99. Telegram From the Embassy in Iraq to the Department of State0

1396. Following Embassy’s view of Iraqi reaction to date towards Arab union:1

Among most responsible officials attitude seems to be one of relief that necessary step taken to protect Iraq’s future plus realization many problems lie ahead.
Among variety of other literate opinions, common factors include feeling that a step in right direction has been taken. There is general satisfaction too that device worked out does not require either of two countries submerge its existing institutions but there is common regret that Syria, long viewed as Iraq’s natural partner, has not been included in first step toward long cherished Arab unity. Correspondingly, there is belief that ultimate undefined “Arab unity” should and will be achieved though how is not clearly seen. Presently we are of view that few of the politically mature would wish see this done by kind of submission to foreign power that Syria has chosen.
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Among those strongly loyal to present regime who sharply aware danger posed by Nasser’s presence across oil pipelines there is belief that Iraq must seek every opportunity pry Syria away from Egypt and that there will be high potential for dissatisfaction among Syrians as they see their interests subordinated to those of Egypt.

Lack of any popular demonstrations hailing new union is ironic but reflects existing Iraq political atmosphere. Union with Jordan, while in fact undertaken by Iraq’s leadership is coldly realistic move for protection national interests, is being presented to public as great step toward achievement Arab ideals. But popular dislike for present regime is sufficiently strong so that it is hard for it to do anything which will incur public approval rather than suspicion. We not inclined attach too much significance mild flurries which have so far occurred and which have involved principally students shouting slogans hostile GOI and in support of Nasser. Iraqi schoolboy organizers inclined feel they must demonstrate in connection any important ME event and such demonstrations inevitably take anti-government cast. Embassy does not believe demonstrations mean that Jordan-Iraqi union is unpopular. Union has not insofar as public response concerned affected government adversely though margin of reaction favorable to government cannot be thought of as very large.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786.00/2–2158. Confidential. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, London, Cairo, Tel Aviv, Damascus, and Jidda.
  2. On February 14 Iraq and Jordan proclaimed the federation of their two countries into the Arab Union. King Faisal II of Iraq became Chief of State and King Hussein of Jordan the Deputy Chief of State. Under the announced terms of the new federation each King would retain constitutional authority in his own kingdom and two regional councils would be established to deal with non-federal matters. According to the announcement of the union, the federal capital would rotate between Baghdad and Amman, a federal legislature would be established, and a constitution would be enacted within 3 months to implement the proclaimed federation.