139. Memorandum of Conversation0
- Iraq, United Arab Republic
- Mr. Yaacov Herzog, Minister, Embassy of Israel
- Mr. Yohanan Meroz, Counselor, Embassy of Israel
- NEA—Mr. William M. Rountree
- NE—Mr. Theodore A. Wahl
Mr. Rountree opened the conversation with a reference to his talk in New York over the week end with Iraqi Foreign Minister Jomard.1 He commented that Jomard is personally very pleasant and apparently very intelligent. One thing that emerged from this conversation, he said, was an impression that immediately after the July 14 coup the Iraqis had genuinely feared a U.S. plot to overthrow the new regime. Mr. Jomard indicated that Iraqi relations with the UAR should be close, through the Arab league; he appeared not to favor a union of Iraq with the UAR.
Mr. Herzog commented that according to information available to the Israelis, Prime Minister Qassim has the senior officers of the Army with him and is now directing his attention toward obtaining the support of the Kurds. Both Nasser and the Soviets, he added, also seem to be concentrating their efforts on the Kurds. He said the Egyptians seemed to have precipitated the recent crisis in Iraq before the time was ripe, probably because they wished to head off a move toward closer association between Syria and Iraq. Qassim appears to have been stronger than Nasser expected.
One thing which bears close watching, Mr. Herzog continued, is Soviet penetration in Iraq. The new Soviet ambassador in Baghdad is reported to have been the mastermind of Soviet policy in the Middle East since the Czech-Egyptian arms deal. Mr. Rountree agreed that the swift Soviet moves toward closer relations with Iraq are disturbing.
Mr. Rountree commented that Nasser is always careful to base a major political action on some previous Western action. In other words, many of his more dramatic moves have been reactions to Western actions. In this connection, the Egyptians appear to be considering some move as a reaction to the United Kingdom’s sale of submarines to Israel. We think that there will be a substantial reaction. There is speculation that Marshal Amer’s visit to Czechoslovakia may be related to such a reaction.
Mr. Herzog said that the Embassy had received a cablegram from London indicating that the Foreign Office did not take Amer’s visit too seriously. He added that the Israel Embassy in London had been instructed not to involve the U.S. in any way in speculation regarding the supply of arms to Israel.