865.01/471: Telegram

The Chargé in Afghanistan ( Thayer ) to the Secretary of State

184. Reference to 181, September 27.59 Squire,60 British Minister, yesterday received instructions that the British and American Governments are treating the Brindisi Government61 as a co-belligerent against Germany.

After informing the Afghan Foreign Minister Squire communicated the above to the Italian Minister in an interview today.

The Italian Minister stated he was prepared to make available all information he had on Axis activities in Afghanistan and India but he warned the British Minister that British intelligence reports of these activities had probably been grossly exaggerated and that his information would be not only disappointing but perhaps might not be believed.

With regard to Axis relations with Afghanistan Quaroni said that the Prime Minister who completely dominates the Government has been consistently hostile to the Axis. Since the beginning of the war, except for a few days after the fall of France, he has openly demonstrated his belief in the inevitability of Allied victory. He has frequently vigorously defended this conviction to both German and Italian Ministers citing the example of Emir Habib-ul-Lah whose [Page 51] policy of friendship for Britain had proved correct in the last war despite the opposing views of most other Afghans including Hashim himself. Hashim said that his policy of friendship for the Allies was tempered by the innate anti-British and anti-Soviet sentiment of the country and especially of the younger members of the Royal Family just as Habib-ul-Lah’s had been in the last war. Quaroni pointed out that the Prime Minister has, for the past 18 months, refused on one pretext or another to receive either the German Minister or himself. He added that contrary to British suspicions he did not believe any important members of the Government have gone beyond the instructions of the Prime Minister by giving any materially useful information or assistance to the Axis Legations. (Abdul Hussein Aziz,62 who was reported on intimate terms with Quaroni, was not mentioned in the conversation. See Engert’s 4, January 7),63 With regard to Axis intelligence work Quaroni said it has been wholly ineffective since the arrest in 1941 of Hamid Subana the only competent agent the Germans had. He accused the other Germans of being extremely stupid and bungling in their methods and ready to be led up the garden path by every petty intriguer. The Japanese have been uncooperative, have not exchanged information with the Germans and have had few contacts with the Afghans. (Incidentally Quaroni gave the following figures as the latest Japanese Legation estimate of Allied Forces in India: native troops one million; American and Canadian half million; British 200,000; first line planes 1000; second line planes unknown).

With regard to subversive activities among the tribes Quaroni said Axis operations have been very much hampered by inept German management. Less than a million Afghanis (80,000 dollars) have been delivered to the Faqir of Ipi. He himself succeeded in sending the Faqir only one Lewis gun and several thousand rounds of ammunition.

Quaroni stated that the German Minister lacked force and intelligence. Ever since Wilhelmstrasse64 had criticized him for his pessimistic reports he has confined himself to telling his superiors only what he thought they wanted to hear.

The conversation was confined to the general aspect of Axis activities but Squire plans to ask for more specific information shortly.

In evaluating the above it should be borne in mind that Quaroni is reported to be highly intelligent but vain and intolerant.

(Military Attaché requests pertinent portions of above be communicated to G–2).

  1. Not printed; it reported a message from Marshal Pietro Badoglio, new Italian Head of Government, to the Italian Minister in Afghanistan (Quaroni) (865.01/455).
  2. Giles Frederick Squire.
  3. Probably the Italian Government of King Victor Emmanuel and Marshal Badoglio.
  4. Afghan Minister in the United States.
  5. Not printed.
  6. German Ministry for Foreign Affairs.