280. Message From the Central Intelligence Agency to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1

Following are copies, for your records, of two messages sent [less than 1 line not declassified] to Secretary Kissinger from Director Colby concerning Kurdish situation. [3 lines not declassified]

Message A

“Recognize that Shah’s recent concluded agreement with Iraq leaves Kurds in exposed position, and share sympathetic concerns for Kurdish plight. Nevertheless, believe complexity of situation and continuing murkiness of some aspects of it argue forcefully for deferring decisions concerning shape of relationship with Kurds, including monthly subvention, until clearer picture emerges and there has been opportunity for fuller study and discussion here of ramifications.”

Message B

“Available evidence indicates Shah is scrupulously honoring his 6 March agreement with Iraq by complete cessation of assistance to Kurds. We see a manifestation of this reflected in the impassioned character of Kurdish pleas to us for direct, unilateral, military and financial assistance to them. The fundamental premise of our past commitments has been that all aid to Kurds must be indirect via the Iranians, and in the new situation we believe direct aid by us would be even less defensible than in the past. We doubt that in the new situation the Shah, having ended his own support to the Kurds, will be willing to continue to serve as the channel for our funds, but we cannot be absolutely certain of this until we have had opportunity to discuss matter with the Shah. However, even if the Shah should prove amenable to continuing as funnel for our aid, there very serious question whether it justifiable for us to continue it. This is question which my previous message suggested be deferred until there opportunity to go into all aspects of it carefully on your return here.

“In the meantime, Kurds have been caught short and are hurting badly. Their current emotionalism arising from feelings of abrupt abandonment by their allies creates possibility of undesirable indiscretions by the Kurds. We hope to avert this possibility by two interim steps intended to have some calming effect. [2½ lines not declassified] Secondly, I [Page 756] propose that we seek the Shah’s consent for SAVAK to pass to the Kurds our subvention [less than 1 line not declassified] for the month of March, but request your concurrence before approaching the Shah. Believe we have a commitment to the Kurds for this month at least as this development occurred in mid-month. Believe it additionally justifiable on humanitarian grounds during the ceasefire period which will extend until 1 April.”

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Kissinger–Scowcroft West Wing Office Files, Box 19, Kurds (3). Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only.