74146 - Transcription of Podcast WITH US #16. Analysis of “Minutes of the Meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group, Washington July 16, 1974 10:18–10:43 a.m.”

N. Lygeros

  • Post Category:Articles

Washington July 16, 1974, we are studying right now the Minutes of the Meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group. So, in this group we have of course people of the State, the defense, JCS, CIA, NSC staff, many people. The subject is of course Cyprus. I’ll go straight to the important position.

We have the first mention of Sisco that “USUN has been informed that Weckman (the Special UN Representative on Cyprus) saw Makarios this morning—talked to him. Makarios said that the British had offered him (Makarios) protection and evacuation to any place he wanted to go. Makarios refused, but asked for UN protection.”, so this is a point of Sisco. After that we have a remark from Kissinger and he mentioned Callaghan “I just talked to (British Foreign Minister) Callaghan on the phone five minutes ago. He says that Makarios has accepted—wants British protection. From what I understand, the British are flying him to the aircraft carrier Hermes and then to Malta… Everyone, at least now, agrees that Makarios is alive.” Of course we know this is true, for us it’s of course obvious but not at that time.  He mentioned also that “Makarios is leaving the island” and for me it’s important to see that the reference “a special Turk parliamentary meeting…July 18” and Colby says that they “It could mean that they intend to move their forces to Cyprus.”. This is a first mention that it is possible to have an invasion. But you see that he says, “It could mean that they intend to move their forces to Cyprus.” and remember that we are in July 16. So, this happened 4 days after. You see the surprise of Kissinger “I just can’t believe they want Makarios back in power.” and again from Kissinger “It just seems inconceivable to me that they would support him (Makarios).”.

Now another point, very important about the Soviets in fact. So, Kissinger said “They are moving in an easterly direction away from Cyprus? (In reference to Mr. Colby’s briefing on Soviet fleet movements.)

“Mr. Colby: Yes.”

“Secretary Kissinger: What kind of forces do we have in the Eastern Mediterranean now?”

Do you know why this question is remarkable? Because if they had prepared the coup it would have been very surprising to see Kissinger asking this. So, the General Pauly, “There are two main task forces….That group is located south of Crete. Remember, so this is Forrestal … now , at that moment  tis task force is between Crete and Athens. There are other small elements around, but those are the two main task forces.”. Just that, I mean one is Forrestal  and another is an amphibious task force. Only two. So “We’ve told them all to remain out of the ports” it’s normal to avoid any bombing attacks, who knows “…and to be prepared for a 24hour lead time in case they are needed.” So, it’s clear. They are not there to do something, it’s normal.

“Secretary Kissinger: I don’t think we ought to do anything with them now, even if the Soviet ships are moving, am I right?”

And Sisco answered “Definitely.”

So, the position is quite different from the past reality. We always say there is no relation between U.S., U.S.S.R., Turkey, invasion, Greece, Cyprus. So, we see now, nothing was prepared by the Americans, especially for the coup.


So, Colby wanted to speak about the Greek-Turks Aegean dispute but Kissinger said “Let’s finish with Cyprus first.”. So, you see again the protection, first the mention of Sisco “First, if the UK provides Makarios protection, that changes the situation…” again with Sisco: “I believe it will be Rossides (the Cypriot UN representative), who represents Makarios, who will raise the question.” and at the end of his intervention, he mentions, “The Soviets will jump in.” So they will use it as an excuse.

Secretary Kissinger: It seems to me we have to have a firm understanding of the situation before we jump. We have to look at the possibility of (1) civil war and the role of Makarios forces or (2) the Sampson regime establishes control with Makarios off the island. I think we ought to be careful that we don’t provide the Soviets the excuse to legitimatize the situation. So, you see the word excuse, he wants to avoid this. “I propose that in the noon briefing, if asked about recognition, we say that the issue has not arisen, or something like that. But, we do not want to be positive about who we do recognize. If Makarios is off the island, this might raise the Soviet angle.” Do you see the problem? Again “We want an unambiguous statement of Greek intentions towards Cyprus from him.” He means the President, the Prime Minister someone who is important. “We want to defuse the Turk angle. They mainly want to prevent enosis.”. After that we have the mention to Ioannidis, from Kissinger “Let’s get the word to Ioannidis. I don’t care which way, but do it.”

So you see it’s a real contact. Sisco also “Ambassador Tasca should go see Ioannidis and tell him what we said yesterday.” Kissinger said “Right” Again something which is the American point of view and its related to the situation “There is a good chance that resistance will develop on the island if the Turks invade.” So, Kissinger with question “What, Makarios and the Communists? But if he (Makarios) is off the island, it seems to me resistance would collapse.” You see this “Makarios in the past has had Communist support.” The mention is from Sisco “He also has a broad-based popular support.” Which is quite different. We have also a remark from the Ambassador McCloskey: “That’s right, in past elections Makarios has received upwards of 95 percent of the vote—in honest elections.”, the remark is important. So, Kissinger “At issue here is what is the balance of forces if a civil war develops. If the organized forces are Communist, it’s an entirely different situation than if they are not.” So, you see again, the framework of Cold War. “What are the political leanings of Makarios’ Tactical Reserve Forces? So Mr. Boyatt said “They are basically pro-Makarios. They are certainly not Communist.” This is a point. Kissinger then said “We don’t have a basis on which to move until the situation clarifies. It’s too complicated at this point.” So, we have the problem of the size, organized forces. You see the regular Greek forces, the Greek officers in the National Guard and also the total forces on the island. A remark from Sisco “Through the London-Turkish agreement the Greeks have a right to station officers on the island.” So, you see it’s a positive point, clearly. After that Kissinger mentioned, “ : Our objectives as I see it are: (1) to prevent the internationalization of the situation, and (2) if civil war develops to conduct ourselves so that the Communists aren’t encouraged to exploit the situation.” So, again and again it’s the same ting, the same problem they are trying to avoid. “The first thing we have got to do is decouple the Greeks, and do it today.”. So, something of a separation of the situation. “We also have to get the Turks to stay out of it.”. So, for him and you will see it’s an error “ If he (Makarios) is indeed leaving, it seems to me that organized resistance will collapse.” This is wrong because Makarios is leaving and at the end he will return in December. Secretary Kissinger, at the end of another remark, said “We don’t want to recognize Sampson. He’s just a figurehead anyway, isn’t he?” Mr. Stabler: That’s right. If asked, we should just say that the question of recognition just hasn’t arisen.

So, it’s clear, isn’t it? There is no relation with Sampson. They don’t want to recognize him, but they just want to say that the question was not arisen.

Clements now at the end of the Minutes, ”What are the Greeks doing? What is their objective in this? Of course, the question is about the Greeks of Greece “What is their objective in this?” So, Colby “They want to take over the country. They think that Makarios is nothing but a bloody Communist.” So, the final remark from Kissinger “We have to keep the Turks and the Soviets out of this. We must see how the internal situation οn Cyprus evolves.”

So, you see that they are waiting, they don’t really know what is going to happen and they just want to avoid the international issue, to avoid the excuse for the Soviets to do something such as an intervention, they don’t have in mind the position of the Turks about the invasion.

And we are just four days before. So, it’s clear.