192. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Rountree) to Acting Secretary of State Dillon0

SUBJECT

  • Statement to the NSC on the Situation in Iraq

Discussion

The situation in Iraq is on the NSC agenda for June 4.1 A report on Iraq in accordance with NSC action 2068 was last made on May 21 (Tab A).2 It is our understanding that as in past meetings the Director of CIA will present an intelligence evaluation of the Iraq situation3 before your statement is made and that it should not be necessary for you to go into details in regard to recent events. I would suggest that you call the attention of the Council to the Embassy’s telegraphic evaluation of the situation dated June 1 (Tab B)4 and that you make a statement along the following lines:

The Embassy’s general estimate of the Iraq situation dated June 1 states that the drift towards Communism in Iraq has been slowed down at least temporarily and the Communists have suffered some setbacks and resultant loss of prestige. Nevertheless, the Communists remain the most cohesive and disciplined political force in Iraq today with an undetermined number of members and sympathizers in the Army, the Popular Resistance Force, and the civilian bureaucracy. The slight retreat of [Page 465]the Communists in Iraq may therefore be only tactical. Moreover, there are no signs that Qasim is building an anti-Communist organization of his own, and he still seems to feel he cannot do without the continued support of the Communists. The Embassy concludes that we and our friends are following a correct policy at present and that our chances of retrieving the situation will best be served by continuing to support Qasim and giving him concrete evidence of our support for Iraq’s continued independence under his leadership.

Ambassador Jernegan saw Qasim on May 25 and at that time carried out his instructions to assure Qasim of our support.5 During this conversation the Ambassador took up several specific cases of alleged US involvement in activities prejudicial to Iraq’s interests and tried to show Qasim that the allegations were fabrications designed to poison US-Iraqi relations.

Meanwhile, the Iraqis have formally notified us of their decision to terminate the April 21, 1954 Military Assistance Agreement, the July 25, 1955 supplement to that agreement, and an “economic assistance” agreement of May 22, 1957 resulting from the visit of the Richards Mission earlier in 1957.6 The Iraq Government’s note to us which was friendly in tone, as well as a Baghdad Radio broadcast have referred to the termination of these agreements as one of the steps being taken by Iraq to liquidate Iraq’s past commitments in order to implement its policy of positive neutrality. The Baghdad Radio broadcast asserts that the agreements represented a “conditional” form of assistance that derogated from Iraqi sovereignty. At the same time, however, the broadcast stated that Iraq desires to enhance the bonds of friendship with the US on a basis of understanding and mutual interest.

Our policy in the current situation might be summed up under the following headings:

(1)
Continuing efforts to promote the reconciliation of Qasim and non-Communist elements in Iraq with the UAR and the other Arab countries, stressing the idea that Iraq’s independence should be preserved without reliance on the Communists and with a view to the establishment of a joint effort against the Communists. In this connection, we are using opportunities to persuade the UAR and other Arabs to indicate that they support Iraq’s independence. Where feasible we are also supporting efforts by the Arab League or neutral states to effect a reconciliation between Qasim and the UAR.
(2)
Continuing to promote a better understanding by Qasim of US and UK attitudes toward Iraq and its continued independence and to dispel his suspicions of our intentions.
(3)
Encouraging Afro-Asian states that have learned the true nature of the Communist threat to national independence to use their influence where feasible to bring home to Qasim the menace of Communism.
(4)
Encouraging the Turkish and Iranian Governments to continue their contacts with Qasim and other Iraqi officials, stressing their support for a truly independent Iraq. We are also at the present time avoiding any commitment to undertake joint contingency planning with the Turks because of the risk that such planning might be disclosed to the Iraqis.
(5)
When necessary we continue to make firm representations in support of our interests in Iraq and stress the mutuality of Iraqi and Western economic and commercial interests.
(6)
We continue to follow a line of non-involvement in the UAR-Iraqi propaganda battle.

So far as contingency planning is concerned, the Inter Agency Committee established under NSC action 2068 and the US/UK Working Group which was reactivated following the Camp David talks have continued to meet and to follow closely the current situation. [4 lines of source text not declassified]

Recommendation

That you make an oral statement on Iraq along the foregoing lines.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/PNSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Iraq, The Situation, NSC Action 2068. Top Secret; Limit Distribution. Drafted by Symmes and sent through Murphy.
  2. No report on Iraq was made by Dillon at the NSC meeting. A memorandum of a telephone conversation between Dillon and Gray, June 3, 10:30 a.m., reports that they agreed there was no substantial change from the previous meeting on the situation in Iraq and therefore no need for a Department of State update. (Ibid.)
  3. See Document 188.
  4. At the 409th Meeting of the National Security Council on June 4, Allen Dulles provided the following account of events in Iraq as part of his briefing, “Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security”:

    “With respect to Ambassador Jernegan’s recent lengthy telegram regarding Iraq, Mr. Dulles said he was inclined to accept Jernegan’s conclusions, which he summarized for the Council, to the effect that the drift toward Communism in Iraq had at least slowed down although Iraq was far from out of danger. There was perhaps some reason to believe, said Mr. Dulles, that Moscow has cautioned Prime Minister Qasim to go a little slow.” (Memorandum of discussion by Gleason, June 4; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)

  5. Reference is to telegram 3451 from Baghdad, June 1, which is summarized below. (Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/6–159)
  6. See footnote 1, Document 185.
  7. 5 UST 2496, 6 UST 2227, and 8 UST 772, respectively. On March 9, 1957, President Eisenhower announced that he was sending James P. Richards, former Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, to the Middle East to explain the Eisenhower Doctrine and to report to the President on possible cooperation and mutual assistance as contemplated under the doctrine.