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153. Draft Briefing Paper Prepared for the National Security Council0

U.S. POLICY TOWARD IRAQ (NSC 5820/1)1

I. Major Factors in the Situation

A.
Available intelligence indicates the Kassem regime in Iraq may be (1) in danger of falling under early Communist domination or (2) that an effort may be made to take over control through possible action by Army elements having a possible pro-UAR orientation. Either development would have serious implications for U.S. policy toward Iraq and toward the Near East generally as stated in NSC 5820/1.
B.
If the Communists succeed in taking over, such a development would negate (1) one of our two primary objectives—“denial of the area to Soviet domination” (Para. 5–a) and (2) two of our secondary objectives—“promotion of stable governments, popularly supported and resistant to Communist influence and subversion” and “the countering and reduction of Communist influence” in the area. (Para. 6–c and e)
C.
It is, therefore, appropriate to ask whether the situation is moving beyond that envisaged in Para. 39–a, c and d wherein we envisaged a normalization of relations with the Iraqi Government established by the July 14 coup?

II. Possible Policy Questions

A.
Should the U.S. seek an area of mutual accommodation with Nasser regarding Iraq as authorized by Para. 36–b? If this were done, the inconsistencies with Para. 36–c relating to taking discreet advantage of trends in the area which might render less likely further expansion of Nasser’s position should be recognized. Has the situation in Iraq reached the point where this should be discussed with Nasser? If so, how could U.S.-UAR influence best be brought to bear in the present situation? Are there military or political leaders available in Iraq who could work with the U.S. and UAR in such a situation? What degree of UAR-Iraqi cooperation would ultimately be envisaged? Would the ultimate results of such U.S.-UAR cooperation be favorable to long-term U.S. interests in the Near East?
B.
Is there an identifiable source of strength in Iraq which is not pro-UAR and not pro-Communist with which the U.S. could work? What are the chances that military elements and others such as the non-Communist nationalists, landowners and merchants might be able to band together to control the situation in Iraq’s national interest, as opposed to seeing the country delivered either to the Communists or to Nasser?
C.
Having moved to crush the pro-Nasser elements, is it possible that Kassem may now turn on the Communists? If so, what elements can he look to for support, short of the UAR?
D.
If it is not feasible to work with Nasser or with non-Communist elements in Iraq, should we as a last resort consider other moves, [1 line of source text not declassified]? What role should the U.S. and UK play in such a case? What are the dangers of active Soviet involvement?

III. Subsidiary Questions

A.
Given sufficient time, what should our attitude be toward extension of technical assistance and military aid to Iraq? (Para. 39–a and c) Have events shown that the presence of U.S. technicians only incites trouble and is such aid more likely to accelerate a Communist take-over? Should we, nevertheless, continue such aid “in a low key” pending developments rather than precipitate possible unfavorable repercussions through abrupt termination?
B.
How should we respond to any future request for military grant aid or for the purchase of military equipment? (We are currently processing pre-coup purchase requests for approximately $750,000 worth of spare parts and a recent request to purchase 200 mine detectors. Delivery action has been suspended on approximately nine million dollars worth of previously programmed military grant aid.) Could such aid be used to obtain a favorable orientation by Army leaders?
C.
Should our policy toward Iraq’s membership in the Baghdad Pact (Para. 39–b) (1) remain unchanged; (2) should we now do what we can to actively encourage Iraq’s withdrawal from the Pact; or, (3) should we encourage Iraq to resume active exercise of its membership?
  1. Source: Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Iraq, The Situation, NSC Action No. 2068. Top Secret. Boggs transmitted this paper to the Planning Board under cover of a memorandum to the Board, December 19. Prepared by the NSC Staff and discussed and revised at the NSC Planning Board meeting of December 19.
  2. Document 51.