177. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon 1


  • U.S. Aid Program in Yemen

You have asked about the circumstances under which the US maintained its aid program in Yemen after the Republican coup of September 1962. The following is the sequence of events at that time:

  • —The US aid program began under the monarchy in 1959. Our aid people were involved in village water projects and road building.
  • —Between the coup in September 1962 and US recognition of the new regime in December, our aid people stayed on and went about their work. The UAR had sent troops to Yemen to back the new Republican regime, and the Saudis had sent help to the Royalists. During that period before recognition, the US was engaged in trying to establish conditions under which both sides could agree to withdraw. During that effort, it did not seem wise to cut ourselves off from the scene by pulling our people out.
  • —Between December 1962 and April 1963, Ambassador Bunker worked to achieve a disengagement agreement between the UAR and Saudi Arabia. Again, there was argument during that period for leaving our people in place.
  • —In the months after that agreement, the UAR and Saudis traded recriminations. The long and short of this extended story was that the UAR did not withdraw until after the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, but Nasser and Faisal met twice to try to reach accommodation. As long as those efforts were going on it seemed wise not to cut ourselves off from Yemen, even though between July and December 1963 we had [Page 554] US Air Force planes in Saudi Arabia to deter Egyptian air attacks on Saudi territory from Republican bases in Yemen.

One of the overriding reasons for U.S. involvement was to give King Faisal, who had just assumed power, time to get on his feet. This meant helping him withstand UAR pressure via the Yemeni Republic while recognizing that Nasser was the leading political force in the Arab world and Republican forces were here to stay in Yemen. The main argument while we were so deeply involved was to maintain a relationship with all parties involved, and that was the reasoning behind leaving our aid mission active in Yemen.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 641, Country Files, Middle East, Yemen, Vol. I. Secret. Sent for information. A handwritten notation by Kissinger reads: “The major point is that we slightly leaned towards Republicans.”