13. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon1


  • The Shah on Sadat’s Situation

Ambassador Helms has sent through our private channel a brief report on his chat with the Shah after he presented credentials April 5.2 In part of that conversation, the Shah asked him to inform you that Egyptian Foreign Minister Zayyat during a recent visit to Tehran asked the Shah to urge you to arrange some kind of settlement between Egypt and Israel. According to the Shah, Zayyat made these points:

—Egypt will accept the Rogers Plan.3 [Comment: This is not new.]

—Sadat is in a precarious domestic situation; new leaders might take over the Egyptian army at almost any time. [Comment: When the Shah pressed, Zayyat was vague about the exact source of the threat. Nevertheless the Shah was struck by Zayyat’s pleading tone.]

The Shah sympathizes with Egypt’s plight, although he realizes that “if Egypt can ever reassert herself, she will go right back to trying to organize the leadership of the Arab world.”

The Shah hinted that if we wanted his help as a go-between—he also has a relationship with Mrs. Meir—he could be persuaded.

The Shah said he sensed in Zayyat’s attitude almost irresistible domestic pressure in Egypt to resume some type of hostilities against Israel. With a large army on active duty plus the costs of maintaining it, the Egyptian leadership is feeling increasingly impelled to “do something.” The Shah advised emphatically against trying to cross the Canal, although he did not argue strongly against some kind of demonstration.

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Once again, it is difficult to distinguish the degree of genuine pressure on Sadat from the degree of showmanship put on for our benefit. We are now getting this same message through a number of side channels. At the very least, this is a well orchestrated campaign. There seems little question that Sadat is disappointed that he did not in his view improve his position through Ismail’s visit, but he also seems to recognize the disadvantages of military action.

We shall keep in mind the thought of a possible role for the Shah.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 602, Country Files—Middle East, Iran, Vol. IV, September 1971–April 1973. Secret. Sent for information. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it. All brackets are in the original.
  2. Helms sent the report in backchannel message 61 to Kissinger, April 6. (Ibid., Box 425, Backchannel Files, 1973, Middle East/Africa) See also Document 12.
  3. On December 9, 1969, Secretary of State Rogers outlined what became known as the Rogers Plan for Arab-Israeli peace in an address before the 1969 Galaxy Conference on Adult Education. Among its provisions, the plan called for a peace agreement between the parties, the establishment of demilitarized zones, and Israeli withdrawal from Arab territories occupied in the 1967 war. The text of Rogers’s address is in the Department of State Bulletin, January 5, 1970, pp. 7–11.