168. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iraq1

325. Baghdad’s 439.2 Department (Jernegan) called in Iraq Ambassador Nasir al-Hani December 3 to raise subject recent harassment Embassy local employees.

Jernegan said interrogations and arrests reminiscent Qasim period. Pointed out that Embassy given no explanations for arrests and detentions nor are persons brought to trial. We concerned since (1) as employer we interested humanely and because of adverse effects on other employees and (2) we disturbed because actions appear indicate renewed suspicion of USG and our policies toward Iraq. Jernegan recalled during period he was Ambassador Iraq devoting much time attempting assure Qasim and other officials there was no substance behind then-existing suspicion.3 Neither then nor now did USG have any desire overthrow GOI. We had expended great effort attempting get on good terms with government and had thought since 1963 relations were gradually improving. Jernegan pointed to EXIM loans, credit on sales military equipment, encouragement American businessmen participate in Iraqi development, provision of professors for university.

Recent unjustified suspicion adds up to unhappy picture. Jernegan personally disturbed and said if substituting Americans for all Iraqi-held jobs would improve relations he would recommend it. This he realized impractical. Asked Ambassador Al-Hani explain Department’s unhappiness and to convey to his government our absolute assurances USG in no way opposed present Iraq government or wants see it changed.

Ambassador indicated he sorry hear foregoing and said he had heard Khan had been arrested. Added he assumed Khan by now had been released. Asked Department not take arrest one Embassy local as evidence change GOI’s attitude towards US. “Isolated case” should [Page 343] not be reason for Department see change in GOI policy. “Behavior of police” towards local employee should not be taken as against USG.

Jernegan said accumulation of cases begins look like 1959. Said Embassy Baghdad should be informed if there is real evidence against employees, in which case we will consider discharging them.

Al-Hani said personally he hoped Khan will be released. Promised bring matter to attention his government immediately. Said he had raised question Khan this week with FonMin Naji Talib in New York. Latter had indicated his awareness Khan’s arrest. Al-Hani gave no indication Talib’s attitude.

Jernegan said he thought Secretary might raise subject with Talib during December 9 meeting.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL IRAQ-US. Confidential. Drafted by Dinsmore, cleared by Davies, and approved by Jernegan. Repeated to USUN for Deputy Director of the Office of Near Eastern and South Asian Regional Affairs John P. Walsh.
  2. In telegram 439 from Baghdad, November 30, Strong recommended that the imprisonment of Yacub Khan, one of the Embassy’s Iraqi employees, be taken up with the Iraqi Embassy in Washington and perhaps when the Secretary met with the new Iraqi Foreign Minister. He noted other recent incidents during which U.S. local employees had been interrogated, detained, or otherwise harassed by Iraqi authorities. (Ibid.)
  3. Jernegan served as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq January 12, 1959-June 2, 1962, when he was recalled at the request of the Iraqi Government. General Abdul Karim Qassim was Prime Minister of Iraq July 1958-February 8, 1963.