811.203/172: Telegram

The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

1704. My 1020, June 18, noon. General Maxwell has raised question of making informal inquiry of Egyptian authorities concerning negotiation of a “gentleman’s agreement” which would permit “the United States military authorities to punish violations of law by members of the armed forces of the United States in Egypt and by citizens of the United States accompanying the army”.

For obvious reasons it is highly desirable that uniformed members of United States military forces in Egypt be amenable to jurisdiction of American military courts but as Department is aware a request for this privilege must be made with extreme caution in view of the aversion of the Egyptian authorities, after having obtained release from the capitulations at Montreux,37 to grant new concessions, waiving jurisdiction of Egyptian courts over aliens in Egypt. Before [Page 90] taking up the matter therefore I wish to have the advice and instructions of the Department.

If Department desires that Legation approach the Egyptian authorities the procedure which I submit for consideration is that I be authorized to initiate negotiations with the competent Egyptian authorities with a view to obtaining extension to United States military personnel in Egypt for duration of war of same or similar immunities from Egyptian jurisdiction as is accorded to British troops under Anglo-Egyptian treaty of August 26, 1936, and several proclamations relating to that treaty. I would explain desirability from standpoint of prosecution of the war efforts of the United States that American military authorities be permitted to exercise jurisdiction over American military personnel in Egypt. I would give assurances that American authorities will do everything possible to see that justice is done in all cases that might arise.

As regards procedure to be followed in implementing the grant it would seem that the provisions thereof might be embodied in military order issued by Prime Minister under authority conferred upon him by decree of September 1, 1939, declaring state of siege in Egypt thereby avoiding necessity of negotiating an agreement or the enactment of special legislation.

The matter is one of urgency as problem increases in importance from day to day as new military personnel arrives.

I should appreciate receiving by air pouch several copies of agreement recently negotiated with respect to jurisdiction over United States troops in British Isles.39

  1. Convention … regarding the abolition of capitulations in Egypt, signed at Montreux, May 8, 1937; for text, see Department of State Treaty Series No. 939, or 53 Stat. (pt. 3) 1645; for correspondence, see Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. ii, pp. 615 ff.
  2. Agreement effected by exchange of notes at London July 27, 1942, effective August 6, 1942; for text, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 355, or 57 Stat. (pt. 2) 1193.