153. Memorandum From Stephen O. Fuqua of the Bureau of International Security Affairs, Department of Defense, to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Sloan)0


  • Iraqi Coup

Sometime after midnight, local time, elements of the armed forces staged a coup in Iraq.1 Information presently available has not confirmed [Page 343] that Qasim is actually dead. A National Council was established consisting of six officers, one colonel, two captains and three lieutenants. Some members of this council have been identified as being members of the Bath Party. Most military units have reported in or officers from the military units have sent messages reporting their loyalty to the coup. The leaders have broadcast that their aims are to (a) strengthen national unity; (b) resolve the Arab-Kurdish problem; (c) live up to all international treaties; (d) comply with the UN charter and (e) support unity of Arabic countries. The coup appears to be in the hands of the Bath Party. Rumors have been widespread that that party had been planning a coup for several months. It is believed by members of CIA that the coup was triggered by Qasim’s recent arrest of a large number of Bath Party members. The remaining members still at large felt that if they were ever going to attempt such a coup it would have to be done now. Although announcement has been that the coup is pro-Nasser in nature, it is believed by members of State Department that this may be slightly exaggerated.2 The party announced several months ago a very elaborate program at such time as they took over the Government and it is believed that although relations may improve between the UAR and Iraq their aim is primarily nationalistic in nature and that it cannot be termed as a revolution staged by Nasser. Their anti-Communism is supported by the reported assassination of the Chief of the Air Force who is reportedly Communist. There has been no report of the molesting of any foreigners. A message is being prepared by the Department of State to be delivered to the new government as soon as its success is confirmed, requesting that all U.S. personnel be protected and that the new government issue a statement which would attempt to meet U.S. requirements for early recognition. The consensus of members of State and CIA is that if the coup is successful, relations between the U.S. and Iraq will be considerably improved and the internal situation in Iraq should gradually improve.3

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 67 A 4564, Iraq 000.1—1963. Secret. Drafted by Colonel Preble. Brigadier General Fuqua was Director of the Office of the Near East, South Asia, and Africa Region.
  2. On February 8, Komer sent a memorandum to President Kennedy that reads in part: “While it’s still early, Iraqi revolution seems to have succeeded. It is almost certainly a net gain for our side.” He concluded: ”Nasser is trying to embrace the new crew, but we suspect he’s whistling in the wind. We will make informal friendly noises as soon as we can find out whom to talk with, and ought to recognize as soon as we’re sure these guys are firmly in the saddle. [2 lines of source text not declassified]” (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Iraq, 1963)
  3. In circular telegram 1383, February 8, the Department of State instructed the Embassy in London and certain Near Eastern posts to inform their host governments that the new Iraqi regime showed no indication of Communist influence and appeared essentially Baathi-Nationalist in orientation. Posts were to advise host governments that they should avoid actions or statements that might tend to exacerbate the situation in Iraq and to indicate that the United States had no reports that the new regime was pro-Nasser. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 26 IRAQ)
  4. A memorandum from Fuqua to Sloan, February 12, containing a more detailed account of the coup is the Washington National Records Center, RG 330, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 67A 4564, Iraq 000.1—1963. For text, see the Supplement, the compilation on Iraq.