364. Telegram From the Consulate in Yemen to the Department of State0

59. Department pouch to Jidda, Addis Ababa, Armara and Arab capitals. Consulate believes recent events Middle East and Yemen necessitate reconsideration certain elements current US approach Yemen problem.

In its telegram 137 of March 241 Consulate envisaged Yemen as falling eventually either to USSR or Egypt, and recommended USG consider possibility working with and through Egypt in effort limit Soviet encroachment. Subsequently increase in US-Egyptian distrust, Imam’s unexpected ability hold Soviets and Egyptians in line (partly due to errors made by both) and relatively promising prospects for increasing western influence in Yemen by patient diplomatic effort, made desirability of attempting cooperate with Egyptians in Yemen seem less urgent. Several recent developments, however, have brought Consulate to opinion that renewed consideration should now be given such attempt.

Partly as result general increase anti-American feeling, but due more to active hostility of Crown Prince Badr, tiny beachhead of US influence built up gradually over past year now in danger being wiped out. As previously reported, Crown Prince doing his best obstruct rental of residence for US representatives Taiz, working to have EAL eased out of Yemen, and blocking GOY acceptance US economic aid.

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By contrast, Soviet and UAR positions, after remaining static several months, appear on verge enlargement. Former’s recent deliveries heavy construction equipment and reported offers new military aid (Condes 45)2 indicate it may at last put shoulder to wheel in fulfilling past promises. Inauguration of UAS federal council has given UAR its chance expand influence, and activities of UAR technicians who accompanied Crown Prince on his last return to Yemen point to fact UAR will not let this chance slip by.

Within Yemen there is now no effective government with which US can deal to remedy this situation. Although some crisis might yet call him back to great activity (and Soviets and UAR may still have much harder time of it than they imagine) Imam’s detachment from affairs is growing with every passing month, and his continued ability hold Yemen in delicate international balance highly doubtful. Gap in central administration caused by Imam’s inactivity is not being filled by Crown Prince who, deluded into feeling he is great Arab leader, ignores responsibilities of rule and appears interested only in working to increase Soviet and UAR influence in mistaken belief these two powers will uphold him on throne.

Cardinal US goal Yemen presumably remains creation of position of influence sufficient to prevent Soviets gaining exclusive sphere. Most obvious means this end is proffered program economic aid. Since one of main obstacles to acceptance this program is political unpalatability of cooperation with US as long as US appears opposed to emotional trends in Arab world, it would seem tactically worthwhile attempt remove stigma attaching to such cooperation by working through channels which seem express Arabs present emotions, i.e., Arab League, UAS and UAR.

Logical first step such effort would be accreditation US ambassador to UAR as minister to Yemen (not as minister to UAS since diplomatic relations with Yemen clearly predate UAS federation agreement and thus come outside scope of agreement provision for common representation in case of newly-established missions).

Reaction in Yemen to accreditation US ambassador Cairo and introduction of policy of working with and through UAS almost certain be beneficial and might well give US slight leverage over Yemen situation provided Imam not given to feel that US joining Egyptians to gang up on him. While this doubtful since Al-Amri and others point out that general atmosphere of US-UAR entente would make it easier for moderates in Yemen to cooperate with us in attempting limit both Soviets and Egyptians, any fears that Imam might have in this regard could be assuaged [Page 804] in advance by informing Al-Amri, for Imam’s ears, of intention credit Cairo ambassador and real reasons therefore (possibly during Consul’s next visit Yemen now planned for mid October) prior formal request for agreement. Crown Prince would need be told only that accreditation US ambassador chronological outgrowth of establishment UAS and GOY delays in following up when US responded Imam’s 1957 request for establishment independent US legation Taiz.

Following request for agreement general discussion of Yemen situation with UAR would appear advisable. UAR might be persuaded make Yemen test case for US-UAR cooperation since facts are that: (1) US has no goals in southwestern Arabia which are basically inimical to UAR. Point of greatest divergence in policies is Anglo-American conviction that UK position in Aden colony will continue have strategic importance for west for few years to come, but this need not be insurmountable obstacle to cooperation since British planning grant area independence after period to be specified in conjunction with announcement protectorate federation and, pending independence, UAR presumably wishes avoid committing itself to open military conflict with UK on Yemeni-protectorate border thus making modus vivendi feasible, (2) Soviet drive for hegemony in Yemen is attempt thrust its influence through and beyond heart of Arab world to detriment Arab independence and with consequent danger of Egypt’s being outflanked in Central Africa. (3) UAR does not possess sufficient capital to satisfy demand of Yemeni people for rapid economic progress, while US has already volunteered sensible program unconditional aid which would complement UAR efforts in field technical assistance.

Foregoing would not necessitate alteration any other phase of US activity Yemen.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 120.286H/9–2258. Secret. Repeated to London and Cairo. The Consul to Yemen was resident in the British colony of Aden.
  2. Not printed. (Ibid., 786H.00/3–2458)
  3. The reference is apparently in error.