154. Report Prepared by the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia (West)1
SAUDI ARABIA—PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Based on my first few weeks in Saudi Arabia, certain conclusions have become clear. None of these are revolutionary or even necessarily new, but the personal discipline of stating them as simply and clearly as possible has been helpful to me and hopefully will be of benefit to others concerned with the problem at hand.
Some recommendations likewise are being offered based on these conclusions. Hopefully, these recommendations coming from a fresh perspective will have that advantage to compensate in part for the lack of in-depth knowledge and relative inexperience of the writer in formal diplomacy.
Saudi Arabia is important to the United States and its allies for two major reasons:
1) Saudi Arabia will have effective control for at least the next decade of the world’s energy situation. Not only is over one-fourth of the world’s known oil located in its borders, but more importantly the vast majority of the world’s “cheap” oil is situated here. Access to that oil on terms that do not wreck the United States and the free world’s economy is vital to our national interests.
2) Saudi Arabia has a unique opportunity and capacity to provide economic and political leadership in a form consistent with the United States’ national and international goals and policies. The political role is not limited to the influence and leverage it has in the Mid-East and the peace negotiations there, but also is equally potent in Africa and other developing nations. The economic role means in part providing funds which might otherwise have to come from the United States.[Page 503]
To give a full picture, it is clear that the present regime in Saudi Arabia feels the need for close ties with the United States and probably links their own survival to the maintenance of good relations with us. They are acutely aware of many of their own weaknesses and at least some of their vulnerabilities. They know that they need a strong friend and protector if they are to continue to control and benefit from the oil treasure which fate has allotted to them. This awareness on the part of the Saudi regime provides us with some influence in their policies and conduct, but in no way lessens the validity of the two major premises as above stated.
SAUDI ARABIA—OIL AND ENERGY
Peace in the Mid-East has been one of the highest of priorities in the U.S. foreign policy—and rightly so. However, of equal, and probably more importance to our national interest, and those of our allies, is our relationship to Saudi Arabia as it affects our future supplies of oil and energy.
The critical nature of this problem has become increasingly clear to me in my time here. I feel it important that I express to you the sense of urgency and concern about this phase of our relationship which is becoming more obvious to me as the days go by.
My concern is based on the general conclusion reached by all of the current energy studies and projections (C.I.A. et al) that there is no way, at least for the next decade, that we can eliminate our dependence on oil imports and maintain a strong, viable economy in the United States. To our Western allies, the problem is even more critical. Saudi Arabia is the one country in the world with the reserves (up to 30% of the world’s total) and the potential production capacity (at least 15 to 20 million barrels per day) to insure that the industrialized West can obtain the oil that is needed at a price that will not wreck our economy.
A great deal of attention is given to the size of the Saudi Arabian oil reserves and their potential productive capacity, but I think the factor of the production cost of their oil adds a most critical factor to our necessity of having access to these supplies for possibly decades in the future. Saudi Arabia will be able to produce 20 million barrels a day of oil for almost a quarter of a century at a cost of production that is less than 10% of the North Sea oil or that of our oil from Alaska.
The political consequences of this oil being under the control of forces unfriendly to the United States are frightening. For example, consider the political influence that an unfriendly power could have in a place such as Italy if that power were to offer an oil supply to them at one-third of what they are now paying in exchange for certain political moves. On the other hand, I am told that the new supply of oil from the North Sea will probably not lower the cost of energy to [Page 504] the average Englishman. In other words, not only the availability but also the price of oil is a potent political weapon.
It is hard for even an informed observer to realize fully the implications of oil economics and politics. In my brief period here, I have begun to sense some of the dangerous, even disastrous consequences which can happen in this international game with such high stakes. Any one of many pitfalls along the way can trigger a chain of events which would make us a bigger loser than I think we can afford to be.
For example, the oil producing and storage facilities in Saudi Arabia are highly vulnerable to disruption. Since their inception, the production and gathering facilities have been designed for maximum economic advantage . . . no attention has been paid to their physical security. Backup transportation systems are all but non-existent. I have been told that if the May 1977 pipeline fire had occurred at a location fifty feet away from the actual rupture, it could have resulted in a loss of world oil production of at least five million barrels a day for months. This fact, and possible consequences, was one of the topics of discussion between Senator Javits and Sheikh Zaki Yamani, the Oil Minister:2
Yamani: “If the fire had occurred 15 meters closer, it would have cut our production by 50% for at least six to nine months.”
Javits: “And what effect would that have had on world markets?”
Yamani: “It would have been a disaster. If our production had been cut to, say, 5 million barrels per day versus our present 10 to 11 million, the shortage would have been felt throughout the world. The law of supply and demand would have forced the price in the market place far beyond the OPEC schedule. You would have had a depression in your country unlike what you have seen since the 1930s . . .”
The Oil Minister may well have been indulging in Arabic overstatement, but I’m not in a position to dispute his conclusion. Even more important, it impressed Javits. On our subsequent visit to Dhahran, the Senator asked Aramco’s Board Chairman Frank Jungers to show him the site of the fire and that 15-meter difference, which he did.
In any event, that bit of dialogue points up just one of the several dangers to our energy supply in this country. If our energy sources are jeopardized for whatever reason, the effect on the existence and individual life styles of both our nation and our allies would be devastating.
Four of the more obvious dangers to our access to Saudi Arabian oil may be summarized as follows:
1) Sabotage and/or internal breakdown like the May fire;[Page 505]
2) External aggression, i.e., seizure of the oil fields by unfriendly powers;
3) A political-economic decision to limit production to an amount just necessary to generate funds for present financial needs;
4) An overthrow of the existing leadership within the Royal Family by either a Qaddafi-type coup or a victory by the conservative elements of the family over the Fahd-Saud faction; or conceivably some combination of the two.
I will not attempt to comment on items (1) and (2) in any detail; they constitute well-known possibilities which no doubt are under constant consideration at the policy level by State as well as the Defense Department. Our programs of assistance to the military and national guard forces have undoubtedly been a result of the recognition of these first two dangers. Items (3) and (4), however, warrant a more detailed discussion. One or two recent developments make a current assessment of these items even more necessary—perhaps critically so.
Saudi Arabia is presently undergoing an almost fantasy-like experience similar to A Thousand and One Nights—the whole country is changing overnight as though someone had rubbed Aladdin’s lamp and said, “Take this place into the Twentieth Century.” No country in the history of the world has ever before had such an influx of goods and services from outside in such a brief period.
The modernization that Saudi Arabia has experienced with its five-year plan has brought with it pressures for changes.
These pressures in turn are creating tensions and frictions at all levels. What the ultimate effect will be on the present government cannot be predicted with certainty, but it is important for us to understand as best we can what may happen and how it affects our interests.
The starting point logically is
ROYAL FAMILY—POLITICS AND POLICY
In the murky field of the politics of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family, there is much speculation, but little real knowledge, though certain conclusions are generally accepted.
The most important of these is that the Royal Family is divided into two groups: the liberals, headed by Fahd, and the conservatives, whose leader is generally considered to be Prince Abdullah, the second Deputy Prime Minister and the leader of the National Guard.
King Khaled holds his present position because he was acceptable to both factions at the time of King Faisal’s death. Prince Mohammed, his older (full) brother, was passed over because of his conservatism and fiery temper. Fahd, reportedly the late King Faisal’s choice, had strong opposition from the conservative wing of the family. Khaled [Page 506] has done a good job of peace-keeping in at times difficult situations—he has supported Fahd in his liberal views on oil supply, pricing, and assistance to other countries, but he has tilted toward the Mohammed-Abdullah faction in internal religious matters and customs.
King Khaled’s reported desire to abdicate has, of course, been strongly opposed by the conservative group who see the ascendancy of Fahd to the throne and the increased prominence of leaders like Prince Saud (King Faisal’s son, now Foreign Minister) as a major setback to their side.
The conservatives can be divided into two groups, economic and religious. The economic conservatives could be compared to the pre-World War II isolationists in the U.S. in that they fail to realize how Saudi national interests are linked to the fate of the rest of the world. The religious conservatives are essentially patriarchal puritans opposed to modernization beyond obvious material benefits such as literacy, health, and defense.
The economic conservatives espouse a sort of “Iron Law of Petroleum” which holds that production of five million barrels a day would suffice to give SAG all the funds needed to finance their government activities plus assistance to their beneficiary countries. According to this school, the current production level of nearly ten million barrels a day (capacity is now being increased to 16 MBD) wastes a resource whose value in the ground will increase faster than portfolios of investments made with excess oil revenues. Hisham Nazer, Minister of Planning, is the most outspoken supporter of this position, pleading that inflation is eroding the value of Saudi investments which soak up their excess cash. The Saudi oil supply is finite. Its maximum value for the Kingdom will be attained by holding production down so prices will inflate. On solely economic grounds, a simple, logical, very compelling argument!
The religious conservatives are less articulate, but preach against the erosion of traditional Islamic values caused by modernization. Not really diehard fanatics, basically they wish to see the Kingdom’s wealth used to pour the new wine of western civilization into the old skin of Islamic religion and culture without rupturing the wine skin. In other words, western material benefits such as health care, literacy, et al without western materialism. To this end they preach strict adherence to the stern doctrines of the Koran as an antidote to the western values threatening to swamp their traditional way of life. In the Royal Family, the religious conservatives, foremost among them the King’s older brother Prince Mohammad, have recently won the King’s ear and evidently his sympathy toward their views.
Up to now, the western-educated economic conservatives have had no real alliance, either inside or outside the Royal Family, with the more parochial religious zealots. However, the interests of the two [Page 507] groups, which superficially appear rather far apart, might dovetail enough in the near future for a new conservative coalition to be formed. The effects of this coalition would probably stalemate the current ruling clique of “liberal” Princes headed by Crown Prince Fahd. The ensuing squabbling and divisiveness could engender even more serious and unexpected consequences for the Royal Family and consequentially the stability of the present regime.
The over-simplified conclusion, therefore, is that there is within and without the Royal Family a substantial minority group, the conservative-isolationist faction. The coalition is loose, somewhat fragmented—but with a real potential to influence if not take over the leadership of the country.
Any one of several events could coalesce these disjointed groups and create real problems in US–SAG relations, vis a vis oil and energy. The two more likely in order of importance:
1) A failure of Arab-Israeli peace negotiations coupled with continued U.S. support of Israelis;
2) Stringent implementation of anti-boycott and other legislative and administrative measures by U.S. which the Saudis would deem contrary to their interests, and in a sense would be as spurning their gestures of friendship with the U.S. and their leadership in the third world. Such embarrassing developments as Prince Saud’s being denied the purchase of the apartment in New York are certainly not helpful.3
The conflict thus generated between a combination of the conservatives versus the liberal elements could weaken the government to the extent that its continuation in present form would be jeopardized.
The possibility of some revolt against the existing government cannot be overlooked. One overriding lesson of history is that absolute monarchies invariably fall, especially as civilization progresses. “Civilization” in this instance means education, training, the development of a middle class society, and pressures to bring women into wider areas of public life.
The SAG has made tremendous strides in the last decade—but there is still a long way to go. King Abd-al-Aziz was an absolute monarch who by the force of personal leadership united Saudi Arabia and made it a nation. The present King is not an absolute monarch and the present system can perhaps best be described as a “constituent monarchy.” The constituency consists largely of the surviving sons of the late King Abd-al-Azizplus some of his grandchildren, such as Prince Saud, the Foreign Minister.[Page 508]
This constituent monarchy has exhibited a social sense and concern for its subjects which, given the other restraints of tradition in the country, has undoubtedly minimized the danger of a coup sparked by students and young intellectuals. The Royal Family has many strengths, including its numbers, family tribal ties, and the control of the military forces, making a coup a la Qaddafi somewhat remote. (The Defense Minister, Prince Sultan, is a full brother of Fahd, and the head of the National Guard is Prince Abdullah, a half brother.)
However, the most likely danger of a disruption in the continuity of the present SAG ruling group will come from some combination of forces set in motion by two basic trends:
1) An acceleration of the internal conservative versus liberal struggle in the family as Khaled’s departure from the Kingship becomes closer;
2) Unsettling, semi-revolutionary forces begun by the modernization processes now under way and further sparked by Saudis returning from education and cultural experiences abroad. The large percentage of non-Saudis now in the Kingdom—presently estimated to be 30% of the population—is bound to increase as the SAG’s development plans are implemented, and they provide another force for change.
The tremendous crosscurrents generated by the conservative-liberal struggle can best be illustrated by an example of the paradoxes of extremes, which would be laughable if it were not so serious.
Sometime ago the Saudi Arabian Government made a decision to undertake a major reform of its correctional system. A management consultant firm was employed, and as a result of their recommendations, proposals have been submitted for the creation and construction of what has been described as the most modern penal and correctional system in the world—to cost at least a half billion dollars.
The penal system comes under the Ministry of the Interior. The Minister, Prince Nayif, and his deputy, Prince Ahmed, are full brothers of Fahd (the Sudeiri Seven). Both have assured me that the program was proceeding and the first contract would be awarded momentarily. (An item of interest is that the firm which appears to be favored to get the contract is a consortium which includes Dr. Ellis McDougall. He is a nationally recognized correctional expert who headed prison reform efforts in Georgia, South Carolina, and Connecticut.)
At almost the same time that I was discussing prison matters with Prince Ahmed (and trying to get some U.S. citizens out of Saudi jails), an incident, gruesome by U.S. standards, was happening. I will relate it in some detail because it illustrates so well the vivid contrasts now present in this country.
A royal princess, the granddaughter of Prince Mohammed, the King’s older brother, asked for permission to marry a commoner with [Page 509] whom she had allegedly been living. Permission was refused. She faked suicide by leaving her clothes by the Creek, a resort swimming area off the Red Sea north of Jidda. A full search, including helicopters, was made for her.
Disguised as a man, she and her lover, the nephew of the Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon, were apprehended as they attempted to leave the country from the Jidda airport. (During the security search, her reportedly prominent female characteristics proved her undoing.) A captain in the Jidda police provided assistance to the eloping couple.
She was publicly executed the next day—shot four times. Her lover was beheaded (it took nine licks of the sword). The captain was sentenced to five years imprisonment along with a public flogging once a month for that period.
Prince Mohammed insisted on the execution—said he would kill them both if they were not executed. Technically the execution was justified according to the Koran, which punishes sex outside of marriage by death. However, its infliction on a member of the Royal Family was unusual, and in fact for such a crime, unprecedented. By our standards, an almost sadistic feature was added—all of the royal princesses, including her mother and sisters, reportedly were bused to the execution and forced to watch.
Prince Mohammed was passed over as King by his late father, King Abd-al-Azizbecause of his temper and his known conservatism. (He was called “the stormy one.”) Nevertheless, his influence is great, especially since his full brother, Khaled, became King. The fact that he personally insisted on the execution of his granddaughter, who had reportedly been one of his favorites, is an indication of his power and the strength and depth of the conservative movement here.
This execution brings into focus and illustrates two disrupting factors which may well change or influence the governmental future of Saudi Arabia in the next decade, i.e.,
1) A revolt by the young intellectuals exposed to Western culture against the harsh and restrictive rules by Saudi society, coupled with
2) The Women’s Lib Movement—which is now being recognized as creating a real problem for the SAG.
Crown Prince Fahd mentioned the latter to me in a social conversation a couple of weeks ago. He said as Minister of Education, he made the decision to educate women some fifteen or twenty years ago—and there had been trouble ever since.
He related that his favorite niece was in a class this year which emphasized the advantages of plural marriages and taught the young girls how to get along with their fellow wives. Near the end of the course, the professor announced that each girl would be required to [Page 510] write an essay setting forth what she had learned about the subject—and that a prize would be given for the best paper.
The Prince said his niece thereupon got up and said, “Professor, I think we all should walk out right now!” He then commented that one of the big problems of the Kingdom was that there were about 700,000 young women who were being educated and that there were not enough jobs in the teaching and nursing fields to absorb them.
Fahd’s seeming inclination is to relax the restrictions on women, but he is quite evidently being overruled by the traditionalist-conservative group. For example, American firms with Saudi contracts have been using female employees—in fact Northrop even had permission (so they thought) to hire wives of their male employees.
However, within the last month, police from the Ministry of Interior have been checking closely on female employment, including U.S. firms. I broached the subject to Prince Ahmed during one of our meetings and was told politely but coolly that no females could work without a permit issued by SAG. And there was no doubt in either of our minds after his reply that none would be granted. Incidentally, he is not only Fahd’s full brother but also a political science graduate of the University of Redlands. His brother, Prince Nayif, has just returned to the country. He does not speak English and I have met with him only once. I do not have much hope that Nayif will overrule or modify his brother’s position.
Another evidence of the return to traditionalism—and as a possible aftermath to the Princess’ execution—has been an order by the King to all of the Royal Family to remain in the Kingdom and to observe fasting, etc. during the holy month of Ramadan. Historically many of the members of the Royal Family take European or U.S. vacations during this period, but King Khaled has decreed otherwise for the first time this year.
All of this goes to underscore a basic fact which is hard for an American to recognize, much less understand, namely the vast cultural, social, and political differences between our two societies.
The issue of human rights is a good starting point. We base our human rights values on Christian concepts formulated by our Judeo-Christian heritage. Saudi Arabia is one of the few parts of the globe that has never been exposed to Christianity. Russia had its orthodox churches, communist China, Christian missionaries. The northern part of this particular continent has all been exposed to Christian influence in varying degrees. Even a vast majority of the continent of Africa has had Christian input one place or another into the society patterns, with the possible exception of a few nomadic tribes. However, this central and southern portion of the Arabian peninsula has received none. Only within the past ten to twenty years have some of its citizens gone to school outside of Saudi Arabia and been exposed to basic modern Christian concepts. The physical location of the Islamic cities of Mecca [Page 511] and Medina successfully restricted even the minimum Christian influence resulting from foreign trade to areas in Jidda. As recent as 1900, less than a dozen Europeans had ever reached Riyadh.
Saudi Arabian society ranks the nation-state third in an individual’s priorities. Their first loyalty without question is to immediate family. Their second loyalty is to a tribe, and if that tribe is large enough, possibly to some regional area. Then, and only then, will a loyalty to Saudi Arabia as a nation emerge. Underlying, and in a sense an expression of these loyalties, is the Islamic religion. These loyalties, approved by and a part of that religion, make changes slow, difficult, and at times seemingly impossible.
Almost as apparent as their lack of understanding of human rights is their inability to conceive of the value of public opinion in the United States. Even the U.S. educated, highly intelligent SAG officials basically conceive of the President of the United States as a monarch in terms of his authority. In fact, they probably consider that the President is in one sense more of an absolute monarch than the King is here. They have a constituency made up of 20 or 30 senior members of the Saud Royal Family and some dozen religious leaders, but they consider the President literally to be accountable to no one. Not only do they fail to see why they should make any effort in any form to improve their image with such as the American public, but they don’t even make a really serious effort to improve their image with their own people. (This fact gives rise to some of the recommendations which I want to make.)
These vast cultural and social differences are well illustrated by a story told me by an American consultant to members of the Royal Family. He was complaining loudly and forcefully to two of the half dozen or so more prominent members of the family who have had education outside Saudi Arabia about some delays and lack of decisions that were being encountered with a major project. After patiently listening for a few minutes, the more senior of the two princes calmly replied: “We are attempting to move a 17th Century monarchy into the 18th Century in six months time—that feat took your ancestors one hundred years. If we ever succeed in reaching the 18th Century, then you and I will discuss the 19th Century.”
SAUDI’S LEADERSHIP ROLE
The Saudis are obviously enjoying their emerging role as a regional and possible world leader. Scarcely a week passes without a chief of state or cabinet-level official coming here to pay his respects to the King and Crown Prince (and of course to ask for money). In this year alone, more than thirty heads of state or foreign ministers have visited here. In addition, there have been over one hundred official missions here from other countries.[Page 512]
Such an influx would create a crisis even for Evan Dobelle, Dot Padgett,4 et al. In Saudi Arabia, with little staff and virtually no infrastructure, it is pandemonium plus! The Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, spends between one-third and one-half of his total time entertaining foreign dignitaries. To that fact add these difficulties:
1) His staff includes less than a half dozen people capable of typing;
2) Only one out of ten duplicating machines is operable;
3) No known filing system exists other than an attempt to file by date;
4) The Foreign Ministry Building is seriously infested with termites that are literally devouring the national records;
5) The Foreign Ministry Building has just been structurally condemned and they are trying to find new emergency headquarters in order to continue to operate at all;
6) The Foreign Minister’s personal working library consists of a small world globe in Arabic and a recent atlas from England.
Several of the other ministries are apparently in better shape as far as the physical plant goes, but none of them probably has over a half dozen people that would be considered even reasonably competent by our standards.
Despite these problems, their vast financial wealth and the fact that they represent the focus of Islam makes them critical in Middle Eastern peace. I am more than ever convinced that the Khaled-Fahd-Saud leadership will at this time do everything in their power to bring about peace.
The nature and extent of their involvement in the PLO question is in itself evidence of the sincerity of their commitment to peace. Unfortunately, if present efforts fail despite their all-out contributions, they will, in my opinion, then support the Arab cause in event of hostilities with Israel with a holy zeal. This support would include as a minimum an unlimited financial commitment and would probably eventually include an all-out utilization of the oil weapon as well.
Looking beyond the Middle East situation, it is obvious that the Saudis have a fortunate working relationship with many of the developing nations. Their actions related to the price of oil and their efforts in OPEC are a matter of record. What may be less obvious is their special interest and concern about the political situation in Africa. They are almost paranoid about Soviet involvement in any area that they feel relates to their future and will make any commitment which in their judgment will deter the spread of communism in at least Africa and the Mid-East.[Page 513]
While enjoying this new leadership role and the prestige which it carries, the Saudis recognize their lack of experience, their all but non-existing government organization and infrastructure, and their consequent limitations in the formulation and conduct of foreign policy. They look toward the United States for support, guidance, and approval, without which they will not have the self-confidence to move forward as the leader-financier of this region of the world.
Based on my impressions and exposure to date, I have reached the following conclusions:
1) That the future well being, and perhaps even the survival of the United States and its allies and Saudi Arabia depend upon the development and continuation of a degree of unity, cooperation, and common effort paralleled in modern history only by the alliance of the Allies of World War II.
2) That the creation and maintenance of such a relationship is difficult but not impossible. It cannot and will not happen unless and until there is a reconciliation or at least a better understanding of vast cultural, social, and political differences between the countries. In short, there must be understanding coupled with patience, tolerance, and forgiveness on both sides.
3) That relationship can best be accomplished through the existing Saudi Arabian government, which is in effect the Fahd-Saud or liberal wing of the present Royal Family;
4) The Royal Family is beset by tensions, rivalries, jealousies, as well as crosscurrents of economic and religious differences, all of which could create dangers with respect to present and future USA–SAG relationships; and
5) That the United States must take a positive leadership role in bringing about the desired relationship between our nations. The sharing of common goals plus the immediate overriding urgency of economic survival on the part of the United States, its allies, and the political survival on the part of Saudi Arabia demand an all-out effort to establish and maintain strong working ties between our countries.
The U.S. Government for its own national interests for the next decade needs to be a combination of a political counselor, economic partner and government-reformer to Saudi Arabia. Whether any or all of those roles can be played successfully, recognizing political realities as well as the national sensitivities of a proud (and rich) people, may well be one of the great challenges of our times.
Specifically, at the policy level, I recommend:
1) That we encourage and support the Saudi leadership role, especially in this geographic area. Encouraging them to assume an increas[Page 514]ingly important leadership role in the Arab-Israeli issue is a vital first step. They want to look upon themselves as a full partner with the U.S. in this undertaking. As Prince Saud said to me recently, “The settlement of this dispute requires two honest brokers—you working on the Israelis and we doing likewise with the Arabs.” We should, therefore, take every opportunity by word and deed to show our appreciation to them for their moderating influence in OPEC and their financial assumption of the burden and leadership role in fighting communism in Africa. As a young nation with little leadership experience, their leaders need constant encouragement in the form of expressions of appreciation and approval by the United States.
2) Encouraging closer economic ties with the U.S. to include (a) softening as much as possible the effects of the anti-boycott legislation;5 (b) amending our present tax laws which are putting U.S. companies in an untenable competitive position in the Mid-East market; (c) encouraging more investment by Saudi Arabia’s public and private sector in the United States;
3) Assisting the SAG to implement needed reforms and changes to curb abuses and minimize the pressures resulting from inefficiencies, excesses, and abuses;
4) Encourage and assist the Saudi Government to present and project a better image to the Western world where public opinion is so influential;
5) Encourage and assist the Saudi Government to present and project a better image of its operation and function to its own citizens and the citizens of this region.
A beneficial effect of implementing (4) and (5) will be that it should constitute a self-policing procedure which will be helpful in accomplishing the needed changes and reforms.
To begin to implement the above broad recommendations working toward the establishment of the kind of relationship we need with Saudi Arabia, I have as of now four specific recommendations which I feel are essential:
1) That key political, business, and cultural leaders from the United States be encouraged to come to Saudi Arabia. One visit here is literally worth a thousand words. The political and strategic importance of this country can easily be seen and sensed by even the most skeptical of visitors. A special effort should be made to encourage visits by members [Page 515] of the Congress as their understanding and support of our current Mid-East policy is essential to its success;
2) A continuing evaluation of events involving the Royal Family as they may affect the SAG’s stability and future policies. This is being done now on a somewhat informal and, I sense, uncoordinated fashion, but I feel that its importance warrants a more precise and structured approach. I discussed this matter with Harold Saunders during the visit to Taif and this recommendation is already being implemented.
3) Development of a plan to coordinate USIA efforts with the Saudi Ministry of Information to present through the Saudi media (largely TV at the outset) programs about the special relationship which exists between US and SAG. These programs would emphasize the strengths of present SAG leadership for such things as a TV special showing Prince Fahd’s visit to U.S. and his relationship with President Carter, or King Khaled having Dr. DeBakey6 open a heart clinic at King Faisal Hospital, etc. I would expect Isa Sabbagh to take a key role in the development of this idea and would probably want to involve private sector companies such as Aramco, Mobil, and others.
4) The strengthening of the Embassy staff here. Because of numerous transfers, vacations, home leaves and the like, I have not yet assessed fully what our needs may be. With the development of a presence at Riyadh plus the increasing Saudi involvement regionally, we may need additional people to perform effectively. However, I will be in a position to discuss our requirements in detail in October when I return to the Department for consultation.
This document has already become too lengthy. I hope it will provide a basis for discussions out of which will come some constructive steps toward helping our efforts in this most exciting and challenging area of the world.
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 67, Saudi Arabia: 9–12/77. Secret. Attached but not printed is a September 2 memorandum from Sick to Brzezinski under which Sick sent West’s report. Sick also attached a memorandum to Carter from Brzezinski, for Brzezinski to sign and attach to West’s report. A notation on Sick’s September 2 memorandum indicates that Brzezinski hand-carried the package to Carter on September 7. Carter added the following notation on the first page of Brzezinski’s memorandum: “Fritz—A superb report, J.” Vance added “I agree. Cy” in the margin. An August 21 covering letter from West to Carter is also attached but not printed.↩
- Javits met with Yamani on July 6 during his July 6–9 visit to Saudi Arabia. An account of the meeting is in telegram 4804 from Jidda, July 9. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770244–1002)↩
- An unknown hand wrote a question mark in the right-hand margin next to this sentence.↩
- U.S. Chief of Protocol and Assistant Chief of Protocol, respectively.↩
- The 1977 amendments to the Export Administration Act of 1969 (P.L. 95–52), signed by President Carter on June 22, discouraged and, in some circumstances, prohibited U.S. companies from participating in the Arab League boycott of Israel.↩
- Dr. Michael DeBakey, President of the Baylor College of Medicine, was one of the first heart surgeons to perform coronary bypass operations and pioneered various surgical techniques.↩