208. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Arab Republic to the Department of State1

3339. Haikal asked come see me Saturday. He was in black mood, which I gathered he desired me understand Nasser shared.

Haikal thesis was that Nasser and those around him had been genuinely serious about improving relations with United States Government and had been hopeful as result modest progress made. Then had come Lebanon crisis and Nasser had held out hand to us in attempt to find joint approach for settlement.2 Terms which he had suggested had been reasonable and were in fact those favored by most pro-Western segment of opposition, although none of opposition really anti-Western. However, we had been negative and dilatory and conviction now prevails in Cairo governing circles that we have merely been playing Nasser for sucker in order neutralize him while we went ahead with covert plan intention intervene with British militarily, as now being overtly substantiated by movements of sixth fleet, bringing of British paratroopers to Cyprus, revealing articles regarding United States–United Kingdom intentions in News Chronicle and other press items, sending American military personnel to Lebanon in civilian attire (Haikal said had list such personnel), etc. Furthermore, now apparent United States Government had been master-minding whole matter, including encouraging GOL have recourse to SC, Jamali attack, etc. etc. Concluding, Haikal said situation now entirely out of hand and he utterly discouraged and disillusioned as would be indicated in [Page 453]editorial he had written for publication in Al-Ahram yesterday (reported separately)3 which he expected I would disapprove.

After reviewing facts of case, I told Haikal his error, as I saw it, lay in reaching a subjective conclusion and then attempting to explain facts and motives in such way as conform with his irrational preconceptions. As long as he continued in this way, he would not only misjudge us but misguide his reasons, and this was essentially true of line he and rest of press and radio was taking regarding our alleged perfidy. Fact of matter was that our suggestions for improved relations had been entirely sincere but we had foreseen and made clear problems created by closer relations of UAR with USSR and intolerant attitude UAR toward Arab neighbors. Now example of second problem had arisen in acute form in Lebanon and we had made our attitude clear. What UAR should understand was that we were acting entirely to preserve Lebanon’s integrity just as we did to preserve Egypt’s in 1956. Similarly, just as our action in 1956 had not been motivated by ill intent toward British, our action in Lebanon not motivated by desire “get UAR” in contradiction our stated desire improve relations but merely to preserve Lebanon. In so doing, we find ourselves at cross-purposes with UAR, that is to be regretted, as Lodge emphasized in SC speech,4 but it doesn’t mean we have gone back on our word.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.86/6–1658. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Beirut, Damascus, London, and Paris.
  2. Documentation on Nasser’s proposal for a solution to the Lebanese crisis is scheduled for publication in volume XI.
  3. In telegrams 3337 and 3372, June 16 and 17, respectively, Hare transmitted summaries of two articles by Haikal in Al-Ahram, June 16, which reviewed unfavorably relations between the United States and the United Arab Republic. (Department of State, Central Files, 783A.00/6–1658 and 783A.00/6–1758)
  4. For text of Lodge’s statement before the Security Council on June 10, see Department of State Bulletin, July 14, 1958, pp. 88–90.