11. National Intelligence Estimate1

NIE 36-66


The Problem

To assess the present situation and the outlook for the eastern Arab world over the next two or three years.2


For the last year or so, the Arab states have generally been more concerned with domestic problems than with such inter-Arab matters as the conflict between conservative and radical governments or rivalries among the radical leaders. However, the odds are against a long continuation of this inter-Arab détente. The Arab states are generally susceptible to sudden political turmoil. An upheaval in any one of them, or the death of a ruler, could easily precipitate a collision of forces not only within that state but among others. Much still depends on Nasser who, though unlikely to regain the paramount influence he once had, remains the most important Arab leader. (Paras. 1-12)
In the Arab-Israeli dispute, neither side is likely to initiate major hostilities, but neither will move toward a basic settlement. Border tensions will occasionally flare up, and the arms race will lead to increasing pressures on the US to supply expensive modern weapons. (Paras. 27-32)
The socialist programs of the UAR, Syria, and Iraq are beset by economic difficulties, stemming from more ambitious development efforts than resources justify. The conservative governments, most of them blessed with oil revenues, are better off. In virtually all cases, government, rather than private enterprise, will be the directing force [Page 27] in the economies. Inter-Arab economic cooperation is likely to be limited, although oil-rich states are beginning to finance Arab economic and military schemes. (Paras. 13-19)
Arab oil production will grow, and so will pressures on the oil companies for more revenue and greater control over production. Strong competition in the world oil market, however, sets limits on how far either side can go in this respect, and outright nationalization is unlikely. (Paras. 20-26)
Britain’s position will dwindle further. The UK will probably be able to maintain control in its protected states of the Persian Gulf over the next few years; its tenure in Aden, however, is considerably less certain. (Paras. 36-38)
Tendencies toward Arab détente have helped the US position in the area. However, US relations with the Arab world will remain troubled by the general Arab conviction that the US is basically pro-Israel, by the Arab radicals’ belief that the US favors the conservatives, and by the conservatives’ feeling that the US should support them more than it does. (Paras. 39-40)

[Here follows the Discussion section of the estimate.]

  1. Source: Department of State, NEA/IAI Files: Lot 70 D 304, POL 1 Israel, 1966, General Policy Background. Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a note on the cover sheet, the estimate was submitted by Acting Director of Central Intelligence Helms, and concurred in by the U.S. Intelligence Board on February 17. The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, Defense, and NSA participated in its preparation. The State, Defense, and NSA representatives concurred; the AEC and FBI representatives abstained because the subject was outside their jurisdiction. Paragraph references are to the Discussion portion of the estimate, not printed.
  2. This estimate deals principally with the Arab states from Libya eastward; the three Maghreb countries of Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco are considered only insofar as they are involved in eastern Arab affairs. [Footnote in the source text.]