366. Special National Intelligence Estimate0

SNIE 36.8–58


The Problem

To assess the situation in Yemen and the chances and implications of an increase in UAR or Soviet influence there.


The question of who is to succeed the aging and infirm Imam of Yemen is still unanswered. In the meantime, the scanty evidence available indicates a near-paralysis of government, increasing discontent and instability, and growing Soviet and Egyptian influence in the [less than 1 line of 2-column source text not declassified] kingdom. (Paras. 7, 9)
The two leading contenders for the succession are the Imam’s son, Prince Badr, whom the Imam has designated as his successor, and a brother of the Imam, Prince Hasan. Badr is anti-Western, has close Egyptian ties, and is largely responsible for Yemen’s acceptance of relatively large-scale Bloc economic and military aid. Hasan is less militantly anti-Western though not anti-Egyptian. (Para. 11)
Available evidence does not warrant a confident estimate of the outcome of any struggle for power between the two. If Hasan should challenge Badr, the former would be likely to receive considerable support from important tribal and religious leaders. Badr would be favored by the small but growing Pan-Arab nationalist element, and possibly by certain other groups. The loyalties of the Army are uncertain. (Paras. 12–15)
Nasser would support Badr in any contest with Hasan, possibly to the extent of limited military assistance if a civil war developed. Nasser will probably seek to keep Yemen in line [2 lines of 2-column source text not declassified]. He probably desires to set limits on growing Soviet influence in Yemen, and if the Soviets appeared to be gaining control, he might even work with the US to counteract the trend. His suspicions of US motives, however, would probably make any such cooperation unsatisfactory. (Paras. 17–22)
The UK would probably take advantage of any opportunity to assist Hasan’s succession, in the belief that Yemen under Hasan would be a less troublesome neighbor for the British in Aden Colony and the Protectorate. While Hasan probably would be more receptive than Badr to overtures from the West and more cautious about relations with the UAR and USSR, he would almost certainly seek good relations with both of them. Moreover, though Hasan might prove less inclined to create border disturbances and to foster anti-British sentiment in neighboring areas, he would not abandon Yemen’s claim to Aden and parts of the Aden Protectorate. (Paras. 24–25)
Under the present regime or one dominated by Badr, Egyptian and Soviet influence in Yemen is likely to increase.1 However, Yemen’s inherent resistance to change and outside influence will remain strong obstacles to foreign domination for some years. Although some elements in Yemen would welcome an increase in US influence—at present extremely limited—they are not now influential. (Paras. 24–28)

[Here follow the “Discussion” portion of the estimate (paragraphs 7–28) with sections headed “Introduction,” “The Question of the Succession,” “Role of the UAR,” “The Soviet Interest,” “The UK,” “Saudi Arabia,” and “Outlook,” and a two-page annex entitled “Soviet Bloc Assistance to Yemen.”]

  1. Source: Department of State, INR-NIE Files. Secret. A note on the cover sheet indicates that this estimate, submitted by the CIA, was prepared by CIA, INR, the intelligence organizations of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Joint Staff. It was concurred in by all members of the USIB on November 12 except the representatives of the AEC and FBI who abstained on the grounds that the topic was outside their jurisdiction.
  2. On November 5, Assistant White House Staff Secretary John S.D. Eisenhower included the following report on Yemen in his “Synopsis of State and Intelligence material reported to the President”: “The effectiveness of the central government in Yemen has continued to deteriorate. The ailing Imam is increasingly incapacitated, and Crown Prince Badr, though unpopular, is attempting to develop the influence of the Soviet Bloc and UAR in the belief that their support will insure his succession.” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries)