186. Telegram From the Consulate General in Dhahran to the Department of State 1

79. Depressed and bitter, Saud bin Jilewi2 said yesterday to me re Buraimi affair UK felt it had no further chance in the arbitration where SAG rights were prevailing and the only way UK thought it could protect its interest was by force, “so often the case between a powerful nation and a defenseless state such as Saudi Arabia.” He said that SAG had kept to its word on forces in the oasis, a word it [Page 284] has given for the duration of the arbitration, and the UK had acted in violation of its own word. He ended up with an inexplicable, but possibly ominous “perhaps it all for the best—may come out better this way”.

UK PR and PA on Bahrain Thursday3 told me of action of Wednesday and showed me Eden statement. Their comment was that there was no alternative in view of SAG violation of agreement (i.e., bribery, intimidation, etc.) and that any other action might have imperilled their [apparent omission] interests.

Local public, within the informed limitations, feels bitterness and shock.

Aramco reports a working party at approximately 52 degrees 50 minutes east and 22 degrees 45 minutes north circled Friday and “buzzed” yesterday by four-engine plane. No knowledge of any messages being dropped as yet but felt that intent was clear—by endangering party, to drive them from area. Party is operating south of approved arbitration line.

Needless to say, Aramco top level is deeply concerned over affair:4 their concern is not only directed toward the safety of their men in the field but also to another factor. SAG would appear to have as recourse either appeal to the UN or US against UK action. In either event we may find ourselves in middle. In this instance the “who is not for us is against us” approach of the SAG may well have a serious effect. If we find ourselves either supporting UK or abstaining from any support of SAG, the SAG, it is felt here, will not easily forgive us. In case of Consulate General and Aramco we cannot overlook relationship between local SAG and American citizens. Protection of Americans, granted willingly and as a friendly favor, is probably more on an “act of grace” basis, [garble] Saud bin Jilewi has told me he would always help unless we made it “impossible”. I am afraid that “impossible” phase may lie before us if we concur with the British action.

Our basic policy vis–à–vis British power in Persian Gulf area I understand is position of supporting that power unless it is acting contrarily to our interests in the Persian Gulf. So far as I can see at present, Buraimi seizure as carried out is action which will have unfavorable repercussion on Consulate General’s ability to support welfare American citizens in Dhahran complex, unless we condemn the UK action. So far as Bahrain is concerned, Bahrainis, as Department is aware, are gradually moving their campaign for certain civil liberties into an anti–UK movement: after all Bapco is a United [Page 285] States investment, and Bahraini feelings toward us may likewise become prejudiced.

Finally it has been noted that Egypt is making a considerable effort in Bahrain and, we understand, Kuwait. This British action may drive Saudis and Egyptians together in Persian Gulf area, something contrary to what we were beginning to hope might happen (i.e., Saudi reluctance to see Egypt penetrations their backyard).

On balance, therefore, from a local point of view, I feel that the UK action in Buraimi may have prejudiced US interests in Gulf area and our stand on this UK action may have significant effect our interests here.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 780.022/10–3055. Confidential. Sent also to Jidda and repeated to London.
  2. Amir Saud ibn Jilewi, Governor of Al Hasa province.
  3. October 25.
  4. Documentation on conversations between representatives of Aramco and the Department on the Buraimi affair is in Department of State, Central File 780.022.
  5. In telegram 221, November 3, the Department authorized Carrigan to convey to ibn Jilewi the contents of Document 170. Both the Consul General and the Ambassador were also instructed to inform officials of Aramco and the Saudi Arabian Government that the Department was expressing its concern to the British over their action and “as friend of both” was urging a return to arbitration. The entire situation, the Department concluded, was under active review. (Ibid., 780.022/10–3055) In a memorandum to Sherman Adams, November 1, transmitting extracts of the day’s Department of State summary considered of possible interest to the President, Goodpaster noted that according to the Consul General in Dhahran, “the UK seizure of Buraimi may have prejudiced U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf.” (Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, DullesHerter Series)