135. Minutes of a Senior Review Group Meeting1 2


  • U.S. Policy Toward Morocco, NSSM 160


  • Chairman Henry A. Kissinger CIA L/Gen. Vernon Walters
  • State U. Alexis Johnson William Parmenter
  • Claude Ross Treasury John McGinnis
  • James J. Blake
  • Herbert J. Spiro NSC Richard T. Kennedy
  • Harold Saunders
  • Defense G. Warren Nutter James T. Hackett
  • James Noyes
  • JCS V/Adm. John P. Weinel
  • B/Gen. K.L. Christensen


It was agreed that:

  • —It is strategically important for the United States to maintain friendly relations with Morocco. If it came to a choice, we would definitely sacrifice our communications facilities for the sake of our overall relationship.
  • —The King is still the focal point of authority and we should support him and be responsive to his needs. While he is in power, we should not actively disengage from our relationship with his regime.
  • —We should begin reducing our profile and presence at Kenitra, make contingency preparations for the transfer of our facilities out of Morocco in the event that becomes necessary and in the long term reduce our dependence on the Moroccan facilities.

[Page 2]

Mr. Kissinger: (to Gen. Walters) Do you want to give your presentation on Morocco?

Gen. Walters: King Hassan is still the focal point of authority…

Mr. Kissinger: I know how he feels!

Gen. Walters then read a prepared statement (copy attached).

Gen. Walters: I have some knowledge of the King and I want to emphasize that he is a very resilient individual. Whatever you do, don’t underestimate him.

Mr. Kissinger: You said that he rules with the support of the Army and then you said he is purging the senior officers. How can he do that?

Gen. Walters: His support is based on loyalty to him as the King. It is loyalty to the institution of royalty. Besides, there aren’t many alternatives.

Mr. Kissinger: Then why won’t they support him more fully?

Gen. Walters: Because he hasn’t reassured them. They don’t know what he is going to do next.

Mr. Ross: That’s right, he hasn’t given them any assurances.

Mr. Kissinger: Is it the Navy’s turn now? The Army and the Air Force have both had a crack at him.

Gen. Walters: No, the Navy is small and mostly-off shore. There is a certain amount of negativism in what I am saying, but the King is the only significant force in the country. He represents the only force with any tradition, and that’s an important factor here. Popular support for the military isn’t so great either. I would not underestimate the King; he is a very shrewd operator. He has now escaped two attempts on his life, both of which should have killed him. I can imagine that the thought may be prevalent in Morocco today that, “is Allah trying to tell us something?”

Mr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Ross) What is your view?

Mr. Ross: Well, I agree with what that gentleman (Gen. Walters) has been saying. The King, by his highly personal and arbitrary style of rule, has alienated some of his supporters, but the monarchy is still the only strong force in the country.

[Page 3]

Mr. Kissinger: What should we do about it?

Mr. Ross: I don’t know.

Mr. Johnson: We’d like to be responsive to the King and supportive of him, but not get too close to him, or too closely identified with him. Nor do we want to get involved in supporting or appearing to support any of the opposition groups that are plotting against him.

Mr. Kissinger: Have we done that?

Gen. Walters: No, but he thinks we didn’t tell him things we may have known about the plot against his life. [text not declassified]

Mr. Kissinger: Is that true?

Mr. Johnson: No, it’s not. We are maintaining a policy of friendly relations with Morocco, and we want to maintain friendly relations with the King. If he is going to be displaced, we will continue to support him until that time. Meanwhile, we have interests at Kenitra and it would be prudent for us to reduce our presence there to the extent that we can. If the opposition to the King comes to power, we may not be able to keep our installations at all. We have two choices here, we could begin a crash program to phase everything out by 1976 or sooner, or we could begin a gradual disengagement.

Kissinger: That is the training base, the one at Kenitra?

Mr. Johnson: No, it’s a communications facility. One plan is that it might be moved to Spain, but I doubt the Spanish will greet an American base with open arms. The Moroccans wouldn’t be happy about the base moving to Spain and may pressure Spain not to accept it.

Mr. Kissinger: Why would the Moroccans care whether or not we had a base in Spain?

Mr. Johnson: Well, they may not, unless the “Spanish Sahara” became an issue. In any case, Spain would demand a high price. The King is pressing us to reduce our profile. I understand we have some 600 to 650 people currently at Kenitra.

Mr. Kissinger: What about the other two bases?

[Page 4]

Adm. Weinel: [text not declassified] There are 450 personnel at one and 170 at the other.

Gen. Walters: I think it’s a good paper (response to NSSM 160), although I think the pressure on the French would be greater than is portrayed in the paper.

Mr. Johnson: I have no view on that. The paper actually does not suggest any departures from present policy.

Mr. Kissinger: (to Mr. Nutter) What do you think?

Mr. Nutter: We agree. It may be necessary to do some profile changes at our installations, but above and beyond Kenitra is the strategic value of Morocco itself. We’d like to see a friendly regime remain in power there and we’ll alter our bases if that’s required.

Mr. Johnson: That’s right. We want a moderate, friendly regime in Morocco, and that’s more important than Kenitra.

Mr. Nutter: We would trade Kenitra for that if we had to, but that is not at issue now.

Gen. Walters: You know, the Navy took me to Morocco thirty years ago, in 1942, and the objective I was given then is exactly the same as the objective we are pursuing now.

Mr. Kissinger: Alex (Johnson), you have finally succeeded in changing the Senior Review Group into a ratifying instrument for existing policy.

Mr. Johnson: I don’t know about that. I’ll wait until the NSDM comes out.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, NSC Institutional Files (H-Files), Box H-66, National Security Study Memoranda, NSSM 160. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. The CIA statement is ibid., NSC Files, Box 100, Senior Review Group Meeting, Morocco, NSSM 160.
  2. The Senior Review Group concluded that it was strategically important for the United States to maintain friendly relations with Morocco; that King Hassan, still the focal point of authority, deserved support; and that the U.S. military should reduce its presence at Kenitra.