190. Telegram From the Embassy in Egypt to the Department of State1

1951. Mustapha Amin came in this morning, ostensibly in personal capacity but actually at behest Nasser, to sound us out on US reaction to union with Syria. Amin said Nasser particularly worried by report that Department now taking different position than that which I [Page 415]had outlined to him on January 23 (Embassy telegram 1830)2 particularly with reference to possible repercussions in area. I told Amin Department had in fact made public statement February 23 but that, although format different, basic content same as I had given Nasser. Given copy of statement, Amin seemed relieved and then asked if we had reached any conclusions in light this announced position. I replied we endeavoring keep Department as well informed as possible but we had not yet received any indication of its reaction, which was hardly surprising since situation so confused. Amin agreed, saying everyone confused including himself and, he had good reason believe, Nasser too.

Foreseeing that new state would come officially into being on February 22 or 23 when results of plebiscite announced and that question of recognition and presentation new letters credence would then arise, Amin asked what this would involve in our case. I replied not yet clear how new government will present matter but that, generally speaking, recognition is executive decision and time element only comes in to extent time required for clarification and consideration; might be short or not depending on circumstances. Re accreditation, usual procedure would presumably be followed involving Presidential designation, committee consideration and Senate confirmation, which can be somewhat time-consuming process (if this statement stands correction, please advise since Amin said intended passing on word to Nasser and indicated latter would be open to suggestion for simplification of change-over).

Asked if he had any suggestions re line we might follow, Amin said would strongly recommend immediate recognition without either endorsement or criticism and he believed Nasser would feel same way, since, on one hand endorsement by US would be suspect in Arab minds and give Communists ammunition for attacking union whereas, on other hand, criticism would permit Communists rush to Nasser’s defense, neither of which desirable alternatives. Preferable just recognize and let go at that.

More on other aspects of matter in following telegram.4

Hare
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786.00/2–458. Secret. Repeated to Damascus.
  2. Telegram 1830, January 24, summarized a 1-hour conversation with Nasser primarily about Yemen. When asked about U.S. policy on a Syro-Egyptian union, Hare reiterated the points made in Document 187. (Department of State, Central Files, 661.00/1–2458)
  3. See footnote 3, supra.
  4. In telegram 1953, February 4, Hare reported more details on the administrative arrangements for the new union and on the Syro-Egyptian discussions leading up to them. (Department of State, Central Files, 786.00/2–458)