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

1635. Deptel 1386.2 In conversation with Embassy Officer November 26 Haikal said point now reached in US–UAR relations where [Page 501] Nasser had concluded no hope of understanding in Washington and had indicated American reaction would no longer be factor in his thinking. Peg on which this bit of spleen hung was leak of portion my last conversation with him in which he had discussed Iraqi situation with great frankness.3 In addition press coverage this item, including unidentified article by Dana Schmidt but probably that of November 7, Haikal said Nasser had received report from Ambassador Kamel to effect substance of conversation, particularly re Nasser’s attitude toward Iraq, was being widely discussed in Washington.

Haikal said Nasser had assumed our November 5 conversation would be treated in strict confidence, that he had been “furious” when he heard of leak and that nothing had done more to convince him of futility trying work with us than when he saw his confidential remarks in print.

Haikal added that immediate consequence was that Nasser had cancelled plans crack-down on Communists in Syria. His reason for deciding conduct such campaign had been to stimulate similar crack-down in Iraq where Nasser could not directly make such suggestion but felt he might set example to show how possible for Arab Nationalist take firm hand with local Communists without affecting relations with Soviet Union. However, after revelation his remarks re Iraq in American press, Nasser had ordered Serraj not implement plan.

Another consequence of leak, said Haikal, was that Nasser had decided that further frank discussions with me would not be in order and that our relations should henceforth be essentially ceremonial in character.

Comment: It is my feeling that foregoing should be taken with seriousness but also with reserve.

On serious side, one of few assets in generally unfavorable situation here has been accessibility of Nasser to American Chiefs of Mission and his readiness discuss problems fully and often quite frankly. Unfortunately, end product of such discussion has usually been far from satisfactory but mere fact of being able talk freely and in confidence believed to have had certain utility. As consequence prospect of losing even this marginal asset regrettable. Recall this principal subject discussed by Nasser with Lakeland and as reported Baghdad’s 1680.4

On other hand, while probably true that Nasser’s nose really out of joint, it is recalled that Haikal’s stories never suffer from understatement and also that assertion of having held hand when just ready crack-down on Communists, because of something USG has done or [Page 502] failed to do, is recurrent HaikalNasser gambit. Also this is not first time Nasser has had sulking mood but snapped out of it as other subjects claimed his attention.

Conclusion therefore is that certain amount of immediate harm has doubtless been done which may partially account for strong language regarding us used by Nasser in his November 27 speech but that it will probably be possible do some fence mending due course. Suggest comments made Embtel 16245 may also have certain bearing here.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.86B/11–2958. Secret. Repeated to Baghdad.
  2. Telegram 1386, November 12, reported that the November 11 Washington Star featured an article by Earl Voss which stated that Nasser had warned the West that Iran was going Communist. (Ibid., 787.00/11–1258)
  3. See telegram 1435, supra. The portion including the discussion of Iraq is not printed.
  4. Telegram 1680, November 25, reported that Nasser’s conversation with Lakeland was largely concerned with leaks. (Department of State, Central Files, 110.4–NE/11–2558)
  5. In telegram 1624, November 26, Hare commented that recent conversations illustrated the dichotomy of the situation in Cairo. One side was represented by Fawzi, Kaissouni, and others with whom the United States might disagree, but with whom objective discussions could be held. The other side was represented by Nasser, military elements, and others with whom relations were based more on subjective fixations than objective evaluations. (Ibid., 611.86B/11–2658)