890E.01/102: Telegram

The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State

459. Since my 449, November 13, the British have been trying to induce Catroux to withdraw his note of November 12th to Lyttelton and he has practically promised to do so. I shall therefore wait a little before trying to clarify the point referred to in the Department’s 210, November 19.

General Spears has made some definite recommendations to the Foreign Office regarding the wording of certain passages in the proposed proclamation as he feels very strongly that the rights of the Lebanese should be safeguarded against any French attempt to continue mandate in disguise. He believes British and other foreign interests in the Lebanon and Syria will suffer if De Gaulle is permitted to have his way. He also sees a danger to the British position in the eyes of the Arab world if the French try to justify their policy in the Lebanon by implying that they are the champions of the Christian West versus Islam.

After numerous exchanges of telegrams with London the Foreign Office has decided not to insist on elimination of the reference to the 1936 treaty. Nor does it seem to be convinced that some of the minor textual changes are essential.

De Gaulle has instructed Catroux to issue the proclamation this week and Catroux proposes to do so November 26. Spears has warned [Page 805] him that if the proclamation is published without having first been approved by the British Government the latter may have to issue a statement that it did not agree with its contents.

Repeated to London, Cairo.