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

103. Reference: WH50453.2

Please pass the following message to Secretary Kissinger: Begin text:

1. Your message to General Mulla Mustafa Barzani was delivered orally to his representative in Tehran on 17 March for special courier relay to the General at his headquarters in Kurdistan. The message should have a reassuring effect and reduce the chances that the General or someone around him will charge they have been let down.

2. Late on 18 March, the [less than 1 line not declassified] Chief of Station discussed the Kurdish situation with the Shah along lines directed by you as relayed in reference. The Shah said he understood the problem and appreciated our concern. He repeated his rationale for the Algiers Agreement along the lines previously given to me and reported in Tehran 096 of 8 March.3 He had seen no other alternative, he said, to either letting the Kurds be destroyed by the Iraqi spring offensive, or openly going to war to protect them.

3. He said he hoped that the Iraqis would abide by their promises and would allow those Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq and Iran who wished to do so, to return to their homes without penalty. He is encouraging the Kurds to have as many of the Pish Merga as possible seek asylum in Iran while the border is still open. Non-combatants can probably come over later, he said, since the Iraqis are less likely to interfere [Page 758] with them or wish to keep them. He plans to ask Turkey to allow Kurdish refugees to pass through their territory to come to Iran. He now realizes that Kurds in the west can hardly make it to Iran by the 1 April deadline.

4. The Shah said he will continue to provide support for the Kurdish refugees in Iran at a level which will allow them to leave [live?] decently and with dignity. He is thinking of some kind of continuing military training for the Pish Merga who cross into Iran.

5. The Shah approved payment of our March subvention via SAVAK. He said that he will also give instructions that his own financial subvention be paid for March at the old level. After that, due to the changed situation he will reduce his financial assistance appropriately. The Station Chief informed the Shah that due to the completely changed situation our subvention for March might be the last we could provide under existing authorizations. The Shah did not challenge this.

6. The Shah is aware that Iraq may renege on parts of the Algiers Agreement. He hopes the Kurds will follow a course which will not give him a huge additional burden of refugee support. He hopes the United Nations and the International Red Cross will play a larger role in refugee assistance.

7. Warm regards and good luck! End text.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Backchannel Messages, Box 4, Mideast/Africa, Incoming 3/75. Secret; Exclusively Eyes Only; Immediate.
  2. Document 281.
  3. Document 276.