308. Telegram From the Embassy in Iraq to the Department of State1

337. I called on Nuri this morning to discuss Syrian situation further with him (Embtel 326 October 72). British Chargé who has now received his instructions (Deptel 246 October 63) saw Nuri right after I did.

Yesterday I talked with British Chargé. His instructions differ in some important respects from mine. His instructions as summarized read as follows:

It is to be made clear to Nuri that his concern over Syria is understood. It is felt though that he might well adopt a “more forward policy than hitherto to make Iraqi influence felt in Syria”. Suggested he take Turks into his confidence and try to enlist their cooperation. Premature action by Iraqi forces is strongly advised against. Any change of Syrian Government which did not appear as deriving from within Syria itself would create dangerous situation. Would probably lead to hailing Iraq before UN. This would not only defeat Nuri’s objective but UK and US might even be compelled to condemn him.

Yesterday after British Chargé had informed me of his instructions I asked him what his understanding was of a more forward policy designed to make Iraqi influence felt in Syria. Hooper said he thought it meant that Iraq might use its “wealth” more effectively in Syria and probably also work more closely with IPC in Syria.

I began my talk with Nuri this morning with an observation based on paragraph 5 of the Department’s 246 October 6 and then fashioned my remaining remarks on points brought out in paragraphs [Page 549] 1, 2 and 3 of the Deptel in that order. I made no use of Department’s estimate as appearing in paragraph 4 as the tone of the most recent messages from Damascus seemed to run counter to this.

Nuri listened attentively. When I finished he asked “But what are you going to do in Syria?” Without however waiting for any response from me he brought up as he has done at various times previously Saudi Arabian bribery in Syria. Saudi Arabian bribery and intrigue were he said big contributing factors in keeping the situation unsettled and dangerous. The Saudis were using the dollars coming from an American enterprise Aramco for their bribing and intriguing. He wished that could be stopped. He wished too that Aramco would work closely with the IPC in Syria and be on its guard against the Syrians playing one off against the other. Should flow of oil across Syria be cut Aramco would suffer equally with IPC.

As time had arrived for Nuri to see British Chargé we broke off our talk at that point.

British Chargé called on me at Embassy immediately after his talk with Nuri. Nuri was emphatic in his talk with Hooper that he did not favor at this time “violent intervention” in Syria. He implied though that the Crown Prince4 might. As he did with me he spoke feelingly about Saudi Arabian bribery and intrigue. He also said to Hooper that he would like to see Aramco and IPC working closely together in Syria. He then made this startling suggestion to which Hooper said he had no reply. Could not Nuri asked Hooper Aramco be induced to slow up on its operations in Saudi Arabia thus cutting down flow of dollars to Saudis with IPC and perhaps some other oil companies reimbursing Aramco for any loss it might suffer.

Hooper said Nuri’s reaction to suggestion that Turks be taken into his confidence where Syria was concerned was totally lacking in enthusiasm.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 783.00/10–1155. Secret. Repeated to Beirut, Damascus, Ankara, London, Jidda, and Paris.
  2. In telegram 326 from Baghdad, October 7, Gallman reported that during a conversation with Nuri al-Said on October 7, the Iraqi Prime Minister had referred to his earlier conversation with Gallman on Syria (see Document 304) and had given Gallman assurances that he would not act precipitously. (Department of State, Central Files, 783.00/10–755)
  3. Document 305.
  4. Amir Abdul Ilah.