265. Telegram 598 From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State1 2

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  • Iraqi Coup Attempt
Information on events in Iraq now available to FonOff is similar to reports appearing London press datelined Beirut. FonOff and press details appear below. FonOff Iraq Desk (Hinchcliffe) tells us that it fairly clear that Iraqis have known about plot for some time and deliberately waited until last minute to nab participants. Furthermore, Hinchcliffe says, FonOff is reasonably satisfied Iranians were indeed behind attempt: Relative restraint of Iranian reaction to date may reflect their uncertainty over best response under circumstances.
FonOff’s latest figures on number of plotters executed is 41 with undetermined number of others jailed for various terms. Word from Baghdad indicates that Iranian Ambassador and four of his staff were given brusque treatment in expulsion exercise. Diplomatic relations between two countries have not rpt [Page 2] not been severed and, at this moment, FonOff doubts full diplomatic rupture will come. Press reports here speak of troop movements by both countries on either side of Shatt al Arab but FonOff has no confirmation.
FonOff information indicates that Iraqi regime has Iranian involvement in plot fairly well documented and that Baghdad intends to exploit its “evidence” to maximize embarrassment for Iran. Hinchcliffe notes that UK was mentioned during first few hours after coup attempt was broken but has not been spoken of since. However, Baghdad Radio continued to link CIA with Iranians as perpetrators of attempt.
Only press comment to date appeared in today’s times which treats plot as simply another inevitable conspiracy against small group who hold power in Baghdad. More such plots will come since this is only way to change regime which is “incompetent and bloodthirsty.” Tally of executions of past two days is high even by Iraqi standards. “So the revolution eats its children, and a great many other unfortunates as well.” Accusations and action against Iran are new element in this latest terror, paper says. Real truth is difficult to uncover: “All that is certain is that once again the men in Baghdad have shown themselves to be men of blood.”
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 23–9 IRAQ. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Beirut, Tehran, Amman, Ankara, Jidda, Tel Aviv, Dhahran, Kuwait, and CINCSTRIKE/CINCMEAFSA.
  2. The Embassy relayed news about the abortive Iranian-backed coup attempt in Iraq.