230. Research Study Prepared in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research1

RESS–41

USSR–IRAQ: THE LINES OF TENSION

Soviet-Iraqi relations since the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) settlement in March have been marked by tensions and difficulties. This report examines the Soviet position in Iraq in the light of these problems.

Abstract

The USSR–Iraq relationship—though viewed by outsiders such as Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia as a smoothly functioning partnership for radical penetration and subversion—has actually been long subject [Page 653]to strains and is now becoming increasingly complicated and frustrating for Moscow. Although the June 30 coup attempt mounted by the Director of Public Security has riveted Iraqi attention upon internal matters, the resultant abatement of bilateral tensions will probably be only temporary, since the fundamental differences which complicated the meshing of Moscow’s aims and perceptions with those of Baghdad remain. The Soviet position in Iraq, developed principally as Iraq’s chief arms supplier, is always hostage to an unstable internal situation. Moreover, Moscow faces the problem of reconciling its interests in Iraq with its relations with other states in the region. Baghdad, on the other hand, is suspicious of Soviet intentions, in part because of past Soviet efforts to protect Moscow’s investment by attempting to induce cooperation among Iraq’s squabbling political groupings; it also calculates (correctly) that the USSR’s usefulness to many Iraqi regional ambitions is limited.

[Omitted here is the body of the study.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL IRAQ–USSR. Secret; No Foreign Dissem; Controlled Dissem. Drafted by Alexandra U. Johnson (INR/USSR and Eastern Europe), cleared by David E. Mark (Deputy Director, Regional Intelligence), and approved by Martin Packman (Chief, Current Intelligence Staff).