Archive (Reagan Library)

Middle East: Thatcher letter to Reagan (impressions of Arab opinion) [summary declassified 2000]

Document type: Declassified documents
Venue: White House
Source: Reagan Library: NSA Head of State File (Box 35)
Editorial comments: Undated memorandum, but from internal evidence must have been composed on 1 October 1981. Declassified 27 Mar 2000.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 191 words
Themes: Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA), MT contacts with Ronald Reagan
Declassified F96-107#77
By SMF, NARA, Date 3/27/00

[MT’s letter has not been released, but a summary of its contents is available in the following document:]


Memorandum for the President
From: Richard V. Allen
Subject: Margaret Thatcher’s Contacts with Arab Leaders

Margaret Thatcher’s letter to you at Tab A presents a rather somber assessment of views she picked up during her recent talks with a variety of senior Arab political figures. You should read the contents of her message in their entirety, but the main points are these:

  • A mood of disappointment and alienation now dominates moderate Arab thinking about the U.S. (Arabs hesitate to express the true strength of their feelings directly to us);
  • The view prevails that we are one-sidedly committed to Israel and ignore the Palestinians;
  • AWACS has assumed a symbolic, indeed crucial importance throughout the Gulf area; failure to conclude it will result in real damage to U.S.-Arab relations.

She ends on an upbeat note that there may be some genuine substance behind the newly developing Gulf Cooperation Council which could, in time, evolve along the lines of ASEAN.

We are preparing an appropriate response to Mrs. Thatcher’s message for your signature.