Page images
PDF
EPUB

landing or movement of military forces in Iraq under that treaty. Approving this preliminary reply London added it could not trust to any understanding with Rashid Ali known to be not only hostile but in active communication with Germans and that it would advise this Government to discontinue any efforts towards mediation with Nazis [Naji?] since he is known to have intrigued with Von Papen on his visits to Turkey last summer.

(3) I understand Iraqis have similarly sent emissary to Ibn Saud 40 despite latter's previous statement he would not be welcome.

(4) I am also informed thru (that?] Iraqi Legation Kabul asked support of Afghan Government first proposing that it take up case as matter of common interest under Saadabad Pact but receiving reply that questions at issue might better have been taken up by Iraq with its associates in that pact before instead of after starting armed quarrel with British and then making and being rebuffed in the suggestion that Afghanistan take initiative in calling Jehad 41 against Britain.

(5) Minor official of Iraq Legation here (whose Minister is brother of Rashid Ali) has naively requested official Anatolu news agency to publish such call to holy war.

(6) From most confidential source I am informed that Turks (particularly military) have rather bluntly expressed to British their conviction that only way latter can extricate themselves from difficulties into which they have got themselves in Iraq is by quick and drastic military action.

(7) British colleague assures me his Government while of course finding unwelcome implied recognition of Rashid Ali is inclined to regard recent Soviet establishment of relations with Iraq as only casually inopportune and not significant of special Russian attitude towards present situation.

MACMURRAY

740.0011 European War 1939/11512 : Telegram The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary

of State

BAGHDAD, May 31, 1941.

[Received May 31–8:55 p. m.] 125. Yesterday at 2:30 p. m. Mayor Baghdad telephoned informed me Gailani and Axis group had left Iraq and that he headed temporary Government to bring conflict to end. He invited chiefs diplomatic missions his office 3 o'clock. I went first accompanied by Commandant Police to see British Ambassador and thence with his Coun

[blocks in formation]

sellor to the Mayor's office. Also there was new Chief Staff and new Governor Baghdad Liwa who with Mayor formed Committee Three to negotiate terms peace. I accompanied Committee to discuss matter with Ambassador but did not take part general discussion only beforehand with Ambassador privately. Ambassador agreed communicate armistice proposal to commander British forces immediately. Gunfire audible late last night.

All radio sending sets returned to Embassy and Legation.

All Americans, British and others who took refuge at Legation are safe and well but still at Legation. Full reports covering interesting past months will follow.

KNABENSHUE

740.0011 European War 1939/11513: Telegram

The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary

of State

BAGHDAD, May 31, 1941.

[Received June 1–5:35 p. m.] 127. Armistice signed this afternoon. Terms will be communicated to Embassy London by Foreign Office. I have confidence that new Government arranged but not yet announced will establish situation as it should be.

KNABENSHUE

740.0011 European War 1939/11576 : Telegram The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary

of State

BAGHDAD, May 31, 1941.

[Received June 3–9:18 a. m.] 128. Following summary outstanding events respecting Legation during last month :

(1) American women evacuated April 29 as reported.

(2) American, British, and other nationalities, number 162, commenced taking refuge at Legation on April 30.

(3) Hostilities began morning May 2.

(4) Legation radio transmitting set delivered on demand to Iraqi authorities May 3. Demand for search of Legation refused.

(5) At 11 a. m., May 4, telephone demand from Foreign Office for immediate delivery Iraqi subjects at Legation to police guard reason stated in order Iraqi subjects be removed from danger as Legation would probably be bombed within an hour because British had threatened bomb public buildings Baghdad and Iraqis intended retaliate by bombing British subjects wherever found such as British Embassy and American Legation. See my 115, May 4. Committee British subjects suggested asking for safe conduct to British Embassy in order save Legation. Posed hypothetical question Foreign Office but it was refused. British nevertheless offered to leave but I refused. All went to cellars against threatened bombings. Hour later Foreign Office demanded surrender British subjects at Legation. See my 115, May 4.

(6) Following is my 114, May 4, which Foreign Office cancelled after reading:

"I have just been informed by the Iraqi Ministry for Foreign Affairs that the American University at Beirut has given notice to Iraqi students at the University that they must leave the University within 48 hours, the time limit of which expires at 12:00 noon, May 5. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has asked me to inform the United States Government that if the demand of the American University for the evacuation of its Iraqi students is carried out all American citizens in Iraq, including myself and the Legation staff, will be interned and then expelled from the country.

I am sending a telegram to our Consul General at Beirut informing him of the above and suggesting that the University postpone action until receipt of instructions from the Department.

I have tried to impress the Ministry for Foreign Affairs with the fact that their demand is a most extraordinary one, contrary to all principles of International Law and relations between states and ħave pointed out that the University at Beirut is a purely private institution over which the Government of the United States has absolutely no control."

(7) May 19 Foreign Office refused permit me send diplomatic courier to Aleppo or elsewhere abroad.

(8) Thereafter received several nasty notes from Foreign Office but otherwise no further developments.

(9) My policy with Foreign Office was tact and appeasement where expedient without relinquishment of established diplomatic immunities in order to continue protection those who had taken refuge at Legation.

(10) All refugees at Legation are in good health and spirits and will leave Legation safely tomorrow or when public order is definitely assured.

(11) When new Government formed I will make necessary reservation respect to physical and moral damages to American citizens and property and the Legation.

KNABENSHUE

740.0011 European War 1939/11558: Telegram The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary

of State

BAGHDAD, June 1, 1941.

[Received June 2—3:15 p. m.] 130. Abdul Illah returned Baghdad today and resumed regency. Senior Iraq military and civil officials and notables and British Ambassador and myself met him several miles outside Baghdad and drove with him to his palace where he received other members Diplomatic Corps and other welcoming personages. Regent expressed sincere appreciation to me personally. New government will be formed tonight.

KNABENSHUE

890G.01/381 : Telegram The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary

of State

BAGHDAD, June 3, 1941.

[Received June 3—8:02 p. m.] 133. New government formed by Jamil Madfai as Prime Minister and Interior with Ali Jawdet [Jawdat] Ayoubi, Minister Foreign Affairs.

KNABENSHUE

390G.1115/36 : Telegram The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary

of State

BAGHDAD, June 4, 1941.

[Received June 49:05 p. m.] 137. British Embassy informs me that report just received British Consulate Basrah states all Americans that area safe and well. Thus all Americans in Iraq now safely accounted for.

According previous arrangement with British Embassy their Consuls at Mosul and Basrah extended protection facilities to Americans their districts same as British while Embassy did same for Americans near Embassy and American Legation likewise for British and Americans near Legation.

Acting under martial law the military and police have suppressed rioting in Baghdad and have situation in hand. Casualties chiefly among Jews number several hundred. All persons who took refuge at Legation second time left this afternoon.

KNABENSHUE

740.0011 European War 1939/11819 : Telegram The Minister Resident in Iraq (Knabenshue) to the Secretary

of State

BAGHDAD, June 5, 1941–3 p. m.

[Received June 8–8 p. m.] 140. On basis of advice of British Army and Air Force officers the British Ambassador assumed that the Iraqi Army would be subdued within 3 days. Our plans for the protection of American citizens and British subjects were based on that assumption and contemplated protection solely against mob violence. The sudden move of Iraqi Army to Habbaniya upset calculations. We then had to deal for more than 1 month with a hostile gangster fifth column illegal government under the direction of Grobba, the former German Minister to Iraq. The police guard which was first placed around the Legation solely for our protection afterwards made us prisoners within the compound. At my request, I was allowed telephone communication but only with the Foreign Office. The threat to bomb the Legation should not have been made. They should have demanded the surrender of British subjects. When that demand was subsequently made I agreed subject to official guarantees for their proper treatment. The Iraqi government did nothing further in the matter, leaving the refugees at the Legation and treating it as a concentration camp. I was permitted to send only plain language telegrams to the Department through the Minister of Foreign Affairs. The most outrageous threat was to arrest all Americans including myself and staff and expel us because of the dismissal of Iraqi students from the American University at Beirut. I received two nasty notes accusing me of holding myself aloof from the Gailani government. This was true to a certain extent because we had not recognized that government although I had established informal contact with the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

They denied that there was need for my protective measures against mob violence in spite of the arrest of two Americans who were kept in protective custody for one week before being turned over to the Legation and also in spite of the government's declaration of Jehad. The mob violence which took place subsequently is what I expected in the beginning but the military activity held the tension in check until the end. I maintained an attitude of correctness and tactful acquiescence to all legitimate demands and made no demands myself which might have embarrassed our position and thus I believe prevented our molestation. My protection of British subjects residing near the Legation was a quid pro quo for the Embassy's offer to protect American citizens in their area and for British Consuls at Mosul and Basra

« PreviousContinue »