711.83/10–1249: Telegram

The Ambassador in Egypt (Caffery) to the Secretary of State

top secret

943. I talked to the King at some length on Monday. He gave me the expected line that while he ardently wishes for good relations with the US, these have been rendered almost impossible by our attitude in regard to Palestine. He talked for some time politely but bitterly about this, laying emphasis on our refusal to let his army have arms while, he alleged, arms were flowing merrily into Palestine from every quarter. In addition, he observed, “You have refused everything that we have asked for.”

I made due reply to all this, of course.

He then said, “Under the circumstances, my army didn’t do badly in Palestine. They were fighting with bare breasts against tanks and armored cars. The Egyptian Army did that for me and they will do anything I say and they won’t do it for anyone else. That is why I feel so strongly about them.”

[Page 224]

Then: “Coming down to earth, the matter that interests me most, and it interests me a lot, is that of your refusal to accept our military students.” He enlarged considerably on this. (If something could be done about this it would help our current relations with Egypt more than anything else.)

He then adverted to the question of the lifting of the arms embargo and said, “I am not at all happy about the way in which the arms embargo has been lifted. I shall instruct my representatives to insist that it be lifted with the same formality with which it was imposed”. (This is, of course, not realistic.)

He spoke of his statement to his ministers regarding his Bairam prayers (reference A–1054, October 51) and said, “Of course, I do not pull coups but I do occasionally have to change ministers or get them back on the rails. That was a case when I had to make clear what I expected them to do. I am paid for that.”

He expressed much gratification that we had had atomic bombs for some time, and said, “I hope you make lots more of them and never under any circumstances let them get out of your hands.” He expressed much concern over growing Communist infiltration in Near East and Africa, “especially among the blacks”.

He remarked that he had reason to believe that the present British Ambassador would be soon replaced, adding, “This man is agreeable, unlike his horrible predecessor”.

I then asked him if something couldn’t be done about doing away with the Egyptian wartime shipping regulations, reference to the Suez Canal (Deptel 954, October 4 [September 26]) and the American Export Line’s difficulties (Department’s 977 October 6[4]).2 He replied, “I don’t say no, but I need time”. (He does not want this repeated to any other government.)

As I left, with reference to nothing in particular, he said, “Don’t think I know nothing of business matters. Don’t forget that the founder of my dynasty was a tobacco merchant”.

  1. Not printed.
  2. These telegrams are printed on pp. 1404 and 1418.