159. Telegram 249 From the Embassy in Iran to the Department of State1 2

For the Secretary and Asst Secy Sisco

Subject:

  • Shah’s Concern re Possible US Withdrawal From Bahrain
1.
Court Minister Alam asked me to call urgently this morning (Jan 13) to convey important message re Bahrain which Shah wished passed to President and Secretary. Message is to effect that even though US under fire from radical Arabs and their communist supporters for maintaining its port facilities in Bahrain, if US sticks firmly to its position and remains there, it will be a blessing “for you as well as for us.” However, if US should ever contemplate withdrawing from Bahrain either (a) because Bahrain asks us to go or (b) because of pressures for US withdrawal from radical Arabs and possibly Egypt encouraged by Soviet Union, Shah asks that we let him know before we announce any withdrawal decision so that he can lead campaign for our withdrawal rather than let it be portrayed as a result of pressure from radical Arabs and Soviets. This would enable Shah “to shout louder and longer” against any Soviet efforts to subsequently obtain additional naval facilities on Arab side of Gulf.
2.
I said to Alam that I would of course convey above message but I knew President had weighed very carefully decision for MIDEASTFOR to remain in Bahrain and I did not think Shah had cause to worry about a withdrawal because of clamor of radical Arab states and others following unfortunate manner in which continuation of MIDEASTFOR in Bahrain had been presented in American and certain foreign press. Alam replied that he hoped our intention to stay in Bahrain was firm but Shah was basically concerned lest (a) Bahrain ruler asks us to leave as result of radical Arab pressure or (b) we give in to pressure from radical Arabs and possibly Egypt (if we deliver more Phantoms to Israel) and other more [Page 2]moderate Arab states. In either case Arab states demanding our withdrawal and Soviets who were behind them spurring them on would alone get credit for forcing us out and this would have unfortunate if not dangerous repercussions in this strategically important area.
3.

Comment: Above message is still another indication of Shah’s deep concern re (a) increasing Soviet advances, influence and pressures in South Asian-Mid-East area and (b) our constancy and will to cooperate with Iran and other moderate states to prevent further Soviet advances in Mid-East and South Asian area.

Another very recent example of this concern is that Shah yesterday decided to try to speed up deliveries from FY–74 to late FY-72 and FY73 of one sqdn of F–4–E and one sqdn of F–5–E aircraft because of uncertainties of what future holds and recent Soviet action in delivering 25 additional MIG–21 aircraft to Iraq.

4.
My own strongly held view continues to be that only direct talks between President and Shah can allay Shah’s obviously growing concern and doubts as to our steadfastness vis-a-vis Iran and this part of world.
MacArthur
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL IRAN-US. Secret; Nodis.
  2. The Shah emphasized that although it would be a “blessing” for the United States to maintain its port facilities in Bahrain, he wished to be informed in advance if Washington planned to withdraw, so as to style himself as head of the group advocating withdrawal.