304. Memorandum From Andrew Killgore of the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, Department of State to the Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Sisco)1 2
- Kurdish Appeal U.S. Assistance
Attached, is a memorandum of the Uthman-Scotes conversation. Uthman made an appeal for direct or indirect U.S. assistance to enable Barzani to establish an Iraqi Arab-Kurdish “liberation movement” in Iraqi Kurdistan with the aim of overthrowing the Ba’athi regime in Baghdad. He also transmitted a letter to the Secretary (see attached rough translation) in which Barzani makes the same appeal. He has requested an answer to this appeal by Thursday, April 6.
Our initial reaction to this appeal is negative based on our views that (a) a Barzani-dominated regime would have difficulty surviving in the face of what would doubtless become consolidated Arab opposition to it from both inside and outside Iraq; (b) the Soviets are so well established economically in Iraq that even if Barzani succeeds in overthrowing the Ba’athis, it is unlikely that he could break Iraq’s ties with Moscow unless we were prepared to step in with immediate and perhaps large-scale assistance; (c) USG support for a coup operation which at best appears to be ill organized would be difficult “to conceal and thus the USG would risk further strains on its relations with the other Arab states because of support for a non-Arab movement backed by other non-Arab states (Iran and Israel) against “the Arabs”; (d) facilitating the coming to power of a Kurdish-supported government in Baghdad also risks arousing the expectations of Kurds in neighboring Iran and Turkey, thus causing-concern in at least Turkey if not Iran; (e) any encouragement to the Kurds can only give further impetus to Kurdish nationalist aspirations which aim eventually to establish a separate state of Kurdistan, a step which would be retrogressive in that it would represent further fragmentation in an already fragmented area.
Despite the above initial reaction, we have discussed this matter with Roy who agrees that it would be useful if we had an informal review of the Kurdish situation with Mike Waller of CIA before making any final decision regarding the Uthman appeal. CIA has also been getting through independent sources the same information and similar appeals. Such a review would be in line with your thoughts expressed to Tom Scotes at the [Page 2] airport yesterday that we continue to update our assessments and not be guided solely by conventional wisdom concerning such matters.
Meanwhile, we would recommend that you brief the Secretary orally about this problem in view of the fact that the letter from Barzani is addressed to him.