740.0011 European War 1939/19236: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Winant ) to the Secretary of State

548. As the Department suggested, I asked Mr. Eden63 to keep me informed regarding developments in the Near East. He has just given me a memorandum on Iraq and Saudi Arabia, the substance of which I give below:

It is the wish of the British Government that the United States Government should know that recently General Nuri64 approached the British Government with the proposal that Iraq and Saudi Arabia simultaneously should declare war on Germany and Italy and should accede to the 26-Power Pact. At the same time he asked for an assurance that Iraqi troops would not be used outside Iraq. The British Government had come to the conclusion already that a declaration of war on the part of Ibn Saud65 would have a valuable effect morally [Page 36] throughout the Middle East and that facilities for air and land communications across Saudi Arabia would be very useful in certain circumstances. The British Government therefore think that the Iraqi Government should be permitted and an invitation be sent to Ibn Saud to adopt action on the lines which General Nuri proposed, and the British Ambassador at Baghdad has been instructed to inform him that the British Government concurs in his proposal in general provided a beginning is made with Ibn Saud and that General Nuri is content to wait upon the result of the approach to Saudi Arabia. Sir K. Cornwallis, however, has been instructed also to point out to General Nuri that Iraq cannot accede to the 26-Power Pact conditionally and that the British Government is not in a position without consulting the other signatories, to interpret a multilateral pact of this nature; and he has been authorized to add that it is obvious that many of the signatories will not do more than Iraq is bound already to do under the Treaty of Alliance66 and that it is the intention clearly of all concerned that the obligations of the various signatories shall be reasonably interpreted. The proposal is that the British Minister at Jedda shall in the near future sound Ibn Saud personally. The United States Government will be kept informed of developments. The British Government trust that for the time being, this information will be treated as very secret by the United States Government.

  1. Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
  2. Gen. Nuri as-Said, Iraqi Prime Minister and Acting Minister of Defense.
  3. King of Saudi Arabia.
  4. Between the United Kingdom and Iraq, signed June 30, 1930, League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. cxxxii, p. 363.