203. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Jones) to Secretary of State Herter0
- Statement to the NSC re the Situation in Iraq
Pursuant to NSC action 2068, April 17, 1959,1 an inter-agency committee was established to concern itself with the situation in Iraq and to consider feasible courses of action with a view to preventing a Communist take-over in that country. The Department’s NEA Assistant Secretary was named chairman of the group.
The inter-agency group held a number of meetings during April, May and June under the chairmanship of Mr. Rountree. Ambassador Jernegan was brought home and his views were extremely helpful to the Committee’s deliberations as well as to the NSC, before whom Mr. Jernegan appeared personally.
In its deliberations, the inter-agency committee agreed that the policy outlined in NSC 5820/1 entitled “Statement of United States Policy toward the Near East”2 continued to be valid, and no change of this basic policy was required. With reference to specific courses of action, the Committee felt that dramatic military or political action by the United States was not desirable, that the most effective restraint on Communism [Page 485]in Iraq is that exercised by the Arab peoples themselves, and that our best efforts could be along the lines of encouraging Qasim, particularly through third parties such as Afro-Asian representatives, to maintain an independent Iraq resistant to the Communist threat.
When the situation in Iraq appeared to be improving (Tab B),3 the NSC accepted a recommendation on June 22 by the inter-agency group that further weekly reports by the Committee to the NSC would be discontinued unless there occurred a substantial change in the situation in Iraq.4
Since there have been some recent somewhat disturbing developments in Iraq, the inter-agency committee under my chairmanship met again to examine the Iraqi situation on September 24. It was agreed to report to the NSC that the meeting was held, that the situation in Iraq was reviewed, that at the moment there appears to be no reason to alter policies and action courses previously agreed upon, but that the Committee would meet again when further information and evaluations are available including particularly the views of Ambassador Jernegan. In this connection, we have sent a telegram to Ambassador Jernegan asking for an assessment5 and his preliminary response6 may be available to you before the meeting Wednesday morning.7
- That you report to the Council that the inter-agency committee concerned with Iraq pursuant to NSC action 2068 of April 17 met on September 24, that it reviewed the situation in Iraq including the September [Page 486]20 executions,8 that it was felt that at the moment there appears to be no need to alter the basic policy established by NSC 5820/1 and the courses of action previously agreed upon by the Committee, but the Committee intends to keep close surveillance on the situation in Iraq and meet again after further information and evaluations are available, particularly from Ambassador Jernegan.
- If there is a request at the Council for an account of significant developments in Iraq since the last report by the Committee on June 17, you may wish to draw upon the summary attached herewith as Tab A.
- That you indicate that you will again report to the Council concerning Iraq following the next meeting of the inter-agency committee.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/9–2859. Top Secret. Drafted by Meyer.↩
- See footnote 12, Document 176.↩
- Document 51.↩
- Tab B is a memorandum from Rountree to Dillon, June 17, reporting on events in Iraq since May 21 and the work of the interagency committee. (Department of State, S/P–NSC Files: Lot 62 D 1, Iraq, The Situation, NSC Action 2068)↩
- See Document 194.↩
- Telegram 920 to Baghdad, September 28. (Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/9–2859)↩
In telegram 787 from Baghdad, September 29, the Embassy informed the Department that telegram 784 from Baghdad (September 28), which crossed telegram 920 to Baghdad, “gives our best estimate present situation.” The Embassy did not see any reason to change U.S. policies since U.S. capabilities for influencing the situation remained extremely limited, and believed that U.S. intervention, either direct or indirect, would only make matters worse. (Ibid.)
In telegram 784 from Baghdad, the Embassy submitted a general estimate on Iraq during the last 7 weeks, stating that the “pattern of events during the period has been inconsistent, with factors unfavorable to Communist cause running parallel to another sequence which has benefited Communists. But momentum of anti-Communist trend has slowed, while circumstances which favor Communists have assumed greater importance, especially in past two weeks.” The Embassy concluded that Qassim’s ability to maintain a “balance” was declining, and outspoken nationalist criticism might impel him to turn once again to the Communists for support. (Ibid.)↩
- September 30.↩
- See Tab A.↩
- Top Secret.↩