240. Editorial Note

On June 10, 1967, Kuwaiti oil workers began a strike that completely shut down AMINOIL, the Getty subsidiary, and partially closed the Kuwait Oil Company. (Telegram 1305 from Kuwait City, June 11; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, PET 17–1 ARAB) Embassy officials were convinced that the Kuwaiti Government had no prior knowledge of the oil workers’ actions. Although the Kuwaitis did not acknowledge it, rumors circulated of an imminent meeting of oil-producing Gulf states in Kuwait itself. (Telegram 1306 from Kuwait City, June 11; ibid.)

That same day, June 10, Aramco’s Brougham met in Dhahran with Yamani who explained that an Iraqi delegation had arrived after meeting with government representatives in Kuwait. According to Brougham’s account, the pro-Nasserite Iraqis were urging oil producing countries to use “vigorous measures,” including nationalization if necessary; Yamani believed that using the companies as “friendly instruments” was a preferable alternative. Iraq agreed to join Kuwait and Saudi Arabia at a meeting in Kuwait with oil executives the following day. Yamani then said that “he would probably do most of talking for the government side and would probably make a number of harsh statements to the company representatives. It would then be my [Brougham’s] cue vigorously defend Aramco and history of its relations with SAG and recent example our successful effort to intercede with USG.” After detailing the points that Brougham should make, “Yamani suggested at this point I offer to urge USG through our shareholders to use their best efforts to see that Israel does not gain from its recent aggression.” Yamani urged Brougham to cable promptly so that the United States would have time to respond: “I know your government willing give this assurance. I am just trying to find a way for the oil [Page 432]companies to get credit for having produced it and thus prove that companies are friendly instruments.” (Aramco cable PC 7683 from Dhahran, June 10; Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Economic [2 of 2])

On June 11 U.S. Embassy officials were summoned to a meeting with oil company executives and the Oil Ministers of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Kuwait. As spokesman, Yamani conveyed the bitterness of his colleagues “against US, UK and French Governments as a result of recent ME hostilities and the resulting danger to investments nationals of these governments in ME countries.” He said: “We expect from you a real sincere effort with your governments to the extent that they take positive action to stop Israel from gaining anything from their attack, go back to the original border line and nothing to be imposed on the Arabs as a permanent settlement.” (Telegram 1319 from Kuwait City, June 11; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1964–66, POL 27 ARAB–ISR) Brougham commented that “Meeting followed script outlined PC 7683 almost exactly.” (Aramco cable PC 7689 from Dhahran, June 11; Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Economic [2 of 2])

Through British sources, the Embassy in London reported that a similar ultimatum had been delivered in Baghdad to the chief representative of the Iraq Petroleum Company: “The oil companies should make representations to the British, American, and French Governments that they should oblige Israel to withdraw behind the borders which existed before fighting started on 5 June. Until this objective is achieved Iraq together with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Arab producing countries will continue the suspension of oil exports.” (Telegram 10336 from London, June 13; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, PET 17–1 IRAQ)

By the end of the day on June 11, Ambassador Cottam was less certain that the Amir and his government had been surprised by the labor strike: “Today’s strike was contrived by GOK to exert maximum pressure on KOC and Aramco representatives who met with Kuwaiti, Saudi and Iraqi petroleum ministers this morning.…More speculative is my belief that Kuwaitis and Saudis acted in collusion to convince their Iraqi colleague of their complete willingness sacrifice oil in Arab cause, knowing that report of meeting would reach Aref and Nasser very soon. Iraqi left for Baghdad shortly after meeting. Kuwaitis and Saudis may be trying extremely delicate and dangerous game of proving their Arabism and at same time not jeopardizing their long-range interest in keeping oil flowing.” (Telegram 1322 from Kuwait City, June 11; Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Special Committee Files, Kuwait)

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On June 12 representatives of Gulf Oil Corporation, part owner of the Kuwait Oil Company, met with State Department officials as Yamani had requested. The assessment of one Gulf Oil official “was that neither Kuwait nor Saudi Arabia wanted to shut off oil shipments but that they were both worried about the stability of their regimes if they were not seen to be responding to popular feeling.” (Memorandum of conversation, June 12; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, POL 2 KUW)