8. Special National Intelligence Estimate1

SNIE 10-2-65


The Problem

To assess the nature, extent, and present effectiveness of Soviet and Chinese Communist overt and covert efforts in North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia,2 and to estimate the outlook for such efforts over the next several years.


Most of the countries in this area have been opened up to Soviet and other Communist penetration by the liquidation of European colonial empires and by the widespread emergence of movements of protest against the concentration of political and economic power in the hands of a small ruling class. Over the past decade or so, the USSR has injected itself dynamically into the whole area. China plays a significant role mainly in South Asia. With the exception of Yugoslavia, [Page 21] whose progress while maintaining a balance between the USSR and the West has greatly impressed certain leaders in the area, the East European countries have ridden into the area on Soviet coattails. (Paras. 1-4)
Soviet influence in the area has been achieved principally through the customary instruments of contemporary statecraft. With a considerable degree of success, Moscow has exploited nationalist and anti-colonial resentments, encouraged neutralist sentiment, and taken sides in local disputes. The USSR, and to a lesser extent China, have mounted cultural and student exchange programs and expanded their trade relationships. The Soviets have extended economic aid to 16 of the 23 countries in the area, and six of them have armies that are largely equipped with Soviet arms and trained in Soviet methods. The economic and military aid programs have not only contributed to the Soviet image in the area, but also provide Moscow with some potential for leverage by slowing down projects, failing to deliver spares, and the like, though this leverage could not be exerted without some political cost. (Paras. 9-20, 33)
The overt Soviet presence—for example, diplomatic, trade, military missions—provides cover for an extensive clandestine apparatus. The Committee for State Security (KGB) and the Chief Intelligence Directorate (GRU) play a wide role in carrying out foreign policy. Aside from the classic intelligence collection functions, these services conduct operations to denigrate the US and other Western powers, to capture and exploit press and other propaganda outlets, and to place individuals in positions in local governments, political parties, etc., where they can influence policy in Moscow’s favor. The Soviets have recruited local officials at various levels, including some holding senior government positions. In general, the Soviet covert operations have been fairly successful. (Paras. 26-32)
The Communist nations also strive to develop and use local Communist movements and international front organizations. The former include a few sizable legal or quasi-legal organizations, as in India, Greece, and Cyprus, and a dozen or so small, mostly illegal, but fairly well organized parties. Their organizational strength has enabled them to survive repression and, on occasion, to make significant but temporary gains in the wake of political upheaval. On the whole, the Communist parties have made little progress as mass movements; they have done best in attracting discontented intellectuals, while making little headway among the peasants who comprise the bulk of the population, and only somewhat more among workers. This has led the Soviets, in some countries at least, to slacken their efforts to develop a mass organization and turn instead to a tactic of infiltrating ongoing nationalist or revolutionary movements. (Paras. 21-25)
In both overt and covert operations, the Soviets probably consider that they have met with a fair degree of success in establishing their presence and influence in the area. They have, broadly speaking, been most successful in the Arab world and least successful where fear of Slavic domination remains strong—in Greece, Turkey, and Iran. They will probably continue their efforts to establish an identity of feeling and interest with the modernizing forces in the “Third World,” though tailoring their approach for individual countries. Some of the countries we are dealing with have adequately functioning political systems, sufficiently coherent societies, or strong enough leadership to be relatively impervious to Communist efforts to make them into Marxist socialist societies, barring a major upheaval. A number of others lack most or all of these qualities, and upsets in their fragile political situations could present Communists with good opportunities to gain a position of power. (Paras. 33, 34, 64-66)
The prospects for the Communist powers in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia over the next several years might best be characterized as “more of the same.” The generally low state of the local Communist parties is likely to persist, although the presence and influence of the Communist countries will expand. The influence of Marxism is likely to increase, particularly in those states following a socialist path. The Chinese will also be more active, although much of their effort will be directed against the Soviets, thus inhibiting Communist progress. We recognize that in some places situations could develop so as to provide promising opportunities for the Communists to come to power; nevertheless, we cannot specifically identify any such situation and—all things considered—doubt that any country of the area will come under Communist control. We believe that the forces of nationalism in the area will remain strong, and that nationalist leaders will continue, by and large successfully, to play off East against West. (Paras. 56, 57, 67, 69)
Two sorts of development could give the Communists a considerable victory. The first, essentially unpredictable, is the emergence of a leader who decided to take his country into the Communist world, either rapidly like Castro, or by stages. Another would arise from a successful Soviet or Chinese effort to achieve a complete and continuing identity of interests with the nationalist forces of the “Third World.” As long as this identity remains negative, devoted to eliminating special Western positions and the like, it will be troublesome, sometimes serious, but not fatal. But if these nationalist forces came to believe that the Western powers, and especially the US, were fundamentally opposed to their desire for national independence and domestic progress, the opportunities for the Communist powers to achieve a fundamental gain in the “Third World” would go up sharply. Countries which felt [Page 23] they had no other way to turn would be under very strong pressures to enter upon still closer collaboration with the Communist world. (Paras. 67-68)

[Here follow the Discussion section of the estimate and an annex.]

  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 July 15. The Central Intelligence Agency and the intelligence agencies 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, the subject being outside their jurisdiction. Paragraph references are to the Discussion portion of the estimate, not printed.
  2. The following countries are included in this estimate: all the Arab states (including those in northern Africa, i.e., UAR, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco), Israel, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Ceylon. [Footnote in the source text.]