192. Summary of Conclusions of a Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Middle East Security Issues


  • State

    • Secretary Cyrus Vance
    • Harold Saunders, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs
  • OSD

    • Secretary Harold Brown
    • David McGiffert, Assistant Secretary, International Security Affairs
  • JCS

    • General David Jones
    • Lt. General William Smith


    • Secretary James Schlesinger
    • Harry Bergold, Assistant Secretary, International Affairs


    • Frank Carlucci, Deputy Director
    • Robert Ames, NIO for Near East and South Asia
  • ACDA

    • Spurgeon Keeny, Deputy Director
    • Alan Platt, Acting Assistant Director, Weapons Evaluation and Control
  • White House

    • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • David Aaron
  • NSC

    • William Quandt
    • Fritz Ermarth
    • Sam Hoskinson

1. Saudi Financing of Egyptian F–5s. The SCC reviewed the status of the Saudi commitment to the Egyptian F–5 program. Defense received a letter on April 27 from Saudi Defense Minister Sultan setting forth a schedule of payments. Subsequently, Foreign Minister Saud informed [Page 633] us that Saudi Arabia was withdrawing its offer to finance the F–5s.2 Secretary Vance has sent a cable to Saud in Morocco,3 but has not yet received a reply. The President has signed a letter to King Khalid, and after some discussion, the SCC concurred that the letter should be sent now.4 In addition, it was agreed that Secretary Brown should respond to the message from Sultan, emphasizing our broad concerns with the success of the F–5 program, and discussing the financial arrangements for the sale.5 All of the principals were concerned about adverse Congressional reaction if the Saudis do withdraw their financial support, particularly in light of the personal commitment from King Khalid to the President. Congressional reaction could be particularly sharp, and might hurt the F–15 program for Saudi Arabia. (S)

2. Threats to Saudi Arabia. After some discussion, the group generally agreed that the Saudis are primarily concerned by external threats, not by internal social upheaval. Insofar as the Saudis do face internal security problems, those are exacerbated by external developments. The most immediate dangers as perceived by the Saudis stem from inter-Arab conflicts, not from the Soviets or Israel directly. It was generally agreed that the Saudis have lost confidence in the US ability to help them manage their security problems, and that an important objective in our future plans is to reverse that perception. (S)

3. Nature of US Military Presence. In considering ways of reassuring the Saudis and others of our commitment to their security, a number of options are available: enhancing our naval presence; pre-positioning equipment on bases in the area; and the rapid capability to respond to requests for military assistance. Defense has been consulting with the Saudis and Jordanians about contingency planning in the region, and a number of options for strengthening the US military presence [Page 634] are under review. These will be considered at a PRC meeting chaired by Secretary Brown in early June.6 (S)

4. Diplomatic Considerations. Secretary Vance will chair a meeting of the PRC in early June to consider the diplomatic consequences of strengthening the US military presence in the Persian Gulf region. CIA will prepare a comprehensive intelligence assessment of likely regional and Soviet responses to various types of US presence. Iraq’s growing role as a regional power will also be analyzed. A political strategy for enhancing our security relations with key countries in the area—especially Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, the UAE, and Egypt—will be discussed. (S)

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 81B00112R, Subject Files, Box 16, Folder 34, (SCC) Middle East. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. Brzezinski initialed the Summary of Conclusions on the last page. Dodson sent it under a May 14 memorandum to Mondale, Vance, Brown, Schlesinger, Seignious, Jones, and Turner. The minutes of this meeting are printed as Document 23.
  2. Sultan’s letter was not found. Telegram 718 from Riyadh, May 7, reported that Saud had informed Daniels that, as a result of the decisions at the March Baghdad summit, Saudi Arabia would withdraw funding for the sale of the aircraft to Egypt. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. IX, Arab-Israeli Dispute, August 1978–December 1980, Document 251. A Mini-SCC meeting, held earlier on May 11, discussed specifically the Saudi withdrawal of funding. See ibid., Document 253.
  3. In telegram 116140 to Rabat, May 8, Vance instructed Ambassador Parker to inform Saud that the United States was “deeply concerned by indication that SAG has reversed its decision at funding Egyptian F–5 program.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840133–1743)
  4. Carter’s letter to Khalid, conveying his “great concern” over the effect that the Saudi F–5 announcement could have on U.S.-Saudi relations, was transmitted in telegram 120410 to Jidda, May 11. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. IX, Arab-Israeli Dispute, Document 248.
  5. Brown’s letter to Sultan was transmitted in telegram 123107 to Riyadh, May 15. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790218–0703)
  6. The PRC met June 21 and 22; see Document 26. Christopher chaired the June 21 session, and Brown chaired the June 22 session.