783.00/11–1650: Telegram

The Minister in Syria ( Cannon ) to the Secretary of State 1

secret

243. Deptel 172, November 9. In long and friendly conversation with PriMin Qudsi this morning he agreed that proposed US approaches to other Arab capitals and through Azzam Pasha to Arab League would be helpful. He is confident of US goodwill and did not offer suggestions on methods to be used.

As regards point 2 Deptel 151, October 25, I now think that we can steer clear of charges of interference in Arab affairs by shifting emphasis to exposition of US approval of constructive statesmanship as illustrated by Syria’s earnest effort to remove misunderstandings through Qudsi’s personal visits to Arab capitals (see below). Such a statement along lines of last paragraph Jidda’s 291 to Department, November 10,2 could be made with minimum of direct advice. In light sensitiveness created by last Sunday’s incident (Legtel 237, November 15 [13]3) I question wisdom of presenting “evidence” in talks at other capitals at this time.

On point 4 reftel, Qudsi said he was aware of Caffery’s strong and beneficent influence on Azzam Pasha. He could not judge intimacy our contacts with Azzam NY, but believed effort either there or at Cairo would be helpful.

On point 6 (parallel action by UK and French) I touched only lightly. To my surprise Qudsi reacted sharply as regards French. He said with special reference to Legation here they are still colonizers and were not pursuing enlightened policy. He wondered even if Quai d’Orsay was fully aware of line taken by local Legation. (Comment: I suggest this be handled with extreme caution since on better acquaintance I hope to work with French Minister on this.) In regards British, he had been assured by British Minister of close cooperation with UK and wryly added was aware of British influence at Baghdad and Amman.

I chose as background for talk his review of his visit to Ibn Saud. He told me he said to Ibn Saud that there was no real obstacle to [Page 1220] friendliest relations between Syria and Saudi; that only “quarrel of three Kings” was bedeviling relations; that this had produced a band of professional agitators working for their personal profit; that he, Qudsi, felt sure these machinations were not supported by peoples in other countries concerned; and that Syria would not be led into this intrigue because, far from participating, Syria was a victim. Ibn Saud was taken aback, he thought, but did not demur, and asked if Qudsi would say the same to the Hashemites. Qudsi assured him he would go to Baghdad expressly to do so. He told me that he also expects to visit Cairo and is now planning these visits for next week.

After reference to unpleasant incident of Sunday (see following telegram4) which he admitted was setback, though temporary so he hoped, to his efforts toward Arab solidarity, Qudsi assured me Ibn Saud should have no misgivings on question of any Syrian interest in union, whether with Iraq or Jordan. This country is proud of its independent policy and alert to any scheme which would retard its further development. See parallel passage in Jidda’s 291.

We note that approach at Beirut apparently was not contemplated at time Department’s 151, October 25 was despatched. Though Syria’s troubles with Lebanon have different character and Qudsi is not contemplating visit to Beirut, recent events such as Solh’s trip to Cairo, suggest that Lebanese aspect might be reviewed.

We fully recognize force of Cairo’s and Jidda’s argument against invoking tripartite declaration.

Cannon
  1. Repeated to Cairo, London, Jidda, Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Ankara and Paris.
  2. Not printed; it described a conversation between the Prime Minister of Syria, Nazim Qudsi, and the Ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Raymond A. Hare. When Qudsi stressed the necessity for progress in economic and social fields as contrasted with “old time politics,” Hare applauded him for his “constructive statesmanship which Near East so badly needs.…” (611.83/11–1050)
  3. Not printed; it described the announcement by a military judge who, after an investigation of the attempted assassination of Adib Shishakli, charged that Saudi Arabia had supplied money to the 23 terrorists indicted in the case. (783.00/11–1350)
  4. Not printed.