“Yemen has become a microcosm of the whole Middle East struggle between Socialist and Conservative forces—a struggle that is not going at all well for Nasser. The latest blow was Saudi Arabia’s scheme for an anti-Nasser Islamic Alliance, which has rallied open support from Jordan, Tunisia and Iran, and tacit backing from Kuwait and Morocco. Nasser is also locked in a struggle with the Red Chinese, who are sharply extending their influence in Republican Yemen. Already Peking has reportedly sent some $45 million in aid, put 3,300 Chinese technicians to work for the Republican government, and is designing a technical training center that will accommodate 800 students. Meantime, Yemen’s Royalist forces are just as determined. They recruit retired officers from France, Belgium, Britain, Pakistan, Iran and Jordan, receive arms and financial help from Saudi Arabia, Britain and Iran. Even the tiny Persian Gulf sheikdoms are unstinting. Recently, a Royalist Yemen emissary visited Sheik Shakhbut, ruler of Abu Dhabi on the Persian Gulf, and asked for a contribution of 5,000 pounds sterling. He walked away with £100,000. “You are all astonished?” the sheik shrugged to his advisers. “Do you know how many cases of ammunition £100,000 will buy, and how long they can keep Nasser from me?……….”
Shakhbut did not have to worry about Gamal Abdel Nasser for long. He had more vicious enemies closer to home. His own brother, Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahayan, soon overthrew him and became the rules of Abu Dhabi. As promised, his brother did not murder him, possibly because of British influence. But Shakhbut and his sons vanished into thin air.
The Saudis were intriguing even then, even long before then, against anyone who threatened their feudal kingdom of absolute tribal Wahhabi polygamy. That has not changed: the princes are more corrupt than ever: there are more of them and there is more of the people’s money to steal.
It is unfortunate that Nasser did not manage to sweep all these ‘Bins” into the dustbin of history.