43. Special National Intelligence Estimate0

SNIE 72.1–59


The Problem

To assess the situation in the Sudan resulting from the recent coup, and to estimate the outlook for Sudanese internal stability and foreign relations.


The group of senior military officers under General Ibrahim Abboud which took over the Sudanese Government on 17 November will probably provide more effective leadership than its predecessors. In general, the junta leans toward conservatism in domestic affairs. It desires to avoid alignment with any regional or great power bloc, and appears determined to preserve Sudanese independence. (Paras. 5–11)
In the short run, at least, Abboud’s regime can probably maintain its authority through its control of the army and through the support it now enjoys from conservative political and religious leaders, particularly those of the Umma Party and the powerful Ansar sect. In time, however, serious opposition may develop. The regime will find it difficult to satisfy both its conservative Umma/Ansar supporters and the pro-Nasser elements among the junior army officers and in the National Union Party. To the extent that it moves to placate one group, it is likely to antagonize the other. These tensions could lead to splits within the junta which might eventually result in the breakup of the Abboud government. (Paras. 15–21)
The new regime will probably make a sincere effort to improve relations with Nasser. In particular, both governments are more likely to undertake serious negotiations for an agreement on division of the Nile waters than Prime Minister Khalil and Nasser were prepared to do. At the same time, Abboud’s government will be jealous of Sudanese interests and unlikely to let down its guard against the UAR. It will probably continue Khalil’s policy of developing ties with other African states. It is likely to pursue a policy of benevolent neutrality in Arab affairs not directly affecting the Sudan and to avoid association with Ethiopia or Israel in an anti-UAR front. (Paras. 12, 23–25)
The regime will seek to continue good relations with the West, though it will almost certainly avoid the outspokenly pro-Western policies of Khalil. It will press for substantial and continuing US and UK aid, while remaining sensitive about any conditions attached to such assistance. At the same time, a gradual extension of Sudanese relations with the Bloc appears almost certain, particularly through Bloc barter deals for Sudanese cotton which the Sudan has trouble disposing of in the West. The government will probably also be more receptive than previous regimes to Soviet economic and technical aid offers. (Paras. 11, 26–29)

[Here follows the “Discussion” portion of the estimate (paragraphs 5-29), with sections headed “Present Situation and Character of the Regime,” “Prospects for the Regime’s Stability,” and “Foreign Affairs.”]

  1. Source: Department of State, INRNIE Files. Secret. A note on the cover sheet reads as follows:

    “Submitted by the Director of Central Intelligence. The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of this estimate: The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and The Joint Staff.

    “Concurred in by the United States Intelligence Board on 6 January 1959. Concurring were The Director of Intelligence and Research, Department of State; the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Department of the Army, the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Intelligence, Department of the Navy; the Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence, USAF; the Director for Intelligence, The Joint Staff; the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense, Special Operations; and the Director of the National Security Agency. The Atomic Energy Commission Representative to the USIB and the Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, abstained, the subject being outside of their jurisdiction.”

  2. This estimate supersedes the political and foreign affairs sections of NIE 72.1–57, “Outlook for the Sudan,” dated 6 August 1957. Much of the previous estimate’s discussion of basic socio-political, religious and economic conditions in the Sudan remains valid and has not been repeated here. [Footnote in the source text.]