141. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Rountree) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Murphy)0


  • Situation with Respect to Shipment of Arms to Iraq

This memorandum, outlining the current status of our program of arms aid to Iraq, has been prepared in NE at the request of Mr. Donhauser of your staff.

In Deptel 593 (Tab A) to Baghdad of August 4, 19581 we took the position with regard to future military aid programs that we assumed the matter would be the subject of consideration and discussion by our two governments; that we did not in any way preclude the possibility of continuing the existing programs but considered that there were both practical details and matters of policy to be worked out. Ambassador Gallman conveyed these views orally to the Foreign Minister on August 6.

Subsequently, there were a number of approaches by Iraqi military authorities to MAAG officers regarding delivery of MAP items undelivered [Page 349] from previous fiscal year programs. The decision was taken to effect delivery of a number of shipments of spare parts and minor items which were on the high seas at the time of the revolution and which arrived in Iraq after our recognition. There were also several working level inquiries directed to MAAG officers regarding the prospect of delivery of the balance of outstanding items. The major undelivered items are:

10 F–86 aircraft
39 Saladin armored cars (OSP items from UK production) which carry one 76 mm gun each and two 30 caliber machine guns
54 40 mm (L–70) anti-aircraft guns (latest US version of the 40 mm)
93 4.2” mortars

In an effort to clarify the situation and facilitate decisions with respect to the disposition of Air Force training personnel and the delivery of MAP pipeline items, Deptel 798 of August 22 was sent to Baghdad (Tab B).2

In Embtel 966 (Tab C)3 replying to Deptel 798 (Tab B) Ambassador Gallman indicated that he considered it highly unlikely that the Iraqis would request resumption of F–86 training in the near future. He recommended that he be authorized to discuss with the Prime Minister (1) immediate resumption of the F–86 training program or withdrawal of training personnel from Iraq; (2) resumption of shipment of programmed aid items; (3) determination of Iraqi wishes regarding future aid.

Baghdad’s 1010 September 4 (Tab D)4 transmitted a secret and urgent letter to the MAAG from the Director of Military Operations which raised the specific question whether we intended to deliver outstanding items programmed prior to July 1958.

In response to Embtels 966 and 1010 a joint State Defense message, Deptel 960 (Tab E)5 authorized Ambassador Gallman to approach the Prime Minister along the following lines:

Indicate that in the absence of any F–86 training activity or any apparent Iraqi interest in the resumption thereof, the US was withdrawing its Air Force training personnel.
With reference to the message from the Director of Military Operations, refer to our completing delivery of military items which were on the high seas at the time of the revolution and indicate that, in order [Page 350] to reach common understanding regarding existing military aid agreements and the question of future deliveries of major items of military equipment, the US would appreciate clarification of the Iraqi Government’s attitude with regard to said agreements and an expression of its general views regarding future US-Iraqi military relations. In this context, the Ambassador was to point out that the atmosphere created by certain actions of the Iraqi Government (customs hindrances, surveillance and harassment of US personnel, etc.) was such as to raise questions regarding the degree of cooperation desired by the Government of Iraq.
The subject of future military aid was not to be raised by the Ambassador but if raised by the Prime Minister was to be dealt with by pointing out that the question could not fruitfully be pursued until current problems and relationships were satisfactorily worked out.

In Embtel 1113 (Tab F)6 Ambassador Gallman reported his talk with the Prime Minister in accordance with his instructions cited above. Professing unfamiliarity with the existing bi-lateral agreements, the Prime Minister promised to study the agreements and look into the list of current unresolved problems listed by the Ambassador. The Prime Minister commented that he hoped agreement could be reached for continued effective arms aid and said that we would be hearing from him later. Baghdad’s 1120 (Tab G),7 containing Ambassador Gallman’s general comments on the question of further military assistance was dispatched the day following the meeting with the Prime Minister but does not appear to have been motivated by any specific new development.

Nothing further having been heard from the Iraqi Government on the subject to date, we are instructing Ambassador Gallman to approach the Prime Minister again to seek his promised reaction to their previous talk.8 We have, however, recently received a note from the Iraqi Embassy requesting facilities for the purchase of 200 modern mine detectors. NE is recommending approval of this request.9

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 787.56/10–1658. Secret. Drafted by Lakeland. Murphy wrote the following comment on the source text: “Many Thanks, RM.” As of August 20, Rountree ceased to have responsibility for African Affairs, which passed to the new Bureau of African Affairs.
  2. Document 132.
  3. See footnote 5, Document 135.
  4. See footnote 1, Document 135.
  5. See footnote 2, Document 135.
  6. Document 135.
  7. Dated September 16. (Department of State, Central Files, 787.5–MSP/9–1658)
  8. Dated September 17. (Ibid., 787.5–MSP/9–1758)
  9. In telegram 1203 to Baghdad, October 17. (Ibid., 787.5–MSP/9–1658) In telegram 1377 from Baghdad, October 21, Gallman reported that the feeling among Qassim and his colleagues was that they would be politically vulnerable if they were too closely associated with military agreements negotiated by the previous Iraqi Government. Gallman hoped that a formula could be worked out for receiving U.S. aid short of specific endorsement of existing U.S.-Iraqi military agreements. (Ibid., 787.5–MSP/10–2158)

    In telegram 1247 to Baghdad, October 25, the Department informed Gallman that its primary concern was that the MAAG in Iraq “continue receive necessary facilities and cooperation” to carry out its duties. (Ibid.)

  10. In a memorandum to Rountree, November 26, Rockwell recommended that the United States allow Iraq to purchase 200 mine detectors and $1 million in spare parts, signal equipment, and aircraft items. (Ibid., NEA Files: Lot 59 D 582, Iraq, General, 1958)