The Minister in Saudi Arabia (Eddy) to the Secretary of State

No. 173

Sir: I have the honor to submit respectfully a few general observations regarding United States-Saudi Arabian relations, involving also the United States position in Saudi Arabia vis-à-vis the British.

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The unfortunate “crisis” psychology of the Saudi Arabian Government continues to create uncertainty regarding their future economic resources and stability; the relative future strength of the United States and Britain in this area; and the prospects of the United States prevailing upon the British to cease and desist from their opposition to United States civil air rights, direct radio-telegraph communications, United States missions to Saudi Arabia, control of dollar exchange in the Middle East, etc.
While Amir Faisal has reported enthusiastically about his conversations in the Department, July 31–August 1, 1945, and the transcript of those conversations9 have awakened renewed hopes of long-range agreements with the United States, the Saudi Government does not yet have any official assurances which would emancipate them from economic and political dependence on the British. United States policy in Saudi Arabia for the years ahead is still obscure; British controls and potential sanctions are very visible; Saudi Arabian dependence upon some powerful friend is clear. A confidential source told me this week that King Abdul Aziz will attempt to sit out the “rivalry” between United States and British interests in the Middle East, and to defer reply to any proposition made by either to which the other objects. Thus the British did not get their Financial Advisor at Riyadh, and the United States has not gotten direct radio communications.
Saudi Arabia has limited experience in foreign relations, and watches carefully what takes place in neighboring countries. With regard to the draft of a bilateral civil air rights agreement, submitted to the Saudi Arabian Government this week,10 I was asked whether other Arab countries had signed similar agreements and whether the Saudi Arabian Government could see the exact terms of the agreements when signed by their neighbors. It will be of great assistance to United States interests in Saudi Arabia, therefore, if the mortmain of British economic strangulation can be relaxed from the throats of neighboring governments; and if the notorious political and diplomatic precedence of the British can be abolished in Egypt and Iraq.11
Conversely, any move by the United States Government which could be interpreted as support for any British action detrimental to the Arabs would injure United States interests in Saudi Arabia, not only because it would be resented on its own account, but because it would confirm the reiterated British propaganda to the effect that Britain acts while others concur. This would be eminently true of any [Page 956] pro-Zionist move or declaration,12 but it would also be true of any move to perpetuate French special influence in the Levant, or to readmit Italy to any Muslim territory in Africa.
Finally, to strengthen the United States position in Saudi Arabia, I recommend respectfully that American economic assistance to Saudi Arabia, whether the supply of necessities of life, development of natural resources and public services, or long-range financial aid to stabilize the national economy, be contingent upon treatment of the United States on a completely non-discriminatory basis in Saudi Arabia in all political and economic matters, including communications, transportation, and commerce. Indeed, a treaty to this effect might be requested prior to the notification of any future aid. It is time we got tough, or rather it will be time whenever legislation is passed which will implement the plans which the Department explained to Amir Faisal, plans which would permit the United States to match or replace Britain as stabilizer of Saudi Arabian economy.

The divorce between United States assistance and United States rights in Saudi Arabia has been regrettably complete. It has been impossible to use our economic aid in bargaining for privileges the past two years, because the economic aid was made known officially too late in the year, when the Saudi Government was already concerned about subsistence for the following year. The perpetual “crisis” is to our disadvantage; agreements for a period of years would enable the United States Government to make its assistance dependent upon prior assurance by the Saudi Government that it will maintain the Open Door against all efforts by the British to close that door.

Respectfully yours,

William A. Eddy
  1. Not printed.
  2. In note 247, September 10, not printed.
  3. For documentation on the dissatisfaction of the United States with British precedence in these countries, see pp. 19 ff.
  4. For documentation on the attitude of the United States toward the Arab-Zionist controversy concerning the future status of Palestine, see pp. 678 ff., passim.