Washington, July 5, 1972[Page 1]
- Washington Meetings with Kurdish Representatives
- Through arrangements made by the Shah of Iran, [text not declassified], personal representatives of Kurdish leader Mulla Mustafa Barzani, met on 30 June 1972 with Director Helms, Colonel Richard Kennedy, and CIA officer [text not declassified] The substance of that meeting is covered in this memorandum. Additional background information and details to support the Kurdish requests for assistance are attached herewith as provided to CIA representatives by [text not declassified] during extensive discussions on 1 July 1972.
- As the primary spokesman for the visitors, [text not declassified] opened the 30 June meeting by conveying the personal greetings of Mulla Barzani to President Nixon and the American people. He expressed Barzani’s appreciation for this long-sought opportunity to present the Kurdish case directly to the United States Government and invited complete frankness on the part of both sides. [text not declassified] then provided a short historical review of the Kurdish movement and its fight for autonomy within Iraq. He followed with a geopolitical description of Kurdistan’s position as the only remaining obstacle to total Soviet control of Iraq and the resultant implications to other countries in the area, particularly Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Persian Gulf states. He spoke in some detail concerning joint Soviet and Iraqi efforts to bring the Kurds under the control of the Ba’thi regime in Baghdad. He noted in particular the intensification of direct Soviet political pressures on Kurdish leaders, including visits to Mulla Barzani by leading members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic. [text not declassified] reported on Soviet demands to Mulla Barzani in late June 1972 for prompt replies to previous Soviet overtures for the Kurds to join a National Front Government in Iraq. He pictured the Soviet effort as a supplement to Iraqi economic, military, and terrorist activities aimed at destroying Barzani and the political leadership of the Iraqi Kurds. [text not declassified] said that Barzani and other Kurdish leaders do no believe that they can resist this combination of Soviet and Iraqi pressure for much more than six months without significant foreign assistance. If such aid is not forthcoming, the Kurds believe that within six months they will either have to reach a political compromise with the Iraqi [Page 2]central government or fight to a sure defeat.
- [text not declassified] stressed that Barzani wishes increased foreign assistance not just to defend his area from the Soviets and Iraqis, but preferably to make Kurdistan a positive element on the side of the United States and its friends and allies in the Middle East, notably Turkey, Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and the Persian Gulf states. Further, [text not declassified] explained Mulla Barzani’s conviction that the Soviets are now controlling events in Iraq and that time is running out for the West and its allies bordering that country. Barzani believes that Kurdistan, albeit small, could exploit its strategic location and fighting potential as an effective tool in a free world effort to reverse the trend of Soviet expansion in the Middle East and to regain the initiative for the free world and its allies in that area. In this context, he noted that Iraqi oil resources are located primarily in the Kurdish area. A strong Kurdistan could thus be a major voice in the oil policies of the Iraqi Government.
- [text not declassified] specified that in
the context outlined above, Mullah
Barzani sought United States political, financial,
military, and intelligence assistance as follows:
- Recognition of the Kurdish objective of autonomy and the continuance of direct secret contacts between the Kurdish movement and the American Government;
- Financial support sufficient to turn the Kurds into an offensive military force with the objective of either bringing down the Ba’thi Government in Baghdad or at least tying up the majority of Iraqi military forces in indefinite combat in order to eliminate the Iraqi regime as a Soviet-controlled threat to American and free world interests and allies in the area;
- Provision of military assistance;
- Establishment of an intelligence liaison between the Kurds and the United States, to include provision of assistance to Kurdish intelligence.
- In presenting the request above for continuing direct contact between their leadership and the United States Government, [text not declassified] said that Mulla Barzani recommends [text not declassified] presence, temporary or permanent, in Haj Umaran, Barzani’s [text not declassified]. As an alternative, the Kurdish movement would accept a contact in any feasible location as preferred by the United States Government. [text not declassified] commented that [Page 3]Mulla Barzani, in turn, looks forward to visiting the United States whenever political conditions would so permit. [text not declassified] stressed that in return for the American assistance requested above, Mulla Barzani was prepared to commit his movement and his fighting forces to the policies of the United States Government. [text not declassified] added that prior to their departure from Washington, he and [text not declassified] would provide the background and details for their requests to [text not declassified] (see attachments).
- [text not declassified] completed his presentation by saying that he felt Mulla Barzani’s concerns and requests above were very relative to President Nixon’s reference in his press conference of 29 June to the threat to world peace represented by Soviet adventures in the Middle East. [text not declassified] said that the current Soviet-Iraqi effort to control Kurdistan would be the final chapter in the Soviet adventure of turning Iraq into a satellite state, which in turn would threaten American interests in the Middle East.
- [text not declassified] noted that he and [text not declassified] carried with them a tiger skin from Kurdistan as a gift for President Nixon from Mulla Barzani. He said he would send this gift to the Director to forward to the President on behalf of the Kurdish leader. He closed by saying that Mulla Barzani hoped that the arrival of his representatives in Washington so close to America’s celebration of its independence on 4 July would encourage the United States Government to respond positively to this Kurdish appeal for assistance in maintaining Kurdish independence.
- Director Helms thanked [text not declassified] for their visit to Washington and commended [text not declassified] for his most able presentation of the position and requirements of the Kurdish people and their leadership. He said that he and Colonel Kennedy have been authorized by Dr. Kissinger to express the sympathy of the United States Government for the Kurdish movement under Mulla Barzani. Mr. Helms noted that the very presence of the Kurdish representatives in his office was proof of our position and readiness to consider their requests for assistance. The Director said that the United States Government desires to continue the relationship with the Kurdish movement which had been officially initiated by the presentation of [text not declassified]
- [text not declassified]
- The Director then asked [text not declassified] to provide [text not declassified] with the details of the Kurdish financial and military needs as quickly as possible so the United States Government could consider them promptly. Mr. Helms recognized that time is critical for the Kurds and that our Government would make every effort to decide what it could do and then provide such assistance as quickly as possible. He indicated that the United States Government’s response would be conveyed to Mulla Barzani through [text not declassified] which we would arrange. Director Helms cautioned that it would be very difficult for the United States to provide military equipment directly to Kurdistan without American involvement becoming public knowledge. He suggested that we might have to consider channeling any such aid through the [text not declassified] or Iranian governments. The Director stipulated that secrecy would be an absolute requirement in this new relationship and that the relationship could indeed be soured by a failure to honor our need for such secrecy.
- [text not declassified] responded that the Kurdish leadership understood our requirement for secrecy and was ready to carry out all arrangements exactly as desired by our side and to handle all of our aid and assistance exactly as we dictated. He noted as an indication of the good faith in this respect that only the Iranian Government was aware of the Kurdish visit to Washington. [text not declassified]
- Colonel Kennedy expressed Dr. Kissinger’s appreciation for the excellent presentation which gave us a clearer perception of the precarious position of Kurdistan and of its potential to play a role in the Middle East. He also commended [text not declassified] for an outstanding presentation on behalf of Mulla Barzani. The meeting then ended with an agreement that the visitors would meet further with [text not declassified] to provide the details to support their general presentation to the Director and Colonel Kennedy.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 138, Kissinger Office Files, Kissinger Country Files, Middle East, Kurdish Problem Vol. I, June ‘72–Oct. ‘73. Secret; Sensitive. Attachments B, C, and D are not published.↩
- The memorandum reported on the June 30 conversation between Barzani’s representatives and DCI Helms, Richard Kennedy of the White House, and a CIA officer.↩