182. Memorandum of Discussion at the 404th Meeting of the National Security Council0

[Here follows a paragraph listing the participants at the meeting and agenda items 1–3.]

4. Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

In Iraq unrest and disorder continue, particularly along the Iranian and Syrian frontiers and possibly along the Turkish frontier. It seems probable that the Syrians and the Turks are stirring up trouble among the border tribesmen in Iraq. In any case, Baghdad believes that the dissident tribes are getting support from both Syria and Turkey. The Communists are continuing to consolidate their strength in the economic field in Iraq. Soviet technicians have recently arrived in Basra. The Economic Minister in Iraq has recommended a revision of Iraq’s agreements with the Free World, and has suggested that Iraq’s economy should be organized along Soviet lines. However, the attitude of Turkey toward the situation in Iraq has recently changed. Turkey now wants U.S.-Turkish talks on the problem.

[Here follows discussion of events in Iran and Soviet-UAR relations.]

[Page 444]

5. The Situation In Iraq (NSC Action No. 2068)1

Mr. Gray called on Secretary Dillon for a report on the work of the Interdepartmental Group established by NSC Action No. 2068. Mr. Dillon said that the Group had been meeting regularly and had appointed a working group which had reached agreement on an outline of planning, covering measures already taken, measures to be taken, continuing measures and contingency planning. We had already approached Nasser and indicated that we approved his anti-Communist campaign. However, he has made it known that he wishes more support from us. In collaboration with the U.K., we have suggested to a number of other countries (aside from the major Western Powers) that they warn Qasim against communism. Japan and Spain have already responded to this suggestion. We have also approached Turkey and discovered that Turkish thinking has changed and that the Turks are now concerned about Iraq and want to talk to us about what to do. [2 lines of source text not declassified] The U.K. feels there is danger from communism in Iraq, but nevertheless seems to be prepared to deliver heavy armaments to that country on the basis of stating to the Iraqis that the U.K. is convinced that Iraq will preserve an attitude of independence and neutrality and assure the continued supply of oil. We have received a report from Egypt that Nasser will cease his personal attacks on Qasim but will continue his anti-Communist campaign. We consider this a favorable development in U.S. policy. In Iraq itself we have asked our Ambassador to protest vigorously against restrictive measures imposed on U.S. personnel. Apparently our protests have had little effect on the Qasim government. We are asking Ambassador Jernegan to come back to the U.S. to deliver a first-hand report next week.

In the future, Secretary Dillon said, it seems probable that we will approach Nasser again to explore parallel measures which the U.S. and the U.A.R. might take. This approach, however, will involve some very delicate timing and will probably not be attempted until Ambassador Jernegan makes his report. We are continuing to encourage other Arab leaders to express concern over the situation in Iraq; we are continuing efforts through the Mutual Security Program to strengthen Iraq’s neighbors; and we are continuing to encourage states in addition to Japan and Spain to warn Qasim against communism.

In connection with contingency planning, Secretary Dillon continued, we are studying the oil situation to see whether a continued flow of oil could be maintained in the event of a Communist take-over in Iraq; and we are reviewing U.S. military plans. Mr. Dillon added that the review of military plans was an essential element in this situation if we [Page 445] were to be able to move quickly in the event of necessity. In conclusion Mr. Dillon said that the agencies represented on the Interdepartmental Group were in general agreement, that the committee would keep on top of the situation, and that it would continue to make reports to the Council.

General Twining said that the military planning to which Mr. Dillon referred was solely U.S. planning, although the U.S. and U.K. had contingency plans based on their being invited into Iraq.

The Vice President wondered whether the British thought they could make a deal with the Iraqi Communists and whether they considered Nasser a greater danger than the Communists to the Near East. He also wondered whether the U.S. would continue to take the public position that it would not intervene in Iraq. Secretary Dillon answered the last question in the affirmative, adding that while we were discouraged about the trend in Iraq, we did not wish to indicate publicly that we thought Iraq might go Communist. The Vice President suggested that it might be well to talk the matter over with certain Senators and ask them not to go too far in saying that Iraq may go Communist.

The President said the British attitude seemed to be that they were not sure what line Qasim would follow in the future, but they were very sure about the line communism would follow and were very much concerned over the possibility of a Communist take-over in Iraq. The British also feel that Nasser cannot be trusted.

The National Security Council:2

Noted and discussed a report presented by the Acting Secretary of State on the activities of the Interdepartmental Group established by NSC Action No. 2068.

[Here follows a brief note indicating that President Eisenhower held a special NSC meeting prior to this regular one to discuss a report of the Comparative Evaluations Group.]

Marion W. Boggs
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records. Top Secret; Eyes Only. Drafted by Boggs on April 30.
  2. See footnote 12, Document 176.
  3. The following paragraph constitutes NSC Action No. 2074, approved by the President on May 4. (Department of State, S/SNSC (Miscellaneous) Files: Lot 66 D 95, Records of Action by the National Security Council)