The Minister in Egypt ( Kirk ) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 12—3:10 p.m.]
455. The Legation’s 349, April 27, 11 a.m., and the Department’s 108, April 30, 8 p.m.18 In view of the situation now developing in the Near East the Consul General at Beirut and the Consul at Jerusalem are soliciting the assistance of this Legation for the purpose of evacuating to Egypt a large number of Americans residing in their consular districts pending ultimate transportation to the United States. The immediate assistance requested, which would only be a beginning of other requests for housing, feeding, et cetera, in an already overcrowded city, is that the Legation endeavor to persuade the Egyptian Government to relax its immigration requirements so that those Americans necessarily without prior arrangements for through transportation to the United States could come to Egypt until transportation is arranged. The Egyptian Government is not likely to relax its requirements unless the American Government is prepared to guarantee that Americans arriving under such an arrangement will not become public charges which undoubtedly some of them would become.
The situation here in Egypt is also fraught with dangerous possibilities and in view of that circumstance and of the almost complete lack of passenger transportation facilities, except occasional passages by air and alien steamers, I am strongly opposed to the evacuation of Americans to Egypt from nearby areas except for those individuals who can purchase or otherwise arrange through transportation in the places where they are residing. As indicated in my telegram under reference Americans in the Near East have had ample warning and ample time to depart, presumably prepared to meet any eventuality. They fall in that category of people who become worried when the situation in their areas begins to worsen but who, when arrangements are made for their evacuation and repatriation, would likely refuse to leave if the tension relaxed in the slightest degree. I feel that, except for isolated cases which would be largely accidental, Americans who have chosen to remain in the Near Eastern area would now be better off remaining at their present places of residence to face eventualities than attempting at this late date to rush to Egypt or any other nearby Near Eastern area, excepting in strict transit, and so complicate the war effort by evacuation proceedings.
If the Department does not agree with my conclusions, I invite instructions. The only suggestion that I can make in that contingency [Page 608] is that the Department arrange to rush with all speed to Egyptian waters sufficient vessels to transport approximately 1,400 Americans to the United States, of which 100 would be from Syria, 300 from Egypt, 1,000 from Palestine (900 Jews), and possibly some from Turkey. This suggestion, however, is offered with every reserve as in addition to the obvious technical difficulties involved it offers the very real objection of attempting to concentrate a large number of Americans in Egypt, an actual theater of war.