741.90G 11/32: Telegram

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

115. I saw the Prime Minister and Nuri at the Foreign Office at 10:45 this morning and fulfilled the Department’s instruction No. 56 of December 3, 5 p.m. In view of the fact that in the Iraqi Government’s telegram to their Chargé d’Affaires in London they embodied what they termed the British Ambassador’s interference in internal affairs of Iraq, I deemed it advisable to assure the Prime Minister that it was not the desire of the United States Government to interfere in the internal affairs of any country but that with a world situation such as existed today some situations had become of international importance involving matters in which the United States was vitally interested.

The Prime Minister informed me that it has been and still is the policy of the Iraqi Government to fulfill in letter and spirit their treaty of alliance with Great Britain and that all rumors which I might have heard to the contrary are unfounded. Inasmuch as the effect of the Department’s démarche might have been lessened had I unreservedly accepted his reply, I remarked that unfortunately the rumors in question which had not been publicly denied by the Government had created an atmosphere which had convinced the public and all observers that the Iraqi Government was anti-British and following a policy of non-cooperation with the British, but I was glad to receive [Page 719]his assurance that this was not true and that it is the intention of his Government to fulfill in both letter and spirit their treaty of alliance with Great Britain and that I would report accordingly to my Government.

Immediately after my meeting with the Prime Minister, I called on the Turkish Minister and discussed the situation with him. He is well aware of the true situation and of its potential dangers and we both agreed that it could be developed into a conflict between the Iraqis and the British which might interrupt Turkey’s only means of contact with the world through Basra. Being convinced that it is to Turkey’s interest that the Iraqi Government should respect its treaty of alliance with the British and cooperate fully with them he is telegraphing to his Government today requesting authority to take parallel action with us.

Before seeing the Prime Minister I called upon the British Ambassador and informed him of the Department’s instruction which pleased him very much. I agreed to his informing the Regent whom he is seeing today, for it will strengthen Regent’s hand in his efforts to bring about Iraq’s cooperation with the British. He read to me his recent telegram to London and the replies—the last from Lord Halifax, informing him that he had told the Iraqi Chargé d’Affaires that the Ambassador at Baghdad had been acting on his instructions and that he had repeated to the Chargé d’Affaires that His Majesty’s Government had lost confidence in the friendly good faith of the Iraqi Prime Minister but would leave it to the Iraqis themselves to decide what should be done in the matter. The Ambassador is determined that the only satisfactory solution is the resignation of the present Prime Minister and formation of a government willing to carry out its treaty obligations with Great Britain.…

While the [situation?] is still fraught with dangerous possibilities, particularly because the army is an uncertain factor, I am hopeful that after a brief delay a peaceful solution will be found.