Volume #17 - 909.|
EUROPE DE L'OUEST ET LE MOYEN-ORIENT
ÉGYPTE : CONFRONTATION AVEC LE ROYAUME-UNI
Note du sous-secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures|
pour le secrétaire d'État aux Affaires extérieures
le 16 octobre 1951|
The attached message from the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations to the United Kingdom High Commissioner in Ottawa dated October 13, dealing with the situation created by the Egyptian Government's abrogation of the AngloEgyptian Treaty was handed to me yesterday by Sir Alexander Clutterbuck with a request for our comments.
You will observe that this telegram indicates that the United Kingdom have reached a firm decision to stay in the Canal Zone come what may. Their military advisers are completely confident that this can be done. The United Kingdom, however, foresee probable action by the Egyptian Government which will require counter-action involving the use of force on the British part to maintain their position in the Canal Zone. The United Kingdom express the hope that they will have the "full moral support" of the Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African Governments, as well as of the United States and other countries concerned in the area, in the stand they are taking.
The Embassy in Washington has been instructed to enquire what line the United States is taking. However, I am inclined to think that although it would be useful to know what the United States view is, we should not wait on them. It is suggested that we might comment orally on the telegram along the following lines:
(a) that the Canadian Government appreciates being kept informed of developments in the Middle East by the United Kingdom;
(b) that the Canadian Government agrees with the view that it is of major importance for the security of the free world that the United Kingdom should continue to fulfil its responsibilities for the defence of the Canal Zone pending satisfactory arrangements for the security of the area;
(c) that the Canadian Government is confident that the United Kingdom will do its utmost to avoid the use of force and to achieve a mutually satisfactory arrangement with Egypt;
(d) that it is proposed to inform the United States Government of the general moral support being given to the United Kingdom Government on this issue and to impress on the United States Government the necessity of early solution of the problem.
Le secrétaire d'État des Relations du Commonwealth
Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations
TELEGRAM CIRCULAR W. NO. 131 [London], October 13, 1951
TOP SECRET. IMMEDIATE.
Repeat Delhi, Karachi, Colombo, Salisbury.
Please communicate following message to Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African Governments. Begins.
1. We have had under urgent review situation created by Egyptian Government's move to abrogate the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936 and the Condominium Agreements of 1899 regarding the Sudan.
2. Canadian/Australian/New Zealand/South African Governments are already fully informed on the proposals which have been presented to the Egyptian Government in regard to the latter's participation in the defence of the Middle East. We are satisfied that these proposals would enable the foundations of the defence of the whole of the Middle East region to be broadened and strengthened and that they provide a sound and reasonable basis for a settlement of Anglo-Egyptian differences in regard to the Treaty of 1936. We are prepared to discuss them patiently with Egypt. But we must make it clear that we have reached in these proposals, the limit of concessions we could make regarding the position of British troops and the base. The Canadian/Australian/New Zealand/South African Governments also know of the proposals which have been put forward by us to Egypt for a settlement in regard to the Sudan. In our view these latter proposals fully meet the legitimate interests of Egypt. It would be out of the question for us to depart from our undertakings to the peoples of the Sudan which we have recently publicly re-affirmed.
3. On the 9th October, the United Kingdom Government announced that they maintained their full rights under the Treaty and the Condominium Agreements pending a satisfactory agreement with Egypt. It was implicit in that statement that until such an agreement were reached our troops would stay in the Canal Zone. This is indeed our intention. It would probably be too much to hope for an early conclusion of a settlement with Egypt. A radical change in their present attitude is necessary and may take time. It follows that we shall have to stand our ground firmly in the Canal Zone - using force if necessary - until an acceptable agreement has been reached.
4. We have considered the implications of this decision. Our Commanders-inChief in the Middle East have the necessary plans ready. These foresee action by the Egyptian Government together with the appropriate British counter-measures under various stages.
5. Stage I can be said to have begun with Nahas Pasha's action on the 8th October. At this stage the Commanders-in-Chief contemplate and have been authorised to institute at their discretion, what may be called passive security measures. These involve a formal request to Egyptian local authorities to maintain order, the stopping of leave to Cairo and Alexandria (which has already been enforced), the posting of additional security guards and the like.
6. Stage II arises if the Egyptian Government resorts to administrative noncooperation. At this stage the Government might obstruct and delay customs, posts, civil aviation, quarantine clearances and the clearance of ships through the Suez Canal and interfere with our labour supply. There might be increased rudeness, official and individual, to the British personnel. Hostile demonstrations and minor violence might take place. In such a situation our passive security measures would be continued but intensified. Military protective patrols might have to be instituted and families of all ranks in the Canal Zone concentrated into more secure areas. Here again the Commanders-in-Chief have been given authority to take the appropriate counter-measures.
7. Stage III would amount to an Egyptian blockade of our forces. The Egyptian Government would no doubt pretend that our position in Egypt was illegal and would attempt to persuade us, by such measures as the withdrawal of labour supplies and port facilities and restriction of movement in and out of the Canal Zone, to withdraw. They might refuse the passage of ships through the Canal. We naturally hope that this stage will be averted but if it is forced upon us we should have to take counter-blockade measures. The nature of these would naturally depend on the particular steps which the Egyptian Government took on their side. It would almost certainly be necessary to re-enforce our troops in the Canal Zone and might eventually be necessary to take complete control there. In the worst case Egyptian troops might have to be removed by force if necessary. We might also have to take certain additional measures to ensure the passage of shipping through the Canal.
8. We trust that we shall not be faced with stage IIl. If it should, however, be forced on us we shall face it and see it through. Our military advisers are completely confident of our ability to hold and maintain ourselves in the Canal Zone. Much as we should regret the necessity of using force we would not shrink from our responsibilities if the situation demanded it. We are confident that in this course we should have the full moral support of Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South Africa as well as of the United States and the other countries to whom, as well as to us, the freedom of the Middle East region is of vital interest. The conse-quences of a withdrawal, which to us is unthinkable whether from the military, political or moral point of view, would be so disastrous, not merely for this country, but for the Commonwealth and for the Western Allies as a whole, that it is essential that we should stand firm together.
9. None of the counter-measures envisaged under Stage III has yet been authorised. It may be some time before the need for this arises. On the other hand it might arise at any moment and without warning. In giving such authority the United Kingdom Government would naturally do their utmost to consult the other Governments principally concerned in organising Middle East defence.
10. Should matters come to this pass there would of course be no hope of organising the Middle East Command on the lines contemplated and in our view we should be obliged to proceed without Egypt. Indeed that hope would be shattered much sooner if the Egyptian Government definitely reject the agreed propos-als. But in either case it would seem all the more urgent to press on with the Command arrangements and we would be strongly in favour of agreeing as soon as possible at least upon the appointment of a Supreme Allied Commander and we would place British forces in the Canal Zone under his command as contemplated in our proposals. In view of Egypt's non-co-operation the Allied headquarters would no doubt have to be set up outside Egypt. The United Kingdom Government for their part would agree to the establishment of the headquarters in Cyprus.
11. We would reject any suggestion that as the existence of a base in Egypt is a cardinal feature of the Allied Middle East Command organisation there can be no Allied base there if Egypt will not participate. The United Kingdom intend to hold the Egyptian base. If the Egyptians agree to participate in the Middle East Command, well and good, and the base would become an Allied base. But if there is no agreement with Egypt we still intend to hold the base so that it may be available for use by the Allies. And it is in this sense that we shall regard ourselves as agents acting on behalf of the free world when we say that we intend to stay in Egypt at whatever cost and ask for the support and encouragement of the Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Union Government in our stand.
12. We are explaining matters equally fully to the United States Government and have asked for their support also. We shall also be in communication with the French and Turkish Governments. The support of the Indian and Pakistan Governments (and of the Government of Ceylon) would be of immense value and our High Commissioners at Delhi, Karachi and Colombo have had instructions to give these Governments full information about the Command and Sudan proposals and our policy generally (without however revealing anything about our military plans - such as paragraphs 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10 above).
13. Copies are being given to Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African High Commissioners in London.