121. Memorandum From the Director of Intelligence and Research (Cumming) to the Under Secretary of State (Herter)0


  • Intelligence Note: The Insurgent Regime In Iraq

The nature of the new Iraqi regime is probably not fully revealed in the figures now holding Cabinet posts and prominent positions. There is some evidence that several of the civilian appointees did not know of their allotted roles until the military coup was complete. Moreover, it is likely that—on the pattern of the Egyptian revolution—the true center of power has not yet revealed itself. The civilian members of the government, with two exceptions, are thus far largely silent partners and the officer members are the more vocal spokesmen. Qasim, himself, like Muhammad Najib in Egypt, may be a figurehead.

There is no common denominator among the governing group thus far identified except a common hostility to the former regime. Older members have long histories of political resistance: two were identified with the pro-Nazi, anti-British coup attempt of 1941. The younger members, both officer and civilian, are of the “young intellectual,” nationalist-neutralist-reformist group of which Nasir is hero and prototype. They are superficially Westernized and several have European or American educational experience. Several are earnest reformers whose political resistance represented real indignation at the graft, corruption and inefficiency of the old regime. They have leadership potential and some political integrity. An effort has been made to include representatives of the major ethnic and religious groups after the custom of traditional Iraqi cabinets.

Of the fourteen Cabinet members, four have long histories of marked leftist tendencies, including witting cooperation with the Communist Party toward nationalist aims: one is a close Party-line follower and steady fellow-traveller; one is an active sympathizer and possibly a Party member.

This mixed assortment is unlikely to stay together long once the impetus of initial success wears off. In any case, it is likely that the Egyptian-directed [Page 325] hard core of the movement intends to jettison them once power is consolidated.1

On first evidence, the regimen can be expected to follow much of the pattern of Egypt’s new order: to press, initially at least, for social reform, to work a definite improvement in governmental efficiency and some in honesty, and to be as repressive toward potential political opposition as the former regime. It is likely to associate formally with the UAR at an early stage, and to profess a posture of nationalism, neutralism, and within this context, display a distinct willingness to establish diplomatic relations with the Bloc and to accept aid from it.

This group is now believed to be in control of all of Iraq except possibly the north, including the Kirkuk oilfield region.

A similar memorandum has been addressed to the Secretary.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/7–1758. Confidential. Herter’s initials appear on the source text.
  2. On a covering note, July 18, attached to a copy of this memorandum, Assistant Secretary for Policy Planning Gerard Smith noted that it was his impression from “reading and briefings” that “there was no evidence to indicate whether or not the movement was Egyptian dominated and that alternative suppositions were equally reasonable.” If there was no evidence, Smith thought it should be made clear to the Secretary “in view of the importance of the question.” (Ibid., S/P Files: Lot 67 D 548, Iraq)
  3. On the memorandum to the Secretary is indication that Dulles saw it. (Ibid.)