268. Telegram 37806 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iran1 2

[Page 1]


  • Soviet-Iraq Threat to Iran in Middle East


  • Tehran 928
You may draw from following in your talk with Alam and during any further discussions with any ranking officials you may have concerning events in Iraq and the possibility of Soviet collusion there.
While agreeing that just announced Iraqi/Kurdish settlement looks more binding than anything developed heretofore, we question whether it will hold for any substantial length of time. Careful reading of Fifteen Point Settlement Declaration appears leave unanswered critical question of what degree of autonomy Kurdish province will in fact enjoy. As this is doubtless key element of any lasting agreement believe implementation will uncover serious if not fatal flaws. Even should active hostilities not be resumed in these circumstances [Page 2] believe possibility will be latent cause for Baghdad concern for some time to come. Doubt therefore that Iraqi government will feel free for long to make significant shift in its attention and resources away from Kurds to Iran and Persian Gulf area. Furthermore, any easement on this score might well see troops being redeployed in Jordan and Syria rather than southern Iraq.
We agree Soviets have been encouraging Iraqi/Kurdish settlement but it less clear what effect this actually had in bringing about current settlement. Soviet attitude toward Kurds has fluctuated and generally been subordinated to other Soviet policy considerations in the area. No doubt their important investment in the Baghdad Government was seen as being vitiated somewhat by internal strife and that an Iraqi/Kurdish settlement was clearly to be preferred.
While it is likely Soviets are interested in developing a position of influence among the Kurds we doubt this is an asset [Page 3] they would wish to employ in the immediate future. We particularly skeptical that they would attempt to promote a “Kurdish corridor” at this time. To do so would obviously raise grave questions among Soviet Arab friends as to what their true intentions were since they would be witnessing the detachment of an important province from an Arab state. Further it seems unlikely that the Soviets would want to risk damaging their carefully nurtured relations with Iran and Turkey by embarking on a plan such as foreseen para 4(e) reftel which would presumably elicit strong reaction from both those countries.
We of course agree with GOI general premise that this is an important development which merits most careful and continuing attention. We appreciate concern this gives GOI and welcome any further views it may have.


  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files, 1970–73, POL IRAQ-USSR. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by William H. Hallman, NEA/IRN. Cleared by Seelye; William K. Anderson, EUR/SOV; and Dirk Gleysteen, S/S. Approved by Davies. In telegram 928 from Tehran, March 12, MacArthur had sent word that the Shah believed his worst fears of Soviet influence on Iraq had been confirmed with the formation of an autonomous Iraq-Kurdish province. (Ibid.)
  2. The Department offered reassurances to Iran of the likely instability of the current Iraqi-Kurdish rapprochement.