711.56386A/1–351: Telegram

The Ambassador in Saudi Arabia (Hare) to the Department of State 2


152. From Hare at Riyadh. Department pass General Kuter Commander MATS Andrews Field.3 Returned Riyadh December 30 as planned4 where joined by General Day same day and by General O’Keefe January 1.

At courtesy call on King following arrival he particularly stressed sovereignty problem in connection DAF agreement. He had be careful domestic reaction by uneducated and foreign reaction by certain Arab ill-wishers. He hoped we would be indulgent if Saudi negotiators dwelt on points bearing on this subject. Night session that day and three long sessions following day devoted detailed and searching discussion conditions under which military assistance would be accorded. Saudi negotiators were obviously displeased by strictures imposed by law and bore down hard in attempt have legal limitations attenuated or to obtain compensating advantages. Principal points covered were:

Costs: Exactly how were they determined? Were prices really advantageous? Could SA be assured no other country could purchase more favorably?
Military assistance agreement should run for specified period in order guarantee adequate equipment and training in future. Since [Page 1018] military assistance connected with DAF agreement the periods should be same, i.e., 25 years.5
Training should include not only use of equipment but articles of war in general. Desire was that SAG military establishment should be given real American imprint.
SAG desired commitment that arms specified in JCS recommendations would in fact be furnished.6
Guarantee was desired that all equipment would be new. This was point on which King very insistent.
Assurance was desired that US would equip and train balanced Saudi Air Force. This a point on which both Prince Mansour and King felt strongly and intended have regardless of difficulty or cost.
All expenses of training should be borne by US.
Specific assurances should be given re sending Saudi military students to US and they should be given special facilities, particularly re expenses.
Provision re non-transfer was objectionable but this point not pressed.
Prescribed methods of payment were found very onerous and certain clarification required.
Reservation by US of right to divert items or not complete services if found necessary in national interest was found very disturbing since it regarded as placing whole agreement in jeopardy.

On these and other less important points we endeavored explain or give counter argument as case might be but, soften blow as much as we could, it was obvious Saudis were distinctly unhappy when faced with bleak and uncompromising provisions of law.

Discussion terminated on understanding American group would prepare new draft note and seek advice from Washington on certain points (following despatch will cover this matter in full7).

New Years was a black day for the American group at Riyadh. Up to this time, although progress had been exasperatingly slow and tactics of Saudi negotiators had given new meaning to frustration, we had been forging gradually ahead and only needed complete redraft of remaining articles of DAF agreement in order complete this [Page 1019] phase of negotiations on ad referendum basis. Then lightning struck from a clear sky.

At morning session I opened by saying authorized proceed on “mission concept” basis. Shaikh Yusuf then said he also had message to deliver from King. American and Saudi DAF drafts had been presented King and advisors. Strong opposition had developed on part of latter with result that His Majesty had completely changed position. He desired maintain friendly relations with US and could be counted on help in emergency but his sovereignty must remain untouched. Proposed draft goes beyond existing DAF agreement and Azores agreement (Yusuf had 1948 press release on this). King had established kingdom and sovereignty over it by own efforts and did not desire at his advanced age do anything adversely affect that sovereignty. His people were ignorant and he did not want give them reason turn against either himself or Americans. Fact US ready give SA procurement military assistance does not mean SA prepared conclude agreement re DAF. Question whether military given was for decision of US.

By way of further explanation Shaikh Yusuf explained only way negotiations could proceed was begin again from beginning and eliminate anything touching sovereignty in order make clear SAG had full authority over DAF. In other words, situation would be similar that Jidda airport and any American participation would be on civilian technician basis. It was time talk frankly. There was difference between war and peace time. American group had said it was unable discuss security SA from external attack; SA therefore unable discuss except in terms times of peace. Those opposing proposed drafts were saying US getting war time rights in peace time without treaty to cover situation. Twenty-five year period was main difficulty and SAG not impressed by arguments re necessity in order get appropriations from Congress; in fact SAG was completely without interest in further construction. Military jurisdiction was also important point of contention. Re storage, we could continue but guards must be Saudi. Desired avoid any US military appearance at DAF.

I expressed great surprise this reversal in position taken by HM himself and pointed out it was to meet exactly this situation that “mission concept” had been adopted and redrafting done. How was it possible in light of realities of situation to avoid military appearance? Similar situations re military installations existed elsewhere and had been met by arrangements like those provided in drafts. Why should SA feel its sovereignty prejudiced when others did not, et cetera?

Shaikh Yusuf said he wished take back report to King including various statements of mine. I said only message I would authorize was that we had had due regard throughout discussions for sovereignty question and for that reason had supported “mission concept” on [Page 1020] understanding approved by HM. My government had now approved that concept in principle as basis discussions.

Saudi group suggested suspending sessions pending our call and said would arrange audience with HM if I wished.

American group then went into deliberate seclusion with result that next move was “courtesy visit” January 2 by Yusuf and Khalid. Their attitude showed marked improvement over day before. I asked three questions:

Had report including my message been given HM and what was result?
What would be situation of American military organization at Dhahran if present agreement ran out before agreement reached? This situation must be clarified in order report promptly to Washington.
Was it still thought desirable I see HM?

Yusuf said report had been made King and my message helpful. Twenty-five year period was big stumbling block. He suggested two-year agreement renewable automatically for two years unless one of parties gave notice to contrary. Re existing situation he saw no reason why present arrangement should not be extended six months or year.8 Ample time should be allowed to arrive at satisfactory arrangement. Re jurisdiction at DAF there were series circumstances under which question could arise and considerable study would be required. Khalid Bey then made plea for not attempting reduce too much to writing and said unwritten arrangements often more satisfactory here than written word.

Meeting ended with statement by Yusuf that he would arrange meeting with King but later in day he said unnecessary. He also said King had approved six-month extension existing agreement.

Re background this chain events we have gathered following from various sources:

Leaders of opposition have been Prince Abdullah and Rashid Ali and highly emotional letter of latter to King was immediate cause King’s reversal.
Critical articles of negotiations in Egyptian papers Al-Ahmal (December) and Al-Misr (December 29) have been taken very much to heart here. Both articles indicated leak somewhere.
Prince Saud returned from twenty-five day hunting trip on December 30 and at meeting of King and advisors January 2 took stand against reversal of position by King.
Prince Feisal (now in Jidda) on contrary is said to be among those opposing agreement.
Situation in Iraq re demand for cancellation of British treaty makes Saudis hesitant seem be entangling selves in similar difficulty.9
Saudi thinking said to be influenced by news report that Iranian intransigeance resulted in Ambassador Grady going Washington and returning with $25 million additional aid.10 If such tactics worked in Iran, why not Saudi Arabia?

Foregoing is progress report. Will reserve comment until situation clarifies further. Present situation (night January 2) is that Shaikh Yusuf drawing up new proposals for our consideration. Signed Hare.

  1. Repeated to Jidda. This message was sent by the Ambassador in Riyadh to the Consul General in Dhahran and was transmitted to the Department of State through the facilities of the Consulate in Dhahran.
  2. This message was relayed to General Kuter at 8:30 p. m.
  3. For the December negotiating sessions for the renewal of the Dhahran Airfield Agreement between the United States and Saudi Arabia, see telegram 400 from Jidda, December 24, 1950, and footnotes thereto in Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. v, p. 1197. Enclosed with despatch 202, December 23, from Jidda, not printed, was a chronology of the meetings at Riyadh, December 14–23, and a tentatively agreed draft of the first few articles of the Agreement. (786A.5/12–2350) The Ambassador returned to Jidda on December 23, after agreeing that the Americans would go back to Riyadh on December 30 to continue drafting the treaty.
  4. Telegram 188 from Washington, November 29, 1950, not printed, authorized the Ambassador to begin negotiations with Saudi Arabia on cash reimbursable military assistance. Negotiations for military aid were to be carried on simultaneously with negotiations for the new Dhahran Airfield Agreement. (786A.5–MAP/11–2950)
  5. In 1949 the United States sent a survey group to Saudi Arabia to study that country’s security requirements and ways in which the U.S. requirements at Dhahran Airfield could be correlated with Saudi Arabian military needs. For the “JUSSGSA Field Report With Final Recommendations for the Saudi Arabian Army, Navy, and Air Force,” also known as the O’Keefe Report, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. v, p. 1112. For information on the Joint Chiefs of Staff review of the O’Keefe Report, see the editorial note in ibid., p. 1184.
  6. Despatch 220 from Jidda, January 13, not printed, requested Department of State instructions regarding the draft note on military assistance. It contained three enclosures: a first draft of the revised note to the Saudi Arabian Government on cash reimbursable assistance, a Saudi Arabian redraft of the original U.S. note, and a later U.S. redraft of the original note which took into account the Saudi Arabian draft. (786A.5 MAP/1–1351)
  7. In response to a query from Jidda, telegram 241 from Washington, January 6, authorized Hare to request whatever extension of the Dhahran Air Field Agreement would be most helpful to his task (711.56386A/1–551). In despatch 245 from Jidda, January 29, Hare enclosed a copy of his note of January 12 requesting an extension of the existing agreement for 6 months, until August 1, and a reply from the Saudi Arabian Foreign Office, dated January 29, granting his request (711.56386A/1–2951).
  8. For documentation, see pp. 545 ff. and Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. v, pp. 635 ff.
  9. Regarding a $25 million Export-Import Bank loan to Iran, see ibid., pp. 445 ff. Documentation on Iran for the year 1951 is scheduled for publication ibid., 1952–1954, volume x.