890E.01/145: Telegram

The Consul at Beirut (Gwynn) to the Secretary of State

297. My 289, August 16, 9 p.m. I am to meet de Gaulle again on August 26 and should like to be able to inform him at least that his message is receiving the consideration of the competent American authorities or to deliver any communication the Department may wish to make to him. It may be of importance to do what we can to keep him from taking some too hasty and grave action.

Two incidents are interesting as showing Spears reaction to the engagement undertaken by the British recently not to interfere in purely local matters of politics or administration (see paragraph 3 of my 275, August 7, 10 a.m.47) and which will probably make more sparks fly.

De Gaulle spent Sunday, Monday and Wednesday in Damascus having been Tuesday in Jebel Druze and left Damascus Thursday morning for Aleppo. My interview with the Syrian Minister for Foreign Affairs on Thursday in connection with the Department’s 111, July 21, 11 p.m.48 had to be cut short as he apologetically explained that the whole Syrian Government had been convoked to the Serail at noon to meet General Spears. I have not yet been able to find out the purpose of his visit but hope to soon.

The Free French and the Maronite Patriarch have been at odds for many months because Catroux has kept Naccache as President of the Lebanon against the Patriarch’s well-known and repeatedly expressed wishes. An attempt at a reconciliation is being made. De Gaulle and Catroux took tea with the Patriarch at his summer residence at Diame on Saturday August 16, all the local papers featured the event. The Patriarch is to make the 3-hour trip next Sunday to lunch with them at the Beirut “residence”. Spears has [been?] invited [to?] the tea that day and the Delegation General is making active inquiry to find out who the other guests are to be. Apparently no Consuls were invited.

These seemingly minor events may be important in de Gaulle’s reaction to them or they may indicate that Spears is preparing serious measures to counter the grave action that de Gaulle indicated he was prepared to take.

Repeated to Cairo.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Post, p. 651.