260. Summary of Conclusions of a Mini-Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Yemen


  • State

    • David Newsom
    • William Crawford
  • Defense

    • Robert Murray
  • JCS

    • LTG William Y. Smith
  • DCI

    • Stansfield Turner
    • [2 names not declassified]

    White House

    • David Aaron
  • NSC

    • Gary Sick
    • Robert Gates

The group reviewed the current situation in Yemen2 and next steps in view of requests for assistance from North Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The following conclusions were reached:

1. [7½ lines not declassified]

2. In a conversation with David Newsom during the course of the meeting, the Vice President suggested that this might be a place to use some muscle. He wondered about the possibility of some fleet movements by US units and whether a strong riposte might not destabilize the regime in the PDRY. (TS)

[Page 810]

3. It was agreed that the replacement of Seventh Fleet ships in the Arabian Sea by Sixth Fleet units via the Suez Canal would be expedited. We will contact the Saudis about possible port visits of these units as they enter the area. Secretary Vance would be consulted about any implications of such movements for the Camp David talks.3 (S)

4. [7½ lines not declassified]

5. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Murray will return to Saudi Arabia next week to continue the consultations on security issues which were begun during Harold Brown’s trip to the area.4 This issue will serve as the basis for concrete discussions of next steps. This meeting will also provide an opportunity to review with the Saudis the results of the visit of PDRY Foreign Minister to Riyadh which is scheduled for this weekend and may provide some insights. (S)

6. The State Department will contact the British and French Embassies and request their views over the weekend, since they both have better access to PDRY than we do. (C)

7. DOD and JCS will examine the problems associated with support of the Saudi aircraft in Yemen, particularly what steps might be required to operate the F–5s out of Sanaa and what US contribution might be needed. (C)

8. Defense will also contact our military representatives in Yemen and Saudi Arabia about other types of defensive systems which might be required by North Yemen. The next SCC meeting will assess which other nations in the region might be able to assist. (C)

9. [2 lines not declassified]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files, Box 119, SCM 048, 02/24/78, Mini SCC, Yemen. Top Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. The minutes are not attached and were not found. Carter initialed the first page and wrote “OK.” Brzezinski attached a handwritten note, February 25, to the Summary of Conclusions that reads: “Mr. President—For your approval. ZB.” Aaron sent a copy of the Summary of Conclusions to Vance, Brown, Jones, and Turner under a February 26 memorandum, noting that Carter had approved it. (Ibid.)
  2. In a February 23 memorandum to Carter, Christopher described the events taking place in Yemen: “We have received reports from intelligence sources and from the North Yemen Government that regular army forces of South Yemen have launched a three-pronged attack along the border and in some places are 20 kilometers inside North Yemen territory. If these reports are true this could signify a significant escalation in South Yemen border harassment against the North. President Salih has sent an envoy to the Saudis seeking assistance in repelling the attack. While the North Yemen Government would appreciate our diplomatic support, it has not sought U.S. military involvement or public action since in their view this could stimulate even greater Soviet support for the South.” (Carter Library, Plains File, Subject File, Box 39, State Department Evening Reports, 2/79)
  3. Carter wrote “OK” next to this paragraph.
  4. See Documents 185 and 186.