The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 31—11:45 p.m.]
1260. From a perusal of Department’s 399, August 22, 8 p.m., I gather that there are factors other than the actual merits of the case which are regarded as precluding the extension of American financial aid to Saudi Arabia. It may be presumed that the Saudi Arabian Government will so infer and that no explanation will negative that impression or mitigate the repercussion of the refusal to respond to its appeal especially after the lapse of time during which it has apparently been under consideration.
With reference to the Department’s specific suggestions as to a reply to the Saudi Arabian Government I wish to submit the following observations.
- The reference in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the suggested reply to the division of effort between the American and British Governments would almost certainly suggest a division of hemispheres of influence under which the United States would appear to be resigning to the British all initiative in the Near East generally and in Saudi Arabia particularly. Given the unhappy position in which the British have been placed by identification with the system of colonies, mandates and protectorates not to mention the Palestine issue I believe that the conveying of such an impression whether intended or not would be most unfortunate.
- The reference in paragraph 3 of the draft reply to the inactive role of Saudi Arabia in respect of the war and its lack of geographical importance might well be regarded by Ibn Saud as gratuitously offensive if incorporated in the reply. Not only has Saudi Arabia stood out as the one Moslem country which has not given cause for anxiety or worse in respect of the prosecution of the war but it has consistently exerted a stabilizing influence on neighboring Moslem countries. Given the position of prestige which Ibn Saud holds among his coreligionists by virtue of being the custodian of the holy places of Islam as well as by virtue of his personality, the situation in the Middle East at this time might well be worse than it is if he had fallen under the Axis spell as have most Moslems in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Egypt. The fact that Saudi Arabia was one of the countries which the British deemed it desirable to notify regarding developments in Iran is not without significance in this connection. Finally, as regards the geographic importance of Saudi Arabia, both in the present and in the face of future developments, its central position in the Arab world as well as on world trade routes, particularly sea and air, would hardly seem to require emphasis.
I suggest, therefore, that I be authorized to submit a reply merely explaining that despite the earnest and sympathetic consideration given this matter by the President and high-ranking officers of the American Government it has been found impossible to formulate a plan within the framework of existing financial legislation and policy by which the American Government can at this time give financial assistance to the Government of Saudi Arabia. It would be added, however, that the American Government fully realizes the adverse effect caused in Saudi Arabia by the existing international situation and that under the circumstances the American Government in expressing its regret in not being able to accede to the present request of the Saudi Arabian Government desires to give assurance of its willingness and disposition to cooperate with the Saudi Arabian Government in any way possible within the framework of existing laws and regulations. In this way it would appear that the sensibilities of the Saudi Arabian Government would be spared insofar as possible and the record would not be clouded if and when it should be decided that it is worthwhile for the American Government to manifest interest in Saudi Arabia in the only way which apparently its Government wishes and understands.