641.74/3–2652: Telegram

No. 970
The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

top secret

4762. From Secy for Amb. Pls deliver fol personal msg from me to Eden re Egypt soon as possible:

“I am greatly disturbed by situation in Egypt and by the fact that such a short time remains before elections in which to reach a settlement. Our info leads us to believe that as each day passes without definite progress towards resolving outstanding issues the eventual survival of the present Govt is placed increasingly in jeopardy. I fear that unless the situation is changed substantially in the immediate future, opportunity for negots with moderate elements will have been lost and achievement of Western objectives with respect to Egypt thrown into grave doubt.

I am fully aware of the problems which you are facing in connection with the Egypt situation, but I know from our talks in London and Lisbon that we are in accord that it is essential to move forward as quickly as possible in seeking a solution.

As we here see it, the problem falls into two main parts: The first part involves analysis of the necessity for and feasibility of various courses of action in order to determine what the terms of settlement wld have to be if agreement is to be reached and an appraisal of the risks which may be involved in those terms. The second part relates to the means of getting negots started without delay and the tactics to be employed in pursuing those negots.

There is attached our analysis and appraisal of the situation. If we are agreed on this analysis and appraisal, then it wld seem to me that it wld be necessary immediately to deal with the second part of the problem. In this connection I believe that unless negots are started soon there will be none at all for the reasons which I stated above.

[Page 1779]

The first thing that seems to be needed is an opening play which will convince Egypt that the UK seriously desires to discuss all outstanding issues with a view to their early solution. Since it appears that the text of the joint statement which Sir Ralph Stevenson has recently been authorized to negot has been rejected by the Egypts, it follows that if it is desired to start negots, such a statement will have to be more forthcoming, particularly with respect to the Sudan. The thought has occurred to me that since it has not been possible to come to any agreement re a declaration, either bi-lateral or unilateral, it might be possible to suggest agreement on an agenda which on one hand will contain all the elements of a declaration satisfactory to the Egypts, but which on the other does not give away the UK position. Such an agenda cld be made public jointly in a simple statement to the effect the two Govts have agreed to begin immediate negots on the pts listed with common resolve to reach agreement as quickly as possible. Our suggestion for such an agenda wld be as follows:

Arrangements for the assumption by Egypt for responsibility of the CZ Base in the interest of its def and the protection of the Suez Canal.2
Arrangements for the provision of assistance to Egypt in fulfilling such responsibility.
Arrangements for the withdrawal of Brit forces from the CZ, including the question of timing.
The role of Egypt in the def of the ME.
Brit recognition of the title King of the Sudan and Egypt recognition of the right of the Sudanese people to full, free and prompt self-determination.

With respect to Item 4 of proposed agenda, it wld be desirable to attempt to secure agreement with Egypt on the stationing of some non-Egypt forces, other than technicians, in the CZ Base and it is assumed that efforts will be made to negot toward this end. However, we feel that this question shld not be pressed to the pt where the negots might break down.

We believe that it wld be helpful if the UK wld at the time of discussion of an agreed agenda or a declaration inform the Egypts that Brit forces over and above the treaty limit wld be withdrawn as soon as possible, starting immed. This wld seem possible in view of the considerably improved security conditions in the CZ.

The immed thing shld be to come to grips with the main points on the agenda as quickly as possible and make the concessions which the UK is prepared to make in such a way that they achieve the maximum results in promoting the possibilities of a settlement. It seems to me that there are certain minima which have now emerged as inescapable for any Egypt Govt and that with any successor govt the price which is being asked wld increase.

[Page 1780]

I hope that the views that I have pressed in this msg will be of assistance to you. I shld be most interested in having ur comments on these views as well as ur ideas as to how it might be possible to move forward at the earliest possible moment.”

Fol is analysis, appraisal and conclusion to be attached to msg to Eden:

“A. Analysis and Appraisal:

Western objectives with respect to Egypt are:
Free and unimpeded use of the Suez Canal at all times;
Maintenance of strategic facilities in peacetime in such condition that they cld be effectively and speedily used in event of imminent threat to the security of the ME;
Voluntary assoc of Egypt with the West in preparing to defend and in defending the ME against outside aggression.
The extreme sensitivity of the NE area as a whole to the Anglo-Egypt problem is a factor which must be borne in mind in endeavoring to achieve settlement. A solution of the Anglo-Egypt problem cld be the key to the solution of outstanding issues between the West and other NE countries, particularly re the MEC.
In spite of all actions which have been taken since Oct 1951 to maintain a fully operative base in the Canal Zone in face of Egypt hostility and non-cooperation, the base has operated at progressively reduced efficiency because of lack of labor, supplies, water, communications, etc. It is understood that Brit mil authorities have concluded that the base cannot be a satisfactory operative base without minimum Egypt cooperation and assistance which is now lacking or without prohibitive costs in manpower and money.
Since maintenance of the present position wld not only result in contd Egypt hostility and non-cooperation with adverse effect on operating capacity of base, but wld also tie up large nrs of Brit troops it wld seem that this as a continuing course of action will not achieve our objectives.
Since Egypt Armed Forces do not presently possess the capacity to maintain the base, it wld be necessary to reach agreement with Egypt on retaining fon technicians at the base to maintain it and to train Egypts. Under such conditions and provided the Egypts are willing to cooperate the base cld be maintained as a fully operative base. It seems probable that the Egypts wld agree to the retention of several thousand fon technicians.
It wld be desirable to retain at least some non-Egypt forces in the CZ Base against the contingency of aggression in the ME and as a deterrent to any action in Egypt which might endanger the maintenance of the base, the free transit of the Canal or Western interests in gen.
While it may be possible at some future time to secure Egypt agreement to the presence of non-Egypt forces in the base during peacetime, it appears doubtful that Egypt will agree to a settlement on this basis at the present time, either under MEC or otherwise.
Even if Egypt agreement were secured at some future time to the stationing of non-Egypt forces in the base in peacetime the principles of MEC of Nov 10, 1951 wld complicate the use of such forces against possible irresponsible Egypt action with respect to the base, the Canal, or Western interest in gen.
A settlement which does not provide for the stationing of non-Egypt Forces, except technicians, at the base will involve certain risks. Although it may not be necessary on strictly mil grounds that non-Egypt forces be stationed at the base during peacetime, the position of Western powers will be difficult, if after the conclusion of a settlement and the transfer of responsibility for the base to Egypt, the Egypts shld act irresponsibly with respect to the base, the Canal or Western interests in gen.
Such risks cld be minimized by obtaining from Egypt satisfactory recognition in appropriate form of its responsibilities with respect to the base as a position of vital importance to the West in the def of the ME and with respect to the Suez Canal as a free internatl waterway. (While the problem of Israel is implicit in the latter pt, it shld not be made a specific part of discussion and it wld be hoped that the restrictions with regard to Israel wld disappear in the framework of the gen agreement.) In addition, Egypts participation in or assoc with arrangements for the Middle East Command (MEC) wld provide a further safeguard. If Egypt shld fail to meet the responsibilities it assumes, internatl action against Egypt, possibly involving the use of force, might become necessary. While such action wld present problems with respect to world opinion, it cld be undertaken with less difficulty if a proper foundation had been laid in terms of express recognition of the common interests involved.
It is possible, though not probable, that Egypt wld refuse to participate or associate itself with MEC even if it were agreed that non-Egypt forces wld not be stationed at the base. Egypt participation in or assoc with MEC is more likely if the West accedes to the absence of non-Egypt forces.
Egypt insists on recognition by the West of the King of Egypt’s title as King of the Sudan and the Egypt claim appears to be valid. At the same time, Egypt apparently is willing to agree to self-determination by the Sudanese. The important pt is to secure recognition by Egypt of the right of the Sudanese to full and prompt self-determination.
It is recognized that Egypt intentions with respect to the degree of its participation in the admin of the Sudan during pd between recognition of the title and self-determination are in doubt. However, firm insistence on arrangements which will avoid disruption of the gen pattern of the admin in the Sudan, present plans for self-government, and the absence of any definite Egypt program for the Sudan shld serve to minimize the risks involved in recognition, provided the pd prior to self-determination is not long.
Since it is important that a settlement with Egypt be achieved as soon as possible, especially in view of Egypt elections now set for May 18, and since the new Sudanese Cabinet and Parliament will not be established until some time during the summer, [Page 1782]time will not allow consultation with the Sudanese through the means recently suggested by the UK.
It is believed that other adequate means exist to discuss the question of the title with the Sudanese if such discussions are considered essential to honor UK promises and minimize public disturbances in the Sudan. Such means might be rapid and informal discussions with members of the Legislative Assembly and other polit leaders in Khartoum. Provided the necessary instructions are given to the Sudan Administration, it shld prove possible to explain adequately to the Sudanese the symbolic nature of the title and the fact that its recognition wld be conditioned on agreement by Egypt to the exercise by the Sudanese of full, free and prompt self-determination.
While disturbances in the Sudan are possible fol recognition of the title, it is within the power of the Sudan Govt to minimize the possibility and to deal effectively with them shld they occur.
In order to allay suspicions and fears amongst the interested parties, it may be necessary to estab an internatl Commission, including neutral members, to guide the Sudanese towards self-determination and to provide an internatl guarantee of a Nile waters agreement.

B. Conclusions

Since our objectives are the free and unimpeded use of the Suez Canal at all times, the maintenance of strategic facilities in Egypt in fully operative condition, and achievement of voluntary Egypt assoc in ME def, since it appears impossible to attain our objectives without minimum Egypt cooperation and assistance and since it is improbable that such cooperation and assistance can be obtained without agreement on the withdrawal of non-Egypt forces from the CZ base, it is likely that it will be necessary to come to a settlement with Egypt which wld not involve the contd presence of non-Egypt forces (other than technicians) in Egypt in peacetime. At the same time such a settlement wld have to assure the maintenance of the base in fully operative condition and provide for the clear assumption by Egypt of certain responsibilities.
The Sudan problem is a complicating factor in achieving a settlement of the base issue, but a solution of the Sudan problem involving recognition of the title King of the Sudan and self-determination for the Sudanese is essential to settlement of the base question.[“]
  1. Repeated to Cairo as telegram 1478. Drafted by Stabler and approved by the Secretary of State after being cleared with Philip C. Jessup, Ambassador at Large; George W. Perkins, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs; H. Freeman Matthews, Deputy Under Secretary of State; John H. Ferguson, Deputy Director of the Policy Planning Staff; and Burton Y. Berry, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs.
  2. The Department of State in telegram 4824 to London, Mar. 28, not printed, advised the Embassy that there was an error in the wording in paragraph 1 of the suggested agenda, and that it should read as follows: “Arrangements for the assumption by Egypt of responsibility for the CZ Base in the interest of its Def and the protection of the Suez Canal.” (641.74/3–2652)