145. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iraq0

1505. Embtels 1753, 1754. 1 Embassy should treat [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] approach with extreme caution and reserve. Without having any specific evidence that this is so, we believe chances are very good that approach is provocation. If it is bona fide it is very likely that authorities already aware of group’s activities. If authorities are not so apprised, it is likely that before long they would become aware of group’s activities and of any US steps in support of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] associates.

At Friday meeting with [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] you should take following line:2

1.
US concern over and opposition to menace of international Communism well known.
2.
US concerned over reports it has received of growing Communist strength and activities in Iraq which it considers direct threat to integrity and independence of Iraq.
3.
Determination of whether this threat must be met, and if so how and when, is matter which must be decided by Iraqis themselves. Would not be appropriate nor desirable for outside power such as US to intervene in internal affairs of Iraq. US is therefore unable to provide funds as requested.
4.
US cannot state in advance what its attitude would be toward any new government which might come to power in Iraq. US however has traditionally had close and friendly relations with Iraq and naturally wishes these to be continued.

[Page 356]

Following development, which occurred subsequent to drafting this message, reinforces our belief that provocation may be involved and our conviction that Embassy must be extremely cautious re [less than 1 line of source text not declassified]. British Embassy has just informed us of message to Foreign Office from Michael Wright describing meeting which Wright had with Qassim November 30 with no other persons present.3Qassim stated he had absolute knowledge that very short while ago Americans arranged journey of three individuals from place called Pishti (British surmise this may be Pusht) across border into Iran to work there against Iraq regime, and that there was similar activity on part of American agents in south of Iraq. Wright said this was impossible to believe and if true must be work of others who, to cover their tracks, were seeking to involve Americans. According to Wright, Qassim refused to be convinced.

We have in mind taking above allegation up with Qassim and have asked British Embassy to find out whether Foreign Office has any objection. Meanwhile you should not discuss with Wright unless he brings matter up. Can Embassy shed any light on Qassim’s reported remarks?4

Herter
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/12–358. Top Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Rockwell and approved by Rountree.
  2. In telegrams 1753 and 1754, December 3, the Embassy reported that an Embassy official had been contacted by a former [text not declassified] who claimed to represent a “free officers movement” that proposed to overthrow the Qassim government. [text not declassified] sought support for a coup, which he outlined in detail. Although Embassy officials were aware that [text not declassified] could be a provocateur, they were impressed by his sincerity and proposed to check him out. If [text not declassified] story was essentially correct, the Embassy thought that the coup could prove a crucial turning point in Iraq’s history and perhaps a watershed in stopping Communist advances in the Arab world. Should [text not declassified] prove out, the Embassy recommended giving him and his colleagues limited support. If the coup was successful, it recommended providing the new government generous assistance. (Both ibid.)
  3. According to telegram 1781 from Baghdad, December 5, an Embassy official met with [text not declassified] and presented these points as instructed, [text not declassified] responded that the coup depended on U.S. financial assistance, which caused the Embassy to wonder if [text not declassified] statements that the coup plotters were motivated by anti-communism were entirely true. (Ibid., 787.00/12–558)
  4. As reported in a memorandum of conversation, December 4. (Ibid., 787.00/12–558)
  5. Telegram 1777 from Baghdad, December 5, reported that the Embassy could shed little light on Qassim’s remarks. Although there were general rumors that the United States was working against the Iraq Government, Qassim and Jomard discounted them. Neither man mentioned the specific alleged operations as described to Sir Michael Wright, British Ambassador to Iraq. (Ibid.)