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


  • Morocco (U)

The NIE on Morocco does indeed paint a rather bleak picture, but it is not totally convincing.2 First, when there are interagency disagreements, the reasoning leading to different assessments is not spelled out. Second, we are seeing a post-Iran tendency at CIA to go on record with pessimistic assessments in order to blunt future criticism of complacency. Nonetheless, not all is well in Morocco. (S)

What can we do? Only a limited amount, I fear. Some of the King’s problems are of his own making. Others require long-term solutions. Briefly, Hassan’s rule is threatened by the following:

The Sahara war. It has been dragging on with no signs of success. No one believes a pure military victory is possible, but Hassan shows little willingness to accept a political compromise. Even if we do liberalize our arms transfer policy, we will not be able to help turn things around in the Sahara. We might, in fact, encourage Hassan to conclude that the military option is viable. (S)

Recommendation: On a case-by-case basis, we should continue to approve some Moroccan arms requests; we should encourage Senate efforts to restore FMS for Morocco to the full $40 million that we requested; but we should not have illusions that these steps will significantly improve Hassan’s position. (S)

Economy. The economic downturn is serious and is hurting Hassan. Phosphate prices are low, the economy is not very well managed; corruption is rampant; and the Saudis have cut off aid, largely because they could not keep track of where it was going. More money from us will not do much good, but the Saudis could help. (S)

Recommendation: That we approach the Saudis to discuss the situation in Morocco and ways in which Saudi Arabia could help. King Khalid is reportedly planning to visit Morocco later this month. (S)

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Leadership. [less than 1 line not declassified] and many of his advisers are corrupt and incompetent. Not much we can do here to help. (S)

Recommendation: That our Ambassador find some occasion to discuss with King Hassan the lessons learned from Iran, with emphasis on corruption and lack of responsiveness to demands for social change as prominent themes. Hassan is smart enough to get the point, even if he is unwilling to do much about it. (S)

Finally, we have been quietly exploring whether there is some way to encourage a political solution to the Sahara conflict. State’s status report is at Tab A.3 We have also just heard that the Saudis are prepared to help find a solution, which would be very encouraging. There are distinct limits on how much we can expect to do to mediate the Sahara conflict, but some of our friends could do more. In short, Hassan’s problems are largely of his own making; the situation is serious, but probably not desperate; we have limited direct influence. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 55, Morocco: 1–8/79. Secret. Sent for information. Brzezinski drew an arrow pointing to Quandt’s name and wrote: “Can you give me a memo to State along the lines you outline? ZB. 5–1–79.”
  2. Not found.
  3. Not attached.