225. Memorandum From Acting Director of Central Intelligence Walters to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • Kurdish Leadership Request for Assistance from the Shah of Iran

1. The following is an English translation of a request for assistance from General Mulla Mustafa Barzani, President of the Kurdish Democratic Party, to the Shah of Iran at Saadabad Palace, Tehran on 17 July 1973.

2. The Shah of Iran is unaware that we possess this information.

“To His Imperial Majesty, the Shahanshah, Aryamehr, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi2

“We are most honored and grateful to your Imperial Majesty for granting us this audience. Your Imperial Majesty has always shown concern for the Kurdish people who for the past 12 years have been suffering from the oppression and racial hostility of successive Iraqi governments. Under your esteemed leadership, Iran has done its best to help us survive the aggressive policy of the Baghdad government. On behalf of the Kurds of Iraq, we wish to express our gratitude and appreciation for your Imperial Majesty’s benevolent policy toward us.

“Events have now shown that the Baghdad regime does not intend to implement the terms of the March 1970 agreement by the deadline of 11 March 1974. Consequently, we anticipate the resumption of large scale hostilities against our people, and we fully expect that all possible measures, including the use of non-conventional weapons like poisonous gas, will be used against our population. We feel that the Kurdish people of Iraq must be reinforced if it is to withstand the force of events, and eventually take the initiative against the aggressors.

“A glance at the political structure of Iraq clearly indicates that the Kurdish element in Iraq is both strong and stable, and that it has an overwhelming influence on the course of events in this country. Furthermore, we sense that the importance of the Kurds has now increased. The additional importance is a consequence of the Ba’ath regime’s efforts to introduce foreign powers to the area, and its attempts, in coordination with others, to foment discord in the Persian Gulf and the area as a whole including the Indian Ocean and Pakistan.

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“The Kurdish movement is the only uncontrolled opposition force in Iraq, and with your Imperial Majesty’s advice and support it could plan a more significant role in the region’s affairs. That role would in turn receive the backing of the vast majority of the Iraqi people who are opposed to the regime. Considering the instability and internal conflicts of the Baghdad regime which has created a process of gradual elimination of the membership as witnessed by recent events, and recalling the regime’s lack of popularity with the majority of the population, we can see that with your advice we would be able to work with respectable Arab leaders to change the present regime.

“To try to take the initiative on our side, and play that role, our movement’s capability level must be raised from a defensive one to an offensive one, and our financial problems must be solved. We will need the utmost support and sponsoring from your Imperial Majesty’s country for the whole thing.

“At this point we believe that full American understanding and backing is essential both for the important role that Iran is playing in the struggle for stability and freedom in the area, and for our cause and that of all the Iraqi people. That support is especially important when we see how clearly and completely the other front has the backing of the Soviet Union, and how hard they are trying to strengthen the influence of the Soviets and of Communism in the area.3

“Our people look to your Imperial Majesty as a father and protector, and we are certain that any door that opens to us will have been opened by your efforts. Thus, considering your frequent observation that Iran could not remain neutral to genocide against the Kurds in Iraq, and that the relations between Iran and the Iraqi Kurds should be even deeper than those between Turkey and the Cypriot Turks, we turn to you for protection from those Ba’athi threats which are backed by the Russians. We petition your increased support for our movement in Iraq and beyond. We shall follow your advice, and we have no doubt that your Imperial Majesty will spare no effort on our behalf, and that H.I.M. will take advantage of every opportunity—including the coming visit to the United States.

“We feel confident that any strength added to our movement will be an effective contribution to the struggle for stability, and freedom, and for the expulsion of foreign influence from the region. That, of course, is the struggle which, under your esteemed leadership, Iran is [Page 643] courageously leading, and which concerns all states devoted to the success of the struggle for freedom. We wish to make it clear that your Imperial Majesty may speak on our behalf in the United States or anywhere else you might consider expedient. We are prepared to make whatever commitments may be required of us in return for assistance, and those commitments will be undertaken in the way your Imperial Majesty deems advisable.

“Once again we express our gratitude to your Imperial Majesty for everything. We are sure that you do what is best for us. We also wish to express our gratitude to our friend General Nasiri, who has always carried out what you have ordered for our cause with the best of good will.”

Vernon A. Walters
Lieutenant General, USA
  1. Source: National Security Council, Nixon Intelligence Files, Box 8, RMN, Iraq/Kurds, 7 April 1969–12 June 1974. Secret; Sensitive. Kissinger initialed the memorandum.
  2. A note in the margin next to this paragraph reads: “[text not declassified].”
  3. According to an attached memorandum for the record, August 1, Kennedy, Saunders, Waller, and Fees met in Kennedy’s office on July 31 to discuss the question of more support for the Kurds. Noting that the Kurds [text not declassified], Waller proposed [text not declassified] doubling present aid and increasing the Kurds’ defensive but not offensive capabilities. It was agreed that the CIA would prepare a paper offering the options with recommendations. See Document 227.