4. National Intelligence Estimate1

NIE 36-64


The Problem

To estimate general trends in the Arab world over the next several years.


Political turmoil in the Arab world appears likely to continue for many years to come. The military have come to play an increasing role, but—except in Egypt—they have not proved to be a stabilizing factor. Iraq and Syria in particular are likely to remain highly unstable. The monarchies in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Libya will come under increasing revolutionary nationalist pressure, and one or more of them may be extinguished in the next several years. Nasser appears likely to remain the single most influential Arab leader. The noteworthy economic and social progress of the past ten years will continue, although, as in the past, it will be uneven and varied. (Paras. 3, 5, 8-10, 16-19)
The emotional appeal of Arab unity will remain very strong, but in general the pan-Arab movement is likely to be confined to the kind of cooperation among independent countries that occurred at the Cairo summit meeting in January 1964. (Paras. 20-22)
Arab attitudes toward Israel remain basically hostile, but a fair proportion of Arabs have gradually come privately and reluctantly to accept the fact that Israel will exist for many years to come. The Arab-Israeli arms race will cause tensions and could lead to limited or selective hostile action. Other danger points are the Jordan waters problem and the possibility of Israeli military action in the event of a radical political change in Jordan. Nevertheless, the general inhibitions on open warfare would be strong, and a serious rise in tensions could probably be contained by great power pressures. (Paras. 23-26, 29, 30)
Arab relations with the West remain heavily influenced by hatred of “imperialism” and by Western support of Israel. The possibility of a sudden deterioration of Western relations with the Arabs over Israel is always present. The Arab nationalists generally will press for termination of Western base rights in the area. While they will also press for a greater share of oil revenues and a greater degree of participation in production, nationalization appears unlikely. (Paras. 31-33, 35)
The Soviets probably believe that the tide is running against the West in the Arab world and that they can capitalize on the unsettled political situation and upon various tensions between the Arabs and West. If US-Arab relations should deteriorate sharply, there would probably be a noticeable strengthening of Soviet influence. We do not believe, however, that this would result in one-sided reliance on the Soviets or a more accommodating attitude toward local Communist parties. (Paras. 36-38)

[Here follows the Discussion section of the estimate.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-R01012A, ODDI Registry of NIE and SNIE Files. Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a note on the cover sheet, the estimate was submitted by the Director of Central Intelligence, and concurred in by the U.S. Intelligence Board on April 8. The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State, Defense, AEC, and NSA participated in its preparation. The State, Defense, AEC, and NSA representatives concurred; the FBI representative abstained, the subject being outside his jurisdiction. Paragraph references are to the Discussion portion of the estimate, not printed.
  2. This estimate does not cover Sudan and the Maghreb. [Footnote in the source text.]