865.014/5–2148: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Douglas ) to the Secretary of State

top secret

2199. In informal conversation today Scott Fox1 spoke as follows re Libya:

While Foreign Office thinking is “fluid” re Eritrea and Italian Somaliland, it is firm re Cyrenaica. Conviction is growing in Foreign Office, however, that British Government can only develop Cyrenaica properly and peacefully if British Government takes on in addition to Cyrenaica Trusteeship for Tripolitania. According Scott Fox, taking on Tripolitania will be thankless and expensive task but British Government sees no other government on horizon as locally acceptable as itself, unless it be US Government, although recent developments re Palestine may have reduced latter’s local acceptability.
Speaking personally, Scott Fox said British Government has tried unsuccessfully to convince French Government that any attempt by Italians to reinstate selves in Tripolitania would “create another Palestine”. As solutions French Government would prefer see Tripolitania first under Italians, second under French, thirdly under British and (least acceptable of all to French Government) independent.
Scott Fox believes that in any US-British talks on subject, His Majesty’s Government would endeavor convince US Government of firm conviction of HMG that interests of all concerned will suffer through any attempt get Italians back into Tripolitania. Guerilla warfare trip [sic] would adversely affect British base Cyrenaica and provide “wonderful opportunity for USSR which probably had this in mind in advocating return of Tripolitania to Italians”.
French Government, said Scott Fox, appears determined not to believe British Government predictions and in consequence “only US Government can convince the French”. Best strategy in this connection should be discussed. (Dept’s 1814 May 19).2
Asked whether Egyptian Department Foreign Office is encountering difficulties in persuading Foreign Office officials dealing with France and Italy of validity its views, Scott Fox said that there is now full agreement in Foreign Office “although our Rome Embassy doesn’t like it”.
Replying to Embassy officers inquiry, Scott Fox said that question as to whether British Government as trustee for Libya would have right to grant base to another power was put recently to Foreign Office legal Department. Legal Department has just expressed view that trustee powers, under a clause comparable Tanganyika Defence Clause would have right to grant base to third power.

  1. R. D. J. Scott Fox, Assistant Head, Egyptian Department, British Foreign Office.
  2. Not printed.