890D.01/614b: Telegram

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

3272. Department has been increasingly concerned about the situation in Syria and Lebanon and its concern is heightened by reports that air-borne forces are being concentrated at Rhodes. There is the possibility of a combined fifth-column and air-borne attack analogous to, but more strongly supported than, the Gailani rebellion in Iraq last year.29 In view of our common concern in this area, Department believes a strong endeavor should be made to clear up the situation.

The following is the text of a cable received from Beirut, dated July 13:

[Here follows text of telegram No. 246, printed supra.]

For many months Department has received reports indicating acute friction between Spears and Catroux, and between Spears and the local authorities, as well as occasional differences of opinion between Spears and our own people. This three-cornered fight plainly produces an impossible situation, especially now when the principal forces in the area are the Free French brigades. It is difficult to see, at the moment, how this situation can be remedied without replacing Spears by someone able to work either with the Arabs or with the Free French, if not both, to say nothing of ourselves.

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You are requested to discuss this matter promptly on an informal and confidential basis with those authorities of the British Government whom you consider most appropriate.

Please telegraph the results of this conference and any suggestions growing out of it.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Text of Beirut’s telegram should be kept strictly confidential in the Embassy, though in your discretion the facts stated may be used.

  1. For correspondence on this subject, see Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. iii, pp. 486 ff.