160. Memorandum From William Quandt of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Admiral Turner’s Report on King Hassan’s Views2

King Hassan has long hoped that we would see Morocco as belonging to the same category as Iran as a medium-size power sharing common interests with the United States. To this end, he has developed a fairly articulate presentation of the Soviet threat in Africa and Morocco’s potential role in meeting it. As we saw in Shaba, there is a limited Moroccan capability to act, but it should not be exaggerated. The King has his hands full back home and, as much as he might wish it, Morocco is not in the Iran-Saudi Arabia-Egypt league in terms of our national interests. (S)

Hassan comes on as very strongly anti-Soviet in his talks with us, but he is a shrewd operator who knows how to hedge his bets. His Prime Minister was recently in Moscow to conclude a very large phosphate deal.3 In years past, Morocco has purchased Soviet military equipment. [1 line not declassified] Hassan is helping to bring about Egyptian-Soviet rapprochement. Like most Middle Eastern leaders, Hassan is skilled at keeping several balls in play at once. (S)

I do not think that we should aspire to a dramatically increased role in Morocco. The French are taking the lead, appropriately, in meeting Morocco’s military needs, and Hassan has now admitted that he does not have an urgent need for the OV–10s and Cobras. Our interest is primarily to keep the Soviets out of North Africa, and to that end we should quietly be trying to ease Moroccan-Algerian tensions. For the first time, the Algerians have talked seriously to us about a political solution to the Sahara conflict. This may not be possible, but then again it may be. In any case, I think we need to look at how we can use our leverage with Morocco—recognition of Moroccan sovereignty in the Sahara and release of the OV–10s and Cobras—to get some movement on the political front. (S)

[Page 384]

King Hassan wants to visit Washington between May 21–23. I do not think we will have our own thoughts in order by then, and I am not very enthusiastic about non-substantive symbolic visits at a time when the President has plenty of serious business to attend to. I would favor a visit once we have a policy. (S)

My preferred scenario is as follows:

1. PRM on North Africa—you have a draft to be signed.

2. Newsom visit to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia in June.

3. Hassan visit in July or later. (S)

RECOMMENDATION: That you sign the PRM on North Africa.4

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 55, Morocco: 1/77–12/78. Secret; Sensitive. Sent for action.
  2. Turner’s April 10 report is ibid.
  3. Reports on Osman’s Moscow visit are in telegram 4258 from Moscow, March 11, and telegram 1556 from Rabat, March 15. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780109–0771 and D780114–1274, respectively)
  4. Brzezinski wrote beneath the recommendation: “OK done.” See Document 30.