236. Telegram From the Interests Section in Baghdad to the Department of State1
545. Subject: Iraqi Actions in Support of War Against Israel.2
1. Although I have only radio accounts to go by, principal Iraqi action in support of Egypt and Syria against Israel are nationalization of Exxon and Mobil portion of BPC; decision not to export oil to U.S. and urging others to do same; public offer to Iran for rapprochement;3 and public admission that 12 Hawker-Hunters are in Egypt to engage the enemy.
2. These actions show considerable ingenuity in exploiting war situation to serve Iraqi interests. Given Iraq’s isolation from other Arabs and the battlefields, a dramatic act was required to demonstrate its continuing role as avant garde revolutionary. Nationalization of last remaining U.S. investment was natural choice given regime’s conviction that Israel’s strength and militancy are result of U.S. backing. Partial nationalization is not new idea and Dept will recall it was raised as possibility just prior to IPC settlement. Even though compensation promised, it is doubtful regime is aware of possible adverse consequences nationalization can have on commercial dealings with U.S. Ban on oil exports to U.S. fits in same category, but has little pratical importance in immediate future.
3. Regime’s offer of rapprochement with Iran in name of Muslim solidarity and in order to devote full energies to battle confirms, in my view, that Iraq has been working hard for rapprochement but was unable to make new moves without losing face in view of Iranian disinterestedness and disdainful public utterance of Shah about Baghdad regime. Real reason for seeking rapprochement remains that it is prerequisite to resolving Kurdish problem.
4. Comment: With possible exception nationalization, which hard pressed Baath regime probably saw as political imperative, GOI has [Page 668] taken no actions I am aware of that damage its own interests. Given clear indications we have had during past two months of Iraqi desire for American technology and equipment, I recommend Dept delay taking any irrevocable position on Exxon/Mobil nationalization until full facts known. BPC rep will obtain decree and implementing instructions Oct 8.
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, [no film number]. Confidential; Priority.↩
- On October 6, Egypt and Syria attacked Israel in a bid to recover territory seized by Israel during the 1967 war.↩
- In telegram 7124 from Tehran, October 8, the Embassy reported that Iraq had requested re-establishment of relations with Iran. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had accepted the request on condition that Iraqi-Iranian differences be settled according to the norms of international law. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, [no film number]) According to Intelligence Information Cable 53788, October 11, the Shah felt obliged to accept the Iraqi proposal to avoid criticism for intransigence or for hindering Iraq’s efforts to assist Syria and Egypt in their war with Israel. (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, Box 1295, Harold H. Saunders Files, Iran 5/16/73–12/31/73)↩