147. Telegram From the Embassy in Iraq to the Department of State0

1845. Cairo for Rountree. Deptels 1536, December 81 and 1557, December 10.2 Called on Prime Minister Qassim this morning. I met with him alone as Wright had done also. We found in previous contacts with Qassim that his English is quite adequate.

I presented to him slowly and with emphasis points appearing in Deptel 1536. He followed my words most attentively. With reference to mendacious news report, I made special mention of Department’s categorical denial of any connection with recently discovered plot. Qassim gave no indication of explicit knowledge of [less than 1 line of source not declassified].
After a moment’s serious reflection, Qassim responded to effect that he was convinced that I knew nothing about reports of American activities to undermine his government. I pressed him then for details other than those he had reported to Wright. He went no further, though, than to say that Kurds in the Sulimaniyah area were being incited against his government. There had been movements of individuals back and forth across the frontier with Iran. Here I interjected a question: Did he mean to say that there were Americans among these individuals? His reply was that Americans and other nationalities, according to his information, were involved. I maintained firmly that, as I was fully informed and aware of activities of all Americans in Iraq in an official capacity, I could assure him that none was involved in such activity. He gave me the impression of accepting that, but he said nothing to indicate that he believed no Americans in private capacity were involved. As I saw that I could get no further response, I said I hoped that with the arrival of [Page 358]Rountree, with his thorough knowledge of the Washington scene, the atmosphere could be completely cleared. To this he commented that he was looking forward to seeing Rountree.
Qassim was most cordial throughout talk and although he looked very tired, he remained calm and self-possessed throughout.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/12–1158. Top Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution. Repeated to Cairo.
  2. Telegram 1536 to Baghdad, December 8, instructed Gallman to convince Qassim that there was no truth to the allegations that the United States was encouraging or supporting dissension in Iraq. Gallman was instructed to state categorically to Qassim that there were no official Americans in Iraq engaged in plots against the regime or in agent recruiting and that sources unfriendly to Washington were obviously seeking to prejudice him against the United States. (Ibid., 787.00/12–858)
  3. Telegram 1557, December 10, further instructed Gallman to protest and deny certain Baghdad newspaper reports that Rountree’s trip to the Middle East was designed to foment plots against Iraq. If Qassim brought up the [text not declassified] approach, Gallman was to provide the following justification: the United States knew that Qassim was aware of the plot and already had the situation fully under control, the previous warning passed to Qassim about the December 10 coup attempt resulted in the official who gave the message being required to leave Iraq, and, in keeping with its policy of noninterference in Iraq, [text not declassified] request had been rebuffed. (Ibid., 787.00/12–1058)