The Minister in Egypt (Fish) to the Secretary of State

No. 266

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 84 of April 29, 1935, regarding the recent reorganization of the Municipality of Alexandria. In the meantime the Department will have also received the Legation’s despatch No. 235 of [Page 582] April 11, 1935,25 forwarding a further protest from the French Legation.

After further consultations with several of the interested Legations and a thorough examination of the entire situation, the Legation decided that it would be more prudent to be on record as having entered reservations on behalf of the Government of the United States in regard to the rights acquired by American citizens under the municipal régime of 1890 which had been established with the consent of the American Government. While this Legation does not anticipate that the position of American citizens will in practice be adversely affected by the reorganization of the municipal government of Alexandria, it is in entire agreement with the Department that it may well be regarded as one more attempt to undermine, by unilateral action, the capitulatory rights of foreign nationals.

The Legation has accordingly addressed a Note to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, No. 137 of May 22, 1935, of which a copy is attached, embodying the substance of some of the observations made by the Department in its instruction under acknowledgment.

Respectfully yours,

Bert Fish

The American Legation to the Egyptian Ministry for Foreign Affairs

No. 137

The Legation of the United States of America presents its compliments to the Royal Ministry for Foreign Affairs and has the honor to refer to Decree-Law No. 1 of January 1, 1935, and to two Ministerial Orders dated January 2, 1935, regarding the reorganization of the Municipal Government of Alexandria, which were published in the Journal Officiel of January 3 and 4, 1935, respectively.

Under instructions from its Government the Legation of the United States has the honor to point out to the Royal Egyptian Government that the United States was one of the Powers which, in response to a circular Note from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated May 16, 1889, assented to the Organic Decree establishing the Municipality of Alexandria. This assent was contained in Note No. 1136 of July 8, 1889, from the American Agency and Consulate General in Cairo.

From this Note it will be observed that the adherence of the United States was not limited to any particular article or articles, but applied to the full text of the Decree by which in 1890 the municipal régime of the City of Alexandria was established.

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The Government of the United States is of the opinion that inasmuch as the consent of the Powers had been requested and given in order to make the Decree in question applicable to capitulatory nationals, it follows that any material modification of the Decree without the previous consent of the participating Powers violates the condition on which capitulatory nationals were made subject to the authority conferred upon the Municipality of Alexandria by the Organic Decree, and consequently releases such Powers from their obligation to subject their nationals to the authority of said Municipality.

The Government of the United States therefore considers the unilateral action of the Egyptian Government in reorganizing the Municipality of Alexandria as likely to impair existing capitulatory rights of American interests in Egypt, and the Legation is instructed to reserve all rights of American nationals whose situation may in any way be affected by Decree-Law No. 1 of 1935 and the accompanying Ministerial Orders.

The American Legation avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs the assurance of its highest consideration.

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