130. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian, and African Affairs (Rountree) to Secretary of State Dulles 0


  • Recognition of New Iraqi Government


With the consolidation of the revolutionary regime in Iraq and the ruling out of any attempt to overturn it by force or otherwise, we seem to [Page 332] be faced with the question not of whether but of when and under what circumstances we should recognize the new government.

Despite the initial bloody excesses, the regime has quickly demonstrated its determination and ability to restore order. Extremist slogans and banners have been removed and some leaders seek to create the impression of desiring to prevent Ba’athist or Communist exploitation of the situation. The new government has given assurances of its intent to honor international and contractual commitments, to maintain the flow of oil, to protect foreigners and to seek friendly relations with all countries. Although anxious to avoid an exodus of Western nationals, and particularly of vital technicians, they have permitted the scheduling of evacuation flights for U.S. and U.K. citizens.

Leaders of the new regime met recently with Nasser in Damascus and signed an agreement which reaffirmed the Arab League collective security arrangements and called for closer economic and cultural ties between Iraq and the UAR. Both sides, however, have been careful to avoid giving any impression that Nasser dominates the Iraqi revolutionary regime and we do not anticipate that the new regime will join the UAR.

There is a danger that prolonged delay in reciprocating the friendly overtures of the new government, at least to the extent of extending recognition and indicating a willingness to consider the continuation of our aid programs, may prejudice the situation in Iraq as far as we are concerned, and give further advantage to the Communists and Nasser, both inside and outside Iraq. A dignified but friendly stance, designed to lead to early but not precipitate de jure recognition, would therefore seem to be called for on our part.

Recognition of the Iraqi regime by us would probably be opposed strongly by the Muslim Baghdad Pact countries as well as by Lebanon and Jordan. However, the need to protect our interests in Iraq and the importance of encouraging the moderate posture assumed by the new regime should, we believe, outweigh this opposition.

It is interesting that Bourguiba is reported to believe that our policy goal should be not only to prevent Iraq from falling into the Soviet-Egyptian orbit, but perhaps even to use Iraq as a lever with which in a year or two it may be possible to pry Syria out of the UAR, now that the obstacle of the Iraqi monarchy has been removed. Whether in fact this development will materialize is not possible to predict but it is certain that a hostile policy toward Iraq at this time would hamper our being able to encourage such a trend.

Given on the one hand the important considerations prompting early recognition of the new Iraqi government and on the other the opposition which such action is bound to meet with from a number of our [Page 333] friends and allies, it would seem advisable to take every opportunity to lay the groundwork for acceptance by those friends of the necessity for prompt recognition. The forthcoming meeting of the Baghdad Pact Council appears to offer the best opportunity for intimating our intentions to the Muslim member countries. We can presumably count on support from the British who appear to share our assessment of the situation.

As regards Lebanon and Jordan a special effort will be required. If we can reach agreement with the Muslim Pact members, it would be useful if Mr. Murphy could undertake to explain our views both in Beirut and Amman.


1.) That you agree in principle to the extension of formal recognition to the Iraq Government if we can obtain agreement or acquiescence from the Muslim Pact members during the London meeting, and after Mr. Murphy has attempted to obtain the same from the Governments of Lebanon and Jordan.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 787.02/7–2358. Secret. Drafted by Lakeland and Rockwell and cleared by Mathews and Reinhardt. Legal Adviser Loftus Becker noted that he had no objection, but wrote an accompanying memorandum that concluded that the new Iraqi government satisfied traditional U.S. requirements for recognition—de facto control, consent of the people, willingness to fulfill its international obligations under treaties—with one exception. Iraq had not indicated its willingness to fulfill international obligations under international law, especially in the case of compensation for the heirs of the American citizens killed during the coup. (Ibid.)
  2. Dulles initialed his approval and apparently changed the recommendation to read: “That you agree in principle to the extension of formal recognition to the Iraq Government after consultations [?] and talks with Muslim Pact members [etc.]”