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

248. Cairo for Secretary’s party. Subject: Iraqi-Iranian Agreement. Ref: Baghdad 103, 131, 156.2

1. Summary. RCC Vice Chairman Saddam Hussein made major concessions to obtain accord with Shah. If carried out, accord could be historic turning point in Iraqi-Iranian relations and augur well for regional stability. However, past actions and attitudes on both sides demand that it be viewed with skepticism. Saddam has, by embracing Shah, made major gamble at time when extremist elements of Baath are increasingly vocal in opposition to Saddam’s ME policy and any Iraqi acquiescence in ME settlement. End summary.

2. Algiers Accord of March 6 between Shah and Saddam Hussein was given banner treatment in Iraqi media, including TV scenes of two [Page 746] principals embracing. Major elements of accord as published here are as follows (assume full text in FBIS):

3. Demarcation of river frontier according to thalweg line;

4. Demarcation of land frontiers on basis of 1913 Constantinople Protocol and minutes of 1914 Frontier Demarcation Commission;

5. Strict and effective control along borders to end all subversive infiltration from either side.

6. Above three arrangements are indivisible elements of comprehensive settlement. Two parties will remain in constant contact with President Boumediene as accord is implemented.

7. Foreign Ministers will meet in Tehran March 15 to establish work arrangements for mixed commission to implement agreement.

8. Shah accepted invitation to visit Iraq and Saddam to visit Iran.

9. Comment: Saddam Hussein giving up of Iraqi territory on Shatt al-Arab without even face-saving device of prior negotiated treaty is major concession and best illustration of his determination to end Iranian assistance to Kurds even at risk of his own position. Another Iraqi concession was absence of any mention of Iranian seizure of Tunbs and Abu Musa. Demarcation of border has never been a major problem, but only symptom of deeper differences.

10. Shah, on other hand, appears to have gotten what he wanted on Shatt al-Arab in return for controlling of border to end all subversive infiltration (which for GOI means end of assistance to Kurdish insurgency) a policy to which he has never admitted. Given Baath track record and Shah’s past behavior and opinion of Baath regime, there is good reason for doubting that accord will be fully implemented. For example, does Shah seriously intend to end all aid to Kurds and permit Iraqi forces to destroy them, or was he pressured into agreement by Boumediene, Sadat, et al and by desire for OPEC solidarity. Time will tell.

11. In Iraqi context, Saddam Hussein has shown real political courage. Even before signing of accord there was evidence of growing discontent within Baath Party, particularly national (pan-Arab) leadership, over Saddam’s gradual moderation of Iraq’s policy toward Palestinians, his rapprochement with West and conservative Arabs, and changing attitude toward ME settlement (notably in joint communiqué with French PM Chirac). All-out attack of national leadership against Syria and negotiated settlement is most striking example (Baghdad 228).3 How Saddam deals with this glaring contradiction in Iraqi/Baath policy upon his return should provide us with good indication of how serious internal party differences are.

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12. Recommendations on how we might encourage consolidation of this first step in Iranian-Iraqi rapprochement contained septel.4

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D750082–0252. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Repeated to Abu Dhabi, Algiers, Amman, Ankara, Beiruty Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, Kuwait, London, Moscow, Paris, Tehran, Tel Aviv, and Tunis.
  2. Telegram 103 is Document 271. Telegram 131 from Baghdad, February 8, conveyed the conviction of the French Ambassador that the Iraqi regime had changed and that an Iraqi-Iranian settlement was likely. (Ibid., D750047–0823) In telegram 156 from Baghdad, February 13, Lowrie reported that the Iranian Ambassador had assured him of Iran’s interest in coming to terms with Iraq in the name of regional stability. (Ibid., D750057–0348)
  3. Not found.
  4. In telegram 249 from Baghdad, March 8, Lowrie recommended that the Secretary send a confidential message to Saddam Hussein, encouraging full implementation of the Iraqi-Iranian agreement. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D750082–0254)