162. Paper Prepared by the Operations Coordinating Board0


I. Objectives

1. This paper deals with programs for Iraq which are operationally feasible at the present time, keeping in mind that the agreed primary objectives of national policy for the Near East are the following:

Denial of the area to Soviet domination;
Continued availability of sufficient Near Eastern oil to meet vital Western European requirements on reasonable terms.

2. The following are agreed secondary objectives of national policy for the Near East which are to be achieved to the extent compatible with the two primary objectives:

Peaceful resolution as early as possible, in whole or in part, of the Arab-Israel dispute;
Continued availability to the United States and its allies of rights of peaceful passage through and intercourse with the area in accordance with international law and custom and existing international agreements;
Political evolution and economic and social development in the area to promote stable governments, popularly supported and resistant to Communist influence and subversion;
Continued availability to the United States and its allies of important strategic positions, including military overflight, staging and base rights in the area;
The expansion of the United States, and, where appropriate, Free World influence in the area, and the countering and reduction of Communist influence.

II. Introduction

3. We are confronted in Iraq with a post-revolutionary situation in which further violent or non-violent changes are likely and the future is still uncertain. Under these circumstances, guidance to U.S. agencies is necessarily interim in nature and more than usually subject to reconsideration and change in the light of developments.

III. Pertinent Background

4. Iraq-U.S. Relations. The establishment of mutually satisfactory and friendly relations with the present government of Iraq has been [Page 390]made very difficult by official and private suspicion and distrust of the United States. The initial cause of this attitude was our close identification with the old regime together with anti-Western attitudes arising out of the Palestine question and the Arab nationalist movement. A contributing cause has been an apparently widespread belief in Iraq that the United States was cool if not hostile toward the new regime, particularly during its early days. Elements unfriendly to the U.S. have undoubtedly capitalized on these factors further to disturb Iraqi-U.S. relations. The Soviets in particular have been making an effort through propaganda and false intelligence to poison the Iraqis against us. U.S. agencies operating in Iraq have encountered severe restrictions and, on occasion, harassment since the revolution. Iraqi military guards at the Embassy have at times been overly-zealous in their searching of visitors. Diplomatic travelers entering Iraq were for some time thoroughly questioned and searched. The MAAG offices and USIS offices were closed and remain virtually inaccessible to U.S. personnel. USIS operations have been sharply curtailed. Although requests for USOM technicians were never formally withdrawn, a large number have been given little to do and few are being effectively utilized.

5. Iraq-Soviet Relations. In contrast to the treatment accorded the U.S. and UK diplomatic missions in Baghdad, Soviet Bloc missions have been welcomed and encouraged. This has been an aspect of increasing Communist influence in Iraq but is also a reflection of Arab curiosity toward the USSR and of the belief that benefits can be gained without strings from the Soviets. We can expect Soviet activities in the political, military, economic and cultural spheres to increase to a certain extent at the expense of U.S. and UK activities in similar fields. The well-organized local Communist Party has made startlingly effective use of the relative freedom of action which has been permitted to leftist political groups since the revolution and has emerged in terms of leadership, organization and capacity for “street” action as the strongest party in Iraq at present. Content carried in the media channels of Iraq is heavily weighted toward the Communist point of view.

6. UAR-Iraq Relations. The increase of Communist and Soviet Bloc influence in Iraq has posed a delicate problem for Nasser and the UAR. While professing to be an “Arab nationalist”, Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul Karim Qasim has appeared to desire to maintain an independent Iraq, even at the expense of cordial relations with the UAR. He appears to be less concerned with the possibility that Iraq may be Soviet-oriented. In this situation, Nasser has been reluctant to attack Qasim or to seek openly to divert him from his present course. On the other hand, he has been engaged in clandestine activity directed toward stimulating an anti-Qasim coup.

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IV. General Guidance

7. In this situation, the U.S. should show a “correct” attitude toward Iraq, indicating our desire to be friendly, but not seeking to force ourselves upon the Iraqis. We should seek a continuing exchange of information and views on Iraq with the UK and attempt insofar as possible to coordinate our respective policies toward Iraq, while recognizing that some divergence of views is likely. We should continue to follow a waiting policy but should keep our position sufficiently flexible so that we can take advantage of any opportunities which present themselves. We should continue to discuss the tenuous Iraq situation with other governments which have interests in the area which may be useful in third nation roles. We should continue our efforts, both by our behavior and by explicit rebuttal of any allegations by officials of unfriendly actions on our part, to convince the present Iraq Government that we are in no way working against it.

8. Dispelling Suspicions

We should avoid any situations or actions likely to be attributed to the United States which could be construed as subversive or hostile to Iraq.
We should counsel against provocative measures by our friends, particularly the Turks and Iranians.
We should maintain only a sufficient number of American officials in Iraq to maintain normal diplomatic activity, carry out approved programs, and meet requests from the government for technical and military assistance.

9. Encouraging Confidence

We should conduct our relations on a normal and friendly basis, ceremonially as well as substantively. For example, we should support Iraqi candidates for UN positions where appropriate and reasonable, exchange normal ceremonial courtesies with the Iraq Government, continue our exchange program, and treat various requests in the same manner as we would treat those from other friendly powers.
We should seek to develop contacts with the new regime, both official and unofficial. While this is difficult in view of current attitudes, we should seek every opportunity to enlarge any openings which may appear.
U.S. agencies should closely follow developments in Iraq so as to be able to take advantage of opportunities, as they may be presented, to achieve U.S. objectives. In this connection, U.S. agencies should be prepared to activate constructive programs if the Iraqis are prepared to cooperate in making these programs fruitful. While the present situation does not appear to permit the U.S. to proceed effectively with these programs, the U.S. should be prepared to consider any specific Iraqi [Page 392]requests for assistance in the light of the then existing situation and outlook in Iraq and the U.S. availability of funds.
Within our limited capabilities to do so, we should cultivate discreetly individual and group friendships with the objective of creating a more favorable climate for U.S.-Iraq relations. This should include personnel both in and out of government.
We should use every appropriate opportunity to warn selected Iraqi leaders about the Communist threat.

V. Specific Guidance

10. Information-Cultural. We have sharply reduced our USIS establishment in Baghdad in consequence of the present government’s refusal to permit reopening of our facilities. There is little prospect of increasing media activities in the near future though they could be reestablished quickly. USIS should concentrate on cultural activities, e.g. exchange of persons, English teaching and exhibits. Efforts should be made to reinstitute press, radio, and film activities as circumstances permit.

11. Economic

Technical Assistance. We have indicated our willingness to continue existing technical assistance programs in which the Iraqis have indicated an interest. Although most technicians in Baghdad are still reporting to work in the various ministries, their activities are often circumscribed and some are only partially employed. The USOM non-technical staff should be reduced to the minimum which can be utilized effectively and projects reviewed to determine how many technicians are actually needed and in what specific fields.1
Private Business. American firms now doing business are experiencing considerable difficulty, particularly those firms having contracts with the Development Board. It is in our interest that, where possible, these firms continue to be active in Iraq since the Soviets are presumed to be ready to fill any vacuums their departure would create. We should continue to give American contractors all possible assistance. Such assistance includes making representations to the Iraq Government on their behalf when necessary. Consideration should also be given to the possibility of an expansion of the Investment Guarantee Program to provide these firms with some financial safeguards. At the same time, efforts should be made as feasible to counter recent Soviet competition for trade and investment in Iraq, emphasizing factors such as the proven quality of American goods and services and the contribution which American enterprise could make to the development of the country. The [Page 393]U.S. has in this connection authorized the resumption of the sale of commercial vehicles to Iraq.
Petroleum. Since British interests predominate in IPC, the initiative on petroleum matters should continue to be left to the UK. We should follow oil developments closely, however, and make our views known to the British when appropriate.

12. Military. The Iraqis have not explicitly indicated their intent regarding the 1954 Mutual Assistance Agreement. However, in view of the attacks on it in the military trials and in view of the acceptance by Iraq of Soviet military assistance, and the prompt delivery of four shiploads, it is unlikely that Iraq would reaffirm its adherence to the agreement and it is pointless to seek either an oral or written undertaking in this regard. The Government of Iraq’s telegram of July 22, 1958 to the Secretary General of the UN, affirming Iraq’s adherence to the various international agreements and obligations incurred by the previous government satisfies the legal requirements of the Mutual Security Act, as amended. Resumption of delivery of grant military assistance items to Iraq depends on Iraqi indication to cooperate and on whether the resumption is in the U.S. interests. Pending such a determination, we have authorized resumption of commercial and military sales of spare parts, replacement items, and major items to Iraq.

13. Baghdad Pact. It is most unlikely that the Iraqis will continue membership in the Baghdad Pact. We should acquiesce in but not actively encourage Iraqi withdrawal from the Baghdad Pact.

VI. Outstanding U.S.-Iraq Agreements Under Previous Regime

14. The United States agreed to a military assistance program and to the maintenance of a military assistance advisory group in Iraq by an exchange of notes dated April 21, 1954.2

15. The United States technical assistance program was established under the general agreement for technical cooperation signed April 10, 1951.3 This has been supplemented by subsequent technical agreements, including in particular, an agreement for a program of economic development dated November 16, 19524 and an agreement for a cooperative program of community welfare signed March 2, 1955.5

16. An agreement on atomic energy cooperation for civil uses was signed between the United States and Iraq on May 2, 1957.6

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[Here follow a Financial Annex and a Pipeline Analysis of the Mutual Security Program in Iraq.]

  1. Source: Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 60 D 661, OCB—U.S. Policy Toward the Near East (NSC 5820/1). Secret. According to a covering note by Bromley Smith, Executive Officer of the OCB, the Board revised and concurred in this paper at its meeting on February 18. Smith noted that the paper contained only operating guidance and no courses of action, due to the rapidly changing situation in the Middle East, which precluded detailed operational planning.
  2. The USOM staff has 56 employees as contrasted with 96 on duty on July 14, 1958. [Footnote in the source text.]
  3. 5 UST 2497.
  4. 3 UST 541.
  5. 3 UST 5882.
  6. 6 UST 701.
  7. A treaty on atomic energy cooperation for civil uses between the United States and Iraq did not come into force.