122. Telegram From the Embassy in Saudi Arabia to the Department of State0

509. Policy. Greatly appreciate Department telegram 350.1 Subsequent message gives report on present negative attitude Faisal and [Page 284] makes recommendations. Following points, however, are important to emphasize:

From beginning we have no commitment or suggestion of commitment by Faisal to support President’s withdrawal and disengagement plan. He did not see this plan in advance of issuance to parties and took particular umbrage its issuance to Sallal and not Badr. He resisted it emotionally and suspects truth that it was pre-arranged with Nasir although I have never admitted this even by implication. He clearly feels that he is in no way bound by it. As he stated to me November (Embassy telegram 401)2 “this is imposed on us”.
Department telegram 524 to Cairo3 makes clear Department did not intend allow SAG nor Jordanian objections to block plan.
First intervention in Yemen was by UAR, not SAG or HKJ. Public assertions Cairo media that UAR only reacting to prior SAG or Jordanian intervention in sending troops to support YAR are contrary to chronology of events. UAR publicly promised military help before Al Hassan could arrive in Saudi Arabia and reverse King Saud’s earlier decision against intervention. This promise and its remarkably quick implementation showing early preparation, may well have been factor swaying King. It surely affected Faisal’s attitude while he still in US and has negated all my attempts to convey to him idea YAR not a puppet regime of Nasir constituting arm of pincer-movement against House of Saud.
Under these circumstances I was surprised to read in second and last paragraphs Department Circular telegram 11184 that prior action by SAG was awaited before Nasir would be urged to withdraw any troops. Nevertheless, rather than comment on this at time of receipt, I felt best to determine more exactly what Faisal’s reactions might be, since it was possible that he might see it in his interest to challenge Nasir to performance on withdrawal pledge by inviting an intermediary to inspect situation on both sides border. He has not done so and while I do not yet rule out future possibility he has said he will not withdraw support until all UAR troops out of Yemen. Further he adds he does not care whether these troops remain or stay in Yemen. He will play this his own way and for time being intends to feed fires of counterrevolution by all means short of dispatch of forces into Yemen. He has money, Belgian weapons are being imported and road is open to North Yemen. He is convinced Nasir is his implacable enemy and sees chance to strike back by an operation of attrition which will injure Nasir’s prestige in Yemen, Egypt and Arab world in general.

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If indeed UAR desire find some means for graceful disengagement in Yemen is growing, I suggest we reconsider suggestion Embassy telegrams 3645 and 401 that Nasir make first move by well-publicized withdrawal of significant segment of his forces, say one battalion of troops. I shall then go to Faisal with an argument I know in advance he will not accept on spot but which will give him pause for he will know world is watching.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786H.02/12–2862. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution.
  2. In telegram 350 to Jidda, December 20, the Department of State told Hart that it was “delighted your skillful handling delicate discussions with Faysal re US recognition YAR. We expect him resist doggedly your efforts obtain Saudi disengagement from royalist cause, but have full confidence your persuasive powers eventually reconcile him to our actions and induce more flexible approach to termination external intervention in Yemen. Any ideas on what we might do from here to help will be welcome.” (Ibid., 786H.02/12–2062) Hart reported on his conversation with Faysal in telegram 487 from Jidda, December 19. (Ibid., 786H.02/12–1962) For text, see the Supplement, the compilation on Yemen.
  3. Document 101.
  4. Document 99.
  5. Dated December 19. (Department of State, Central Files, 786H.02/12–1962)
  6. Dated November 11. (Ibid. 786H.00/11–1162)