430. Telegram From the Embassy in Saudi Arabia to the Department of State1

777. At annual diplomatic dinner given by King Saud May 31 I said Imam Ahmad (mytel 7462) had charged me convey his greetings together with assurance he had decided take King’s advice “to depend on the United States.” King appeared gratified and asked me to private audience June 2 (at which he spoke also of Lebanese crisis, Aqaba policy and Saudi economy, all to be reported in subsequent telegrams).

At June 2 audience King said that prior my visit to Yemen he had sent two telegrams to Imam. First advised Imam reach agreement with US, be prepared compromise, and remain in close contact with US until mutual confidence established; also said he was ready whenever needed to mediate “between my two friends” and advised Imam not allow anyone enter Yemen except US. Imam’s reply, said King, was “not bad; it said he would take my counsel although displeased with Richards Mission and hating British”.

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King said he then sent second telegram warning Imam against Communists and their motives in approaching Yemen and adding: “Do not let them deceive you. Your country is poor and you have enemies. Communists will not be helpful but will only bring disorder. Syria and Egypt are not helpful either.” In reply Imam had expressed agreement but insisted had been forced obtain arms from Syria for defense.

After expressing appreciation King’s intercession, which I sensed had been most effective, I said Imam and leading members Yemeni Government including Sayaghi (Naib of IBB and Minister Interior) agreed Yemen would never be strong enough attack British and arms needed for defense only. However, as I had been told total value Czech arms shipments was approximately $3 million, how could Yemen, out of estimated yearly budget for country of only 10 million, pay for them?

King said he agreed arms were for defense since Yemen had received no heavy equipment; but, he added “Imam has enough money. He has been hoarding riyals—he is very miserly. We have given him $3 million to build Port of Hodeida … we must take into account way they do things and show them sympathy. That is my personal view. Imam always asks my advice when has decision to make”.

King then asked if I had obtained indication Imam’s present views on Egypt and Syria. I replied that generally noncommittal attitude of Imam on this subject had contrasted sharply with Crown Prince Badr’s forceful presentation his views that Nasser, Bitar, and company were “Communists” and not to be trusted, and that their governments were pursuing very dangerous course.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.86H/6–957. Secret. Repeated to Damascus and Cairo.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., 123–Wadsworth, George)