890G.00/513: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary of State

81. 1. In general there has been nothing of particular interest to report during the past few weeks, not even the usual local political intrigues. The populace is keenly but calmly following through radio and press the progress of the Battle of Britain as well as developments in the Balkans and North Africa and they are inclined to give more credence to British reports than formerly. The populace is impressed by American defense measures.

2. I received the following information from the Counselor of the British Embassy last night.

Recently extreme Iraqi pan-Arab protagonists have renewed pressure on the British Embassy demanding that the British Government take some concrete action at this juncture favorable to Arab cause in Palestine and Syria. They seem particularly interested in Syria and were even disposed to foment a rebellion there against the French hoping thereby to involve the British and thus bring about temporary British occupation of Syria. They were told that the British Government would stand by its declaration in respect to Syria6 issued upon [Page 710] the collapse of France and would strongly discountenance any action by the Arabs calculated to disturb the situation there.

Nuri, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, has just returned from a visit to Egypt, Palestine and Syria where he tried to feel out the situation but he seems to have received no real encouragement. The Mufti is intriguing and trying to spread false propaganda with regard to British action in Palestine.

3. A Cabinet change might occur in the not distant future with either Nuri or Jamil Midfai as Prime Minister. In spite of the former’s pro-British attitude the British would probably prefer the latter at this juncture as being more stable and more interested in Iraq than in pan-Arab policies.

  1. See telegram No. 1971, July 4, 1940, from the Ambassador in the United Kingdom, p. 896.