890D.00/11–3047: Telegram

The Chargé in Syria (Memminger) to the Secretary of State


391. Re my unnumbered telegram immediately preceding.1 Just talked with Prime Minister who expressed profound regrets; said that speed with which mob struck caught Government entirely unawares; that mob organized secretly by foreign agents; that he had explained to crowds which subsequently gathered at presidency that violence could only harm Arab cause, and had arranged for gendarme protection of Legation and homes of all American personnel.

I made it clear to Prime Minister that US Government would take serious view of wanton destruction of American property and insult to American flag.

Entrance to Legation forced through rear first floor windows. No damage premises other than broken glass and shattered shutters. However, three Legation automotive vehicles completely burned.

Fire brigade which arrived in time to have saved cars was driven off by mob.

French Minister has just telephoned to say that tail end of mob stoned his Legation and tore down French flag, mob now seems to have dispersed.

British Legation untouched.

Repeat this and preceding to War.

  1. Not printed; it reported that “Well organized Syrian mob of about 2,000 in which Moslem brothers predominated stoned and broke into Legation this morning after setting fire to Legation station wagon. Thirty Syrian policemen on specially arranged duty watched with bemused indifference as surging crowd reached roof and tore down American flag. In view my protests gendarmes sent to scene and order temporarily restored.… Russian-Syrian Cultural Society office entered and looted.” (890D.00/11–3047). This undated message was received at 12:56 p. m., November 30. The expression “Moslem brothers” refers to members of the Moslem Brotherhood.

    Telegram 667, undated, from Baghdad, received December 4, 1:12 p. m., reported that the office of United States Information Service in Baghdad was stormed by a mob on December 4. The Embassy made formal protest to the Iraqi Foreign Office the same day, denouncing the illegal and forcible entry and the subsequent destruction of United States Government property (124.90G1/12–447). In telegram 458, December 5, to Baghdad, the Department approved the action taken in the protest (124.90G1/12–547).