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

920. Subject: US-Iraqi Issues: (IV) Sinai. Ref: A) Baghdad 919, B) Baghdad 916, C) Secto 10289, D) State 208685.2

1. Summary: U.S. success in mediating interim agreement on Sinai is galling blow to Iraq—even if comes as no surprise. Physical presence of U.S. technicians may, however, prove sufficiently unpopular with some other Arab states to give Iraq propaganda leverage. I request instructions to describe U.S. position in Sinai accord to MFA Director General of Political Affairs in course of call to confirm that proposed US–Iraq contact at UNGA will in fact occur. End summary.

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2. That GOI is against Sinai interim agreement is obvious (ref B) and comes as no surprise. GOI opposes partial solutions to Arab-Israeli dispute as matter of principle. In addition GOI has pounced upon proposed presence in Sinai passes of American technicians to raise spectre of disguised American military spy mission to be steadily enlarged as time passes.

3. Soviet Chargé, Popov, who has served in Israel and who normally supports Israel’s right to exist and prosper and who sees merits in the “step-by-step” approach, told me at Qatar National Day reception September third that presence of U.S. technicians will unravel all the otherwise excellent features of the accord. He said USSR will be forced to join Iraq in opposing such a presence which, he said, bitterly, “The Zionist lobby will have no trouble getting past Congress”. Comment: Certainly both USSR and GOI likely to seize on this as aspect of agreement most likely to support hostile propaganda campaign among other Arab states.

3. What is most humiliating to the GOI Baath Party leadership is Sadat’s admission that the Arabs collectively cannot put together enough clout to make progress in the dispute with Israel without calling in “outsiders”. Iraq is very proud of the fact that it settled its quarrel with Iran and put down the Kurdish rebellion without having to bring in non-Arab third parties (Algeria’s Boumedienne having been the key mediator). If similar situations arise at future stages of Arab-Israeli disengagements, Iraq can be expected to be opposed to a US, a Soviet, a Chinese or any third party (except the UN) presence in the buffer zones.

4. Is difficult to imagine anything constructive that could result from dwelling on Sinai accord in proposed UNGA contact—unless this could somehow be shown to be in long-range interest of Iraq’s Palestinian clients. US success in Sinai means serious setback to Iraqi position of implacable opposition to partial solutions and if the subject has to be addressed, it would be charitable to do so soberly and without rubbing salt in wounds.

5. VOA newscasts morning of September fifth described Anwar Sadat’s sharp critism of USSR, Syria, and Iraq for their opposition to Sinai pact. Offhand, it appears that USSR may be giving up on efforts to influence Egypt and is falling back upon hard core of Syria, Iraq, and Palestinians whom it will encourage to make mischief rather than work with moderate Arabs for an enduring peace. If this is so, USSR will probably cast itself as only real friend of Palestinians among the major powers—with U.S. portrayed as foe not only of Palestinians but of Arab unity as well. US has demonstrated that it is friend of moderate Arabs and of Israel. Excruciatingly difficult challenge now is to be seen as [Page 804] friend of Palestinians as well in order to prevent polarization USSR appears to be seeking.

6. Wish at this point to note that ref C—instructing USINT to inform MFA of then imminent signing—reached our office via telegram on morning of September third and was decoded around noon. Time does not yet seem ripe to raise this personally with MFA. I recommend that prior to proposed talk between Secretary and Foreign Minister at UNGA I be instructed to call on Director General for Political Affairs, Ibrahim al-Wali, to confirm that meeting will take place (with general indication of timing if possible). Believe this would be more fruitful context in which to pass message about Sinai than simply to go to MFA on this topic alone.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D750309–0842. Confidential; Stadis; Limdis.
  2. Telegram 919 is Document 296. Telegram 916 from Baghdad, September 4, described the negative reaction of the Iraqi press to the Israeli-Egyptian settlement on the Sinai. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, D750310–0003) Telegram Secto 10289 to Baghdad and other capitals, September 1, instructed the Chiefs of Mission to inform host governments that the Israeli-Egyptian agreement would be initialed that day. (Ibid., D750301–1058) Telegram 208685 to Baghdad and other capitals, September 3, noted that the text of the September 1 agreement would be forthcoming. (Ibid., D750303–0910) The overall agreement included establishment of the U.S. Sinai Support Mission to observe compliance with the agreement’s terms. Documentation on U.S. diplomacy in the negotiations on the agreement and the text of the agreement is printed in Foreign Relations, 1969–1974, volume XXVI, Arab-Israeli Dispute, 1974–1976.