184. Message From the Director of Central Intelligence (Dulles) to the Secretary of State1

In view of talks you are having about dangerous situation in Middle East, I wish to pass to you personally the substance of a report given to me by Terry Duce (representative of Aramco). … It concerns disturbing developments with regard to Buraimi.
Recent British forceable occupation of Buraimi negates five years U.S. Government effort to get Saudi Arabs and British to arbitrate their boundary controversies. It creates particularly bad impression, and undermines confidence in arbitration as a means of settlement, because of the manner in which the British appear to have sabotaged arbitration and resorted to force when arbitration appeared to be going somewhat against them. In September the British introduced before Geneva Arbitral Tribunal fantastic charges of Saudi bribery. (Duce fully familiar with Saudi … tactics and those stories do not ring true in any way.) Tribunal was able to determine that charges had not been substantiated and was ready to adopt the Saudi proposals for establishment of neutral supervision in Buraimi area when Bullard, British member of Tribunal, resigned on minutes notice, despite protest of Devisscher, its Belgian president. Since then Devisscher and another neutral have resigned apparently [Page 282] in belief that arbitration had become impossible, although Devisscher indicates willingness to reconsider if requested by both parties. Aramco’s name mentioned in extensive publicity on bribery charges in British press and Duce gives categorical assurances Aramco played no role in Buraimi goings on and is convinced that bribery story submitted to the Tribunal and carried in the press is sheer invention.
Foresee following consequences:
Fight between British and tribes.
Introduction of another issue of colonialism in UN at most inopportune moment.
Complete nullification in Middle East of years of effort to establish arbitration as peaceful and workable method of determining boundaries with result of loss of faith by Middle East people in such orderly process. Incidental result would be to weaken UK basis for protesting possible Israeli alternative of frontier by force now that UK has just done same thing. Dignity and force of tripartite agreement bound to suffer as consequence.
Although force employed without prior consultation with U.S., Prince Feisal has stated he unable to believe British could have taken such a step without prior U.S. concurrence.
Timing particularly unfortunate since it bound to make Soviet offer of arms even more attractive.
Most desirable solution in eyes of Duce and his associates would be prompt reconstitution of arbitral tribunal and resumption of arbitration together with some form of supervision by neutrals over area in contention. If this possible joint presentation of problem to Security Council by British and Saudi Arabs could be urged with view to resuming arbitration under Council auspices.
No need to emphasize danger to U.S. interest, e.g. airbase, if situation continues to deteriorate. (End of Duce’s report.)
For your information, in view Duce’s business connections this report may be somewhat prejudiced, but on the whole we have found him an able reporter.
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, White House Memoranda. Secret. The source text bears no date nor place of origin. The reference to the “recent British forceable occupation of Buraimi” in the second paragraph, however, suggests that the message was written after October 26. A marginal notation on the source text reads: “Sec saw”.