890F.00/4–1748: Telegram

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

top secret

207. In accordance request His Majesty [that?] I go urgently Riyadh, I flew there fifteenth and sixteenth returned. I saw His Majesty twice and conferred at length with Shaikh Yusuf Yassin.

Shaikh Yusuf showed me a British communication which had already been subject discussion between Trott and me, and I was shown translation His Majesty’s reply and asked state my views. It is presumed Department will obtain text from British Ambassador Washington but if not available, Legation will telegraph.

I cleared up first of all serious misapprehension gained from British memorandum re British desire bring about better relations SAG on one hand and Iraq and Transjordan on other. Shaikh Yusuf had interpreted British memorandum to mean that unless SAG would accept treaty similar British-Transjordan and British-Iraqi treaty or some other similar treaty, British would not defend SAG against aggression. [Page 233] I informed Shaikh Yusuf I felt sure it was not intention British Government insist on conclusion treaty similar to rejected British-Iraqi treaty. Britain in its present memorandum was merely justifying its previous offer of treaty to SAG along lines Iraqian [sic] treaty and instancing this as evidence its desire not to differentiate or show any less friendly feelings for SAG than manifested for Iraq and Transjordan. I pointed out to Shaikh Yusuf that what British in fact had stated in memorandum was that since their previous efforts to bring about better understanding had not been successful, they were now inquiring of SAG for its own suggestions as to how relations might be improved between SAG on one hand and Iraq and Transjordan on other.

I plainly indicated to Shaikh Yusuf my disappointment with paragraph 6 SAG’s reply to British. This reads in translation as follows:

[Here follows a translation of this paragraph, which asserted that the way to help the Arabs was to provide them with “arms and necessary factories”, as well as training facilities. The King expressed his view that it would be futile for the British to restrict their help to sending troops to occupy Arab countries, which they would not accept. The ideal plan was to follow the example of the aid granted to Turkey. If similar aid were extended to the Arabs, they would, without formal commitment, effect the necessary cooperation.

Then follows another paragraph in which Shaikh Yusuf quoted the last paragraph of the reply, which in general was a summation of the previous paragraph.]

In long discussion, I presented following essential points: We had granted aid to Turkey1 when international situation was far from as threatening as at present. Turks had basis trained army. Today situation was such we could not improvise or hope to gain time for preparations as we had been able in first two world wars. We and British had planes and ships and motorized equipment. Arab states had very little. First brunt of defense would fall on those powers now in state of preparation. It might take several years to bring forces of Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to point where they could share burden of defense. First and most important task confronting problem of defense measures was providing adequate facilities to those powers capable of taking immediately defensive measures. I expressed also strong hope that insistence upon question of sovereignty or of freedom of territories from occupation did not necessarily mean that in elaboration of any plans necessary facilities for adoption defensive measures would be denied. I cited fact repossessed bases in British and Portuguese sovereign territories, amongst others, which did not detract [Page 234] from sovereignty of those countries, and were not considered a servitude.

I expressed strong personal hope, His Majesty would use his influence with Arab League induce League pass resolution along lines indicated in British memorandum. His Majesty stated he was prepared conclude treaty with both US and Great Britain, and added in consideration very close relations with US our treaty should contain supplementary protocol providing following special circumstances incident to our close relations. Shaikh Yusuf added that His Majesty would be prepared use his influence along lines suggested. Shaikh Yusuf, who appeared impressed by my arguments stated fundamental principles set forth in last paragraph British memorandum quoted above are, of course, subject to discussion and interpretation. He said “we are ready to accept any suggested amendments from you.”

Sent Department 207, repeated London 59, Baghdad 17, pouched other Arab capitals.

  1. For documentation on United States aid to Turkey, see vol. iv, pp. 1 ff., passim.