63. Editorial Note

At the 400th meeting of the National Security Council, March 26, Director of Central Intelligence Allen Dulles briefed the Council on “Significant World Developments Affecting U.S. Security.” Dulles’ briefing occasioned the following exchange on the Middle East: [Page 219]

“With respect to developments in the Middle East, Mr. Dulles said that Nasser was still remaining firm in his attitude against Moscow and Baghdad. He commented briefly on the acrimonious exchanges between Nasser and Khrushchev. He also emphasized Nasser’s remarks in his most recent speech that the Russian threat to use rockets against London and Paris at the time of the hostilities over the Suez Canal was merely an idle threat made too late to influence British and French policy.

“Meanwhile, said Mr. Dulles, Nasser’s propaganda war against the Arab Communists continues. Indeed, a jihad or holy crusade had been proclaimed against these Communists by Cairo.

“The President interrupted [3 lines of source text not declassified] the President went on to point out that Rifai seemed very anxious to prevent the U.A.R. from making further attacks on Premier Qasim because of Rifai’s fear that such attacks would drive Qasim still further into the arms of the Communists. Mr. Allen Dulles replied that inasmuch as our objective was to try to set the Arab Nationalist movement against Communism, all these matters must be handled very delicately.

“Secretary Herter commented briefly on the differing attitude of Turkey and Israel both of whom appeared to agree that Nasser was an even worse threat than Qasim and Communism. Mr. Allen Dulles then went on to report that Prime Minister Qasim had now called off Iraq radio and press attacks on Nasser. He thought it likewise significant that the Russians have not ceased to provide all kinds of assistance to the U.A.R. and so far there seems to be no outward change in Soviet policy toward the U.A.R. Mr. Dulles also emphasized the view of Ambassador Thompson in Moscow that the Soviets were actually embarrassed by the rapid growth of Communist influence in Iraq. The Soviets seemed to fear that if the local Iraqi Communists speed up their pace too much, the result might be to defeat the longer-range Soviet objective of securing all of the Near East for Communism.

“Mr. Dulles then pointed out that Soviet pressures against Iran and the Shah continue. This was a situation which he felt needed to be watched most carefully. There had been yesterday, for example, a very bitter Soviet attack on the Bilaterals. This attack had included the statement that these Bilaterals constituted a hostile action by the U.S. against the Soviet Union. Mr. Dulles predicted that the Soviets would cut down or indeed cut off all trade with Iran. He also pointed out that Soviet arms deliveries to Iraq were continuing at a high rate. Seven shiploads of such aid had already been identified and the tonnage of armaments landed amounted now to 16,300 tons. This was accompanied by very considerable economic, technical, and developmental aid to Iraq by the U.S.S.R.” (Memorandum of discussion by Gleason, March 26; Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, NSC Records)