189. Memorandum From the Executive Secretary of the Department of State (Read) to the President’s Special Assistant (Rostow)1


  • Letter from Kurdish Insurgent Leader Barzani to the President2

Enclosed is a letter from the leader of the Kurdish insurrection in Iraq, General Barzani, to the President. The letter was brought to the United States by one of General Barzani’s chief supporters, Dr. Osman. It was delivered to the Department of State at the desk level, where Kurds and Kurdish emissaries are received.

The letter requests the United States to employ its influence to urge a final and just settlement of the Kurdish question in Iraq, and also requests material help for the destitute Kurds. In fact, our Ambassador in Iraq, Robert Strong, has discreetly but repeatedly urged the Iraqi Government to take more steps to satisfy legitimate Kurdish requests within the framework of Iraqi sovereignty. Since 1964 we have been carrying on a program of supplying surplus US food to Kurdish refugees in Iraq.

Since June 1966 a de facto truce has existed between the Kurdish insurgents and the Iraqi Government pending an over-all settlement. Toward the end of 1966 Barzani sent a memorandum to the President of Iraq, a copy of which he also enclosed in his letter to the President, complaining that the Iraqi regime has not been acting in good faith in implementing the truce arrangements.

In view of the fact that Barzani has technically still not submitted to the Iraqi Government, we recommend that no written reply be sent to Barzani’s letter to the President. Instead, we recommend that a Department of State officer at the desk level orally acknowledge receipt of the letter on behalf of the President and reassure the Kurds of United States Government’s concern on a humanitarian basis as evidenced by the continuing flow of surplus foods to the destitute Kurds in Iraq. Such a reply would be consistent with our previous handling of messages from Barzani.3

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967-69, POL 23-9 IRAQ. Secret. Drafted by Kinsolving on February 14 and cleared by Davies and Country Director for Lebanon, Jordan, Syrian Arab Republic, and Iraq Robert B. Houghton.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. A notation typed on the memorandum dated May 9 states that the White House determined that no action or reply was necessary.