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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Office of the Historian > Foreign Relations of the United States > Kennedy Administration > Volume XVII
Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, Volume XVII, Near East, 1961-1962
Released by the Office of the Historian
Documents 98-121

98. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)/1/

Washington, August 11, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Country Series, Iran, 8/1/61-8/14/61. Secret. Copies were sent to Rostow and General Taylor. Attached to the source text is an August 11 note from Komer to Bundy that reads: "Attached is memo to go along (if you choose) with State's interim reply on Iran. I got them to completely redo the latter so haven't seen it yet. I ain't happy, but I pushed things just about as far as I could. The main thing is that we've got State moving again. Also attached FYI is my draft reply which State couldn't quite steel itself to buy. But it served its purpose." Regarding the draft reply, see footnote 3, Document 97.

Task Force Meeting on Iran

Our 7 August memo,/2/ relaying the President's concern and asking for report on what further actions feasible, has already had a healthy cathartic effect. The State people, in the papers they prepared for the TF meeting and in the meeting itself,/3/ came up with more interesting ideas and sense of movement than they have surfaced in the three months since the initial TF report.

/2/Document 94.

/3/See Document 97.

However, we still have an uphill battle against what I would call a sense of fatalistic resignation about Iran. There are no optimists among the experts, only varying degrees of pessimism. Old Persian hands like Peyton Kerr or John Bowling really question whether anything we do can arrest the basic trend, evident even before Mossadegh, toward a potentially serious overturn in Iran.

Of course I too grant that the odds are against us. We may in fact have to live sooner or later with a chaotic Mossadeqist regime, which will depose the Shah (if he doesn't flee), turn neutralist, and be highly vulnerable to Soviet manipulation. But my pitch is that we must nonetheless do all we can to avert this outcome, by backing to the hilt the best alternative available, i.e., Amini. This was the TF recommendation, which the President approved. And we may yet squeak through with a "controlled revolution" as opposed to an uncontrolled one. We won't, however, unless we give it more of a try.

My antennae also detect some worry at State lest the White House "pushed the panic button" because it thinks another cabinet crisis, if not worse, is imminent. I took pains to disabuse this notion. The President's concern, I said, was to make sure that we are moving on whatever further steps are necessary, and feasible, to buck what everyone agrees is a continued adverse trend. Lead time is essential, since at best it might take months to carry out such measures, given the material we have to work with. This makes it all the more important to get the show on the road.

The interim reply due over Friday noon will not be wholly satisfactory./4/ It will list a series of steps now under active consideration, but which State is unwilling to recommend firmly until it has consulted Teheran and given further thought. This is fair enough--there are no easy answers to the questions posed, so having stirred up the animals we should give them a bit more time. But our response should be that the President expects a full report no later than two weeks from now (which lets Holmes and Phil Talbot, who gets to Teheran on 20 August, get into the act).

/4/See footnote 2 above.

In sum, while I still feel we are not yet doing enough, we now have State's feet to the fire and should give them a chance (I'll hold off comment on their specific proposals until they are firmer). Meanwhile I intend to keep pushing until told to lay off.

Bob Komer

99. Editorial Note

On August 18, 1961, in response to a White House request, the Department of State forwarded to the White House a status report on the Saudi arms request, which among other points contained a Department of Defense estimate that it would take from 6 weeks to 6 months to determine definite availability of all items on the Saudi list and might take 8 months or longer to deliver them. (Department of State, Central Files, 786A.56/8-1861) On August 20, President Kennedy signed NSAM No. 73, directed to the Secretary of Defense, demanding to know why it would take so long and noting "It seems to me that we could speed this up." (Ibid., NSAM Files: Lot 72 D 316, NSAM 73)

Following expedited action from the Department of Defense, the Department of State delivered to the Saudi Embassy on September 18 and 20 Letters of Offer covering the greater portion of the arms requested. The United States was unable to provide F-100D jet fighters and B-57B jet bombers owing to their unavailability, but U.S. officials were optimistic that Saudi Arabia would realize that the F-86 fighters that its armed forces were currently using in training were more appropriate for their needs and capabilities. (Memorandum from Battle to Bundy, September 28; ibid., Central Files, 786A.56/9-2861) On October 9, the Department of State sent to the White House for President Kennedy's information an additional list of arms and equipment the United States was offering to sell Saudi Arabia. (Memorandum from Battle to Bundy; ibid., 786A.56/10-961) See Supplement, the compilation on Saudi Arabia, for all these documents.

100. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, August 26, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 684A.85322/8-2661. Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Crawford on August 31 and approved in B on September 14. An August 21 briefing memorandum from Meyer to Ball indicated in part that White House approval had been obtained to seek to enlist the support of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to assist Jordan in constructing a large storage reservoir (the Maqarin Dam) on the Yarmuk River. Talbot had subsequently spoken with Eugene Black and William Iliff at the IBRD who said the Bank would be willing to engage itself if the United States was prepared to handle consultation with Israel. (Ibid., 684A.85322/8-2161)

The Jordan Waters Problem

B--Mr. Ball
The Honorable Eric Johnston
NE--William R. Crawford, Jr.

Mr. Johnston described in detail the genesis and results of his efforts in the period 1953-1955 to win Arab and Israeli agreement on a plan for division of the water resources of the Jordan Valley. He said his plan would have irrigated 250,000 acres of land in southern Jordan, employed 200,000-250,000 Arab refugees, and would have been a move to "break the back of the refugee problem" and turn Jordan into a viable state. He spoke of having won Arab and Israeli agreement, on a technical level, only to have his plan shelved, as a consequence of political considerations, by an Arab League meeting in 1955.

Mr. Johnston referred to Israel's water development since 1955, which by 1963 will put it in a position to divert 60% of the basin's water resources as contrasted with its 38% allocation under the unified plan. The difference between these two percentages, he said, is the difference between economic viability for Jordan and indefinite dependence on extensive foreign assistance.

Mr. Johnston commented on the East Ghor irrigation project in Jordan which is being financed by the United States. This project, he stated, leaves him apprehensive. Without storage on the Yarmuk (the Maqarin Dam), there will not be enough water in very dry years to satisfy both the Israelis' customary use of Yarmuk waters in the fertile, Adasiya triangle and the requirements of the newly-irrigated lands in Jordan adjacent to the completed East Ghor Canal. The Maqarin Dam would ensure enough water for both users even in driest years; without it there could be serious dispute.

Mr. Johnston said he had met King Hussein, President Nasser, and UAR Foreign Minister Fawzi last fall. King Hussein had said he would like to go ahead with unified development if Nasser will agree. Fawzi stated that the Johnston plan is logical. The talk with Nasser had taken place in the presence of others, precluding detailed conversation, but Nasser had seemed well-disposed and friendly.

Mr. Johnston suggested that the United States designate an emissary to visit the Middle East to assess major economic development opportunities in all fields: someone who could talk on a basis of friendship with Hussein and Nasser. Should it prove apparent that their response is negative, the whole idea could be dropped with no disadvantage to this country. If the climate seems favorable, the emissary could try to put across the Maqarin Dam. With this project once underway, the atmosphere would be propitious for an effort to win Arab and Israeli agreement on Tiberias storage and on adoption of the other aspects of the unified plan. In the long run, the success of this effort might dissuade Israel from seizing 60% of the basin's water resources. If Israel balks, a persuasive approach to Israel's supporters in this country might induce a more responsive attitude on its part.

Under Secretary Ball said a recent meeting of United States Ambassadors in the Middle East, held in Nicosia,/2/ had given detailed consideration to the Jordan waters problem, particularly in regard to the timing of a further American initiative. Mr. Johnston's own "heroic" efforts on this problem had been overwhelmingly approved and much of the Ambassadors' thinking on ways of making progress now had been very close to the views just expressed by Mr. Johnston. However, the consensus of those familiar with this problem is that because of prevailing Arab suspicions of the United States, it may be best if the Arabs turn to the IBRD for assistance in construction of the Maqarin Dam. After that project is underway, we can consider how to get back to other aspects of the problem. At the present juncture it seems important for the United States to stay out, if only because, as Mr. Johnston may be aware, the United States is already engaged in a "small initiative" in regard to the refugee problem.

/2/See Documents 91 and 92.

Mr. Johnston asked if there is any indication of Jordanian interest in an approach to the IBRD and what Nasser's reaction is likely to be.

Under Secretary Ball replied that we have received some indication of Jordanian interest, and have no reason to believe that Nasser would be opposed to an Arab approach to the IBRD. It is hoped that the Department can keep in close touch with Mr. Johnston as this situation develops.

Mr. Johnston said the important thing is to get the Maqarin Dam done, not who does it.

Under Secretary Ball commented that "we have to feel our way-- see what can be done in an international forum" before again seeking to inject the United States into the situation.

Mr. Johnston asked who would pay for the Maqarin Dam since the project, costing some $40 million exclusive of a $20 million hydro-electric component, is not a bankable loan.

Under Secretary Ball replied that we have not only the Bank but the IDA. From whatever several sources, the money will have to be found. Whatever is built will, above all, reflect Mr. Johnston's own truly epic efforts in past years.

101. Letter From Eric Johnston to the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs (Ball)

Washington, August 26, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 985.7301/8-2661. No classification marking.

Dear George: In my conversation with you this morning I failed to discuss what I consider to be one of the most important aspects of the Jordan Valley development--an international control system for the whole waterway. Such a system was originally set up and agreed upon, and is vital if each of the countries is to get its share of the water as outlined in the original plan.

Under this program Jordan was to receive all the water from the Yarmuk, less the original riparian rights of Israel in the Jordan-Yarmuk triangle plus 70 to 100 mcms. of water from the Jordan River itself. This additional water from the Jordan River is vital if you are to proceed to irrigate the west Ghor of the Jordan Valley in Jordan.

As soon as the Israelis are in a position to start pumping it is obvious that they will not be interested in any water master going up and down the river, checking on any amount of water taken. Nor could the Jordanians be persuaded to store water in Lake Tiberias.

Although approximately 400 mcms. of water can be stored at Maqarin at a high cost, to try to store the balance of the Yarmuk water by damsites on the river would be prohibitive. Loss to the Kingdom of Jordan of the right to store 300 mcms. of water from the Yarmuk in Lake Tiberias, plus the loss of 70 to 100 mcms. of water from the Jordan River, would make it useless to try to irrigate the west Ghor of the Jordan Valley in the Kingdom of Jordan. This would mean that only a little over half of the potential Arab refugees could be put on the land, making this problem more difficult to solve, and that the Kingdom of Jordan would lose the opportunity of becoming a self-supporting and viable state.

Whoever or however the new approach is handled it is vital that international control of the river system be effected soon. It is not important who does this; but it is important that whoever does, must assume the responsibility for instituting an international control system.

I have sufficient confidence in what we were able to achieve in our negotiations in terms of an equitable distribution of the waters of the system and the economic development of the area that history will prove us right, and in that confidence I will, of course, always be ready to be of any assistance and render any advice that I can.

I appreciate your courtesies to me this morning.

With warmest best wishes, I am

Sincerely yours,


102. Letter From the Ambassador to Iran (Holmes) to the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Meyer)

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.88/8-2761. Secret; Official-Informal.

Tehran, August 27, 1961.

Dear Armin: I have your highly important letter of August 12/2/ and welcome the opportunity to convey my views on the far-reaching problems and questions it raises. Before proceeding to take these up, however, I believe it would be useful to set forth briefly an evaluation of the Amini government and its future prospects.

/2/See Enclosure 1 to Document 97.

The Amini government has now been in power for 3-1/2 months. Its advent was unanticipated both in that the collapse of the Sharif- Emami government was sudden and unexpected, and in that the selection of a man long critical of the Shah to head a government of the Shah was somewhat of a surprise. Despite Amini's long record of criticism of previous governments and his well-known desire to become Prime Minister, it was evident upon his accession to office that the unexpected development caught him unprepared for the job both as regards having a program and a nucleus of capable individuals to help him discharge the heavy task he assumed. This was one of the reasons that the first two months of the Amini regime were marked by confusion, contradiction, and lack of coordination within the government, and by uncertainty on the part of the Prime Minister with respect to the best way to proceed to achieve his objectives. In addition, there was the normal confusion attendant upon a change in administration. Amini had also to struggle with the basic problem of his relationship with the Shah, with the serious economic problems facing the country, and with critical political matters such as the question of elections and of how to handle the National Front. Complicating this task even further was his lack of knowledge of the commitments and undertakings of previous governments, some of which are arising to plague him even as late as now, and of the plunder which had gone on.

The combination of these factors would overwhelm any man. Dr. Amini furthermore must work in the Persian atmosphere and must deal principally with other Persians in attempting to resolve the problems facing him. I need not dwell in this letter on those aspects of their character which make it so hard for Iranians to work together, to plan for the future, and to take drastic action when drastic action is necessary.

It is not for want of personal will that the Prime Minister has not yet solved the problems facing him. He has approached his task with determination and courage and a good deal of skill, and is working himself to the point of exhaustion. With our invaluable assistance he is progressing toward the solution of the economic problems which beset Iran and which must be solved before any genuine progress can be made in the direction of a basically improved political situation. He has established a working arrangement with the Shah whereby he has skillfully obtained the Monarch's support for unpalatable but necessary measures. He has toned down some of his ministers whose inflammatory statements were causing an unnecessary degree of alarm. The Prime Minister is no longer actively opposed by the principal military elements despite having taken action against important military figures on charges of corruption. He has been unable to reach an understanding with the National Front and has felt required to take firm, but not brutal, measures which have disconcerted and disorganized the Front to the point where at the moment it is not in a position to cause serious trouble.

When Amini came into office there was general enthusiasm over the selection of a man who, although a member of the conservative group, was considered sympathetic with the interests and needs of the people as a whole and known as a strong critic of the Shah and of previous governments. This enthusiasm existed despite the realization here in Iran that Dr. Amini was very unlikely to be a "revolutionary" Prime Minister in the Nationalist sense. It was unfortunately largely based on expectations of actions and reforms which could not be quickly taken in the light of the nature of things in Iran. It was not long after the advent of the Amini government that the traditional Persian tendency to suspect and criticize the government in power reasserted itself and this, combined with failure of expectations to be rapidly met, led to a decline in support for the government among liberal politically conscious elements. In particular, the failure of the Prime Minister, for sound reasons in my view, to meet the demands of the National Front for immediate elections and unimpeded political action led to the alienation by the government of the elements sympathetic to Mosadeq. This despite the sincere efforts which Dr. Amini made to obtain the cooperation of moderate National Front leaders, who rejected his request.

However, at the moment of writing, Dr. Amini seems to possess the support or the acquiescence of at least the following elements necessary to his continuation in office--the Shah, the military, and the conservative civilian elements. He is making continuous efforts to broaden this basis of support to include such elements as the bazaar, the clergy and labor, and in his own view is having a measure of success. Barring some unforeseen development such as a most secretly organized coup, or the Prime Minister's own resignation or incapacitation owing to frustration or the deterioration of his health because of the burden he is carrying, I anticipate his remaining in office for a considerable period, providing that we continue the help we are giving him. Without this he has frankly said he could not have survived. I agree with you that the Iranian government faces no immediate and crucial political crises involving possible revolution.

I turn now from the current and relatively short term future aspects of the situation to the longer term political outlook which is the primary purpose of your letter. You state that your reading of the situation is most disquieting. Although I agree that the obstacles in the way of establishing a more stable political basis in Iran are formidable, I do not now fully share the apparent deep concern reflected in your letter. For one reason, I do not see how anybody, and particularly a Persian dealing with Persians, could have begun to make significant progress towards this goal in the chaotic situation in which the Amini regime came into office and in the short time it has been in power. The Prime Minister has, during this period, been forced to devote all his energies to the problems of making his government a going concern, of ameliorating the grave economic situation, of establishing a working relationship with the Shah, and in general of arresting the slide toward political and economic collapse which was evident before he came into office. I strongly believe that it is unreasonable to expect notable progress towards so difficult a future political goal until current political and economic problems have been resolved to the point where a tranquil and sound atmosphere will permit political reforms, which are in themselves unsettling, to be tackled. Despite the compromises he has made, I do not at all believe that the Prime Minister has abandoned the goals which he announced when he became Prime Minister. I think that he has come to the conclusion, which I share, that these goals can only be attained over a considerable period of time and that their accomplishment would be greatly delayed, if not rendered impossible, if it were sought by hasty steps from the basis of a new and untried government which had not solved the important current problems of government stability and financial and economic viability.

Assuming that the Prime Minister remains in office for a sufficient amount of time and is able to solve his pressing current problems, I believe that he will devote his attention, hopefully with some degree of success, to the basic political problem which is the object of our concern. In this we can be of help to him by aiding him in his material difficulties while largely leaving him, as a Persian dealing with other Persians and with Persian political problems, to solve the latter in the way he deems most likely to be successful. Steps which might seem logical to non-Iranian outside observers will, I am convinced, in many instances not be found to be appropriate in this process.

The second important reason why I do not share the degree of concern reflected in your letter arises from my evaluation, since I have been in Iran, of the degree of urgency of the primary preoccupation you have stated--the need to bridge, through the creation of some sort of a new and moderate centrist political synthesis, the gap between the largely neo-Mosadeqist elements of the urban middle class and the more traditional and conservative elements of society. The former elements, while highly vocal and critical, possess no unity among themselves. They are not so strong, nor are they likely to be in the next several years, as to be able to take power here without important military collaboration. The only singleness of purpose they have is to take over. They cannot agree on a political program. They cannot be said to have a popular following because they put forward a positive program but because, rather, they provide the only outlet for the manifestation of discontent, arising as much as anything from economic distress. The assumption by these people of even a degree of power at this time would have a profoundly negative effect on the stability of Iran and on our interests here. The inclusion of the more moderate of them in a government would have no significant positive political effect, failing the relief of the underlying political and economic grievances which provide the principal basis of the attraction exercised by the National Front.

In making the above statement I risk being accused of favoring the maintenance of the status quo, and of discounting the pressures for basic changes. To the contrary, I believe that it is inevitable that the middle class eventually will come into power in this country, and that what we must hope and work for is that this process shall be an orderly one. I think there is a fairly good chance that, with luck, it will be achieved by gradual change, not by dramatic or violent action, in response to pressures from politically conscious elements. Results of this pressure, admittedly not basic ones, have become visible in the last year. The fact that the Prime Minister has not made solid progress in building a bridge between the middle class and the conservatives in three months' time should not, I think, be taken as a cause of grave concern by the United States government. If it should become clear beyond a doubt that Dr. Amini had given up the struggle and had reverted to the attitude of his predecessors, then there would be cause for concern. Assuming as I do that he has not, there probably will be time for him, or some successor, to adjust the basic political situation to conform to current pressures, assuming their continuing will to do so.

I further believe that when the time comes that power has shifted to the middle class, the latter will exercise that power not through a democratic and representative form of government as we understand it. The political history of Persia, and the character of the Persian people, lead me to the conviction that the most likely and probably the most suitable form of government for this country is one where the people are firmly and resolutely guided by a central authority not subject to the daily whims of representatives of the disunited, highly individualistic, and uncooperative people of this nation.

While I therefore do not experience the sense of urgency reflected in your letter regarding the timing of the bridging of the gap between conservative and middle class elements, I hope I have made clear my agreement that the gap has to be bridged. The representatives of the middle class now constitute only potentially a serious menace to the regime. The threat which they do represent will be greatly alleviated if stable economic conditions, accompanied by administrative reforms, can be brought about with our assistance. For the time being this will be the principal field in which we can offer effective aid. We should not at the same time undertake political pressures which would have the effect of stirring up the middle class and arousing their expectations, thereby disturbing the stability and equilibrium of a pro-Western government which is struggling to remove the obstacles standing in the way of an attack by it on longer-range political problems. We must accept the reality that the solution of the latter is going to take a long time and will require continuing patience, help, and understanding on our part. It may well take the decade you envisage. Meanwhile, we will probably continue to be faced with frustrations in dealing with the Iranians, and with a return of somewhat less than 100% on our aid dollar. The political importance of our position in Iran, and the strategic significance of the country, are indubitably such as to require us to bear these disadvantages. I believe what we receive in return is worth it.

You have asked what Amini can do and what we can do to help him meet his country's political and economic problems in such a way as to better the long-term prospects for evolutionary progress. I think that Dr. Amini's basic ideas about improvement of these prospects are sound in both the economic and political fields, that is to say, briefly, his ideas about fiscal responsibility, economic stability, increased competence and efficiency in government, anti-corruption, land reform and an improved judicial system, and establishing broader popular support for the government. His interest in improving the lot of the individual Iranian, and in working for social justice here, is as deep as ever. As I have already said, it is clear that to make progress in the long run he must be successful in the short run in these problems that test him so severely today. We believe that the most acute as well as immediate strictly political problem is the one of elections. I foresee nothing but bad results stemming from the holding of another set of elections in this country within the next year, given on the one hand the manner in which elections probably have to be held and on the other our belief that two national elections in a six-months period contributed greatly to the upset situation which brought Dr. Amini into power. The problem that Dr. Amini faces is how to stave off elections for a considerable period without thereby generating equally bad results. It seems to me that his problem will become particularly acute when the University is back in session a month or two from now, considering the extraordinary role which the University students can be stimulated to play in contemporary Iranian politics. I can only conclude, tentatively at least, that the situation thus demands increased activity in the anti-corruption front and active preparation for progress in the field of land reform as a means of directing the attention of the University students somewhat from the issue of elections. Putting it more broadly, although I believe that Dr. Amini tamped down some of the almost revolutionary fervor of the first days of his administration for what seemed sound practical reasons, I think he should now make further efforts in these two particular fields, in order to gain wider support and to divert attention from the election problem.

I plan therefore in the near future to discuss this matter of potential student trouble over elections with the Prime Minister and thereafter if necessary and desirable with the Shah. Although I doubt the advisability of a role for the United States in such matters beyond that of moral support and friendly advice, this should be not without value to a man as sorely beset as Dr. Amini or taken amiss by the Shah.

"To play for time and hope for the best" is certainly an acceptable policy in certain desperate circumstances. While no one knows what is going to happen in countries like Iran and there will probably be no time in the foreseeable future when we can afford to feel relaxed about the situation, I do not think that circumstances here should as yet be described as desperate. After less than three months here I would venture to say that the Persians have a better than even chance of keeping their society intact while concurrently making such adjustments as are required by changing circumstances both outside and inside. They are quite capable, of course, of destroying themselves, but my guess is that they will not.

I am forwarding separately our comments on the NEA study which accompanied your letter.

The remainder of your letter dealt with economic problems, especially the budget, and asked for my comments. I understand your viewpoint to be that in the months ahead the Iranian economic situation will be sufficiently stabilized to permit Amini to concentrate his energies on political and psychological problems, that German aid will virtually eliminate the need for further U.S. ad hoc financing assistance to complete the Second Plan, and that no real need for budgetary assistance over and above the $15 million already discussed with the GOI will be necessary. While I do not visualize catastrophes in the economic field, I am somewhat less sanguine about the economic outlook than may be implied by this assessment.

Amini has been heavily troubled by economic problems since the beginning of his administration. His economic inheritance was a mess--the economy was faltering, the foreign exchange reserves were virtually exhausted, prices were moving upward, the budget was in substantial deficit, stabilization goals had been seriously breached, and over-all administrative efficiency was, even for Iran, at low ebb. With the help of U.S. emergency assistance he surmounted the immediate crisis confronting his Government and he has subsequently made some progress with more basic economic issues. This has, however, involved a heavy expenditure of his time and energies.

Iranian economic and administrative problems are too deep-rooted to lend themselves to quick and clear solutions. Amini believes, and I share his opinion, that it will take at least 18 months to establish a viable economic and financial situation in this country. The economy is in a soft condition, marked by a sharp drop in investments, some industrial dislocation, and rising unemployment. Economic uncertainty is widespread. Landlords, peasants, merchants, contractors and workers all have reason for dissatisfaction with the policies and performance of the Amini Government. Amini, in turn, is confronted with a serious dilemma in respect to economic objectives. With his limited foreign exchange reserves leaving little room for maneuver, he wishes to restore balance in the country's internal and external accounts primarily by means of the credit restraints involved in the stabilization program. This policy, however, has tended to intensify the liquidity problem in commercial and industrial circles and to contribute to unemployment. Relaxation of the stabilization effort would ease the domestic liquidity situation but it would be reflected in further demand pressures on the thin foreign exchange reserves and a further blocking of access to the IMF standby credits.

No single problem has occupied as much of Amini's time as the formulation of the 1340 Budget which was finally passed on August 16. While the indicated deficit of 2,616 million rials appears over-stated, it is difficult to predict with assurance what the final outcome of the Government's fiscal operations will be. However, having taken the considerations cited in your letter into account but without going into detail on this occasion, I feel that Amini is likely to have a hard core deficit of at least 1.5 billion rials ($20 million). This subject will be dealt with in a further communication.

Earlier information from Bonn in connection with the Federal Republic's contribution to the financing of the Second Plan gap was, as you have stated, surprisingly favorable. Our enthusiasm on this score, however, has been somewhat dampened as a result of our review of the Protocol signed in Bonn and our conversations with Iranian officials. On the face of the Protocol itself, it now appears that the usable German contribution to the Second Plan period may not exceed $20 million, that the arrangements with the NIOC may hurt, rather than help, the 1340 Budget position and that problems may arise with the IBRD and the IMF resulting from the intention of the NIOC to push ahead immediately with the $175 million new construction program. However, reports of discussions between Embassy Bonn and German officials concerned with the negotiations indicated German understanding of the need to maximize disbursements within the limits of the loan for the Second Plan projects (namely up to $36 million). Until the final position of the Germans on this matter is clarified, we will not know the extent to which the Iranians will turn to us for further development assistance to complete the financing of the Second Plan.

In sum, there appears at this time to be a continuing need for budgetary and development support substantially in excess of the levels indicated in your letter.

I am afraid this is a rather long reply, but the questions you raised were so basic that I believed they should be thoroughly treated in the response./3/

/3/On September 9, Battle forwarded to Bundy at the National Security Council a copy of this letter and a second letter from Holmes dated August 27 that contained 16 pages of Embassy comments on the NEA study, "Possible U.S. Actions Re the Long-Term Political Situation in Iran," which had been sent to Holmes on August 12. (Ibid., 788.00/9-961)


JC Holmes

103. Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Battle) to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington, August 30, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.86B/8-3061. Confidential. The source text indicates NEA/NE as the drafting office. Attached is an earlier draft of the memorandum which indicates Dickman as the drafter. Cleared by Strong, Cottam, and Dickman.

President Nasser's Reply to President Kennedy's Letter of May 11, 1961

Enclosed is an English translation of a letter from the President of the United Arab Republic, Gamal Abdel Nasser, which was personally delivered to the Department of State on August 30 by Ambassador Kamel. Also enclosed is a memorandum of conversation of Ambassador Kamel's call on the Department./2/ This letter is in reply to President Kennedy's letter of May 11, 1961.

/2/Neither printed. Nasser's letter is dated August 22.

The letter appears to conform to the pattern of the replies from other Arab leaders, viz: (a) the Arabs are appreciative of President Kennedy's letter; (b) in replying, President Nasser felt it necessary to make the usual remarks about Israel; and (c) the Arab countries nevertheless continue to leave the door open as far as movement on the Palestine question is concerned.

The letter is lengthy and rambling. Factually, it appears to be generally accurate. Frequent references are made for [to] our past support of the Israeli cause in reviewing the history of United States relations with the United Arab Republic. However, the letter broadens its context beyond Israel and places considerable stress on new forces of revolution and nationalism in the Middle East with which President Nasser believes the United States should accommodate itself. President Nasser apparently believes that President Kennedy is appreciative of these new forces and seems to have considerable hope that, in the future, United States policies will recognize these forces. Recognition is given to United States assistance to his country during the Suez crisis and economic aid in the form of wheat shipments and loans that have been provided since 1958.

An expression of gratitude to the Soviet Union for its help in meeting United Arab Republic defense requirements is also included. The forthrightness with which this is asserted is probably in the interest of keeping the message balanced and as a means of answering any Soviet protests that might arise over the message's otherwise friendly tone.

In general, given Arab bitterness regarding Israel and the fact that President Nasser must assume that his letter will eventually be published, we believe that the letter is extraordinarily warm in tone, mild in language, forthcoming, and hopeful for the relations of the two countries in the future. It is quite clear that President Nasser wants to have friendly and continuing contacts with President Kennedy. The letter does not refer to the present approach of the Palestine Conciliation Commission but, by its very absence, it does not close the door to further initiatives with respect to the Palestine question.

The Department's recommendations concerning a reply to the letter will be forwarded shortly./3/

/3/On September 8, the Department of State, with White House approval, instructed the Embassy in Cairo to "take early informal occasion to state to appropriate senior UAR official with access to Nasser that President Kennedy was pleased with friendly tone Nasser's Aug 22 letter. Also pleased at Nasser's forthright denunciation of Soviet resumption nuclear testing and reported efforts secure moderate resolution on German question at Belgrade. Although our views are naturally not totally in accord with Nasser's on a number of issues discussed in the letter and at Belgrade, we nevertheless regard the foregoing actions as concrete, positive contributions to the strengthening of US-UAR relations which US earnestly desires." (Department of State, Central Files, 786B.11/9-861) On September 9, Battle informed Bundy in a memorandum that the Department of State felt no further reply to Nasser's letter was required. (Ibid., 611.86B/9-961)

N.A. Veliotes/4/

/4/Veliotes signed for Battle above Battle's typed signature.

104. Letter From Secretary of State Rusk to the Deputy Secretary of Defense (Gilpatric)

Washington, August 30, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 784A.5611/8-1461. Secret. Drafted by Crawford and cleared by Farley and Kitchen.

Dear Ros: We have read with interest your letter of August 14 forwarding an analysis of the probable impact of the acquisition by Israel of a nuclear weapons capability./2/

/2/See Document 95 and the source note thereto.

This is, as you are aware, a subject we have followed with the greatest attention. We have indicated to Israel at a high level on several occasions our opposition to proliferation of nuclear weapons capabilities. As you know, we sought, and eventually gained, the opportunity to examine the Dimona installation. This examination satisfied us that, for the present, the Government of Israel is not actively engaged in programs aimed at nuclear weapons production. We fully intend to press for future examinations of this sort at appropriate intervals. In addition, the President has been assured by Prime Minister Ben-Gurion that Israel agrees in principle to international visits to its nuclear installations by reputable neutral scientists. Arrangements for such visits are being discussed with the Government of Israel.

Should future developments make this appear desirable, we would not hesitate to re-affirm to Israel in strong terms our belief that it is not in the interest of Israel or of this country that Israel engage in programs aimed at nuclear weapons production. [2-1/2 lines of source text not declassified]

I am hopeful that our continued close attention to this problem along the lines indicated above will prevent the development of a nuclear weapons capacity by Israel.

With warm personal regards,


Dean Rusk/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.

105. Summary of Proceedings of a Meeting of the Iran Task Force

Washington, September 7, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, NEA/GTI Files: Lot 66 D 173, Task Force on Iran. Secret. Drafted by the Task Force's Executive Secretary, Bowling. A September 6 memorandum, drafted by Bowling and sent from Miner to Talbot, contained suggestions for conducting the September 7 Task Force meeting. Attached to it is a State-Defense Working Level Ad Hoc Group report on Recommendation No. 5, approved by the National Security Council (see Document 51), which directed an examination of matters related to the deployment of U.S. forces in the area. (Department of State, NEA/GTI Files: Lot 66 D 173, Task Force on Iran)

A meeting of the Iran Task Force was called by the Chairman for 3:00 p.m., September 7, 1961, to be held in Room 5514, NS. Prior to the meeting, copies of Embassy Tehran's reply to the Department's letter of August 11, 1961, as approved by the Task Force, were distributed to each of the Task Force members./2/ A list of members present at the meeting follows:

/2/Meyer's letter is printed as Enclosure 1 to Document 97. Holmes' August 27 reply is printed as Document 102.

[Here follows a list of the 28 officials at the meeting.]

Mr. Talbot opened the meeting with a description of his recent visit to Iran and his talks with Iranian and American officials. The Shah was ebullient and articulate, but seemed far more interested and excited over military matters than over Iran's political or economic difficulties. He emphasized the difference in the level of U.S. aid to Iran and to Turkey. Mr. Talbot in reply had emphasized to the Shah the importance of Iran's balancing total resources against total needs.

The Prime Minister had not been prepared as to details when he was called upon to assume office. He must meet his problems piecemeal. In the immediate future, political threats to the Prime Minister's objectives are secondary to the economic threats. Apparently his relations with the Shah are good, and Amini hopes to gain even greater support from the Shah on a wide range of issues. He believes that early elections would have catastrophic results; apparently there is growing interest in Iranian official circles in something like Ayub's "guided democracy" theme. Amini does not seem to possess the characteristics of a charismatic popular leader, but he has a good realization of the problems confronting him, is a realist, and is overworked and worried. He does not appear to have a good staff. If he can meet his immediate problems, there is a possibility that a vague body of support can crystallize behind him. He has reduced the military danger to his regime; the possibility of a military coup against him is small, since the military leaders seem now ready to go along with him, and have modified their original resentment and distrust. Other rightist elements seem somewhat more reconciled to Amini than they were a few months ago, although they still hate and fear Agriculture Minister Arsenjani. Amini has not had corresponding success as regards the opposition of the "left", the National Front and similar groups. The Front is badly fragmented, and the government's firm but gentle show of force on 30 Tir seems to have disheartened the Front, which is uncertain whether the Prime Minister is "really bad or just ordinarily bad". In any case there is at present little sign of coalesced organized National Front resistance to the government. The dangers of a serious political break between the Shah and the Prime Minister are lessening. There is little sign of either pro- or anti-Amini activity.

The fiscal and economic situation in Iran is more depressing. Amini inherited a confused and inefficient fiscal organization. The Army and the Shah press for more funds for the military; up to $60 million remains as a gap in the financing of the Second Plan; and the recently negotiated German aid will apparently only cover $20 million of that gap. The current budget, for the year half over, shows a deficit of between $20 and $40 million, and its preparation has been marked by a great deal of confusion and inefficiency. Better budgetary control requires something in the nature of a Budget Bureau, which the Prime Minister is now driving toward. Perhaps by next year a minimum of fiscal discipline will have been introduced. Local government is weak and ineffective while the Third Plan calls for great responsibility on the part of local government units. There is a vague and confusing overlap between the functions of the Plan Organization and the Ministries. Amini seems determined to move ahead with due regard for the law on the problem of corruption in the government, and has been permitted by the Shah to bring up the names of Royal Court officials as necessary in the coming trials. He is genuinely concerned over land reform, but without adequate government services and finance to take over the functions of the landlords, the task will be slow and difficult. Tax reform is moving, but slowly. Iran is not in good health. The U.S. will have to slowly nurse it along, but must avoid creating a sense of dependence on U.S. aid. The Iranian infrastructure, starting from near zero, has improved and is improving. Iran is worth an effort on the part of the U.S., but no panaceas are in sight, and there are no grand slam solutions to its deeply-rooted problems. Iran, incidentally, appeared to be considerably more modernized and prosperous, both in the city and the countryside, than is India.

On Mr. Talbot's request, Mr. Miklos/3/ briefed the Task Force on the economic situation. Mr. Miklos emphasized that as regards the financing of the Second Plan, we cannot request additional U.S. development lending until we are certain what the final result of German aid lending will be. Our Ambassador is pushing for a government-wide Iranian evaluation of the exact meaning of the German aid protocol, and for a reopening by the Iranians of the negotiations if this evaluation shows the present protocol to be as unhelpful as is presently indicated. At such time, we would be able to back up the Iranian request to the Germans.

/3/Of the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs.

Mr. Welk/4/ asked Mr. Miklos why we should not approach the Germans now, and Mr. Miklos replied that we felt it would be improper for us to do so until the Iranians themselves had opened the question.

/4/Of the Export-Import Bank.

Mr. Miklos went on to say that it now appeared far more likely than it did a few weeks ago that we would have to support the Iranian budget for the current year, but that we could not pinpoint the requirement until after a joint U.S.-Iranian task force in Tehran had completed a detailed analysis of the budget problem.

Mr. Komer said that he detected in the Task Force a "cycle of concern". We looked ahead a few months ago with great concern, taking a long-range point of view. Now that we note that Iran is getting along from day to day, coping with its immediate problems, we must keep in mind the long-range prognosis. Perhaps the Embassy, in its reply now before the Task Force, is slightly more optimistic than we have been. The problem is, granting the necessity of full support of Amini's long-range problem--what can we do? There can be no sudden quick solution. Our actions will probably have to be many and small, and some of them may not work, and even have unfavorable results. I am somewhat reassured by Mr. Talbot's impressions, and it appears that there is no immediate crisis in Iran. There is the question of lead time, however, both as regards the delays inevitably encountered both in our government and in that of Iran, on the implementation of new action programs. I think we should consider what we should start now which may not come to fruition for a long time but which will assist in meeting long-range problems. If political prospects in Iran are reasonably bright, then a liberal U.S. response to Iran's economic and financial needs is indicated.

Mr. Talbot said that he felt Iran was definitely in a crisis, but that the crisis was not solely of politics or of economics, but of political economy, and that the current evidences of the crisis are in the fiscal aspects of the political economy of Iran. We must not forget that unless the day-to-day crises are overcome, the long-range chances will be lost, and I still feel that the Amini regime offers the best long-range hope for Iran. The question of political glamorization of the regime is probably not as important as the improvement of the institutional structure, which would provide Amini with better tools and freedom to act on the long-range political problems.

Mr. Hansen/5/ remarked that he was only in Iran for about eight hours, but he did get to talk at length with several officials. The central problem of the Amini government is that it did not know the nature of its instrumentalities, such as the abysmally incompetent Finance Ministry. The installation of a Budget Bureau will solve nothing in itself. Will the budget bureau have real control over funds, control based on sound financial and economic plans? Should the Plan Organization control the capital budget or should the hypothetical "budget bureau" act on the basis of a plan? Putting real power into the Prime Minister's office is no answer until you see who is wielding that power. The key institution is economic planning.

/5/Of the Bureau of the Budget.

Dr. Lardner/6/ asked if Mr. Hansen had seen any indication of improved fiscal control measures in the Iranian military. Mr. Hansen replied that it appeared that there was attention being given to the problem and that there was some movement, but few signs of solid progress.

/6/Of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.

Mr. Talbot then distributed copies of a draft memorandum (copy attached)/7/ to the White House from the Department of State which constituted a reply to the White House memorandum of August 7,/8/ and which was based largely upon the Embassy's letters of August 27 and invited a discussion of the Embassy's letters.

/7/Not printed.

/8/Document 94.

Mr. Hansen said that the Embassy's document is essentially a do-nothing approach, advocating no political action but waiting for the dust to settle. The document can only be termed a negative analysis.

Mr. Komer said that we must decide whether or not we are doing all that we can. He felt that there were two basic alternative attitudes which we could take. We could either say that we are now doing what we can, or we could take an active attitude by launching further follow-on actions beyond what we are now doing but in the general direction of the Task Force's earlier actions. The first course is doubtless defensible, but I favor the second.

Mr. Hansen remarked that another way of putting it is that we can either shore up Amini, recognizing that he can best solve his own problems in his own way, or we can go in closely with action programs, sitting down with Amini and telling him that if he takes such and such a specific action, we will take such and such an action. If we take this bold approach it is true that we commit ourselves. But the Embassy's reply and this draft memorandum reflect negativism and the passive approach to a problem. Could we not direct the students of Iran to positive attitudes and actions? Could we not work actively with moderate middle class elements fighting corruption? Fiscal reform must be a clear condition of United States aid. Are we ready to come to grips with the problem of the military? We should immediately devise a program for land reform legislation, laying the problem of land distribution temporarily aside. The Embassy's approach is a negativistic defense of the status quo, and conveys no sense of crisis.

Mr. Thurston/9/ said that it seemed to him a basic question as to whether or not we wanted to build our program around the Shah, or to work for a reduction in the power of the Shah.

/9/Of the Department of State's Operations Center.

Mr. Talbot replied that the Task Force had built its original recommendations around Prime Minister Amini, with the goal of broadening the power base in Iran in the direction of the Cabinet and the Prime Minister and away from the Shah.

Mr. Bennett/10/ said that perhaps other financial measures are still unexplored, and that the flight of capital may be a hole in the barrel. Better financial controls in Iran would possibly reduce the demand on our own resources. Perhaps we could force the formation of a committee to manage Iran's external financial resources and prevent drains on our resources; too little attention has been given to remedial measures.

/10/Of the International Cooperation Administration.

Mr. Spain said that the main pressures on the Iranian government sprang from the Nationalist Left. Without consideration of Amini's competence in handling financial problems, there is grave doubt that he is capable of handling this opposition, which is only temporarily quiescent. The hypothesis that political problems could be set aside in favor of the solution of financial and economic issues is open to question. Amini's political base of support is becoming narrower, but can we not take more positive action on remedial measures on the problem of leftist pressures? If I were Amini, I would have gone much further left than Amini did; I would not, for example, have muzzled Arsenjani. Perhaps some degree of increase in the power of the National Front would be useful.

Mr. Stoops/11/ said that each year for years we have talked of fiscal reforms in Iran but we end up by bailing the Iranians out again without any reforms. Unless we can drive home the necessity of reforms, Iran will not be in the Free World for long.

/11/Of the Development Loan Fund.

Mr. Talbot said that we are faced with the problem of immediate action in Iran to face an immediate crisis. We have had a gendarmerie mission in Iran for twenty years, but the gendarmerie still takes bribes. The question is not just whether or not to continue subsidizing Iran. The essence of the problem in Iran is one of social discipline and the nature of the political forces there. It is not a question of whether or not we give budget support. It is a question of whether or not we can work at improving the institutional structure while we continue to assist the regime financially. Institutional improvements as they occur will improve the political situation. Political and economic actions are interrelated. Our Ambassador is continually pounding hard at the Prime Minister as to the necessity of action on the malaise of fiscal control, on the demonstration of government sincerity in the corruption cases, and so on.

Mr. Hansen said that the Embassy's comments indicate that it expects little response from these pressures. In the past, we have been credited with huge influence even when we had very little. I advocate our overt association with political change in an orderly comprehensive way with specific prescriptions for positive programs. We must provide the direction for these programs, even to the point of public association with them, in which case we would at least be blamed for what we actually do, not, as in the past, for everything that happens. Desirable action programs would consist of a statement of our objectives, the way in which the program is to be advanced, and a statement of the nature and extent of our assistance in advancing the program. The IMF stabilization program is essentially good, and is the kind of thing I am talking about. The Embassy's response to our questions is extremely disappointing to me.

Mr. Welk suggested that if such approaches be tried they be tried in areas least likely to cause a political disaster.

Mr. Hansen replied that the action program must be a broad one which would involve risks of all kinds.

Mr. Welk suggested that Mr. Hansen provide the Task Force with a more specific outline of just what he had in mind.

Mr. Hansen said that one can't make such detailed and realistic plans from Washington. They have to come from the Country Team, and I see in this response little to make me sanguine about realistic planning coming from that source.

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] suggested four courses of action which might improve the situation and which we have not yet attempted. First, a strong U.S. attempt to influence Iranian students and teachers through influencing international student and teacher groups with U.S. components; Second, to shore up Amini through influencing the intelligence positions of friendly governments; Third, to realign our aid to Iran and coordinate it in the direction of the building of lightly armed military organizations effective in maintaining internal security; and Fourth, to take more active steps on the covert level to find and develop a moderate nucleus of moderate middle class political leadership, since the long-range future lies with the middle class, and we cannot risk truly remaining aloof and aligning ourselves only with the Shah, the Army, and Amini.

Mr. Talbot said that these suggestions were interesting but tricky, particularly the last item. Amini has survived, and this in itself has been a success. Obviously the middle class must eventually become more identified with the government, but the time scale is doubtful.

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] replied that the two latter points were long-range, but we could at least start them now.

Mr. Bowling remarked that for years our Mission has been under instruction to attempt to locate, for possible build-up and support, realistic moderate middle class leadership, but it has so far not been able to come up with anything.

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] said that he was contemplating something more direct and specific.

Mr. Thurston asked if elements of the military could not serve as this type of middle-class leadership.

Mr. Spain, quoting from the National Intelligence Estimate, said that there is some potential, but not much, as compared with a country like Pakistan, in the military for real political leadership.

Dr. Lardner said that he thought the group was overlooking some unpleasant realities. He pointed out that the Government of Iran was sovereign, and mentioned a previous U.S. Ambassador who had tried to pressure the Shah to specific action and had immediately lost all his influence and effectiveness. There is a limit as to how hard and fast we can push on these things. We must also be more specific. How much can you achieve in a certain period? On the matter of the budget, can you find the men you need in a hurry? We may be ignoring details to a dangerous degree. We cannot continue to talk in generalities. To come to a decision, we must have something concrete to study. Perhaps it would be too risky politically, perhaps not, but we can't decide on the basis of generalities. Perhaps we on the Task Force are deficient in not working up more specific proposals for action. Everyone talks in generalities but waits for someone else to come up with specific proposals.

Mr. Komer said that we cannot wait forever, and that our approach must be frankly experimental. In a time of crisis one must take risks, and perhaps play by ear, never knowing exactly what the result would be. We should explore low-confidence options in this type of situation.

Dr. Lardner said that, for example, we agree that improvement in the judiciary would be desirable--the question remains how one goes about it. And is it remotely achievable in time to affect the political crisis?

Mr. Polk/12/ said that the important thing was comprehensiveness; even uncompleted actions could have beneficial political results.

/12/Of the Policy Planning Council.

Mr. Hansen said that in the Task Force we established a general line of action. If the Embassy had come back with an affirmative reply, we could have come up with specific plans. But this Embassy response brings me to a halt. If the Country Team is incapable of devising policy it is probably incapable of implementing policy. I'm for a real action program, but much of both the genesis and execution of such a program must come from the field.

Mr. Talbot said that it is clear from the Embassy response that our tentative Washington appraisal of the fiscal problem was over-optimistic. The Prime Minister has a sense of the problem but not a lively sense of it. We must act, when we act, through the existing crisis, which is now expressed in fiscal and economic terms. If we ignore this, we would be deviating from our own recommendations. In the nature of our response to the immediate crisis must be the seeds of longer-term progress which will result in Amini coming out stronger, broader based, and with broader support from the Shah. Our response to this immediate crisis must be such as to provide alternatives to its repetition. The Embassy paper does not seem to me to be do-nothing. The Ambassador is feeling his way into the situation. Our field people have decisiveness and vigor of leadership. The field is now actively engaged in re-evaluating and changing our economic aid pattern.

Mr. Komer said that Task Force could be a useful tool for packaging an effective instrument to meet the crisis in Iran. I see no signs that we are out of the framework of crisis action.

Mr. Talbot said that the crisis is one which has deep and fundamental roots.

Mr. Bennett noted that the Central Bank was not playing the role that it should in Iran, and that Amini had fired a good chief of that Bank and put in a poor one. Mr. Komer asked if we could continue to rely on the normal processes of diplomacy as envisaged in the draft memorandum and in the Embassy's response, and if we should not move in strongly and immediately on such questions as that of the head of the Central Bank.

Mr. Talbot noted that our NSC-approved instructions were to move "positively but discreetly", and that the word "discreetly" had been inserted after a thorough discussion. We should push actions at the wholesale and not at the retail level.

Mr. Hansen remarked that we had assumed that Amini would play in the direction of the National Front, and that he had not done so. We misevaluated him; he is acting as a typical Persian Prime Minister.

Mr. Komer said that perhaps we must choose between too much pressure and presence or none at all.

Mr. Talbot said that we are expecting further information on the nature and extent of the two upcoming financial-economic problems, and that our response will be affected by the final shape of this year's foreign aid legislation. In about the next three weeks we must all study ways in which we can respond to the present crisis in such a way as to advance toward a solution of basic problems.

Mr. Hansen suggested that an "issues" paper be written and that the Task Force then break up into "action groups", in order to speed up the machinery.

Mr. Talbot said that when we have firm information on the fiscal and economic problems, we can devise the best possible responses. Before closing the meeting, Mr. Talbot directed that a short NEA memorandum be distributed (copy attached)./13/

/13/Not printed.

Mr. Talbot indicated that another meeting of the Task Force would be called within three weeks to consider specific Iranian requirements for additional financial assistance, whenever the necessary information should be available. He asked members of the Task Force to consider in the meantime various alternatives as to the U.S. response.

106. Editorial Note

On September 9, 1961, Secretary Rusk in a memorandum to President Kennedy requested the President's authority to raise the Consulate in Kuwait to Embassy status and head it with a Chargé d'Affaires ad interim, but to defer designating an Ambassador. Rusk indicated that on September 5, the Kuwaiti Government, whose independent status the United States recognized, had requested the establishment of diplomatic relations. The Secretary noted that the newly-appointed British Ambassador to Kuwait was scheduled to present his credentials on September 12, pursuant to an agreement between the United Kingdom and Kuwait reached on August 22 to exchange Ambassadors. According to the Secretary, a number of other countries, including several from the eastern part of the Arab world, were expected to establish diplomatic relations with Kuwait in the near future.

Rusk also explained:

"In view of the close and cordial relations which we have maintained with Kuwait ever since an American Consulate was established there in 1951, and in view of the substantial American oil investment in Kuwait itself, as well as in the Kuwaiti half of the Kuwaiti-Saudi Neutral Zone, we believe that it is in our interests to accede to the Kuwaiti request promptly." (Department of State, Central Files, 611.86D/9-961)

The White House approved Secretary Rusk's request on September 13. (Ibid.) On September 22, the Governments of the United States and Kuwait announced that they were establishing diplomatic relations. (Telegram 207 to Kuwait, September 22; ibid., 611.86D/9-2261, and telegram 22 from Kuwait, September 22; ibid., 686D.00/9-2261) The Embassy in Kuwait was established the same day with Dayton S. Mak serving as Chargé d'Affaires.

107. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Talbot) to Acting Secretary of State Bowles

Washington, September 11, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786B.11/9-1161. Confidential. Drafted by Thacher and cleared by Little (A). Sent through Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs Johnson.

Recommendation Regarding Visit by President Nasser


You have raised the question in regard to Mr. Johnson's memorandum of August 17, 1961 (Tab A)/2/ as to what should be done regarding an invitation to President Nasser if he should decide to come to the United Nations General Assembly this fall.

/2/In this memorandum to Secretary Rusk, August 17, Deputy Under Secretary for Political Affairs Johnson pointed out that the principal objection to inviting Nasser at this point to visit the United States during 1962 was the long lead time, because the world situation or Nasser's behavior might change during the interim. A handwritten notation by Rusk on this memorandum reads: "Agree. DR. But if he comes to UN?" (Ibid.) On August 31, Johnson replied to Rusk that if Nasser attended the U.N. General Assembly session he should be treated in a manner similar to that being given to other chiefs of state and heads of government attending the session, that is, that he be invited for a meeting with the President either in Washington or New York. (Ibid., 786B.11/8-3161)

While we have as yet no information on whether or not he will come to the UNGA, the President has made it clear (National Security Action Memorandum No. 84, Tab B)/3/ that he would want to see Nasser here in Washington. This, of course, coincides fully with our own view that the President should meet with Nasser if the latter were indeed to come to New York.

/3/NSAM No. 84 is a memorandum from President Kennedy to Bundy, August 28, regarding "Specific State Visits." The first sentence of the memorandum that deals with six different visits reads: "It seems to me that if Nasser comes to the General Assembly that he should be invited to Washington to have lunch with me."

At the same time we believe such a meeting should not be considered a substitute for a more formal and complete visit to this country by the UAR President. We feel certain that Nasser himself, in spite of his brief stay in New York last fall, would like very much to enjoy the prestige and opportunity for contact with American leaders which a longer visit would permit. Practically every other world figure of comparable stature has been invited at one time or another to be an official guest of the United States. A visit would represent an appropriate evolution in the present relatively favorable atmosphere of our relations with the UAR.

However, the matter of timing is important and, if properly handled, we believe the prospect of the visit, as well as the visit itself, can obtain for us some political advantage. The following method of handling a Nasser visit is suggested:

1. When it becomes apparent that Nasser is not coming to the General Assembly, we should authorize Ambassador Badeau to make a general reference at an appropriate time and in the course of some other discussion with the UAR President to President Kennedy's hope that it may be possible for Nasser some time to visit the United States. Such an indication of our intention to issue an invitation would tend to encourage continuance of the present favorable atmosphere in US-UAR relations.

2. If the present atmosphere in US-UAR relations continues to prevail, we would suggest about the first of March that Ambassador Badeau be authorized to convey a firm invitation for President Nasser to come to this country as a guest of the President for about two weeks/4/ to arrive here about the first week in June. Other dates more convenient to you and the President might be equally satisfactory to Nasser. However, it might be preferable to have the Nasser visit occur before commencement of the 1962 election campaign.

/4/An asterisk in the source text refers to the following handwritten concurrence from Samuel L. King in the office of the Chief of Protocol: "If invited for State Visit, should be for 10 days incl 3 in Washington".

3. Prior to issuing the invitation, appropriate officers at the White House or in the Department would approach leading figures among groups in this country friendly to Israel with an explanation of the intent and purposes of the Nasser visit to seek their cooperation.


That you approve in principle the above method of handling the visit, for each step of which your specific advance approval would be sought./5/

/4/Bowles initialed his approval of the recommendation on September 20. On September 25, Ambassador Badeau reported that, according to Ali Sabri, Nasser had no plans to visit the U.N. General Assembly in the fall because the situation was so confused that Nasser did not feel that he could make a contribution. Badeau recommended that an invitation be issued to Nasser now to visit the United States in the spring. (Department of State, Central Files, 786B.11/9-2561)

108. Memorandum by Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff

Washington, September 13, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 788.5/9-1361. Top Secret. A handwritten note on the source text reads: "from Komer." Another notation on the source text, which reads, "President, From," was apparently made by Department of State recordkeepers and refers to the Department of State indexing category for White House documents.


We now confront what may be a two-pronged problem in Iran. In addition to the longer-term adverse internal trend, there is now reason to believe that the Soviets may seek to put pressure on Iran in connection with the Berlin crisis.

/2/On September 9, the Embassy in Tehran in telegram 225 conveyed an account of a recent meeting between Prime Minister Amini and Soviet Ambassador to Iran Pegov during which Pegov maintained that certain Baghdad Pact documents, which the Soviet Union had in its possession and which Iran maintained were forgeries, revealed that Iran and other CENTO powers had plans to attack the Soviet Union. Pegov indirectly threatened strong action against Iran unless it withdrew from CENTO. (Department of State, Central Files, 378.75/9-961)

Therefore, it is essential that we do some urgent contingency planning against this possibility. The first step might be to do up a paper by the end of this week, perhaps according to the following outline.

I. Estimate of the Situation.

Assessment of indications from all sources that the Soviets might be contemplating some form of pressure. Estimate of what forms this might take, up to and including overt aggression under cover of the 1921 Treaty./3/

/3/Treaty of Friendship, between Persia and Russia, Moscow, February 26, 1921; see British and Foreign State Papers, vol. 114, pp. 901-907.

II. Counter-Measures Open to Us.

We should examine the whole spectrum of possible counters to the above, ranging freely at the outset.

A. Methods of Warning the USSR. Public exchange of letters between President and Shah reaffirming US commitment; unilateral US statements; visible contingency planning; joint maneuvers; warnings from other CENTO members or CENTO itself; etc.

B. Precautionary Moves. Many of these will of course tie in to the warning aspect, and reinforce its credibility. Joint planning with GOI for rapid movement of American forces (we must consider angle of frightening Iranians unduly in all of these possible moves); visit of high-ranking US military personalities, perhaps Chief of Staff of CMPS; actual movement of token US forces ahead of the event, e.g. an air wing under guise of extended maneuvers; logistic preparations for receipt of US forces.

C. Urgent Review of Contingency Plans. We should undertake a crash review of how we could react militarily in event of various Soviet moves actually coming to pass. This is particularly urgent in the light of competing requirements for SEA and Berlin. How much could we really afford to deploy to or near Iran? How quickly could we move? In this connection we should bear in mind that prompt precautionary moves or reaction in event of a Soviet move will have a much greater deterrent effect than a much larger-scale reaction after a period has elapsed. Thus the emphasis in all of the planning in A through C above should be on forestalling action, designed to deter a Soviet move before it really gets rolling.

III. Coordination With UK and CENTO Members.

How much of this should we undertake?

IV. Keeping Up Iranian Morale.

In all of the above we should bear in mind that the minimum Soviet objective would probably be to panic the Iranians into withdrawing from CENTO and perhaps causing the fall of Amini Government. Our own warnings and other signs of evident concern, if not properly handled might actually contribute to this panic. Hence we should very carefully assess the psychological impact in Iran of whatever we might do.

109. Memorandum for the Record

Washington, September 28, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 683.00/9-2861. Secret. Drafted by William B. Grant of the Executive Secretariat.


Assistant Secretary Talbot called S/S this evening at 7:15 p.m. to report the following assessment of the situation in Syria.
/2/ Major units of the Syrian armed forces have gone over to the rebels and have taken control of military stations and important areas in the city of Damascus. In Mr. Talbot's view this places Nasser in an almost impossible box. If he accepts what has happened in Syria, he will lose whatever status he has achieved not only in the United Arab Republic but also as the leader of the Arab world. On the other hand if he attempts to crush the rebellion he will confront considerable military difficulties in doing so because of the problems of distance and geography. Such an effort would be an admission of the failures of his own policies to integrate Syria into the UAR. Our first preference, if there is any kind of strife or open conflict which develops between Nasser's troops and the armed forces in Syria, would be to use our influence to limit such strife to civil war. We would thus use our every effort to forestall active interference by third parties. It is the Department's conclusion from studying biographic reference material on the coup leaders, that the leaders of this rebellion are the same people as those who planned a coup a year ago. [4 lines of source text not declassified] However, it is the Department's belief that King Hussein has been caught completely by surprise by the present coup./3/

/2/Earlier on September 28, Talbot had requested the Department of State Operations Center to initiate a watch on the situation in Syria. (Memorandum from Thurston (S/O) to Johnson (G), September 28; ibid.)

/3/In telegram 28 from Amman, received at 3:10 p.m. on September 28, Ambassador Macomber reported that he had met with King Hussein at 3:30 p.m. Amman time and found the King "thoroughly puzzled re what actually happening Syria and, on basis latest radio reports, distinctly pessimistic re success coup effort." The King said he had decided not to move troops into the northern part of Jordan, and if he decided to do so later, it would be only for defensive purposes. King Hussein later telephoned Macomber to say that, after hearing radio reports indicating the coup had a better chance of success than he had thought, he had decided to move some troops into the northern areas of Jordan. (Ibid., 786B.00/9-2861)

The question now is whether Nasser will send troops into Syria and if so whether King Hussein will order Jordanian troops to come to the assistance of the rebels. If so it seems quite possible that Israel would move troops to the west bank of the Jordan river. Mr. Talbot pointed out that in general the question of movement of troops now is one of pure speculation and conjecture. However there is a report that Hussein has moved some troops to the northern part of Jordan along the Syrian border. There is also a report that Iraq has moved some forces toward the Syrian border although they are sufficiently insignificant to have little effect on the situation. In view of the above possibilities the Department:

(a) is publicly viewing the conflict as strictly an internal matter;/4/

/4/In circular telegram 599, September 28, 6:15 p.m., the Department cautioned posts to take the utmost care in public and private discussions to avoid reflecting any bias for or against Nasser and the UAR as opposed to an independent Syria. The telegram noted: "Whereas US by no means favors build-up of Nasser neither does it wish in current circumstances to give impression trying weaken his position or rejoicing at blow to his prestige occasioned by present situation. FYI. We believe breakup UAR is not in US interest since an independent Syrian Government likely to be affected with same or worse chaos and rivalry that existed prior to union. End FYI. If queried regarding US attitude posts should state USG regards matter as one of internal origin in which USG hopes there will be no external intervention." (Ibid.)

(b) does not expect any immediate resolution of the situation;

(c) is not sending any messages to the UAR;

(d) is watching the situation closely;

(e) is instructing our missions in Jordan and Israel to exercise a cautionary influence upon the governments to which they are accredited;/5/

/5/The Department instructed the Embassy in Tel Aviv in telegram 193, September 28, 6:25 p.m., that, while the United States did not object to the British Ambassador urging restraint on Israel, "at present we do not wish make approach to GOI ourselves. Department believes peaceful reconciliation between Nasser and Syrian military is solution which would impose least strain on area stability. If Israel strikes attitudes or moves forces in manner which in your judgment might increase tensions, you are authorized inform GOI that USG appreciates their apprehension and determination to insure their own security. However, USG assumes any moves deemed necessary will be made in way that cannot be misunderstood. Given Arabs' deep-seated suspicion Israel's territorial ambitions such misunderstanding easily created." (Ibid.) The instructions to Amman were sent in telegram 116, Document 111.

(f) is studying evacuation plans in that area in the event they should prove to be necessary.

The 6th fleet is in the area and is scheduled to visit Beirut on Tuesday. However the Admiral in charge of the fleet is aware of the political difficulties that might ensue in the event that he moves in sight of land. Consequently he is maintaining close contact with the appropriate authorities in Washington./6/

/6/According to the September 28 memorandum from Thurston to Johnson, the essence of the guidance given by NEA to the Pentagon liaison officer was that "the fleet might wish to deploy more forces in the Eastern Mediterranean on a provisional basis, this to be done quietly. In general, every effort will be made to avoid the appearance of any external intervention."

Mr. Bundy has been informed of the above assessment by Mr. Talbot and will presumably pass it on to the President.

Concerning the general orientation of the coup leaders Mr. Talbot indicated that they were rather conservative and fairly well disposed toward the West (albeit within a Syrian context). However Mr. Talbot regarded this as small consolation in view of the considerable repercussions which might occur throughout the Near East if Nasser's position and prestige were seriously weakened as the result of this rebellion.


110. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington, September 28, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Country Series, United Arab Republic, 7/61-10/61. Secret. The source text is labeled "9:15 PM Situation Report."

The UAR Crisis

It looks as if Nasr has burned his bridges and is determined to snuff out revolt (this based on his unequivocal speech and intercepts of Amir talk, not any actual movement reports yet).

In turn, Syrians have come out squarely repudiating UAR and condemning Nasr exploitation.

The die seems cast. What do we do? State sees Nasr facing three tough choices: (a) Give up; (b) compromise; (c) attack. State doubts latter but I'm not so sure at all. State is sending out cables urging restraint and non-intervention on Jordan, Turkey, Israel. State feels two sides should be left to fight their own civil war, and that worst course would be to let it become an international war. State feels any Syrian regime likely to be unstable; while present crew may seem all right, who will ride in on their coattails?

Again, I wonder. One alternative would be as follows:

(a) US itself does nothing overtly. First, it seems unnecessary; second, we cannot afford to be caught favoring either side. Sixth Fleet should stay at Rhodes.

(b) We encourage Jordan, Turkey, perhaps Iraq, to assure privately new Syrian regime of their support, and to be prepared to do so publicly, if necessary. This to deter Nasr and reassure Syrians they not alone. But, no one should move yet.

(c) Above adds up to covert encouragement of new Syrian regime, on grounds that split from UAR of a reasonably pro-West military regime [1-1/2 lines of source text not declassified] would be a good idea, but we should not be tarred with brush of instigating it.

Risks: If Nasr attacks Syria, and Jordan responds by entering Syria, then Israelis might move to west bank of Jordan. This would really put fat in fire.

Nasr's capabilities, air and amphibious, seem limited if Syrians really united around new crew. He would have to get beachhead or airhead in Latakia-Aleppo area in north, and then move on Damascus. But if Syrians divided and Nasr can pick up considerable support in Syria, his chances much better.

In sum--let not the left hand know what the right is doing.

111. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Jordan

Washington, September 28, 1961, 10:33 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786B.00/9-2861. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Strong, cleared by Miner and Talbot in substance, and approved by Strong who signed for Bowles. Also sent to Ankara, Tel Aviv, and London and repeated to Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad, Jidda, Paris, Rome, Damascus, Jerusalem, and USUN.

116. [3 lines of source text not declassified] Group now appears to have that degree control as result rally to it of all major commands in Syria. Hussein's character would lead us believe he would not lightly be deterred from use of military force if required to support Syrians.

Nasser appears to have placed himself in serious dilemma by refusal compromise. As result Syrians now appear be determined on independence. Three choices available to Nasser: 1) let Syria go 2) seek compromise 3) endeavor regain Syria by military force. We unsure what course Nasser will choose. Whatever course he follows will have serious consequence for him. If he chooses use of force, chain reaction might ignite area in that Hussein might feel obliged move and Israel might seek exploit situation. We are of view that if Nasser is to use force he must do so rapidly. Therefore if there is to be serious situation it may come quickly.

We believe we cannot usefully endeavor to influence Nasser's decision and wish to exert our efforts in direction limiting conflict, if any, to civil war.

For Amman: Ambassador should see King soonest with or without concerting with UK colleague/2/ and state generally following: USG understands his concern with developments in Syria and his desire support those elements friendly to Jordan. Must be pointed out however that if Egyptian forces employed in Syria and Jordanian forces move into Syria to oppose them King is likely to contribute to a catastrophe that will engulf area, have unforeseeable outcome for Jordan itself and have wider consequences than simple intra-Arab conflict of interests. USG as strong supporter of independence, integrity and economic viability of Jordan cannot refrain from using strongest terms to dissuade Hussein from intervening in Syria under any circumstances. Hussein knows of our desire continue strong political economic and political support and must understand consequences his action would entail.

/2/Ambassador J.P.E.C. Henniker-Major.

FYI. We do not wish make any threat cut off aid. However, Israeli exploitation of Arab difficulties cannot be discounted. Amman should inform Tel Aviv and Department soonest whenever Jordanian troops known to have been ordered into Syria.

For Tel Aviv: If it becomes apparent that Egyptians intend move forces into Syria, and/or should Jordan move to support Syrian insurgents, Ambassador should see Ben-Gurion soonest with or without concerting with UK colleague and convey our strong belief that every effort must be made limit conflict. We count on Israel contribute to prevention of potential catastrophe by extreme circumspection in taking internal military precautions and by refraining from provocative public statements. It is in clear interest of Israel to cooperate with USG in preventing enlargement of conflict.

For Ankara: Ambassador authorized make any approach to Turkish Government he deems necessary or advisable in light our objective and Turkish posture. In any discussion with Turks Ambassador authorized make use of first part this message in broad terms.

For London: Embassy authorized inform FonOff in general terms of our concern, action we propose take in Amman and contingency instructions to Tel Aviv and Ankara. We tend doubt Iraq in position to or has capability of intervening in Syria at present.

[1 paragraph (1-1/2 lines of source text) not declassified]

Department not yet convinced that Nasser will see military action against Syrians as best of alternatives open to him in present circumstances. However, this telegram constitutes guide for action should developments lead to military moves by any Arab forces.


112. Memorandum of Conversation

Washington, September 29, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 325.84/9-2961. Confidential; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Crawford (NEA/NE) on October 5.

Dr. Johnson's Mission to the Middle East

/2/Between September 1 and 17, Johnson visited the following Near Eastern cities: Beirut September 1-3, for talks with UNRWA Director Davis; Amman September 4-7, for talks with Jordanian Foreign Minister Talhouni; Beirut September 8-10, for talks with Lebanese Foreign Minister Takla; Cairo September 10-13, for talks with UAR Foreign Minister Fawzi; Israel September 13-16, for talks with Israeli leaders; Amman September 16-17, for talks with Jordanian Prime Minister Talhouni. Additional documentation on Johnson's trip is ibid., 325.84. See also Supplement, the compilation on the Arab-Israeli dispute.

Dr. Joseph E. Johnson, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Special Representative of the Palestine Conciliation Commission
IO--Assistant Secretary Harlan Cleveland
NEA--Assistant Secretary Phillips Talbot

Dr. Johnson said he assumed the Department has received a report from USUN of his interim, oral report to the Palestine Conciliation Commission on September 26./3/ On the surface, there has been no change in public attitudes toward the refugee problem on the part of host governments or Israel. The Arabs insist on repatriation as the sine qua non of any movement; the Israelis insist there can be no repatriation without a change in basic Arab attitudes toward Israel. In effect, each side says action depends on the other. At the same time, there does appear a real possibility--"not a great possibility and certainly not a probability"--that an individual working over a period of several months, exploring, needling, making the parties aware of UN and US concern, might achieve some progress. Even so, a hard core of refugees will remain for at least 15 years, requiring a continuation of UNRWA or its equivalent. A substitute in the form of contributions to governments to enable them to care for the refugees is simply not practical.

/3/Johnson reported to Secretary Rusk on his mission during a meeting at USUN in New York on September 26. The memorandum of conversation is in Department of State, Secretary's Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330. Telegram 918 from USUN, September 26, contained a summary of Johnson's interim report. (Ibid., Central Files, 825.84/9-2661) For text, see Supplement, the compilation on the Arab-Israeli dispute. Johnson submitted his final report to the General Assembly on November 24. (U.N. doc. A/4921/Add.1) See Document 140.

Mr. Cleveland remarked that we are very cautious about a hasty extension of UNRWA's mandate. It is the only leverage we have with the Arabs.

Dr. Johnson said he recognized this to be the case, although he cannot feel our financial support of UNRWA is a very effective lever.

Dr. Johnson said he had not, at first, been convinced of the desirability of appointing an American as Special Representative of the PCC. His trip had convinced him that the job must be undertaken by an American. Any movement toward solution must at some point involve United States Government action or the parties will have no faith in US willingness to follow through. Dr. Johnson said he believes his own degree of association with the U.S. Government has perhaps been ideal. It is known that he is acquainted with officers in the Department, yet his connection is neither too close nor too visible. Dr. Johnson commented that he believes the decision not to send a Department officer with him as escort was entirely right. The presence of such an officer would have identified him with this Government to an undesirable degree. As it was, Mr. Moe of the UNRWA staff had been a most helpful and well-informed companion. The efficiency of UN and UNRWA administrative support had been extremely gratifying. American diplomatic representatives had also been most helpful and demonstrated a sympathetic understanding of the Special Representative's need to protect his identity as a UN emissary.

Responding to questions from those present, Dr. Johnson said it was clear to him that the Arabs had not coordinated their positions in advance of his arrival. Obviously, Lebanese suggestions that "resettlement" means settlement only within the confines of former Palestine were motivated by special domestic considerations. Jordan showed itself the country most anxious to resolve the refugee problem on realistic terms. Perhaps the least rewarding of the conversations which had taken place was that with UAR Foreign Minister Fawzi. The talk with Prime Minister Ben-Gurion was the "roughest". So harsh did Ben-Gurion become that at one point Dr. Johnson said he had considered walking out, if only for tactical purposes. Interestingly enough, Ben-Gurion had sent a note of apology: apparently an unusual step for him.

Compensation of refugees, per se, constitutes no problem in the minds of people of the area, either Israeli or Arab, since they are convinced the US will foot the bill. It is equally clear that compensation is not enough. It will help only a very small number of the refugees. Something will have to be done for the others to make them feel that they are being "compensated" and that they are receiving something with which to make a new start.

In terms of specifics, the "hunch" is that Israel might accept somewhere up to 10,000 refugees per year for an initial period of 2 or 3 years provided there were some movement on the Arab side as well. The refugees must be given a meaningful choice, not just an alternative between remaining in the camps or going to Israel. They must be given a chance to see what Israel has become. When they have the opportunity of meaningful choice, their true wishes must be ascertained, perhaps by something along the lines of the Upper Silesia referendum. In the end, of course, any solution may be rejected by the Arabs on political grounds, as was Eric Johnston's Jordan waters plan; "still, the effort is worth a try".

Dr. Johnson said he had informed the Secretary, in confidence, that he intends to frame his report to the PCC as if he were discontinuing his connection with the refugee problem. It would genuinely be very difficult to disregard his responsibilities to the Carnegie Endowment if, despite the nature of his report, there should be a request that he continue to engage himself in the problem after the Assembly session.

113. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Jordan

Washington, September 29, 1961, 9:45 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786B.00/9-2961. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Strong, cleared by Collopy (S/S), and approved by Talbot who initialed for Bowles. Repeated to Ankara, Tel Aviv, London, Cairo, Beirut, Baghdad, Jidda, Paris, Rome, Damascus, Jerusalem, USUN for the Mission and the Secretary, Athens, Rabat, Tripoli, Khartoum, Tunis, Algiers, Tangier, Casablanca, Bonn, Moscow, Karachi, and New Delhi.

120. At time Deptel 116 to Amman/2/ was sent situation in Syria unclear and Department believed that if Nasser hoped to employ military force successfully against rebels he would have to move at once. Nasser did order invasion and pulled back either as result of change of heart or inability of advance force gain foothold. Having failed in attempted use of force Nasser now appears to have accepted separation of Syria and danger of military action may have passed. Instructions to Amman in reftel therefore superseded by events. What course Nasser will follow in effort recover prestige not yet evident. We hope that his non-aligned colleagues, without suggestions from us, will persuade him in direction of restraint. Department desires pursue normal relationships with him and with his government. We do not propose to offer him counsel. Should new regime in Syria request our recognition and should it meet tests for recognition we would wish accede to request within reasonable time. However we desire avoid hasty action that would be held against us in Cairo. Syrian regime may ease our problem by not seeking early recognition.

/2/Document 111.

Government as formed seems middle of road but not expected seek close ties either with West or Soviet bloc. We shall have to feel our way with both Nasser and Syria and shall be interested in significant expressions of attitudes whether printed or oral in all Arab countries.

We have recommended to Secretary that in talking with Lebanese Foreign Minister Takla in New York he stated that USG has regretfully decided postpone fleet visit to Beirut. Our position based on our belief that visit would be misunderstood in both Cairo and Damascus./3/ Ambassador Kamel has informed Department of his concern in these terms. Beirut will be advised of Secretary's decision.

/3/Additional documentation on the decision to cancel the Sixth Fleet's visit to Beirut is in Department of State, NEA/NE Files: Lot 63 D 33, Syrian Crisis. A memorandum of telephone conversation between Secretary Rusk in New York and Meyer in Washington, September 29 at 7:51 p.m., is ibid., Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Conversations.


114. Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Battle) to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington, September 30, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783.00/9-3061. Confidential. Drafted by Barrow (NEA/NE) and cleared by Talbot.

Tentative Analysis of the Situation in Syria as of September 30, 1961

The following is our tentative analysis of the situation in Syria as of 2 p.m. September 29, 1961:

1. Military Situation: The Supreme Arab Revolutionary Command of the Armed Forces appears to have control of the entire country except perhaps an area at the port of Latakia and at the airfield of Dumayr, north of Damascus. The Egyptians are reported to have 3,000-3,500 troops at their disposal, mostly at the Latakia area, but it appears possible, on the basis of a statement made by President Nasser today, that some of these troops have been or are being withdrawn. Nasser has indicated that he does not intend to use force against the Syrians, and it is our estimate that he will not take the great risk of outside intervention or the onus he would suffer, should he engage in a full-scale military onslaught on his Arab brethren in Syria.

2. The Constitutional Situation: The Supreme Arab Revolutionary Command of the Armed Forces (SARC) has seized power in Syria and announced a formation of a Syrian cabinet, headed by Ma'mun Kuzbari as Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Defense Minister, and has empowered the cabinet to govern by decree. Although the term Syria is now being used in communiqués, formal secession from the UAR has not yet been announced, nor has a chief of state to replace President Nasser been named. Theoretically, the way would still be open for the new Syrian regime to remain in the UAR, but this seems unlikely in view of the bitter attacks which the SARC has now begun to launch on the person of President Nasser and which Nasser has been reciprocating in his speeches in Cairo. The fact that the constitutional position is still unclear temporarily provides us with a reason for avoiding the problem of recognition, although this lack of clarity has apparently not deterred Jordan from quickly extending recognition and Iran from offering to do so.

3. The Political Complexion of the New Syrian Regime: The political orientation of the individual members of the military junta which carried out the revolution remains somewhat unclear, although some, such as Colonel Haydar Kuzbari, a cousin of the newly named Prime Minister is clearly rightist. Ma'mum Kuzbari, himself, is something of a political enigma. He comes from a conservative land-owning family which was affiliated with Col. Shishakli's so-called pro-Western regime of 1952-54. However, he also participated in subsequent Syrian governments which were controlled by anti-Western military juntas. Aside from the fact that he seems capable of changing his political orientation at will, he is not a particularly forceful or colorful figure nor are others in the cabinet, though some seem considerably competent in their respective fields. It seems clear that the members of the all-civilian cabinet which has been named will be, as in the case of all Syrian civilian politicians since 1949, the instrumentalities through which the military junta will carry out its policy rather than the creators of policy themselves. It will be difficult to determine, therefore, what the future direction of the regime's policy is likely to be until more is known about the background and intentions of the military officers who carried out the coup. It should be emphasized, however, that the Syrians have traditionally been highly individualistic and undisciplined people and that Syrian political movements, no matter what the coloration or how well unified at the inception, have always degenerated into squabbling factions and rivalries, turning Syria itself into a dog-eat-dog political jungle, which the communists are better equipped to deal with than we are. We thus cannot take too much comfort from the relatively conservative complexion of the new government. Additionally, for reasons that are not yet entirely clear to us, the important post of Minister of Interior in the new government, with its implied control of the Internal Security apparatus, may have been given to a pro-Communist (Dr. Adnan Quwatli) and would seemingly afford an effective point of penetration by the communists into the otherwise rightist regime. There is another Adnan Quwatli of less political prominence; therefore, we are seeking clarification as to which one has been named Minister of Interior and also an evaluation of him.

4. Implications as Regards the Political Situation in Egypt: There can be no doubt that the loss of Syria constitutes a body blow to the prestige of Nasser, both externally and internally, and it seems to us likely that, unless he can recoup some of his losses, Nasser's position in the area and at home will gradually deteriorate. He is believed well enough entrenched in Egypt to survive for the time being, but he has many enemies who will be sharpening their knives in anticipation of the day when his crown falls. The danger is that his increasing feeling of desperation may cause Nasser to lash out in some other direction in an effort to restore his stature in the eyes of the Arab people. He has turned defeat into victory in the past by such methods and will be sorely tempted to try to do so again. Already Nasser is endeavoring to blame the events in Syria on imperialist machinations. The speed with which the Jordanians and the Iranians acted to recognize the new Syria revolutionary regime, together with the rightist leanings of at least some of the cabinet, tend to lend credence to Nasser's charges. Further fuel would be added to this fire, if, for example, such Syrian exiles as former President Adib Shishakli, Mikhail Ilyan (Nationalist Party leader now in exile in Turkey) and a number of other Syrians who were banished because of their alleged pro-Westernism should return to the Syrian political scene. One of the basic problems we faced is that of discouraging any rash action on Nasser's part and in endeavoring generally to stabilize the Egyptian political position. It would thus seem essential, even though recognizing that Nasser's position is likely to decline, that we continue our policy of reasonable cooperation with his regime in the hope of influencing him toward moderation. With that thought in mind we have authorized our Ambassador to Cairo to inform the UAR Government that we intend to continue a "business as usual" policy with the regime irrespective of the present crisis, and that we are taking favorable action on the UAR request for additional PL-480 commodities./2/ Ambassador Kamel has been similarly informed.

/2/In telegram 480 to Cairo, September 28, the Department instructed the Embassy to inform the UAR Government at an early opportunity that the Interagency Staff Committee had approved 200,000 tons of corn for human consumption and 18,000 tons of soybean oil subject to the completion of the usual consultations. In presenting this information, the Embassy should convey the U.S. intention to continue business as usual with the UAR irrespective of the current Syrian crisis. (Ibid., 411.86B41/9-2861)

5. Area Repercussions on the Syrian Uprising: We believe that most of the Arab governments will be inclined viscerally to react in favor of the restoration of independent Syria. Since most Arab leaders either overtly or privately have long distrusted Nasser and feared that the latter, in pursuit of his ambitions for Arab unity, would attempt to undermine their positions, they are likely to shed very few tears about the fact that Nasser's prestige has been dealt an apparently vital blow. Some of these governments may well have second thoughts, however, about the prospects of having a shaky, unreliable Syria in their midst and of possibly having to face up to the prospect of an unstable Egypt in the near future. Additionally, although the relations of the new Syrian regime with Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, and perhaps Turkey are apt to be good, its relations with leftist-oriented Iraq are likely to be unharmonious at best.

Israel naturally also welcomes the blow to Nasser's prestige, but it will have to face up to the prospect that an independent Syria may again become activist in its hostility toward Israel to a greater degree than is the UAR regime of President Nasser at present. Israel's gains from the present situation are likely to be ephemeral at best.

The Department's conclusion is that on the whole the defection of Syria from the UAR is not necessarily in the U.S. best interests, and in the unlikely event that there is an opportunity for preservation of the UAR without bloodshed, we should welcome it. However, from one point of view, the complexion of the new Syrian regime might well have been worse and, in our public statements and actions, we should take care not to prejudice our future relationships with it. For that reason we urge that we carefully refrain from offering analysis or interpretation to the press or others which might be misinterpreted as representing a bias toward one side or another.

As of noon, September 30, the situation was approximately the same except that the Syrians have sought recognition, are issuing a statement of policy and have been recognized by Turkey./3/

/3/On October 1, the Department, in circular telegram 624, informed Near Eastern and other concerned posts: "Assuming continued effective control by new government, we contemplate responding favorably in next few days to Syrian request for recognition presented today. Timing of recognition dependent in part on prior action by several Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and Iraq; in part on consultations with other governments; and in part on administrative factors. While we shall speak with UARG prior to granting recognition and are hopeful UARG will accept practical situation, we shall proceed with recognition within reasonable time even though UARG would prefer we not do so. We are consulting with UK Embassy here." (Ibid., 786B.00/10-161)

Walt Collopy/4/

/4/Collopy signed for Battle above Battle's typed signature.

115. Memorandum From Robert W. Komer of the National Security Council Staff to the President's Special Assistant and Deputy Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy and Rostow)

Washington, September 30, 1961.

/1/Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Country Series, Syria, 1/61-9/61. Secret.


Policy Toward New Syrian Regime

It is now clear the Syrian revolt has at least temporarily succeeded. Nasser, having started an abortive military effort to land in the north, recalled his forces when he found that north Syrian garrisons had joined the revolt. Nasser's speech indicates that he accepts the inevitable./2/

/2/In telegram 600, September 29, the Embassy in Cairo reported that during a speech Nasser had said that he had started to send 2,000 paratroopers as well as additional forces to quell the rebellion in Syria but had ordered these forces to return when it became apparent that the rebellion could not be crushed without bloodshed. (Department of State, Central Files, 786B.00/9-2961)

He is now in a real bind, having suffered a major setback. Three alternatives are open to him: (a) provoke a crisis with Israel so that he can rally all the Arabs (including Syrians) around him; (b) attempt to undermine new Syrian regime by combination of inducements, e.g. regional autonomy leading up to a counter-coup; (c) do nothing and suffer further erosion of his prestige. Some observers feel Nasser's position in Egypt itself may now be in peril, although I doubt this.

The new Syrian regime is conservative, anti-Egyptian, and probably reasonably pro-Western outfit. Its natural ties will be to Jordan and Iraq. Not much prospect of communist infiltration (Syrian CP is very weak), although new Interior Minister/3/ had some pro-communist associations. If past experience is any guide, however, such Syrian regimes are notoriously unstable and subject to a succession of coups.

/3/Dr. Adnan Quwatli.

Are the developments in Syria a net plus or minus from US standpoint? NEA seems to think that any Syrian regime will be feeble and unstable; though the present crew seem moderately pro-Western, much less savory characters could ride in on their coattails. Moreover, the blow to Nasser's prestige may drive him back into the arms of Moscow, or at any rate lead him into high risk policies to recoup the blow to his prestige. Thus a new and unpredictable element has been injected into the already volatile ME situation.

On the other hand, the effects of this blow to Nasser's position may not be adverse to our interests. His role as a charismatic leader has been seriously circumscribed, which may make him more tractable in the future. The net result may be to turn his energies inward, toward the internal development of Egypt. The position of the conservative, and relatively pro-Western Arab leaders has been enhanced. The trend toward Arab unity at the expense of Israel may have been reversed, at least temporarily.

What should the US do? Officially nothing. Nasser may yet seek to blame US or UK for coup. We should avoid giving him any pretext for doing so. This means evading early recognition of new regime.

But if we wait too long we may lose initial advantage of being forthcoming with new regime. Perhaps we could have it both ways by conveying discreet assurances through third countries that we not hostile to new crew. Jordan and Turkey are obvious bets.

Now is also the time to be extra nice to Nasser. In his present cast-down mood he may be responsive to any friendly overtures on our part. It might not be too obvious to come out now with firm invite to US, or indicate approval in principle of DLF loan application for $32 million to construct grain storage facilities in Egypt. Nasser-Moscow relationship seemed to be cooling recently; we don't want to let this trend be reversed by default.

In sum, my recipe would be public posture of hands off, discreet, indirect encouragement of new regime, and nice noises to Nasser.

R.W. Komer

116. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State

Amman, October 1, 1961, 3 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786B.00/10-161. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to Ankara, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Jidda, London, Tel Aviv, and USUN for the Mission and the Secretary.

181. Met with King at latter's request afternoon 30th. King's purpose was to urge prompt USG recognition new Syrian regime. Stressed that in his judgment regime now in definite control situation and, on basis his knowledge of individuals involved, believed new regime would be more pro-Western than predecessor. Believed prompt recognition by USG and other states was final step needed insure against irresponsible counter-move by Nasser. Then said wished me clearly understand that if Nasser did make such a move against new regime, Jordan would be with new regime and would go to their assistance.

While recognizing Department telegram 120/2/ superseded Department telegram 116,/3/ I did not think statement immediately preceding sentence could be left without comment. I therefore spoke to King along lines outlined paragraph 2 Embassy telegram 178./4/

/2/Document 113.

/3/Document 111.

/4/The relevant portion of paragraph 2 of telegram 178 from Amman, September 29, reads: "Therefore suggest as alternative that I see King and point out USG's serious concern that if Nasser makes military move regain Syria, every effort should be made confine hostilities to two principal combatants. Would also state that while understanding GOJ's natural sympathy insurgent group, USG believes any intervention by any Syria's neighbors could well trigger conflagration whole Middle East and quite possibly World War III. Therefore, as Jordan's closest partner and as the nation carrying principal responsibility for maintaining peace in world, USG requests opportunity consult and fully exchange information on actual situation as it developing before GOJ plans intervene Syria in any way." (Department of State, Central Files, 786B.00/9-2961)

With regard to recognition I repeated point I had made previously to effect that precipitous embrace of new regime by USG might not be helpful. Said I furthermore suspected new regime itself not particularly anxious that USG be in first wave of recognition. Also said that when Nasser down, I did not think it either wise or useful to give him gratuitous extra kick. Seemed to me precipitous USG recognition could be construed as such.

King countered with argument that if USG really concerned re consequences of Nasser military move and Jordanian reaction, time to head this off was now, and means was by extending prompt recognition which would deter Nasser from making such a move. Once Nasser moved, it would too late to contain situation.

I asked whether King thought Nasser could in fact make countermove now unless there was some uprising within Syria itself to whose support he could go. King said he thought this was only basis, for present, on which Nasser could launch countereffort. In response my further question, King said he thought such an uprising was unlikely in view of firm control new regime appears have of situation within Syria.

Comment: King for moment sees Syrian developments as mixed blessing and naturally is anxious have new regime supported as promptly and fully as possible. While he understands reason why USG not rushing into recognition, he nevertheless feels somewhat let down by fact we not willing move as rapidly as he in situation which he regards to be favorable to our interests as well as his. (He also aware his immediate action re recognition being criticized in number of quarters and obviously would like to be vindicated by having others promptly follow his course.) Subtleties re handling Nasser during this difficult period do not interest him as he believes Nasser probably up against situation about which he can do nothing. He also recalls fairly prompt USG recognition of new Baghdad regime 1958 under circumstances far less advantageous. In addition believe he is concerned re trouble Syrian Communists may eventually cause for new regime and fearful this problem could be accentuated if Soviets grant recognition prior to Western powers.

My own view is Department is correct in not extending precipitous recognition but on other hand believe recognition should not be denied unduly long period. I concur in comments Damascus 129 to Department/5/ and would hope USG would be in fairly prominent place in second wave of recognitions. In meantime Department may wish consider desirability now extending privately to new regime indications USG support will be forthcoming at appropriate time.

/5/In telegram 129 from Damascus, September 30, Knight recommended recognition of the new Syrian regime "reasonably soon." (Ibid., 786B.00/9-3061)

With regard to Hussein's intention come militarily to aid new regime if necessitated by Nasser countermove, I do not believe he thinks this will in fact be necessary. Furthermore, King aware what USG reaction would be to such move. Nevertheless, as long as there any possibility of Nasser countermove, danger of Hussein intervention remains. As Department aware, while Hussein more deferential to USG views than those of any other state, he is stubborn, full of self-confidence, and capable of taking action against USG wishes if convinced he is right, particularly in situations where he thinks own long-run survival at stake. This could be such a situation, as King has long been convinced his regime cannot survive indefinitely in Jordan unless there is break in link of hostility which surrounds him. He clearly views Syrian developments as such a break and will therefore feel under great compulsion come to aid of insurgents if this only way their position can be maintained. Nevertheless, USG intervention at highest level at crucial moment could have considerable effect on King and remains best chance of deterring him.

In meantime, as King continues be in relaxed mood, believing his assistance will not be necessary, recommend I continue handle situation within framework outlined paragraph 2 Embassy telegram 178 with Department ready to implement highest-level intervention on short notice if this (as now looks unlikely) should become necessary.


117. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Near Eastern and European Posts

Washington, October 2, 1961, 9:12 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786B.00/10-261. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Barrow, cleared in draft by Hewitt and Strong, and approved by Talbot who initialed for Rusk. Sent to Bonn, London, Cairo, Jidda, Baghdad, Tripoli, Benghazi, Rabat, Tunis, Khartoum, Amman, Paris, Rome, Damascus, Ankara, and Beirut.

629. UAR Ambassador Kamel made following points to Department official October 1, stating that his presentation had been discussed and approved by Foreign Minister Fawzi/2/ and should be taken as official:

/2/On September 30, Fawzi spoke with Secretary Rusk in New York and urged that the United States not be hasty in recognizing the new Syrian regime. (Memorandum of conversation, September 30, 9 a.m.; ibid., Secretary's Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330)

1. UAR appeals strongly to USG not to consider question of recognition of new Syrian regime. Nor should USG take active role regarding admission of Syria to UN.

2. From the political point of view UAR wishes point out that no communist or neutralist country had recognized or even given any hint of recognition of new regime whereas thus far only countries which have recognized are closely identified with the West. If this trend continues, suspicions of Western involvement in the Syrian coup, which are already beginning to develop, will spread and prejudice US and Western position in Middle East as a whole.

3. From legal point of view unification of Syria and Egypt was outcome of a free referendum in 1958, which has not been canceled by another referendum. Legally nothing has changed and the UAR continues to exist. Any hasty recognition by the US would be contradictory to its policy of insisting on changes of the status quo by constitutional means (sic).

4. Since gaining independence in 1946, Syria has experienced innumerable coups d'etat and has known no stability until union with Egypt in 1958. Hasty recognition would tend to encourage additional coups.

5. Internal situation in Syria still fluid. Baathists have not yet shown their hand. Moreover according news reports, new Syrian Minister of Interior, who believed pro-Soviet, has released political prisoners. USG should urgently investigate whether communists among these and if so consider all the implications that would entail for the stability of Syria.

6. Rightist complexion of new government runs contrary to present world trends, rendering its permanence all the more unlikely.

7. Secession is not going to be a simple matter for Kuzbari to implement. Untangling the relationships that have developed since the union will be a difficult piece of work and it is not certain Kuzbari can succeed.

8. If Zionists try stir troubled waters, USG should remind them since unification, Syria-Israel borders have been relatively quiet. UAR predicts that whatever his personal desires may be, Kuzbari will be forced to pursue activist policy on Israel borders in order consolidate his internal position in Syria.

9. It would be unfair that a friendly government would rush into recognition without allowing opportunity to see if the solution could be found to the present difficulties (Kamel could offer no specifics as to what kind of solution would be possible in present circumstances).

10. USG should carefully observe what Arabs, neutralists and, above all USSR, are doing in respect recognition. UAR predicts USSR will not recognize rightist government of Kuzbari for foreseeable future. USSR has everything to gain and nothing to lose by a policy of watchful waiting. If rightist government continues in power, Soviets will exploit "reactionary" character thereof in its propaganda. If there is an anti-coup toward a reunification of Egypt and Syria, "everyone would be grateful" to USSR for having abstained from recognition whereas, if there is an anti-coup toward establishing a communist regime, gain for USSR is obvious.

11. If great country like US should "jump" to recognition while forgetting trends in the area, forgetting its impact upon public opinion in the Arab world, it will be endangering its own interests and antagonizing the biggest country in the area (Egypt) and "putting the UAR in a most delicate situation in light of our recent severance of our diplomatic relationships with Jordan and Turkey."

In reply Department official said he would report views Dr. Fawzi and Ambassador Kamel to his superiors. Whereas unable to state what the official USG reaction would be, he felt obliged make certain comments in order that Ambassador not be misled about US intentions. From a legal point of view the US generally regarded de facto control of the country, acquiescence of the people, and willingness to fulfill international obligations as its criteria for recognizing a new regime. Acquiescence of the people did not necessarily imply that there had to be a positive action, such as a referendum, but merely that public as a whole accepted the existence of the new government and was prepared to cooperate with it. As the Ambassador had pointed out, there had been innumerable coups in Syria prior to union, some of which might have been interpreted as in favor of Western interests and some of which might have been interpreted as against Western interests, but in every case the USG, as well as other governments of the world, had been obliged to accept the realities of the situation and the necessity of establishing relationships with the regimes which came to power, irrespective whether that power had been achieved by constitutional processes. Department official felt that, if the present de facto control of Syria by the new regime could be maintained and its international obligations are respected, there would be no insurmountable legal obstacle to extending recognition.

Department official said he agreed, however, that this was a special situation in that it was not a matter of a new regime having supplanted an old regime, but of a new regime having been created side by side with the previous regime. Therefore, it was necessary to take a broad view of the problem and consider all of its aspects in relationship to the feelings of both regimes. Department official said he felt he could assure the Ambassador that the USG would take no hasty action but would consult fully with the UAR in respect to the recognition question and, if and when recognition should ultimately, in our view, become necessary, would ask for the UAR's sympathetic understanding. Department official said he hoped, however, that UAR would not take the attitude that any positive action vis-à-vis the new Syrian regime would ipso facto be taken as hostility toward the UAR, since this was not our intention. If the UAR should harden its position to this extent, it might well create an impasse in future US-UAR relationships which would be difficult to surmount. Department official said that if it were UAR desire that USG not proceed unilaterally toward recognition of new Syrian regime without at least informing UAR, it was equally essential that UAR not proceed to hasty unilateral actions tending to create embarrassments. Kamel asked if Department official had in mind such actions as the UAR having severed relations with Jordan and Turkey, and Department official replied affirmatively.

Department official said that he had been impressed by Ambassador Kamel's statement that USG should carefully observe what the other Arabs were doing on the question of recognition. It seemed to him that this is an Arab problem in which the voice of the Arabs ought to be heard. If a majority of the Arab states should decide upon recognition of the new Syrian regime, it would be very difficult for the USG to justify delaying much longer in taking similar action.

Kamel at first agreed with this point of view but later reversed himself and said that he felt the USG should be more concerned with Soviet policy and the advantages the Soviet Union could derive from delaying recognition. Department official replied that actions of the Soviets were of course an important consideration which would be taken into account by USG in making its decision. However, he did not feel that USG policy could necessarily be governed by Soviet actions. Evidence thus far received indicated new Syrian regime wanted friendly relations with all countries including US. Persons included in that regime were not "Chinese Communists" on whom we could turn our backs indefinitely.

Department official re-emphasized that any gestures we might make toward new Syrian regime did not imply antagonism toward UAR, that we continue desire friendly relations with the UAR and that this desire sincere and heartfelt.


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

Washington, October 3, 1961, 8:56 p.m.

/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.

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./2/ Purpose could be: a) immediate support 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.

/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.)

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.


119. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Arab Republic

Washington, October 3, 1961, 11 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786B.11/10-361. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Barrow, cleared by McGeorge Bundy at the White House and by Collopy (S/S), and approved and signed by Rusk.

517. For Ambassador only. If in your judgment would serve useful purpose, you authorized urgently approach President Nasser or if Nasser unavailable highest level UAR official with access to Nasser and orally convey following message from President Kennedy:

"President highly pleased with Nasser's friendly letter of August 22 and wishes continue development of fruitful relations on both personal and official plane. He understands problems which recent events in the Syrian region of the United Arab Republic have created for Nasser and appreciates Nasser's efforts to stabilize the situation by peaceful means. President was especially impressed with Nasser's statesmanlike address of September 29 in which he rejected resort to force or shedding of Arab blood as means of settling current dispute with Syrian insurgents.

President would be pleased receive any message Nasser may wish convey. He wishes to assure Nasser that decision on recognition of Syrian regime has not been undertaken and that we shall desire to consult with UARG on recognition question."/2/

/2/Earlier on October 3, Talbot sent a memorandum to Rusk conveying a draft of this oral message and recommending that it be discussed with President Kennedy. (Ibid.)


120. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State

Amman, October 4, 1961, 10 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786B.00/10-461. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Repeated to Ankara, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Jidda, London, and Tel Aviv. Relayed to JCS, OSD, Army, Navy, Air Force, White House, and CIA. The source text indicates that Strong was informed on October 4.

185. Damascus 145 to Department;/2/ Cairo 611/3/ and 622/4/ to Department. In meeting with King 4th he confirmed that in response request from new Syrian regime he had withdrawn most of Jordanian troops from border area. Also said leaders new regime had informed him their conviction ability handle any Nasser military counter effort without Jordanian or other outside help. King emphasized however that if this should prove not be case, Jordan, Iraq and probably Turkey would send troops to aid of regime. Went on state his conviction Nasser under present circumstances did not have capability making significant military counter-move against Syria. Noted GOJ emissary, just returned from Syria, had reported situation completely under control and that emissary had been told if he had any doubts this score, he free go any part of Syria to see for self. King also mentioned had just learned curfew completely lifted. Also said had received word from Cairo that sabotage teams would be parachuted into both Syria and Jordan. He was taking necessary internal security precautions this regard.

/2/Knight reported in telegram 145 from Damascus, October 3, his agreement with Badeau's position on Syrian recognition as reflected in telegram 611 from Cairo. (Ibid., 786B.00/10-361)

/3/In telegram 611 from Cairo, October 1, Badeau advised that once the Syrian regime demonstrated effective control of the country, the United States should extend only de facto recognition after a delay of 2-3 weeks. The United States should extend de jure recognition only after a significant number of Arab and other non-Western oriented states had done so, and preferably delay this action as long as possible. (Ibid., 786B.00/10-161)

/4/In telegram 622 from Cairo, October 2, Badeau strongly reaffirmed his recommendation in telegram 611 to delay recognition of the new Syrian regime. (Ibid., 786B.00/10-261)

King then renewed strong urgings that USG promptly recognize new regime, using arguments previously reported and particularly stressing (despite earlier indication negligible chances Nasser military intervention) that USG recognition would break log-jam holding back other recognitions which in turn would collectively constitute definitive deterrent against Nasser counter-move. Indicated moreover his puzzlement re USG delay, believing regime now clearly met normal criteria for recognition. Added new argument to effect he had always understood USG supported principle of self determination, and new independent Syrian regime clearly had support Syrian people.

I spoke of my gratification re southward movement Jordanian troops and reiterated USG concern ramifications which would result if Jordan and/or neighboring states moved troops across Syrian border. Also welcomed his view there little likelihood Nasser would make military counter-move now.

Re recognition, said I had reported his views in full to USG and knew that these along with other factors were receiving full consideration. Said matter under careful study and USG presently canvassing situation. Noted that current log-jam, to which he had referred, due in part at least to failure of other Arab states to take lead in extending recognition and should not be attributed to USG.

Comment: While King Hussein in relatively relaxed mood, each day's delay extension USG recognition new Syrian regime placing additional strain USG-GOJ relations, both now and as lingering memory for future. Nevertheless as long as Department believes there reasonable chance Nasser will not move militarily against Syria, Embassy concurs efforts work through this situation with resulting minimum disruption USG-Nasser relations. From purely local point of view however would hope that recognition be accorded as rapidly as other factors permit.

If on other hand Department has substantial reason believe Nasser actually planning launch military attack against Syria, believe essence of Hussein argument re deterrent value of USG and resultant recognitions merits urgent consideration. In any case if Nasser does attack and US has failed to take step Hussein believed could have prevented this attack, he will be even less disposed than I now think he will be to heed US advice to refrain from crossing border if so requested by Syrian regime.


121. Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Battle) to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)

Washington, October 4, 1961.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.88/10-461. Top Secret. Drafted by Marcy (NEA/GTI) and cleared by Colonel Price (JCS), Colonel Tucker (DOD/ISA), Talbot, and G/PM. This memorandum was written in response to a September 13 White House request; see Document 108. On October 5, Komer sent it to Bundy under cover of Document 122.

Iran: Contingency Planning

Under the aegis of the Task Force on Iran, State and Defense have reviewed political and military contingency planning on possible United States actions to deter Soviet military action against Iran, as well as to meet other possible forms of Soviet pressure direct or indirect. The current status of military contingency plans is discussed in the attachment to this memorandum.

In reviewing possible and desirable United States courses of action in the event of heightened Soviet pressures against Iran, it was found that the United States was inhibited in both the military and the political spheres. It has been assumed that Soviet military attack on Iran means general war. There are therefore no plans for United States response to overt Soviet action on less than a general war level. Politically, deterrent actions have been circumscribed by the absence of a clear policy determination on several issues, including whether or not the United States would be willing to risk general war in order to defend Iran against Soviet military attack. If the United States is not, it must be determined whether the United States is willing to engage its prestige in a pretense that we are willing to go to general war, in the knowledge that if our bluff were to be called it might have disastrous results.

In an effort to cope with this situation, an informal joint State-Defense Working Group has been urgently preparing a study of those political and military deterrent actions which can be taken under present policies, and a parallel list of those actions which might prove feasible and desirable in the event of certain policy decisions being reached. It is anticipated that this study will be put in final form following the publication on October 5 of a Special National Intelligence Estimate on the Soviet threat to Iran./2/ The Task Force will then be in a position to make concrete recommendations as to its disposition.

/2/SNIE 11-12-61, "The Soviet Threat to Iran and the CENTO Area," October 5.

Melvin L. Manfull/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that indicates Manfull signed for Battle above Battle's typed signature.



1. Our war plans covering situations which might involve the Soviet Union and the United States in Iran have been reviewed as a matter of urgency. They consist of general war plans designed to support indigenous forces and contingency plans covering situations of a local nature, but not involving Soviet forces. These plans are based upon former United States policy outlined in paragraph 45 of NSC 6010, dated June 3, 1960, U.S. Policy Toward Iran
/4/ as follows:

/4/For text, see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, vol. XII, pp. 680-688.

"In the event USSR military forces invade Iran, the United States should proceed on the assumption that general war may be imminent . . ."

While NSC 2427, 19 May 1961,/5/replaced NSC 6010 it deferred any decisions on whether or how the United States would react militarily to Soviet attack on Iran. In the review of our current contingency plans specific military and political areas were identified where new guidance is indicated.

/5/Document 51.

2. U.S. military contingency plans in support of Iran against internal strife and possible incursion from other Middle East countries provide for the possible employment in excess of two divisions with commensurate air and naval forces. These plans do not address themselves specifically to a situation covering a Soviet invasion of Iran since they are formulated on the assumption that such an invasion would mean the imminence of general war.

3. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have reported to the Secretary of Defense that the United States does not have sufficient military assets to station permanently significant additional forces in Iran or adjacent areas and meet current worldwide security commitments. Furthermore, a decision to deploy sizeable forces to the Middle East area to assist Iran against a Soviet attack must consider the possibility of the conflict escalating into general war and the effect of the decision on United States general war posture. Within present general war strategy, it is not contemplated that sizeable U.S. combat forces will be deployed to the Middle East area, at least initially. It is within the framework of these facts and former policy that our United States military plans have been developed.

4. Inasmuch as there are no military plans, other than those covering general war, which deal specifically with a limited war between the Soviet Union and the United States confined to Iran a gap may exist in our military planning. The Joint Chiefs of Staff are, therefore, being asked to develop a study of the capability of the United States conducting a limited war against the Soviet Union in Iran with or without nuclear weapons.

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