13. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts1

2285. 1. Department concerned about increasing charges US sponsoring Islamic Alliance.2 Following is contingency guidance for background use with friendly diplomats, host government officials and others where appropriate on target of opportunity basis:

US has neither supported nor opposed formation Islamic Alliance and sees no advantage in doing so. US aware published reports consultations among Islamic countries, but has played no role in them and, as non-Muslim country, has no position concerning them.
Present indications are that no organized grouping such as Baghdad or Saadabad Pacts intended. Both Faisal and Hussein have stressed what they have in mind is not formal pact but greater Islamic solidarity designed to expand traditional Islamic conferences held annually Mecca following Haj. As for Shah of Iran, we see no evidence he has unrealistic expectations that Islamic solidarity could become important anti-Nasser device and doubt that he intends invest either prestige or resources in effort promote it.
While we recognize significant common cultural element provided by Islamic heritage, we see little likelihood effective Islamic Alliance taking shape, given lack genuine community political interests Arab states and other Muslim nations. Notable recent examples Muslim failure agree on Islamic policy are Cyprus and Kashmir. In fact, renewed India-Pakistan hostilities in 1965 proved to be divisive issue among Arabs. Reaction of UAR and Syria to proposed Islamic Alliance raises doubt whether Islam still serves as force for unity of political action even among Arab states.
We wonder whether any action, either Islamic Pact or Nasserist socialist crusade, serving to polarize Arab world into camps having [Page 29] image of “reactionary monarchs” versus “extremist” Arab states, might not be detrimental in long run to interests of all concerned. Polarization could lead to renewed propaganda campaigns, public attacks against one another and subversion in both camps.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 3 ISLAMIC. Secret. Drafted by H. Eugene Bovis (NEA/UAR); cleared by Country Director for Israel and Arab-Israel Affairs Harrison M. Symmes, Director of the INR Office of Research and Analysis for Near East and South Asia James W. Spain, Bruce Buttles (NEA/P), Country Director for Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan Matthew J. Looram, Country Director for Turkey John M. Howison, and Staff Assistant Morris J. Amitay in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs; and approved by Davies. Sent to Rabat, Algiers, Tunis Tripoli, Khartoum, Mogadiscio, Cairo, Amman, Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad, Jidda, Taiz, Kuwait, Tel Aviv, Tehran, Ankara, Karachi, London, Paris, Rome, and Moscow.
  2. Since December 1965, Saudi King Faisal had been calling for stronger ties among Islamic states, i.e., including non-Arab but Islamic states such as Iran, as a counter to Nasser’s Arab Socialist movement.