80. Telegram From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1

901. Subject: Kuwait Ambassador’s Views on Future of Gulf.

Kuwait Ambassador Al-Sabah (closely connected with Kuwait’s ruling family) confidentially discussed future of Gulf with me March 11. He agrees in principle with Shah that future peace and stability could best be maintained in Gulf after British withdrawal by cooperation of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, prospective Gulf Federation and Iran but ability of Gulf Arabs to cooperate with Iran depends on satisfactory solution to territorial problems: (a) Bahrein and (b) Abu Musa.
Bahrein. He believes and hopes that solution granting independence to Bahrein will be reached by June and that federation (FAA) including Bahrein can then be formed. If this can be achieved through Iranian renunciation of its traditional claim, it will be much easier for Gulf Arab states to cooperate and agree to mutually satisfactory solution of remaining territorial issues of Abu Musa and Tunb Islands.
Abu Musa and Tunb. Al-Sabah did not think Tunb Island represented too difficult a problem since he said many Gulf Arabs had traditionally considered it Persian. Abu Musa, however, was much more difficult. While he felt that after Iranian renunciation of claims to Bahrein an arrangement could be worked out regarding Abu Musa, he said he had privately told Shah and FonMin Zahedi that under no circumstances whatsoever should Iran use force to take Abu Musa, for forceful action would permanently alienate Gulf Arabs and make cooperation with Iran impossible. He said, “I have advised Iranians to buy it, not take it” and added use of force by Iran against Abu Musa would give radical Arab regimes club they needed to beat moderate Gulf regimes to prevent cooperation with Iran.
Speaking of threat to Gulf, Al-Sabah said Iraq represented greatest direct danger—“much more than Egypt as Nasser is realistic and reasonable man.” He also expressed concern re increasing Soviet presence in Iraq as well as Soviet efforts to penetrate further other Arab states such as Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, “and also probably Libya very soon.” He concluded that FAA is necessary since otherwise sheikhdoms will be picked off one after another and if Bahrein and Abu Musa can be solved, prospects for cooperation with Iran by Arab Gulf states should be reasonably good.
He also told me that recently GOK had been obliged to “close down” a school in Kuwait which had predominantly Iranian students (and in which I gather instruction was in Iranian) because Kuwaiti national who had obtained permission to operate school had violated Kuwait Ministry of Education regulations. Violation, I understood, consisted in some of teaching material showing Arab territory as Persian and in other acts of Iranian nationalism despite fact that institution was a Kuwait school. Iranian Ambassador in Kuwait (who he described as being much like Iranian Ambassador in Jidda in that he was zealous in portraying himself toShah as defender of all things Iranian) had Al-Sabah had seen FonMin Zahedi to personally explain situation and he said Zahedi had been “most understanding” and had apologized for action of his Ambassador in Kuwait. He added that Zahedi’s whole attitude in past six months had been much more cooperative and understanding about Kuwait and he felt problem of this particular school would be amicably resolved, adding however that Shah, whom he saw fairly frequently, was most understanding of all.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, DEF 1 NEAR E. Confidential; Limdis. It was repeated to Dhahran, Jidda, Kuwait, and London.