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For Whom the Bell Tolls: Top Ten Ways the US Enabled Saddam Hussein
by juan cole (reposted)
Saturday Dec 30th, 2006 10:34 AM
...

Saturday, December 30, 2006

For Whom the Bell Tolls:
Top Ten Ways the US Enabled Saddam Hussein


The old monster swung from the gallows this morning at 6 am Baghdad time. His Shiite executioners danced around his body.

Saddam Hussain was one of the 20th century's most notorious tyrants, though the death toll he racked up is probably exaggerated by his critics. The reality was bad enough.

The tendency to treat Saddam and Iraq in a historical vacuum, and in isolation from the superpowers, however, has hidden from Americans their own culpability in the horror show that has been Iraq for the past few decades. Initially, the US used the Baath Party as a nationalist foil to the Communists. Then Washington used it against Iran. The welfare of Iraqis themselves appears to have been on no one's mind, either in Washington or in Baghdad.

The British-installed monarchy was overthrown by an officer's coup in 1958, led by Abdul Karim Qasim. The US was extremely upset, and worried that the new regime would not be a reliable oil exporter and that it might leave the Baghdad Pact of 1955, which the US had put together against the Soviet Union (grouping Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Britain and the US). (Qasim did leave the pact in 1959, which according to a US official of that time, deeply alarmed Washington.)

Iraq in the 1940s and 1950s had become an extremely unequal society, with a few thousand (mostly Sunni Arab) families owning half of the good land. On their vast haciendas, poor rural Shiites worked for a pittance. In the 1950s, two new mass parties grew like wildfire, the Communist Party of Iraq and the Arab Baath Socialist Party. They attracted first-generation intellectuals, graduates of the rapidly expanding school system, as well as workers and peasants. The crushing inequalities of Iraq under the monarchy produced widespread anger.

Qasim undertook land reform and founded a new section of Baghdad, in the northeast, which he called Revolution Township, where rural Shiites congregated as they came to the capital seeking work as day laborers (it is now Sadr City, where a majority of Baghdadis live). The US power elite of the time wrongly perceived Qasim as a dangerous radical who coddled the Communists.

1) The first time the US enabled Saddam Hussein came in 1959. In that year, a young Saddam, from the boondock town of Tikrit but living with an uncle in Baghdad, tried to assassinate Qasim. He failed and was wounded in the leg. Saddam had, like many in his generation, joined the Baath Party, which combined socialism, Arab nationalism, and the aspiration for a one-party state.

In 1959, Richard Sale of UPI reports,

' According to another former senior State Department official, Saddam, while only in his early 20s, became a part of a U.S. plot to get rid of Qasim. According to this source, Saddam was installed in an apartment in Baghdad on al-Rashid Street directly opposite Qasim's office in Iraq's Ministry of Defense, to observe Qasim's movements.

Adel Darwish, Middle East expert and author of "Unholy Babylon," said the move was done "with full knowledge of the CIA," and that Saddam's CIA handler was an Iraqi dentist working for CIA and Egyptian intelligence. U.S. officials separately confirmed Darwish's account.'


CIA involvement in the 1959 assassination attempt is plausible. Historian David Wise says there is evidence in the US archives that the CIA's "Health Alteration Committee" tried again to have Qasim assassinated in 1960 by "sending the Iraqi leader a poisoned monogrammed handkerchief."

2) After the failed coup attempt, Saddam fled to Cairo, where he attended law school in between bar brawls, and where it is alleged that he retained his CIA connections there, being put on a stipend by the agency via the Egyptian government. He frequently visited US operatives at the Indiana Cafe. Getting him back on his feet in Cairo was the second episode of US aid to Saddam.

3) In February of 1963 the military wing of the Baath Party, which had infiltrated the officer corps and military academy, made a coup against Qasim, whom they killed. There is evidence from Middle Eastern sources, including interviews conducted at the time by historian Hanna Batatu, that the CIA cooperated in this coup and gave the Baathists lists of Iraqi Communists (who were covert, having infiltrated the government or firms). Roger Morris, a former National Security Council staffer of the 1960s, alleged that the US played a significant role in this Baath coup and that it was mostly funded "with American money.". Morris's allegation was confirmed to me by an eyewitness with intimate knowledge of the situation, who said that that the CIA station chief in Baghdad gave support to the Baathists in their coup. One other interviewee, who served as a CIA operative in Baghdad in 1964, denied to me the agency's involvement. But he was at the time junior and he was not an eyewitness to the events of 1963, and may not have been told the straight scoop by his colleagues. Note that some high Baathists appear to have been unaware of the CIA involvement, as well. In the murky world of tradecraft, a lot of people, even on the same team, keep each other in the dark. UPI quotes another, or perhaps the same, official, saying that the coup came as a surprise to Langley. In my view, unlikely.

There really is not any controversy about the US having supplied the names of Communists to the Baath, which rooted them out and killed them. Saddam Hussein was brought back from Cairo as an interrogator and quickly rose to become head of Baath Intelligence. So that was his first partnership with the US.

The 1963 Baath government only lasted 8 months, and was overthrown by officers who had been around Qasim. The military wing of the Baath, which was heavily Shiite, was relentlessly pursued by the new government, and was virtually wiped out. The largely Sunni civilian party, however, survived underground.

4) In 1968, the civilian wing of the Baath Party came to power in a second coup. David Morgan of Reuters wrote,
' "In 1968, Morris says, the CIA encouraged a palace revolt among Baath party elements led by long-time Saddam mentor Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, who would turn over the reins of power to his ambitious protégé in 1979. "It's a regime that was unquestionably midwived by the United States, and the (CIA's) involvement there was really primary," Morris says. '
As I noted in The Nation, in their book Unholy Babylon, "Darwish and Alexander report assertions of US backing for the 1968 coup, confirmed to me by other journalists who have talked to retired CIA and State Department officials." It was alleged to me by one journalist who had talked to former US government officials with knowledge of this issue that not only did the US support the 1968 Baath coup, but it specifically promoted the Tikritis among the coup-makers, helping them become dominant. These included President Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr and his cousin Saddam Hussein, who quickly became a power behind the throne.

5) The second Baath regime in Iraq disappointed the Nixon and Ford administrations by reaching out to the tiny remnants of the Communist Party and by developing good relations with the Soviet Union. In response, Nixon supported the Shah's Iran in its attempts to use the Iraqi Kurds to stir up trouble for the Baath Party, of which Saddam Hussein was a behind the scenes leader. As supporting the Kurdish struggle became increasingly expensive, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlevi of Iran decided to abandon the Kurds. He made a deal with the Iraqis at Algiers in 1975, and Saddam immediately ordered an invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan. The US acquiesced in this betrayal of the Kurds, and made no effort to help them monetarily. Kissinger maintained that the whole operation had been the shah's, and the shah suddenly terminated it, leaving the US with no alternative but to acquiesce. But that is not entirely plausible. The operation was supported by the CIA, and the US didn't have to act only through an Iranian surrogate. Kissinger no doubt feared he couldn't get Congress to fund help to the Kurds during the beginnings of the Vietnam syndrome. In any case, the 1975 US about-face helped Saddam consolidate control over northern Iraq.

6) When Saddam Hussein invaded Iran in 1980, he again caught the notice of US officials. The US was engaged in an attempt to contain Khomeinism and the new Islamic Republic. Especially after the US faced attacks from radicalized Shiites in Lebanon linked to Iran, and from the Iraqi Da`wa Party, which engaged in terrorism against the US and French embassies in Kuwait, the Reagan administration determined to deal with Saddam from late 1983, giving him important diplomatic encouragement. Historians are deeply indebted to Joyce Battle's Briefing Book at the National Security Archives, GWU, which presents key documents she sprung through FOIA requests, and which she analyzed for the first time.

I wrote on another occasion,
' Reagan sent Rumsfeld to Baghdad in December 1983. The National Security Archive has posted a brief video of his meeting with Hussein and the latter’s vice president and foreign minister, Tariq Aziz. Rumsfeld was to stress his close relationship with the U.S. president. The State Department summary of Rumsfeld’s meeting with Tariq Aziz stated that “the two agreed the U.S. and Iraq shared many common interests: peace in the Gulf, keeping Syria and Iran off balance and less influential, and promoting Egypt’s reintegration into the Arab world.” Aziz asked Rumsfeld to intervene with Washington’s friends to get them to stop selling arms to Iran. Increasing Iraq’s oil exports and a possible pipeline through Saudi Arabia occupied a portion of their conversation.

. . . The State Department, however, issued a press statement on March 5, 1984, condemning Iraqi use of chemical weapons. This statement appears to have been Washington’s way of doing penance for its new alliance.

Unaware of the depths of Reagan administration hypocrisy on the issue, Hussein took the March 5 State Department condemnation extremely seriously, and appears to have suspected that the United States was planning to stab him in the back. Secretary of State George Shultz notes in a briefing for Rumsfeld in spring of 1984 that the Iraqis were extremely confused by concrete U.S. policies . . . "As with our CW statement, their temptation is to give up rational analysis and retreat to the line that US policies are basically anti-Arab and hostage to the desires of Israel.”

Rumsfeld had to be sent back to Baghdad for a second meeting, to smooth ruffled Baath feathers. The above-mentioned State Department briefing notes for this discussion remarked that the atmosphere in Baghdad (for Rumsfeld) had worsened . . . the March 5 scolding of Iraq for its use of poison gas had “sharply set back” relations between the two countries.

The relationship was repaired, but on Hussein’s terms. He continued to use chemical weapons and, indeed, vastly expanded their use as Washington winked at Western pharmaceutical firms providing him materiel. The only conclusion one can draw from available evidence is that Rumsfeld was more or less dispatched to mollify Hussein and assure him that his use of chemical weapons was no bar to developing the relationship with the U.S., whatever the State Department spokesman was sent out to say. '


7) The US gave
practical help to Saddam
during the Iran-Iraq War:

' As former National Security Council staffer Howard Teicher affirmed, “Pursuant to the secret NSDD [National Security Directive], the United States actively supported the Iraqi war effort by supplying the Iraqis with billions of dollars of credits, by providing US military intelligence and advice to the Iraqis, and by closely monitoring third country arms sales to Iraq to make sure that Iraq had the military weaponry required.” The requisite weaponry included cluster bombs. . . '


Richard Sale of UPI also reported that military cooperation intensified:

' During the war, the CIA regularly sent a team to Saddam to deliver battlefield intelligence obtained from Saudi AWACS surveillance aircraft to aid the effectiveness of Iraq's armed forces, according to a former DIA official, part of a U.S. interagency intelligence group. . .

According to Darwish, the CIA and DIA provided military assistance to Saddam's ferocious February 1988 assault on Iranian positions in the al-Fao peninsula by blinding Iranian radars for three days. '


8) The Reagan administration worked behind the scenes to foil Iran's motion of censure against Iraq for using chemical weapons. I wrote at Truthdig:

' The new American alliance might have been a public relations debacle if Iran succeeded in its 1984 attempt to have Iraq directly condemned at the United Nations for use of chemical weapons. As far as possible, Shultz wanted to weasel out of joining such a U.N. condemnation of Iraq. He wrote in a cable that the U.S. delegation to the U.N. “should work to develop general Western position in support of a motion to take ‘no decision’ on Iranian draft resolution on use of chemical weapons by Iraq. If such a motion gets reasonable and broad support and sponsorship, USDEL should vote in favor. Failing Western support for ‘no decision,’ USDEL should abstain.” Shultz in the first instance wanted to protect Hussein from condemnation by a motion of “no decision,” and hoped to get U.S. allies aboard. If that ploy failed and Iraq were to be castigated, he ordered that the U.S. just abstain from the vote. Despite its treaty obligations in this regard, the U.S. was not even to so much as vote for a U.N. resolution on the subject!

Shultz also wanted to throw up smokescreens to take the edge off the Iranian motion, arguing that the U.N. Human Rights Commission was “an inappropriate forum” for consideration of chemical weapons, and stressing that loss of life owing to Iraq’s use of chemicals was “only a part” of the carnage that ensued from a deplorable war. A more lukewarm approach to chemical weapons use by a rogue regime (which referred to the weapons as an “insecticide” for enemy “insects") could not be imagined. In the end, the U.N. resolution condemned the use of chemical weapons but did not name Iraq directly as a perpetrator. '



9) The Reagan administration not only gave significant aid to Saddam, it attempted to recruit other friends for him.

' Teicher adds that the CIA had knowledge of, and U.S. officials encouraged, the provisioning of Iraq with high-powered weaponry by U.S. allies. He adds: “For example, in 1984, the Israelis concluded that Iran was more dangerous than Iraq to Israel’s existence due to the growing Iranian influence and presence in Lebanon. The Israelis approached the United States in a meeting in Jerusalem that I attended with Donald Rumsfeld. Israeli Foreign Minister Ytizhak Shamir asked Rumsfeld if the United States would deliver a secret offer of Israeli assistance to Iraq. The United States agreed. I traveled with Rumsfeld to Baghdad and was present at the meeting in which Rumsfeld told Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz about Israel’s offer of assistance. Aziz refused even to accept the Israelis’ letter to Hussein.” It might have been hoped that a country that arose in part in response to Nazi uses of poison gas would have been more sensitive about attempting to ally with a regime then actively deploying such a weapon, even against its own people (some gassing of Kurds had already begun). '


10) After the Gulf War of 1991, when Shiites and Kurds rose up against Saddam Hussein, the Bush senior administration sat back and allowed the Baathists to fly helicopter gunships and to massively repress the uprising. President GHW Bush had called on Iraqis to rise up against their dictator, but when they did so he left them in the lurch. This inaction, deriving from a fear that a Shiite-dominated Iraq would ally with Tehran, allowed Saddam to remain in power until 2003.

===

Readers of this column may also enjoy Eric Blumrich's Flash slideshow.
§Conflicting accounts of CIA and Saddam, 1959-1963
by juan cole (reposted) Tuesday Jan 2nd, 2007 9:37 AM
My posting last Saturday, For Whom the Bell Tolls: Top Ten Ways the US Enabled Saddam Hussein has elicited a very interesting account by a US government insider contesting the allegations about CIA-Saddam connections early in his life, specifically 1959-1963, and which denies CIA complicity in the first Baath coup of 1963 or the use of the Baath to destroy the Iraqi Communist Party.

The former official reports that Agency case officers in Cairo in 1960-1962 maintain that they never had heard of Saddam Hussein and that it was impossible that meetings should have been held with him without their knowledge. He says that he had looked into these allegations and had also contacted a number of Foreign Service Officers who were in the Cairo embassy at that time, and they also had no recollection of any contact with Saddam. (Another retired USG official who was in Cairo in this period also denied any such contacts, so I have it from two insider eyewitnesses.)

This source maintains that a national security official in Washington, DC, with Iraq oversight duties reports that he was called back to the office the evening of February 8, 1963, to find that the CIA chief of station in Baghdad was reporting that the Ba'this had overthrown and killed `Abd al-Karim Qasim and that "to convince the public of the demise of Qasim Iraqi TV showed a film of a Ba'thi officer holding up for view Qasim's severed head." This US government old-timer writes, "I assure you that the Ba'thi coup came as a TOTAL surprise to the US intelligence and diplomatic community . . . No one in the Washington community had ANY prior knowledge that this coup would take place, let alone having been involved in fomenting it . . ."

This source quotes an Agency case officer in Baghdad 1963 as saying that there was no connection whatsoever between the CIA Station and the Baath Party of Iraq "or with any element of the Iraqi government." There were penetrations of the Party, "but no liaison with it. It did not happen. Nor was there any significant contact between the Ba'thi government and the Political Section of the Embassy or with the Ambassador."

He writes, "In November 1963, civil war erupted between two factions of the Ba'thi Party of Iraq. [The civil war was, eerily, suspended for one day that month when leaders of the two factions laid down their arms and came to a US Embassy sponsored memorial ceremony for John F. Kennedy.] The losing faction, including leader Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr, Air Force Commander Munthir al-Windawi, and, presumably, a junior Saddam Husayn, then fled the country, most going to Damascus. This faction returned to take power in 1968."

I'm sorry to say that I cannot give more detail than this, but I would like to underline that the person I talked to is an eyewitness and insider, is not an apologist, and is about the best source a historian could hope for on this issue.

http://www.juancole.com/2007/01/conflicting-accounts-of-cia-and-saddam.html
§US Reaction to 1963 Baath Coup
by juan cole (reposted) Tuesday Jan 2nd, 2007 9:37 AM

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

US Reaction to 1963 Baath Coup

Since the 1963 Baath coup has come up here twice this week, I thought readers might be interested in the three pieces of correspondence below, from the Foreign Relations of the United States, which is now being put on line. FRUS is anything but complete, and critics complain that it left out the whole 1953 US coup against Mosaddegh in Iran.

This correspondence shows that even in February of 1963, US officials were aware that they might be accused of fostering the coup, and wanted to take steps to avoid being seen as its instigator. But they also were obviously relieved that Qasim was gone, and were positively eager to work with the Baath. This optimism and eagerness seems counter-intuitive, unless they just preferred anyone at all to Qasim, but I personally think that it came of their conviction that the Baath would be anti-Communist in a way that Qasim never was.

The IPC, mentioned below, is the Iraqi Petroleum Company. A much later State Department memo explained, "IPC has six shareholders: British Petroleum (BP), Shell Petroleum, and Compagnie Francaise des Petroles (CFP), each with 23.75%; the two American oil companies, Mobil and Standard Oil (New Jersey), are equal partners in the Near East Development Corporation and jointly own another 23.75%; and the C.S. Gulbenkian Estate owns the remaining 5%." From 1961, IPC was limited to the Kirkuk fields, since Qasim had essentially cut these investors out of the rich Rumaila oil fields down near Basra.

====

149. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Iraq/1/

Washington, February 5, 1963, 9:17 p.m.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 1-3 IRAQ-US. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Killgore and Davies on February 1, cleared by McGhee, and approved by Strong. Repeated to Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, Kuwait, London, Tehran, Tel Aviv, Ankara, and Basra.

209. Baghdad's 362./2/ Chargé, members Country Team and all participants highly commended on excellent and detailed estimate Iraqi situation at year's end. We sympathize with staff's desire break US public silence in face of attacks from Qasim and agree validity of number of points made in Embtel 362. We concur situation in Iraq disturbing but as yet by no means clear Iraq actually becoming Soviet base.

/2/Dated January 22. (Ibid. 787.00/1-2263)

Department considering carefully whether on balance US interests would be served this particular juncture by abandoning policy of avoiding public reaction to Qasim's charges while objecting through normal diplomatic channels. Through our posture, US has sought maintenance American presence in Iraq, and, concomitantly, avoidance of open controversy with Qasim regime; readiness to respond to any Iraqi desire improve official relations; and continuance official and unofficial American contacts with view not only of influencing Iraqi attitudes but also of acquiring valuable intelligence. If we are at some point to undertake line of action Embassy proposes, a more specific objective would be required and there would have to be probability of success.

Qasim's latest remarks perhaps deliberately designed provoke US reaction which could then be used as "proof" US hostility to Iraq and serve as basis for increased level of attacks which, having reacted once, we could not well ignore. US statements cannot be disseminated without distortion within Iraq, and shortwave broadcasts would not have impact on wide group. Qasim would have freedom within Iraq to twist US representations to provide basis for increasing tempo of anti-US campaign and intensifying harassment of Embassy and Consulate Basra. We cannot be sure Qasim might not proceed to length of expelling various officers of our missions, thus threatening reduce "presence" which constitutes important US asset [1 line of source text not declassified].

Qasim regime not highly regarded anywhere in Arab world. Our position and prestige in other Arab countries determined by factors other than our relations with Iraq or Iraqi propaganda. Department believes you should continue press for meeting with Prime Minister for presentation along lines Deptel 148, December 3./3/ Should harassment of mission operations accompany rise in Qasim's critical propaganda, Department would wish consider counter moves./4/

/3/In telegram 148 to Baghdad, December 3, 1962, the Department of State provided guidance to Chargé Melbourne for a forthcoming conversation with Qasim. The Department indicated that it was mystified about Iraq's receptivity toward false allegations of U.S. hostility toward Iraq and of U.S. support for the Kurds, and affirmed the U.S. desire to continue friendly relations with Iraq. (Ibid., 787.00/11-2762) For text, see the Supplement, the compilation on Iraq. The Chargé was unable to obtain the proposed audience with Qasim.

/4/On February 7, the Department of State sent the White House the Embassy's analysis of the situation in Iraq and its recommendation that the United States actively move to counter Qasim's continuing public criticisms of the United States. The Department indicated its disagreement with the proposed course of action. (Memorandum from Brubeck to Bundy; Department of State, Central Files, POL 1-3 IRAQ-US; for text, see the Supplement, the compilation on Iraq)

Rusk


154. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rusk to President Kennedy/1/

Washington, February 9, 1963.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 16 IRAQ. Confidential. Drafted by Killgore (NEA/NE) and cleared by Talbot, Knox (EUR/BNA) (in draft), and Bracken (NEA/GTI) (in substance). Attached to the source text is a "Proposed Statement on Recognition of New Iraqi Republic Regime," drafted on February 9 by Davies (NEA/NE). Talbot forwarded this memorandum to Rusk on February 9 with a recommendation that he sign it. (Memorandum from Talbot to Rusk; ibid.)

SUBJECT
Request for Contingency Authority to Recognize the New Iraqi Regime

A coup d'etat reportedly led by Colonel Abdul Karim Mustafa was mounted in Baghdad in the early morning of February 8, 1963. Former Prime Minister Qasim is reported dead. Affirmations of support for the new regime have come from military and civil leaders in all parts of Iraq. Barring the unforeseen, the new regime seems likely promptly to establish itself in full authority in the country.

The leaders of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command and the members of the Cabinet have a nationalist orientation with a strong Pan-Arab bent. They appear to be anti-Communist. We have neither evidence nor reason to believe that the United Arab Republic will wield any undue influence in Baghdad. In our opinion the new regime is likely to be an improvement over that of former Prime Minister Qasim, which had few friends either internally or externally.

Our Chargé d'Affaires at Baghdad is under instructions to convey informally to the leader or leaders of the Revolutionary Command friendly overtures from the United States Government after he has first satisfied himself the Command is in firm control of the country./2/ He will explain United States criteria for recognition of a new Government and will indicate that the United States would welcome public affirmation that the new Iraqi regime intends to carry out Iraq's international obligations. He will also ask for assurance that the new regime will safeguard American citizens and interests in Iraq./3/

/2/Telegram 220 to Baghdad, February 9, conveyed criteria for recognition of the new regime. (Ibid.) The criteria are taken from a memorandum from Lawrence Hargrove (L/NEA) to Killgore, February 8. (Ibid., L/NEA Files: Lot 70 D 165, Iraq)

/3/Melbourne executed these instructions on February 10 during a conversation with Foreign Minister Talib Husain Al-Shabib, who assured Melbourne that U.S. citizens and interests would be protected and that Iraq would honor its international obligations and follow a nonaligned foreign policy. (Telegram 409 from Baghdad, February 10; ibid., Central Files, POL 16 IRAQ)

The desired public Iraqi affirmation may be forthcoming soon. It would appear to be in our interest to grant early recognition to the regime when the prerequisites to recognition have been met. For this reason we should like to have contingency authority to recognize. Six Arab countries, including Jordan and Kuwait, have recognized the new regime, and we are now undertaking close consultations with the British, Turkish, and Iranian Governments on the recognition question.

In requesting this authority I must state the possibility that Saudi Arabia may wish to defer recognition and may seek to persuade the United States to delay. Should our policy on recognition diverge from that of our Saudi friends, we may expect criticism from them beyond that already levied against us because of our policy on Yemen. On balance, the advantage lies in prompt recognition when circumstances otherwise warrant.

Finally, as you recall, our Ambassador to Iraq was withdrawn at Iraqi request in June 1962. Following our recognition of the new Iraqi regime, assignment of a new Ambassador will be required./4/

/4/The United States announced its recognition of the new Iraqi regime at noon in Washington on February 11. (Circular telegram 1398, February 10; ibid.) For text of the U.S. statement, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1963, p. 598.

Dean Rusk/5/

/5/Printed from a copy that indicates Rusk signed the original.

157. Memorandum From the Department of State Executive Secretary (Brubeck) to the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)/1/

Washington, February 13, 1963.

/1/Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL -3 IRAQ-US. Secret. Drafted by Strong and cleared by Talbot and McGhee.

SUBJECT
United States Relations with Iraq

Within the framework of non-alignment, Iraq is likely to wish to conduct friendly relations with the United States. Our posture should be that of a friend whose presence is known and appreciated but is not overshadowing. Any indication of interference in Iraqi internal affairs must be avoided. We must also be careful to avoid creating the impression that we sired the regime or are now trying to father it. This philosophy will be worked into the telegram which will be sent in pursuit of (2) below.

Apart from the instructions already sent, we have the following in preparation:

(1) Arms policy toward Iraq (must be limited).

(2) Economic assistance policy.

(3) Instructions to the Embassy at Baghdad to discuss with the new authorities the dates problem.

(4) Telegram to London seeking UK views on IPC (Iraq Petroleum Company).

(5) Reminder to the Embassy quietly to encourage the new regime to release, or to handle expeditiously the case of, our Army Attache's local employee.

Without seeking to smother Iraq with kindnesses or create misconception as to what we are willing and able to do, we have in mind looking into whether Iraq needs PL 480 because of drought, offering counter-insurgency and police training after the Kurdish problem is settled (as we think it will be), and if the new regime has immediate budgetary problems, we would support an Iraqi request to IPC for a loan. We shall of course encourage American businessmen to seek opportunities in Iraq and we shall as appropriate encourage the Iraqis to do business with them. We are keeping an eye on the Shatt al-Arab situation and shall speak to the Iraqis if need be.

In general, we shall wish to avoid advising Iraq on the conduct of its Arab policy (we should avoid any reference to the Fertile Crescent and should not push Iraq as an alternative to Nasser) but we shall encourage a constructive Iraqi role in the Yemen problem. We shall watch closely Iraqi policy toward Kuwait. With regard to Turkey and Iran, we shall try to foster good relations between them and Iraq.

In the world arena, we shall take pains to explain our views to the GOI and encourage as positive approach as possible on cold war issues. In the UN it would be appropriate to support selected Iraqi candidacies.

Oil

As yet there have been no clear indications of Iraqi policy in this field. The new Iraqi Government has a large number of issues to square away, but oil will no doubt be high on its priority list. While awaiting signs of Iraqi intentions we are seeking a UK assessment of the situation and an indication of its thinking for the future. Next week we plan to discuss with the American shareholders the question of what the IPC approach might best be, but there would appear to be merit in letting the Iraqi Government take the initiative. We think the company should proceed cautiously in formulating its proposals.

A fundamental underlying all the foregoing is that while the new regime appears to be a vast improvement over Qasim, we cannot consider that it will be pro-American or that it will be free from internal pressures of an extremist nature. It remains to be seen how cohesive it remains, and how responsibly it acts./2/

/2/On February 15, the Department of State sent the White House a paper entitled "Implications of the Second Iraqi Revolution." (Memorandum from Brubeck to Bundy; ibid., POL 26 IRAQ; for text, see the Supplement, the compilation on Iraq)

E.S. Little/3/

/3/Printed from a copy that indicates Little signed the original above Brubeck's typed signature.