188. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Saudi Arabia and the Interests Section in the Yemen Arab Republic1

51603. Subject: YARPDRY Conflict. Ref: Jidda 964, Sanaa 197, State 43595 and 37575.2

For Jidda. Department commends your proposals para 7 Jidda reftel.3 Department reassured hear Saqqaf say Saudi forces would not be directly involved in anti-PDRY effort. Saudis however may be [Page 579] tempted intervene directly in some form if battle, now apparently joined, does not go well for YAR tribes.4 Believe therefore you took exactly right line in trying temper official optimism of Saqqaf in toppling Aden regime. When you see Fahd and Sultan,5 believe you should reiterate USG belief in value of alternative anti-PDRY strategy along lines outlined in State 43595. Appreciate we cannot usefully advise Saudis abandon tribal insurrection strategy but we can continue warn of dangers involvement of Saudi forces against Soviet-backed PDRY.
For Sanaa: Maswari query in Sanaa 139 focused on “security and political backing.”6 Relations could then easily be resumed, according to Maswari. Our response in State 37575 took rather different position that resumption would enable U.S. carry out development assistance which Saudis could easily complement and expand. Under present circumstances Maswari likely to be even more interested now than before in discussing “security backing” rather than resumption. If he raises latter question, response along lines State 37575 continues to be valid in view of Department. Department agrees, however, your remark para 4 Sanaa 197 that YAR should clearly understand USG not potential source of military support in current situation. If Maswari should press you this subject, believe way would be open for your suggestion US word of caution about too great YAR jump into dark.7
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL SYEMEN–YEMEN. Secret; Exdis. Drafted by Ransom; cleared by Dickman and Atherton; and approved by Davies.
  2. Telegram 964 from Jidda, March 24, relayed Saqqaf’s belief that the PDRY could be overthrown and that Faisal could have “finished off” South Yemen in 1969, but chose not to. Saqqaf also emphasized that Saudi Arabia would not be sending troops into Yemen. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 630, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Vol. III) Telegram 197 from Sanaa, March 23, expressed Stein’s view that war between the two Yemens, while not inevitable, might be hard to stop. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL SYEMEN–YEMEN) Telegram 43595 to Sanaa, March 14, is ibid., POL US–YEMEN. Telegram 37575 was not found.
  3. In paragraph 7 of telegram 964, Thacher wrote that he would suggest to Fahd and Sultan that Saudi Arabia carefully consider before committing itself too deeply to tribal-military means as the only method to oppose the PDRY threat.
  4. This is a reference to the escalating tension that resulted from the assassination of a prominent Shaykh in South Yemen in February. (Telegram 43988 to Sanaa, March 14; National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL SYEMEN–YEMEN) Intelligence Note RNAN–10, “Yemen–South Yemen: War Clouds Gathering Over Southern Arabia,” March 17, contains information on the Yemeni movement to war. (Ibid.)
  5. According to telegram 1060 from Jidda, March 30, Thacher met with Fahd on March 28. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 630, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Vol. III) He met with Sultan on April 7. (Telegram 1147 from Jidda, April 7; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL SYEMEN–YEMEN)
  6. Chief of Staff Brigadier Husayn al-Maswari said Yemen faced many threats and wanted to know what kind of political and security backing the United States could offer. A positive answer would facilitate resumption of relations. Stein thought a U.S. offer of the previously arranged $3 million aid package after resumption of ties and greater Saudi involvement in the short term would be helpful. (Telegram 139 from Sanaa, March 1; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 641, Country Files, Middle East, Yemen, Vol. I)
  7. Printed from an unsigned copy.