641.74/12–750: Circular telegram

The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Offices 1

top secret

242. Fol is for your info and for comments and suggestions as you may care to offer.

On Nov 29 Dept had informal exchange of views with Allen, head FonOff African Dept and Brit Emb Reps re Anglo-Egypt Treaty question. Dept outlined its tentative thinking as fols:

UK cld continue handle problem as they have done since World War II on “business as usual” basis. Recent info indicates FonOff believes this policy still correct one and that by “playing by ear” Egypts can be kept talking, and Treaty will thus be kept in full effect. [Page 329] Chances this traditional policy succeeding depend on Brit assumption Egypt agitation is transitory emotionalism which wld either wane by itself or cld be bought off. We felt, however, this assumption of doubtful validity and cld foresee possibility that continuance traditional UK policy might add fuel to fire Egypt nationalism and might deepen bitter sentiment of kind still plaguing Anglo-Irish relations. Allen indicated Brit policy re Egypt is in large measure dictated by requirements Brit mil who assert inflexibly that minimum Brit requirements in Canal Zone is a (a) striking force, (b) base org requiring approx 11,500 technicians and service troops, and (c) cooperative Anglo-Egypt air defense org. Allen stated that even if Brit mil cld be persuaded to agree to transfer from Egypt of striking force there was no place in sight for it to go.
Dept suggested that among alternatives open UK might be along lines of successful Brit policy re India-Pak-Ceylon, where equal-to-equal cooperation has produced friendship in unexpected measure. We thought some such handling (without evacuation we wld hope) wld have at least a sporting chance of succeeding in Egypt and might result in creation atmosphere in which Egypts wld voluntarily collaborate with UK and Western powers in peacetime defense arrangements. Another possibility might be development area defense arrangements by Arab States in which UK striking force cld cooperate as “respectable” partner on basis freely-given invitation of all Arab League members. Possibility of some form multilateral arrangement involving US participation and US-UK security guarantee to Egypt was also raised by Brit. While Dept did not exclude such possibility, we emphasized that thinking here wld have to progress considerably further than at present to envisage such arrangement.

Dept agreed present internati tension made boat-rocking dangerous this juncture but expressed thought that Egypt feeling this time may be so strong that standard Brit treatment may not meet situation.

We made clear to Brit that above thoughts in no way altered our policy of strong support for Brit position in Egypt and necessity for maintenance strategic facilities there in state of readiness. This policy recently restated in our talks Egypt FonMin and Azzam Pasha and by US support Brit approach SAG (Deptel 505 Nov 30 to Cairo).2

  1. The diplomatic offices at Jidda, Baghdad, London, Paris, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Ankara, Beirut, Damascus, Jordan, and USUN.
  2. Not printed; it described the British Foreign Office suggestion that United States officers in Jidda approach Ibn Saud and suggest that he counsel moderation in Egypt’s relations with the United Kingdom when he spoke with Farouk. (741.56374/11–2850)