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

103. Following items were given me at 11:30 local October 13 by Court Minister Alam who acting on Shah’s instructions. It requested that information be given to the President and Dr. Kissinger only rpt only.

1. Soviet Ambassador Erofeev had audience with Shah Thursday evening.2 He asked Shah if Soviet military planes could fly to Damascus and Baghdad through Iranian air space. The Shah said “no.” Erofeev then asked if Aeroflot might fly one of its aircraft once through Iranian air space to Baghdad to carry spare parts for Aeroflot planes in Syria. The Shah agreed to this one flight since it concerned a civilian air matter.

2. King Faisal requested the Shah this morning to send Iranian military transport planes to Saudi Arabia for internal use. The Shah imme[Page 148]diately agreed to this request. Five C–130’s are involved. They will be flown only inside Saudi Arabia and by Iranian crews. The Shah felt that he could not react otherwise to this request from King Faisal, because for years he has been waiting for the King to extend his hand in some such manner and this is the first time he has ever done so. In other words, the Shah did not feel that he could refuse the only request he has ever had from King Faisal.

3. The Shah believes that great emotion has been generated in Muslim countries over this war.3 He regards it as unprecedented in his experience. By this fact, he feels, the present situation will be made much more difficult. It was his concern that such would be the case which led him in recent months to urge the big powers to find some solution to the Arab/Israeli problem.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 425, Backchannel Files, 1973, Middle East/Africa. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Sent with the instruction to deliver at opening of business October 13.
  2. October 11.
  3. In telegram 7325 from Tehran, October 17, the Embassy reported a “real growth of sympathy for Arab cause among all segments of Iranian population,” as the Arabs continued to fight well. The factors behind this shift, the Embassy suggested, included religious solidarity, sympathy for the pursuit of lost Arab lands, rejection of Israeli bombing of civilians, and opposition to the pro-Israeli Shah, which could now find safe expression. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, [no film number])