97. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait1

61915. Subj: Gulf Federation. Ref: State 38119; London 2843; Jidda 1143.2 From Sisco.

We understand that British plan to wait out Saudi/Kuwaiti mission’s next attempt, expected this month, to talk Gulf Amirs into nine state federation before UK itself tries to bring Saudi/Kuwait thinking around to accept reality that neither Bahrain nor Qatar will in final event accept membership in FAA. Embassy London should inform FCO of instructions set forth herein noting that we plan coordinate our own démarche with that of British and request we be advised of timing proposed UK approaches to SAG and GOK.3
When Dept instructs, Embassies Jidda and Kuwait should discuss following USG views on Gulf Federation at highest appropriate level.4

a) USG had originally hoped that all nine Amirates would agree to join together in Federal framework and still hopes this may be possible at some future date. However, reports of past several weeks have convinced us this goal unattainable by end of 1971 and its pursuit to exclusion more modest goal likely to be counterproductive.

b) Only few months remain, since we are convinced establishment of FAA would be far more difficult after UK withdrawal and perhaps impossible.

c) Appears maximum likely Federation attainable now will consist of seven Trucial States.

d) USG therefore strongly supports efforts of seven Amirates to join in Federal framework and urges GOK and SAG do likewise in interest future stability of Gulf area.

If no FAA materializes this year we foresee:
Dispersal and dissolution of Trucial Oman Scouts leaving no effective force capable of intervening throughout Trucial Coast to restore order if necessary;
disruption and probable disintegration of existing inter-Amirate counter-intelligence and counter-subversion liaison;
weakening or loss of promising institution for inter-Amirate economic cooperation (Trucial States Development Council);
exposure of smaller Amirates to individual subversion by radical powers.
Dept hopes Amb. Thacher will have opportunity at some point review foregoing personally with King. We are particularly apprehensive that Faisal may be reluctant endorse truncated FAA, on assumption he will find it difficult to support grouping which will be dominated by Abu Dhabi. Should there be appropriate opening in meeting with Faisal, Ambassador should note we assume SAG leadership shares our conviction that Federation, even if consisting of only 6/7 Amirates, is indispensable to Peninsula stability. If Faisal or other Saudis raise Saudi/Abu Dhabi border dispute, suggest you respond USG has no intention interject itself into this problem but does hope SAG will separate this dispute from urgent task of launching FAA.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 19 FAA. Secret, Limdis. Drafted on April 12 by Murphy; cleared in EUR/BMI, NEA/IRN, and NEA; and approved by Sisco. It was repeated to Tehran and Dhahran.
  2. In telegram 38119 to Jidda and London, March 8, the Department made no objection to Thacher and Walsh reiterating U.S. interest in a federation. (Ibid.) Telegram 2843 from London, March 31, contained information on the March 29 conversation among Murphy, Luce, and Acland. This discussion was a follow-up conversation to that of March 8, reported in telegram 2063 from London. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 728, Country Files, Europe, United Kingdom, Vol. V) In telegram 1143 from Jidda, April 11, Thacher relayed the information that Kuwait and Saudi Arabia would deploy another joint team to visit the Gulf states to urge a federation of nine. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 19 FAA)
  3. Annenberg passed on the instructions to Acland on April 14. (Telegram 3305 from London; ibid.)
  4. Walsh passed on the information according to telegram 403 from Kuwait, April 14. Thacher referenced it in telegram 1195 from Jidda, April 15. (Both ibid.)