890F. 74/11–944

Informal Statement Prepared in the Division of Near Eastern Affairs24

The Dhahran Airfield Matter

At present the United States Army Air Corps is flying planes to the Far Eastern theater of war via Iraq and Bahrein. The field at Bahrein, because of the soft character of the soil on the island, is not suitable for heavy planes. It will be necessary, therefore, to find a suitable field in another locality nearby. Furthermore, the Air Corps desires to fly its planes directly across the central part of Saudi Arabia to this field. The Air Corps has found the terrain in the vicinity of Dhahran, Saudi Arabia suitable for an airfield. It desires, therefore, to secure permission from the Saudi Arabian Government to construct a field there and to fly planes directly across the country rather than over the northern part. The direct flight to Dhahran would save about 220 miles.

The Saudi Arabian Government has not granted permission to the Government of the United States for the U.S. Army Air Corps to build a field in the vicinity of Dhahran or to fly its planes directly across the country because of an objection expressed by the British Government to the Saudi Arabian Government to the construction of such an airfield in the vicinity of Dhahran. It is understood, however, that the Government of Saudi Arabia would grant such permission [Page 668] provided the objection of the British Government thereto is withdrawn.

American military authorities consider that the construction of an airfield near Dhahran at the earliest possible moment is necessary for the prosecution of the war in the Pacific. The specific issue involved is whether the British Government will inform the Saudi Arabian Government immediately that it withdraws its objection to the granting of such permission.

  1. Forwarded under cover of a letter of November 9 to the Counselor of the British Embassy (Wright) by the Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Alling).