95. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Tarnoff) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Southwest Asian Security Framework

The Department of State welcomes the opportunity to comment upon your memorandum of November 5,2 which outlines progress in constructing a security framework for the Persian Gulf and charts a course for the future.

Current Status of Goals

A. Military Component

Command Arrangements

—Consideration of a regional military command should be undertaken with indigenous country attitudes and our interests in mind. Most regional states would refuse to accept a US headquarters, and some might object to our creating a regional command, especially if our action were highly publicized. The location of such a headquarters in the US with perhaps an advance element afloat might be the best alternative. If centralization occurs, the emphasis should be on an RDF for worldwide deployment, rather than a specific SWA command.

—Security assistance must continue to be closely coordinated with political initiatives, economic assistance and other policy aspects, regionally and with individual countries. Thus it is essential that military assistance establishments continue to operate under the direct control of the ambassadors. Centralizing DoD security assistance responsibilities within any one military command presents no problem as long as the ambassador/MAAG/ODC relationship is maintained. Centralization of military construction activities under a single command also should be considered.

RDF Exercises in the Region. State believes that the tentative CY 1981 exercise plan needs to be reviewed in light of the Iraqi-Iranian war and our efforts at cooperation with regional and Allied countries during that war.

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Basing Access. Our ability to follow through on facilities improvements promised in connection with the access agreements with Oman, Kenya, and Somalia will be an important determinant of the course of our future security cooperation with those countries. Accordingly, funding of those improvements should receive high priority. If we reach similar agreements with Egypt, we should recognize that additional funds will have to be made available for construction there.

Institutionalized Security Ties with Saudi Arabia. Overbuilding and overstocking are important goals in achieving our present concept of force projection. However, the recent interruption at Saudi initiative of the talks on security cooperation vividly demonstrates the fragility and complexity of our security relationship.3 Though military equipment requests underlie current strains in our relationship, the latter will continue to be complicated by Arab-Israeli considerations, Saudi reluctance to be seen as a U.S. client, and increased Saudi concern about security in the Persian Gulf region. Our ability to strengthen US-Saudi security ties depends upon how far we are willing and able to go in meeting Saudi objectives in these areas.

—In addition, since we may never achieve Saudi agreement to all of our support requests, we need to analyze and prioritize our requirements. An interagency analysis should be conducted of (1) which overbuilding/overstocking programs are most important to the RDF and (2) which are likely to be most useful and acceptable to the Saudis, so that we can develop a comprehensive strategy for approaching them on this subject.

B. Foreign Policy Component

One additional aspect of the foreign policy component deserves mention:

—The Iraqi-Iranian war highlights Iraq’s aspirations to regional dominance and the continuing threat of political instability in Iran.

C. Economic Component

Security Assistance (ESF). Increased levels for SWA countries were proposed during the FY 1982 budget process in addition to some reprogramming for FY 1980 and 1981. We also considered ESF elements in the enhancement exercise.

Influence over Saudi Aid. Saudi economic assistance to Somalia should be encouraged, but we must avoid increasing Somali military resources that could lead either to renewed hostilities with Ethiopia or to an increase of tensions between Somalia and Kenya. We need to [Page 310] recognize that the Saudi response to our urgings of aid to other countries will be influenced by how much we are willing to contribute.

Oil. State believes that the paper’s treatment of the oil issue is overly optimistic. Unless strong actions are taken soon, the protraction of the Iran-Iraqi conflict is likely to cause a repeat of the 1979 events, when market panic turned a small shortfall into a 140% increase in oil prices. Saudi Arabia has no present surge capacity to use in moderating prices and the disarray in OPEC undermines price unification efforts. The present IEA policy of encouraging stock drawdowns and avoiding abnormal spot market purchases can be successful only so long as market participants believe that a resumption of oil supplies from Iran and Iraq will occur at the latest during the first quarter of 1981. As that belief fades, many companies and governments suffering shortfalls will enter the spot market and drive up prices; this is already beginning, and, in fact, Somalia has been seriously affected by the Iran-Iraq war.

Turkey/Portugal. We have been doing our best to obtain alternate supplies for Turkey and Portugal, both severely affected by the Iran/Iraq cutoff. Our informal efforts via the major oil companies have not yet been successful. Turkey has been able to replace less than one quarter of its needs, Portugal somewhat more.

Refugees. The influx of refugees into Somalia from the Ogaden is causing a problem of economic and political concern. The number of refugees is approaching one million. The US contributions to refugee programs in Somalia are now at $50 million annually and rising. Polit-ically, the refugee problem could cause greater tensions in Somalia as the country struggles to meet its own economic needs while managing this enormous relief effort. Stemming this flow of refugees and enabling their return to the Ogaden would relieve this enormous drain on our resources and prevent what could be serious political consequences for the Siad Government.

Goals for the Future

A. Military Component

Relations with Saudi Arabia. As noted above, our present inability to meet Saudi defense procurement requests has limited the extent of US-Saudi defense cooperation. It is likely to do so in the future as well.

Better Relations with Oman and Somalia. We would note that, although we have concluded an agreement with Somalia, we still have a long way to go. Congressional apprehensions over Siad’s continuing activities in the Ogaden present a serious obstacle to further progress.

A revised memo might address two additional subjects:

Role of Indigenous States. A few indigenous states, such as Egypt, Turkey, and Pakistan, might be able to contribute significant military [Page 311] capabilities to the defense of Southwest Asia if the political situation at the time permits. The other regional states could probably not generate significant offensive capabilities, but with the proper assistance they could become capable of limited self-defense and could, in some cases, provide important combat support services. We need to study the roles of indigenous forces more closely and to coordinate the conclusions of our study with our military assistance activities and political realities. We should not fall into the trap of looking at regional capabilities solely in terms of how they contribute to our ability to respond to an external or Soviet threat. There are other roles that indigenous forces can play.

Gulf States. We need to think further about our relations with the Gulf States, seeking to define better how the military element of our strategy can contribute to Gulf State security, while not increasing the security risks for the Gulf States in cooperating with the US militarily.

B. Foreign Policy Component

Turkey and Pakistan. State concurs that highest priority should be given to improving ties with Turkey and Pakistan. In the case of Pakistan, a major improvement in our development and security assistance program (e.g., an offer to sell, possibly with FMS credits, high performance aircraft) may be a necessary step both in improving our security relations with Pakistan and in deterring Soviet adventurism in the region. In Turkey, the role of our Allies in providing supporting assistance will continue to be vital.

Several other points should also be discussed here:

Egypt. To promote Egyptian political stability, we should closely monitor the level of our security cooperation and should ensure that the accumulation of cooperative arrangements does not become a threat to President Sadat’s ability to govern.

The Horn. We should, in cooperation with our European allies and such interested states as Sudan, pursue opportunities to reduce tensions on the Horn. This will help in our relations with Kenya, permit greater cooperation with Somalia, and help overcome the increasingly volatile refugee situation. Our efforts in this regard will also lessen concern among our allies, in Kenya, and elsewhere in Africa that our access agreement is emboldening Somalia to take more aggressive action against its neighbors.

African Influence on Kenya, Somalia and the Indian Ocean Countries. Other African countries, through the OAU or the UN, could be pivotal in providing or withholding international support to African countries providing access and other means of cooperation to the U.S. This includes not only Kenya and Somalia, but also Djibouti, Mauritius and the Seychelles. Kenya, as the incoming President of the OAU, may be [Page 312] the most sensitive to the attitudes of other African countries. We might think about ways in which we can help Kenya in its role of OAU President in dealing with major disputes in Africa, e.g., the Horn, Western Sahara, Chad, Southern Africa, so as to lessen any perceived conflict between its public non-aligned role and its desire to cooperate with the U.S. on security matters.

C. Economic Component

Economic Assistance. Within the context of increasing development and security assistance, we need to pay closer attention to ordering priorities and to defining linkages between policy goals and assistance activities. In addition to Turkey and Pakistan, the case of Egypt, which has requested increased development assistance and more favorable terms for its security assistance, is particularly urgent.

Oil. We need, on an urgent basis, to develop a response to oil market pressures caused by the continuing Iran/Iraq conflict. Particularly within the IEA, we need to examine ways to trigger the sharing system either generally and selectively, and ways to impose binding ceilings to ensure that oil will be available to countries and companies experiencing serious shortfalls, and to reduce demand pressure on the oil market. Any actions we take internationally in the IEA context would necessarily require strong domestic action as well.

General Economic Issues. The review of trade and financial relations, with which State concurs, should pay particular regard to those policies, both US and foreign, which impact negatively upon US exports and limit our ability to influence developments in the region. Here, the Arab boycott of Israel and our reaction thereto should be considered.

Peter Tarnoff4
Executive Secretary
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P870008–0277. Secret; Nodis. A copy was sent to Komer. Under cover of a November 18 memorandum, Bartholomew forwarded the Department of State response to Tarnoff.
  2. See Document 93.
  3. See Document 227.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.