890E.00/104: Telegram

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

141. My 139, April 18. President Naccache has just informed me in the presence of his Minister of Foreign Affairs9 that he has definitely determined to resign unless the British and Free French authorities can agree on a fair and reasonable implementation of Lebanese independence. As Spears and Catroux are at present in Cairo and will probably not be [back] before the 23rd or 24th I expressed the hope that he would not do anything rash until both returned.

In the meantime I consider it of the utmost importance in the interest of common war objective that the present conflict be not permitted [Page 589] to degenerate into a crisis. Naccache is a very decent person and utterly devoted to the Allied cause. Until conditions are more normal and elections can be held it would therefore be absurd to make a change which would only encourage Axis to believe that the Allies hopelessly disunited and had been unable to gain confidence of native population despite their high sounding promises. We are probably on the eve of grave military events compared to which local politics are of but little interest.

I venture to suggest that this unsatisfactory state of affairs be brought to the attention of the British Government and of de Gaulle10 with an intimation that we would regret it if lack of collaboration between the British and Free French in the Levant were to endanger security (please see in this connection again my 313, July 27 and 323, August 5, 194111). Surely 9 months should have sufficed to produce some working agreement.

Repeated to London.

  1. Hamid Frangie.
  2. Gen. Charles de Gaulle, President of the National Committee of Free French at London.
  3. Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. iii, pp. 778 and 780, respectively.