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

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No. 820

Subject: British Negotiations re Suez Base

Referring to numerous recent reports having to do with the British negotiations re the Suez base and especially recent reports having to do with the suspension of arms shipments, I would like to point out that the British should not permit their present resentment at the Wafd to rush them into impetuous acts or activities.

As Department will recollect, before the recent elections the British Embassy was enthusiastic about the chances of a Wafd success, believing that a Wafd Government more readily than any other Government would be willing to come to an agreement with them regarding Suez and the Sudan. They were right about the Wafd chances of success, but dead wrong about the Wafd disposition to come to terms with them. On the contrary the Wafd, in view of their previous British associations, and especially in view of the well-known Abdin Palace tank incident1 were and still are afraid of being tagged with pro-British paint and have been very recalcitrant in their conversations with the British representatives.

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The British are resentful at this and resentful moreover because the Government has encouraged the Egyptian press to stir up public feeling against them, and British prestige has suffered grievously since the Wafd advent to power.

I say that at this time in view of their suspension of arms shipments, as in my opinion it behooves the British to handle this matter with extreme care because it seems to be boomeranging against them.

Jefferson Caffery
  1. For documentation concerning this incident of February 1942 during which the British forced the King to appoint Nahas Pasha as Prime Minister and to accept a new government formed by the Wafd Party, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. iv, pp. 6371.