Large scale document archive

1987 Jan 20 Tu
Archive (NSA)

Iran-Iraq War: NSC email thread (US reaction to Iranian military gains) [declassified 1994 or 1995]

Document type: Declassified documents
Source: ed. Tom Blanton White House e-mail (1995) - accompanying floppy disk
Editorial comments: Precise date of declassification uncertain. The text was created within the NSA by scanning a paper original via OCR. Some typos and/or OCR errors have been silently corrected for this site.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 747
Themes: Foreign policy (Middle East), Foreign policy (USA)

(1) Dennis Ross to Frank Carlucci:

01/20/87 09:56:47
To: NSGSG --CPUA Frank C. Carlucci NSWRP --CPUA Frank C. Carlucci

FROM: Dennis Ross

SUBJECT: Response on Waite and Status of Iran-Iraq War

I checked and was told by State that Waite has had no contact with US officials on his current trip. In the past, he has met with the Ambasssador and others.

On the current fighting around Basra, the latest intelligence shows the Iranians around two miles from the Iraqi perimeter defenses around Basra. While the Iranians may be unlikely to take Basra at this time, they have already achieved a significant gain in a strategically important area. They are holding more territory, and the Iraqis will probably shy away from trying to dislodge them. This will add to the to the nervousness of our friends, even as the upcoming Islamic Summit in Kuwait gives them more of a reason publicly to hold us responsible for the Iranian successes--something the Iraqis will play up when the current fighting ends. (Mubarak’s interview in a UAE paper should be seen as posturing himself for the Summit.)

At the same time, Gulf state fears of Iranian gains will probably lead again soon to requests for help from us. Offering to convene our contingency planning groups now with the Saudis and others might make alot of sense.

Last item: I’m doing a paper laying out where we are on Arab-Israeli issues after the Murphy mission. Murphy plans to see Shultz late in the week to talk about next steps--I’ve got some ideas on what we might be doing at several different levels and I’ll send those into you today or tomorrow.

(2) William Burns to Dennis Ross:

01/20/87 12:13:48

NOTE FROM: William J. Burns
SUBJECT: Iran-Iraq

Jeff Hughes will obtain a detailed map of the Basra front from CIA in the next day or two. He will also continue to send us an all-source summary of status of fighting each morning, or as often as he can. I called to thank him for the package he sent today (left a copy on your desk).

(3) Colin Powell to ?Dennis Ross (via Bob Pearson):

01/20/87 15:26:23

*** Reply to note of 01/20/87 11:59

FROM: Colin L. Powell
Subject: Response on Waite and Status of Iran-Iraq War

Subject of Iran-Iraq war came up at CWW/GPS/FCC [Caspar Weinberger, George Shultz and Frank Carlucci, respectively Secretaries of Defense and State and National Security Adviser] lunch today. FCC wants to make sure we are anticipating what our actions might be if Basra does fall. GPS said he would have Murphy begin looking into the question. We need to monitor closely. In light of the war situation, Khomeni’s health, etc , we may want to convene a PRG meeting this week to review the bidding. Armacost will be back tomorrow, I think, and Bob on Fri/Sat. Perhaps we can wait till Monday. Yourview?

(4) Dennis Ross to Colin Powell (via Bob Pearson):

01/20/87 16:07:34

*** Reply to note of 01/20/87 15:44

FROM: Dennis Ross
Subject: Response on Waite and Status of Iran-Iraq War

Getting the process going soon is important. We need to energize the bureaucracy so that we are in a position to begin communicating to Gulf regimes about the steps we are prepared to take. At this point, fears will dominate the behavior of many of our friends--and they will be looking for signs that we are not paralyzed by the Iranian affair. While we have much to overcome, the Saudis and others still have no one else to turn to in the crunch and this could be a time to begin to re-establish some of our credibility. Given all that’s at stake--and the pattern of the intelligence community underestimating the Iranian potential for gains--I think an early Deputies group meeting is called for.