890E.00/159: Telegram

The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Beirut (Wadsworth) to the Secretary of State

258. Reference fourth and last paragraphs my No. 255, August 16, 5 p.m.53 Opening of Syrian Parliament was dignified, colorful with mixed native and European costumes and marked by atmosphere of keen satisfaction. Syria had at long last taken first vital step on road to independence.

Of 124 elected deputies 121 were in their seats before 9 a.m. and promptly on the hour Chief of State Ayoubi opened session, his government took satisfaction in having fulfilled its mission to hold well ordered elections as necessary prerequisite to reestablishment of constitutional life. To this end sympathy of France and Allies had been of precious aid.

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Applause was obviously genuine as Ayoubi descended from rostrum and Parliament passed to special session to elect its officers and President of Republic.

Faris el-Khoury, minority deputy, earnest nationalist, veteran of Ottoman and earlier Syrian Parliaments was reelected President of Chamber, supported by representative panel of collaborators. Voting completed he proclaimed with feeling full reestablishment of parliamentary authority. On Chamber’s behalf he welcomed Helleu, Spears and me by name and representatives of Arab and other states present.

Climax of session was then reached in election of Shukri Quwatly as President of Republic. He took rostrum and spoke earnestly of country’s future. High lights were reference to Atlantic Charter supplemented by direct allied promises and fraternal salute to Arab nation with which Syria shared historical traditions, current problems and aspirations for future.

All votes were practically unanimous indicating effectiveness of nationalist leaders (notably Quwatly’s control of provincial as well as urban deputies and general desire to show united front[)]. Salute of 21 guns followed voting.

To me at reception hour later he said he had been guided by American rather than French presidential practice. He had wished at outset to trace major lines of national policy. Syria wanted above all to consolidate its new independence, to show itself worthy thereof and to cooperate in cause of United Nations. He knew he could count on continuing American support.

New Government which will probably include five former Prime Ministers under Premiership Saadallah Al-Jabiri, leading Aleppo Nationalist, will be announced shortly. At small private lunch with two of them keynote was constructive optimism.

In evening 400 notables attended gala dinner for new President. Blackout regulations were suspended. Crowds milled and cheered outside. My colleagues were unanimous in recognizing healthy Nationalist spirit and welcoming choice of Quwatly.

An interesting aspect was successful countering of French pretensions to privileged treatment. At Parliament Helleu and his train were not received apart but in new diplomatic anteroom with British, Belgian, and my staffs, and Helleu was seated in diplomatic loge flanked by Spears and myself.

At following Presidential reception we were introduced separately in same order with our staffs and French were told constitutional Chief of State did not return calls. Further, Quwatly parliamentary address was seemingly pointed in referring to Free French, not France; and in conversation French Damascus residency is now referred to as the Ambassade.

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From my well informed Iraqi colleague and others I gather that early moves will be made to appoint diplomatic representatives abroad and to press for prompt elaboration of program for progressive transfer of “Common interests”. Not improbably the first will be achieved by exchanges with Iraq and Egypt; and as subject may be broached when I make formal calls on new government next week I should welcome Department’s guidance as to what I should reply.

Farrell will submit detailed report.54

  1. Not printed.
  2. Copy forwarded by the Chargé at Damascus in his despatch No. 40, August 27, not printed.