82. Telegram From the Embassy in Zaire to the Department of State1

3265. Subject: Shaba Invasion: Intervention of Moroccan and Egyptian Forces. Ref: Kinshasa 3192.2

1. Foreign Minister Nguza called me in at noon today, April 7, to inform me that 1500 Moroccan troops will start arriving in Zaire April 8. Troops will be transported by Air Zaire DC–10 aircraft in series of six flights beginning this evening. Troops will be flown directly from Morocco to Lubumbashi or, alternatively via Libreville which Nguza said will be used by Moroccans as their “operational base”. From Lubumbashi they will be transported directly to Kolwezi in FAZ C–130’s. Morocco will also send approximately 125 “military vehicles” and six tons of materiel.

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2. An Egyptian military delegation headed by general officer will arrive Kinshasa tonight to make arrangements for provision of Egyptian troops. Nguza said Egyptian force would not number more than 1500 and probably would include paras.

3. President Mobutu makes following request for US Government support of the Moroccan/Egyptian operation:

A. Tents for 3,000 personnel (this is now rainy season in Shaba).

B. Organizational tentage for 2 infantry brigade configuration (CP tents, GP mediums, kitchen tents, etc.).

C. Medical supplies for 3,000 personnel.

D. C-rations for 5,000 men for 30 days.

E. Assistance in air transport of 200,000 cans of Coke to be purchased commercially in US by GOZ. (Coke is staple in Zairian diet and presumably is for FAZ as well.)3

F. Use of 2 USAF C–130 aircraft, including crews, for a period of 30 days for interior transport.

4. Nguza prefaced all of above with following message from Mobutu: Mobutu values assurances, as most recently conveyed in Secretary Vance’s letter of March 11, that US will continue its traditional support of Zairian unity.4 At the same time, Mobutu understands problems which Shaba invasion has caused the administration and Congress. Mobutu shares our concern that the Shaba problem be handled to the extent possible within African context. It is with that in mind that Zaire readily accepted Nigeria’s offer to seek mediation. By the same token, request for military assistance from fellow African states such as Morocco and Egypt complies with principle of Africans trying to solve their own problems. Mobutu hopes the US will bear these points in mind when deciding whether it can lend the limited logistical support requested above.

5. Nguza also provided following background to current operation: Idea of sending troops was first discussed during Nguza’s visit to Cairo and Marrakesh. Morocco then sent Air Force delegation to Kinshasa last week for consultations. After this delegation reported back to King Hassan, latter consulted with Sadat and Giscard. Giscard indicated his [Page 251] support, as did Sadat following his consultations with Giscard in Paris last weekend. At that time Sadat also told Hassan that Egypt would favorably consider taking similar action but he first wanted to talk further with Giscard and President Carter. Nguza anticipates that Sadat will make definitive decision next week to send similar force. He said Saudis have agreed to provide discreet financial assistance to both Moroccans and Egyptians.

6. General Babia conveyed much of the same information to Chief ZAMISH, including request for US logistical support, at the same time I was seeing Nguza. In his presentation Babia specified that Moroccan force would be paratroop unit. Nguza said whole matter was being very tightly held for the time being in the hope that the entire Moroccan force could be in place in Shaba prior to Moroccan/Zairian announcement of action being taken.

7. In response to my query, Nguza said he did not believe Moroccan/Egyptian intervention would interfere with Nigerian mediation effort. He said Obasanjo had emphasized necessity of holding the line militarily if negotiations were to succeed. Nguza acknowledged, however, that GOZ had not yet informed Nigerians and did not intend to do so until operation well underway.

8. GOZ is apparently making separate requests to French and Belgians for military assistance/support, and we will report on this separately. Our initial impression is that GOZ is asking them mainly to support FAZ while making its requests to US in the context of supporting other African troops being sent to help.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840070–0257. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis.
  2. In telegram 3192 from Kinshasa, April 6, the Embassy reported that a battalion of Moroccan troops with French advisers would arrive in Zaire on April 8. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840070–0260)
  3. In telegram 87356 to Kinshasa, April 19, the Department transmitted its decisions on aid to Zaire including $21,000 worth of C-rations, $80,000 worth of medicine, $140,000 worth of tents, along with other non-lethal items. The Department also agreed to “ship Coca Cola on space available basis provided it is clear that the GOZ has paid for it.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770134–1024)
  4. In telegram 56010 to Kinshasa, March 12, the Department transmitted the text of Vance’s letter to Mobutu, in which he wrote, “The United States has for 17 years been an unwavering supporter of Zairian unity and we have no intention of changing now.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770086–0492)