313. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State 1

1478. Department pass Department of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff for information. Admiral Holloway and I saw Chamoun and later Chehab today and communicated intent to withdraw additional marine battalion as authorized Deptel 1160.2

Chamoun said he very much hoped US military presence could remain in Lebanon “for the time being” as he still feared intervention from UAR, had utterly no faith in any assurances given by Nasser, and thought Hammarskjold’s activities would be ineffective. Later Chehab revealed he and President had lengthy discussion yesterday on what they should tell Hammarskjold re ultimate withdrawal of US forces. Chamoun at that time had insisted he thought our troops should not leave Lebanon before December. Chehab said he had told President that, according to his own reading of security situation and measures he would adopt to deal with it, there should be a general cleaning up of lawless elements including a nation-wide rendition of illegal arms which he thought he would have sufficient strength to accomplish within first week after his assumption of power. If things went as he expected, General thought it would be possible for US forces to commence withdrawal after end of this month. However, he had no preconceived ideas as to timing and preferred to be guided by facts as they developed. General said he had made it clear to Chamoun that whatever new government comes into office after September 24 would at least in principle insist on withdrawal of US forces.

Chehab was more optimistic on the present security situation than at any time since May 8th. He told us of return to normal conditions in the Basta, of fraternization in the suburbs of Beirut between Moslem and Christian merchants, and of a general improvement country-wide [Page 557] in opening up areas hitherto held by rebels. Road is open north of Tripoli to Syrian frontier; and his patrols are now moving freely throughout Thebekaa to northern border. Yesterday a deputation of tribal leaders from Thebekaa came to see him and swear fidelity. Chehab made special point of saying he hoped our dependents would return here with appropriate favorable publicity as indicating that Lebanon at long last is on the way back to normal.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783A.5411/9–958. Secret; Priority. Repeated to London.
  2. Telegram 1160 to Beirut, September 8, informed the Embassy that the JCS was sending a message to Holloway authorizing the withdrawal of one marine battalion, as recommended by McClintock and Holloway. McClintock was instructed to notify Chamoun and Chehab of the U.S. intent to withdraw the battalion. (Ibid., 783A.5411/9–558) Secretary Dulles approved the instruction authorizing the withdrawal, with the stipulation that Chamoun be informed before an official announcement was made. (Memorandum from Rockwell to Boster, September 8; ibid., 783A.00/9–858) The text of the announcement of the withdrawal, which was made by Holloway in Beirut on September 10, was transmitted by the JCS to CINCSPECOMME in JCS telegram 947794, September 10. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 218, JCS Files) All three documents are included in the microfiche supplement.