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276. Backchannel Message From the Ambassador to Iran (Helms) to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

96. Reference: Tehran 095 081015Z.2

Please pass the following message to Secretary Kissinger from me as a supplement to referent telegram: Begin text:

At audience this afternoon Shah asked that I send you this message from him. It is put in quotation marks as a reasonable approximation of what he said: “When I returned home after meeting with you in Zurich,3 I received a message from General Barzani saying that it was becoming impossible to carry on fighting under existing circumstances, that his people would be massacred unless something could be done. He declared that the Kurdish forces must have more sophisticated weapons and more Iranian military support or that the Kurds be permitted to declare their independence like Cyprus did. I did not see how we could increase our military commitment without going to open war with the Iraqis. Then on March 2 I saw Ashraf Marwan (this was the day after I received Ambassador Helms) who had just come from Baghdad. He repeated message I had received through others, i.e. that Saddam Hussein was ready to pull Iraq out of Soviet orbit if Iran would take away the [garble—military struggle?] which was forcing them into the arms of the Soviets. Marwan expressed the view that he was almost certain that Saddam would pull away from Soviets as promised. In Algiers Boumedienne pushed hard and showed great interest in bringing me together with Saddam. The first meeting was unproductive. Saddam mouthed the same things the Iraqis have been saying for ten years, and I so told Boumedienne. At the second meeting there was a big change. The main results have been published. On the Kurds I got two promises from Saddam; one, that Barzani and his people would have one week to decide whether they wanted to stay in Iraq or come to Iran where they will have a haven, a decent life, and be able to withdraw without bloodshed.4 They will be given till the end of the month for their withdrawal. (My earlier message said ‘two weeks’ and the [Page 750]Shah may mean the end of the Iranian month on March 20.) The second promise was that the security services of the two countries would work together, briefing each other on which Kurds were good and which were bad (read Communist). This will, I hope, prevent the establishment of Communist Kurds in Barzani’s territory. All this, mind you, was agreed in front of Boumedienne and he approved it all. How it will work out, I obviously do not know. But I felt that I had to take a chance since otherwise the Kurdish cause would be hopeless in the relatively near future and I might be accused of having destroyed a chance for getting the Iraqis out of the Soviet orbit. In any event Boumedienne was jubilant and all the participants at the OPEC conference seemed equally pleased.”

The Shah mentioned that the Iraqis have already ordered troops into action against the Kurds since these agreements were made. He said he had brought this to the attention of Boumedienne as a violation of the understandings. He had had no word as to what effect his remonstrance had had on the Iraqis. (Other matters covered in the audience will be filed in regular State Department channels Sunday.)5 Warm regards.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Backchannel Messages, Box 4, Mideast/Africa, Incoming 3/75. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only.
  2. Document 275.
  3. See Document 103.
  4. According to backchannel message 97 to Kissinger, March 9, Helms noted that Barzani was in Tehran and had been informed of Saddam’s promise, but had yet to notify the Shah of his decision. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Backchannel Messages, Box 4, Mideast/Africa, Incoming 3/75)
  5. Telegrams 2209, 2216, and 2237 from Tehran, March 9. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D750082–1028, D750082–1004, and D750082–1131)