203. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Allen) to the Secretary of State1


  • Current Problems of the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf


This memorandum sketches briefly the current problems in the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf. The attachments give details and, where pertinent, the U.S. position on these problems.
The Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf area contains our largest foreign investment and large overseas communities of U.S. citizens. The continued operation of our petroleum interests and the safety of our citizens are of vital concern to us. Our rights to the use of the Dhahran Air Field in Saudi Arabia are subject to renegotiation this spring.
The economic vitality and defense of Western Europe, where we have such major responsibilities, depend in large measure on the continued availability of the resources of this area.
The stability of this region and the continuance of the paramount position of the West are threatened by a series of current problems. These are:
The determination of land boundaries in previously undemarcated areas has created serious disputes between Saudi Arabia and its neighbors on the Persian Gulf, represented by the United Kingdom (Tab A).2 Yemen is in disagreement with the UK over the border of the Aden Protectorates (Tab B). As a friend of the parties concerned, we are lending such assistance as we can in the search for solutions to these disputes.
Saudi Arabia is using its extensive resources to oppose the inclusion of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon in Western–sponsored collective security arrangements. In so doing, Saudi Arabia is cooperating with anti–Western and, in some cases, leftist elements (Tab C).
Communist and extreme nationalist movements have appeared in the states and principalities of the region. Coordination with the UK of activities designed to observe and control these movements is vital to the maintenance of our position (Tab D).
Labor in the oil–producing areas is becoming a force of importance. Their demands have created tensions, particularly in Bahrein and Qatar (Tab E).
The retention of their position in the Persian Gulf is considered essential by the United Kingdom for political, economic, and strategic reasons. Background is provided on the British political (Tab F), economic (Tab G), and military (Tab H) position in the area.
Alternative courses of action are suggested in Tab I.
The Central Intelligence Agency is submitting separately to you its analysis of the situation. (Tab J)3


That at your convenience we discuss the attached studies.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 780.00/1–456. Secret. Drafted by Newsom on December 22, 1955; sent through Hoover and S/S.
  2. The tabs are not printed.
  3. Not found in Department of State files.