200. Telegram From the Embassy in the Syrian Arab Republic to the Department of State1

809. Ref: Damascus 806.2 Subj: IPC Situation.

While reftel reported on private Syrian apprehension over IPC, its public stance continues harshly uncompromising with threats to raise it to a “political level.”
Recently formed higher petroleum committee chaired by PriMin in statement Jan 10 attacking IPC called Arab oil organized object theft thus Arabs faced violent political battle. Called for active propaganda [Page 369] campaign with masses. Blamed oil co for Israel, resistance to Arab unity and to revolutions and liberation. Arab oil should be tool for liberation and fuel to “burn imperialism.”
MinInfo Zu’bi in press conference same day explicit in making issue political not economic with state resorting “any measure” to preserve peoples rights. Threatened “serious surprises” if necessary. Claimed govt, were it to retreat, would be overthrown by masses.3 IPC must understand extent peoples resistance and that Syrian army “inviolate.” Any “gap” in army would have be exploited. Zu’bi while vaunting entente with Iraq spoke about Iraq embracing attitude dictated by “national interests.”
Sammarai statement drew predictable Syrian press attack that he and Bazzaz imperialist agents, but without revealing substance his statement.
While beginning four day post Ramadan holiday on Jan 11 has temporarily stopped govt activities, B’thi posters appeared profusion that morning including walls Embassy and ConGen Aleppo with legends “Arab petroleum is means liberation from imperialism” and “No to oil monopolies after today.”
We interpret these outbursts as evidence mounting pressure regime feels for resolving dispute.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, PET 18–1 IRAQ–SYR. Confidential. Repeated to Amman, Baghdad, Beirut, Jidda, London, Paris, The Hague, Tehran, Cairo, Dhahran, and Aleppo.
  2. Dated January 10. (Ibid.)
  3. Foreign Minister Makhus, in a meeting with Ambassador Smythe several days earlier, “said that even if Nuri Said returned from grave and seized with IPC’s Dalley ‘throne’ of Iraq, they could not help IPC. The masses, said Makhus, would demand nationalization and no power could thwart people’s will.” (Telegram 797 from Damascus, January 9; ibid., PET 18–1 IRAQ–SYR)