No. 961
The Deputy Under Secretary of State (Matthews) to the Secretary of Defense (Lovett)1

top secret

My Dear Mr. Secretary: The American Ambassador to Egypt has informed this Department of an urgent request from the Egyptian Government for assistance in procuring immediately equipment for three special mobile police “divisions” which that Government plans to create. These special units, in which King Farouk is taking a personal interest, will be located in Cairo and in Alexandria and will be designed to deal speedily and effectively with any attempt to subvert law and order. Ambassador Caffery has given his strong and unequivocal endorsement to this request and has expressed the hope that “it will be possible for us to get squarely behind this, to cut red tape, and get the required equipment on its way to Egypt”.2 There are enclosed for your information the pertinent communications exchanged between this Department and Ambassador Caffery in Cairo. Cairo telegram 1341 of February 15, 1952 sets forth the number of vehicles required and we are presently awaiting additional information with regard to quantities and specifications of the items needed. There is also enclosed a copy of [Page 1766] telegram No. 3625 of February 20 from the American Ambassador in London which is pertinent to this subject.3

This Department considers that the request of the Egyptian Government is extremely important and should receive the favorable consideration of the United States Government on a high priority basis. The complete breakdown of public security in Cairo on January 26 and the evidence which points to Communist inspiration and organization of those riots emphasize the urgent need to strengthen the ability of the King and his Government to maintain internal security and stability in Egypt. The defection of large numbers of regular as well as auxiliary police in connection with the January 26 riots clearly indicates that special police measures are required to deal with public disorders or the threat of such disorders. While it is true that the Egyptian Army was able to deal with the riots when it was called upon to do so, it is evident that new and effective police measures are essential if future riots and disorders are to be prevented.

In addition to the importance to the United States and other Western powers that internal stability be secured in Egypt, this Department believes that assistance to Egypt in the creation of these special police units will contribute to a more favorable atmosphere for the resumption of the highly delicate and crucial negotiations with respect to strategic facilities in the Canal Zone.

This Department therefore proposes that:

The Defense Department concur in an immediate recommendation to the Director of the Mutual Security Administration that Egypt be declared eligible for assistance under the provisions of Section 408(e) of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act;4 and
The Defense Department undertake on a high priority basis to assist the Egyptian Government in the procurement of the desired items, it being understood that full reimbursement will be received.

This Department will be glad to work in close coordination with the Defense Department in developing this program.

In view of the high importance which is attached to this project, it would be greatly appreciated if the views of the Defense Department could be received on a most urgent basis.

Sincerely yours,

H. Freeman Matthews
  1. Drafted by Wells Stabler, Officer in Charge of Egypt and Anglo-Egyptian Sudan Affairs.
  2. This passage is quoted from telegram 1341 from Cairo, Feb. 15, not printed. (774.56/2–1552)
  3. Not printed. Ambassador Gifford informed the Department that he had discussed the Egyptian request with Foreign Office officials, who tentatively approved the United States supplying the equipment. The Foreign Office, however, wished to have the views of the British Chiefs of Staff before proceeding further. (774.56/22052)
  4. The Mutual Defense Assistance Act of 1949, as amended, was signed into law on July 26, 1950, as Public Law 621. (64 Stat. 373)