301. Memorandum From Harold Saunders of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Haig)1 2
- Supporting the Kurdish Rebellion
The Iranian intelligence service, SAVAK, has again [less than 1 line not declassified] urged that we provide assistance through [less than 1 line not declassified] to the Iraqi Kurdish leader, Mulla Mustafa al-Barzani.
Similar approaches have been made over the last ten years and have been turned down. The British have also avoided involvement. The Israelis are probably paying Barzani a sizeable monthly subsidy, and King Hussein when he comes here may support US involvement. [2 lines not declassified]
According to a CIA report, the Soviets have urged Barzani and the Kurds to join a national front government in Iraq which would include Communists, Nasirists and Kurds under the Ba’th Party of Iraq. As you may know, the Kurds have been relatively quiet for the last two years or so. The purpose of any move the Iranians supported now would be to try again to overthrow the Iraqi Ba’thist government and to reduce chances of Soviet entrenchement in Iraq. There are reports that a Soviet treaty with Iraq similar to that one with Egypt is in the offing.
State Department and CIA are inclined to continue to avoid involvement. For one thing, any assistance that may be needed by Barzani is fully within the capability of Iran or Israel to provide. There is nothing absolutely needed from us except that they want to involve us. Another factor is that the odds are against the Kurds succeeding. Also, our involving ourselves for the first time at this point could be regarded by the Soviets as a move directed against them.
My instinct is to remain out of this as we have in the past, but I felt that you ought to be aware because of the Soviet angle.[Page 2]
RECOMMENDATION: That I tell CIA we concur in their judgment that we should not involve ourselves.
Approve [HK] Other __________
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 603, Country Files, Middle East, Iraq, Vol. I. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action. Haig sent thememorandum on to Kissinger, who approved the recommendation. On Kissinger’s behalf, Haig wrote on the memorandum “Tell CIA to do in least abrasive way possible—Note—Barzani emissary enroute to D.C.” Waller was informed of Kissinger’s response on March 29.↩
- Notifying Haig of the renewed SAVAK plea for assistance on behalf of Kurdish Democratic Party Leader Barzani, Saunders concurred with the Department and CIA that the United States should avoid involvement.↩