49. National Intelligence Estimate0

NIE 76–60


The Problem

To assess the outlook in Ethiopia, Somalia, and British and French Somaliland over the next few years, with particular reference to the Soviet-Ethiopian aid agreement and the “Greater Somalia” problem.

[Page 190]


Over the next few years the Horn of Africa is likely to be an area of considerable tension and international maneuvering, with Bloc and UAR influences competing with those of the various interested Western powers, including the US. (Para. 12)
The emergence on 1 July 1960 of an independent Somalia, comprising both the present UN trust territory and British Somaliland, will add to the international scene an extremely weak and impoverished country. The outlook for political stability is unfavorable. Moreover, Somalia’s extreme poverty will necessitate continuing external subsidies of the order of at least $10–14 million a year for the foreseeable future. Although the Somalis probably continue to look to Western and UAR sources for their basic requirements, they will probably be receptive to Bloc offers as well. (Paras. 30–35)
We see no present threat to the Emperor’s authority in the backward feudal state of Ethiopia. However, the death or incapacitation of the 68-year-old monarch would probably lead to a struggle for power, since the Crown Prince commands little respect. Any struggle for power might encourage secessionist movements in Eritrea, the Ogaden, or other outlying provinces. (Paras. 13–15)
The Emperor’s acceptance of substantial development credits from the USSR and Czechoslovakia marks a significant shift toward neutralism. We do not believe that acceptance of such aid will result in early Bloc domination of Ethiopia, but it is likely to result in increased Bloc influence. (Paras. 17–22)
The creation of an independent and enlarged Somalia will almost certainly exacerbate tensions between Ethiopia and the Somali nationalists over the status of the roughly 350,000 Somali tribesmen now ruled by Ethiopia and the several hundred thousand others who regularly seek water and forage in Ethiopia in the course of their seasonal migrations. There are likely to be recurrent border incidents and appeals by both sides for diplomatic support from outside powers. The situation would become particularly acute in the likely event that the Ethiopians carry out their threat to deny access to wells and grazing areas in their territory. They might also take limited military action into the territory of the new Somali state. (Paras. 23–29)
The developing situation in the Horn of Africa will provide the Sino-Soviet Bloc with opportunities for expanding its presence and developing its influence in the area at the expense of the West. However, at least over the next few years it is unlikely that the Bloc will achieve a dominant position. (Paras. 36–37)
The UAR will probably retain a special position in Somalia, but it is unlikely to achieve a dominant position there. (Para. 39)
Although various other powers will remain active in the area, the US will remain the principal non-Bloc target of Ethiopian demands for support and will probably come under similar pressure from Somalia. In this situation, it will be confronted with the constant risk of offending one or both of the interested parties. In any case, the US communications base in Eritrea is increasingly likely to become an important pawn. (Paras. 38–41)

[Here follow the “Discussion” portion of the estimate (paragraphs 9-41), with sections headed “Introduction,” “The Outlook for Ethiopia,” “The “Greater Somalia” Problem,” “Somalia: Stability and Orientation,” “The Role of Other Interested Powers,” and “Implications for the U.S;” three annexes, titled “Soviet and Czech Aid to Ethiopia,” “Military and Security Forces,” and “Tribal and Political Alignments in Somalia and British Somaliland;” and three maps.]

  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 21 June 1960. 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.”