91. Telegram From the Embassy in Lebanon to the Department of State1
4812. I saw President Chamoun this morning at ten. He was very calm and inclined to be apologetic over last night’s excitement saying he had received intelligence from telephone monitoring reports that insurgents might launch an attack on Palace despite considerable military reinforcement which had been placed in vicinity of his residence. Matter now seemed well in hand. General Chehab, with whom he had conferred immediately before receiving me, was bringing a company [Page 147]of reinforcements to Beirut by sea from Halba using three landing craft which our navy had so promptly provided off Tripoli yesterday. Chamoun was deeply impressed by efficiency this operation.
President said Chehab had now agreed to press more strongly in the Chouf. An operation would be mounted today against Beit Eddine and if all went well, this objective might be captured before day was out. Chamoun was likewise determined to order General to undertake offensive in Beirut against certain known rebel strongholds which he said were manned largely by Palestinian-Egyptian-Syrian commandos. There would be considerable loss of life but he felt energetic action essential.
On question of Chehab’s dismissal, Chamoun confirmed Prime Minister Solh had been particularly restive at concept of continuing General in command (cf. [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] 7505 and 7480).2 However, Chamoun was not yet ready to dismiss General and preferred by system of daily pep talks to try to keep Chehab moving. He appeared to base considerable hope on expectation of an imminent success in the Chouf with some increased activity against rebels in Beirut itself. Re question of dismissing the two colonels, Salem and Chehab, President said General was more “edrenle” this morning and had promised to consider a dossier of alleged treasonable activity which President would furnish him.
I then made essential points in Deptel 48143 re allied landings to facilitate removal of Chehab and sine qua non Lebanon have had full recourse to orderly processes of UN before finally requesting and receiving friendly assistance. I recalled in detail our original four points as set out Deptel 42714 and went over once more points made Deptel 4790.5
Chamoun showed some petulance when I summarized fourth point Deptel 4271, exclaiming that he hoped US Government could be convinced once and for all that he had no intention to succeed himself in office. He said “I should long ago have left this country and taken a vacation were it not for fact that Nasser and his supporters attacked me because of my pro-western policy.”
Although I had not at time of interview received Deptel 4821,6 I went over once more letter handed President yesterday which paraphrased Deptel 4790 and said in addition it seemed to me President might wish to give thought to need for making some public statement to Lebanese people and the world before requesting friendly intervention. [Page 148]I then went over five points in Embtel 4795.7Chamoun said he agreed with each of them and would be willing to make a public statement if necessity arose. However, like me, he very much hoped that with new offensive plans of Chehab, Lebanese security forces would be able to gain the upper hand. He was likewise somewhat more hopeful of efficacious aid from UN observers particularly since two Syrian military captured yesterday had given full and damning confessions which would presently be given to UN observer group.
President at my request translated into French narrative paragraph of formal authorization to him to call for foreign intervention cited second paragraph Embtel 4795. In effect it stresses need for preserving independence and integrity of Lebanon, for protection of foreign lives and property, and authorizes President to call on “friendly powers” who had offered guarantees of Lebanon’s independence for “temporary assistance.”
President once more emphasized this paper was for stand-by use and he had no intention of calling for any outside assistance except in extremis.