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

8218. Department for Battle from Yost.2

I find Ambassador and other two senior officers this Embassy are all firmly convinced (1) that Nasser had publicly committed himself to course in this crisis from which he cannot and will not retreat, (2) that his commitment includes application of Aqaba blockade to oil, (3) that Nasser would not be deterred by threats except clear and credible intent to apply overwhelming force, from which he would expect to harvest major political victory, and (4) he would probably welcome, but not seek, military showdown with Israel. Substantially same appraisal has been made to me by General Rikhye and AUC President Bartlett.
I have been here too short a time myself to make personal assessment of UAR intentions, particularly whether there may be some flexibility as to scope of blockade and exactly how they would react to action by some maritime powers to break it. I am however impressed by quasi-unanimity with which area posts, in commenting on Department’s circular 202592,3 have expressed view consequences our following course B4 would gravely undermine, if not destroy, US position throughout Arab world. If this view is correct, and from my experience in area I believe it is, principal profit of our following this course would accrue to Soviets, and over longer run position of Israel would be weakened rather than reenforced.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL ARAB–ISR. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated to USUN for Goldberg. Received at 12:58 p.m. and passed to the White House at 1:09 p.m. Walt Rostow transmitted the text to the President at the LBJ Ranch in CAP 67501, May 30. (Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Middle East Crisis, 5/12–6/19/67, Vol. 2)
  2. Retired Ambassador Charles Yost. Telegram 203930 to Cairo, May 27, informed Nolte that the Department was sending Yost, then serving as consultant to the Department of State, to Cairo to talk to Nolte and members of the Embassy staff and to bring back to Washington a first-hand impression of the situation and the possibility of finding solutions. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL ARAB–ISR)
  3. See footnote 6, Document 60.
  4. Course B was the second option: to give firm assurances to the Israelis that the Strait of Tiran would remain open and take all necessary measures either alone or with the British to enforce them.