159. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs (Rockwell) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Rountree)0
Washington, February 9, 1959.
- Iraqi Cabinet Reorganization
- Nationalist Defeat. The six Ministers who resigned were either nationalists or independents.1 They were all anti-Communist. For several months they have been wanting to resign. One month ago they took new courage, however, when they got Qassim to issue the decree curbing the PRF.2 This brief rejuvenation of spirits terminated abruptly last week, possibly when the Cabinet became aware of a “vast” Soviet technical aid program, the details of which have still not been made public. The six Ministers undoubtedly opposed the deal with the Soviets.
- Chaderchi’s Key Role. The six Ministers probably hoped that their resignation “en masse” would produce a “show-down” and in some way force Qassim to alter Iraq’s pro-Soviet policy. They even may have hoped the Qassim Government would fall. Had the National Democratic Party, headed by Kamel Chaderchi, joined the nationalist revolt, Qassim would have been left with scarcely any civilian support and he might have been in real trouble. Chaderchi after discussions with Qassim continued his support of Qassim. NDP Ministers, including Mohammed Hadid, remained in the Cabinet and the new civilian members of the Cabinet are political friends of Chaderchi. The NDP is not Communist but until the present it has seen little harm in collaborating with the Communists.
- New Ministers. As with Qassim’s first Cabinet, little is
known about the new individuals. Some impressions:
- Hashim Jawad, new Foreign Minister, is a former ILO veteran. His recall by Nuri as Iraq’s UN representative in 1957 for supporting Soviet-backed Syria against Turkey was followed by his being named UN representative by Qassim last July. He left UN after UNGA last fall a very unhappy man. Apparently, he had differences with Foreign Minister Jomard. He also was very bitter against the United States, charging that the UN was completely dominated by the U.S. He has recently drawn closer to Chaderchi. He will be more influential and aggressive than was Jomard.
- Hussein Jamil, new Guidance Minister, was formerly a nationalist but more recently has been aliened with Chaderchi and the NDP. He served for several years as President of the Baghdad Lawyers Association which usually follows the Commie line.
- Talaat Sheibani, Development Minister, is probably a bad actor from our standpoint. He reportedly went to college in California and apparently is one of those foreign students who turned very sour in our country. He is young, left here only three years ago or so. It is interesting that he holds the Development portfolio. Thus he and Ibrahim Kubba, the [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] Economics Minister still in the Cabinet, are in a position to swing more economic and technical aid deals to the Soviets.
- Hussein Talabani, new Public Works Minister, is a Baghdad Law College graduate of about 15 years ago. He is a Kurd and obviously the replacement for disgruntled Baba Ali.
- Military Members. The new military officer Ministers are for the most part unknown quantities, although Adnan Pachachi has indicated Abdul Wahhab Amin is pro-Communist.
Highly Tentative Conclusions
- Unfavorable Turn. The Iraqi Cabinet reshuffle is a serious development. Strongly anti-Communist Ministers have been eliminated and the way seems cleared for further increases of Communist influence in Iraq.
- Possible Restraints. Hopes for restraining
the Communist trend in Iraq have received a serious set-back. Any
resistance to increasing Communist influence would probably have to
- Nationalists. Even though last week’s “show-down” failed, it can be assumed that Iraqi nationalist elements will be seeking an opportunity to precipitate the downfall of the Qassim Government. Shanshal, Jomard, Rikabi and Samaraii (who probably will lose his job as Ambassador in Cairo) will undoubtedly try to organize an opposition movement, based largely on the Istiqlal and Baathist parties. They can be expected to submerge their differences re Iraq’s relations with the UAR. Their task is now more difficult than ever.
- The Army. It is still believed that a majority of senior army officers are anti-Communist nationalists. Some of them certainly would be willing to collaborate with civilian nationalists to remove Qassim, although thus far they have not come forward.
- National Democratic Party. While liberal, socialistic and extremely naive vis-à-vis Communism, the NDP as the only remaining civilian faction represented in the Cabinet may exercise some restraint on the Communists. There has been some indication recently that Finance Minister Hadid (a capitalist himself) and other NDP members have had some doubts about Iraq’s increasingly close relationship with the Soviet Bloc and they may find it expedient to be responsive to the anti-Communist sentiments, not only of their chief rivals, the nationalists, who will now be in open opposition, but also of much of Iraq’s populace.
- Qassim himself. It is still not proven that Qassim is pro-Communist. His close advisors, however, have been and Qassim appears to be captive to them. These include Abdul Qadir Ismail who may well be the Khalid Bagdash in Iraq.
- UAR Attitude. The Iraqi Cabinet change was also a serious blow to Nasser in that his friends, the nationalists, were defeated and Arab Communists, increasingly identified as his enemies, have succeeded. Thus it is entirely likely that the UAR may more aggressively intervene in Iraq against the Qassim regime: a) by propaganda attacks, and b) by material subversive assistance to the nationalists.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 787.13/2–959. Confidential. Drafted by Meyer and Lakeland.↩
- The six ministers who submitted their resignations on February 7 were Foreign Minister Jomard, Communications Minister Ali Baba Ali, Social Affairs Minister Naji Talib, Health Minister Mahmoud, Guidance Minister Shanshal, and Minister of State Rikabi. (Telegram 2267 from Baghdad, February 7; ibid., 787.00/2–759)↩
- On January 14, Qassim officially assigned maintenance of security, order, and safety to the army and security forces and specifically restricted the activities of the Popular Resistance Force and student unions in these areas. The PRF had been a principal political weapon of the Communist Party of Iraq and Communist influence was dominant in Iraq’s student union. (Principal Officer’s Daily Summary, PODST 44; ibid., 700.00–CSM/1–1559)↩