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of the present Iraq Government purchasing arms in order to give them to the Palestinian insurgents could not be ignored. He suggested that this possibility would be largely diminished and the situation greatly improved if the United States Government were to find it possible to prohibit or prevent the export of all arms to Iraq, at all events until a new and more friendly government had taken office in Baghdad.

His Majesty's Embassy has been instructed to inform the State Department of Sir Basil Newton's report and to enquire whether it would be possible for the United States authorities to take any action on the lines suggested. In making this enquiry His Majesty's Embassy has been directed to emphasise the fact that the intrigues of the present Iraq Prime Minister with the Axis powers are known to have reached such a state that he might well have arranged with them to hand over arms to the Palestinian insurgents in order to enable the latter to renew the disorders in that country.10

[WASHINGTON,] January 6, 1941.

890G.248/47: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary of State

BAGHDAD, January 8, 1941-2 p. m. [Received January 8-1: 50 p. m.]

5. Referring further to the last paragraph of my telegram No. 2, January 3, 7 p. m., the Minister of Defense informed me in reply to my inquiries at an official reception this morning that there is not sufficient dollar exchange available in Iraq to pay for the armament ordered for their Douglas planes or for other war material under orders in the United States and that the British are continuing their refusal to supply the necessary exchange. Obviously the British are awaiting a more sympathetic implementation of Iraq's contractual obligations.


890G.24/19: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary

of State

BAGHDAD, February 19, 1941-5 p.m. [Received February 20-4: 40 a. m.]

32. Confidentially informed Iraqi Government negotiating with Robert Morgan and Company through Iraqi Arms Inspector Ali

10 In a memorandum dated January 7, the Under Secretary of State stated that he informed the British Chargé that he saw no reason why this Government should not be glad to comply with the request made by the British Government with regard to the shipments of arms to Iraq.

Ghalib now in America for purchase 50 million rounds of small arms ammunition and 10,000 rifles for which that company claims it can secure export permits. Respectfully suggest it would seem inconsistent with our aid to Britain policy for such permits to be issued at this juncture when it is still uncertain whether this war material may not be used to assist Germany.


890G.24/19: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue)

WASHINGTON, March 1, 1941-10 p.m.

17. Your 32, February 19, 5 p. m. For your strictly confidential information, licenses for the exportation to Iraq of war materials and equipment are currently being denied, except with respect to spare parts for planes already delivered.


740.0011 European War 1939/8900: Telegram

The Chargé in Egypt (Hare) to the Secretary of State

CAIRO, March 8, 1941-4 p. m. [Received March 9-12: 50 p. m.]

107. The Iraqi Foreign Minister " arrived in Cairo day before yesterday accompanied by the Counsellor of the British Embassy at Baghdad. The [apparent omission] Secretary of the Embassy here [apparent omission] me confidentially that the Foreign Minister came here at the suggestion of the British to consult Eden 12 who was unable to go to Baghdad but desired to discuss with the Iraqis the general subject of the uncooperative attitude of the Iraqi Government in respect of the British war effort and particularly the interference of certain military leaders in politics and the desirability of discontinuing diplomatic relations with Italy. According to my informant who himself participated in the conversations, the Iraqi Foreign Minister gave the impression of being sympathetic to the British suggestions but pointed out the difficulty of precipitate action in such matters and made no definite commitments. My informant added that the Iraqi Foreign Minister took the occasion to raise the question of the return of political refugees from Palestine without however discussing the case of the Mufti specifically.

Repeat to Baghdad.


11 Towfiq as-Suwaidi, appointed February 6, 1941, by Gen. Taha al-Hashimi, who had become Prime Minister February 1, 1941.

12 Anthony Eden, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.


740.0011 European War 1939/8951: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary

of State

BAGHDAD, March 11, 1941-11 a. m. [Received 2:30 p. m.]

42. British Ambassador confirms information Hare's number 107.13 Eden stressed rupture relations with Italy and told Suwaidi he would expect hear something definite this regard on his return London and intimated British help Iraq if action favorable. If not favorable Ambassador says further economic pressure will be exerted. KNABENSHUE

740.0011 European War 1939/9328: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary

of State

BAGHDAD, March 25, 1941-11 a. m. [Received 11: 30 p. m.]

51. On March 19 Suwaidi, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, made an official statement regarding his talk with Anthony Eden at Cairo. It abounded in platitudes and diplomatic clichés without disclosing the matter actually discussed. During a talk with him yesterday he gave me an account of his talk with Eden which corresponded substantially with Hare's telegram No. 107 14 and my 42, March 22 [11], 11 a. m. The particular specific point raised by Eden was rupture of diplomatic relations with Italy. Suwaidi agreed in principle but refused to promise accomplishment within a fixed time limit because, as he explained, of strong local opposition which will take time to overcome. He acknowledged that this opposition was in fact the Army leaders. I spoke freely and frankly to Suwaidi along the lines of the Department's telegraphic instruction No. 56 of December 3, 5 p. m., and 60, December 14, 5 p. m.15 I am inclined to believe that if he does not succeed in bringing about a rupture with Italy within a reasonable period of time he will resign.

As an illustration of the power and influence of the Army leaders the following is related: The British community organized a British war charities fete for March 27 to be held under the auspices of the British Ambassador and the Mayor of Baghdad in the large municipal entertainment hall placed at the disposal of the fete by the Mayor. The Mayor and other Iraqis serving on the committee commenced

13 Supra.

14 Dated March 8, 4 p. m., p. 489.

15 Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. III, pp. 716 and 721, respectively.

to receive threatening letters protesting against the use of the hall by the British. Then rumors were circulated that the Iraq Air Force would bomb the hall if so used. Then the Arab broadcaster at Berlin threatened the long arm of the German Air Force in similar action. The pressure on the Mayor became so great that he has now withdrawn permission to use the hall and compelled the fete to be held only in the garden thereof. There is speculation as to whether the fete will pass without a serious incident.


740.0011 European War 1939/9402: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary

of State

BAGHDAD, March 28, 1941-11 a. m. [Received 12: 15 p. m.]

52. Referring to my telegram No. 51 of March 25. The Minister for Foreign Affairs also said that he had told Eden that the Iraqi Government desires the British to implement the White Paper in respect to Palestine 16 but in view of present world conditions would be satisfied to leave the time of implementation to the discretion of the British.

As regards Syria he told Eden that Iraq would raise no objection to the occupation of Syria by the British "7 if for strategical or other reasons the British should deem such a step necessary-Iraq having faith and confidence that after the war the British would find a satisfactory solution for the Syrian problem on the basis of Syrian independence. In answer to a question in the Chamber of Deputies he expressed Iraq's sympathy with the Syrians in their present attitude towards the French.


890G.00/535: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary

of State

BAGHDAD, April 2, 1941-7 p. m. [Received April 3-8:40 a. m.]

54. This morning 8:45 the Regent came to me in native woman's dress covering dressing gown and pajamas to seek refuge in Legation, having been forewarned of attempt by the four army leaders to force

1o British Cmd. 6019: Palestine, Statement of Policy, May 1939. "For correspondence on this subject, see pp. 725 ff.

resignation of Prime Minister and reinstatement Rashid Ali Gailani as Prime Minister, decrees for which he would have been forced sign. In consequence of consultation at Legation between Regent, British Ambassador and myself I took Regent, accompanied by my wife as camouflage, to British air base at Habbaniya in my car with Regent lying on floor at back covered by rug. We passed unchallenged units of Army stationed along road which were stopping and searching other cars.

Movement is primarily against Regent whom army leaders fear and not having been able to find him it is expected they may make attempt stage coup d'état within next 24 hours and establish military dictatorship.


890G.00/539: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary of State

BAGHDAD, April 3, 1941-6 p. m. [Received 11:07 p. m.]

58. Military have established new "national defense government" with the Rashid Ali Gailani at its head. Not yet clear whether Regent to be deposed and Gailani given power of Fuehrer. Regent being flown today from Habbaniya to Basra from where will attempt form new constitutional government and by proclamation call upon people of country for support which he told me he expects receive from practically all tribes and possibly part of army. Civil war now within bounds possibility.

Sir Kinahan Cornwallis, new British Ambassador, arrived last night. Told me today he has informed his Government he will have no relations with present unconstitutional government. I will follow similar action pending Department's instructions and Turkish Minister tells he will do likewise.



The British Embassy to the Department of State


On April 3rd His Majesty's Ambassador in Baghdad reported to the Foreign Office that Rashid Ali had taken control of the Government Offices earlier that day. A proclamation was expected to be issued to the effect that the army had assumed the responsibility for the Government of Iraq and had nominated Rashid Ali to take charge of the administration.

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