740.0011 European War 1939/9813

The Chargé in Egypt (Hare) to the Secretary of State

No. 2361

Sir: I have the honor to report that on the occasion of Minister Fish being received by King Farouk on February 26th prior to the Minister’s departure for his new post at Lisbon the conversation turned, I was informed by the Minister, to various problems which had confronted His Majesty since his accession to the throne and particularly to the subject of Egypt’s policy in respect of the war.

In this connection the Minister remarked to the King that he had been given to understand at one time that Aly Maher Pasha, the Prime Minister at the time of the outbreak of the war, had assured the British in the early days following the beginning of hostilities that Egypt would declare war and had even gone so far as to state as much in writing but that he had subsequently changed his mind and reversed his position.

King Farouk confirmed the accuracy of the Minister’s understanding and added that Aly Maher Pasha had actually assured the British on three separate occasions that Egypt would declare war against Germany. However, the King said that when he became aware of what was happening he advised Aly Maher that he was unalterably opposed to such a course of action and that Aly Maher, when he saw that the King’s position had the full support of public opinion, had realized his mistake and had come around to the King’s point of view. The King gave the Minister clearly to understand, however, that, had it not been for his personal intervention, Egypt would certainly have been drawn into the war. Furthermore, the King went on to say that, not only had he taken a strong hand in this matter with Aly Maher, but he had also exacted promises from the two succeeding Prime Ministers, Hassan Sabry Pasha and Hussein Sirry Pasha, when [Page 265] they took over the premiership, that they would not permit Egypt to be drawn in the war.

In relating the foregoing to me the Minister added that after taking leave of the King he happened to be talking to Hassanein Pasha, Chief of the Royal Cabinet, who entirely confirmed the King’s account of the role he had played in opposing Egypt’s entry into the war. How consistently the Egyptian Government has adhered to this policy of non-involvement in the war has been brought out in numerous reports submitted by the Legation. That such remains its unswerving policy was clearly evidenced in a speech delivered by Hussein Sirry Pasha, the Prime Minister, at Minia on February 26th, the day of Minister Fish’s audience with the King, when he (the Prime Minister) made the following statement (in translation) in the course of a declaration on general Government policy:

“The world is today being shaken by important events. There is no country which is sheltered from this war and its misfortunes or which is completely beyond its reach …2 Nevertheless, your Government, always awake and on guard, is doing its best to ward off these misfortunes from you. Inspired by the wisdom of our Beloved Sovereign and looking only to the general interest, it is exerting every effort to shield you from this terrible war.”

Respectfully yours,

Raymond A. Hare
  1. Omission indicated in the original despatch.