370. Editorial Note

In an April 1 synopsis of State and intelligence material reported to the President, John S.D. Eisenhower prepared the following summary of anti-Soviet feeling in Yemen:

“Nasir’s anti-Communist campaign has produced a ‘unanimous’ reaction against the USSR and Qasim in Yemen, according to the Yemeni deputy foreign minister. Soviet personnel in Yemen have been insulted on the streets, and three Russian pilots were stoned by children in the capital. The Yemeni official also claimed that the Imam is attempting to limit the activities of both the Russians and the Communist Chinese in Yemen.” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries)

On April 13 John S.D. Eisenhower wrote for the President the following synopsis of State and intelligence material on Yemen:

“At the urging of Crown Prince Badr, the Imam’s Italian doctors have declared him incapacitated because of drug addiction. He will be moved to Italy for medical treatment and the Crown Prince will serve in his stead for the time of the Imam’s absence. This fact would give the [Page 813] Crown Prince considerable opportunity to seize power promptly were it not for the widespread opposition to him among the northern tribal leaders. Ordinarily, these tribal leaders elect each Imam and they resent the fact of Badr being designated Crown Prince by his father.” (Ibid.)

At the 402d Meeting of the National Security Council, April 17, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles began his intelligence briefing, “Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security,” with the following account of the situation in Yemen:

“Mr. Allen Dulles indicated that he would change the order of his presentation and speak first about the situation in Yemen. He pointed out that the Imam of Yemen had just left the country for extended medical treatment in Italy. Crown Prince Badr had been left in charge of the government of Yemen. As a consequence, the CIA was far from certain as to what would happen in that country. There was a real question as to whether Badr, who has been pro-Soviet, could hold in check the Yemeni tribes who did not like him. There was also uncertainty as to whether the Imam would ever go back to Yemen. The Communist technicians who have been sent to Yemen in connection with various aid programs have proved very unpopular with the population. Thus the situation from our point of view is in this respect a little better. Mr. Dulles thought it was possible that Hasan, the younger brother of the Imam, who had been friendly to the West, would go to Italy shortly to see his brother. Hasan was a contestant for the succession in the event of the death or incapacity of the Imam. [4 lines of source text not declassified].” (Ibid., NSC Records)

The intelligence community prepared on April 21 Special Intelligence Estimate No. 36.8–59, which concluded that whoever succeeded the ailing Imam—Badr, Hassan, the Egyptian backed “free Yemeni” movement or others—the new regime would be more receptive to Egyptian rather than Soviet or Western influence. For the present, Yemen’s inherent resistance to outside influence would make it difficult for any one of the three to secure a dominant position. (Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 61 D 385, United Arab Republic—Documents)

At the 403d Meeting of the National Security Council on April 23, Allen Dulles reported on Yemen and the Imam’s absence as part of his intelligence briefing. According to a memorandum of discussion by Gleason, also April 23:

“Mr. Dulles described the situation in The Yemen as very unstable indeed. The Imam had reached Rome for medical treatment, leaving Crown Prince Badr in control. Badr was widely suspect and extremely unpopular with certain influential Yemeni tribes. Accordingly, there were bound to be serious problems if the Imam should die or should decide not to return to his country. Mr. Dulles expressed himself as not greatly concerned about Soviet activity in The Yemen since the Yemeni seemed to have a capacity to swallow up the activities of foreigners whether Soviet, Western, or even Egyptian. [3-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)