890E.00/207: Telegram

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

314. Refer last paragraph my 313, November 13, 11 p.m.39 I saw Casey very briefly this morning at his request. He said that he had seen number of representative leaders, talked at length with his own people and made up his mind: Local situation was full of explosive [Page 1031] possibilities, might go from bad to worse, end up in full revolt; arrested Lebanese politicians would have to be released, Constitution and Parliament restored since our position in Middle East required it.

He said he would return to Cairo by air today, see Catroux there this evening and send latter here in his plane tomorrow morning. He believed 48 hours should be sufficient for Catroux with good will to clear up situation. If he did not, British would have to take [steps?], probably occupying chief urban centers of Beirut, Sidon and Tripoli, or perhaps by proclamation full martial law throughout country. On latter point no decision has been taken.

I said that before commenting on situation I wished he would read Department’s latest instructions to Murphy. I showed him your 272, November 12, midnight.40 He read it with interest, commented it should be very helpful.

I then said that with such instructions in hand, I believed Spears and I could go to Arab leaders here, and by putting our cards frankly on table, obtain their ready and willing undertaking that there would be no insurrection. We should counsel patience, say wheels of diplomacy necessarily grind slowly.

I believe consequently that demonstrations could be kept “peaceful” except for isolated incidents. I added that if for instance, present quick-triggered French military patrols were replaced by British or mixed Allied military police, I thought there would be practically no serious disturbances of public security incited by native leaders.

He replied that this was interesting but in manner which suggested he had already made up his mind on need for British military intervention.

I suggested it might be desirable to have in mind even now at least some tentative outline of diplomatic formula for settlement. After brief discussion we reached something close to the following: Reestablishment of status quo ante November 11, with setting up of Allied Commission to negotiate with Syrian and Lebanese Governments for program which would insure progressive transfer to those Governments of all powers now retained by Fighting French further retention of which, by them or other Allied authorities, is not necessitated by conditions of war.

I explained that, by saying “Allied Commission” I had in mind that, by their actions on and since November 11, French had forfeited any claim they may have had to act in this matter exclusively for the Allies.

Finally, I asked if he believed new relationships with French and local governments would be worked out here with Catroux or whether, as others suggested, there should be conference in London. He was [Page 1032] definite in reply that latter should be venue and Massigli himself required to represent Algiers Committee.

Repeated to London, Algiers, Cairo, Baghdad and Jidda.

  1. Not printed.
  2. See footnote 27, p. 1022.