177. Airgram From the Embassy in Iraq to the Department of State 1



  • Analysis of the Kurdish Problem

Enclosed is an analysis in outline form of the Iraqi Kurdish problem prepared by Ambassador Strong.2 The analysis sets forth the many and varied competing interests and motivations involved and should be helpful to all concerned with United States policy on this problem.

The central conclusion from the standpoint of the United States is that a high degree of autonomy or independence for the Iraqi Kurds would be disruptive of area stability and inimical to our interests in the long run. Neither is the continuation of the fighting in United States interests, although the consequences do not, at least for the time being, warrant a major initiative by the United States. That the communists and Soviets will gain control of a large-scale insurrection seems unlikely, as is Kurdish ability to establish an autonomous or separatist regime.

The analysis brings out that while the United States, Soviet and UAR postures advocating a peaceful, negotiated settlement are superficially parallel, the positions are differently motivated and, especially in the United States and Soviet cases, based on different assumptions as to probable results.

Similarly, the Iranians and Israelis—and perhaps the British—appear for varying motivations to favor continuation of the conflict for its debilitating effect on Iraq.

[Page 356]

Continued Iranian/Israeli intervention is a threat to the United States position in Iraq but, unfortunately, neither country is likely to be heedful of United States interests in the matter.

For the immediate future, neither the Kurds or the GOI appear able to force a military solution. Similarly even a negotiated solution is not likely to be permanent. The Kurdish problem is long-term.

The current United States policy stance seems the most suitable—that the problem is an internal Iraqi one for which a negotiated political solution is desirable.

For the Ambassador:
Enoch S. Duncan
Counselor for Political Affairs
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 13-3 IRAQ. Confidential. Drafted by Strong and Duncan on October 29, and approved by Duncan. Repeated to Adana, Aleppo, Ankara, Basra, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, London, Tabriz, and Tehran.
  2. Attached but not printed.