641.74/10–951: Telegram

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

top secret
priority

431. In consideration later events we decided Stevenson shld ask see King which he did and was recd today at noon. King said he had signed necessary papers yesterday at noon “with a heavy heart”, but that he had no alternative as he cld not stand against whole country. Stevenson asked him why govt had acted as it did. King said: Primarily for domestic political reasons govt action yesterday has recd unanimous applause and govt has gained new life thereby. Secondly to divert nation’s mind from corruption in govt and failure of govt to carry out electoral promises, etc. “However” the King added, “you waited too long. I have been warning you constantly that I cld not hold them off indefinitely”.

King then referred with some bitterness to incident 32 years ago when Brit prohibited Egypt King to use title of King of Sudan. “That rankled”.

Stevenson assured King that Brit wld do nothing provocative and expressed ardent hope that Egyptians wld show restraint. The King assured him that he had given orders to prevent unseemly demonstrations and “incidents”. Stevenson said he hoped Egypt Govt wld not attempt, for instance, to cut off food supplies from Brit troops and King said he wld look into that too. Stevenson asked if King had any further opinion or advice to give and he said absolutely none, that he was up in the air as it was.

My own interpretation is that govt all along has wanted to abrogate treaty and had decided in principle some weeks ago to do so, but in view of MinFonAff’s promise to me to wait ten days, they waited until the ten days expired, on Sunday last, and then decided to go ahead immed for fear proposals to be presented on Wednesday might be acceptable to King.

Caffery
  1. Repeated for information to Paris for MacArthur and to London and Ankara. A typed notation on the source text reads: “Read by Mr. Stabler (NE) 11 p.m., 10/9/51.”