Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs ( McGhee ) to the Minister in Syria ( Gannon )

official informal

Dear Cavendish: We were most interested in your first political telegram (No. 207 of November 1) and those following it. We are gratified with your forthright approach to the problems confronting you in Syria. We knew you would take the turbulent situation in your stride, but had not anticipated that it would become so complicated so soon! Needless to say, we are following with keen interest your conversations with Prime Minister Qudsi.

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The close succession of events in connection with the alleged Kallas–Ajlani conspiracy, the attempt on Col. Shishakli’s life, and the arrest of nearly two dozen persons including foreigners allegedly in the pay of other Arab governments, represent many cross-currents of influence both within and without Syria. We hope that these hazards can be safely weathered by the fledgling Second Syrian Republic under the surprisingly sound and effective leadership of Nazim al-Qudsi. Naturally, we are most anxious for the orderly development of Syrian political and economic stability, and heartily approve your efforts to this end.

Syria has gone through a year and a half of instability. It is remarkable, however, that there have been no widespread disorders and that on the contrary there has been a relative degree of progress along a number of lines. There is, it seems, a hope that Syria may be moving ahead towards greater strength and a more truly democratic regime. In these circumstances we look forward to working out with you the steps we can take to give Syria that encouragement, help and freedom from outside interference which will foster its orderly development.

So far as area stability is concerned, we find that one of the most encouraging aspects of Qudsi’s attitude is that he seems ready to remove the Palestine question as an issue in Syrian politics and to let the Arab League handle it. From our contacts with Azzam Pasha and with members of the Arab UN delegations, we are hopeful that some of the other leaders of the Arab League states will be less vociferous than in the past in their opposition to any settlement which can be worked out on such issues as the refugees. However, we shall not make the mistake of being overly-optimistic about this possibility. We would like to encourage Qudsi’s belief, as indicated to Ray Hare in Jidda, that Syria should devote itself to economic development and other matters more important to its national development than raking over the coals of the Palestine conflagration.

We wish you success in encouraging Qudsi and other Syrian leaders in this line of thinking. We are confident that you and your staff will constantly endeavor to persuade the Syrians with whom you come in contact that the US Government has a policy of positive friendship for Syria as well as for all other states in the area.

We realize your task is not a light one, especially since the extension of American help is so dependent upon Syrian initiative. We hope that Syria will not be less active or thorough in presenting its case for technical assistance or Eximbank and IBRD loans than its neighbors. This will demand positive and early action by Syrian officials.

With best wishes,

Sincerely yours,

George C. McGhee