276. Memorandum From Gary Sick of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron)1


  • Yemen: Your Meeting with the Vice President

Since the completion of the Arab League Foreign Ministers meeting in Kuwait on Tuesday,2 the fighting seems to have subsided somewhat. There are reports that the YAR defense has stiffened, but that may only reflect a lower level of activity by the PDRY. Nevertheless, there were reports of PDRY air attacks on YAR positions yesterday, suggesting that an effective YAR counterattack may have begun to materialize. (S)

On the political front, an Arab League committee (Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Kuwait, UAR, Algeria, PLO) is due to visit the YAR in the next two days as part of the cease fire supervisory effort. The Kuwait communique also called for a meeting “at the summit level” between YAR and PDRY. The YAR leadership says it will meet only after PDRY troops are withdrawn; PDRY wants to meet before. The withdrawal was to take place in no less than 10 days, i.e. by March 16. There is a lot of diplomatic activity on that front, and an early YARPDRY summit is not likely. (S)

There have been isolated cases of tribal revolt in the North. A small band attacked a guard post near the Sanaa airport but was driven off without casualties. Other limited tribal clashes have occurred north of Sanaa but have reportedly been contained. The Salih government has been badly undermined, and there is talk of succession, including a possible seven-man ruling council composed of tribal leaders and political figures, with Salih remaining at least titular President. The Saudis are probably actively involved in the power-brokering, but we will hear of it only after the fact if past experience is any guide. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 93, Yemens: Border War: 3/5–12/79. Secret. A stamped notation on the first page reads: “DA has seen.”
  2. See footnote 2, Document 274.