184. Editorial Note

From May 12 to 15, President Eisenhower’s synopsis of State and Intelligence material included accounts of events in Iraq. On May 12, the following information was reported to the President:

Hare found Nasser’s thinking on Qasim very much like ours. Despite somber aspects of the Iraqi situation, Nasser felt there were a few hopeful glimmerings. He made clear he did not wish to obstruct any constructive developments in Iraq. Agreeing in principle with the desirability of closing Arab ranks to the Communist menace, the UAR leader [Page 450] nevertheless saw practical difficulties arising from extraneous circumstances. Nasser said he had no plan whatsoever for renewing full relations with the British. Referring to the UK’s decision to supply materiel to Iraq, he said the British had not yet made their views known to him,” (Synopsis of State and Intelligence material reported to the President by John S.D. Eisenhower, May 12; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Eisenhower Diaries)

On May 13, the following information was reported to the President as part of the synopsis of State and Intelligence material:

“The Communist-controlled press is intensifying its pressure on Qasim to legalize political parties and to appoint avowed Communists to the revised 18-post cabinet. Editorials during the past few days have sharply attacked the government on this issue, and have referred to Qasim in tones less laudatory than usual. The strongly pro-Communist ministers of economy and health have publicly backed the party’s demands, and the leading Communist newspaper is seeking endorsements from other cabinet members.

“A Foreign Office official has informed Embassy London that the Canadian Ambassador in Cairo conveyed to Nasser on Monday Lloyd’s letter to Fawzi concerning the UK decision on arms for Iraq. Nasser read the letter and listened ‘thoughtfully.’ He seemed to regard the UK position with ‘understanding and respect,’ and said Fawzi would reply to the letter. The Foreign Office official obviously is gratified by this outcome, according to our Embassy.”(Ibid.)

John Eisenhower’s synopsis of May 14 included the following information on Iraq:

Nasser told Hare on Saturday [May 12] that one of the ‘hopeful glimmerings’ in the Iraqi situation was Qasim’s stand on political parties and his retention of certain ministers who had been strongly criticized by the Communists. In these circumstances Nasser had decided to desist from attacks on Qasim to afford him the opportunity to stand up to the Communists.

Hare later reported Nasser told IBRD President Black on Monday he could understand what the British were trying to do in giving arms to Iraq, although he did not think it would be effective.” (Ibid.)

On May 15, the following information on Iraq was included in John Eisenhower’s synopsis reported to the President:

“The Soviet bloc is apparently succeeding in its efforts to obtain civil air rights in Iraq. The USSR, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary have been negotiating for a route to Baghdad, presumably via Cairo. Iraqi Airways is reported to be preparing a new schedule which would include the USSR and East Europe as well as Asian and African countries now served. Moscow reportedly has offered to re-equip the Iraqi civil air fleet.” (Ibid.)

At the 406th Meeting of the National Security Council, May 13, General Cabell included the following on Iraq in his briefing on “Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security”: [Page 451]

“General Cabell said that in Iraq the Communists continued their drive and were demanding the inclusion of avowed Communist Party members in the Iraqi cabinet now being formed. The Economic Minister and one other minister have supported the inclusion of Communists in the cabinet. The Iraqi press appears to be conducting a strong pro-Communist campaign and is at the same time de-emphasizing Qasim. There are many indications of a struggle behind the scenes between Qasim and the Communists. Qasim is not opposing the Communists but is seeking to control the terms on which they enter the Cabinet. Relations between the U.S.S.R. and Iraq continue to be close, with Soviet aircraft being delivered to Iraq and Soviet technicians and economic missions entering the country.” (Ibid., NSC Records)