311. Telegram From the Embassy in Iraq to the Department of State1

347. Have just seen Nuri (Department telegram 258, October 122).

Nuri’s response was quick and to the point. No matter what or how much US does for present Syrian Government he said that government cannot be relied on by US. It is the consistent and widespread Communist, Saudi Arabian, Egyptian and French intrigue in Syria that causes that government to be weak and unreliable.

Syria he continued has no money and that in any event rules out reimbursable aid. For a stronger government friendly to the US and prepared to play a part in the defense of the area he would recommend an arms aid agreement on pattern of US-Iraqi agreement3 limited to defensive arms only.

[Page 553]

Through Madfai Nuri then told me he had just received a letter from President Quwwatli. In it Quwwatli complains that years of dictatorial rule in Syria had made his lot a very difficult one and that in addition he is constantly harassed by Communist, Saudi Arabian, Egyptian and French intrigue and interference. In connection with this letter Nuri Said he would like to suggest that through direct talks between Ambassador Moose and Quwwatli we try to find out how Quwwatli thinks the present governmental situation in Syria could be improved.

Reverting to the matter of arms Nuri reiterated his views. With a stable, reliable government in power in Syria prepared to help in the defense of the area he would recommend an arms agreement on the US-Iraqi pattern, covering defensive arms only and excluding arms designed for aggression.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783.56/10–1355. Secret; Priority. Repeated priority to Damascus.
  2. Supra.
  3. Effected by an exchange of notes on April 21, 1954. For text, see 5 UST (pt. 3) 2496.
  4. In telegram 368, October 14, the Embassy in Damascus commented on Nuri’s remarks. It agreed with Nuri’s estimate that the United States could not rely on the current Syrian Government and that Communist, Saudi, Egyptian, and French intrigue contributed to that unreliability. The Embassy did not, however, consider the situation hopeless and thought that there was sufficient anti-leftist strength on which to base a government favorable to the United States and Iraq. The Embassy again recommended the sale of U.S. military equipment to Syria as an important step toward producing a change in the Syrian political climate by restoring some measure of confidence in the United States and as a means possibly of forestalling Syrian acceptance of offers from the Soviet bloc. (Department of State, Central Files, 783.56/ 10–1455)