641.74/4–151: Telegram

The Ambassador in Egypt ( Caffery ) to the Department of State 1

top secret

1001. Course long discussions McGhee and Egypt FonMin 2 reviewed Anglo-Egypt negots. Salaheddin said Egypt agrees receive Brit forces in Egypt during time of aggression against Brit, Egypt or adjacent countries, but cld not accept Brit forces in peace time. Salaheddin has insisted during negots that Brit evacuation take place within one year allowing what he termed adequate time for raising standards 10,000 Egypt combat troops plus 400 pilots as allowed by the treaty (or 20,000 if necessary) to take over defense job. Fayed to be maintained by Egyptians in good working order. Salaheddin said Bevin had agreed to principle of transfer responsibility but Egyptians concerned new Brit tune after Bevin turned over to Morrison seeming indicate going back on what Bevin agreed to. Egypt FonMin said Egypt had no concern Brit Parliamentary conditions. He said, “I did not speak to Mr. Bevin in his personal capacity but I spoke to him as Secy of State for Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom”. He insisted also Sudan problem inextricably bound with problem evacuation. Re Sudan FonMin stated he had agreed to two year transition period and that though Bevin tried separate questions Egypt cannot accept such separation and is determined agreement is conditional on both situations. He said “our attitude regarding this question is that we and our compatriots the Sudanese are agreed that the Sudan shld have its own govt and parliament in unity with Egypt represented by the Egypt crown for foreign policy, defense and currency and other matters which Egyptians and their compatriots the Sudanese may agree to”.

McGhee explained US had not been, and not willing now become, party Anglo-Egypt negots though we had discussed and will continue to discuss problems with both in friendly vein. In this connection McGhee said US recognized (1) “You have certain legitimate nationalistic aspirations which your people feel very deeply about”, (2) “The Brit have what they consider certain rights under the treaty and we believe that they have genuine desire to make a contribution [Page 353] to the solution of problem at hand”; and (3) “There is a consideration of defense of Middle East itself both for individual countries concerned and for defense of entire area. Defense of Middle East is an area problem, we have always felt”. McGhee said US had welcomed news of progress in Anglo-Egypt negots and hoped retrogression not real. We appreciate Egypt patience, hope it will continue, but believe problems as Suez and Sudan shld not be linked; it is better to keep them separate. He promised discuss problems London.

Salaheddin said, “I wld like assure you that we wld not limit ourselves to question at hand from the Egypt aspirations point of view by itself; we have looked at it, too, from Brit viewpoint, providing, of course, that they are within reasonable bounds from the point of view of Middle East defense. I think that the Middle East countries shld have the first right in the defense of their own territories but as to the Brit, all others come in as allies when war actually breaks out. This is the basis of what we offer the Brit. We also offered them that we undertake to maintain the base so that they may depend on it at the outbreak of war”.

He said also, “There is no doubt that the final result will depend very much on the assistance that is given to these armies and on the economic assistance that is given to these people.

“To sum up, Egypt and the Arab countries, of whose tendencies I know quite a lot, are prepared to contribute their share in the general preparedness to face aggression to maintain peace and unity of the free nations of the world, but they insist that they shld have first say in their own territory and that the help and assistance of other countries comes secondary and when it is needed, but not to leave the whole burden of defense to other countries”.

Also, “As to the question of separating the unity of Egypt and Sudan and question of evacuation it is improbable that the Egypt people will accept it in anyway”.

Also, “If it is not possible to have these two questions settled on the basis of satisfying our national aspirations the Egypt people can not understand how we can side with the bloc which includes the Brit when they are violating our rights. On the contrary, the Egypt people will be more inclined to take a stand against Brit in defense of these rights”.

Salaheddin said Egypt awaiting Brit Amb return from London, that if decision he brought not realization Egypt national aspirations no Egypt Govt cld continue talks as people wld demand stop to talks, and abrogation 1936 treaty and 1889 agreement. This cld only mean quarrel with Brit with no visible end. Salaheddin asked what McGhee cld do to avoid this. He said on his part he was prepared (though not [Page 354] having consulted PriMin or Cabinet) to increase evacuation period to 18 months and Sudanese transition period to three years.

McGhee said, “I accept this as a statement of your policy. Of course I recognize that it is subject to change in light of its submission to the Cabinet but I believe also the PriMin is likely to accept it as his view. We, I think, must deal with it as the views of the Egypt Govt; therefore we take it seriously and will give it every consideration”.

Also, “Without any attempt to rebut Your Excellency’s position, we wld like to give few comments.

“We entirely approve of the development of the indigenous defensive forces of the Middle East and feel that the Brit themselves fully accept that principle even though they may not appear to do so at times. One of the purposes of the tripartite declaration was to furnish the Middle East an opportunity to play a part in Middle East defenses. We took that decision in the face of considerable criticism in our own country. We took that position in order to make it clear that the furnishing of arms to Egypt for defense purposes was a good thing from the standpoint of our own foreign policy. In Istanbul we discussed the defense of the Middle East and we recognized there are many gaps which shld be filled and we as a govt approached such matters entirely from the standpoint of dealing with countries of the Middle East in the hope that they will maximize their own defense capabilities”.

Also, “At Istanbul I felt that our real problem in the Middle East is a relatively short-ranged problem in that the principle danger of Soviet invasion is the relative weakness of the West. We are re-arming and assisting nations elsewhere to re-arm and feel that in a short period of time we will have more than fulfilled that purpose. There is a situation now which is a situation of war. We are fighting in Korea. The type of action which the Greeks knew recently was actually a shooting war and they know that this type of war short of localized action cld break out again. That is why we thought that this present time shld be considered as a state of internal emergency corresponding to a state of war. During that period every effort shld be made to maximize defense efforts. No matter how large an army the Egyptians able to build the Middle East also needs all other foreign troops which cld be brought in. I am certain that Brit realizes that troops in this area cld not be for a colonial type of regime as before but to defend the Middle East against Russia.”

“I cannot believe any grievances against the Brit cld be considered even in the same light or aura as the menace which threatens the whole Middle East. And you have a new type of imperialism which demonstrates [Page 355] itself to be worse than any imperialism the Brit imposed. You have seen what happens when this imperialism is imposed upon a friendly nation.

“I believe that Brit is extricating itself generally from the colonial type of govt. They have given up most of the countries in the world which they had under the old colonialism. I think that they find themselves in an awkward position of international emergency now. They see also all the interests of the Middle East and the friendly world threatened by Russian aggression”.

Also, “Can say that in general I hope that the Brit position when it comes to you will find basis for discussion will lead to a settlement of the problem. I think you do realize the dangerous situation the Middle East wld be in if you found yourself in an impasse with Brit”.

Also, “I hope you and the PriMin will agree that the leaders of great states shld not only lead but follow public opinion. Go as far as you can toward meeting their point of view and working out a solution which will be satisfactory to both. In light of what has happened in Iran, our govt wld greatly regret if some new drastic situation were brought about which wld bring up nationalist feelings which cld lead no where.

“We can assure you that we cld never revert to colonialism which the world has known in the past. We feel that this calls for an evolutionary type of action for nations who find themselves in a position which have a certain aura of colonialism”.

Salaheddin accepted McGhee analogy threat Russian imperialism versus Brit but contended Egypt masses do not. He concluded by asking wthat US attitude wld be in case break between Egypt and Brit. McGhee replied, “cld not possibly answer that question at this time”.

  1. Repeated to London and the Arab capitals.
  2. McGhee revisited Cairo at the end of March as part of his tour of the Near Eastern and South Asian regions discussed in editorial note, p. 49.