183. Telegram From the Embassy in Iraq to the Department of State1

241. Subject: Talk with New Prime Minister.2

I saw Talib for 50 minutes August 18. Much of time spent on Kurdish question and Iran at his initiative. I told him USG prepared work with present GOI as with previous Iraqi Governments in pursuit of fundamental goal of stable prosperous Iraq; explained in detail our concern over lack of progress on claims of contractors; and explained basic facts of Vietnam situation, its meaning to free world, and firmness of US purpose; expressed deep disappointment at Bazzaz’s alignment of Iraq with Soviet position. Talib made a note to look into handling of claims. He avoided further discussion of Vietnam by saying cabinet absorbed in domestic affairs and had no time, as had Bazzaz in Moscow, to concern itself with world issues such as Vietnam and German question.
Talib declared GOI would implement Kurdish program fully, but he dwelt extensively on difficulties and gave no hint how GOI to proceed. Most serious problem he identified is three-way split among Kurds, with Barzani insisting GOI deal only with him; GOI cannot ignore Kurds who sided with GOI or those of old KDP. Talib said Barzani wants to be “King of Kurdistan,” but apart from that nobody knows what he really wants.
Talib asked my views, whether Kurds serious, what GOI should do. I said GOI had real opportunity settle problem. Kurds not likely start conflict unless GOI failed act. I urged GOI take very generous attitude over extended period of time in order create confidence in [Page 364] good faith of GOI. As Kurds see GOI serious, support for armed rebellion likely decline. Talib listened, but he again stressed difficulties and need for Kurdish cooperation.
Talib expressed conviction Iran still supplying arms to Kurds. He did not ask that USG take action with Iran nor did he imply USG helped Kurds. I said I thought arms supply from Iran cut off sometime after June 29; possibly other types supplies moving in but if so this would stop if GOI would drop economic blockade of north as it promised. Talib took very hard line, asked what Iran wants of Iraq and compared Iranian attitude with that of Turkey. He said GOI wants good relations with Iran; Bazzaz and Taher Yahya had not wanted bad relations but Iran had created them. Now Iran tries to impose impossible conditions; no GOI can even discuss Shatt al-Arab. I explained Iranian concerns and then noted that in past few weeks opportunity has arisen for Iraq to move toward better relations with Iran. I urged Talib to try to capitalize on it. Talib responded neither aye nor nay but listened carefully.
I pointed out that Iran gave limited help to Kurds for limited objective, whereas USSR keeps stirring up Kurdish aspirations and so-called clandestine broadcasts hostile to GOI continue from Eastern Europe. These things ultimately more dangerous to Iraq; Soviets have longstanding ambitions in direction Persian Gulf; their agitation of Kurdish question targeted at this objective. Talib admitted this but went on that USSR is friend of Iraq which needs Soviet help.

6. Comment:

Talib revealed nothing of general lines of policies to be pursued. He said ministerial policy statement will be issued in few days. It is still too early for evaluation of current GOI. Next few weeks should provide clues as to character and direction.
As Shi’a, Talib may deem it necessary be extra hardboiled with Iran. He has been antagonised by Iranian Ambassador Pirasteh who has told Talib that as a Shi’a he (Talib) is practically an Iranian and should cooperate closely with Iran. I still hope Iran will patiently keep door open to genuine efforts toward improvement in relations.
Talib was physically tired. He was business-like but friendly in attitude. He failed raise question of PL-480 wheat or relief program for north.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 15-1 IRAQ. Confidential. Repeated to Tehran, Algiers, Amman, Ankara, Basra, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Dhaharan, Jerusalem, Jidda, Khartoum, Kuwait, London, Moscow, Rabat, Tel Aviv, Tripoli, Tunis, and CINCSTRIKE/CINCMEAFSA.
  2. Bazzaz resigned as Prime Minister on August 6 and was succeeded by Naji Talib.