109. Editorial Note

At 8:29 a.m. Washington time, July 14, Secretary Dulles telephoned the President to inform him that a coup was taking place in Iraq. According to a transcribed memorandum of their telephone conversation:

“The Pres heard re Iraq. The Sec said now we have a call from Lebanon to come to their aid—also the Br have. The Pres said it looks now as if you have a solid Arab world against us because Jordan can’t stick. …The Sec agreed and said the main problem is our relations with Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. We always felt we would lose the Arab world but did not want to under circumstances that would lose the confidence of these countries. The Sec has no ideas because it happened so fast but thinks we ought to have a meeting today. NSC is set but this is more important. He will try to accumulate info and join NSC whenever he can and then perhaps recess and have a limited meeting with Defense, CIA and JCS.” (Ellipsis in the source text. Memorandum of telephone conversation by Bernau; Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, White House Telephone Conversations)

A joint Air, Army, Navy message from U.S. Army Attaché in Iraq, CX 39, sent at 9:05 a.m. Baghdad time, July 14, reads:

“Military coup proclaiming a republican govt of Iraq took place early morning 14 Jul. Apparently organized by a group of brigadiers and colonels, new govt has control of Baghdad and adjacent mil installations. Series republican ordinances being issued Radio Baghdad name Brig Abdul Karim Qassim Prime Min and Min of Interior, Col Abdul Salam Mohammed Arif Acting Pri Min and Min of Interior, and Staff Brigadier Ahmad Salih Ezzi Chief of Gen Staff. Balance of ministerial posts include many leftists and Nasserites [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. No info at this time re King, Nuri, Rafiq or others AU and old Iraqi govt. Troops under orders new govt now posted protect AmEmb.” (Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/7–1458)

President Eisenhower met with his principal foreign affairs and national security advisers on July 14 at 10:50 a.m. to discuss the related crises in the Middle East. According to General Andrew Goodpaster’s account of the conference, Allen Dulles opened the meeting with a summary of the situation in Iraq as follows: “According to reports received thus far (mostly from the rebel-seized Baghdad radio), the Crown Prince has been killed, and perhaps Nuri also. The King’s situation is unknown. A Leftist government has taken over. Secretary Dulles commented that there has been no report regarding Iraqi forces outside of Baghdad.” The discussion turned to the possibility of the United States intervening in Lebanon and the consequences of such a decision. Returning briefly to Iraq, Secretary Dulles believed that “there is a good chance, whatever we do, the Turks will move” into Iraq. “Regarding Iraq,” Secretary Dulles continued, “he was not certain as to what we [Page 308]should do. This is primarily a UK responsibility.” Secretary Dulles then stated that quick U.S. action in Lebanon would, in his opinion, make general war less likely. President Eisenhower agreed that “we must act, or get out of the Middle East entirely.” Secretary of the Treasury Anderson asked “what Israel would do if we were to move into Jordan and Iraq. Mr. Dulles thought that, if we go in, Israel will probably stay out.” The meeting concluded with a general consensus to meet with congressional leaders and after receiving their concurrence to intervene in Lebanon. (Memorandum by Goodpaster, July 16; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries) Goodpaster’s account is printed in volume XI, pages 211 215.