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Digital Archive International History Declassified

September 15, 1951

UNTITLED REPORT ON PRINCE FAISAL'S VISIT TO LONDON AND ITS REPERCUSSIONS

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    A lengthy report on reasons motivating Prince Faisal's visit to London, US-Britian contention for oil, and secrets regarding Iraq-Jordan unification.
    "Untitled report on Prince Faisal's visit to London and its repercussions ," September 15, 1951, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 8, File 1E/8, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/119880
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Saudi

1E/8

Beirut, Sept 15, 1951

Topic: Important report with facts about:

1 – Reasons behind Pr. Faisal Al-Saud’s negotiations in London

2 – Competition between the U.S. and Britain for the oil

3 – Details, secrets and everything there is to know about the Iraq-Jordan unification and its connections to Faisal’s London visit.

_________________________

It’s a well-known fact that HH Prince Faisal Al-Saud, Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, had visited London last month accompanied by the ministry undersecretary, Sheik Yousef Yassin, where he met with British businessmen, after which he returned home.  There are a lot of stories and publication about these talks and their aims.  There is a lot of commentary and propaganda about the plan to unify Jordan with Iraq.  I had used my time for the Adha Eid to make calls to the ministries, during which I found out from high-level Saudi sources all the details and circumstances of these talks and all there is to know about Iraq-Jordan unity, and it is as follows:

1 - A Saudi Decree to Invest

Due to what oil has brought it in terms of overall development in general, Saudi Arabia is now interested in establishing its regional water borders in a way that guarantees its total control over oil wells and mineral centers taking advantage in that of the American influence in the region, which I will explain later.  They had issued in the summer of 1949 a Royal Decree with the following: “that its coast and underground is vacant, which allows it, with its following the stipulations of international law, to authorize commercial ships to pass through its regional waters.”

In this decree came the following: “in the case that other countries waters are infringing on waters referred to in this decree, a Saudi authority will be appointed with the agreement of the country that these waters ore governed by according to international principles.  In order for the kingdom’s laws of security, navigation and for financial purposes, it is incumbent that maritime supervision include the area adjacent to the coast and out into sea by six nautical miles in addition to the initial six miles at the base of the coastal lines.”

In the decree, it was specified that the term “coastal” is being used to refer to the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aqaba and the Persian Gulf as it is known that a large section of these areas are under the British control.

Saudi authority was proven in the justification of this decree regarding the areas referred to as “Bottom of the sea” or “the bottom” in the areas in the Persian Gulf that run along the Saudi coast that: “due to the need for optimizing benefits of the world’s natural resources and in order to promote efforts to increase exploration of these resources so they can be within reach.  In case there are enough valuable resources in the Persian Gulf along the Saudi coast, then the common practice is to make use of these resources with the neighboring countries knowledge and that extracting these resources depends on cooperating to protect these coasts and optimize their potential.  Coastal countries have to supervise activities near their coasts closely for the protection of these resources.

“And since other countries are currently pursuing sea bottom exploration in areas along Saudi shores, then Saudi authority declares: that the political plan and its goals in the Persian Gulf areas along the borders are: that what lies beneath and at the bottom of the sea coast is subject to its jurisdiction.  That party’s borders are to be drawn with its knowledge according to agreements reached with other countries that also have jurisdiction and supervision in adjacent areas.  These arrangements should not impede the rights to of free navigation and obstruct the fly zone above.  Likewise, the rights to fishing and pearl fishery traditions by the people of the Persian Gulf and the situation at the top should not be obstructed.”

This is a summary of the Saudi decree regarding investment in the regional water of the Persian Gulf, which also makes reference to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba.  Following are the public and secret reason behind it:

2- Saudi Ambition in the Region

HRH King Abdul-aziz Al-Saud, had learned the HRH the former Amir of Kuwait had signed a deal in early 1949, a contract with a private oil company to invest in the Kuwaiti coasts that is said to contain oil underground.  Therefore, the King has sought to do the same on his coasts in fringing on the protected coasts belonging to his neighbors.  So American companies have been making similar offers to his highness to search for oil and mineral along his coasts.  It has been made clear to him that in the Emirate of Qatar and its adjacent coastline near “Al-Qatif” and Dhahran and parallel to Bahrain there are small islands that contain large reserves of oil and other minerals under the sea.  Likewise, islands along the Kuwait coast are also rich with these resources.  Thus he seized the opportunity to expand his benefit from the resources in these areas by issuing this royal decree in hopes that his American-made ships can go through.

His fleet sails these waters to protect these passage ways.  He has sought the assistance of the Egyptian government to aid him with a number of expert seamen to work these ships that have reached 24 small vessels that patrol the coast, while at the same time not interfering with the main navy control run by the British in the surrounding territories and the international shipping routes at the entrance to the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

3- American Ambitions

As for including the Red Sea and the Aqaba Gulf in this Saudi waters decree, it is nothing but a precursor to going after them in the future.  This will allow for regaining control over Aqaba and Ma’an as part of Hejaz since the American policy is to capitalize on the resources in these waters and their strategic location to in turn control British Navy and political influence in those regions and others.

4 – Prince Faisal’s Negotiations on Events in Jordan

In light of these events and information, Prince Faisal has had negotiations with the British government followed by political discussions about the events in East Jordan and the assassination of King Abdulla, RIP.  These discussions focused mainly on the activities against the unification of Iraq and Jordan in those two countries, in addition to accomplishing the unity of Jordan, Iraq and Syria in the Fertile Crescent Project, which will put Lebanon in a place where it will have to seek to join the union in due time.  The Prince has been able to guide the British government against the project, when in fact it is that government that has sought this policy as it’s against the completion of this project, thus convincing the Saudis to go that route likewise.

5 – Efforts by the Kuwaiti Emir and Emir Abdulla

The response by Sheik Abdulla Al-Salim, the current Emir of Kuwait, Emir to the efforts by Emir Faisal was swift.  Emir Al-Salim traveled to Bahrain to touch Bahraini and Qatari Emirs and discuss the issues of coastal borders, the Kuwaiti islands and pearl fishing locations.  He made it clear to them that theirs and his homelands are in danger of “falling prey to Saudi ambitions with America’s help,” which led them to get in touch with the British foreign ministry to probe into Prince Faisal’s talks in London and the purpose behind them.  They refused to give an inch of their land to others.

HRH Prince Faisal, the Iraqi Guardian, also made major efforts in London to close the gaps created by Prince Faisal of Saudi in the Jordan-Iraq Project, but he was met with no reassurances to proceed with the project.

All these efforts by the three parties resulted in stalling HRH Prince Faisal Al-Saud’s talks and their postponement to a later time.

6 – British Position in the Gulf of Aqaba

The British foreign ministry has made it clear to Prince Faisal Al-Saud that the Aqaba has great strategic importance militarily and commercially due to its location on the Red Sea and at a crossroads of multiple routes.  There is a recommendation that it be the main port for exporting Jordanian and Israeli goods.  There is also a project to build a canal connecting the Gulf of Aqaba with Israel’s Mediterranean shores through Negev in south Palestine.  Oil pipelines will be extended through east Jordan to Aqaba instead of the Mediterranean in case war break out in that area.

This means that Britain is not willing to give in on the topic of Aqaba and its Gulf since a railway system is being built to connect it with Ma’an via Al-Mudaura station, thus directly connecting it with Amman and Damascus and Amman with Haifa.

7 – Truth about the Iraq-Jordan Project

It has become certain to the government of Saudi Arabia that before his assassination, King Abdulla was attempting to unify Jordan with Iraq to pave the way for the Greater Syria and the Fertile Crescent Projects.

As reports have shown, following are the details: His Excellency, Mr. Salih Jabr, Head of the Socialist Nationalist Party has arrived in Amman on May 22, 1950, for the purpose of attending the Military exposition to which he was invited by the Jordanian government with a military envoy representing the Iraqi army.  The real reason for Mr. Salih Jabr’s visit is twofold: to meet with the political committee of the Arab League to lessen the disagreement between the League and King Abdulla for the annexation of the Palestinian West Bank to Jordan, and to issue a decision by the Arab League to separate it from Jordan. The second matter is top secret as it has to do with Iraq-Jordan Project.  King Abdulla of Jordan was apprehensive of his country’s political enemies and their ambitions, primarily King Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud and Haj Amin Al-Hussaini that they might succeed in overcoming his two sons, Talal and Naif, to annex Jordan with Syria in a republic, or with Saudi Arabia.  He was hoping to bring the two Hashemite houses together in Iraq and Jordan, and to remove the obstacles from the Greater Syria and the Fertile Crescent Projects.  HRH King Abdulla had complete trust in Mr. Salih Jabr as he had conveyed to him these concerns.

1. Mr. Jabr had then gone back to Baghdad to propose this to Prince Abdulla, the Iraqi Regent, who showed great interest. On Jun 26, 1950, His Royal Highness had visited Amman accompanied by Mr. Salih Jabr to hold talks with the deceased King Abdulla in the second phase of the project and to lay down the draft agreement, which Mr. Jabr carried back to Baghdad on the 29th.  This draft was to be looked into by top palace officials and to draw the final draft.  These talks were conducted in total secrecy to the extent that the Iraqi Cabinet Head, Mr. Tawfiq Al-Suwaidi had no knowledge of the details.

The draft contained eleven items in which it was stated clearly that “the neighboring countries around Iraq and Jordan will greatly benefit.”  Days had gone by, then out of the blue, Tawfiq Al-Suwaidi resigns his position at the ministry on Sept 15, 1950, thus making this project nothing but ink on paper despite King Abdulla’s urging Salih Jabr to accelerate its completion.  During His Highness’ visit to Baghdad to attend the funeral of the King Faisal II’s mother, he urged King Abdul Ilah and Salih Jabr and top palace officials to rush to finalize the project, however these intention became known to the British Mandate in Baghdad, which resorted to place obstacles to hinder this effort.

When King Talal of Jordan fell ill, King Abdulla started to push King Abdul Ilah of official of the Iraqi Palace to speed up the declaration of the project.  Thus King Abdul Ilah held a secret meeting at the resort of Sarsank on Jul 6, 1951, which was the second day of Fitr Eid, attended by Noori Pasha Al-Said, Head of the Cabinet, and Tawfiq Al-Suwaidi, the Foreign Minister, and Colonel Shakir Al-Wadi, the Defense Minister, and other top official in the Iraqi palace.

They looked into the draft project for many hours, at the end of which they issued their agreement to the terms with some amendments.  They also agreed at the same meeting that Mr. Al-Suwaidi will carry this amended project to Amman at the end of the Eid on the 8th or 9th of July, 1951. During that time, a certain sequence of events took place unexpectedly with the resignation of Tawfiq Al-Suwaidi from his position at the Foreign Ministry with the claim that the government had refused to appoint his brother Mr. Arif Al-Suwaidi for the position of Supreme Judge of the Court of Cassation.  It was also said that the British Mandate Office had found out about this so they made these arrangements to block the project.  On Jul 16, 1951, Mr. Riyadh Al-Sulh was assassinated in Amman and on the 20th of the same month, King Abdulla was assassination in Jerusalem.  Following this, events took place in Jordan to conduct parliamentary elections to appoint the senate and call for the appointment of Prince Talal to become King of Jordan.  This shelved the project between Baghdad and Amman.

8 – Britain against the unification Project

All my private and public inquiries with top politicians who are specialized in this project have indicated to me that Britain alone is responsible for causing this project to become null, and that it’s still placing obstacles to end it, paving the way for Prince Talal to assume the throne especially for the purpose of blocking efforts made in Iraq and Jordan to proceed with it.  Prince Faisal Al-Saud, the Saudi Foreign Minister, announced to the British that the Saudi Arabia cannot stay silent about this union, and that Britain will be responsible for its outcome, since the Saudi King considers it against his Kingdom’s and his throne’s best interest, which led to the Britain’s behind-the-scenes meddling to stop without a stir.

Despite all this, Iraq’s government and people are still pursuing their policy to accomplish the project.  In my previous reports, I have shown that the Jordanian government is committed to stand against it, as well as His Highness King Talal.  Since Jun 29, 1950, till Jul 6, 1951, the British policy was alone in fighting the project in Amman and Baghdad for the following reasons:

First – that its practical influence in Jordan is based on a treaty and through the Arab Jordanian Army without any popular opposition that threatens this influence.

Second – that Jordan is in a greatly strategic location beneficial to Britain due to its borders with Egypt, Saudi, Syria, Iraq and Israel, and controlling its borders leads to leads to control over these too.

Third – Jordanian public opinion is not against British influence in Jordan due to the tribal make-up of its population and the involvement of these tribes in the Jordanian army whose members receive good salaries.

Therefore, and due to these three facts, Britain does not want to be faced with negative complications stemming from Iraq and its negative, extreme party policies.  Once these methods infiltrate Jordan, Britain will be able to control its people at any time now or in the future.  And was it not for the political necessity, Britain would not have demanded the annexation of the Palestinian Bank to Jordan since it brought great reason for instability of the situation in Jordan.

These are the true roles of the HRH Prince Faisal Al-Saud’s talks in London and how they relate to the Jordan-Iraq Union. These are the real, exact events of the Project.

Salih Jabr in Lebanon

1. Iraq will continue to push for the project until Jordan gives their final, official word in the matter, only then will they stop Iraq in its tracks.

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