370. Circular Telegram From the Department of State to Certain Posts 0

927. There follows SITREP and Department’s comments on Iraqi situation:

Present Situation

Iraqi Army appears firmly in control of Iraq with only scattered National Guard holdouts reported in Baghdad as of November 20. While [Page 803] power of National Guard and thus Baath extremists apparently broken, political aspects Iraqi situation unclear. President Aref seems accepted by Army commanders, by moderate wing Baath Party, and Baath military officers, thus looms as real leader of Iraq. Failure of former Prime Minister Bakr and Defense Minister Ammash to employ Army to destroy National Guard following latter’s violent reaction to expulsion of extremist leaders, gave Aref his opportunity. Whereabouts of Ammash unknown.

Very few names and little information about emerging personalities being broadcast. Aref steering careful course with view maintaining solidarity with Baath military officers. President’s reputation for friendship with Nasser will assure him support from Nasser-oriented nationalists. Only in unlikely event his returning Iraq to Baath domination would Aref quickly lose non-Baath nationalist support. While maneuvering undoubtedly taking place behind the scenes course of future events uncertain.

Initial appraisal cabinet named November 20 is that it contains some moderate Baathis. Of twenty-one ministers, seven are holdovers from previous cabinet, thirteen are civilians, four are from moderate Shabib-Jawad faction of Baath (Defense—Tikriti; Communications—Abd al-Latif; Education—Jawari; Health—Mustafa) and a number of technician-type civil servants.

There is no necessity for USG recognition of GOI because President Aref remains as Chief of State.

Speculation on Future

Embassy Baghdad sees little doubt Aref looks forward to being effective ruler of Iraq. Uncertain how able a political manipulator he will be. Seems clear, however, that he allied himself with principal Baath military officers in order destroy National Guard. His immediate aims are to finish National Guard resistance and clarify Iraqi relations with Syria. He needs continued help from Syrian brigade against Kurds and will wish avoid giving SARG pretext for withdrawing troops. Indications are some understanding has been reached with Syria in view reported cessation Damascus radio attacks.

In longer term, basic question is whether Aref’s cautious stance towards Baath merely tactical expedient to be discarded when he feels strong enough dispense with Baath support. Despite his reputation of friendship with Nasser doubtful he will permit growth UAR influence in Iraq; Aref’s own ambitions and political complexities of Iraq are likely to combine against this. However, friendlier relations with UAR appear likely.

Whatever shape Iraqi regime assumes Embassy Baghdad speculates there will be less pressure for rapid nationalization. Current agreement [Page 804] with Kuwait seems likely to stand. Embassy believes quite possible policy of rapprochement will be followed with respect Turkey and Iran. On relations with US, Soviet Bloc and domestic Communists, Embassy expects little change likely. On Palestine issues Embassy also expects no change.

Safety of Foreigners

Embassy Baghdad reports no known casualties among Americans and other foreigners in Iraq.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 15 IRAQ. Confidential. Drafted by Killgore on November 20, cleared by Davies, and approved by Jernegan. Sent to Baghdad, Amman, Beirut, Tel Aviv, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, Taiz, Athens, Nicosia, Tehran, Ankara, Bonn, London, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Kuwait, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Aleppo, Dhahran, and Istanbul.