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

2573. Foreign Minister asked me to see him this evening. He said President Chamoun had requested him to inform me that peril of subversion in Lebanon was immediate2 although government hoped tonight’s session of Parliament would not set off rioting and had every assurance it would win vote of confidence, security were on alert and leaves had been cancelled for weekend. Malik and Chamoun had agreed it would be comforting if some elements of Sixth Fleet might be moved to eastern Mediterranean in readiness although they did not desire ships at Beirut itself. Malik seemed pleasantly surprised when I told him two British vessels, a destroyer and minesweeper, are due to arrive Beirut tomorrow from Cyprus on 3-day visit.

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I gave assurances outlined paragraph 4 Deptel 3000.3 Malik said he had received similar assurances from Secretary, Under Secretary and Loy Henderson but question was how and when. I replied formal degree of our aid in meeting subversion would depend on nature of threat and practical suggestions from GOL as to what form our assistance should take. I said surely neither he nor Chamoun wanted US to land a regimental combat team which would give substance to charge by opposition that Chamoun was an American puppet. I hoped therefore any requests for help would be tailored to meet need and based on practicality.

Comment—Lebanon leaders have wind up but I think their security forces can handle situation.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783A.00/1–3058. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Damascus, Paris, London, Cairo, Amman, Baghdad, and Jidda.
  2. The Chamoun government was concerned about the impact on the Moslem population of Lebanon of the impending establishment of the United Arab Republic. The union of Egypt and Syria was proclaimed on February 1.
  3. Not found.