886A.10/6–2650: Despatch

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

top secret
No. 375

Ref: Embassy’s telegram no. 378, June 26, 1950.1

Subject: Conversation with Abdullah Effendi regarding financial and political situation.

In the course of my very extended conversation with Abdullah Effendi, private secretary of Crown Prince Saud, he stated that the [Page 1179]Crown Prince had asked him to inquire of me what I thought that the general financial situation, particularly in view of His Majesty’s refusal to approve the budget as submitted by Shaikh Abdullah Sulaiman, minister of Finance, and Najib Bey Salha, Assistant Deputy Minister of Finance.

I told Abdullah Effendi he might tell His Royal Highness I was very deeply disturbed about the financial situation and that he might recall I had informed His Majesty when I discussed the subject with him that while the Saud dynasty was at the present time secure, the time might come when, if the present situation were allowed to continue, no one could prophesy what might happen. I added to Abdullah that I was even more concerned at the present time than I was when I had discussed the situation with the King.

Abdullah stated he was also and that he had discussed the situation repeatedly with the Crown Prince. He had urged upon the Crown Prince his responsibility in the matter and the necessity for him to press the need of reforms to the King. The Crown Prince had stated he feared the anger and displeasure of His Majesty and that the King might even go so far as to pass him over in favor of one of his other sons. Abdullah had remarked that, knowing the King’s character, he would probably admire the Crown Prince’s action and take it as indicating that he was following in his father’s footsteps.

Abdullah said that the truth was that the King did not in fact have too high an opinion of the Crown Prince and he did not enjoy the cooperation of his brothers. There was certainly a gathering discontent in the country. He thought that the Crown Prince should go to Prince Faisal and Prince Mansour and persuade them to accompany him to the King to press upon the King the need for thoroughgoing financial and other reforms. Even if the Crown Prince’s brothers refused to act he should take it upon himself to do so as it was definitely his responsibility. Abdullah asked what I thought. I said it was hardly appropriate for me as Ambassador to make any comment but personally and in view of the deep interest I had in Saudi Arabia and the Saud family I thought his advice could not have been sounder. History was full of examples of disaster attending those who let matters drift until the situation had become so aggravated that it was incapable of normal and orderly correction. If I were the Crown Prince I would not hesitate. I would first of all endeavor to enlist the cooperation of my brothers in proposing a voluntary cut in budgetary allocations. I would then go to the King and represent the need of drastic reforms and indicate the disinterestedness of those proposing them by the voluntary offer to accept a substantial reduction in present allocations from the budget.

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Abdullah said that he would inform the Crown Prince of his extremely interesting conversation with me and urged that I come to Taif and speak to the Crown Prince myself in the same sense. I said I was prepared to come to Taif but I thought it extremely unwise, for any rumors to be given currency that I was putting my head together too closely with Prince Saud. A diplomat was no diplomat who figured either prominently in the news or whose name was the subject of conversation. I thought my best contact with His Royal Highness was through Abdullah Effendi himself. I was not going on leave until July 21 and by that time His Royal Highness would be coming to Jidda on his return to Riyadh and I would be able to see him then much less conspicuously than if I went to Taif.

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J. Rives Childs
  1. Not printed; it reported a conversation between Childs and Abdullah about Saudi Arabian relations with the British (786.00/6–2650).