99. Intelligence Memorandum1

No. 1368/67



Britain has taken the first step toward forming a representative government to succeed the South Arabian Federation government. [Page 218] On 5 July the Supreme Federal Council, the governing body of the federation, appointed an Adeni moderate, Husayn Bayumi, as prime minister-designate to form a caretaker government until independence, now scheduled for 9 January 1968. According to present plans, elections will then be held and a permanent government established. British carriers will be stationed offshore for six months to ensure that the fledgling state is not overthrown by the Egyptians in Yemen.

Despite the anarchy of recent months, the British hope not to leave behind “another Congo.” The vital question, however, is whether it is not already too late to achieve any kind of order out of the present chaos of tribal feuds, ethnic prejudices, social backwardness, and political machinations by other Arab states such as Egypt.

1. Aden is today an armed camp, with assassination and terrorism commonplace. In June there were 445 incidents in Aden alone, compared with 376 in April and a peak figure of 80 per month last fall. Known casualties due to incidents in Aden for the first half of 1967 are 116 killed and 527 wounded.

Egyptian Involvement

2. The force behind this terrorism is the Egyptian intelligence organization in Yemen. Egypt’s proclaimed purpose was to eject the British from Aden, but Cairo has continued its operations even though London has long since announced its intention to grant independence by 1968. Although Egypt has asserted that the terrorism is punishment of the British for their tyranny, the great majority of casualties have been Arab. Egypt has also boasted that Britain will no longer grow wealthy on Aden’s trade. Terror and destruction have almost reached the point where Aden will soon have no trade, nor will it have the bankers or traders needed to revive commerce after peace is restored.

The Terrorist Groups

3. Now even the Egyptians appear to have lost control of the situation. Cairo deserted its original terrorist group, the National Liberation Front (NLF)—which it had used earlier in back-country dissidence—for a more broadly based group backed chiefly by the Aden labor movement, the Front for the Liberation of Occupied South Yemen (FLOSY), when the target of terrorism was switched to the city of Aden in 1965. The NLF, however, continued to be strong in the 16 other states of the federation, as well as in the federation army, the federal guards, the police, and many workers of back-country origin employed in Aden. Despite the lack of Egyptian support, the NLF fought a bloody back-alley war with FLOSY, and at present seems to hold a slight edge in Aden and a definite advantage in the hill states.

4. Not much is known about the amazingly successful leadership of the NLF, even by British intelligence in Aden. It is known, however, to [Page 219] have ties with the Arab National Movement (ANM), another successful terrorist movement with branches in many Arab countries. The ANM is supposedly supported by the Egyptian Intelligence Service (EIS), but on several occasions has bucked the EIS with impunity. Occasional reports link leading AMM members with Arab Communist movements.

5. Both FLOSY and the NLF have refused to talk with the British, or even with the UN Mission to Aden, about taking part in any independent government which Britain might be able to establish. Furthermore, FLOSY has taken the extreme view that it alone speaks for the people of South Arabia. Consequently London has been left to deal with the existing federation government—made up primarily of hill-country sultans despised by most liberal Adenis.

Efforts to Resolve Differences

6. When conditions in South Arabia began to deteriorate swiftly, all parties involved began to search for some compromise solution. Several states tried to intervene and the UN sent missions to assess the situation, all to no avail. With the onset of the Arab-Israeli war, the situation became even more murky. Many South Arabians, believing that Britain and the US were behind Israel’s success, were even more antagonistic about negotiating with Britain.

7. On 19 June the British Foreign Secretary announced that independence, long scheduled for the end of 1968, would take place on 9 January 1968. He said that London would increase its commitments of military aid to about $168 million over a three-year period and would station a naval force for six months and a bomber force for perhaps longer to protect South Arabia against “open external aggression.” London said it fully supported the present government and welcomed its intention to form a caretaker government “if and when cooperation with others makes this possible.” On 5 July Bayumi, an Adeni moderate with shadowy connections with the NLF, was appointed prime minister-designate. He announced on 18 July the formation of an eight-man interim administration—five Adenis and three from other states, whose ability and affiliations are not impressive.

8. These actions are remarkable especially because they were carried out during open mutiny by the South Arabian security forces and during the Arab-Israeli war. The real time of testing for the administration is yet to come, however, and numerous problems remain.


9. The blood feuds engendered by the terrorism have built up a residue of bitterness, and there are many scores to settle. With arms readily available, public security will be exceedingly difficult to restore, [Page 220] particularly the stable type which had made Aden almost unique in the Middle East. Nasir, moreover, has not yet given any solid evidence that he is prepared to cooperate in building a viable state in South Arabia, and the EIS may be capable of subverting any new state, with or without the assistance of the present nationalist groups. Finally, disillusionment and apathy have set in, and those who could once have ensured South Arabia’s future viability are giving up. The Somalis, Hindus, Jews, and British who built and carried on Aden’s trade are leaving, and the present situation does not encourage new investment.

10. Britain’s role is a critical factor. London has been trying to encourage those Adenis who might be able to salvage something. The continued recalcitrance of all parties, however, has hampered British efforts to establish a successor government. At the time of the uprising in the Crater district, there was strong sentiment in Britain for pulling out early. Even if London hangs on until 9 January, as now seems likely, the successor government may well take on an increasingly pro-Nasir tinge. Britain might in that case reconsider contributing $168 million to arm a pro-Nasir army in South Arabia, whatever commitments may have been made.

11. The lack of British assistance and trade would sharply limit the future of South Arabia. Egypt does not possess the economic strength to fill the vacuum, however easily it may fund and supply the large-scale terrorist campaign. To date no other state has shown any interest in bailing South Arabia out of its political and economic mire, and the UN is unlikely to accept large-scale responsibility there.

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, South Arabia, Vol. I, 7/67-11/67. Secret; No Foreign Dissem; No Dissem Abroad/Controlled Dissem. Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Intelligence. A note on the memorandum indicates it was produced solely in the CIA for the use of the CIA representative on the Interdepartmental Regional Group, Middle East. It was prepared by the Office of Current Intelligence and coordinated with the Office of National Estimates and the Clandestine Services.