867N.01/2232: Telegram

The Minister in Iraq (Henderson) to the Secretary of State

47. 1. The information contained in your 27, March 2 has been most helpful.

2. The Minister for Foreign Affairs asked me to call on him this morning. The following contains the substance of some of the statements which he made to me:

Iraqi Government deeply regrets the publicity which has been given in the last 3 days in the Iraqi press to Zionist activities in the United States and to the resolutions in particular. The Government had endeavored to keep the matter from becoming public but following announcements made by the BBC and Reuters60 regarding the protest of the Egyptian Government it was compelled to issue its communiqué on March 1.
The Government has since been under fire on the ground that it had failed to take stronger steps and that it had concealed a matter [of] so grave importance from the public. It had already been [Page 584] attacked in Parliament and was preparing to meet further attacks. It was handicapped because it could not divulge all that had taken place without adding fresh fuel to the flames.

The Iraqi Legation in Washington had reported that it had refused to accept for transmission a nonsympathetic message from Senator Wagner to the President of the Iraqi Senate. The message was reported to be coming through other channels but had not as yet been received. Since the matter had become public the Foreign Office was being bombarded with enquiries from all sides. The diplomatic representatives in Baghdad of other Arab States had been approaching it several times daily for information regarding developments.

3. I replied to the Foreign Minister along the lines suggested in second paragraph of telegram under reference. I said that the endeavors of the Government to prevent the matter from developing in a manner that might adversely affect Iraqi-American relations were appreciated. I pointed out, however, that it seemed to me that the Government was itself partly responsible for the embarrassment which it was experiencing. So far as I could see the Government had not made any real attempt to make the situation clear to the public. In Iraq for instance one of the leading papers of Baghdad in its leading editorial of March 1 had given the distinct impression to its readers that the United States was embarking on a policy to deprive the Arabs of their rights in Palestine. Relatively few of the numerous articles which had appeared in the last few days in Baghdad press had left the impression on the readers that the resolutions were thus far merely the expressions of the Congressmen who had introduced them and had no connection with the policy of the American Government.

4. The Foreign Minister promised that he would discuss my remarks with the Prime Minister and try to make the situation more clear for the public.

5. Beginning March 1 the resolutions and activities of the Zionists in the United States have been the chief topic of discussion of the Iraqi press and people with the result that in some quarters there is considerable feeling against the United States and even against the local Jews. Students of the secondary schools yesterday desired to make a demonstration before the Legation but the Government refused to permit them to do so. It was suggested to some of the Jewish students that they refrain from attending their schools yesterday since there was a danger that while en route they would be attacked by Arab students for whom Friday is a holiday.

6. Various rumors are current in the bazaars as to the real reasons behind this agitation. There is a tendency in some quarters as might [Page 585] be expected to credit the British with stirring up feeling against the United States in order (a) to make it difficult for the United States to exploit its oil concessions in fear of Arab hostility or (b) to place the onus on the United States for any decision unpleasant to the Arab world which Great Britain might reach in regard to Palestine. The Legation has not been able to find any evidence which I got [which might?] substantiate these rumors, however the British censorship in control of the local press has prohibited the publication of the articles in question.

7. It would appear from articles published today that the campaign is losing its anti-American tone and is developing into agitation for Arab unity and/or Arab control of Palestine.

8. Translation of the Government communiqué of March 1 the tone of which is mild in comparison with that of articles appearing in the press is being sent in telegram No. 48 of today’s date.61

Paraphrases by pouch to Cairo, Jidda, Jerusalem, Beirut.

  1. British news agency.
  2. Infra.