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Digital Archive International History Declassified

1956

PRINCE SAUD’S VISIT TO LEBANON, SYRIA AND ARAB COUNTRIES

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    Description of Prince Saud's priorities in visiting Lebanon and Syria: primarily, hearing about President Sham'oon's visit to Baghdad and garnering confidence for the image of Crown Prince Saud to prevent internal strife.
    "Prince Saud’s Visit to Lebanon, Syria and Arab Countries," 1956, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 8, File 11E/8, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/119882
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11E/8

Prince Saud’s Visit to Lebanon, Syria and Arab Countries

Prince Saud’s visit deals with two political items:

First: Learning the outcome of President Sham’oon’s Visit to Baghdad and Staying Abreast of the Talks to Ensure Arab Collective Undertaking

President Sham’oon has relayed to Baghdad the outcome of his talks in Hejaz about the Iraq-Hejaz Union.  Prince Saud came to Lebanon after his return to find out more about the Baghdad talks to relay them to his father. He is in constant contact with his father.  These talks will then be taken to Damascus to include Syria in the slated union.  Syria is the straw that is breaking this union.  However, the agreement between Hejaz, Jordan and Baghdad and Egypt being concerned with its special affair with the British will keep Syria isolated from the Ansar and force it to stand alone in the Arab arena, which will weaken its fight where it will have two choices:

Either to give in to the Arab-British project to achieve a collective effort, or the joint fight or the struggle to achieve a valid nationalistic effort that will ward off being indirectly tied to the British.  In case of this struggle, internal strife will arise in Syria from the Iraqi policy allied Syrian parties.  In order to prevent this, President Shishkly is rushing to elect a government and to restore constitutional conditions in the country in order not to bear the responsibility for future events in Syria.

The Saudi King, his Crown Prince and the President of Lebanon all realize the sensitive situation in Syria, thus we see the negotiations starting between Lebanon, Hejaz, Iraq, Jordan and maybe Egypt before Syria.

The other political item on the visit: is to establish the image of Crown Prince Saud and garner confidence in him by the Arab countries to save him from internal strife with his brothers for the throne of Hejaz.

Detail: that King Ibn Saud favors Crown Prince Saud over the rest of his bothers.  He’s be under the impression, this last year, since he fell ill for a while, that there are secret, dangerous efforts to keep Prince Saud from assuming the throne after him, and instead install Prince Faisal Saud in his place.  He has felt that Prince Faisal’s popularity is on the rise, especially in Nejd where the tribes are allies of and under the control of Prince Turki Al-Saud, who supports Prince Faisal over Prince Saud.

As he felt this, King Abdul-Aziz Saud called all his sons, among them Faisal and Turki, to his Diwan and asked them to swear by the Quran that they will support Prince Saud to the throne, to which everyone did except Princes Faisal and Turki.  Their answer was: “By God, we will not now swear an oath of loyalty to Saud and support him to the throne as he is now the Crown Prince and he will assume power.  If he is up to the task, then we’ll swear the oath of loyalty and if he is not, then by God, we will not support him and be his successors.

Faced with this, King Abdul-Aziz Saud seized the chance of political talks being held by Arab states xxxxxx His purpose from Prince Saud’s visits, Providing him with financial means and assistance and contacting all parties and groups of Arab people, is to strengthen his Crown Prince’s position among the Arab states to force the silence and get the support of his opponents in Hejaz and Nejd.

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