322. Special National Intelligence Estimate0

SNIE 36.6–58


The Problem

To estimate the likelihood of various possible developments in Saudi Arabia and the probable consequences of alternate US policies for dealing with them.

[Page 735]


Recent events have increased the already heavy pressures upon the Saudi dynasty in Saudi Arabia, and the outlook is for a further accumulation of opposition from within and revolutionary stimulus from without the country. The dynasty faces these challenges [1-½ lines of 2-column source text not declassified] lacking in resources with which to combat any effort that might be made against it. (Paras. 5–11)
Crown Prince Feisal’s assumption of power, his policies of financial retrenchment and reform, and his efforts to come to terms with the UAR are likely for a time to moderate the force of the opposition with Saudi Arabia as well as to delay action by Nasser to overthrow the dynasty. Moreover, to our knowledge none of the opposition elements is effectively organized. There may be some cells which have been brought together for subversion and sabotage. There are probably groups of army officers which have plans for future oppositionist activity. In general, however, we believe that opposition to the dynasty is amorphous, and that it lacks leadership. (Paras. 13–19)
Nevertheless, the forces of radical Arab nationalism within and without Saudi Arabia will continue to build up [8-½ lines of 2-column source text not declassified]. (Paras. 20–26)
Barring unpredictable events elsewhere in the Arab world which would radically alter the present situation, the Saudi trend toward accommodation with the UAR and a policy of non-alignment will continue. At most, Saudi Arabia might be assisted diplomatically to preserve its independence of Egypt, to remain detached in the Cold War, and to continue arrangements with Aramco on the basis of mutual interests. [7 lines of 2-column source text not declassified] (Paras. 27–38)

[Here follow the “Discussion” portion of the estimate with sections headed “The Present Situation,” “Possible Developments,” “US Courses of Action,” “Consequences of Courses of Action in Certain Specific Contingencies,” and “Reactions to US Courses of Action With Regard to Saudi Arabia in Other Parts of the World,” and a map of Saudi Arabia.]

  1. Source: Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 61 D 385, Saudi Arabia Documents. Secret. A note on the cover sheet indicates that this estimate, submitted by the CIA, was prepared by CIA, INR, and the intelligence organizations of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Joint Staff. All members of the Intelligence Advisory Committee concurred in this estimate on September 9 except the FBI representative who abstained on the grounds that subject was outside his jurisdiction.
  2. For earlier estimates on Saudi Arabia, see NIE 36.5–56, “The Outlook for Saudi Arabia,” dated 24 April 1956, and SNIE 30–1–58, “Implications of Recent Government Changes in Saudi Arabia,” dated 8 April 1958. [Footnote in the source text. NIE 36.6 is not printed; SNIE 30–1–58 is printed as Document 315.]