741.90G 11/37: Telegram

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

127. In consequence of a long discussion I had with Nuri, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, when he paid me a visit December 26, he brought to me today a copy of his 2,300 word letter to the Prime Minister dated December 15 (approximately), copy of which I shall forward by airmail transpacific with a covering despatch.16

In this letter Nuri emphasized the importance of harmony and frankness as factors essential for the success of a Cabinet, especially at this particular time and he outlined some of the obstacles confronting them, particularly in their relations with Great Britain. In this connection he stated that the Palestine problem is the main cause of the disturbance and weakening of the once normally happy relations between Iraq and Britain. After reviewing Iraq’s past efforts in behalf of the Arabs’ cause and the Palestine situation in particular, he reminded the Prime Minister of the semi-official proposal of the Iraqi Government to the British Colonial Secretary whereby they offered that Iraq should enter the war by Great Britain’s side in return for the British Government’s solving the Palestine question (he means immediate establishment of a national government) and meeting the wishes of the Arabs of Palestine in a manner not opposed to their policy as set forth in the White Paper.

Referring further to the earlier reverses of the British he states that now it is evident that the British are able alone to stand against the two Axis powers and implies that Iraq’s safety depends upon a British victory.

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He stated that for the first time in the history of Iraq they had received an official communication from the Government of the United States in which that Government expressed an earnest desire for the welfare of Iraq and for the preservation of its independence. He then reviewed what I had communicated to him and the Prime Minister in accordance with Department’s telegram No. 56, December 3. Stating that the interest thus shown by America in regard to Iraqi affords them a fresh opportunity to serve the Arabian causes in a new field, he suggests the despatch to the United States of a deputation of Iraqis-Palestinians and Syrians to set out the problems arisen from the Syrian and Palestinian questions. He also recommended that this Government appoint a Minister Plenipotentiary to Washington instead of a Chargé d’Affaires.

I respectfully suggest that the Department reserve comment, if any, until the receipt of the full text of Nuri’s communication and my despatch.

He expressed the opinion during his visit that the Prime Minister would resign within about 2 weeks and that a government of more or less neutral personalities would be set up to be succeeded after a few months by a stronger group.

  1. Despatch No. 1687, January 7, 1941, and enclosure not printed.