290. Message From the United States Commander in Chief European Command to AIG1

20475. Subj: USEUCOM Intelligence Summary Cable (EISC) 174–79. (U).

The 30 October EISC contains three items.

1. South Yemen/USSR: Treaty of friendship. (S/Noforn)

2. Other significant developments. (S/Noforn/No Contract)

3. Indications and warning status: No change. (U)

1. (S/Noforn—all paras) South Yemen/USSR: On 25 October, after 2 days of official talks, Soviet Party Chief Brezhnev and South Yemeni Presidium Chairman Ismail, signed a 20-year treaty of friendship. Among other things, the accord calls for continued mutual cooperation in the military field. This development underscores Aden’s increasing reliance on Moscow for economic, diplomatic, and military support. South Yemen is the only Arab state, other than Iraq, to have such a treaty in force.

The Soviets have been heavily involved in supporting successive South Yemeni regimes since 1969, and have long sought a treaty to formalize that relationship. It is not clear why the Yemenis have waited until now to sign a treaty, but several factors probably contributed to that decision: the treaty was probably accompanied by promises of increased Soviet economic or military assistance or both. Additional Soviet support was needed to shore-up the domestically threatened Ismail government; and Aden is probably seeking stronger Soviet assurances of support in the face of an increasing U.S. commitment to North Yemen and Oman.

Apparently responding to South Yemen’s concerns about U.S. intervention in the region, the Soviets have, since spring, made a number of public displays of support, including the port call of the carrier Minsk in June, and the visit of Premier Kosygin in September; they have also provided new weapon systems, including Hind helicopters, SU–20 Fitter aircraft, OSA–II guided missile patrol boats, a fleet minesweeper, BMP and BTR–60 APCs, ZSU 23–4 air defense artillery, and T–62 tanks.

[Page 879]

As a result of the treaty, we believe it possible that the Soviets could increase their presence in South Yemen, but we disagree with recent press reports that there are already 9,000 Cuban and Soviets in-country; with an increase to 15,000 expected before years end. [5½ lines not declassified]

In the region, South Yemen, probably encouraged by the Soviets, has been undertaking moderate attempts to improve relations with neighboring Arab states. The treaty of friendship probably came as a surprise to these countries, and will probably spoil the normalization effort, and contribute to continued suspicions of South Yemen’s Marxist regime. ([1 line not declassified] J2)

[Omitted here is material unrelated to Yemen.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Middle East, Subject File, Box 93, Yemen: Democratic Republic (South): 2/77–9/80. Secret; Noforn; Nocontract. Sent for information to CINCUSNAVEUR London, Sixth Fleet, MIDEASTFOR, USDAO Prague, USDAO Budapest, USDAO Belgrade, USDAO Hague, and USDAO Copenhagen.