257. Message From Saudi Political Adviser Kamal Adham to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

[Omitted here is information unrelated to oil.]

The following was [less than 1 line not declassified] from Kamal Adham, [1 line not declassified]. It has been seen by Ambassador Akins, but no other dissemination is being made of it.

  • “1. At the Algiers conference2 King Faysal was successful only in obtaining from his primary Arab partners a reaffirmation of their agreement in principle that the oil embargo should be modified in stages, contingent upon the prior achievement of commensurate progress at the peace talks.
  • “2. There is ‘no possibility’, according to Adham, that Faysal will ask any more of his allies than that as long as American diplomacy has been unable to accomplish the disengagement of forces in Sinai. President Sadat, who has consistently and repeatedly urged King Faysal to trust Dr. Kissinger and to comply with the Secretary’s request for lifting of the embargo before the peace talks, began to modify his position when confronted at Algiers with other Arab heads of state who challenged his faith in Dr. Kissinger in the absence of conclusive evidence yet of American capability to bring about Israeli compliance with the cease fire agreement.
  • “3. Most of King Faysal’s advisors believe now that the occasion of the convening of the peace conference on 18 December should be seized upon by the Arabs as an opportunity to modify the embargo substantially. These advisors have been persuaded that the pressure on Dr. Kissinger must indeed be eased, not only as a gesture of goodwill but to forestall mounting anti-Arab feeling in the United States and Europe. There are, however, three main obstacles to the achievement of a unified Arab policy position on that point at this time:
    • “A. King Faysal’s established position now as the primary spokesman for the Arabs will make the King doubly reluctant to appear conciliatory toward the United States in the absence of a measurable first step backward by Israeli military forces. (Adham’s advice is not to harass the King any further on this point, but to demonstrate [Page 721] by overt diplomatic activity that the United States attaches first priority to the disengagement of forces in Sinai rather than to ‘breaking’ the oil embargo. If Dr. Kissinger can demonstrate that his personal efforts have resulted in Israeli compliance with the 22 October Security Council Resolution and the subsequent six-point ceasefire agreement,3 then—but not before—King Faysal’s advisors may be able to persuade him to consider recommending to his Arab partners that the embargo be modified as a gesture of faith in Dr. Kissinger personally.)
    • “B. Concessions won by Saudi Arabia from the EEC, Japan, etc., in return for favored treatment have succeeded to an extent which makes it that much more difficult for King Faysal to grant similar favors to the United States before tangible progress has been made. The Japanese, for example, have told the Saudis of the extreme pressure they were under from Dr. Kissinger not to make their 22 November declaration.4 Now that the Japanese feel that they have paid a high political price in terms of their relations with the United States and Israel, therefore, the Saudis are just that much more reluctant to appear conciliatory toward the United States until it appears that the United States is willing to make comparable adjustments in its traditional policies. Considering that in fact the Arabs demanded nothing more of Japan, and are demanding nothing more of the United States, than the implementation of policies to which both are already firmly committed (SC Resolutions), the Saudis do not feel that theirs is an unreasonable position.
    • “C. Appeals to King Faysal in the name of traditional Saudi-American friendship, and gestures confirming the desire of the United States to preserve and strengthen the partnership of the two countries in the preservation of peace and security in the Middle East, will have much more effect on King Faysal in the final analysis than any other form of persuasion. Expressions of anger and protest over the harmful effects the embargo is having on the United States’ economy will have very little effect other than to annoy the King; Faysal clearly recalls the numerous times over the past twelve months (starting with his appeal to President Nixon by letter in November 1972)5 when Saudi Arabia has warned the United States that it was going to be impossible for Saudi Arabia to resist Arab pressure to use oil as a weapon unless the United States brought about an improvement in the ‘political atmosphere’ in the area; nothing was ever received in return from these friendly entreaties and admonitions except public statements by one American official after another—with the notable exception of Jim Akins—to the effect that the King was ‘bluffing’, that he was ‘threatening’ his traditional friend and benefactor, and that an Arab oil production cutback [Page 722] would not affect the United States in any case.” ([less than 1 line not declassified] Kamal Adham laid particular stress on this last point, saying that “everyone” in the Saudi Government concerned with the present problem, from the King on down, is recalling today the particular statements made by particular American officials to the effect that Arab oil was of no appreciable significance to the economy of the United States.)

[3 lines not declassified]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Nov–Dec 1973. Secret; Sensitive. A handwritten notation reads: “Rec’d 1:00 p.m. Dec 2, 1973.”
  2. The Arab League Summit was held in Algiers November 26–28.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 243.
  4. See footnote 5, Document 243.
  5. See footnote 2, Document 154.