890E.01/104: Telegram

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

468. My 467, November 26. There has been no sign of popular enthusiasm in connection with the declaration of Lebanese independence. On the contrary most Lebanese are disappointed with Catroux’s proclamation and resent his reference to the treaty of 1936 and other passages indicating that France will insist upon a privileged position which may prove incompatible with real independence. Many leaders outside the immediate entourage of the President feel that they should raise their voices in protest before the Free French have obliged the present Government to sign away any important rights. They desire to postpone a definitive treaty until after the war when elections can be held and the true wishes of the people can be ascertained. The Maronite Patriarch has been particularly bitter in his opposition to Naccache, whom he considers a creature of the Jesuits even though he is a Maronite, and to Catroux who appears to have slighted him.

To all those who have come to see me or have sent word to me I have counseled great prudence and much patience and above all no action that might render the prosecution of the war by the Allies more difficult.

Repeated to London and Cairo.