The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Great Britain (Sterling)

No. 981

Sir: The Department acknowledges the receipt of your despatch No. 1861 of May 11, 1927 with which you enclose a copy of an informal Foreign Office note stating that the latest draft text of the proposed Iraq Convention is under consideration by the Iraq Government and [Page 810] communicating, at the request of the Colonial Office, certain considerations regarding the status of American nationals in Iraq in the event that they should become involved in disputes or legal proceedings during the period which would necessarily transpire between the date of signature of the proposed treaty and the date of its entry into force.

It is noted that Mr. Oliphant of the Foreign Office, in bringing these considerations informally to the Embassy’s attention, added that he hesitated to do more than inform it of the Colonial Office statement. The Department concludes from this addition that the Foreign Office appreciates that the position of this Government with respect to the question of the status of its nationals in Iraq pending the entry into force of the proposed treaty cannot but be the same as that taken with respect to the same question as it arose in Palestine prior to the exchange of ratifications of the American British Palestine Mandate Convention of December 3, 1924.74 In this latter connection particular reference may be made to Documents Nos. 6 and 29–32 of the Department’s confidential publication entitled “Mandate for Palestine”, Series C, No. 55, copies of which have been furnished the Embassy and the Foreign Office.75

Briefly stated, the position which this Government must necessarily maintain with respect to this matter is that the American-Ottoman Treaty of 183076 and, in particular, the capitulatory rights enjoyed thereunder by the United States and its nationals are still in effect as regards that part of the former Ottoman Empire known as Iraq; that, owing to the American constitutional system, such rights can be modified or abrogated only by treaty; and that, therefore, until the proposed convention has been signed and has been ratified by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, the executive authority of this Government would be unable to accede to any proposal of a nature similar to that suggested by the Colonial Office.

The Department desires that the Embassy bring the foregoing informally to the attention of the Foreign Office, at which time it might be well to add that the Department is unable to perceive that the situation as regards the status of American nationals in Iraq is likely to be any more difficult between the signing of the proposed treaty and the exchange of ratifications thereof than it has been since the detachment of Iraq from the former Ottoman Empire.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
W. R. Castle, Jr.
  1. Foreign Relations, 1924, vol. ii, p. 212.
  2. See Department of State, Near Eastern Series, No. 1, pp. 59 and 96 ff. Additional correspondence related to documents 29–32 is printed in Foreign Relations, 1925, vol. ii, pp. 217 ff.
  3. Miller, Treaties, vol. 3, p. 541.