278. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the Yemen Arab Republic1
65767. Subject: Soviet Role in YAR.
(S) entire text.
1. As you are aware, prior to outbreak of recent hostilities it had been U.S. policy not to urge YAR to get rid of Soviet military advisors. Thinking behind this policy was that lingering but declining Soviet presence in YAR might be a force for restraint on Soviet part in South Arabia and concern that a premature YAR effort to dislodge Soviets could precipitate a Soviet response threatening YAR stability.
2. Evidence since February 23 makes it clear that Soviets have not been a force for restraint. We understand that YAR has entertained idea of asking Soviet military advisors out but to our best information has taken no action in this regard. In terms of YAR Government’s attitude towards Soviets, time may be right to encourage YAR intentions in this regard.
3. Congress has pressed us on the anomaly of lingering Soviet advisory presence while we are supplying equipment and training. Our accelerated delivery of equipment and training seems to meet conditions YARG had [Page 852] previously stressed for termination of Soviet role. In addition, as practical matter, we wonder whether continued presence of Soviets, including possible Soviet offers of additional equipment, could not interfere with our own efforts to supply and train YAR armed forces.
4. Before taking any action along these lines however we would appreciate your assessment on two points. (1) Given YAR sensitivities about “super power” competition in region, would it be preferable for probe to come from Saudis rather than from U.S.? (2) Given the apparently delicate state of political stability in YAR and the ties which some YAR military leaders have to the Soviet relationship, would we or Saudis by suggesting to YAR that the time has come to move against the Soviet presence run the risk of precipitating a military coup attempt by pro-Soviet officers? In this connection, it would be helpful to have update of your assessment of attitudes in Yemeni military and political groups about Soviets at this stage.2