294. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1

1269. During visit which Admiral Holloway and I made this morning on General Chehab to make a firm representation over shooting of American soldier by rebels from the Basta which is being reported separately by Admiral Holloway to JCS,2 General informed us that tomorrow he is arranging a meeting of all rebel leaders in Lebanon with objectives of opening up Beirut and other towns.

Chehab said he had sent Jumblatt to Damascus to discuss with Syrian authorities cessation of further intervention here. Jumblatt had now returned and would attend tomorrow’s meeting. Chehab described change in situation following passage of GA resolution as almost miraculous so far as Lebanon was concerned. Fact that Arab League delegates had devised resolution had impact on Moslem half of population; while fact UNGA as a whole had unanimously adopted resolution gave feeling of reassurance to Christian half of population.

It was against background of Jumblatt’s negotiations in Syria plus acceptance of GA resolution that Chehab felt there was a 90 percent chance that tomorrow’s meeting would be successful in securing progressive opening of Beirut and in particular the Basta. Apparently he envisages a time phasing by which shops would initially open until noon with eventual restoration of normal trade throughout city in a short time.

Although Chehab initially was apprehensive that limited military action called for by Admiral Holloway might jeopardize his negotiations with opposition leaders tomorrow, I later had definite impression that our representation and his consequent action will in fact be used by General to strengthen his hand in dealing with rebel leaders, because

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he can indicate a very firm intention on part of US command to protect its forces by US means unless Basta leadership gets rank and file under control.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783A.00/8–2458. Top Secret. Repeated to Cairo, Damascus, and USUN.
  2. In CINCSPECOMME telegram 241401Z to CNO for JCS, August 24, Holloway reported on the representations he had made to Chehab that day concerning the wounding of a U.S. soldier near a roadblock in the Basta. Holloway insisted that Chehab take forceful action against insurgent forces defending the roadblock or he would use U.S. forces to do so. He further insisted on action before the end of the day. Chehab felt that it was critical that any such action be taken by Lebanese forces. Although he had scheduled a meeting for the following day with rebel leaders to discuss opening the Basta, he issued immediate orders for the action which Holloway demanded. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Files; included in the microfiche supplement)