143. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Dulles and the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Rountree)0


The Sec said he really feels terribly about the sentence of Jamali.2 He realizes probably to speak out would do more harm than good. On the [Page 353] other hand there are times when you feel such a strong sense of moral indignation it is very difficult to keep quiet. And he feels that way about this. He suggested saying something—or would it be too much of a challenge? The Sec wanted to let R know how he feels and having told him that handle it the best way he can.3 He gathers this Hussein thing is quieting down—he has postponed his vacation—the Syrians did it for us.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Dulles Papers, General Telephone Conversations. Transcribed by Phyllis D. Bernau. The Secretary was attending the consultative meeting of the Colombo Plan held in Seattle, November 10–13; Rountree was in Washington.
  2. Pacific time.
  3. On November 10 the Iraqi Special High Military Court sentenced Fadhil Jamali, a former Iraqi Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, to death. In addition, the court passed death sentences on Major General Ghazi Al-Daghestani, former Commanding General of the Third Division and Deputy Chief of Staff, and Lieutenant General Mohammed Rafiq Arif, former Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Armed Forces. The Embassy reported there was speculation that the sentences might be commuted by Qassim to life imprisonment, but that “crowds demonstrating approval of death sentence began to form in city’s usual demonstration districts by mid-morning.” (Telegram 1547 from Baghdad, November 11; Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/11–1158)
  4. In telegram 1358 to Baghdad, November 11, the Department instructed Chargé Fritzlan to make an informal, oral, and nonpublic approach to Qassim and inform him that the death sentences would reflect unfavorably on his government. Although the United States had no desire to interfere in Iraqi affairs, nor comment on the merits of the trials and sentencing, it hoped that for humanitarian reasons the death sentences could be commuted. (Ibid., 787.00/11–1258)

    In telegram 1612 from Baghdad, November 17, Charge Fritzlan reported that he made the informal démarche with Qassim as instructed. Although the Iraqi Prime Minister did not consider the request for clemency an intervention in Iraq’s internal affairs, he was noncommittal on leniency for the three Iraqis under death sentences. (Ibid., 787.00/11–1758) On March 27, 1959, after intercession by the King of Morocco, Qassim commuted these death sentences.