890d.00/239: Telegram

The Consul at Beirut ( Knabenshue ) to the Secretary of State

Also sent to Embassy at Paris. Official communiqué announces that General Sarrail under instructions his Government will leave for Paris to make verbal explanations.

[Page 117]

Having worked in close friendly personal and official cooperation with Gouraud, Weygand, De Caix and Dereffye, I offer, as an impartial but friendly observer, my unbiased opinion that, as a result of the incidents which occurred during the current year culminating in the Damascus affair, France’s position in Syria and the Lebanon is in many ways more difficult today than it has been since 1919 and that her prestige here is at its lowest ebb. It is the general consensus of opinion among all classes of people that because of the high respect and confidence in which they hold Weygand he is the one Frenchman who might reestablish France’s position here at less cost and effort than could be accomplished by a stranger to the people, be he ever so able. It has been the general belief that if Weygand were to replace Sarrail and be authorized to demand no indemnity and to grant amnesty to all political offenders, which under the circumstances seemed to be the only just policy to pursue, the gravest problems would have been overcome almost instantaneously. However latest indications are that the situation may soon be too far out of hand for a solution of the difficulty by the policy outlined, even by Weygand. The chaos existing here at present has caused an economic crisis which has materially affected our growing and already important trade with this country and the reestablishment of responsible government and public security is essential to our commercial interests here. [Paraphrase.] I may add that when Weygand was High Commissioner he was distinctly friendly to the United States and to American interests here. [End paraphrase.]