211. Telegram From the Interests Section in Baghdad to the Department of State1

200. Subj: Baath Anniversary Celebrations and Iraqi Policy.

1. Summary: 26th anniversary of founding of Baath Party Apr 7 was occasion for enunciating main themes of Iraqi policy and demonstrating organizational skill and energy of Baath in conducting lectures, rallies, exhibits, speeches, and ribbon cutting ceremonies. Main policy themes were (A) domestic progress; (B) foreign policy successes with Iraq moving to forefront of Arab progressives; (C) failures of “reactionary” enemies; and (D) frustration over Arab inability thus far to hit [Page 616] U.S. where it hurts. In contrast to rhetoric, recent Iraqi actions are relatively realistic. It will be increasingly important to judge this regime by what it does rather than what it says. End summary.

2. Domestic progress was dramatized by lifting of austerity measures, including prohibition on foreign travel, and announcement of new import program and budget. Imports to increase 30 percent this year. Investment budget will total a record one billion dols, two-thirds of which will come from oil revenues. Victory over IPC makes this all possible. Oil revenues expected to more than double by 1975 to two bil dols.

3. Foreign policy themes revolve around success of IPC nationalization which has brought belated recognition of Iraq as leader of progressive Arab front demonstrated by recent financial grants to Egyptians and Palestinians. Alliance with Soviet Union cited as additional source of strength, but not played up. Celebration of first anniversary of Soviet-Iraqi treaty on Apr 9 reported septel.2

4. Iraqi successes and dynamism have been matched by failures and evil plotting of its enemies. Iran and Saudi Arabia are well out in front, but U.S. still pulling strings behind scenes. Illustrative articles are “farce of agrarian reform in Iran”, student demonstrations in Lebanon and Iran, and exposés on “traitorous conspiracies” of Saudi rulers against PDRY and Iraq, failure to condemn U.S. Phantom deal, and close alliance with Iran, all of which stimulate masses against them.

5. Iraqi media still hitting hard on oil as a weapon against U.S. and deploring failure of Arabs to stop flow of oil to U.S., withdraw funds from U.S. banks, and take overt actions to punish U.S. for supplying more arms to Israel.

6. Comment: Baath regime can indeed claim substantial progress in economic sphere. Its radical rhetoric is, however, increasingly at odds with its own more realistic actions. For example: settlement with IPC contained important Iraqi concessions, Iraq itself has taken no actions to use oil wealth as weapon against U.S., on contrary, Iraqi team is about to depart for U.S. to complete details for $60 mil aircraft purchase. In addition, there is coolness in Iraqi-Soviet relationship. My guess is because of rapidity with which Iraqis have exercised their newly gained maneuverability following IPC settlement. Russia was for example, pressing hard to sell aircraft here. Baath regime is still no friend of U.S. or our friends, but it will be increasingly important in months ahead to judge this regime by what it does rather than what it says.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 12 IRAQ. Confidential. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Jidda, Kuwait, London, Moscow, Paris, Tehran, Tripoli, and Cairo.
  2. Document 212.