193. Telegram From the Embassy in Saudi Arabia to the Department of State1

243. Reference last paragraph my telegram 2422 repeated information London 30.


Prince Faisal gave me November 24 copy last British note dated November 21 re Buraimi dispute (London Embtels 2107 and 2123 to Department3). He said he had searched it carefully for possible way out of dispute but every approach led only to end of blind alley.

He said no decision regarding it had been taken and, when taken, I would be informed. He added: “Our direction is towards United Nations Security Council; if nothing changes, we will follow course recommended by Young”.


On November 20 King had told Aramco Board Chairman Davies he would not use force until after following Young’s program. Davies reports him as adding he was man of peace but, if nothing should be accomplished by following that program, there seemed no alternative but to use force to eject British forces.

November 22 King proceeded by train from Riyadh to Dammam where some 20,000 greeted his arrival. Two addresses of welcome stressed British perfidy and called for jihad (holy war). Emotions ran high as King interrupted program to reply; highlights were:

I shall do utmost through diplomatic channels to avoid violence and bloodshed of my people … but if British persist in what they are doing (Note: elsewhere he called it aggression) I shall be first soldier to go … we shall defend our country with our lives … I pray God to lead his religion victorious … to thwart the conspirators.4


On November 25, when King received Eli Stevens with Embassy Arab consultant Muhammad, he must have been aware of contents British note of November 21.

[Page 295]

Stevens memo of audience reports him as having recounted history of dispute, then saying:

I will accept any advice USG will give me. If it says, go to Security Council, I will go; if to make positive action, I will; if to break relations and boycott Britain, I will; but whatever action USG advises, I would like guarantee of its support, and I will be guided by its advice.

Then mentioning Department’s memo handed Saudi Ambassador November 7 offering exercise USG good offices with British Government (Deptel 2305) King said he had accepted offer and would like know soon as possible whether USG had approached British Government and results any such action. He added that if USG could not find early solution he would be forced to act (probably, as matters now stand, by taking dispute to Security Council).

Finally, Stevens reports that, in concluding audience, King reaffirmed he would take no decision until after receiving USG reply, provided it be received within “reasonable period”.

Muhammad, who returned Jidda yesterday, confirms accuracy foregoing summary and, as in DAF–arms matter, stressed King’s desire for early answer.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 780.022/11–3055. Secret; Priority. Repeated to London.
  2. In telegram 242, November 30, Wadsworth reported the substance of an audience between the King and Eli Stevens. According to a memorandum by Stevens, the King indicated that despite offers of arms from Russia, Czechoslovakia, and Poland he wanted the United States to be the only source of arms for Saudi Arabia. If the United States could not provide arms, Saud reportedly noted, he would be forced to reconsider. The King also noted, inter alia, that the United States might continue to use the Dhahran airfield in return for strengthening the Saudi armed forces under the proposed 5–year plan. (Ibid., 611.86A/11–3055)
  3. See footnotes 2 and 3, Document 191.
  4. All ellipses are in the source text.
  5. See footnote 2, Document 189.