118. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Near Eastern Posts 0

636. According [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] reports, preparations appear be underway in Egypt and Alexandria for air-sea military movement to Syria.1 Purpose could be: a) immediate support [Page 280] for any counter-revolution in Syria, perhaps one engineered by UARG subversive means; or b) outright invasion premised on ability of Egyptian navy to capture and hold port of Latakia and Egyptian air force to capture and hold an airfield, presumably Aleppo. Another unconfirmed [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] report indicates UARG may have asked Lebanon for use of Tripoli port for movement into Syria.

USG strongly opposed to military action by any party in present Mideast crisis. Accordingly Dept plans undertake such discreet efforts as it may to dissuade Nasser from resorting to force. USG was gratified by Nasser’s public pledge that Arab would not shoot Arab and it is our hope despite signs to contrary Nasser will adhere to peaceful means for resolving present UAR difficulties.

Other action addressees requested to remain on alert for possibility military action in Syria. Just as we oppose use of force by UARG so we oppose military intervention by any of Syria’s neighbors. If it clearly appears that country to which you are accredited contemplates direct military intervention, you authorized take strong line discourage such action, noting that chain reaction likely with increasing number of nations becoming involved.

For Amman: Accordance your recommendation Dept will consider message at highest level in event Nasser appears determined initiate hostilities.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786B.00/10–361. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Meyer, cleared by Strong, and approved by Meyer; Talbot initialed for Rusk. Sent to Ankara, Amman, Beirut, Baghdad, and Tel Aviv and repeated to Cairo, London, Damascus, and Paris.
  2. At 1742 hours on October 3, Lemnitzer directed the Commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, then in the eastern Mediterranean, to “maintain discreet surveillance of Alexandria and report expeditiously any ship movements which might indicate Egypt aggressive intentions with respect to Syria.” (JCS 1742, 032349Z Oct 61; Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Country Series, Syria, 10/1/61–10/5/61) The surveillance was discontinued on October 6. (JCS 1791, 062030Z Oct 61; ibid.)