70. Memorandum of Conversation1
- Meeting With His Majesty, King of Morocco
- MOROCCAN PARTICIPANT
- His Majesty King Hassan II
- UNITED STATES
- US Ambassador Robert G. Neumann (served as interpretor)
- Deputy Secretary of Defense, William P. Clements
- Principal OASD/ISA, Amos A. Jordan
- Military Assistant to Deputy Secretary of Defense, RAdm Kenneth M. Carr
After introductions and pleasantries the King stated that he was very grateful for Mr. Clements’ visit and that he would be brief. He said that in the Middle East the conflict between Israel and the Arabs was in part a conflict between Eastern and Western civilizations. He assured Mr. Clements that militarily Morocco, as well as he personally, had chosen the West.
The King next commented that we don’t want to arm ourselves too much but the armaments which the US has delivered so far has put Morocco in a delicate situation. Not enough parts and ammunition were delivered. This placed the King in an embarrassing situation with re[Page 183]spect to his own Army. He stated “very frankly the impression of the Moroccan officers is that I made a bad choice in the source of supply.” The King said he understood our problems in supply were due to the war in Vietnam, the problems of the Army in Europe, and the Middle East supply and that compared to all these Morocco was only a small drop.
Mr. Clements interrupted and said, “but a very important drop.”
His Majesty said that on the basis of Morocco’s being the oldest country which has never broken off relations with the United States, he wanted to discuss the two nations’ friendship in utter frankness. He stated that Morocco is a mirror in the Arab world in its relations with the United States and that Morocco needed to be a better mirror.
At this point the King presented to Mr. Clements a document written in French listing military equipment for which Morocco asked the shortest possible delivery times.
Mr. Clements received the document telling him we would give it all consideration.
The King went on to discuss his meeting with the Algerian Foreign Minister which had taken place a few days before. He noted that they had been together for 48 hours with over 5 hours of solid conversation. They were two old friends who had known each other for a long time and had been lieutenants together in a friendship going back to 1958. The Minister came to tell the King that “if Spain leaves the Sahara, not one Algerian soldier will cross the frontier.” The Minister stated that never again would Algeria enter into a 1963-type situation between the two countries. He said he came as a friend to deliver this message. The King said that he thanked him and told him to thank President Boumediene.
The King said that the Algerian position was on one hand explainable by virtue but on the other hand by the imperatives of the situation. Algeria had always said they had no claim on the Sahara. Therefore, there would be no motive for Algeria to take any action. He further said that if Algeria went to war with Morocco the Arab world would have to choose between the two countries. The King said the majority would choose Morocco and that this would break the unity of the Arab world. Algeria would never want that responsibility. He said Algeria for years had sided with non-alligned countries. Also, Boumediene is the President of OPEC. The King said that Boumediene could not be an aggressor in such a position.
The King asked that Mr. Clements discreetly transmit to President Ford that the situation in Algeria was not stable. As long as Boumediene was in charge the King considered that relations with Morocco would remain quiet. He then stated that, although Boumediene is able, [Page 184]if he (the King) were an insurance agent he would not issue a policy on the Algerian President.
Mr. Clements questioned the King as to the nature of the unrest in Algeria.
The King responded that the opposition was very active and thinking in terms of a coup d’état which the King considered a distinct possibility. He had come by this information from the opposition “through an intermediary, of course.” He said that the question was also asked him at that time, “what would be the attitude of the United States if a coup d’état did occur in Algeria?” The King assured the questioner that he could not speak for the United States but that it would not want to get mixed up in Algerian affairs; that currently a balance exists; and if the balance were broken, not only the United States but also the entire Atlantic region would have problems.
The King then returned to the subject of Morocco’s military strength and stated that while he does not have belligerent neighbors he must look into the future. He stated that, as the Admiral well knew, the military requires strength even though the civilian leaders are pushing for détente. He stated that in his country he is both civilian leader and military leader and for this reason must be concerned with both problems.
The King next turned to relationships with Spain. He pointed out that the Spanish do not want to fight, nor does Morocco want to fight. He emphasized that if Spain leaves the Sahara Morocco will not permit a vacuum and would fight against any independence movement (which he speculated might be even Chinese instigated) but not against Spain. He smiled and said there were two reasons he would not fight against Spain, the first one being that Spain was stronger and the second one that they must live as neighbors. He said there would be some border actions, no doubt, as there had been in the past, but he considered those as actions of statecraft aimed at public opinion.
The King said even though he had 50 years experience practicing subversion against France, he was not an aggressor and he hoped very much for our continued assistance. He stated that he was a man of his word, as everyone knows, and that in case of a conflict in the Middle East he would be with America, although he could not take that position publicly. US provided arms would not be used by Morocco in the Mid East.
Mr. Clements then told the King that he had spent many years in the Middle East countries and knew them quite well. He stated that he personally expected an accommodation shortly, which would stabilize the Middle East situation. He went on to say that all parties now agreed that there was no military solution possible, that it must be a political settlement. Because of this and other factors, he anticipated a signifi[Page 185]cant accommodation in the next 60 to 90 days. Not a settlement—but progress. He went on to say that there were very disturbing elements in the general region. In Iraq there was significant Russian presence. In Libya Qadhafi was stirring the pot in every direction and being very worrisome to Sadat. Mr. Clements told King Hassan that he had discussed Algeria with Ambassador Neumann that morning and had told him of his own misgivings with respect to the current regime. He was concerned with the significant Soviet presence there, both in a hardware and political sense. He believes there is a spirit of revolution in Algeria and is not sure at all about the direction that spirit might lead. He suspected it could go further left which could create a very bad situation.
Mr. Clements then observed that when he reports to Secretary Kissinger and President Ford the King’s uneasiness and the possibility of a coup in Algeria, the first question will be, “What direction will the coup take?”
His Majesty replied, “You can be sure it will go to the right. Definitely. American interests with respect to gas and energy will be aided by this.” The King continued, “I know what I am talking about.”
Mr. Clements responded that he respected the King’s judgment very much and was confident that he knew whereof he spoke.
His Majesty then remarked that the United States should cultivate the Vice President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti, more. He has a new look and is not a classical Baathist. He settled the difficulties with Iran and wants to reapproach the West. This must be done slowly and carefully. Not everyone has the courage of Sadat. Iraq has for 15 years been against the United States. One needs courage to try to change that policy. Sadat on the other hand is a man of his word. He is a gentleman’s agreement. You can try to get closer to Iraq through Iran and others, “not directly.”
Mr. Clements commented that Prince Fahd could help.
His Majesty said that would be good, and continued that Qadhafi was not mad. He was a boy who needed to be taken in hand. He remarked that Egypt does not want him. He is dangerous. However, he pointed out that Jalud was no less dangerous. The most intelligent man in Libya he considered to be Minister of Foreign Affairs ‘Abd-al-Munim-al-Huni.
The King next reflected on the Mediterranean littoral and commented that North Africa begins at the Suez. Egypt—he classes as neither red nor green but in the process of changing. Libya—he said Soviet relations were excellent with Libya; the Libyans had many Soviet technicians and arms and wanted a nuclear manufacturing center. Libya—he termed as red and becoming redder. Tunisia—he classed as green. Algeria—he termed red. He remarked that Algeria was the last of the [Page 186]agrarian reform countries and that he was concerned since there were many French consultants in Algeria planting a hard Marxist doctrine. For this reason he thought the opposition had a good chance in Algeria. Morocco—he classed as green. The King next stated that it was important that the two red countries be kept from getting together otherwise the green ones of Tunisia and Morocco would be endangered.
Mr. Clements at this time returned to the discussion of the military and remarked that the US tanks had been rushed to Morocco at the express request of the Moroccan government. The King interjected that he knew we took those from our own Army, because of our desire to assist them. The Moroccan Army does not know that they came from our own Army however. It is a “staff secret”. It is better that the Moroccan Army does not know they came from your Army. The King next went briefly over the list which he had presented to Mr. Clements, emphasizing that in the future they wanted tanks with new guns and the latest capabilities.
Mr. Clements said that now that we know what you want, “I promise that I will do what I can.”
His Majesty said, “That is sufficient. I will remain quiet.”
Mr. Clements said while he was personally favorable he was but one voice, to which the King replied, “A very important voice.”
Mr. Clements said, he must talk to Dr. Kissinger and President Ford and he would do that.
The King answered that he was “calm” because they were friends of his, and then stated it would help if certain equipments could be expedited. “I know you have many orders but we would appreciate it if you could expedite this list”, to which Mr. Clements replied, “We will try.”
The King said you know this is not just a commercial affair, our prestige and presence are riding on it. It may not seem important to the United States, with the various countries in NATO or even Latin America to think about.
Mr. Clements assured the King that he wanted him to completely understand that the United States thinks Morocco is important. No South American country could compare in importance in the US view.
The King said when the Middle East problem was settled, nothing would impede Morocco’s offering bases to the United States to cover problems the US might be having with Portugal and Spain.
In an aside, he commented that he wanted Dr. Kissinger to come see him on the next trip even though it were a “technical” stop.
Mr. Clements next brought up the subject of nuclear powered ship visits to Morocco.[Page 187]
His Majesty stated that public opinion was crazy; the public thinks nuclear ships could explode at any moment. He suggested that, if a visit were to occur, it should start with a civilian nuclear powered ship. (He noted Morocco had forbidden German and Japanese nuclear powered ships to visit when they asked for visits to Casablanca.)
Mr. Clements replied that our nuclear powered merchant ship the Savannah was no longer operating to which His Majesty replied, “Ask the Germans to send theirs”. When it called, he would have the Minister visit it and the rumors would be wiped out. He did not want to start nuclear powered visits with warships.
The meeting concluded with pleasantries and an exchange of gifts.
Summary: King Hassan and Clements discussed Morocco’s military needs, Algeria and the Spanish Sahara.
Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 35, Geopolitical File, Morocco, October 1973–July 1975. Top Secret; Sensitive.↩