No. 1383
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Second Secretary of the Embassy in Iraq (Barrow)1



  • Dr. Fadhil Jamali, Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Mr. Tom Bromley, First Secretary, British Embassy
  • Mr. John R. Barrow, Second Secretary, American Embassy
  • Mr. David Newsom, Second Secretary, American Embassy

On a social occasion spontaneous discussion was touched off among the above mentioned participants after Dr. Jamali had made reference to Ambassador Berry’s press statement of August 27.2 Dr. Jamali’s specific reaction to the statement will be fully analyzed in an Embassy despatch, but the discussion developed into a wider range of topics. The highlights of the discussion are given below.

Dr. Jamali said that the statement was a good one in expressing the American point of view and in enabling persons like himself to understand American policy. He also said that the recent leak of a document prepared by Assistant Secretary Byroade, regarding his Middle Eastern tour, which had been forwarded to him by the Embassy in Washington and which was commented upon in the Washington [Page 2337] Times Herald, had also helped him to understand American objectives.*

Dr. Jamali said, however, that neither of these documents was geared to Arab mentality.

He said that the question of Middle East defense, for example, should have been given “fifth priority”, since Palestine, North Africa, Fertile Crescent and economic development were all more important from the Iraqi viewpoint.

A discussion ensued regarding each of the foregoing topics, much of which followed familiar ground. Mr. Bromley and Mr. Barrow both asked if giving defense a fifth priority was consistent with the Soviet Union’s probable timetable for aggression which they thought to be the decisive factor. Dr. Jamali said that he had listed his five priorities not from the standpoint of timing but from the standpoint of emphasis. He thought progress should be made on each of these questions simultaneously, but that emphasis should be in the order indicated.

Mr. Barrow said that a view held by some noted diplomatic historians was that states which intervened in situations in which they had no concrete interests more often than not committed blunders thereby. . . . Whereas appreciating that Iraq had emotional interests in Palestine, Mr. Barrow wondered whether Iraq’s concrete interests were sufficient to justify Palestine being given a top priority as regards relations with the West, particularly since the Haifa pipeline had been sealed off. Dr. Jamali said he did not believe in the “materialistic philosophy” of the diplomatic historians which Mr. Barrow had cited. He said that Iraq had important concrete interests in the port of Haifa, but even if that were not the case it would make no difference. He noted that Iraq had no concrete interests whatsoever in North Africa, but, nevertheless, felt very strongly on the subject.

Mr. Bromley became the principal target of attack on the Fertile Cresent. Dr. Jamali said that whereas the British had once been favorably disposed toward the plan, provided it was in accord with the will of the peoples concerned, he thought they had now changed their attitude as a result of bargains with the French. He noted that Iraq had given Britain guarantees that its strategic position in Jordan would be preserved if it supported Iraqi aspirations.

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Mr. Bromley expressed ignorance of any bargains with the French on this question and said that as far as he knew the UK’s official policy was the same as it always had been.

Dr. Jamali referred in slighting terms to Colonel Shishikly in Syria, noting that he had once foretold the downfall of Colonel Zaim and once again would warn the West against truckling with “dictators”. He said that French arms, which were really American arms, and Saudi Arabian money, which was really American money, were all that were sustaining Shishikly.

Mr. Barrow asked how the Fertile Crescent scheme would affect Arab Collective Security. Would its implementation not, in effect, draw a horizontal line separating the Northern Arab States from the Southern? Dr. Jamali noted that some Arab States had tried to expel Jordan from the Arab League after it had annexed territory on the west bank of the Jordan, but had failed. He said that Egyptian and Saudi Arabian resentment to the Fertile Crescent plan would quickly subside expecially if the great powers would use their influence to this end.

Jamali said he conceived of three logical geo-political units in the Arab world, the first being the Fertile Crescent; the second being Saudi Arabia, Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula; the third being Egypt, Libya and the Sudan. He felt that unified states or federations should be established in each of these three geo-political units and that the three units so formed should cooperate among themselves.

In regard to economic aid, Jamali castigated the United States for its bias toward Israel. Indulging in a non-sequitur, he said the British, for all their faults, would not oppose Iraq having direct elections or clean courts, but there was no excuse for what the Americans were doing in Israel.

Dr. Jamali said Iraq was very much concerned about the situation in Iran. He said people like Kamel Chaderchi, head of the Iraqi National Democratic Party, wanted the Tudeh Party to come to power in Iran and his hand in opposing viewpoints like Chaderchi’s was weakened by the West’s failure to act on Arab grievances.

The main theme that Dr. Jamali followed consistently throughout the discussion was that he fully understood and sympathized with Western efforts to oppose the spreading influence of the Soviet Union. He said, however, that the public at large in the Arab World did not understand these policies as he did, and could not be made to understand them unless the West redressed Arab grievances.

  1. This memorandum of conversation was transmitted to the Department of State as an enclosure to despatch 197, Sept. 8. According to the despatch, the conversation had been a spontaneous discussion which had taken place at a recent social occasion. The Ambassador considered the most interesting feature of the conversation to be the fact that such forthright views were exchanged among representatives of Iraq, the United Kingdom, and the United States, all at the same time. (787.00/9–852)
  2. Despatch 176 from Baghdad, Sept. 2, transmitted a copy of a statement of United States Principles distributed by Ambassador Berry at a reception he held for the Baghdad press on Aug. 27. (987.61/9–252) Despatch 211 from Baghdad, Sept. 13, informed the Department of State of the reaction to Ambassador Berry’s statement. (987.61/9–1352)
  3. The Embassy has not seen the document Dr. Jamali mentioned. [Footnote in the source text.]
  4. As in the Iraq Government’s foreign policy plank, no mention was made of Egypt. [Footnote in the source text.]