890E.00/170: Telegram

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

310. Reference my telephone message 6 a.m. through Cairo,14 United States AFIME15 headquarters. Please telegraph urgently if you are informed of situation here. I am drafting report but fear French will delay its transmission. Its highlights are:

Senegalese troops have taken city including establishment of strong cordons around Parliament and Government buildings. Angry crowds have gathered. Troops have shot at demonstrators. Latest reports say 5 killed 12 wounded; situation deteriorating rapidly.

British are intensely concerned. General Holmes16 is reported returning at once by air from Egypt.

Christian and Moslem civil and religious leaders have made bitter protest Spears, me and Iraqi Chargé d’Affaires, Tahsin Qadri.

Latter insists reactions will be “gravest conceivable throughout Arab world”. I concur. He asks prompt Allied intervention, as do Mufti, Maronite Archbishop and other leaders.

[Page 1012]

I cannot recommend recognition of Edde regime set up by French decree numbers 464 and 465 announced this morning and in parts oddly resembling numbers 129, 130 and 131 of last March (press [my?] despatch 76, April 217) except that today’s decrees begin by suspending Lebanese constitution instead of reestablishing it.

French may argue that technically March procedure constitutes accepted precedent for their action; but the background therefor is radically different, Constitutional Government having meanwhile been reestablished. Further, the similar coup d’état tactics now employed are far more brutal and I can perceive no proper or necessary ground for their use.

Should you make representations to Algiers, which from here appears to be desirable in interest of Middle East position of United Nations, I should appreciate being kept informed.

Repeated to Algiers, Baghdad and Cairo and London.

  1. See telegram No. 2032 from the Minister in Egypt, supra.
  2. Army Forces in the Middle East.
  3. Lt. Gen. William George Holmes, Commander, British Ninth Army.
  4. Not printed.