102. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig) to President Nixon1
- U.S. Recognition of the Gulf States of Bahrain and Qatar
Secretary Rogers has sent you a memo (attached)2 recommending that you approve now U.S. recognition of the two largest Persian Gulf states—Bahrain and Qatar—when they declare their independence some time before the deadline for applications to the U.N. in early August. The Secretary also recommends that you approve the establishment of diplomatic relations with those two states by accrediting your Ambassador to Kuwait [John Patrick Walsh]3 as your non-resident Ambassador to Bahrain and Qatar. The Secretary notes that in NSDM 924 of last November you approved in principle the expansion of U.S. diplomatic representation to the lower Persian Gulf as the British protective treaties come to an end this year.
The purpose of these actions is to pre-position the U.S. to respond to what appears to be the irreversible decision of Bahrain to declare its [Page 331] independence this summer. When this happens, it is most likely that Qatar will follow suit. By approving now, the U.S. would be able to extend its recognition immediately upon a public announcement by these states. The best estimate now is that they will declare independence before the end of the month. Early diplomatic recognition of Bahrain and Qatar is in our interest and should not cause any significant problems with the other Persian Gulf states.
As you know, the British have been intensely engaged in attempting to establish a federation of the Persian Gulf entities before they depart at the end of this year. For some time, Bahraini intentions have been clear and the British conceded earlier this year that a federation of all nine, or even eight, states was a non-starter. A federation of the seven plus two independents was felt to be the most viable alternative and the problem became one of getting serious attention turned in that direction. An early declaration of independence by Bahrain would have provided incentive for that movement but the Bahrainis have been reluctant to do this without King Faisal’s approval. Faisal, mainly because of his rivalry with Abu Dhabi (the state which would dominate the federation of the remaining seven) and sensitivity to the appearance of acquiescing to British pressure, has held back to date on this approval.5 Meanwhile, Bahrain is performing every pre-independence act short of a public statement and, with British help, probing avenues to Faisal’s formal acceptance before the U.N. deadline in August.
- That you approve U.S. recognition of Bahrain as that state becomes fully independent and the establishment of diplomatic relations thereupon by accrediting our Ambassador in Kuwait as non-resident Ambassador.
- That you approve U.S. recognition of Qatar as that state becomes independent and the establishment of diplomatic relations thereupon by accrediting our Ambassador in Kuwait as non-resident Ambassador.6
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 632, Country Files, Middle East, Trucial States. Confidential. Sent for action. A notation on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.↩
- Not attached. A copy of the memorandum from Rogers to Nixon, July 2, is ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 16 BAHRAIN IS.↩
- Brackets are in the original.↩
- Document 91.↩
- In telegram 2845 from Jidda, August 14, Thacher noted that United States recognition should follow that of Saudi Arabia, but should Saudi Arabia not recognize Bahrain, then U.S. recognition should follow “at least” that of Kuwait, Iran, and UAR. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 16 BAHRAIN IS) Faisal signaled his acquiescence to Bahraini independence August 15. (Telegram 2853 from Jidda, August 15; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1276, Saunders Files, Persian Gulf)↩
- Nixon initialed his approval of both recommendations. The United States recognized Bahrain on August 15, one day after it declared independence. (Telegram 149358 to COMIDEASTFOR and Dhahran, August 14; ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 16 BAHRAIN IS) The United States recognized Qatar on September 6. (Telegram 1140 from Dhahran, September 6; ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1276, Saunders Files, Persian Gulf)↩