189. Backchannel Message From Secretary of State Kissinger to the Egyptian Presidential Adviser for National Security Affairs (Ismail)1

As Dr. Kissinger has pointed out to Mr. Ismail, the United States has reacted with great restraint to the recent events in the Middle East. Mr. Ismail is aware that the United States has voiced no criticism of Arab actions, either in the United Nations or in public statements of senior government officials. In addition, no resupply action to Israel was undertaken for a week, despite insistent Israeli demands for supplies and equipment. This restraint was observed by the United States even in the face of a massive Soviet airlift of military equipment to the Arab combatants.

However, the United States has now been forced to reconsider its position with respect to aerial resupply for two principal reasons.

(1) The United States was informed by the Soviet Union on October 11 that Egypt was prepared for a ceasefire in-place if it were to be voted by the Security Council, and that the Soviet Union would abstain from voting on such a resolution. The United States then spent two [Page 542] days in diplomatic efforts attempting to arrange a ceasefire vote and a sponsor and at great domestic cost. With enormous difficulty the U.S. achieved Israeli acquiescence to this course, only to be informed at the last minute through Great Britain and finally through the Soviet Union that no such ceasefire proposal would be accepted by Egypt.

(2) The massive Soviet airlift which has been underway for more than four days now. This has forced the United States to start its own resupply emphasizing mostly consumable items.

The U.S. side wishes to inform the Egyptian side that it is prepared to cease its own airlift resupply efforts immediately after a ceasefire is reached.

The United States wishes to emphasize again that it recognizes the unacceptability to the Egyptian side of the conditions which existed prior to the outbreak of recent hostilities. The U.S. side will make a major effort as soon as hostilities are terminated to assist in bringing a just and lasting peace to the Middle East. It continues to hope that the channel to Egypt established with so much difficulty will be maintained even under the pressure of events.

The U.S. will do all it can in this sense.2

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 132, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt/Ismail, Vol. VII, October 1–31, 1973. No classification marking. The message is attached to a transmittal memorandum from Scowcroft instructing that it should be delivered to Ismail at the opening of business on Monday, October 15, Cairo time.
  2. An October 15 reply from Ismail reaffirmed Egypt’s determination to keep open this special channel of contact, and emphasized that no other party spoke in Egypt’s name. Ismail expressed appreciation for U.S. efforts for a cease-fire as a preliminary to a political settlement, but doubted that this was achievable. Peace could not be achieved while Egyptian territories were occupied. Ismail urged Kissinger to renew his efforts to get Israel to accept a cease-fire coupled with complete withdrawal and the end of the state of belligerency when the last Israeli left Egyptian territory. Ismail concluded that Egypt would welcome Kissinger in appreciation for his efforts and would be prepared to discuss any subject. (Ibid.) Kissinger cites this message in Crisis, pp. 260–261.