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

817. 1. Please deliver what follows to Secretary Kissinger as soon as convenient.

2. Message for the Secretary:

(A) When I finished briefing the Shah on the state of play regarding Syrian-Israeli disengagement negotiations and informed him of the unwillingness of the USG to continue its good offices unless the oil embargo is lifted, the Shah commented that he would not consider himself a good friend unless he pointed out that he feels it unwise to link US efforts to bring peace to the Middle East with an oil embargo which does little harm to the United States. He commented, “Why should you want to lose your magnanimous image in the Arab world?” If you insist on the lifting of the oil embargo now, you will simply give the world the impression that you are greedy and at the same time you will open the way for the Russians to come back into the Middle East. He stressed that the United States has done a masterful job of reducing the Soviets to silence and of pushing them out of the picture, and he says that he hates to see them get back into the area particularly with a re-opening of the Suez Canal in the offing. The Shah definitely agreed, however, to send a message to King Faisal in another effort to persuade him to lift the embargo.2

(B) Remainder of points which came up during audience with Shah I will report via regular State Department channels. Warm regards.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 426, Backchannel Files, Middle East/Africa, 1974, Vol. II. Secret; Eyes Only; Immediate. Sent with the instruction to deliver at opening of business February 13.
  2. According to telegram 1250 from Tehran, February 14, the Shah responded to Helms’s request that the Shah persuade Faisal to lift the embargo with, “Why don’t you get Yamani to lift it for you? He is a U.S. stooge.” At Helms’s demurral, the Shah answered, “Well then, maybe he is an ARAMCO stooge. All the other members of OPEC believe him to be.” (Ibid., Box 603, Country Files—Middle East, Iran, Vol. VI, January 1974–) According to telegram 1351 from Tehran, February 19, the Shah’s message to Faisal was sent on February 13. (Ibid.)