416. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Saudi Arabia1

83055. Jidda 1762, Yemen.2 Following points for use as you deem appropriate in discussion with King:

Assessment UAR intentions:
We frankly uncertain what Nasser’s ultimate intentions in Yemen may be.
Believe, however, that domestic pressures coupled with rising Yemeni republican discontent UAR presence should incline Nasser to seek way to extricate UAR from its uncomfortable position. However, Nasser cannot, we think, make decision withdraw without concurrence military which cannot accept formula which gives other than impression success UAR arms. We speculate that minimum circumstances acceptable to military would be expulsion principal members Hamid al-Din and emergence of interim government capable of standing on own for at least some months after withdrawal. UAR attempts in last three months establish “strong” government by draconian measures signal all out effort obtain some form of stability. Regardless Nasser’s ultimate intent, seems evident that a greater modicum of stability in Yemen is unquestionably a precondition if he is to decide to withdraw.
In these circumstances, resumption open hostility by royalists would not promote goal UAR withdrawal. Full-scale fighting for three years failed expel Egyptians. (Royalist threat “dump entire problem into Saudi lap” seems idle one; problem has been Saudi one for many months.) Expected UAR response to renewed fighting would be application more force, particularly increased air strikes and perhaps new augmentation ground troops, which presently down to about 40,000. Unleashing royalists would doubtless strengthen “hawk” mentality in UAR to point where concerted attack against Saudi Arabia could not be ruled out.
Present anarchic conditions Yemen work to weaken UAR position there. However, resumption more active SAG role, via royalists, could well coalesce many of presently divided Yemenis into front against Saudis which would negate internal forces currently working in SAG favor.
We have no indications that UAR planning attack Saudi Arabia. However, Saudi connivance at resumption fighting by royalists could well serve as provocation for UAR retaliation. (UAR no doubt aware increased royalist pressure on SAG for resumed fighting and may resort to such isolated incidents as mid-October bombing Najran as warning of Saudi vulnerability of wide-scale fighting resumed Yemen.)
Just as we cautioned UAR re dangers mid-October Najran bombing we would caution Faisal against allowing royalists resume activity.
In our view, Kuwaiti mediation continues offer principal hope for settlement although we following with interest such other Arab lines of approach as those being pursued by Al-Aini. Believe details current proposals and counter proposals relatively unimportant since, judging only from them, area of disagreement between Faisal and Nasser on modalities solution is very narrow. Vital missing ingredient is lack mutual trust between Faisal and Nasser. No third party can supply this, which is up to principals involved to work out in framework their common Arab concerns. However, Kuwaiti efforts provide required channel for the two to air their differences. We strongly advise King continue to operate through this channel. We currently urging Kuwaitis resume their efforts at early date.3
We are presently making similar démarche in Cairo concerning continuation mediation efforts.
For Cairo. Request you seek occasion make following points at appropriately high level UARG:
We are strongly urging Faisal follow policy restraint in Yemen and continue cooperate with Kuwaiti mediation efforts.
We realize broad range differences between Faisal and Nasser hinders Yemen settlement but believe it of extreme importance that both continue work to narrow their differences.
We urge UAR to avoid any actions which would exacerbate situation and to resume discussion, presumably through Kuwaitis, for settlement.4
For Kuwait. Request you inform appropriate level GOK of our foregoing démarches in Cairo and Riyadh, of our concern that more [Page 786] extensive fighting may soon break out Yemen, and of our strong hope for early resumption Kuwaiti mediation efforts as Foreign Minister assured Secretary in New York he intended do.5
For London. Request you draw on foregoing and reftel for discussion current Yemen situation with HMG and suggest HMG may also wish similarly advise SAG against resumption hostilities Yemen.6

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 27 YEMEN. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Moore and Davies, cleared by Judd and Bergus, and approved by Hare. Also sent to Cairo, Kuwait, and London and repeated to Amman, Taiz, Dhahran, and CINCSTRIKE.
  2. Dated November 7. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 295 from Dhahran, November 13, Ambassador Eilts reported that in a meeting with Faisal that day he referred to reports that hostilities might soon resume in Yemen and urged the King to restrain the royalists, outlining in some detail the assessment contained in telegram 83055. (Ibid.)
  4. In telegram 2662 from Cairo, November 15, Battle reported that he and Parker had reviewed the Yemen situation with Al-Khouli that morning. Battle made the presentation outlined in telegram 83055, and Al-Khouli presented the UAR perspective. Battle concluded pessimistically that he feared the United Arab Republic and Saudi Arabia might be drifting toward open, armed conflict in Yemen. (Ibid.)
  5. In telegram 449 from Kuwait, November 12, Cottam reported that he had conveyed the substance of the Department’s telegram to Bishara, who assured him that the Government of Kuwait was actively continuing its attempts to mediate. (Ibid.)
  6. Telegram 88539 to Jidda, November 21, reported that the British Embassy had informed the Department that although the U.K. Government did not wish to see full-scale fighting resume in Yemen, it had decided not to approach Faisal on this subject. (Ibid.)