee to the countryside to seek the Communists as the lesser of two evils; most Buddhists repudiate the GVK's bonzes, and attendance at pagodas has dwindled. With the closing of Tudo, ordinary Vietnamese no longer trust the press or radio Saigon; those who can do so listen to the Voice of America (VC'A) broadcasts.

3> Rhu has decided to flatter Ambassador Lodge by making grudging concessions supposedlyesult of the Ambassador's negotiating pressure (sending Madame Hhu overseas, ostensible ending martial law, restoring schools end temples.) Hhu has tried to blame American-GVN difficulties on American CIA plots against the Regime, personal, hatred of Journalista and incumbent American officials of Nhu and the family, and American misunderstanding of the Communist and anti-regime aubversive uses of the Buddhists and students. Nhu'e charges of Amorican plotting were set with derision by Vietnamese but Americans have lost much face with many sincere Nationalists because they take these accusations and yet ore not guilty of blame when many Vietnamese wish they were.

1*. The Vietnamese army hae suffered moot from the current stalemate, both In morale and in reputation. The generals who succumbed to Khu's wily schemesham military takeover are now helpless and discredited. General Tran Van Don,

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Commander in Chief, sarcastically related on two occasions recently his young son's derisive comment that Don is Commander In Chief of everything but can cceaaand nothing. _ily Major General Doung Van Minh and Brigadier General Nguyen Kbanh retain any

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nrestige; those hopingllitary-ulctated change of policy as mm* stopgapdo not trust the arty leaders any more The VOA announcement that the aray vas not responsible for ordering theugust attacks on the pagodassaved the array's reputation but General Dir.h's immediate denial squelched this. Fortunately for Nh-j, Duong Van Hlnh however discontent still abides by his officer's oath of loyalty and shuns politica. Ke docs so not out of stupidity, as Baa often charged in denigrating him. (Field cement. Tuyen recalled bitterly his own past support of Rhu in publicising thla picture of Xinh.) Bguyen Khanh, tbe nan whoa Tuyen conalders next to himself aa moat able touccessful coup, is hampered as is Tuyen by distrustrovocateur arising chiefly from vigorous support both gave the Regime Nhu's agents have furthered this image of Khanh snd Toyon among other suspect malcontents to present any coalition against the

regime

5- The Regime has the ability to keep the army in line by threats of Conaiuniat advantage by constant surveillance of suspect elements and limitation of tbelr command authority and by ruining the reputation of hit enemies and of well-meaning compromisers like Don. There latrong current under tbe surface in the Armed Services, civilian bureaucracy, police, and professional classes, people lesa known than the top figures suspected by the GVX's spies under Le Quong Tung and Duong Van Hleu. These persons hopeoup within the next few months as Vietnam's only salvation. Mot all of them are willing to risk it, though they would welcome it; the big problem is unity and trust of each other In an atmosphere abounding with provocateurs and rumor mongers. If the stalemate continues another six months, the Regime will last as long as Vietnam does, but that will not be long since no one will have the will to fight. ell-planned coup comes soon, it

otential decreases as time goes by. Hhu knows that his main strength Is the Reluctance of his patriotic opponents and of tbe Americans to give theudden advantage by preclpitioua action against the Reg lac which might evolverotracted conflict, lie is skillfully playing against that and turning one enemy against another.

6. This policy stayoup. Thererowing rusher of Junior offlcera, especially majors and captains, who will not count tbe cost of desperate action if their superiors do not move. Even they may turn away from the increasing high risksoup to the relatively simple desperation move of assassination. Hhu has already made it clear through the Saigon underground where provocateurs and plotters meet that the Regime la prepared to retaliate with counter aasaflHinntlons of nuawrous personnel already earmarked by Colonel 'rung forire eventuality, Including Americans, on whom any aBsassination plot will be blamed. Tho only further result wouldopeless three-cornered civil war. Nhu thus hopes to forestall such attempts, but is increasingly worried even about the Presidential Guard and even some officers of Tung'a special forces.

7- Tuyen stated that the only real hope, and even It la risky, would be firm American indication that It vlll help tbe Vietnanese people (with specific omission of mentioning the Regime) in their struggle, and American efforts by every gesture possible to help rebuild the army's reputation and to distinguish between It and the Regime.

8. Field disseminated.

Original document.

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