The Secretary of
State to the Director for Mutual Security (Stassen)
My Dear Mr. Stassen : I am sure you are aware of the importance which we attach to Egypt in the area of the Near and Middle East. It is the key to the problem of Middle East defense and the general problem of relations between the United States and the Arab States. The present Egyptian Government under General Naguib, which came into power on July 23, 1952, has given many evidences of its desire to cooperate with the United States, including participation in the defense arrangements for the area, provided it can first settle the outstanding Anglo-Egyptian disputes. We believe it is absolutely essential to our interests that General Naguib remain in power and be encouraged to co-operate with the West.
We have already taken first steps to support the Naguib regime by offering $10 million in economic assistance and by agreeing to sell $11 million worth of military equipment. The recent signing of the Anglo-Egyptian Agreement on the Sudan has opened the way for closer understandings with Egypt and makes it additionally important to demonstrate continued support for the Egyptian Government.[Page 1992]
As a small next step, it is the view of the Department of State and of Defense that a program to train approximately fifty Egyptian jet pilots should be undertaken. Our present program of interim military aid does not include anything for the Egyptian Air Force, it having been decided by the President that jet aircraft should not be furnished to Egypt at this time. This could have unfortunate repercussions, since the Air Force has great influence in the present military regime and since it will play an important role in the arrangements we anticipate for the future defense of the Suez Canal area. These effects may be offset if we demonstrate genuine interest in the Air Force by the proposed training program, which would both strengthen its eventual efficiency and constitute a gesture of political goodwill.
Both the Department of State and the Department of Defense, however, believe that maximum results can be obtained only if the training is conducted at the expense of the United States. While the Egyptian Government might feel able to pay the cost involved, (estimated at $400,000) past experience with other States in the area has shown that much of the goodwill which would otherwise be engendered is lost if the local governments are required to foot the bill. This is especially true in the case of States like Egypt which have very limited foreign exchange holdings and are in budgetary difficulties.
I believe, therefore, that we should make Egypt eligible for grant military aid, it being understood that this eligibility would be limited to training programs for personnel of the Egyptian Armed Forces in United States military installations. We would, of course, make it clear to the Egyptians that they would have to pay cash for anything other than training, unless a new arrangement is worked out.
In the light of the foregoing, it would be appreciated if you would recommend to the President that Egypt be declared eligible for grant military aid specifically limited to training.2
- This letter was drafted by Ortiz and Jernegan.↩
- According to a memorandum from Jernegan to the Secretary of State on Feb. 28, which is not printed, Under Secretary of State Smith actually signed this letter. Jernegan continued, saying that he had spoken to Stassen about this letter on Feb. 27, that Stassen indicated his general concurrence with its recommendations, but that he said he wished to raise certain points with the President concerning possible repercussions in Israel if such assistance were extended to Egypt. Jernegan informed Dulles that the Departments of State and Defense had considered fully the possible Israeli reactions to a program of grant aid to Egypt, but concluded that the larger objectives involved with respect to Egypt’s key position in the Arab world and her possible leadership in Arab acceptance of membership in MEDO far outweighed the repercussions in Israel. (774.5 MSP/2–1953)↩