201. Memorandum of Conversation0



New York, September 17–22, 1959


  • US
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. Jones
    • R.W. Adams, NEA
  • Iraq
    • Hashim Jawad, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Iraq


  • The Situation in Iraq

The Secretary expressed his pleasure at meeting Foreign Minister Jawad and said that he was pleased to note the great improvement in relations between the United States and Iraq over the past year. The Secretary added that there had been considerable concern a year ago that Communist elements might seize control in Iraq.

Mr. Jawad assured the Secretary (and repeated several times during the ensuing conversation) that Iraq couldn’t possibly become a Communist-controlled country. He said that he was particularly happy that Ambassador Jernegan was in Baghdad and had so correctly reported the Iraqi scene to the Secretary at a time when others might have been misled by the apparent rise of communism during the revolutionary period. Not only is communism alien to Iraqi culture, but the present government is dedicated to the cause of democracy. The Prime Minister firmly believes in the future of democratic government and intends to permit the re-establishment of political parties in January 1960, with elections to follow as soon as possible thereafter. The Communists will also be allowed to organize a political party, Mr. Jawad said, as the government prefers to cope with the Communists out in the open rather than have them hide underground. The previous danger that armed Communist groups might prove troublesome, concerning which the Prime Minister had been particularly alert, had now disappeared with the disarming of all the revolutionary groups.

[Page 480]

In response to a question by Mr. Jones, Mr. Jawad said the Iraq Development Board was again beginning to make good progress in carrying out established development programs. The basic, long-range programs are good, and there is no need for the Development Board to consider any new projects at this time. Iraq needs considerable foreign assistance in its development, but Mr. Jawad assured the Secretary that if Iraq sought aid from the Soviet bloc, such aid and any resultant technicians would be “tightly controlled”, and would, of course, be utilized only in the carrying out of established Iraqi programs.

Land distribution, and a better utilization of agricultural lands are among the major problems Iraq faces in its economic development, Mr. Jawad said. It will be the work of many years properly to distribute land. A real problem is the lack of managerial knowledge, and the present government feels that there is a real need for the previous landowners or sheiks, many of whom left their lands after the revolution, to return to give proper management. They were the “real entrepreneurs” who put in capital and know-how in the operation of their agricultural estates. The government is therefore making an effort to have at least some of them return to their holdings.

Mr. Jawad said that relations with neighboring countries had improved considerably since Iraq left the Baghdad Pact. While there were some border disputes with Iran, some of very long standing, he thought it might not be too difficult to reach a friendly settlement with Iran. Iraq, he said, has always had closer ties with Turkey and Iran than with the Arab countries. The sooner this is understood by Nasser, who “has been dreaming of an empire”, the sooner normal relations can be resumed with the UAR. The entire “Egyptian conspiracy” in Iraq, Mr. Jawad said, has been based on Nasser’s false assumptions that Iraq is closely bound to the Arab countries and that, lacking Nasser’s domination, Iraq would turn to communism.

Iran has no problems with the United States,1 and no particular issues in the current session of the United Nations General Assembly in which it is vitally concerned. Of greatest interest to Iraq and all the smaller countries during the current session is the possibility, or the hope, that the United States and the Soviet Union can reach some sort of understanding which will lead to a lessening of tensions and of the threat of world war.

  1. Source: Department of State, Conference Files: Lot 64 D 560, CF 1476. Limited Official Use. No drafting officer is indicated on the source text. The conversation took place at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
  2. In a separate memorandum of this conversation, during a discussion concerning the three Americans killed during the Iraqi coup, the Secretary thanked Jawad for his personal attention to this matter and hoped he could ensure that a larger compensation be given to the families. Jawad responded that although he thought his government had done all it could he “promised the Secretary that he would see what he could do about greater compensation as soon as he returned to Baghdad.” (Ibid)