Volume #25 - 295.|
SYRIAN COMPLAINTS TO THE UNITED NATIONS
Memorandum from Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs|
to Secretary of State for External Affairs
September 10th, 1957|
The USSR-Syrian agreement of August 6, 1957 on commercial and economic aid, the Syrian allegations on August 12 of a United States conspiracy, and the appointment of General Bizri as Chief of Staff of Syria on August 17 (with the subsequent reported dismissal of right-wing military officers) have centered Western attention on the question of whether Syria is controlled by international communism. Deputy Under Secretary of State Loy Henderson, after ascertaining Turkish, Iraqi, Jordanian and Lebanese official opinion (but not Syrian or Egyptian), reported that there was deep concern at the apparently growing "Soviet Communist domination" of Syria and "the large build-up" of Soviet bloc arms in Syria.57 Two immediate results were the decision of the United States over the past week to expedite the delivery to Jordan and Iraq of previously ordered arms supplies; and the statement by President Eisenhower expressing the hope that "international Communism would not push Syria into any acts of aggression and that the people of Syria would act to allay the anxiety caused by recent events."
Quite apart from their evident concern, there appears to be a significant degree of caution in the verbal reactions of the President and Mr. Dulles to the Syrian situation. Obviously, to decide that Syria was dominated by international communism would be a serious finding, because it would bring into force the offer under the Eisenhower doctrine58 to assist any state attacked by Syria and asking for United States aid. In addition, the Syrians themselves, including General Bizri, while admitting their pro-Soviet policy, draw a clear distinction between such a policy and communist domination. So far as our limited sources of direct information indicate, this distinction is borne out by the fact that neither in the Syrian Government nor among the top-ranking military officers are there any known communists, although anti-Western and radical figures are by no means lacking. Responsible reporters, such as Osgood Caruthers, of the New York Times, have recently confirmed from Damascus the prevalence of this opinion. Finally, there seem to be excellent grounds for supposing that, given the physical separation of Syria and the Soviet Union and the independent and nationalistic character of Syrian thinking, neither the Soviet Union nor Syrian leftists would be willing to experiment in turning Syria into a Soviet satellite.
Against this background, the quickened pace of the United States arms deliveries appears as a dramatic reaffirmation of support for nervous United States allies in the Middle East and, very likely, as a concession that Syria is irrevocably lost to the West. When the Canadian Government a few months ago intimated its general approval of the Eisenhower doctrine it had reservations, to which publicity was not given, about the emphasis placed by the doctrine on military aid considering that general economic aid would be of greater usefulness in preventing a deterioration of the position in the Middle East. This opinion may be reinforced if the "military" response to recent events in Syria now enables Syrian extremists to force the moderate elements in the Kuwatly régime into greater reliance on the Soviet Union or if it discourages further desirable trends in Syrian policy, such as the recent Syrian agreement to permit better United Nations truce supervision arrangements on the frontier with Israel, or moves towards a resumption of relations with France and the United Kingdom; or if it inhibits possible attempts by President Nasser, about which there has been speculation in Cairo, to influence Syria in the direction of stability.
Admittedly, the United States was under considerable pressure, for reasons of prestige, to respond in an impressive manner to events in Syria, but there was, and still is, much to recommend a cautious approach. Syria will, by itself, or with the help of other Arab states, come to realize the risks of too close an association with the Soviet Union. It is hard to see any alternative.
Although Mr. Henderson in his report argued the need for remedial action, in the first instance by Syria's immediate neighbours, to prevent Syria's becoming a satellite of Moscow, he emphasized that any such action would have to be taken within the framework of the United Nations. It seems unlikely that Syria will be deterred by threats or hints of military action from accepting aid, trade and arms from any quarter offering them on attractive terms and we are not aware of any clause in the U.N. charter which could be applied to prevent their doing so.
sous-secrétaire d'État adjoint des États-Unis Loy Henderson a effectué une tournée de ces quatre pays
entre le 22 août et le 4 septembre 1957. Voir le rapport de cette tournée dans United
States, Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1955-1957,
Volume XIII, United States Government Printing Office, 1988, pp. 685-689.
Les citations qui figurent dans le mémoire canadien et qui sont imprimées ici sont tirées
d'un communiqué du Département d'État daté du 7 septembre 1957. Voir United States, Department of
State, Bulletin, Volume XXXVII, Numéro 952, September 23, 1957, p. 487.
58Voir/See Document 313, note 69.