293. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iraq1

692. Re Baghdad’s 8182 and 8213 inform Foreign Minister immediately US Government would be deeply concerned over Iraqi military intervention Syria even at request Syrian President. We have repeatedly made clear our objections prospective Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, Syrian Pact to Syrians and Egyptians and propose renew them in démarche which Embassy Damascus instructed immediately [Page 521] to make by companion telegram and concerning which Iraqi Government to be informed. We understand and appreciate reasons serious Iraqi concern over signature tripartite pact or coup d’état resulting in left-wing military regime which not only would sign pact but likely adopt generally anti-Iraq and anti-Western policies. Such development would be no more in US interest than in Iraq’s. Nevertheless US Government feels by-products military intervention incalculable and very dangerous. Gaza situation extremely tense. Intervention would heighten Israeli apprehensions and might tip balance of decision within Israel in favor activist program which could launch Israeli military action against one or several Arab states. In addition Iraqi military intervention would result in widespread belief in US that US arms aid to Iraq now being perverted and that Iraq could not be depended upon to exercise cool judgment in area defense matters which anticipated when US-Iraqi military aid agreement signed. We fear Iraq’s action would be widely construed in Near East and elsewhere as outright aggression; that Turk-Iraqi Pact containing no general pledge against aggression was concluded in Iraqi anticipation of freedom of action. Furthermore Department fears mere invitation Syrian President under whatever presumed authority Syrian Constitution might not be considered sufficient expression Syrian popular will and might be vigorously opposed by much of Syrian Army. Should President of Syria’s invitation be disavowed by Syrian Government and he himself put out of office, Iraq would be in position of defying Syrian Government and could be held to be violating Article 2, paragraph 4 UN Charter.4

Ambassador requested express US objections Iraqi intervention in most forceful manner possible, warning Iraq consequences such action might jeopardize entire structure Middle East relationships which Iraq itself as well as US hopes see built.

Embassy Ankara requested urgently urge GOT dissuade Iraq in accordance foregoing reasoning.

Embassy London urged make same points Foreign Office.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783.00/4–1355. Secret; Niact. Drafted by Hart and approved by G.V. Allen who signed for Dulles. Also sent to Ankara and London and repeated to Damascus, Tel Aviv, Cairo, Moscow, Jidda, Beirut, Amman, and Tripoli.
  2. In telegram 818 from Baghdad, April 13, Ambassador Gallman reported that during a formal reception on April 12, Iraqi Foreign Minister Shabandar took Gallman and British Ambassador Wright aside to express strong Iraqi concern over reports from Syria indicating that a military coup d’état might be imminent. Shabandar also suggested that the U.S. and British Governments might point out to the Syrians that they would look with disfavor upon a government established by army pressure or violence. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 821 from Baghdad, April 13, Gallman reported that Shabandar had summoned him to the Foreign Ministry to inform him of reports received that morning from the Iraqi Minister in Damascus, Syd Abduljalil al-Rawi, which indicated that Prime Minister Asali and Foreign Minister Azm told President Atasi that unless the proposed ESS Pact was signed immediately a coup d’état would be attempted. Atasi requested, through al-Rawi, Iraqi military aid in the event of a coup. Shabandar also told Gallman that the Iraqi Government was prepared under those circumstances to extend military aid, but that Iraqi military occupation would be temporary and designed to prevent the Communists from gaining control of Syria and to see that a legal government was established. If developments followed this course, Shabandar asked the United States to lend its moral support and to use its influence in Ankara and Tel Aviv to keep the Turks and Israelis from taking advantage of the situation. Shabandar added that a similar request had been made to the British. (Ibid.)
  4. For text of the U.N. Charter, see Charles I. Bevans (ed.), Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776–1949, vol. 3, pp. 1153 ff. (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1969).
  5. On April 14, Gallman conveyed to Shabandar the points made in telegram 692 to Baghdad and learned that the British Government had also come out strongly against Iraqi military intervention in Syria. After listening to Gallman’s presentation, Shabandar told him that in view of the U.S. and British attitudes Iraqi intervention was ruled out. Shabandar also noted that the situation in Damascus had eased somewhat as Foreign Minister Azm had left for the Bandung Conference without the Pact being signed. (Telegram 822 from Baghdad; Department of State, Central Files, 783.00/4–1455)