124. Telegram From the Embassy in Iraq to the Department of State0

251. Department might find helpful brief summary existing conditions and some tentative analysis character new regime:

Certainly in Baghdad takeover has been remarkably rapid and successful. After first day no serious incidents involving foreign persons or property which discouraged by repeated radio injunctions including one put out today against painting slogans on buildings or stringing incendiary banners, ([less than 1 line of source text not declassified] believes latter may be directed at bringing Baathists and Communists under control.) While our communications from rest Iraq largely cut off we know revolution equally successfully Mosul, Kirkuk. Limited reports from Basra indicate no opposition there. New regime, dominated by military figures, has thus successfully seized army, police and is now trying encourage normal functioning civilian departments. These will not be fully normal, of course, until removal various restrictions aimed controlling commercial transactions and travel.
It is too early determine reach character popular reaction in spite exuberance witnessed Baghdad streets first few days. Minority groups scared. Mobs in Baghdad made up largely riff raff adolescents who always easily stimulated. Still new regime has, we believe, successfully capitalized dislike for NuriAbdulillah regime which closely intermingled anti-western grievances and antipathies. With Cairo’s widespread use of radio whip emotions ever higher on these issues preoccupation with them at all levels society has constantly increased pro-Nasser character regime reflected by immediate widespread appearance his picture with those of rebel government leaders. Any possible substitute government imposed from outside would not have possession these emotional assets and would be severely handicapped.
Since coup was carried out by army military has upper hand though some signs civilian ministries influence gradually moving to fore. Minister Foreign Affairs during my talk with him yesterday indicated he giving serious thought formulation policy towards outside world particularly with western countries. During both my interviews with Foreign Minister, Minister Guidance Shanshai present and entered conversation freely. His primary concern seems retain western technical aid. His forceful action in having banner removed from in front Embassy [Page 328] yesterday revealed his authority is respected by military. However much jockeying for influence by individuals and groups can be expected unless some dominant figure soon emerges. Internal weakness will heighten Nasser’s attraction compared to little known and inexperienced Iraqi leaders. Individual communications re oil policy, adherence international agreements, private reassurances of friendship indicate, at least, desire regime not antagonize western powers at outset and anxiety retain US aid and technical assistance. (This of considerable help to us these days when we so preoccupied getting dependents out.)

While brutal manner regime seized power cannot be condoned we should, in working out over period of time our relations with this regime keep in mind that deterioration in relations which would follow such actions as departure US technicians Dora refinery or peremptory withdrawal various forms US assistance would very likely impel regime leaders look toward USSR. If we are cautious and find in course of time that regime’s declarations of friendship are real, we may well be able gradually to develop bases of cooperation.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/7–1958. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Cairo, Beirut, Ankara, London, Tehran, Amman, Damascus, and Tel Aviv. Received at 8:32 p.m.