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

Dr. Kissinger wishes to inform Mr. Ismail of the urgent steps which the U.S. side has taken to stop the renewed outbreak of fighting in the Middle East:

(1) The Israeli Government was informed that any further offensive operations would lead to a severe deterioration of relations between the Israeli and the U.S. Governments.

(2) The United States requested that its own military attaché personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv personally observe Israeli military activity in the area of renewed fighting to insure that no offensive action was taken by Israeli forces.

(3) The President personally intervened with the Prime Minister of Israel to halt the fighting.

The United States has since received the following formal assurances:

—The U.S. military attaché has been invited to the front.

—At no place since the beginning of the ceasefire at 7:00 a.m. today have the Israelis tried to advance. They will not try to do so.

—At 7:00 a.m. local time today the Israelis asked the UN observers to move into place on all roads leading from the Canal westward so that they would ascertain that there were no troop movements.

—The Israelis have no intention of moving their force on the West Bank across to the East Bank to attack Egyptian forces on that side of the Canal. The Israelis are trying “to absorb fire without answer.” There has been no activity on the northern sector of the Egyptian front, nor on the Syrian front.2

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—Those observers stationed in Cairo have not yet arrived at the front, possibly because the Egyptians are detaining them. Any influence which could be exerted on Cairo to permit them to come to the front would be appreciated.

At the same time, Dr. Kissinger wishes to point out to Mr. Ismail the following information which it has received:

—The Israelis are in possession of a message from the Egyptian Minister of War issued during the height of the fighting which: (1) calls on the forces to continue fighting; (2) promises air support; (3) says that 250 tanks are being sent from Cairo to break through Israeli forces on the West Bank.

—The Israelis know there is movement in the armored division stationed near Cairo but they do not know whether the division is moving toward the West Bank nor do they know how many tanks the division has.

In light of these assurances and actions on the part of the U.S. Government, it is requested that the Egyptian side also scrupulously observe the ceasefire agreement.3

  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. A handwritten note on the message indicates that it was transmitted on October 24 at 1:05 p.m.
  2. In his memoirs, Kissinger wrote that his message to Ismail crossed with a “climactic new message from Sadat to Nixon.” (Years of Upheaval, p. 579) Sadat’s message, which was received at the Embassy in Cairo at 1730Z, 7:30 p.m. local time, reads: “I have received your two messages of October 24, 1973. I would like to reaffirm the fact that the Israeli forces on the west side of the Canal were responsible for violating the cease fire and mounting offensive operations in an attempt to isolate the Third Egyptian Army east of the Canal. I would like to inform you that we agreed to the immediate dispatch of American observers or troops for the implementation of the Security Council Resolutions of October 22 and 23, 1973. I have informed the USSR about the messages exchanged between us and I am also formally asking the Soviet Union to take similar action.” (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 132, Country Files, Middle East, Egypt/Ismail, Vol. VII, October 1–31, 1973)
  3. Kissinger noted that Sadat in his message “agreed to what we had not offered: the immediate dispatch of American observers or troops for the implementation of the Security Council cease-fire resolution on the Egyptian side.” What was new was that Sadat was “formally” issuing the same request to the Soviets. Kissinger wrote that shortly after receiving Sadat’s message, he learned that Egypt had announced that it was calling for a Security Council meeting to ask that U.S. and Soviet forces be sent to the Middle East. The “makings of a crisis were appearing,” since the United States was not prepared to send U.S. troops to Egypt, nor to accept the dispatch of Soviet forces. Nor would it participate in a joint force with the Soviets, which would legitimize their role in the area. Anti-Soviet moderates in the region such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Kuwait might panic, and the Soviet forces might prove impossible to remove. (Years of Upheaval, p. 579)