79. Telegram From the Department of State to the Consulate General in Dhahran1

26087. Subj: Union of Eight in Lower Gulf. Ref: Dhahran 175.2

Without referring reftel, we asked British Emboff last week whether he had seen any reports of possible union of eight which would exclude Bahrain. Emboff had not but on February 19 he furnished following details.
As reported reftel, Rulers Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar have tentatively agreed on federation of eight members. Zayid reportedly told British he could no longer delay because of risk of alienation Qatar and Dubai. However, he said door for later Bahraini accession would not be fully closed. Moreover, there was genuine concern that union of nine would open Trucial area to subversive ideas held by elements Bahraini populace.
London’s reaction to foregoing has been to instruct British Gulf Representatives to take line with local Rulers that there would be no objection union of eight provided door kept open for Bahrain. British guidance has been to caution local Rulers to do nothing precipitate, however, and to make no premature announcement, in light continued problem Iranian claim to Bahrain. British also have taken position that union of nine should be dissolved by mutual consent with no overtones of Bahraini expulsion. Rashid and Zayid reportedly agreed but each understandably reluctant to break news to Bahrain. Emboff speculated that Zayid probably asking Ahmad Suweidi to do this but Suweidi dragging his feet. British Embassy Kuwait has been asked solicit Kuwaiti support in assuring that move from nine to eight on part Trucial States will be within foregoing parameters.
While British would prefer silence on this issue until Bahrain claim laid to rest, Emboff noted issue certain to be discussed at February 28 meeting Trucial States Council session in Dubai. It even possible [Page 252] that some announcement about federation of eight could emanate from that meeting.3
Comment: Bahrainis have at times themselves appeared disillusioned with FAA, and it therefore possible that divorce can be arranged with feelings of relief on both sides. Our own position should continue be one of benevolent neutrality, reflecting view that whatever arrangements peoples themselves can work out in lower Gulf are those most likely prove viable after British go.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 19 FAA. Secret; Noforn. Drafted by Brewer on February 19; cleared by Miklos (NEA/IRN) and Davies NEA); and approved by Sisco. It was repeated to Jidda, Kuwait, London, and Tehran.
  2. In telegram 175 from Dhahran, February 13, Dinsmore wrote that Shaikh Rashid of Dubai, who had “dragged his feet” for 2 years over the establishment of a federation, was now pushing for a federation of eight without waiting for resolution of the Bahrain issue. Dinsmore believed that Rashid adopted this strategy because of “tacit” Iranian approval for a federation without Bahrain, and becauseZayid thought he could better manage a federation of eight. (Ibid.)
  3. The British Government continued to press the Gulf sheikhdoms for a federation of nine and for more time to settle Iran’s claim to Bahrain, believing that a shift from a nine to an eight member federation would promote tension. (Telegram 1602 from London, February 27; ibid.)