186. Telegram From the Department of State to the Delegation at the Baghdad Pact Council Meeting, at Ankara1

Tosec 23. Re Egyptian-Syrian union, in order forestall hostile propaganda that US automatically opposed to unity Arab peoples we have authorized our representatives in Arab capitals state privately that US attitude toward Egyptian-Syrian union will be determined within framework traditional US policy that 1) question Arab unity is matter to be determined by Arabs themselves and 2) US would support unity or any form thereof which results from freely expressed wishes of Arab peoples concerned. We also planning have Departmental spokesman make statement along these lines January 27 response press queries re our attitude this matter.

In analyzing implications this project we have concluded there are number long-term disadvantages such as facilitation Egyptian domination Arab world, freezing Syrian orientation in unnatural direction, adverse effect on pro-West Arab regimes, spreading of positive neutralism, complication of Palestine problem and uncertainty that union will produce any greater stability in Syria. Only advantage we see which would outweigh these long-term disadvantages would be complete elimination Communist influence from Syria, if this should occur as result union which by no means certain.

View above, and with regard recommendations Damascus 2041,2 repeated Ankara 210, we do not think we should go any further in expression public attitude than position described above, which we believe in any event may be interpreted in ME as favorable to union. If you concur, we will go ahead with public statement on January 27.3

You may wish discuss with Lloyd. If you concur this position, Berding might brief correspondents accordingly.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 674.83/1–2558. Secret; Niact. Drafted by Rockwell, cleared with NEA/P, and approved and signed for Herter by Murphy. Also sent to Tehran and repeated priority to Damascus and Cairo.
  2. Telegram 2041, January 24, suggested that the Department of State should consider making a public statement sympathetic to a Syro-Egyptian union. (Ibid., 674.83/1–2458)
  3. On January 27, Dulles approved the line taken in the first paragraph of this telegram, but proposed that no public statement be made. (Ibid., Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 975)