264. Memorandum Prepared by the National Security Council Staff1

1. Saudi Arabia Threatens to Intervene in Yemen: Prince Saud described to Ambassador West yesterday the situation in Yemen as very serious. He said the attack on the YAR was premeditated, organized, well-equipped, and specifically measured to subvert the legal regime of the YAR and turn it into a battleground. Saud claimed that Cuban troops were involved, although not a great number, but extensive enough to be serious. He said that Saudi national2 interests are threatened and if [Page 818] the situation continues to deteriorate within the next two weeks, then Saudi Arabia would intervene.3 Saud asked the U.S. to do what it could through the USSR to stop the conflict and if it was not contained, then the U.S. should do what it could to help the YAR directly. According to Saud, if that fails to stop the fighting, then the U.S. should supply Saudi Arabia with what it needs for its intervention. Saud said that if West could not get this message through to Washington adequately by cable, then he should go to Washington4 personally and present the message as one from King Khalid to the President. Ambassador West does not know whether Saud is trying to test our commitment made by Secretary Brown during his recent visit.5 In any case, they appear to take the threat seriously and reportedly have placed their forces on full alert. West suggests that State consider allocating appropriate U.S. reconnaissance assets to gauge the military situation in the border area. He also suggests that we consult our F–5 production schedules to see how we can best replenish Saudi stocks if they transfer their F–5s to YAR and we should examine the legalities involved in permitting U.S. contractors maintenance in Sana for Saudi or Yemeni F–5s flying combat missions. It appears to West that immediate relief can only come through diplomatic efforts as conventional armaments would be even less effective against a war of infiltration and subversion.6 (Riyadh 333 NODIS,7 PSN 24834, 24809, and 248138) (S)

2. Vance Makes Demarche to Dobrynin on Yemen Situation: In a meeting yesterday with Ambassador Dobrynin, Vance said that we are concerned about the recent incursion by PDRY forces into the YAR and are disturbed by the recent escalation of the conflict which has caused a significant increase in tensions. Vance noted that we have urged restraint on the YAR leaders and hope the Soviets will urge restraint on the PDRY leaders. Vance added that we also believe it is in the interest of the U.S. and Soviet Union to work together to prevent the conflict from developing further. Ambassador Toon was informed that he not need make a specific demarche in Moscow on this matter, however, if an opportunity arises, State has no objection to his repeating [Page 819] these points with appropriate Soviet officials. (State 47704 NODIS, PSN 24666)9 (S)

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Yemen.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Daily CIA Brief File, Box 17, 2/23/79–2/28/79. Secret. Carter wrote in the upper right-hand corner of the first page of the memorandum: “Zbig J.” Mondale also initialed the memorandum.
  2. Carter underlined the words “Saudi national.”
  3. Carter underlined the phrase “then Saudi Arabia would intervene.”
  4. Carter underlined the phrase “he should go to Washington.”
  5. See Documents 185 and 186.
  6. Carter wrote “Vance consult w/Congress” in the left-hand margin next to this paragraph. In a February 28 memorandum to Vance, Brzezinski communicated the President’s request. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850129–1056)
  7. Telegram 333 from Riyadh, February 28, is in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840125–1256.
  8. None found.
  9. Carter wrote “I did the same” in the left-hand margin next to this paragraph. See footnote 2, Document 263. PSN 24666 was not found.