24. Message From the Secretary of State to Robert B. Anderson, at Cairo1

You may, at your discretion, take the position indicated below with reference to the points raised in your message No. 3.2 If feasible, however, you should put them forward as personal views ad referendum in order to retain for use some flexibility and avoid confronting Eden when he arrives with commitments by us in relation to matters of deep interest to the UK.

We would be prepared, in context of settlement, to give our support in various ways to Arab unity and to Egyptian leadership in achieving it (your para 1, with respect extent to which we are prepared to go in taking … actions which would indicate our support of some form of Arab state security arrangements which would envision Egyptian leadership). It is not clear from your phrase “Arab state security arrangements” what danger the security arrangements would be designed to deal with, or size of military build-up contemplated. If security need referred to is against possible aggression from North, we would, of course, give support. If Israel-Arab settlement is achieved, and U.S. security guarantees given per August 26 statement3 with resulting decrease in Israel armed strength, it should be presumed that Arabs would not feel need maintain large and expensive armed forces against danger of Israel expansion. We would readily recognize that, following Israel-Arab settlement, six Arab states with much larger population and area should not be expected to have their defense arrangements related to Israel armed strength. On other hand, we could not support “Arab state security arrangements” of unlimited proportions [Page 40] which would have no visible purpose other than possible “third round” which some Arab leaders might personally harbor even following a settlement. Having made this distinction clear, we would be prepared to give evidence of our “support of Arab unity and security”.
With respect to “Nasser’s philosophy that after settlement Israel must be content to live as one state among several sovereign states” (your para 1), we are in agreement. With respect to “Israel being content with Western guarantee of her borders”, we contemplate that Israel’s primary reliance for her security would be upon such guarantees; that she would not seek maintain armed position equivalent to that of six Arab states; and that she would expect to base her position not on defiance but on good neighbor policy. This would presuppose, however, that Arab states would not engage in military policies of a nature that would cause Israel and those countries which had guaranteed Israel’s security to have justified fears about purpose to which Arab arms would be devoted.
We would be prepared to make a declaration that in our view the Baghdad Pact is not incompatible with arrangements for Arab unity and security (your para 2A).
Given an Israel-Arab settlement and given adequate assurances that the organization embodying Arab unity would be devoted to maintaining the countries that were members of it as truly free and independent nations, resisting efforts by outside powers at subversion and domination (your para 2B), we would expect no further efforts to induce other countries in the area to adhere to the Baghdad Pact. Baghdad Pact came into existence as an effort by its members to resist any possible efforts by Soviet Bloc to apply to Middle East forceful expansion of kind it had engaged in in other areas. If it became apparent that Soviet Union was actively contemplating such expansion in the area or if any organization of Arab states should appear to be lending itself to Soviet objective of area domination, we would, of course, hope and urge that all individual states desiring to maintain their freedom and independence would cooperate in all measures toward that end including Baghdad Pact.
We cannot, of course, speak for U.K. but Shuckburgh, in discussions here this past week,4 has stated that U.K. desires to give [Page 41] assurances to Nasser that would relieve his apprehensions (your para 2C).
We would greatly welcome unified Arab planning for economic progress in the area (your para 2D). It is doubtful that the U.S. could grant economic assistance to an Arab multi-nation organization but we would take into full account sound plans developed by such an organization in making grants to individual nations.
We would consider most sympathetically a request by an organization of Arab states to provide an economic survey to serve as basis of Arab regional planning (your para 2E).
It is difficult for us to give advance assurances with respect to military aid but future requests for such aid from Arab states would presumably be governed by points made in para one and three above.
Given Arab-Israel settlement, we would give our support to efforts by Nasser to achieve an Arab unity devoted to economic progress and legitimate security measures, and would be willing to make such support known in appropriate ways (your para 2G).
We believe it would be desirable to have it appear that Arab refugee compensation and rehabilitation measures were being implemented in cooperation with Arab countries (your para 2H). As you point out, it would probably not be practicable to have the program actually administered by an inter-Arab organization. We shall, however, need fullest cooperation of Arab countries in dealing with Arab refugee problem and would wish to work most closely with them. It is not clear from Nasser’s statements whether “Arab League” is the formal instrument he envisages for accomplishing his objective of Arab unity. Terms of charter would appear to make it a possible instrument although ways would have to be found for removing impression existing up to present time that its principal preoccupation is destruction of Israel.
We would, of course, give whatever assistance we could to obtaining support among Arab leaders for a settlement… .
  1. Source: Department of State, NEA Files: Lot 59 D 518, Alpha—Anderson Talks w/BG & Nasser. Outgoing Telegrams—Jan.–March 1956. Secret. Drafted by Russell; cleared with Hoover, Allen, and Byroade; and approved by the Secretary.
  2. Supra.
  3. See telegram 139, vol. XIV, p. 385.
  4. Between January 13 and 19, British officials, led by Evelyn Shuckburgh, had met in Washington with representatives of the Department of State to discuss U.S.–U.K. interests and objectives in the Middle East and to help prepare the ground for the impending talks between President Eisenhower and Prime Minister Eden.

    Extensive documentation on the Shuckburgh talks is in Department of State, Central Files 033.4111, 611.41, and 780.00; ibid., NEA Files: Lot 59 D 518, Alpha Memos, etc. during Eden Talks. Dec. 11 to Feb. 15, 1956, Eden Talks, Washington, Jan. 28–Feb. 1, 1956 (Background Papers), and Alpha—Middle East Defense and Soviet Objectives in ME; and ibid., Conference Files: Lot 62 D 181, CF 647.