282. Message From Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1

[Omitted here is information unrelated to oil.]

Prince Fahd [less than 1 line not declassified] totally supports the policy of King Faysal, which he defined as follows:

(a)
The withdrawal of Israeli forces to the Sinai passes will not be considered sufficient grounds for the lifting of the oil embargo unless that step is accompanied by convincing assurances from Israel that further substantial withdrawals from Arab territory will be negotiated without delay, and unless there is evidence that the rights of the Palestinians will be taken into consideration in the final peace settlement.
(b)
Withdrawal to the natural defense line of the Sinai passes, especially if accompanied by a thinning out of Egyptian offensive weaponry on the east bank of the Suez Canal and the interposition of a United Nations emergency force between the two opposing armies, would have the effect of greatly improving Israel’s tactical military position, and would effectively destroy the credibility of Egypt’s option to resume hostilities if peace talks stalemate. Prince Fahd commented in this regard that while he does not claim that Egypt could “win” another [Page 799]round of fighting, the important consideration is that the Egyptians have the firepower and the determination to inflict significant casualties on the Israeli bridgehead west of the canal, and the realization of this fact must be a critically important factor affecting Israeli willingness to be reasonable. Denied this option, Egypt would have virtually no leverage in future peace negotiations.
(c)
If the oil embargo were lifted on the basis of unconditional disengagement, then the Arabs simultaneously would be denying themselves their major political leverage as well. In Prince Fahd’s thinking, the Arabs possess only a theoretical option of lifting the embargo now and of reimposing it subsequently if peace negotiations fall short of expectations; in reality, he believes, that for many practical as well as political reasons, this is not really a credible option.

2. Prince Fahd reiterated his previous assurances that lifting of the oil embargo is something that Saudi Arabia wants to accomplish as quickly as possible. He stated that “His Majesty and I want nothing more than to put into President Nixon’s hand the weapon he needs when the Congress reconvenes.” He added, however, that it would be a mistake to assume that this can be done before the United States produces tangible evidence of its ability to carry the process through to the final successful negotiation of a just peace. He indicated that neither he nor King Faysal doubt the complete dedication of President Nixon and of you to that object; the question simply remains one of tangible evidence to show their fellow Arabs of what “our friend America” has been able to accomplish.

[3 lines not declassified]

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Kissinger Office Files, Box 139, Country Files, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Dec 73–Feb 74. Secret; Sensitive. A notation indicates the message was received at 11:03 on January 14.