294. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Syria1

567. If you confirm situation Damascus as described Baghdad 818 and 8212 you should take following actions:

Inform President Atassi (and others as appropriate) that though we understand reasons which might tempt him invite Iraqi intervention prevent Army coup d’état, we believe consequences armed intervention by any foreign state in Syrian affairs would be extremely dangerous and incalculable. We hope he will not invite such intervention. (In discussion Embassy may use appropriate contents companion telegram 692 to Baghdad.3)
Inform President Atassi, Asali, Azm and others as appropriate (a) in our view it most regrettable if true that army is interfering in this matter, (b) our attitude is that Syria has sovereign right conclude any type agreement it pleases but we hope important international commitments would be made by normal constitutional processes and after full parliamentary debate and approval, (c) we do not now foresee that USG will be able support proposed Egyptian-Syrian-Saudi pact, (d) we have had hope Syria would be able henceforth maintain stable constitutional parliamentary regime and would deplore any form Army intervention or coup, and (e) if you feel it will be useful, you may add your quite personal opinion new [Page 523] Government installed by Army pressure or coup would not necessarily be automatically recognized by USG.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783.00/4–1355. Secret. Drafted by Francis Allen and approved by George Allen. Repeated to Baghdad, Cairo, Ankara, London, Beirut, Amman, and Moscow, and pouched to Jidda and Tripoli. Jernegan signed for Dulles.
  2. See footnotes 2 and 3, supra.
  3. Supra.
  4. Subsequent to these instructions, on April 14 Moose spoke with Iraqi Ambassador al-Rawi who stated that his reports to Baghdad were based on several conversations with President Atasi, that a coup was not expected to occur at any moment, and that Atasi was proposing Iraqi military intervention only on a contingency basis. (Telegram 580 from Damascus, April 14; Department of State, Central Files, 783.00/ 4–1455)

    On April 16, Moose spoke separately with President Atasi and Prime Minister Asali. Moose later reported to the Department that when he had paraphrased telegram 821 from Baghdad, Atasi characterized the report as incorrect. Atasi explained that he had learned from a source other than the Prime Minister that four army officers, presumably including Chief of Staff Shuqayr and head of Army Intelligence (G–2) Major Sarraj, who claimed to represent 300 junior officers, had called on Asali and threatened unspecified action unless the ESS Pact were promptly signed. In response to an inquiry from Moose, Atasi said that he saw no imminent danger from an army coup and that he had not requested the aid of Iraqi troops. Later Asali told Moose that an army coup was not imminent. Asali also explained that the Syrian Cabinet had approved the projected ESS Pact as modified by Foreign Minister Azm’s proposals (contained in telegram 552 from Damascus, April 6; ibid., 786.5/4–655). According to Asali, the Pact now contained nothing anti-Western or anti-Iraqi and, in fact, envisioned subsequent adherence of Iraq and other Arab States. Azm had been authorized to proceed, while at the Bandung Conference, to prepare a final text with Egyptian and Saudi officials, but he had not been authorized to sign the Pact. From these discussions, Moose concluded that the situation was less alarming than had been described in the telegrams from Baghdad and that there scarcely existed justification for the démarches indicated in telegrams 567 to Damascus and 692 to Baghdad. (Telegram 589 from Damascus, April 16; ibid., 783.00/4–1655)