The Department of State to the British Embassy

top secret


The Department of State refers to the information orally communicated to Mr. Hare1 on September 29, 1949, by Mr. Allen2 regarding closer relations between Syria and Iraq and the further oral discussion of the subject with Mr. Wilkins3 and Mr. Clark on September 30. These discussions were initiated by the British Embassy at the request of the Governments of Syria and Iraq. The Department has carefully observed the strictures as to secrecy imposed by the British Government in communicating this information.
The United States Government recalls its previously expressed position that it would look with disfavor upon any modification of the status of the present sovereign entities of the Near East accomplished by force or external intervention. However, since it is a cardinal principle of American policy to respect the right of peoples freely to choose their own form of government, this Government would not oppose unions of peoples brought about by the freely expressed wish of the peoples concerned.
The Department has carefully studied the information communicated to it by the British Government and that available from other sources, and has reached the conclusion that the United States Government should not, at this time, adopt an attitude either favoring, acquiescing in or disapproving these proposals because:
There is insufficient evidence on which to base an opinion as to the degree of popular support such a union would find in both countries and the overall effects of the proposed action on the peace and stability of the area. Such information as is available, however, gives this Government certain ground for concern.
The United States Government considers that it should not, in any event, express an opinion in advance of consideration of the proposed move in an open and constitutional way within the two countries, which might in itself influence such consideration, and before the Governments of Syria and Iraq have consulted with other countries which may feel themselves affected.
In view of this Government’s concern, the United States would, furthermore, before expressing any judgment on the proposals, expect assurances by Syria and Iraq that the proposed union would safeguard legitimate interests of the United States; that it would carry out existing international obligations of the two states; and that it would undertake to respect the independence and territorial integrity of neighboring states.
The United States Government has no objection if the Government of the United Kingdom wishes to communicate the substance of the foregoing information to the Governments of Syria and Iraq.

  1. Raymond A. Hare, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs.
  2. William Denis Allen, Counsellor of the British Embassy.
  3. Eraser Wilkins, Officer in Charge of Paiestine–Israel–Jordan Affairs.
  4. This Aide-Mémoire was delivered to Mr. Allen on October 18.