711.90G27/5–845: Telegram

The Chargé in Iraq (Moreland) to the Secretary of State 17

180. From Curren18 to Aviation Division. Despite assurances given to the Department by Lord Halifax mentioned in your cable 164 May 3, 7 p.m.19 there are many indications that British diplomatic personnel in the Middle East countries and British Air Ministry representatives have and still do exert every possible influence on local governments to refuse American airlines fifth freedom privileges and delay acceptances of bilateral air transport agreements. These governments are definitely unable to take action regarding acceptance until sanctioned by British approval.

My file in Cairo contains a copy of a letter dated early April addressed by British Ambassador20 to Minister for Foreign Affairs, received through highly confidential source, definitely requesting [Page 69] Egyptian Government to take no action regarding acceptance of proposed American bilateral air transport agreement until British Government reaches decision regarding commercial aviation policy in Middle East. Will forward upon my return.

Viscount Swinton21 during his visit to Cairo personally officially warned Egyptians against fifth freedom privileges and endeavored create fear regarding American aviation policy and ultimate desires in Middle East. Recently British Air Ministry representative and aviation and financial advisors to Egyptian Government were so incensed over our satisfactory conclusion of MISR airplane transaction22 that they definitely told Roushdy Bey23 that absolutely no dollar exchange would be approved for maintenance by American personnel and that instead BOAC24 would service and maintain.

British Minister to Lebanon25 made definite statement last week to Wadsworth26 that British do not want American airlines to operate in Middle East. Camille Chamoun27 was given free passage on boat and sent from London to Beirut by British Government for purpose of preventing Lebanese Government from granting Fifth Freedom privilege and blocking El-Hoss28 purchase of American planes and technical assistance. British Air Ministry representative from Cairo arrived in Beirut same day I arrived to endeavor counteract my activities. He used unbelievable pressure against Lebanese as regards air transport agreement and purchase of American planes, warning that if they cooperate with Americans they will lose considerable British support and assistance generally.

In Iraq, copies of proposed air transport agreement were distributed by Foreign Office to RAF Air Vice Marshal in charge this theater, British Embassy and two other British aviation advisors for study and consultation, which is causing delay. It is apparent Iraq Government is unable to act definitively without absolute approval of British authorities who do not want to see Baghdad made a crossroads for American international air service. End of message. [Curren.]

  1. The Department repeated the substance of this telegram to London in telegram 3754, May 12, 1945, 6 p.m., with an instruction that the appropriate British authorities should be asked “when a final reply may be expected to Department’s April 18 note … pointing out that we consider the matter to be of an urgent nature.” (711.90G27/5–845)
  2. Ralph B. Curren, Civil Air Attaché in Egypt; assigned concurrently to Missions in Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria.
  3. Not printed (711.90G27/5–345); it summarized the informal communication from Sir Ronald Campbell contained in telegram 4239. April 26, from London, p. 67.
  4. To Egypt, Lord Killearn.
  5. Chairman of the British delegation to the Chicago International Aviation Conference.
  6. In April, three surplus Douglas DC–2½ aircraft were sold by the United States (Foreign Economic Administration) to the MISR Airworks.
  7. Mohamed Roushdy, Director General of Civil Aviation in the Egyptian Ministry of Defense.
  8. British Overseas Airways Corporation.
  9. Terence A. Shone.
  10. George Wadsworth, Minister to Syria and Lebanon.
  11. Lebanese Minister to the United Kingdom and delegate to the Chicago International Aviation Conference.
  12. Fawzi el-Hoss, Director of Civil Aviation in the Lebanese Government.