783.00/10–1850: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Legation in Syria 1


151. Leg’s interesting teleg 190 Oct 182 indicates continued unsettling subversive polit activity in Syria by internal and possibly by external elements. It appears such activity has arisen in the past or may in future stem from any one or a combination of several sources, such as: adherents of ex-Pres Quwatly; Govts of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, SA; and the AHC.3 These subversive activities in Syria, if continued, may not only invite counter polit activity by army factions, thereby making the task of achieving polit stability in Syria difficult, but might ultimately prejudice peace in NE.

Dept is concerned these developments and believes US shld not lose any suitable opportunity to promote Syrian stability. Leg’s comments requested as to which, if any, of fol steps might serve useful purpose:

Emb Cairo discreetly to approach Quwatly and counsel him instruct his adherents refrain from any activities designed overthrow present constitution or return him to office in Syria by extra-constitutional means.4
Approach Govts of SA, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan with renewed counsel maintain strict policy non-interference in internal affairs of Syria.
Suggest to these govts and possibly other govts in the area that they shld avail themselves of any favorable opportunity to encourage Syrian civ govt and to express disapproval of any further extra-constitutional polit activity in Syria.
To make discreet approach Sec Gen of Arab League along lines paras 2 and 3.
Inform Syrian Govt of any action taken under paras 1 to 4 and state our earnest hope for further strengthening of Syrian stability.
Suggest UK and France make similar approaches designed eliminate subversive activity and promote Syrian stability.

  1. Repeated for action to Cairo, Jidda, Baghdad, Amman, and Beirut; repeated for information to London, Paris, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem.
  2. Not printed; it described the wave of arrests that followed an attempted assassination of Lt. Col. Adib Shishakli, Deputy Army Chief of Staff, on October 12 (783.00/10–1850).
  3. Interference in Syrian affairs by other neighboring Arab countries was a major concern of the Department. Reports from all the Near Eastern posts kept the Department informed of activities in this regards, and, in particular, on the subject of Syrian-Iraqi union. Egypt openly expressed opposition to the idea of a union between Syria and Iraq (Embtel 76 from Cairo, January 24, 683.87/1–2450); Saudi Arabia also opposed this union and, by offering the Syrian Government a loan in June, hoped to promote Syria’s internal stability and minimize unionist desires (airgram A–56 to Jidda, June 27, 883.10/6–2750). While the population of Iraq maintained an interest in union with Syria, this interest remained dormant and the government formed by Prime Minister Tawfiq Suweidi did little to revive it (telegram 173, from Baghdad, September 16, 683.87/9–1650).
  4. The former President of Syria, Shukri Quwatly, who was forced out of power by a coup d’état on March 30, 1949, resided in Cairo and occasionally received visits from Syrian politicians who hoped to get him back in power in Damascus (despatch 189 from Cairo, February 7, 783.00/2–750).