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tion 12 was delivered to the Foreign Office on April 8 and has remained unanswered.
We have had a talk with Lagarde,13 however, and he has pointed out confidentially that whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter the concession has been retroceded to the Germans. At a moment when the French Government is bracing itself to resist increasing German pressure in matters pertaining to Syria, he is reluctant to reopen a question which the Germans consider settled. He requested that we do not press the matter, adding that any application made by the Oriental Institute for a new concession anywhere in Syria would be acted upon promptly and favorably.
In the absence of political considerations of which we in Vichy are unaware we are inclined to agree that it would be wise not to press the matter at this time.
890D.927/145 : Telegram The Acting Secretary of State to the Consul General at Beirut
WASHINGTON, July 24, 1941. 145. Following from Oriental Institute:
“Please ask present Government Syria 14 confirm Fakhariyah concession.” 15
INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES REGARDING THE IMPACT OF THE
EUROPEAN WAR UPON SYRIA AND LEBANON 16
I. Representations by the United States Regarding British Economic Blockade
of Syria and Lebanon
740.00112 Navicert/227 : Telegram
The Consul General at Beirut (Palmer) to the Secretary of State
BEIRUT, December 4, 1940—noon.
[Received December 5—7:52 a. m.] 140. The British Consulate General presented to the French High Commission on November 27 a “notice” that His Majesty's Government had decided to extend the system of navicerts and certificates of
13 Ernest Lagarde, Chief of Africa-Levant Section in the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
14 Established after the occupation of Syria by the British-Free French forces; for correspondence on this subject, see pp. 725 ff.
Concession confirmed, April 14, 1942.
origin to the French mandated territories of the Levant (Syria) as from November 18. According to it:
(1) imports into Syria from a number of countries including the United States will be covered by cargo navicerts;
(2) an exporter from Syria to any country may apply to the British Consulate General for a certificate of origin and interest;
(3) any ship sailing from a port in Syria will require a ship's navicert in order to avoid liability for seizure, which will not be issued to a ship carrying mails unless the master undertakes to drop the mails for examination at a specified British port and unless passenger list is submitted for consular approval;
(4) no certificate will be issued for territories regarded as under enemy occupation or control; France occupied and unoccupied, French Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, French Somaliland, or any other territory deemed to be under enemy occupation or control.
My British colleague ? wrote me confidentially on November 28:
“I understand that the policy of His Majesty's Government is to exercise as much economic pressure as possible on Syria and that in consequence they are most unfavorably disposed towards such trade (between the United States and Syria) and would in fact abstain from granting any navicerts in connection with it. I understand further that they have under review the question of tightening up the blockade on the Persian Gulf and it is likely that control in that area will be increased."
He informed me verbally yesterday for [that?] he has received subsequent instructions to the effect that every application made to him must be referred to London for decision. He thinks that the decision will be uniformly negative unless London authorities are requested from an outside source to favor a particular item of trade or shipment of goods. While Syria has not been formally listed as territory under enemy control, Consul General Havard thinks that the measures taken amount to practically the same thing and that trade between the United States and Syria as well as Iraq will be made most difficult if not impossible. He said that from the instructions he has received he can only deduce that London's policy is to asphyxiate economically this territory until “they decide to come around”.
Havard has informed the High Commission only in the sense of the first paragraph. He is purposely keeping it uninformed of further instructions; he says that it will find out soon enough. The Chief of the Political Section of the High Commission in conversation on November 28 did not appear to think the “notice” of outstanding importance, nor did he think that the territories could be deprived of essential goods to such an extent as to influence the political situation. However, the High Commissioner 17a today expressed to me doubt as to whether the British would apply the navicert regulations fairly and envisages an increasingly difficult situation within this country in such an eventuality. In my estimation the ravitaillement organization is going from bad to worse and appears to be headed for a fiasco; supplies of essential goods such as coal, gasoline, kerosene, sugar, rice, automobile parts are obviously insufficient and irregular.
17 Godfrey T. Havard.
Inquirers at Beirut concerning the possibilities of Syrian-American trade will be answered with the above information in mind. While Havard wants it kept confidential in Beirut, he stated that he saw no objection to the information being disseminated in America.
This obviously puts an end to all the efforts made by the British Consul General and the French High Commissioner to work out some local economic arrangement between Syria and Palestine.
Copies of cabled text will be forwarded by pouch to Jerusalem, Cairo, Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara.
The British Embassy to the Department of State
We are trying to exercise the maximum economic pressure on Syria. This does not mean that we desire or expect an immediate uprising. A weak Syria is, however, a safeguard against any possibility of hostile French action of some kind against us. This seems to us essential in view of the strategical importance of Syria and of the unreliability of the Vichy Government. This seems to His Majesty's Government to involve less danger than any other course, and does not amount to their working for the collapse of Syria.
In order to give the local French authorities some tangible advantage from the continued presence at Beirut of the British Consul General, His Majesty's Government propose to allow Syrian exports in rare and isolated instances where the Consul General is able to certify that there is no question of metropolitan French origin or interest.
Should the United States Government be very anxious to continue any particular Syrian exports or imports, His Majesty's Government would be ready to give sympathetic consideration to particular applications. They hope, however, that this will not be the case as they wish to relax their pressure as little as possible.
[WASHINGTON,] 17 January, 1941.
17a Gabriel Puaux.
741.90D/2 Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Villard)
[WASHINGTON,] January 17, 1941. Mr. Helm 18 left the attached informal memorandum 19 in regard to the British position in respect to trade with Syria. The policy in this respect was summed up in the first sentence, namely, that the British Government is endeavoring to exercise “the maximum economic pressure on Syria”. While consideration would be given in very exceptional cases to the continuance of certain types of American trade with Syria, the Government of Great Britain hoped that this would not be necessary since it was desired to maintain the pressure as fully as possible.
I asked Mr. Helm whether his Government had given consideration to the possibility that such a policy might force Syria into the arms of the Germans, that serious uprisings might take place, and that bitterness might be aroused against the British Government. Mr. Helm said that the different courses which might be pursued were certainly debatable but that it appeared the policy of his Government was to endeavor to create dissatisfaction with the Vichy regime in Syria and thus win the inhabitants over to the British side. Sufficient pressure would be applied to bring the country to the point of economic collapse, when inducements would be held out by the British for economic rehabilitation. The swinging over of the country to full support of the British would then follow.
I said to Mr. Helm that we had considerable doubts on this score, as he knew by our previous conversations in regard to trade with North Africa. Mr. Helm said that he could only speak personally on the latter subject since he had received no final word from London as to its policy in this area, but he believed that the blockade against the French African colonies was more likely to be tightened than relaxed. He said that he did not desire to discuss the matter without further information from London, but at this time he felt that it was the intention of his Government to pursue a policy in North Africa similar to that in force with respect to Syria. In this connection it was also his opinion that the British Government would endeavor to hamper the trade between Martinique and French Africa or metropolitan France as much as possible.
18 A. K. Helm, First Secretary of the British Embassy.
740.00112 European War 1939/21313: Telegram The Consul General at Beirut (Engert) to the Secretary of State
BEIRUT, January 24, 1941–5 p.m.
[Received January 24—1:30 p. m.] 19. Consulate General's telegrams Nos. 140, December 4, 1940, and 16 and 17 of January 22, 1941.20 I am informed by the British Consulate General that it has received a communication from the Ministry of Economic Warfare stating that in pursuance of its general economic policy toward the French mandated territories of the Levant it is desirous that no Syrian goods shall be exported via Basra unless covered by a navicert or a certificate of origin issued at Beirut after reference to London. The British Consulate General is instructed to report to the Ministry and to the British Consul at Basra any case which may come to its notice of local merchants or others attempting to export Syrian products via Basra without having obtained the relevant documents.
The communication from the Ministry gives no indication of the principles on which it is granting or refusing applications referred to it by the British Consul General here and the latter believes from his experience that it is treating each application on its own merits.
In view of the last sentence in paragraph 2 of my telegram No. 16, January 22, could the Department inform me for my guidance whether American ships loading at Basra are in fact accepting cargo for the United States without navicerts? Repeated by mail to Baghdad.
740.00112 European War 1939/21313: Telegram The Secretary of State to the Consul General at Beirut (Engert)
WASHINGTON, January 28, 1941–5 p. m. 9. Your 19, January 24, 5 p. m. The Department has been informed by the British Embassy here that all exports originating in Syria, Turkey or other countries to which the British control system has been extended must be covered by certificates of origin, in order to assure non-interference, regardless of whether the goods are loaded at Basra or elsewhere and regardless of whether they are carried on American or other vessels. The American Eastern Corporation informs the Department that American vessels loading at Basra are requiring certificates of origin for cargoes originating in such countries.
20 Telegrams Nos. 16 and 17 not printed.