253. Telegram From the Embassy in Libya to the Department of State 1

383. Libyan Sitrep—June 25 thru 29. Ref: Tripoli 320.2

Decision on change in total ban on exports remains suspended while King Idris searches for new Prime Minister to replace Hussain Maaziq, who resigned June 27. It not yet clear to what extent, if any, oil export question figured in resignation of entire cabinet.3 There are some indications, both public and private (Tripoli 348),4 that by June 26 Maaziq cabinet was on verge of deciding to accept security risks of resuming exports and to meet King’s objection to naming US and UK as having aided Israel by following Iraqi example of specifying permissible destinations, probably starting with Spain, France, and Italy. However, it not yet known whether Maaziq even discussed this proposed policy with King June 27.
Third general meeting of oil workers (estimated at 300) held June 25 and reaffirmed opposition to resuming any exports until unanimous Arab agreement on export policy. Workers insulted Petroleum Ministry representative who attempted rebut their decision and they again threatened sabotage of oil installations. Following day Petroleum Ministry recommended preventive detention of oil labor leaders when GOL decides to resume exports. Morning June 29, former Petroleum Minister Ku’baazi reportedly met with oil labor leaders, but significance this meeting not yet known.
Libyan news media, reporting Iraqi resumption of exports to Turkey and France,5 emphasized fact that Libya now only Arab state maintaining total embargo.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Records of the Department of State, Central Files, 1967–69, PET 17–1 LIBYA. Confidential. Repeated to London, Paris, Baida, Beirut, Jidda, and Kuwait.
  2. Dated June 24. (Ibid.)
  3. The day before Maaziq’s resignation, high-ranking sources told Embassy officials that the major factor inhibiting a resumption of exports was internal political opposition to the Maaziq Cabinet. The Libyan Government was unconcerned about a general strike by oil workers but was concerned about sabotage, a threat made stronger by the fact that the oil industry’s labor leadership “overlapped considerably” with those in opposition to the government. (Telegram 335 from Tripoli, June 26; ibid.)
  4. Dated June 29. (Ibid.)
  5. Iraq resumed limited shipment of oil on June 30, provided that France and other countries would guarantee that Iraqi oil would not be diverted to the United States or the United Kingdom. Both the Americans and the British disliked the idea of “government-to-government” guarantees, but acquiesced “in interest of improving oil supplies.” (Telegram 219506 to Baghdad, June 30; ibid., PET 17 IRAQ–TURK; and telegram 10805 from London, June 29; ibid., PET 17 FR-IRAQ)