780.5/6–2752: Telegram

No. 79
The Secretary of State to the Department of State1


Secto 24. Re Secto 18,2 following paper on MEDO has been agreed here by US and UK ad referendum both governments:


“1. It would be preferable that the organization to be set up in the Middle East should be termed a ‘defense organization’ rather than ‘command organization’ since, particularly in so far as the Middle East states are concerned, the former name is likely to have more psychological appeal. The term Allied Middle East defense organization (MEDO) is therefore used throughout this memorandum.

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“2. In September, 1951 the seven sponsoring powers (UK, USA, France, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Turkey), agreed that a Middle East defense organization (MEDO) should be established.3 Early this year, it was agreed that the establishment and development of MEDO should be carried out in two phases and closely geared throughout to the Paris declaration of November 1951. In the first phase, the organization should be a planning, coordinating and liaison organization: In the second phase it should evolve into a fully-fledged defense organization. It was decided that an official inaugural conference of the seven sponsoring powers should be held in London in March to discuss the setting-up of MEDO, but it was later agreed that this conference should be postponed in the hope that the new government in Egypt might in due course develop a more favorable attitude towards the whole concept.

Present Situation.

“3. We do not consider that we should delay the plans for the establishment of a MEDO any longer in the hope of any early issue of the Anglo-Egyptian deadlock. Thus, it is desirable that the seven sponsoring powers should now reach early agreement on:

  • “(a) The form, and functions of MEDO;
  • “(b) The tactics to be pursued towards the Middle East states.

The Functions of the MEDO.

“4. The main functions of the organization will be as outlined in the Paris declaration i.e.

  • “(a) To draw up plans for the defense of the Middle East and to be a center of cooperative effort for defense purposes.
  • “(b) To plan for, and provide the Middle East states with, assistance in the form of training and advice.
  • “(c) To coordinate requests by Middle East states for arms and equipment.
  • “(d) To make plans for the operations in war of all forces within, or to be introduced into, the area and to coordinate them with the operations of the adjoining NATO command in the Eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor.
  • “(e) To reduce such deficiencies as exist at present in organization and capacity for the defense of the area.

Structure of the Organization.

“5. The organization should be kept flexible and as small as is consistent with:

  • “(a) The need for efficient planning;
  • “(b) The participation of a number of different countries;
  • “(c) A smooth evolution into full defense organization which is the ultimate aim. The organization would consist of:
    • “(a) Military representatives committee
    • “(b) Planning group. The organization would be established in Cyprus unless some more suitable site became available.

Military Representatives Committee.

“6. The military representatives committee would consist of representatives of all states participating in the organization. It would be responsible for the general direction of the planning group and would meet twice a year, or more often if required. The chairmanship of the committee would rotate.

The Planning Group.

“7. The planning group will be composed of planning teams supplied by the participating powers. In view of the existence of a British Middle East Command, the contribution the UK will make to MEDO and her responsibilities in the Middle East, the head of the planning group should be British. The group would be divided into appropriate sections to handle e.g. logistics, intelligence and operations, administration and plans, training, coordination of requests for military aid and equipment; liaison with nonparticipating Middle East states.

“8. The military representatives and the members of the planning group would obtain direction and guidance from their respective governments and report to them, pending the evolution of a fully integrated defense organization.

Relationship With NATO.

“9. The necessary coordination between Middle East and NATO planning will be achieved by appropriate liaison in Washington.

Participation of Middle East States.


“10. Egypt was invited in October 1951 to join a Middle East defense organization as a founder member on an equal footing with the present seven sponsoring powers: Despite her rejection of the proposals this offer remains open. Egypt’s eventual participation in the defense organization is, moreover, very important in view of the strategic facilities which she can offer on her territory.


“11. Although Israel clearly has a valuable contribution to make to the common task of Middle East defense by the provision of forces and facilities, her inclusion in the defense organization as a full member, at least for the time being, would destroy any chance of obtaining the cooperation of the Arab States. Her exclusion is, therefore, inevitable at this stage; the Israeli Government understands this.

The Other Arab States

“12. These states are all directly interested and in varying degrees facilities (e.g. bases or transit rights) will be required from all [Page 254]of them. Taking a long view, no satisfactory defense arrangements for the Middle East can be made without the active and willing cooperation of these states. Whilst this cooperation might be achieved by some form of liaison between the organization and each Middle East state individually, it would be much more satisfactory if, in the initial planning stages, the states would actually participate in the organization.

Tactics to be Adopted Towards the Arab States.

“It is unlikely, however, that the Arab States would in present circumstances accept a formal invitation to participate in the organization. Having once refused, it will be the more difficult for them to change their attitude later or to cooperate in any way with the organization. The British representatives in the Middle East consider that the establishment of an organization will be regarded by the Arabs as a token of the sincerity of Allied determination to defend the Middle East, and that the mere fact of its establishment would tend to attract Arab cooperation.

“The right line of approach to the Arab States would thus seem to be to inform them of the plans of the sponsoring powers, to indicate that we should welcome Arab association with the organization and that if, as seems probable, the Arab reaction is shy rather than hostile, we should then go ahead with the establishment of the organization and hope that as it proceeds with its work the Arab States will tend, individually or collectively, to cooperate progressively with it.

Future Action.

  • “(a) Exchange of views on the UK proposals between the sponsor powers through diplomatic channels;
  • “(b) As soon as the sponsor powers have reached agreement an approach should be made to the Arab States to inform them of the intention of the sponsoring powers to establish MEDO in Cyprus and to sound out their willingness to join that organization in order to plan for the defense of the Middle East.”

  1. Transmitted as a circular airgram from the Department of State to Paris, Ankara, Pretoria, Canberra, and Wellington on June 30. (780.5/6–3052)
  2. Not printed, but see footnote 3, supra.
  3. For documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. v, pp. 1 ff.