EXPERIENCES IN ARAB AFFAIRS
Mohommed Fadhel Jamali..M.A..Ph.D., L.L.D.
Former Prime Minister of Iraq.
Located in Widener Library
Harvard University under the title:
Arab Struggle; Experiences of Mohammed Fadhel Jamali.
Syria and King Abdullah
The Opening the Session of the General Assembly
The Ad-Hoc Political
The General Assembly Vote on Partition
Arab Confrontation with
Zionists at the United Nations
Palestine and Western Interests in the Arab World
My Recollections of the Palestinian War
Zionist Expansionist Designs
The Internationalization of Jerusalem
The Palestine Problem and Iraq’s Foreign Policy
Iraq and the United States
Secretary of State
Dulles's Visit to Iraq.
American Military Aid to Iraq.
President Eisenhower and Palestine
Mr Dulles prepares a public statement on Palestine.
Neutrality or Non-alignment and Palestine.
German Rparatuions for Israel
Egypt and the Sudan
Mallinckrodt Research Professor of Physics
In 1989 it was my privilege to invite Fadhel Jamali to spend a week at Harvard University to lecture and discuss whatever he chose. He gave me a typescript of these memoirs which I passed to Widener Library. It was hoped that the typescript would be edited and published to inform the Western World that there was a time when Iraq had tasted and struggled for freedom not only for themselves but also for other Arabs, and by extension for all peoples. Alas, funding for the editing and publication was not forthcoming at that time. Now it is my privilege to arrange for the scanning and placing on the World Wide Web this very important document. In addition to scanning I added the corrections in the margin made by Sarah Jamali.
Originally I planned to prepare two versions. One in Portable Data Format (pdf) and the other in Hypertext Markup Language (html). I prepared the initial text in html and edited it in html.. I planned links for convenience in accessing a particular section. I was assisted in this by four young visiting Iraqi scientists who did this in memory of a great Iraqi and a great human being. But then we ran out of steam. Some links have not been made and the PDF version is not made. I note that Fadhel's American wife (Sarah) was a great lady herself. Her humanitarian work on behalf of children firstly in Iraq, and later in Tunis, won the admiration of all who knew her. What other American has been pictured on the front page of a non-American (Tunisian) magazine at age 90, and called the woman of the year? She fully supported Fadhel in his work, and remained in Baghdad when he was in jail during 1958-1961 at great risk to herself.
For 17 years I have had the privilege of calling Fadhel and Sarah my friends. It is for their memory, which I cherish, that I undertake this task.
On the 14th of July 1958, one chapter of Iraq's history was closed by the fall of the Hashemite monarchy. The story of that chapter remains to be written, but some facts are already completely lost to future historians since many documents were destroyed by the 1958 revolution. Besides, the Iraqi government under the royal regime did not care much for publicity, nor did they keep well-documented records. This was especially true of foreign affairs where secrecy was observed. Some secret papers were kept in the private possession of those responsible for handling the affairs, and in certain cases, nothing whatever was put on paper.As one who took part in Iraqi foreign affairs from 1943 to 1958 I feel it a duty to put on record what I know about Iraq's policy in Arab affairs. During that period I was Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then Minister of Foreign Affairs in eight Iraqi Cabinets. I presided over the Iraqi Chamber of Deputies for two sessions from 1951-53. I was Prime Minister of Iraq in 1953-54. I attended several of the meetings of the Council of the League of Arab States and the League's Political Committee. I presided over two sessions of the League's Council. In 1945 I attended the San Francisco Conference of the United Nations and signed The Charter on behalf of Iraq. I led the Iraqi delegation to the General Assembly of the United Nations at most of its sessions until 1958. I led the Iraqi delegation to the Asian-African Conference at Bandung in April 1955. and I also took part in most of the meetings of the Baghdad Pact.
On the morning of July 14, 1958.world news media said that I had been killed by the mobs in Baghdad. Actually some unfortunate fellow was mistaken for me and killed. On the morning of the 17th of July I was arrested in the wilderness north of Baghdad. In the following months I was interrogated. tried an sentenced by the Special High Military Court of Iraq. I was condemned to death. sentenced to fifty-five years of imprisonment. and fined over one hundred thousand dinars (pounds sterling). The death sentence was imposed for my supposed plotting against Syria. Actually I never plotted against Syria nor against any Arab state. I am a Muslim Arab nationalist who believes in the right of the Arabs to be free and to unite by democratic processes. Thanks to the intervention on my behalf of many people. including some great world figures, the death sentence was commuted to ten years of imprisonment: After spending three years in prison I was released on the night of July 14, 1961. For the next nine months I busied myself in collecting and classifying the important documents I happened to have at home. In May 1962 I was permitted to leave Iraq for health reasons. Since 1962, at the invitation of H.E. President Habib Bourguiba, President of the Tunisian Republic. I have been living in Tunis and teaching at its University. In 1970 I started writing my experiences in Arab affairs depending on my memory and on the documents in my possession. The fruits of my effort are by no means perfect or complete, but facts as I experienced them. Some known, others have never been divulged before. Still others have been ignored or distorted by propaganda or prejudice. With all fairness and objectivity one can say that Iraq had a clear and well-designed foreign policy in the period under discussion.
That policy was summarized in a speech which I made as Minister for Foreign Affairs before the Chamber of Deputies on May 5, 1949. There were four guiding principles:
1.. Achieving Iraq's independence and security.
2. Following the principles of the Great Arab Revolution of 1916 which aimed at the liberation and integration of all the Arab world.
3. Promoting good relations with Iraq's neighbours.
4. Using foreign policy as a means for the social and economic development of Iraq along constructive and evolutionary lines and not along revolutionary and subversive lines.
This book deals, mainly, with the second principle, which is the liberation and integration of the Arab world. although the principles above mentioned are really inter-related and the foreign policy of Iraq was, on the whole, coherent and consistent. In arranging the topics dealt with in this book, geographic contiguity was taken as a basis.
Thus we begin with Iraq's relations with the states of the Fertile Crescent: Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Kuwait. Then we deal with Iraq's relations with the Arabian Peninsula: Saudi Arabia and Yemen. This is followed by the Nile Valley: Egypt and Sudan. Then comes Iraq's work for North African independence: Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. After covering Iraq's relations with the individual Arab states we take up Iraq's role in the League of Arab states, in the Baghdad Pact, and in the Asian African Conference at Bandung.
The translation of the Arabic documents into English has been made by the author. The English spelling of Arabic names has also been decided by the author. The spelling has been kept as close to correct Arabic pronunciation as possible. I am indebted to many friends who helped me and encouraged me to write down these memoirs. My gratitude is due to my colleagues and collaborators in the Iraqi government in the past and to the hospitality of the Tunisian government and the Tunisian people in the present day. It is my sincere hope that Iraq will continue to move in the path of brotherhood, freedom and justice for the Arab world and all mankind.
Mohammed Fadhel Jamali
University of Tunis
20th April 1974
The achievement of pan‑Arab unity is one of the cardinal aims of all Arab nationalists. From the early rise of Arab nationalism, the concept of unity was inculcated in the minds and hearts of Arab nationalists who always aspired to gain the freedom of their peoples from foreign domination and to integrate them into one nation. Some Arab idealists think that all the Arab world could be amalgamated into one centralized state with one head running all. This dream is cherished by many, including the followers of President Gamal Abdul Nasir of Egypt. There are other Arab nationalists who, .like myself, think hat the best form of integration would be reached by the path of confederation, or, at most, of federation. They visualize something like a U.S.A.W., United States of the Arab World. We are of the opinion that, to achieve Arab unity, one should go by stages; integrating areas adjacent to one another and forming one geographic and economic unity. According to this theory, Arab unity could start with three or even four sub‑units. The first would be the Fertile Crescent, consisting of territory extending from the Gulf of Basrah to the Gulf of Aqaba and including Kuwait, Iraq and Greeter Syria which includes Syria, Jordan and Palestine. To my mind this might be a first step in Arab integration.The second unity would consist of the Arab peninsula including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Southern Arabia, Oman and the Gulf Sheikhdoms. The third would consist of the Nile Valley which is made up of Egypt and Sudan.The fourth would consist of North Africa, including Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
It is to be understood that the achievement of this unity should come about by an evolutionary process and with the full consent of the peoples concerned. It should be the result of a truly democratic process. There should be no imposition or dictation from any part over the other. Any section of this grouping could stay out if she chose to do so. Lebanon, for example, would be free to remain outside the grouping unless and until its Christian population should deem it to their advantage to join the federation. Syria, before the First World War, was the geographic entity which included present‑day Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Trans‑Jordan. Beirut in those days was a part of Syria.
When I went to the American University of Beirut, the University had just changed its name from the Syrian Protestant College to the American University of Beirut..Syria was the hot‑bed of Arab nationalism. The Syrians provided the brains for the Arab revolt against the Ottomans. Nationalities in Istanbul before the first World War consisted mostly of Syrians and Iraqis. The majority of those attending the Arab Conference in Damascus, held in 1908 to promote the cause of Arab nationalism, were Syrians. There were also a few Iraqis. During the First World War, Syria offered many nationalist martyrs for the Arab cause who were hung in the large squares of Damascus and Beirut by the order of Jamal pasha, Commander in‑Chief of the ottoman army in that region.
During the First World War, Sharia Husein of Mecca and Sir Henry McMahon, the British High Commissioner in Cairo, exchanged a series of letters in which Britain encouraged the Arabs to rise against the Ottomans for the liberation of the Arab people from Turkish domination. In 1916, under the leadership of Sharif Husain of Mecca and his sons, Abdullah; Faisal and Zaid., the Arabs rose in revolt against the ottoman Empire. Many Arab tribesmen and volunteers were commanded by Iraqi and Syrian army officers who had been trained in the Ottoman army. The first fruit of the Arab Revolt against the Turks in the First World War was the liberation of Syria which was entered by the Arab army, headed by Emir Faisal, the third son of the Sharif of Mecca who had declared the revolt against the Turks: Emir Faisal became the first King of Syria, so Syria had its first Hashemite Arab King after centuries of non‑Arab rule. In March 1920, a Syrio‑Iraqi Conference was held in Damascus, presided over by Hashim al‑Atasi, at which the unity of Syria and Iraq was declared. Behind the backs of the Arabs, two damaging agreements had been made by the 'Allies' of the Arabs. One was the Sykes‑Picot Treaty between France and Britain by which they agreed to partition Syria and Iraq between themselves. This document came to light when the Russian papers were made public by Lenin after the Russian Revolution. As a result of the Sykes‑Picot agreement, the French invaded Syria and the Arab Kingdom headed by King Faisal came to an end, but only after a heroic resistance. The King had to leave Syria, but the Syrians cherish the fondest memories or King Faisal of Syria. The second damaging agreement was the Balfour Declaration in 1917 in which the British Government promised the Zionists a national home in Palestine. Aview with favour the establishment in Palestine of a National Home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object..."
Implementing these two plots, the League of Nations put Syria and Lebanon under French Mandate, and Iraq and Trans‑Jordan and Palestine under British Mandate. In 1920 the Iraqis revolted against Great Britain, and Britain found it impossible to rule a turbulent country like Iraq. At the time she wanted to partially correct her stance with the Arabs. Thus she yielded to the wish or the Iraqis and, in 1921, King Faisal, the ex‑King of Syria, came and established the new Kingdom of Iraq.
King Faisal the First championed the ideal or Arab nationalism. When he came to Baghdad he brought with him an Arab nationalist educator, originally from Syria, namely, Sati'al‑Hasri, who became Director‑General of the Ministry of Education. King Faisal was also accompanied by a great Arab nationalist brain, a Sorbonne‑educated Lebanese, Rustam Beg Haidr, who was appointed as Head or the Royal Diwan. These two men, along with the Iraq officers who had fought in the Arab Revolt, like Ja'far al‑'Askeri, Nuri as‑Sa'id, Jamil al‑Madra'i, 'Ali Jawdat, al‑Ayoubi. and others did much to promote the cause of Arab nationalism in Iraq. As a young man I was conscious or all these events. and. from the coming of King Faisal to Iraq. the idea of Arab liberation and Arab unity became one or my great objectives in life. Our whole educational atmosphere in Iraq was filled with inspiration and initiation into Arab nationalism which aimed at the liberation of all Arab lands and their integration The Arab youth were not happy to find that their nation had been cut to pieces and people separated from each other with walls created between one part or the Arab world and another. While there had been no frontiers between Syria and Iraq under the Ottoman Empire. all of a sudden Syrian and Iraqis found themselves separated .from each other by walls. I was one of six Iraqi students sent by the Ministry to study at the American University of Beirut. Our way in these days took from Baghdad to Basrah, to India, to Aden, to Egypt, to Haifa, .to Damascus and then Beirut. Thus I was a University student when I had my first glimpse of Damascus. Over the years I came to love that city of great history which was also a centre of Arab culture and power.
During the Easter vacation. I joined a group of about fifteen students from the American University of Beirut, led by the Instructor of Physical Education, Harry Foot, and went on a visit to Syria. On the way from Beirut to Damascus we stopped at Maysaloun to pay our homage to the souls of those martyrs who were killed there while defending their country against the French invasion. Syria in those days was in revolt against the French, but the cities were calm and orderly for the fighting was done in the countryside. Even in the cities we could see barbed wire at street junctions with French soldiers standing on guard. Travelling from one city to another required a pass from the French officer responsible for the district. I usually acted as the representative of the group in talking to the French officer in order to get the necessary permit. I also acted as an Arabic interpreter for Mr Foot whenever he spoke in the name of the group at a public function. We visited Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo. We were entertained very generously by the Syrian people who were friendly to the American University of Beirut, for the University had alumni in all those towns. We also spent a night in a bedouin camp near Aleppo and introduced football to those bedouins for the first time. All of them, young and old, enjoyed kicking the ball and running after it. On our departure we presented them with a football.
On that visit I fell in love with Syria. I felt very much at home there and Syria seemed as much my country as did Iraq. I was filled with pride and admiration for the Syrian people who were fighting for the liberation of their country from foreign domination. That trip invigorated my sense of Arab nationalism, and I felt that an Arab, besides belonging to a province or specific region, belonged to the whole Arab homeland extending from the Gulf of Basrah to the Atlantic Ocean. The partitions and the divisions in Arab world, especially in the Fertile Crescent, were the creation of Western imperialism. It was Western imperialism that divided the united region of Syria into Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. To make it worse, the French subdivided the lesser Syria into separate entities ‑ Damascus, Aleppo, Alawites, Jabal ad‑Druze ‑ each of' which had a separate and different administration. A young Arab nationalist like myself would immediately detest and reject such a state of affairs for his people and nation. Before giving in to the French, the Syrians wrote a golden page in the history of Arab nationalism at Maysaloun, an army post between Beirut and Damascus, where, led by the Minister of Defence, Yusuf al-Azmeh, the small Syrian army fought to the last man against the French. Thus the French could march on Damascus only over the bodies of' the martyrs. Maysaloun, with the graves of the Arab martyrs, including that of Yusuf 'al-Azmeh, represents a point of' pride and inspiration for all Arab youth, and the name of' Yusuf al-Azmeh has become symbolic of Arab readiness to die for the safety of' the homeland. Professor Sati al‑Hasri wrote a classical book in Arabic (now translated into English) commemorating Maysaloun.
In 1932 I returned to Iraq from the U.S.A. after having attained my Doctor of' Philosophy degree in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, New York. I was appointed as Supervisor General of Education. I remember that, in the Ministry of Education, we engaged hundreds of teachers from Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt who naturally acted as representatives of Arab nationalism. In the summer of 1932 Dr Sami Shawkat, then Director General of Education, and I, as Supervisor General of Education went to Syria and Lebanon to engage teachers. As it happened, the majority of the teachers we engaged were Lebanese. On our way back from Beirut we had luncheon at the Iraqi Consulate in Damascus. Some prominent Syrian nationalists were present. At the luncheon table I was sitting between Dr 'Abdur Rahman Shabandar, a graduate of the American University of Beirut and a well‑known spokesman for Arab nationalism who later was assassinated by French agents, and Ma'arouf Arnawut, a well known author and journalist. During our conversation, Ma'arouf Arnawut asked me, "What has Syria done against you?" I replied, "Nothing at all. On the contrary." "But why, then, do you avoid the employment of Syrian teachers and pick only Maronites from Lebanon?"
I said, "I never differentiated between Syrian and Lebanese candidates, nor‑between Muslims and Christians in choosing teachers. My choice depended solely on academic and professional qualifications." Nevertheless, a telegram was sent from Syria to H.M.King Faisal I complaining that we were biased in the selection of teachers and that we favoured the Lebanese and the Christians. This incident made me think deeply about the cleavage between Syria and Lebanon both from a denominational as well as a political point of' view. It enabled me to appreciate later the Lebanese jealousy for their own independence and their fear of' Syrian encroachment that might result from a Syrio‑Iraqi federation. It shed light on the fear of Lebanese Christians of domination by the Muslims. I come to understand this end I took it into account in all my later activities relating to the Syrio‑Iraqi federation. My attitude towards the Lebanese was that such a federation would surely reduce any denominational bias rather than increase it, and that it would be to the advantage of the Lebanese.
Among the Syrian teachers employed by Iraq were some outspoken Arab nationalists like Dr Farid Zainuddin, Alice Qandaleft and the greet Syrian poet, Badawi al‑Jabel. Some of them became members of the Muthena Club, an Arab nationalist foreign yoke and the achievement of Arab unity. Badawi al‑Jabal composed and recited one of' his historic poems in the Club. A verse from this famous poem runs as follows:
"There is no frontier between Iraq and Sham (Syria). May Allah demolish the frontiers which they erected!"
"They" refers to imperialist powers. The echo of this verse rang in the ears and hearts of all Arab nationalists all the time, and I was no exception. Before his death in 1933. King Faisal I of Iraq was invited to Paris by the French government. He started to convince the French to grant Syria independence in the same way as the British had done to Iraq. The French seemed sympathetic at the time, but the King's untimely death put an end to his plans. To show the importance which the Syrians attached to King F'aisal's effort on their behalf I shall translate a passage from a book in Arabic entitled, AHizb.al‑Istiqlal al‑Jumhoury, which means the Independence Republican Party, by the Lebanese Arab nationalist, 'Adil as‑Sulh.
AAnd the people of Syria from various classes ceme forward signing petitions authorizing King Faisal the First, King of Iraq, to negotiate in Paris regarding the Syrian question. A delegation of Syrian journalists, some nationalist young men, and delegation of Osbat al‑Amal al_Qawmy. The League of Nationalist Action, travelled .to Amman to meet the King on his way to Paris. For the same purpose, the nationalist bloc delegated Saledullah el‑Jebiri as their representative. "
The King told these delegations that he would not let an opportunity pass without his using it to deal with the Syrian question and to strive for its solution. On the 10th or June (1933) in Cairo, King Faisal I received a delegation or the Executive Committee or the Syrian‑Palestinian Conference and a delegation or the Syrian‑Arab Society and some prominent Syrians in Egypt. They jointly presented him with a petition authorizing him to act for them in solving the Syrian problem. While the King was in Amman, the Secretary General of the Arab student conference in Europe, Mukhtar al Mukhish, addressed the following telegram to him:
'The Syrian Arab youth from the various parts of Europe met in the city or Paris to discuss conditions in Syria. They decided to request you to stretch out a helpful hand to them in their efforts, and to make the world hear, during your forthcoming trip to the West about the injustice and persecutions (we suffer). We want complete independence and a true Arab unity."
And Faisal the First, King of Iraq, arrived in Europe and made Geneva his headquarters. He had stated in Amman that he was travelling to Europe in order to try to solve the political problems that concerned the Iraqi Kingdom directly, especially the question or foreign privileges which the British had kept for themselves in Iraq. He said that he would also discuss with some European statesmen the Syrian problem and express his opinion about it. The London Times mentioned that the purpose or King Faisal's passing through Amman was to negotiate on the subject of federating the Arab regions.
The national bloc met in Damascus and delegated two of its leaders, Sa=adulleh al‑Jabiri and 'Afif as‑Sulh, to travel to Amman, contact the King, and discuss with him current Arab affairs in general and the Syrian question in particular. The two delegates had two meetings with the King at which they discussed for severa1 hours the topics that interested the Syrians, and they informed him that the nationalist bloc and the Syrian people were anxious that he should occupy the Syrian throne at the same time as the Iraqi throne. In Paris, Subhi Barakat, President of the Syrian Parliament, who had gone to Paris to discuss the Syrian situation, met with the King and had a lengthy talk with him in which Barakat explained his own stand, and confirmed that King Faisal should be enthroned in Syria in addition, to his Iraqi throne. The King and the President of the Parliament separated with the understanding that they would meet again in Geneva to continue the discussion. One day before the appointed date, Subhi Barakat came to the hotel (in Paris) and informed us of the sudden death of King Faisal in Berne.
This news fell as a thunderbolt on those present, Arab journalists and Arab students. They all rose to go to the Iraqi Legation to offer condolences. This was the 8th of September, 1933. I was aware of all this and it influenced me. In 1936, during the Cabinet of Léon Blum, the Syrian nationalists started negotiations with the French with a view to obtaining independence along the lines of the independence Egypt and Iraq, but they could not. Later on, some of the nationalists had to go underground as the French in Syria began to chase them, Some of the great leaders sought refuge in Iraq. Shukri al-Quwaitli, Saidallah al-Jabiri, Lutri al-Haffar, >Adil Azmeh and others came to Iraq and lived for sometime in Baghdad. This in itself kept the Syrian problems alive and gave greater impetus to the Iraqi government=s work for the freedom of Syria.
During the Second World War, I was transferred from the Ministry of Education to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In my new position I could see to it that the Iraqi government spared no opportunity to convince its allies, Britain and the United States, of the urgent need for the liberation of Syria and Lebanon from the French Mandate. General Sir Edward Spears. for the United Kingdom and Minister George Wadsworth for the United States did their best to promote the independence or these two states. Tahseen Qadri, the Iraqi Consul General and later Minister to Lebanon and Syria, was in constant touch with the political leaders in his area. Iraq worked hard to see to it that, after the downfall of the Vichy regime, the French recognized the independence of Syria and Lebanon. The Iraqi government also worked hard to make sure that Syria and Lebanon were invited, in 1945 to the San Francisco Conference for the founding of the United Nations Organization. The French bombardment of Damascus took place at the same time as the opening of the Conference. That gave me an opportunity to go to the rostrum at the General Meeting or the Assembly to denounce the bombardment or Damascus, an: unfortified city and the most ancient one in the world. I asked if the assault was consonant with the French principles or Liberté, Fraternité and Egalité.
I had further opportunity to challenge France in the Committee during the Section in the United Nations Charter dealing with the security Council. I raised the question or whether France was entitled to be named one of the guardians of peace in the world while she was attacking Damascus. I said that her attitude to Damascus should cause her to forfeit her seat as one of the five members of the Security Council. But the real victory for Syria and Lebanon was achieved when Article 78 for the United Nations Charter was adopted. This Article was especially meant to terminate the French Mandate over them. The Article reads as follows:
AThe Trusteeship system shall not apply to territories which have become Members of the United Nations, relationship among which shall be based on respect for the principle of sovereignty and equality.@
Since Syria and Lebanon were members of the San Francisco Conference they were considered as founding members of the United Nations, and the Trusteeship system could not be applied to them. The adoption of this Article was a big victory for the Syrian and Lebanese delegations whom Iraq in particular and other Arab and friendly states had whole‑heartedly helped in their campaign. After the San Francisco Conference, the Syrians had to work hard to have the French evacuate Syria. The Syrian nationalist government, headed by Shukri al‑Quwatli as President, achieved the evacuation of the French from Syria by 1946. I was a member or the Iraqi delegation that went to Damascus to attend the celebrations on the occasion of the French evacuation. It was a great occasion and all the Arabs were jubilant. President al‑Quwatli gave a historic speech in which he stated, "There shall be no flag flying over Syria except the Syrian flag and nothing shall be above it except the flag of Arab unity."
President al‑Quwatli's first move was to fly to Saudi Arabia to pay his respects and to express his affection for King 'Abdul 'Aziz Ibn Sa'ud. This was a very strange incident, for the rivalry between the Hashemite and Saudi families was well known. The Regent of Iraq, Prince 'Abdul Ilah was stunned by the Syrian move. Tahseen al Qadri, the Iraqi Minister to Syria and Lebanon was embarrassed.To remedy this embarrassment he arranged that President al‑Quwatli should quickly pay a visit to Iraq. But Prince 'Abdullah was psychologically unprepared for such a visit although he could not turn it down. The Regent did not wish to go to the airport to receive President al‑Quwatli, but, after some persuasion by the Foreign Minister, Arshad wearing a sports shirt instead of formal attire. President Shukri al‑Quwatli and Prime Minister Abddullah al‑Jabiri were somewhat peeved and felt that they had been treated with indignity and lack of courtesy
Premier Sa=Adullah al‑Jabiri asked to meet me behind closed doors. He said that I was the only one to whom he could talk frankly and open his heart. He explained, complaining of the lack of courtesy on the part of the Iraqi authorities. I pleaded for tolerance, big‑heartedness and the overlooking of the trivialities of officialdom and formalities. I said, "Iraq is your home and the Iraqi leaders are your brethren.". The visit certainly muddled rurther the waters it was intended to clear. The Iraqis were really hurt by having been given second place by the Syrians. It was also felt that Tahseen Qadri was wrong to arrange the visit before the Iraqi nerves had cooled down.
From then on.President al‑Quwatli and some of his entourage turned toward Saudi Arabia and Egypt instead of Iraq. It was al‑Quwatli's initial naive mistake and lack of consideration for Iraqi Hashemite sensitivities that led to this coolness in relations. My personal relations with many of the Syrian leaders of those days was always cordial and those who knew me well appreciated my genuine nationalist sentiments. For example, there was always whole‑hearted cooperation between me and Professor Faris al‑Khouri who was leader of the Syrian delagation at the Arab League Conference held at Bludan a mountain resort near Damascus in 1945,. the London Conrerence on Palestine in 1946, and the United Nations General Assembly in 1946 and 1947. Professor al‑Khouri was a wise old gentleman who truly represented political wisdom and acumen. He had an excellent legal mind and was the master or convincing argumentation. I used to cell him abune, Our Father, and we listened carefully to what each other had to say.
An incident of some human interest happened in the winter of 1946 when we were attending the Palestine Conference in London. Professor Faris al‑Khouri ceme one day
Professor al‑Khouri protested, "Fadhel, do you want your father to be treated like a donkey?=
"Far from it. Our Father! Why do you say such a thing?"
"Because, he replied, "Dr Fawzi is a veterinary doctor and you want him to treat me."
We had a good laugh at my expense. I had always thought that Dr Fawzi al‑Mulqi, who had attended the American University of Beirut, was a medical doctor while he was in fact a vetinarian from Edinburgh University.
In 1946 the Arab League met in Cairo. I was the Head of the Iraqi delegation, and it was Iraqi=s turn to preside over the League Council. I was as strict as a teacher in keeping order in the meetings. Sa'adullah al Jabiri, then Prime Minister of Syria, commented once after the meeting, "Fadhel, heve you put us back into school?" "Yes, Sa'adullah Beg," I said jokingly,"you need it." This meeting of the Arab League Council was one of the longest ever held. It lasted nearly a month The most crucial issue in that meeting was a complaint to the League Council by the government of Syria against the Kingdom of Jordan. King 'Abdullah had made a call to the people of Syria to join a Greater Syria which would include Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Trans‑Jordan This call was circulated in a printed leaflet and distributed to the Syrian people. The Syrian government considered this a violation of the Arab League Covenant and as interference by one state in the internal affairs of another Arab state. The situation was very tense. The League Council consisted mostly of critics of the Jordanian move. I, as President of the Council, suggested that this Syrian complaint should be referred to a Committee of the Foreign Ministers of all states, members of the Arab League, which would study the matter and bring its recommendations to the Council.
My suggestion was
accepted and that was the birth of the Political Committee of
the Arab League. After that date, several problems
were referred to the Political Committee before being presented
to the Arab League Council. In the Political
Committee I defended King >Abdullah's declaration
as being an expression of a national ideal to be achieved
through regular constitutional processes in the future. I argued
that it was not meant to be an attack on the ruling government
of Syria, since Article 9 of the Arab League Covenant entitles
those states who wish to create closer ties to go ahead and do
so. The Committee agreed to draft a formula by which Jordan
would agree not to interfere in the internal affairs of Syria,
but, could at the same time, continue to uphold
the ideal of Arab unity.
After the meeting I made the following declaration on behalf of all the Arab League Foreign Ministers attending the Political Committee:
"A dispute has arisen about the project of Greater Syria for the sake of which the Foreign Ministers of the Arab states held a special meeting and studied the matter in all its aspects. It appeared that no one intended, by taking up the subject, to interfere with the independence or sovreignty of any of the states of the Arab League or to interfere with the form of government standing therein. Therefore they all affirmed that each of these states upholds the Covenant of the Arab League acting and continuing to act to respect it and to implement it in letter and spirit. Signed:
Foreign Minister of Jordan, Mohammed Shuraiqi
Foreign Minister of Syria, Jamil Mardam Beg
Foreign Minister of Iraq, Mohammed Fadhel Jamali
Acting Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, Yusuf Yaseen
Foreign Minister of Egypt, Ibrahim 'Abdul Hadi
Foreign Minister of Lebanon Philip Taqla
The Delegate of Yemen, AI-Qadhi Mohammed al-‘Amri"
It seemed that His Majesty, King 'Abdullah, whose ambition for the unity of Greater Syria was always alive, was not pleased with the published statement. Accordingly, I, as President of the Arab League, received the following letter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Jordan:
His Excellency, The President of the Council of the League of Arab states,
To confirm the upholding by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan of the Covenant of the League of Arab states, my government has charged me to present the attached memorandum which contains the Jordanian point of view on the matter of unity or federation with Syria. This is a national principle which has no relation to the propaganda against it The understanding between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs should put an end to that propaganda. We are anxious to remove all suspicions and to achieve the full solidarity of the states, Members of the League.
Signed. Mohammed Shuraiqi, The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
The text of the memorandum:
The Jordanian Government considers that any call for national unity or federation through political channels or by legally correct statements without aggression on the rights of others. should not be a cause of disagreement. for the basic principle is that each Arab region must achieve the unity of its parts or their federation when the means of unity and federation are available and when the legal possibilities, which do not do any harm to any private or public right, are made available; for it is for the good of the Arabs to remove divisions which are harmful to national interests and which contradict the welfare of the home land, its hopes and aspirations of the League, or interfere with the government ruling therein, so long as the decision on unity or federation belongs to the will of the people which is concerned and which is the source of all authority, and to the public national conscience and accepted agreements between the responsible governments. With our full appreciation for the efforts of the Committee of the Arab Foreign Ministers to put an end to biased propaganda concerning the project of Greater Syria contained in its common declaration, we present this memorandum to reserve the point of view of the Jordanian government in dealing with a national principle to which it attaches special importance because of its basic connection to its regional interests and national covenant. Please accept the highest respects,
Signed: Mohammed Shuraiqi
Foreign Minister of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
I was also approached by some press men with a question about whether there were any more declarations to be made by any of the responsible leaders concerning the project of Greater Syria. I gave the following answer:
AI do not think so. The Arab nation is faced with several great national problems vis‑a‑vis the outside world, problems which require full dedication of thoughts and efforts to defend Arab lands threatened with danger, especially in Palestine, and to defend our suffering brethren in Libya and North Africa. I hope that the press and men of letters will help direct public opinion in the Arab world to serious efforts to secure the freedom of the Arab lands and to unite their world and come together vis‑a‑vis outside dangers.
One journalist asked if the debate on Greater Syria had done any harm to the mutual relations between states, Members of the Arab League. I answered:
AThe debate was the means of
clearing the atmosphere between the Arab states, and it
was a proof that the Arab states are all united within the
bounds of the League Covenant for which they all cherish respect
The Jordanian Parliament held a special session to debate the issue and to support King 'Abdullah's policy. After lengthy discussion the following declaration was passed:
'14 Muharram. 1366.(8 December. 1946):
1. The Jordanian Legislative Assembly supports completely the principle of the Great Syrian unity and declares its adherence to the Mutual Syrian Pact emanating from the only Constituent Assembly which included representatives from all regions of Syria meeting together in the year 1920 (The General Syrian Conference).
2. The Jordanian Legislative Assembly confirms that the Pact of the great unity of the homeland which was supported at the time by the results of a referendum of the Syrian people in all the regions is also a national principle which is to be unanimously respected, and no one region of Syria has the right to annul it. This principle does not mean transgression on the rights of particular regions or systems of government standing therein since the matter. in its definitions and its executions, has to be supported by the general national will or mutually acceptable agreement entered into by responsible governments.
3. The Jordanian Legislative Assembly protests that His Excellency the Prime Minister of Syria is at the same time the Acting Foreign Minister of Syria, has annulled what was decided by the Committee of the Foreign Ministers of the Arab League Council regarding cooperation between Arab states. It protests, as well, against what some Syrian daily newspapers publish by way of bitter attacks directed against the dignity of this country and causing harm to mutual inter‑Arab relations and national interests.
4. The Assembly refers this Resolution to the government for publication and notification to the parties concerned.
King 'Abdullah never stopped his campaign for the unity of Greater Syria. He continued making declarations and. publishing leaflets addressed to the Syrian people. Take as an example the one that was published in Amman and dated 16 Holy Ramsdhan,1366, (4 August, 1947). It was entitled, A Royal Statement: The Great Syria State and Arab Union. Here is a translation of the last two sections of that statement:
What we call for is not mere words. On the contrary, it is a desired hope and a forthcoming truth. National conscience is grieved that some say that the Covenant of the Arab League required the preservation of the status quo in Arab lands which means paralyzing the movement for Arab development by preserving the partitions which foreign imperialism imposed, not for the interests of Syria as a whole, nor for the interests of the Arabs in general.
It is such statements which are a departure from the League Covenant and a shattering of its highest goals. This certainly motivates us to openly state with no hesitation or obfuscation that the principles of the liberating Arab revolution, emanating from national conscience and written with Arab tears and blood. these principles are still and will continue to be the guiding goal of the aspirations of all the Arabs. Believing that Syria is still cut to pieces physically and humanly, they shall not tolerate this tearing apart and closing the road towards unity. They shall assert the consciousness of their right. and they shall double, in God, their efforts.
To be vocal in expressing national rights is the right thing in every time and place, and it is this openness that the regions of Syria or their official governments should call to a national preparatory conference to decide the following matters:
1. To set a plan for Syrian unity or federation objectively, within the bounds of international covenants, national hopes and common regional interests.
2. To consider the union or the federation of Syria as a problem which concerns the Syrian states and the will of the Syrian people alone within the bounds of the whole homeland, geographically. historically and nationally.
3. To set up provisions guaranteeing that the unity or the federation shall refuse any diminution of national rights to independence acquired internationally within the bounds of the Charter of the United Nations.
4. To define the position of Palestine in relation to unity or federation in a manner which puts a stop to Zionist danger finally and completely.
5. To invite the governments of the regions of the Syrian homeland to a common agreement which ends with calling a general meeting (constituent assembly) which will include representatives of all the Syrian regions to set up a constitution of the state on the basis of unity or federation in the light of the agreed plan.
6. To call, as soon as the Greater Syrian state is formed, for the already sanctioned Arab federation of the Fertile Crescent, Syria and Iraq, which would implement the plans laid down according to the principles of the liberating Arab revolution and required by the Pact of the 8th of March, moving on the path opened by the Covenant of the Arab League. This is what we call for and this is what we work to realize, desiring nothing for this but the countenance of God's bounty and the great future of the Arabs. This is the clear truth "and you will hear its news eventually".
King 'Abdullah's words were highly poetic and literary with rhyme and rhythms. It is a pity that no translation into English can reproduce the literary quality. The squabble between Syria and Jordan continued. The Syrian government, while being vociferous about Arab unity, were proud of their independence and took a negative attitude toward any approach by Iraq or Jordan f'or any kind of' union or special arrangement outside the Arab League. In 1946, Nuri as‑Sa'id had proposed to both Syria and Lebanon that special treaty relationships should be established between Iraq and those two countries covering economics, communications, irrigation, judicial, cultural and other matters. The Syrian government, with al‑Quwatli as President of' the Republic and Sa=dullah al‑Jabiri as Prime Minister, turned down Nuri's proposals. Nuri then went to Turkey and reached agreement with the Turkish government on those proposed items. It was Sa=dullah=s opinion that Syria should take no step outside the Arab League. The Arab League, however, with its divided policies and divergent points of' view and the varied mentality of' its members could hardly take any step forward in any major question related to Arab affairs with the exception of Palestine and the liberation of' the North African states.
I visited Sa=dullah al‑Jabiri before his death in the Omayyid Hotel in Damascus, where he was lying ill. Sa=adullah, who confided in me and considered me a true friend, expressed to me his deep regret for having turned down Nuri's proposals, and his disillusionment with the great hopes he had had in the Arab League. He told me, "Fadhel, I regret very much not having gone along with Iraq. I am greatly disappointed in the achievements of' the Arab League."
I visited Syria again after the Palestine tragedy. In my memorandum I made the following notes which describe the atmosphere prevailing in Syria at the time.
1. All those whom I met in Syria considered it necessary to unify efforts and to harmonize plans for Palestine. President Shukri a1‑Quwatli said that Syria adopts the Resolution passed by the Parliament of Iraq on Palestine (See pp. for that Resolution)
2. They all wanted a complete understanding with Great Britain on the solution of the Palestine problem and they all wanted Britain to appreciate the Communist‑Zionist danger.
3. They wanted a meeting of the Arab states to reach an agreement on a unified policy vis‑a‑vis the United Nations Conciliation Commission on Palestine.
4. They were very much concerned that there should be a clear atmosphere between Egypt and Iraq. The President of the Republic deputized Lutff al-Haffar to Egypt with a personal message to this effect.
5. Nabih al‑'Almeh regretted that the Arab states did not fight and did not sacrifice for Palestine. The President of the Republic hoped that at least one successful military move would be attained.
The Arab League. The Syrian government is strongly is strongly attached to the principles of the Arab league and calls for reorganizing and reinforcing the League. Syrio‑Iraqi Federation. I found a strong inclination in non‑governmental circles for the federation of Syria and Iraq. Nabih al‑'Azmeh, President of the Nationalist Party, and 'Adnan al‑Atasi, for the Peoples Party, both expressed this desire. Atasi even informed me that his Party had submitted an official memorandum to the President of the Republic in which they asked for the federation of Iraq and Syria, but they are anxious about two points, first, the in fluence of H.M. King 'Abdullah on Iraqi politics, and second, the Anglo‑Iraqi Treaty.
I answered that, although Iraq was allied with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, it was independent in its policies. As for the 1930 Treaty with Britain, the disposal of it had already been agreed in principle, and nothing would remain but our Alliance with Britain in facing an external aggression and that was what Syria wanted, too. They agreed. As for government circles, they think that union should take the form of treaties and agreements between two separate, independent states (as is the case between Iraq and Turkey) in matters affecting defence, communication, education, legislation, customs, navigation, etc., with special emphasis on unifying plans for defence. That is what the Prime Minister of Syria, Khalid al‑'Azm, emphasized to me, and that is what he wished to achieve as quickly as possible.
I referred to the scheme of Nuri as-Sa=id along those very lines, which was rejected by the late Sa=adullah al‑Jabiri who said that such schemes should come through the Arab League. I spoke at length explaining the futility of waiting for everything to be decided by the League. Article 9 of the Covenant of the Arab League is clear. It encourages the strengthening of relations between Arab states wishing to do so beyond the limits of the League. Taha Pasha al‑Hashimi spoke to me about the urgency and necessity of the federation between Iraq and Syria because of Syria's need for Iraqi aid in defending its borders, for Syria was exposed to direct Zionist danger, and, if Syria went, there would be no direct connection between Iraq and the Arab world.
There was a prevailing fear of H.M.King Abdullah, and various things were attributed to him by partisan people. One exception to this was Faris al‑al-Khouri whom I found appreciative of King 'Abdullah's idea about Greater Syria. He thought that the King should be trusted in the saving of Palestine, but he dared not make his views public nor did he wish to be quoted. He attacked the policy of isolation from the Greet Powers which was prevailing in some Arab states and he called for complete understanding with Britain. He criticized H.M. King 'Abdul 'Aziz Ibn Sa'ud for refusing even to threaten to cut the flow of oil.
Haji Ameen al‑Husaini. In Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, I found harsh criticism directed against the policies of Haji Ameen al‑Husaini. Among those who were critical were Jamal al‑Husaini and Faris al‑Khouri.
Everywhere I found criticism of Iraq for not having gone to the help of Egypt. I also found that many have great hopes in Iraq and its new government. They think that the Iraqi government has the cards in its hand and that it can now render the greatest service to Palestine if they are well played When that coup happened I was Foreign Minister in Nuri's Cabinet. The coup came as a big shock and surprise to us. We had no premonition or it at all.We were greatly concerned at the time about the safety of President Shukri al‑Quwatli and his colleagues. Upon being reassured about that, Nuri suggested that we should send Jamal Baban, a Senator and former Iraqi Cabinet Minister who was a Kurd, to Syria to meet as‑Za'im, who himself was a Kurd, and come to an understanding with him on the need for cooperation and unity between Syria and Iraq. Jamal Baban left Baghdad on the 2nd of April and he sent us the following telegram:.
Damascus 2/4/1949. Foreign Affairs. The following is for the Prime Minister with a copy to the Royal Diwan.
I arrived noon today Meza (airport).I telephoned Husni Za'im and asked for a meeting. Two o'clock was assigned at his headquarters. Accompanied our Minister was received cordially and with readiness. I told him first of all I am delegated by the Iraqi government to meet you and to meet the President or the House or Representatives for whom I carry a letter in his capacity as head of the legislative body. Last night, however, we heard rumours that the House of Representatives had been dissolved, and, since the Prime Minister of Iraq had no time to change the letter, he asked me to present it to you as if it were addressed to you. I wish that you would read the letter before we enter into discussion.
I told him: Iraq, government and people, sympathize with sister Syria and follow events with great concern.
It gives me pleasure to assure you on behalf of the Iraqi government that Iraq is ready to render any help of any sort which Syria needs. We are interested to know also what you intend to do after this coup.
He answered saying:
Please present my respects to His Royal Highness the Regent and to His Excellency Nuri as-Sa=id, wishing that they may know thst I have not undertaken this move because of any outside influence. The army undertook the move as a result of public and army discontent resulting from the behaviour of the President of the Republic and his government in permitting carriers of subversive doctrines and severe attacks by Members of Parliament against the army. The public are very much relieved because of this coup.
When I started to question him about other subjects, especially Arab and foreign affairs he answered me very clearly after requesting me to keep confidential that he intended first of all to unite Syria with Iraq militarily and economically as a first step to larger union, so that we may be able to stand against outside aggression, for it is impossible for the Arabs to survive as small states. He gave as an example the tragedy of Palestine. But at the present it is not possible to open this door because the President of the Republic and previous governments have unjustifiably created resentment against TransJordan and they threw themselves into the lap of the Saudi and Egyptian Kingdoms fruitlessly. I asked him, "When can we start with this?" He answered that he is busy now forming the government and he may be obliged to dissolve the House or Representatives and start elections immediately to form a constituent assembly that will revise the Constitution and this will take no less than a month. After that he will send a delegation to Iraq to negotiate this problem. He does not wish the Egyptian or Saudi governments to hear this. They both have received his movement with resentment at a time when he needs support and quiet. When I asked him on what basis he intended to revise the Constitution and whether the system of government was going to be republican or royal he excused himself for not answering, saying, "You will hear about that in due time, but first I will not permit the election of any representative who opposes my principles".
When we moved to foreign policy he told me that he had met the British and American Ministers and notified them about his readiness to sign bilateral treaties with them on the basis of cooperation and participation in the Marshall Plan. Expanding on this subject he said: I wish you to notify His Royal Highness and the Prime Minister that I am preparing myself from now to annex to Syria the part of Lebanon inhabited by Muslims, when Syrian unity is complete. When I advised him that he should cooperate with the legal men of Syria he answered me that Faris al‑Khouri does not wish to cooperate with us and that he (Za'im) was in touch now with 'Adil Aralan to have him join the Cabinet.
I asked him if he had any objection to my meeting Faris al‑Khouri and 'Adil Aralan. He agreed to that but asked me not to say a word to them about the conversation between us. My meeting with him lasted about two hours. When I came out I went immediately to see Faris al‑Khuri whom I found in bed. I informed him about my meeting with Za'im, not mentioning the important points which I had been asked not to divulge and I handed him the letter of His Excellency the Prime Minister. He answered me that he had reached old age and he did not permit himself to take part from now on in any government the consequences of which were not known. He informed me that Za'im had met him twice and that he had done his best to help him ease the situation and quiet conditions and that was by asking Shukri al-Quwatli to resign, but Shukri refused emphatically saying that he would not resign so long as he had a beating pulse. It is to be understood that the majority of the people are very much relieved by the removal of Quwatli from his government post and conditions are quiet as if nothing had happened. When I informed Faris al‑Khouri that the Iraqi government welcomed his undertaking the responsibility of forming the Cabinet in order to save the situation, being sure of his good intentions toward Iraq he answered: I know that, and I know that His Royal Highness the Regent supports me also, but I regret to inform you that the matter has become an impossibility so far as I am concerned. I have not been able to meet 'Adil Aralan for he had an appointment with as‑Za'im for that day and he was still with him Al‑Za'im intends to dissolve all parties and organizations as he declared to me. My personal conclusions are that, although as‑Za'im is negotiating with 'Adil Aralan and Faris al‑Khouri to form a Cabinet I understand from meeting with him that he does not wish to form any government until after the elections and then he will form a new government from individuals who win his confidence, or he may head the Cabinet himself and retain the Ministries of Interior and Defence and he may make 'Adil Aralan and others participate with him.
I met the President of The Peoples Party in Orient Palace (hotel) and I could get no ideas from him because people are afraid. I shall meet some newspaper men today with complete reserve in order to find out prevailing opinions. Tomorrow morning I am leaving for Beirut to meet the responsible people there and to get their point of view. On returning I shall dine with As‑Za'im because he has invited me to resume discussions on a larger scale. As‑Ze'im requested me"not to reveal anything and I request you to instruct the press and the Iraqi radio to support him as much as possible. I expect your instructions to guide me in my resumption of negotiations with as‑Za'im. I ask you to telegraph to Beirut where I expect to stay three days.
After three days the following telegram arrived from Jamal Baban.
Foreign Affairs, Baghdad. Damascus 5/4/49.
The following to His Excellency the Prime Minister and copy to the Head of the Royal Diwan.
I left for Damascus immediately after receiving your telegram. I contacted various strata of the people. They were all happy with the coup at first.
The behaviour of as‑Za=im indicating the establishment of a dictatorship in the country, his dissolution of the Parliament, and his continued arresting of people without forming a Cabinet has caused a great reaction. His monopoly of authority has caused discontent amongst the army officers. They all seek the help of Iraq to federate the two states provided that Trans‑Jordan shall not interfere. The people here are not expected to realize this aim at the present without the support of Iraq. Taha Hashimi called on me and confirmed this point of view and requested that the opportunity should not be lost. Myself and our Minister had luncheon with as‑Za'im alone. We dealt with all the topics. I assured him about Iraq's readiness to help him. I shall present the details upon my return. The opportunity is available from all points of view to think of the subject seriously. Aralan is hesitant to take part in spite of my insistence in your name that he should do so. He is shortly leaving with al‑Khouri for the United States.It is necessary that I should stay here until Thursday morning. Please prepare a plane.
From these telegrams I came to two basic conclusions. The first was that we should capitalize on the opportunity offered by the coup d'état to achieve Syrio‑Iraqi rapprochement. The second was that Husni as‑Za'im seemed to be lacking balance and therefore reliability. The Prime Minister, Nuri as‑Sa'id, decided to send another official, Awni Al‑Khalidi, with a personal letter from the Prime Minister to Faris Bey al‑Khouri in whose judgment we had confidence. Awni ai‑Khalidiarrived in Damascus on the 12th of April and went immediately to see Faris al‑Khouri with whom he had a full discussion about the existing situation.
In his written report dated April 14, 1949, Awni al‑Khalidi summarized Faris Bey's views as follows:
His Excellency believes that there is no crisis in Syria now. The military coup has settled down internally and the people gladly accepted it. That is why there is no need for any external mediation now. On the other hand, members of the Parliament or political parties cannot in the present circumstances stances put anything on paper in spite of the fact that some of them have some ideas and wishes. As-Zai'im dissolved the Parliament and the member showed no resistance to that dissolution, and, after the resignation of the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister the situation became legal. There is no House of Representatives since az‑Za'im himself has taken the legislative and executive authority into his own hands.
His Excellency 'al‑Khouri accepts the federation of Syria and Iraq under one crown and believes that the best method to achieve that would be through a military agreement or alliance which would gradually develop into a complete unity between the two states. That is because it is difficult for azsZa'im to face the Republic with the federation at once, it being understood that the people, the army and the political parties are all ready and desirous to achieve unity.
His Excellency had met as‑Za'im a few days before and tried to induce him to hasten an understanding with Iraq on the basis of unity. As‑Za'im expressed his desire for that and called the Iraqi Minister to Damascus with the purpose of initiating a military agreement. Faris al‑Khouri believes in the necessity of hastening this action before anything internal happens which might divide the word of the people, especially that now they are all unanimous in accepting mutual understanding and rapprochement of this kind with Iraq.
His Excellency still continues to refuse his cooperation with the coup movement, but, at the present time he does not oppose it, but sees the necessity of its continuing, of directing it and of helping it. He told me that he intends to leave for America after something like two weeks to resume his work in the United Nations. Having found out that as‑Za'im was interested in a military agreement with Iraq I was very enthusiastic that Iraq should go ahead and enter such an agreement. Prime Minister Nuri as‑Sa=id, however, was more cautious. He decided to go to Damascus and meet as-Zai'im personally. On the morning or the 16th or April, Nuri Pasha as‑Sa=id, dressed in the attire or a high‑ranking General, with all his military decorations, which put him on a much higher rooting than as‑Za'im, boarded a military plane accompanied by Shakir al‑Wadi, the Minister of Defence, General Saleh Saib, Chief of the Iraqi General Staff, Brigadier 'Abdul Muttalib al‑Ameen, Senator Jamel Baban and 'Awni al‑Khalidi. They landed in Damascus where they were joined by our Minister to Syria, Ibhrahim >Akif al-Alousi. Nuri Pasha told me that he first had a private meeting with as‑Za'im in which he discovered as‑Za'im's utter futility. It seems to me that Nuri must have scared as‑Za'im and given him a shock based on an inferiority complex.
After the private meeting, there was an official meeting of the Iraqi delegation headed by Nuri Pasha with a Syrian delegation headed by as‑Za'im Husni as‑Za'im. The following is the text of the minutes of that meeting:
Minutes of the meeting between the Heads of the two
governments of Iraq and Syria held in Damascus, the day of
At 1 o'clock on the day of 16 April, 1949, the Heads of the two Governments of Iraq and Syria met in the Palace of the Presidency of the Republic in Damascus. The Iraqi delegation was headed by His Excellency General Nuri Pasha as‑Sa'id. His Excellency was accompanied by the following Iraqis: Their Excellencies, Shakir Pasha al‑Wadi, the Minister of Defence, Jamal Beg Baban, Brahim 'Aqif Beg al Alousi, Minister Plenipotentiary in Damascus, General Saleh Saib Pasha, Chief of the General Staff of the Army, Brigadier 'Abdul Muttali`al‑Ameen,Sayed 'Awni al‑Khalidi. There were, on the Syrian side, His Excellency Az‑Za'im Husni az‑Za'im, Head of the Delegation, Emir Adil Aralan, His Excellency Faidhi Al‑Atasi, Brigadier 'Abdullah Lutfi.His Excellency the Prime Minister (of Iraq) opened the discussion by saying: Your Excellency, Mr President, I am very happy for the opportunity of meeting our brethren, the men of Syria and exchanging views with them and getting acquainted with the steps which our sister Syria has taken, for the concern of Iraq with his sister is among the primary matters which never leave our thoughts. We follow the news of dear Syria in full and we wish her all success and prosperity. We are happy to see our sister moving steadily towards stability. It has quickly formed a responsible Cabinet and is returning to normal conditions which will give reassurance to all of us. In this connection Syria does not need new recognition of its present political status from other states, for Syria is an independent country and what happened is something which is the concern of its own people. It is they who accept a certain rule and this situation does not require recognition for no state can whittle down the right of Syria to the independence and sovereignty which she now enjoys.
Two weeks ago we heard movement of the Jews in Palestine who were intending to exploit the events in Syria, a matter which made us anxious in Baghdad and aroused all our concern. After that we received a telegram from Damascus requesting Iraqis military aid. That is why we thought of sending a military mission to understand the Syrian point of view and the nature and extent of the military aid required from Iraq against the Jewish aggression. That is why I came myself with the Minister of Defence and the Chief of the General Staff to avoid delays in communications and to assure you here that the Iraqi government will undertake to offer all necessary help in case of any aggression falling on the Syrian army. We do not consider this matter as a problem foreign to us. And we would be ready to render this help whether the Syrians asked us to do so or not, for we consider Jewish aggression on the Syrian army to be the same as an aggression on the Iraqi army. That is why we must come and help. If the intention, however, has a broader meaning of military cooperation, like mutual defence, for example, we should like to know what your tendencies are on this subject, especially since the last Syrian delegation which came to Baghdad carried a long list of military material related to its needs. As is well known, Iraq is bound by a Treaty Alliance with Great Britain, and, although only a rew years remain till this treaty expires, we are still bound by its terms and articles. That is why, if we enter into a mutual defence agreement with Syria, we have to consult Britain in that respect, although I may say that the world is changing rapidly, and it is moving now with fast steps and it will shortly be possible to sign a pact which is larger than the alliance of two countries, a pact which may include all or most of the states of the Middle East and that pact will include matters of defence and all Arab states could join it. In such conditions the pact will guarantee the conditions required for mutual defence against aggression. I hope this will happen very shortly. The question of cooperation between Syria and Iraq has been occupying my mind for some time. I did what I could do in this respect in 1946 when I tried, with the late Sa'adullah al‑Jabiri, Prime Minister at that time, to unify communications, customs, economic and trade matters and irrigation. The late Jabiri agreed to this in principle, he and President Shukri al‑Quwatli, but they thought that undertaking such steps might arouse the suspicions of' Egypt and Saudi Arabia and said that it would require preparing the atmosphere.
Four years have passed and the atmosphere has not been prepared. I must say that, in our desire to achieve cooperation between the two regions we did not forget Lebanon, for I spoke with Sami as-Sulh Prime Minister of Lebanon at that time, on the subject. The Lebanese Council of Ministers approved these suggestions, but I did not wish to take such steps with Lebanon without Syria. I told Sami as-Sulh that he should convince our Syrian brethren to go along with us together. Then we would achieve what we had agreed on. I am afraid that if Iraq were to come forward with a proposal or an opinion it might be accused of not having the genuine intention and sincere wish which we carry. That is why it may be good to wait now for a time with regard to taking any actual steps toward unity. We will wait also until our sister finds that opportunity is at hand and request us to fulfill or study one of' these projects in this respect. Then we shall look into every proposal of this kind with all concern and study it fully. But the problem of mutual defence against the Zionists now is a matter which is an obvious one. As for other problems it may be best to postpone them now.
His Excellency as‑Zai'im:
I welcome you very graciously and thenk you very much for the nice words which you were kind enough to utter. Syria and Iraq are not only two neighbours; they are more than that, and I believe that we must cooperate to the utmost in matters or frontiers, matters of customs, military matters and others. I am not familiar with the earlier proposals of Your Excellency. If they are in the Ministry or Foreign affairs in Damascus we shall study them fully, otherwise we shall request you to provide us with a copy thereof so that we may study them. The Jews have now stopped attacking Syrian positions and we have come not to fear them. I shall not hide from you that we are growing in strength. Some arms have arrived for us and more will arrive. These arms consist of tommy‑guns, cannons and armoured cars. Any Jewish aggression, therefore, will be costly for them. The only thing which we may need is the air weapons, end, probably in time of need, Iraq can help us with air force.
With regard to our policy now, our policy towards you should be a policy of friendship and brotherhood, and His Excellency Emir >Adil is studying all these problems now. Among the projects we should undertake is the establishment of a railroad from Homs to Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor. This is of military importance, not only for the defence of Syria and Iraq, but also for the possibility or Turkey taking part in a project of defending this region. We must also cooperate in combatting Communism.
After the Prime Minister's return to Iraq, the following statement was given to the press by the Iraqi Information Department:
The Iraqi government has for some time been watching with concern the process of truce negotiations between the Zionists and the Syrian government, and, since the Iraqi government is quite anxious that the Zionists should not exploit the Syrian coup and follow a hard line in negotiations or become aggressive on the Syrian borders, the Iraqi government felt that it was its duty to assure our Syrian brethren that Iraq is ready to come with all its force to the support of Syria if any Zionist aggression takes place on Syrian borders. For this purpose His Excellency the Prime Minister himself left yesterday for Damascus by plane accompanied by His Excellency the Minister of Defence) and the Chief of the General Staff of the Army to assure the Syrian government that Iraq would consider any Zionist aggression on the borders of Syria as aggression on Iraq itself, and that the Iraqi army would be ready at all times to respond to the call of brotherhood. His Excellency the Prime Minister and his company returned to the capital today.
Nuri's trip to Damascus bore no fruit. It immediately aroused King Farouq of Egypt, Azzam Pasha. the Secretary General of the Arab League, who was at that time the standard‑bearer of King Farouq and King 'Abdul 'Aziz of Saudi Arabia, rushed from Cairo to meet Husni as‑Za'im. I do not doubt at all that he did his best to turn him away from Iraq. Besides, through Netheer Fansa, brother in‑law of as‑Za'im, King Farouq could influence as‑Za'im. King Farouq invited as‑Za'im to Cairo where he was entertained lavishly with pomp, gifts and decorations. As‑Za'im began to suffer from megalomania. He ordered a golden baton from France and enjoyed the pomp and vanities of office.
On one occasion as‑Za'im sent Emir >Adil Aralan and Dr Farid Zeinuddin, to Baghdad. On talking with them I discovered that as‑Za'im was hopeless. He could not be relied upon. Some months passed and conditions in Syria began to slip from nationalist hands. On a visit to Lebanon I had a talk with Prime Minister Riyadh as‑Sulh which included a review of the situation in Syria I made the following record:
Riyadh Beg emphasized what he had already previously explained in Iraq, that the situation in Syria was not normal and not stable. People are dispersing from around Husni az‑Za'im from day to day, and it seems that the army officers and the soldiers are not pleased with the government of as‑Za'im or with his coup d'état, but, naturally they will not oppose his rule with force unless something induces them to do so. As for the men of politics in general those who supported the previous regime, or those who opposed as‑Za'im, not to speak of helping him or cooperating with him. Very few exceptions could be made to this statement, and the only important man who is cooperating with him is Emir 'Adil Aralan. As for the public it has waked up from the blow, for, when the public supported the coup at f'irst, it thought that the coup would lead to union with Iraq, but, when it appeared that it meant replacing Shukri al-Quwaitly by as‑Za'im, that did not please them. But none of' them dare oppose as‑Za'im for he has the power in his hands. But they can do much if Iraq goes forward with a quick positive action before they get involved, because of fear or benefit, in cooperation with as‑Za'im.
The Iraqi authorities had asked for petitions from some Syrian personalities or that some of' those personalities should come to Iraq asking for Iraq's help so that Iraq might have justification for interfering in Syria. Although some of' the personalities are ready to make petitions or come to Iraq, they feel that Iraq does not need such a move on their part before intervening in the affairs of Syria. On the other hand, they are afraid lest as‑Za'im, if Iraq does not intervene immediately, may deal a crushing blow to them and their relatives. That is why, if they are to come to Iraq, their stay must be very short.
Then I concluded my report: Most of' the Syrian nationalists, and they are the elite and the leaders of public opinion in Syria and Lebanon, support Riyadh Beg=s view and they deem it necessary that the Iraqi government should make a decisive move to realize union with Syria, and they think this could be achieved in one of two ways. The first is a quick one which would involve the Iraqi army's entering Syria and a guarantee that the Syrians would rise in support of the Iraqi army and that the Syrian army would show no resistance. I'he second is a slow method, namely, by providing a strong propaganda campaign centered in Damascus and Beirut, enlisting the Lebanese press, and making contacts with the tribes, the army and the political leaders or Syria, and by providing them with arms. It is advised that this should be done quickly before Za'im is elected as President or the Republic. I must say that the Iraqi government did not act in accordance with this advice. The truth or the matter is that Prime Minister Nuri as‑Sa'id did not believe in Syrio‑Iraqi federation although much later he came to see the situation differently.
With all this going on, King 'Abdullah of Jordan was greatly enraged at Iraqi interference with Syria. He sent the Prime Minister or Jordan, Tawfiq Pasha Abul Huda, to Baghdad to express his great concern and worry about Iraq's interference in Syria which His Majesty looked upon as his own domain. Tawfiq Pasha told me that His Majesty was enraged to the extent of thinking of marching on Iraq (sic) if Iraq did not refrain from interfering with Syria. I, as Minister of Foreign Affairs or Iraq, gave Tawfiq Pasha the true picture of the whole situation and told him to pay my respects to His Majesty and to assure him that Iraq would always be glad if His Majesty could achieve the unity of Syria and Jordan. If, however, that could not happen at present, would His Majesty prefer that Syria should be estranged from both Iraq and Jordan? Would not His Majesty prefer that Syria and Iraq should be closer together until an eventual unity of all three?
I said that I put myself at His Majesty's disposal for any policy which he might put forward on the subject, our aim and national objective being one and the same. Tawfiq Pasha returned and conveyed my views to His Majesty and telephoned back saying, "His Majesty kisses your cheeks and has full confidence in your stand. Pursue your policy."
While in Baghdad Tawfiq Pasha explained to me Jordan's policy of unifying the two sides of the Jordan river by referendum on the West Bank and by providing access to the sea. Of course the port of Aqaba was to be developed. Egypt was opposed to unity of the two sides of the Jordan. Tawfiq Pasha also told me that Jordan could not recognize Husni az‑Za'im until the constitutional problem had been settled. As for those Arab: governments who recognized as‑Za'im, they did so for self‑interest and with disregard for principles. He spoke about the interference in Syria of >Assam Pasha, the Secretary General of the Arab League, and about the question raised by Ibrahim Pasha 'Abdul Hadi, Prime Minister of Egypt, about Greater Syria and whether King 'Abdullah was still pursuing that policy. Abul Huda thought that the situation in Syria was very unstable because the Syrians, although they thought at first that as‑Za'im came as a saviour, soon discovered that he was a dictator. He himself told an Egyptian journalist, "I am a dictator." They discovered that Shukri al‑Quwatli was far better and more honourable. Besides, as‑Za'im did not stand for the Cause of Arab nationalism.
In a talk with Abul Huda, Nuri Pasha said that our approach to Syria would be one of military alliance. He outlined the difficulties of recognition as well as the difficulties of interference. Any interference in the affairs of Syria, according to Nuri Pasha, might arouse the Zionists, the Turks, Egypt, Ibn Sa'ud, and, in the case of conflict, it would be the powerful who would gain, namely, the Zionists and the French. That is why Nuri thought that the Syrians should be left to their own devices and that no incident should be brought about which might be exploited. He said, "We will not interfere unless we are asked to do so in case of trouble inside Syria. We should let the Syrians express their own wish freely if they want any association with the Hashemites. We will not work against Sidi 'Abdullah (H.M. King Abdullah) nor carryon propaganda against him in Syria. Neither will we take any important step before informing Sidi 'Abdullah. I shall quote here a section from a confidential report made by s trustworthy correspondent of Al Ahram, the well-known Egyptian newspaper, and given to the Iraqi Charge d'Affaires in Damascus. The report reveals a good deal about the intricacies of power politics in Syria and the Middle East at the time.
2/8/1949. Terrorism prevails in Syria and men of the former regime crowd the prisons and detention centres. As-Za'im invents ways of torturing and abusing these people. That is why the public is fed up with his eccentricities and irresponsible behaviour. The following facts are submitted with caution for information only.
1) It is now decisively proven that France completely dominates Syrian economy and that the French Minister Plenipotentiary and the Director of the National Bank of Syria‑Lebanon, who is French, are the two who conduct the economic and financial policy there. They have succeeded in stopping the weaving factories in Aleppo and Damascus so that their manufactured goods shall not compete with French imports. The owners of these factories suffer from an acute financial crisis. They try to get loans from the Bank of Syria‑Lebanon without success. Many, including al‑Hariri, the ex‑Minister of Finance, who is a well- known wealthy Aleppo man, are threatened with bankruptcy.
2) Husni az‑Za'im provided facilities for the Syrian-Lebanese Bank to dominate farmers and landowners by passing a law authorizing the Syrian‑Lebanese Bank alone to give loans to farmers and landowners by passing authorizing the Syrian-Lebanese Bank alone to give loans to farmers and landowners with interest up to30%, and giving them the right to mortgage all the land and property of the debtors until the loan is repaid in full.
2) . All those who cooperated with the French Mandate were returned to their posts and a word from the French Minister or any member of the French Legation is not turned down in any government department.
4). The French offered Husni as‑Za=im seven cargo ships laden with arms, and the Bank of Syria‑Lebanon pays him great sums every month for the services he renders to France and to France and to French entrepeneurs. He intends to restore the system of advisors by calling them experts.
5). The French cooperate with the Americans and the Sa'udis to keep British influence out of' Syria. The Americans tolerate the extension of French influence now, for their aim is to strengthen the second line behind the Turkish front, and this is the reason behind the rapprochement between as‑Za'im and the Turks.
Signed, Chargé d=Affaires of Iraq
Relations between Syria and Iraq were deteriorating and the situation in Syria was going from bad to worse, day by day. I quote the following from an authoritative report:
1). Husni az‑Za'im told some press men that he is obliged to fight on four fronts, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel... He asked them to attack the person of His Royal Highness the Regent of Iraq.
2. He calls merchants one at a time and imposes on them a certain levy in the name of the Army Tax which should be paid immediately otherwise they will be sentto AI‑Mezza prison or to Tedmur (Palmyra) where they will be tortured and degraded.
3. Munir ar‑Rais, the well‑known Syrian
journalist, privately revealed that az‑Za'im had asked him to
carry on a strong campaign against Iraq and informed him that a
million Syrian pounds had been allotted for propaganda and
information in Iraq.
4. Hashim‑Atasi tried to go to France to visit his son but was prevented from doing so. He thinks that he and his like should go to Egypt and Saudi Arabia to call their attention to the harm done by their helping az‑Za'im. He speaks of torture in prisons and extortion of money and the discontent that has started in the ranks of the army.
5. Muhsin al‑Barazi said that he came into the government to check the excesses in the actions of as‑Za'im. The truth is that they were both in agreement before the coup. This is the unanimous view of the politicians.
6. The French influence is growing from day to day, and Barazi says that as‑Za'im is pushed into that whenever he feels threatened by the Hashemites.
7. Some members of the Nationalist party are showing some cooperation with as‑Za=im in order to spite the People's Party who have become his enemy no. 1 after they had been the closest to him. The truth is that all nationalists, parties and politicians of various views are anti‑Za=im, even though they may appear otherwise, since they are all afraid of torture, degradation and imprisonment.
8. Muhsin al‑Barazi is the one who feeds the Egyptian papers with the help of Saudi money.
9. Riyadh as‑Sulh asked his friends, whether politicians or newspaper men, to denounce the campaign against Iraq and some newspaper men stated that they did not know the facts about Syria and that Iraq did not contact them to come to an understanding.
11. Syria and Lebanon exchange plots against each other. As‑Za=im instigates the Lebanese army and the Lebanese opposition to make President Bishara al Khouri and Prime Minister Riyadh as‑Sulh fall. These, on their part, work against as‑Za'im although not so openly, and the situation in Lebanon is bad and the discontent is great. The government fears an explosion.
12. The prevailing opinion here is that trouble in Syria will begin when schools open, for the students who supported the coup as a strong movement for liberation and reform have begun to feel that it is oriented towards French imperialism .and friendship with Turkey. This makes all the elements ‑‑ Arab nationalists, unite against as‑Za'im.
13. Shukri al‑Quwatli was disliked in the last days of his rule. That is why, as far as the people are concerned, the coup had to happen. Even members of the nationalist bloc say that they remained the masters in their country from 1920 on, but that Shukri al As‑Za'im exploited this degradation and struck the blow.
14. People in Syria of the various groups and tendencies think that federation with Iraq is the only way out of this impasse. They take it as a matter of fact. They differ in their estimation of the date of the downfall of Za=im rule.
15. Nationalist Party journalists, Nejib ar‑Rais, owner of Al-Qabas and Nassooh Babeel, owner of Al-Ayam say that articles were personally imposed on them by as‑Za'im. Nejib ar‑Rais told me, "Nuri Pasha is the wisest and the most far‑sighted Arab politician today. History will be just to him, for the Arabs have not produced a statesman after Faisal the First more gifted than Nuri."
As‑Za'im had definitely gone into the camp of Egypt and Saudi Arabia in Arab affairs, which meant no rapprochement with Iraq. Acting on this policy he had appointed Dr Muhsin al-Barazi, a highly educated Syrian young man of Kurdish descent, as Prime Minister. Dr Mughsin was very close to ex ‑President Shukri al‑Quwatli. At one time he was Minister of Foreign Affairs. I had had close association with him when I represented Iraq in Egypt and Muhsin al-Barazi was Syrian Minister there in 1949. Muhsin's memoirs, as revealed by Al‑Hayat newspaper or Beirut. contain a pledge. which he and to King 'Abdul 'Aziz Ibn.Sa'ud. not to unite Syria and Iraq. Thus Egypt and Saudi Arabia had blocked the way to rapprochement between Syria and Iraq.
In the meantime. the People's Party or Syria had definitely declared the federation or Iraq and Syria as its aim. The influence or the People's Party in Syria was at its acme in those days. They had many followers and sympathizers. As‑Za'im's regime. by going anti‑Iraq developed many internal weaknesses. as‑Za'im's personal behaviour. his dictatorship and megalomania. as well as his close cooperation with France, revived the Francophobia. This led to the great dissatisfaction on many nationalists. some or whom had contact with the Syrian army.
last days or July 1949 we received reports in Baghdad that
Za'im's regime would be liquidated between the 11th and the 15th
of August. Actually as‑Za=im and his Prime Minister
were both shot in an army putch on August the 13th. The
leader of the putsch was as‑Za'im's Chief of Staf, General Sami
Hannawi. who had family connections with Iraq. He was pro‑Iraq
and worked in harmony with the People's Party who had included
in their platform the federation of Syria with Iraq. The
Nationalist Party at this time once more proclaimed their
intention of federating with Iraq.
After the putsch.
Hashim al‑Atasi. the old and respected nationalist leader became
President of the Syrian Republic and Dr Ma=aruf
ad-Dawalbi of the People's Party became Prime Minister.
President Atasi himself had always been enthusiastic for
Syrio‑Iraqi federation. Our Minister to Syria, Dr Ibrahim 'Aqif
al‑Alousi, was quite active. He was in close touch with
General Hannawi. His reports on the development toward
federation were encouraging and optimistic.
At that time several Iraqi nationalists went to Syria to promote the cause of Syrio‑Iraqi federation. At the beginning of September I had to leave Baghdad for the United Nations General Assembly meeting. I left with some hope that the Syrio‑Iraqi federation was on the way.
During this period I was Foreign Minister without being a Member of Parliament. According to the Iraqi Constitution I could maintain that status for six months only. While I was at the United Nations, the six months came to an end. I was immediately appointed Chief Representative of Iraq at the United Nations. My relations with Syrian affairs came to a standstill. On the 19th of December, 1949, another coup d'état in Syria shattered our hopes. Hannawi and all his colleagues were arrested. President Atasi was sent back to his native city of Homs. The coup was headed by General Fawzi Selu. General‑Hannawi was later released. He went to live in Beirut, where, on the 30th of December, 1950, he was shot dead while waiting to catch a tram. He was shot by: a nephew of Barazi in order to revenge the death of Dr Muhsin al-Barazi.
Behind Selu was Colonel Adib ash‑Shishakli, the new dictator of Syria. Shishakli, a shrewd and capable man, ruled Syria for the next four years, achieving a good deal of construction and economic development, but he was anti‑Iraq and he was quite ruthless. During the first months of his rule I was at the United Nations. Later on I returned to Iraq. In 1952 as Minister of Foreign Affairs again in the Cabinet of Mustapha al‑Omeri I found Colonel Shishakli very active in attacking Iraq and its governing regime. I found that diplomatic relations between the two countries were very tense. The Syrian Ambassador in Baghdad was not invited to official Iraqi functions. Confidential instructions had been given to Iraqi consulates and embassies in the Arab world to restrict very severely the admission of Syrians into Iraq. One of the first things I did was to invite the Syrian Ambassador, Khalil Msrdam Beg, a well‑known Arab poet, to my house and to tell him that he should always feel at home in my house and that he should come to my home or office without protocol. I also sent a confidential message to the Ministry of Interior and all our embassies and consulates telling them to remove all restrictions for entry into Iraq of Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians. In a note dated July 20, 1952, I told the Ministry of Interior that Syrians, Lebanese and Palestinians were not foreigners in Iraq. The word 'foreigner' should not be applied to them. They should simply be termed non Iraqi. I expressed a protest about the fact that there were restrictions for the entry into Iraq of Arabs from sister countries and great ease for the entry of foreign artists. The following is an extract from the text:
Iraq, which is well known for its pro‑Arab policy cannot harmonize between its call for federation and the severities laid on visas for the sons or Arab sister states. At a time when visas between France and Britain have been removed. and Italian and German labour is rarely exchangeable in western Europe and when we see western European countries moving toward economic and political unity. we think that the restrictions which you have promulgated represent a reactionary policy which we cannot uphold. In view or what we have said. we request you to reconsider the matter and provide us with your views et the earliest possible date.
I invited the Syrian Ambassador to visit me and I informed him about the new facilities which I had arranged for Syrians to enter Iraq. I told him I did not mind if thousands and hundreds of thousands or Syrians poured into Iraq. They should feel that Iraq is their country just as an Iraqi should feel at home in Syria. This move of mine bewildered Shishakli. and he began to be very apprehensive about the intentions behind it. What I actually intended was to win the Syrian people for Iraq in spite of Shishakli's hostility. In that I succeeded to some extent.
In the same
summer. 1952, after the Egyptian revolution, I attended the Arab
League meeting. I also went to Alexandria where ex‑President
Quwatli was living. The Iraqi Ambassador, Nejib
ar‑Rawi. and I spent the day with him. He spoke to me at
length denouncing Shishakli's policies and cruelties. He
told me that it was the duty of' responsible Arab lel1ders to
save Syria from the cruel dictatorship of' that
man. In the fall I again went as Head of' the
Iraqi delegation to attend the General Assembly of the United
Nations. While I was there the Iraqi Cabinet of Mustapha
al‑Omari had to resign because of' a local anti‑American
uprising in Baghdad. General Nureddin Mahmoud
formed the new Cabinet. I retained my office as Minister of'
Foreign Affairs in his Cabinet. The House of' Parliament was
dissolved. New elections were held and I was again elected
as Member of' Parliament from Diwaniyah. I was also
elected as Speaker of' the House of' Representatives. I
was no longer Minister of' Foreign Affairs, but my interest in
Syria continued. I was the Speaker for two
successive sessions of' the House. During this period His
Majesty King Faisal the Second came of' age (18 years) and
Jamil‑al-Madfai formed the Cabinet which organized the
coronation ceremonies. Elder statesmen were included
as members of' the Cabinet; 'Ali Jawdat
al‑Ayoubi was Vice‑Premier, Nuri Pasha, Minister of
Defence, and Tawfiq as‑Suwaidi, Minister of Foreign Af'fairs.
During this period the Syrian elder statesmen were approaching Iraq asking her to come and save Syria from its dictator. I saw a note from ex‑President Hashim al-Atasi in his own handwriting, given to 'Ali Jawdat al-Ayoubi, who was married to a charming gracious lady from Aleppo, and who had been Military Governor of Aleppo in the days when King Faisal ruled Syria in the 1920's. In the note ex‑President al‑Atasi specified the financial help required to promote a movement in Syria to overthrow Shishakli. The Cabinet at the time did not act in response to that request. In the autumn of 1953 it was my lot to be the first Prime Minister of the newly crowned King Faisal the Second of Iraq. One evening in the first week of' my Premiership I was called to Qusr ar‑Rihab, the residence of His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Ilah. I went there and found Nuri Pasha with the Prince. Nuri Pasha had received a letter from Dr Ma=aruf' ad‑Dawalibi, ex‑Prime Minister of Syria, asking for Iraq's help to remove the dictator of Syria. After some discussion, we decided that we should invite Dr Dawalibi to come to Baghdad. His arrival and presence in Baghdad was to be kept a complete secret. I had to make personal arrangements with my friend, 'Abdul Hadi Chalabi, to have at my disposal a beautiful villa of his outside Baghdad. That villa happened to be surrounded by gardens and quite out of the way of wayfarers. We made arrangements for Dr Dawalibi to come and stay in that villa and to be our guest. We arranged for meetings between Dr Dawalibi, Prince 'Abdul Ilah and Saleh Jabr. The latter, a former Prime Minister of Iraq, and a close friend of mine, had Arab nationalism and Arab unity deep at heart. I won his support and cooperation in the affairs of Syria.
It was Dr Dawalibi' s argument ‑ that he was the legitimate and constitutional Prime Minister of Syria. He had been deposed and jailed unconstitutionally by Shishakli, and he wanted help from Iraq so that he might enter Syria and fight Shishakli in order to restore the legitimate government of' Syria. He, suggested that, if any volunteer from the Iraqi army were available, they showed up in Syrian uniform. They and some Syrian volunteers would be under Dawalibi's command and they would bring a downfall of' Shishakli. Prince 'Abdul Ilah asked Dawalibi for a written request stating that he wanted Iraqi help to save Syria from its dictator. Dr Dawalibi would not give such a document After over a month's study of' the situation and consultation with General Rafiq Arif, Chief of' the Iraqi General Staff', the Iraqi army found it was not ready to undertake the adventure proposed by Dr Dawalibi. He returned to Beirut with the hope of future cooperation.
I was amazed, at the time of my trial by the
special High Military Tribunal in 1958, to hear read out in
Court a letter addressed to the Court by Dr Dawalibi. In the
letter he stated that be had been held under duress by Prince
'Abdul llah pending his signature of a document asking for
Iraq's help. Besides, he claimed in his letter that he had known
about the Iraqi Revolution of' July 14, 1958, twenty months
before it took place, and that he had been an unknown soldier
who had worked to bring it about. He said that he knew the
leaders of the Revolution and that he prided himself on the
downfall of Nuri as-Sa=id and Prince 'Abdul Ilah,
the man whose support he had requested to bring about the
downfall of Shishakli. He also expressed his pride in the
downfall of Shishakli which led to the liberation of Syria and
its movement in the path of' unity with Egypt.
Dr Dawalibi, however, soon turned against the unity with Egypt and against President Nasir's policies in Syria. This shows the political instability and lack of consistency on the part of some political leaders such as Dr Dawalibi. This was a problem which I had not sufficiently taken into account in dealing with the question of Syrio‑Iraqi federation. After Dawelibi's departure from Baghdad our contacts with the Syrian nationalists who had Syrio‑Iraqi federation at heart were multiplied. We had some fine Syrian emissaries who kept us well informed of what was going on in different parts of Syria such as Damascus, Aleppo and Jabal ad‑Druze. We also had contacts with some prominent Syrian leaders like Hashim al‑Atasi and Sultan al‑Atrash, Faris al‑Khouri etc.
Syria's discontent with Shishakli was growing from day to day. He put in jail most of the active politicians, many of whom, when released, sought refuge in Lebanon. The leaders of the Nationalist Party, the People's Party, the Baath Socialist Party and the Syrian Nationalists were all to be found in Beirut, either in hiding or in the open I remember that, on one of my visits to Beirut, I saw Akram Hourani, Salaluddin al‑Bitar and Michel 'Aflaq in out‑of‑the‑way apartments. They express ed their fervent hope that the downfall of Shishskli might be achieved soon. It was at that time that Dr Constantin Zureiq, formerly President of the Syrian University, and a close friend of mine since student days in the American University of Beirut, came to consult me about accepting the portfolio of Foreign Affairs in the Syrian government. He had been asked by Shishakhli to accept the position. Dr Zuraiq told me that, if he undertook the responsibility, Syria's policy towards Iraq would certainly undergo a fundamental change, and rapprochement could be expected. I advised him against taking the position saying that it was too late, since Syrian political opinion was already anti‑Shishakli. and that there was no hope for a reversal. I think Dr Zuraiq acted on my advice. It seems to me that Shishakli must have known of my close friendship with Dr Zuraiq and thought that he, being a prominent scholar and Arab nationalist, might be the man to smooth Syrio‑Iraqi relations.
Early in January 1954 I was still Prime Minister of Iraq when I led the Iraqi delegation to the Arab League Council meeting. There I presented my project for an inter‑Arab federation. Before presenting it to the League Council, however, I discussed it at length with President Mohammed Nagib and the Prime Minister Abdul Nasser at a private dinner which I had at President Mohammed Nagib=s home. The Egyptian papers at government inspiration came out in support of the project. It seemed that my arguments for the federation appealed to Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser who later on adopted the idea of pan‑Arab unity as his own.
My plan envisaged the federation of any Arab states that were close to each other geographically and that were ready to move in the path of federation by taking constitutional measures. The immediate objective of my plan aimed at Iraq's federation with Syria and Jordan. Syria's chief delegate to the Arab League, Minister of Agriculture, Abdul Rahman al‑Henaidi, could see that the plan aimed at the union of Syria and Iraq. He frankly told me in private that Shishakli was against Iraq and any federation with it. My plan was referred by the Arab League Council to the member states for study.
Conditions in Syria were going from bad to worse. In Damascus Iraq had a very active and devoted military attache, Colonel Salih Mehdi as-Samarra'a, who kept us well informed about what was going on within the Syrian army. Shishakli, feeling restless, declared Colonel Samarra'a persona non grata, so he had to leave Damascus and restrict his activities to our Embassy in Beirut. Shishakli had already bombarded Jabal ed‑Druze. The Syrian army, representing the various political elements of the country was beginning to show signs of unease. The Syrian political leaders, especially those of the Nationalist Party and the People's Party were insistent that Iraq must come to help.
On my return to Baghdad from Cairo I had a serious meeting about Syria with Prince Abdul Ilah in the presence of the of the Minister of Finance, Abdul Kareem al-Uzeri. After a long discussion we decided to ask ex-Premier Saleh Jabr to go to Beirut with full powers from the Iraqi government to help the Syrian leaders achieve their political objective. Around midnight Prince 'Abdul Ilah, 'Abdul Kareem al‑Uzri and I went to Saleh Jabr's house. Saleh had gone to bed. We woke him up and discussed his departure for Beirut and informed him about the mission which he was to undertake. With the agreement or 'Abdul Kareem al‑Uzri, Minister or Finance, we told him that 100,000 Iraqi dinars would be sent to our Embassy in Beirut to be put at his disposal.
At 7 o'clock in the morning Saleh Jabr took off for Beirut. He left on the declared mission or negotiating with the Lebanese government the transfer from Murraq to Sidon of the oil pipeline which extends from Murraq to Haifa. The Kirkuk‑Haifa pipeline had been closed since the establishment or Israel. and Iraq had been losing annually as much income as this pipeline had formerly produced. His other mission was to contact the Syrian political figures in Beirut who were working for the downfall of Shishakli and to render them any moral or material help that Iraq could give. Iraq's help took the shape or providing some finances for the political leaders so that they could carry on their struggle against Shishakli. These political leaders were backed by some publicity in the Beirut press and they themselves were in direct contact with army units inside Syria as well as with the tribal organizations that were all anti‑Shishakli.
On one occasion a messenger came to Baghdad to report a plot to assassinate Shishakli. I immediately revolted and answered in sharp words that my government would cooperate in no way with any red‑handed movement. Shishakli must be made to leave the country peacefully. In his last days Shishakli arrested some nation leaders. He also put under restricted residence the Druze leader, Sultan Pasha al‑Atrash, with whom we had been in contact. I received the following telegram from our Military Attache in Amman.
The army arrested Sultan Pasha al‑Atrash and held him in its barracks. Yesterday he and his group were transferred to Medowara, south of Ma=an, and made to live there under army supervision. His messenger did not reach us; the army arrested him on his way to us. Nawwaf al‑Atrash, the cousin and confident of Sultan is in hiding. He asked to be dispatched to Baghdad secretly to meet you. Do you agree? Inform us.
One evening there was an official function in the Municipal Hall of Baghdad attended by H.M. the King and H.R.H. the Prince. There was a very joyful atmosphere. While we were listening to some music I was called to the telephone to be told that Shishakli had fallen, and that he had left Damascus for Beirut. That was a very comforting moment for us. But his departure for Beirut gave us no assurance that he would not make a manoeuvre to return. He sought refuge in the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Beirut. The Lebanese government was alerted and they put pressure on the Saudi Arabian Embassy so that Shishakli should not sojourn in Beirut. Our Military Attache sent the following telegram:
I am assured that Shishakli is still hiding in the Saudi Embassy in Beirut in spite of the insistence of the Lebanese government that he should leave. President Sham Shishakli has had contact, during the day, with some of his Lebanese followers and I believe that if Shishakli stays long he will encourage an army uprising in Damascus. I explained this to our Ambassador who in turn explained it to President Sham'un who concurred in our opinion. Some Lebanese Druzes held meetings and that might bring about some danger to Shishakli's life The Lebanese government decided today to expel him if he did not leave the country voluntarily.
Later we had the following telegram from our Military Attache in Beirut.
As for the recent events which had led to the downfall of Shishakli 's we had the following telegram from our embassy in Damascus:
From a reliable source we learned the following details as to how the movement happened. The leader of the anti‑Shishakli movement was Brigadier Faisal al‑Atasi who was thought to be one of the supporters of the Baath Party. He started his move by arresting Brigadier 'Omar Tamr Khan chief of Aleppo region. He also sent Captain Mustapha Hamdun who is a Socialist Leftist, to occupy Aleppo broadcasting station. Around noon the Chief of the Deir ez‑Zor region joined the movement. Then the Chief' of Homs and Hama joined. In the afternoon the Chief of Latikiya region joined. Shishakli dispatched a force of armoured cars to the north, but that force refused to attack Syrian citizens. Shishakli sent some intermediaries to settle the matter peacefully. The group included 'Abdu‑Henaidi, Minister of Interior, and As'ad Harun, Minister of Justice, with some civilians and some army officers. Their intervention was unsuccessful. Around seven o'clock in the evening a meeting was held in Shishakli's home which was attended by some personalities including the Chief of the General Staff of the Army, the Lord Mayor of the city, the president of the House of Parliament and others. They discussed the critical situation. Around eight o'clock the Chief of the General Staff informed Shishakli that he had just received a report that Major Rasmi el‑Muqdisi, Chief of the region of Jabal ed‑Druze, and Colonel Talib ed‑Daghestani, Chief of the Qunattra region, both expressed their unreadiness to combat their brethren from the Syrian army. When Shishakli found that the majority of the army was against him and that none remained with him but the unit of Damascus, he tendered his resignation to the Parliament and left by plane at 10 o'clock P.M. With him left Brigadier Qasim Khalil. Chief of the Damascus unit, and his brother, Captain Salah Shishakli, who had been running the Syriana Cabaret, and Captain Asif al‑Qabban The Parliament is still meeting to decide on a future policy and form of government. It is expected to abrogate the present constitution and to revert to the Constitution of Hannawi or that of Quwatli. Well informed circles expect the election of His Excellency Hashim al-Atasi to the Presidency of the republic until the time for the new elections both for the new Parliament and the new presidency
Another telegram from our Military Attache in Beirut said:
We congratulated Dawalibi yesterday. This morning he left for Damascus and was followed by all the Syrian leaders who had been in Beirut. Snowfall prevented them from reaching Damascus so they went via Homs to meet with Hashim al‑Atasi who was still there. I am still waiting for our messenger and we will inform you of. what. follows. I am ending a messenger to our Embassy in Damascus and I will send you the information before going to Damascus myself. Our Ambassador in Beirut thinks I should postpone my trip to Damascus until we contact Dawalibi. We will convey to him Premier Jamali=s congratulations
From our Embassy‑in Damascus, 26 February, 1954:
There has been no agreement on the form of government until now. The politicians disagree among themselves, and the army officers are disagreeing. Fifty-two of the members of Parliament attended out of the eighty members, and they still defend the Shishakli regime with the incitement of their retired Captain 'Abdul Haqq Shehada who is trying, it seems, to take the place or Shishakli. He has surrounded himself with a number or army officers. The result is that Members of Parliament have maintained the stand that the President or the Parliament shall be acting‑President or the Republic in accordance with the present Constitution as was broadcast from the Damascus station in a statement made by the new acting‑President. It was decided that Parliament should meet tomorrow to elect the President of the Republic. The Chiefs of the army units who refused to fight for Shishakli refuse to right now to support the revolution. The Ministers met in the Ministry or Foreign Affairs and could not agree on a thing. The Chief of the General Staff is unable to control matters. Conditions in Damascus are apparently quiet, but the political situation is very much disturbed with unknown consequences. Please instruct Beirut to contact us by wireless for urgent reasons. We expect shortly to convey to you important matters.
Syria had been saved from one dictator, but it had not yet round peace or stability. After the downfall of Shishakli I received, through military code, the following telegram from Nabih Beg al‑'Azmeh. It was addressed to me as Prime Minister.
Today the country will enter a new phase and a new role. We require speed, wisdom, determination and emphatic, sure directives. We wish to let you know the difficulties or steering and governing by the heterogeneous combination or elements who are united today in the political opposition front. When we know the connection of the united elements ‑ officers and junior generals ‑‑ to the various political parties and that they are influenced by the parties to a great extent; and when we know also that the strongest active element in the united political rrant today, whether officers, students, youth or workers, are relat.ed to Akram al‑Haurani and Michel 'Aflaq , (when we know these things), we shall be able to appreciate the difriculty of the situation and the dirficulty of organizing the set‑up.
Moreover, if we carefully study the statement broadcast yesterday from the radio station in Aleppo, we rind that the statement embodies the spirit of Akram al‑Haurani. The statement broadcast today from the Damascus radio station by Shawkat Shuqair, who remained to direct the situation and correct the deviations of Shishakli, describes the position of the army and its function to defend the independence of the country but makes no reference to a return to the barracks. In contrast was the broadcast by the commanders of the northern districts yesterday saying that the army would return to the barracks. Then there is the invitation to Shishakli from King Sa'ud. Taking all these tbings into account we realize what possible complications the new era is racing. That is why I deem it necessary to return quickly to Damascus to serve and stabilize and direct as much as possible. Please expedite material assistance before I leave Beirut.
The telegram of Nabih al‑'Azmeh and the one before it from our Embassy contain an accurate and objective description of the situation we raced after the fall of Shishakli. The fall of the anti‑Iraq dictator did not bring an end to the obstacles in the path of Syrio‑Iraqi federation. Efforts had to continue. A faithful Iraqi unionist who was enthusiastically active in those days was Dr Sa'id Hadba'y, a doctor from Mosul. Dr Hadba'y had his medical education in Damascus. He knew Syria well and he orten came to see me to express readiness to help and to bring me information from Syrian quarters which he knew. He had meetings with Fahmi al-Muhelry, owner of Al‑Hadhara newspaper,, Ahmad Sharabati, a former Minister of Defence, Kamil Hananu from Aleppo, and Nabih al‑Ghazzi. They were all ready to work for the union of Syria and Iraq. They were supported by a large number of the nationalist youth of the League of National Action (Al‑Osbawy) which was founded by a group of Arabs from various countries who met in 1932, and who took on themselves to work or the liberation and unity of the Arab world. I shall refer to some points in a report Dr Hadba'y sent me after a trip to Damascus in the month of May, 1954. sked me to join them in their meetings and convey their ideas to the responsible people in Baghdad. They are joined in that by the present Minister of Education of Syria, Dr Munir i al‑'Ajlani (Professor in the College of Law in the Syrian University). The activity of the Students Union of the Syrian University. This Union includes all the students from all the colleges of the University whose number is no less than 3000 from various parts of the Arab world. The Union fully dominates the University and its members are liked by all. They have undertaken to work for Syrio‑Iraqi unity all the way.
Some of the most prominent members of this Union, are Ahmad Aziz, the Secretary of the Union, Ridha Altunjy, Director of the Union=s club. And Malik al-Husini, one of the prominent members from the Law College and at the same time a journalist. He is the author of the article, 'Say it frankly', the article which moved the various Damascene circles, for it was the most courageous thing written on the subject of federation. He will continue to publish such articles which will carry the same title. If we provide the Students Union with money their activity may increase. The results of their activities are already seen by the leaning of the majority of independent students and the nationalists and part of the Baathists to the side of the idea. They all speak openly about the federation although formerly, either from fear or from lack of conviction, no one spoke about it.
One of the most outstanding demonstrations of their activity is the telegram sent to Shukri alQuwatli (who was living in Alexandria, Egypt) telling him not to think of returning. That telegram had a far‑reaching effect. It strengthened the position of the government and was a great blow to the Saudis. The telegram was published in the newspaper Al‑Sarkha (The Cry), issue no. 49, on Tuesday, 6 April, 1954, and this is the text: 'The man who directed a blow to the heart of the homeland shall not return. The one who let Palestine go shall not return. No return for him who let corruption, chaos and tyranny prevail. No return for Shukri al‑Quwatli, perpetrator of shameful and ludicrous things. The students of the Syrian University, male and female insist no return for him who was rejected by the nation forever.
This is the telegram, the like of which was never before expressed in such language. It shook to the core all those who work against Syrio‑Iraqi federation. The report also referred to the importance of Sami Kabbara, a well‑known and popular Damascene personality who should be won to our side. He happened to be a friend of Dr Hadba=y who said of him, AHe is the only man who enables us to deal with Akram al‑Haurani."
Dr Hadba'y had met with the Minister of 'Ali Boozoo and the report continued:
I am related to him through friendship of student days when we were both members in the Higher Committee. This is what he told me with great enthusiasm. 'It is established with us with certainty that whoever fights the federation or carries on propaganda against it must be either a Zionist spy or an imperialist agent.' The reports we had from various quarters convinced me more and more that was the general wish of the Syrian people themselves. The goal was clear, and genuine Arab Nationalists had no hesitation or equivocation about it. But obstacles consisting of foreign machinations and internal personal jealousy, greed and dissension stood in the way of moving towards the achievement of our national aspirations. I refused to give up. I refused to be discouraged by the many opposing forces from within and without. I continued to work for the national aim.
A new chapter in Syrio‑Iraqi politics began. Personally I continued to exert effort from 1954 to 56 to bring about a Syrio‑Iraqi federation in a democratic and constitutional way. It was my hope and my objective that a constitutional government in Syria would proceed in a democratic way to ask for a Syrio‑Iraqi federation.
After the fall of Shishakli, a conference of Syrian leaders was held in Homs and a transitional government was formed with former President Atasi at the head. Dr Dawalibi was Minister of Defence. The army began to play politics. The new government was not homogeneous. It was weak and wavering. It could take no great decisions. We started to work with the leed6rs of the Nationalist Party, especially Sabri al‑'Asali, Mikhail Ilian, and with the People's Party, especially with Dr 'Adnan al‑Atasi, the son of President Hashim al‑Atasi. Actually we had contacts with many leading politicians of those parties as well as others who were independent or who belonged to other parties, Nabih al-Azmeh, Husni al‑Barezi, Jalal as‑Sayyid, Faris a l‑Khouri, Hasan al‑Hakim, Faidhi al- Atasi, 'Abdur Rahman al‑'Azim, Majeddin al‑Jabiri. Sami al‑Khayyali and others. It was my intention to go ahead with a strong Syrio‑Iraqi campaign. Ten thousand copies of a brochure on unity containing articles by Sati' al‑Haari, Akram Zusiter and Kamil Muruwa was prepared in Beirut by Kamil Muruwa, owner of Al‑Hayat, a very influential Beirut daily newspaper.
While Iraq's effort for the promotion of federation with Syria was going on, opposing forces, such as the generous financing of the adversaries by Saudi Arabia, and Egyptian propaganda, revealed that a struggle for power in Syria was going on between Iraq on the one hand and Egypt and Saudi Arabia on the other. Major Salah Salem, Egyptian Minister of National Guidance, went to Syria and Lebanon to carry on a campaign against Iraqi policies. Still the overwhelming majority of the Syrians were in favour of federation.
Enthusiastic men like Sabri al‑>Asali and his colleagues were urging the Iraqi government to do its best to push the project of federation by allotting the money required which would not exceed a quarter of a million dinars (pounds sterling) to carry out an electioneering campaign to bring about a National Assembly which would demand federation wi th Iraq.
As Prime Minister of Iraq I had to get new legislation through the Iraqi Parliament to allot the amount because it did not exist in the budget. The parliamentary majority consisted of members of Nuri as-Sa=id=s party and Nuri was not enthusiastic about the federation of Iraq and Syria at that time. When he beard of my intention to go ahead with the federation project he sent me word through Mohammed >Ali Mahmoud, my Minister of Justice, expressing his opposition. I had already spent 100,000 Iraqi dinars before getting parliamentary authorisation, and, in the face of Nuri's opposition I decided that I could not carry the responsibility of the government since I would be unable to get parliamentary support for even the modest amount of money required for a noble and important project.
I went to the Royal Palace and expressed my desire to resign. I had two things, however, to achieve before my resignation. The first was to ensure that the 100,000 dinars already allocated to be spent be authorized, and the second was to conclude my negotiations with the American government on the Military Aid Agreement. His Majesty and his uncle both sympathized with my stand, and I stayed in office until I had taken care of the above‑mentioned items.
The Lower House of Parliament passed the legislation authorizing the 100,000 dinars, but, in the Senate, former Prime Minister Tawfiq as‑Suwaidi, who was chairman of the Finance committee, raised an objection and tried to obstruct the authorization of the amount. I asked that the Committee should have a short recess and I invited Tawflq as‑Suwadi to a side room. There I told him that he had better expedite the business or I would be forced to divulge a secret, namely, the fact that the amount of 250,000 had been proposed by the late Syrian president, . Hashim al‑Atasi, to free Syria from Shishakli, and Suwaidi, who was Minister of Foreign Affairs in the previous Cabinet had not been informed about it. I had seen Atasi's handwritten paper with the former Prime Minister, 'Ali Jawdat al‑Ayoubi, who was Vice‑Premier in the Cabinet of Jamil al-Madfai. The divulgence of this secret would have caused Suwaidi embarrassment, for it would have indicated that his own Cabinet lacked confidence in him. After this conversation we went back to the Committee which then passed the legislation.
Having finished this matter and having signed the Military Aid Agreement, I tendered my resignation. The disagreement on the question of unity with Syria was, therefore, the main cause of the fall of my Cabinet in 1954. On April 19, I tendered my resignation, and His Majesty celled on Nuri as‑Sa'id to form a new Cabinet. The next morning I was called to the Royal Palace to meet H.R.H. the Crown Prince and Nuri Pasha. Nuri asked me to join his Cabinet as Minister of Foreign Affairs. I declined the offer. When Nuri argued that I had promised to cooperate with him when he came to power, I replied that my promise was conditional on his coming to an understanding with Saleh Jabr, and now the issue of Syria and the obstruction created to it through parliamentary noncoperation made it impossible for me to join his Cabinet and to face the same Parliament. My refusal was final. At the same time Nuri invited Ahmed Mukhtar Baban, who was Vice‑Premier in my Cabinet, and 'Ali Mumtaz, who was Minister of Finance in my Cabinet, to join him. They also declined the offer. The refusal of all three of us made Nuri think that we were acting with royal approval.
Soon after that I collapsed one day in my office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Medical examination with X‑rays revealed an ulcer in the duodenum for which I needed immediate hospitalization. I decided to go to the hospital of the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. While I was in Beirut, Syrian statesmen and friends began to frequent my room in the hospital urging action on Syrio‑Iraqi relations. My physical condition did not permit me to undertake long discussions and serious considerations so I telegraphed the Prime Minister in Baghdad asking him to request Saleh Jabr to come to Lebanon to take care of the problem. I depended on Saleh Jabr in the matter for he was as convinced as I was of its necessity and urgency both for Iraq and the Arab cause. For reasons unknown to me Saleh Jebr could not come to Lebanon, so Ahmad Mukhtar Baban was deputized instead. After leaving the hospital I went for convalescence to Hotel Mont Vert in Broummana, a well‑known mountain resort. It was there that the Syrian politicians and statesmen, enthusiastic about unity, began to visit me frequently and some serious talks about unity were held.
The following ere two letters which I addressed to the Prime Minister, Arshad al-'Omeri, summarizing the situation.
Personal and confidential
Mont Vert Hotel, Broummana, 3 May, 1954
Excellency Brother Abu Isam
Greetings and hearty affection!
I always think of your heavy duties and ask God to grant you success for the good of the country. I have already wired about the possibility of my meeting with a Syrian delegation. Last night in a private way I had the following gentlemen: Prime Minister Sabri al‑>Asali, Minister of Finance 'Abdur Rahman al‑Azm, Husni al‑Barazi and 'Adnan al‑Atasi. We met together until midnight. We surveyed the present conditions in Syria and the difficulties that beset and obstruct the Syrio‑Iraqi federation, and the means by which they could be overcome.
1. Conditions in Syria are unsettled because of lack of discipline in the army and the fact that the army is divided among five parties at least. Although the situation does not provide the Saudis with an opportunity for immediate action, the situation is dangerous in any case. This is the important question raised: Is Iraq ready to send power if a section of the Syrian army rises in mutiny? This would be after an official request by the Syrian government had been made as from now, so that Iraq might intervene if the Syrian army brings about a coup d'état. No doubt the possibility of calling in the Iraqi army is remote, especially if the Syrian government groups together its loyal officers and wins some others with money. They are all united on the idea that the entry of the Iraqi army into Syria, whether to stem a movement of mutiny or to face Israeli aggression is the greatest guarantee for the federation,
2. Reviewing the process of federation generally it was found to require the coming to an understanding with the two great western powers, the United States and Great Britain. I promised to undertake that mission. As for France, there is no hope that it will consent, nor will Saudi Arabia or Israel. Then, we need the consent of the Iraqi government and Iraqi public opinion. As for Syrian public opinion, it is easy to win its consent. Although most of the political leaders are champions of the federation, they are afraid to say so openly. If they see that the Syrian government is moving ahead with the project, they will all move with it, or at least most of them.
3. It was agreed that 'Adnan al‑Atasi should prepare a federation project and present it to us after two weeks. It is my view that Messrs. 'Abdullah Bakr, Yusuf al‑Gailani, aided by 'Abdul Majeed 'Abbas or 'Abdul Kareem al‑Uzri, should prepare a similar project.
4. The two persons most enthusiastic for the federation are Messrs. Sabri al‑>Asali and Husni al‑Barazi. It was agreed that a confidential committee should be formed of prominent personalities to pursue the matter.
5. Both Messrs. Sabri al‑'Asali and Barazi expect Iraq to put the necessary amounts at their disposal for the following purposes:
a) to control the army
b) to prepare for the election of a new parliament
c) to influence public opinion (propaganda).
I wired asking for 5000 dinars as a preliminary amount to be given to Husni al‑Barazi.
This is a summary of the situation. There are many details which I do not wish to mention. It seems to me that the question requires time and continued efforts, but, in my view, it deserves all attention, for it represents the corner‑stone in restoring the dignity of the Arab world and saving the honour of the Arabs. The military attache, Colonel Saleh Mehdi, is coming to you. I hope you will provide me through him with whatever ideas you have. He will explain the situation to you in full.
Signed: Your brother Fadhel Jamali
Personal and confidential
Mont Vert Hotel, 9 May, 1954
Excellency, Honourable Brother Abu >Isam,
Greetings and affection!
Last night, Monday, 8/6/54, I had with me Sayed Sabri al‑>Asali, Prime Minister of Syria, and Sayed Mikhail Ilian. Ahmad Mukhtar Pasha Baban was also present. The meeting lasted until one in the morning. I herewith summarize for Your Excellency the situation as it was revealed.
1. The Syrian army is the source of instability and the extreme weakness of the government makes the army master of the situation.
2. The Syrian army includes elements which are afraid of the federation. They think that the federation would deprive the army officers of their prestige.
3. The present Syrian Cabinet is weak and not harmonious. It is hoped that it will be strengthened before the next elections unless something unforeseen happens.
4. The Saudis are preparing a plot for a coup d'etat and for bringing Shukri al‑Quwatli to Syria. (He was living in Egypt at that time.)
5. Sabri al‑Asali criticizes Iraq's policy in the past for relying on the People's Party. He also criticizes Iraq's reliance on Sheikh Ma=aruf ad‑Dawalibi and other personalities. He thinks that if Iraq is serious in the matter it should rely on himself and on Mikhail Ilian for their faith in the union and their devotion to it is the best guarantee. Even at that he does not guarantee immediate success, but he is ready to devote his life and his efforts for the realization of his national aims. Although his relations with Quwatli are good, he does not agree with him on his pro‑Saudi policy and on his stand in relation to the Syrio‑Iraqi federation.
How to deal with the situation? Wereviewed the possibility of sending the Iraqi army to Syria, and we found that it was not possible. There is no agreement between Syria and Iraq for the coming of the Iraqi army to keep internal order in Syria, and there is no majority in the Cabinet which dares sign such an agreement even if it were secret. Besides, Atasi, President of the Republic, for his part, is afraid of signing a request for the Iraqi army, and there is no possibility at the present of the armies of Syria and Iraq coming together for purposes of training and manoeuvres. One cannot exploit Israeli aggression on Syria because that might lead to an international struggle in which Israel might be the winner. That is why sending the Iraqi army to protect Syria from Israel must wait until a serious Israeli aggression occurs.
In the light of these facts, our Syrian friends leave the matter to us if we ever find a way for sending the Iraqi army they think that would be the best and the quickest way to achieve the Syrio‑Iraqi federation. If, however, the Iraqi army could not be sent, efforts should be exerted to win the Syrian army and rally it to the side of the Syrian government. That is why Sayed Sabri al‑'Asali expects financial help. Moreover, an election campaign for the federation should be undertaken so as to attain our goal through the parliamentary process. Sayed Sabri al‑'Asali asks that we should depend on him alone and that we should not disperse our money and efforts here and there. We do concur that we should trust Sabri al‑'Asali and consider him as the centre of gravity for the movement. This does not preclude our contacts with others provided the efforts are harmonized and that Sabri is informed of the efforts we exert.
Before the meeting ended I told Sabri I wanted to be clear on what we mean by the federation. He said, 'Federation in military, political and economic affairs.' I said, 'But the presidency of the federation is very important as far as we are concerned. We cannot afford to enter a federation which is not presided over by the King of Iraq, otherwise the instability which afflicts the Syrian republican system may affect Iraq, and this would cause exceedingly serious harm to the Arab interests. 'He agreed that the King of Iraq would be the head of the federation. H.E. Sayed Ahmad Mukhtar Baban closed the meeting by saying that to us it is important to strengthen the present government in Syria and to support al‑'Asali in every way possible. Thus 'Asali has to come forward with his requests and suggestions. We are always ready to render what help we can.
Signed: Your brother Fadhel Jamali
As had been decided, Dr 'Adnan al‑Atasi prepared two drafts for Syrio‑Iraqi federation, one providing for loose unity, and the other for a close form of federation. I have the original drafts in his own handwriting. The translated texts of the drafts are included in the appendices.
After my return to Iraq, Sabri al‑Asali continued to communicate with me through two trustworthy messengers whom he authorized to convey to me what he wished to say. One was Mohammed Shuqair, a young Muslim from Beirut who had an excellent record as an Arab nationalist. He was a graduate of the American University of Beirut, and he had taught in Iraq. At a later date I had a very sour letter from him criticizing the Iraqi government for enlisting the cooperation of the Syrian Nationalist Party which he considered anti‑Arab. Mohammed Shuqair was a loyal friend of Riyadh as‑Sulh, the Lebanese prime Minister, a well‑known Arab nationalist who was assassinated by the Syrian Nationalist Party.
The second messenger was 'Abdul Hadi al‑Ma=sarani, a Syrian merchant who devoted his time and money to the nationalist cause. Shuqair and Ma=sarani sometimes came to Baghdad to inform us about what was going on in Syria and to convey to us the views of Sabri al‑>Asali. During the summer of 1954 I received the following personal message from Dr Kayyali, chairman of the Nationalist Party in Aleppo:
The Nationalist Party did not deviate from the line of unity, but it was Shukri al‑Quwatli who deviated. In order to enable the Nationalist Party to enter the fight and oppose the propaganda and the help that comes to the Communists and the Independents who are benefitting from the influence of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, it is expected that the Iraqi government will render material help so that the Nationalist Party will be able to oppose the Parties and newspapers that work to alienate Syria from unity. That is in case the Iraqi government is able to do it and is concerned about the success of the affair.
another prominent member of the Nationalist Party, associated
himself with the above statement. Another of the letters I
received was from Dr As'ad Talas
Damascus, 6 May, 1954.
Sir, (After greetings)
I went to Damascus after resting a little in Aleppo and I contacted the following people: Hashim Beg, Sabri Beg and Rushdi Beg. I am certain of their sincerity and their firmness in all undertakings, especially that revered old man, Hashim Beg (President of the Syrian Republic) who sends you his greetings and requests you to act on his behalf in presenting expressions of his thanks and prayers for His Majesty, our Lord, and His Royal Highness, our Prince, may God preserve their leadership and protect them as pillars of Arabism and Islam. He told me, 'Tell them that I continue to stand firm on the Covenant and on what I dedicated myself to, and that I ask God to help us realize soon our hope of unity, and we ask God to make us this time more determined and more prudent and deeper in thought and study.' Then he told me, 'Meet with Sabri Beg and 'Adnan my son, and study the matter together and act with wisdom, quietness and secrecy until God brings victory.'
I met with brothers 'Adnan and Sabri Beg and we studied together what should be done, and they settled on the idea that Sayed Mikhail Ilian, the Secretary of the Nationalist party in Aleppo, should join us and prepare a plan and organize the work. When we have agreed on something I shall send you the details.
The Saudis exert great efforts
against Syrio‑Iraqi unity, and so do the French. But the danger
from the latter is smaller. Brother Kamil Muruwa told me
yesterday in Damascus in the presence of Brother Akram Zu'aiter,
who came to us for a short visit before returning to Nablus
where his wife is about to give birth, that two of Shishakli's
men, Nazih al‑Hakeem and Ahmed Assa, and they are two of the
three persons who drafted the Shishakli Constitution and who
lately began to publish a daily called Ar‑Ray Al‑Am which is a
Saudi‑Shishakli paper, Kamil told me that these two persons
negotiated with him to buy Al‑Hayat press for an enticing sum on
condition that the press be moved to Damascus. He rejected the
offer and ridiculed them. The Saudis are using many means by
which they buy people's conscience. It 1s essential that we
should face them with some strength and I hope that Ahmad Pasha
ar‑Rawi (Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon) on his return will be
provided with adequate means to face this frightening current,
especially during the electoral campaign.
I met Sultan Pasha for a lengthy
meeting. He presents his greetings to you. He told me that he
had received your last message and that he intentionally did not
send the answer because the bearer knew what the message
was. 'That is why I showed him that I didn’t want to
answer at that time and that he should never reveal what that
message contained.' He asked me to request you to send a man
whom you trust, either by way or Amman or by way of Damascus to
come to an understanding with him, and I suggest that the
messenger should come to Damascus so that we may agree on the
Sultan requests that this matter should be confidential between you and him, and I suggest that you send Shaqrani to Damascus or any other whom you trust so that I may come to an understanding with him before his going to Suweida. The condition of the army, although not very good, does not call for pessimism. The group or Akram (Haurani) has begun to dwindle and we hope that the Army Law will soon be legislated in the Parliament so that the Minister or Defence will be able to control the army.
(After complimentary closing sentences)
planning on my return to Iraq to go to the United States for a
medical check‑up, to receive an honorary degree from my alma
mater, Columbia University, and to have talks with President
Eisenhower and Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. The
Syrians, hearing of my plan, asked me to raise the issue of
Syrio‑Iraqi federation both in London and Washington and to make
sure that the West would not permit Israel to attack Syria in
case she federated with Iraq. (Israel had been attacking her
neighbours every now and then on one pretext or another.)
In the first week of July 1954, I took off for London and the United States. In London I had a meeting with Mr Selwyn Lloyd, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. One of the important topics we discussed was the Syrio‑Iraqi federation. I asked him what the attitude would be of Her Majesty Government toward a Syrio‑Iraqi federation. He said:
"As far as I can see, the British government would
welcome such an event and advise you to include Jordan also.
This is my personal view. But to make the matter formal, I will
submit the question to the Cabinet and give you Her Majesty’s
Government’s point of view when you return from the United
In Washington, D.C. on two successive days I had lengthy meetings with Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. At those meetings we discussed Iraqi‑American relations, Arab affairs, and the international situation. The question of Syrio‑Iraqi federation was one of the major topics we discussed. When I asked Mr Dulles about the United States' attitude regarding the federation and whether the U.S. could insure that no Israeli attack on Syria would ensue, he frankly answered that he could not support such a federation at that juncture nor could he assure that Israel would not attack Syria. He stated:
"The United States has just signed an Arms Agreement
with Iraq which has aroused the friends of Israel in the
Congress, and, if the United States supports Syrio‑Iraqi
federation, it will be taken that the United States is helping
to endanger Israel's existence. On the other hand, if Iraq joins
the Northern Tier and then federates with Syria, we can then say
that the federation is formed against Communism and not against
Mr Dulles's advice was,
accordingly, to postpone Syrio‑Iraqi federation until after Iraq
had joined the Northern Tier arrangement which eventually
developed into the Baghdad Pact. It was this line of thinking
that prompted me to be very enthusiastic for Iraqi participation
in the Northern Tier. Besides, it was my belief that Iraq should
be an active member in the free world and in promoting
international peace and cooperation.
While I was absent from Iraq, the Cabinet of
Arshad al‑'Omari, in which I was the Minister or Foreign
Affairs, resigned and Nuri Pasha was called upon to form a new
Cabinet. O:n my return to Iraq I was surprised to
find that the relatively small amount of money which was in the
budget (150,000 Iraqi dinars) and which I had planned should be
used for promoting the cause or Syria‑Iraqi federation, had been
channeled to Jordan without my knowledge and without previous
discussion. This action was taken by Prime Minister Arshad al=Omari
who was acting Foreign Minister during my absence.
Soon after reaching Baghdad I went to
Sirsank, the summer resort of H.M. the King. I went to pay my
respects and to report to the King on my discussions in London
and Washington. I was his guest, and, in the hotel I found
myself staying in the room next to Nuri Pasha's.
Nuri had been deeply hurt by my refusal to join him in the
Cabinet he had tried to form after my resignation as Prime
Minister. He said. "I thought I could always depend on you and I
never expected you to let me down." I replied, "The issue or
Syria is so significant in my political thought that I am not
ready to compromise on it." He said, "Fadhel, I want you to know
that the Syrio‑Iraqi federation can never take place unless
France is convinced. Besides, the poor Iraqis have been waiting
so long to enjoy the fruits of the oil production and now you
want the Syrians to share this little fruit with them. The
Syrians are so clever in economic affairs that they might
exploit the poor Iraqis."
I did not share either of his
fears. I did not think that Syrio‑Iraqi federation really
depended on the consent of France, nor did I think that the
benefits from the oil need be an obstacle to the
federation. After a hot debate, Nuri, in
his customary charming and obliging manner, embraced me and
said, "I will always depend on you as a loyal friend and I want
your continued support in foreign affairs. I would like you to
lead the Iraqi delegation to the United Nations as usual."
Although not a member of the
government, I continued my contacts with the Syrians as well as
with H.R.H. the Crown Prince and H.M. the King on the subject of
Syria. Some meetings were held in the royal palace to study the
situation in Syria, and I was invited to attend.
Early in 1955 president Adnan Menderes came to Baghdad and
signed the Pact of Turkish‑Iraqi‑Mutual Cooperation which later
on developed into the Baghdad Pact. I was very enthusiastic in
promoting and supporting the Pact because, in my view, it was
essential both for security and interest of Iraq, and because it
might pave the way for an eventual Syria‑Iraqi federation. In
chapter on the Baghdad Pact I describe Egypt's strong reaction
against the Pact and how the Egyptian wished to arouse' Arab
public opinion against it. This led Egypt to dispatch its
vociferous Minister of National Guidance, Major Salah Salem to
Syria to incite the Syrian government and people against the
fact. The visit was intended to draw the Syrian government away
from Iraq and to combat any idea of Syria’s joining the Baghdad
Pact. The statement runs as follows:
Messers Sabri al‑'Asali; President or the Council of Ministers, and Khalid al‑'Azm, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Acting Minister of Defence, on the Syrian side, and Major Salah Salem, Minister of National Guidance, from the Egyptian side, met in Damascus from the 26th of February to the 2nd of March, and, since agreement between the Egyptian and Syrian governments was complete, the two parties held consultations about the Arab situation in the actual circumstances then existing. They exchanged views about means leading to the strengthening of the Arab unity, politically, militarily and economically, and they found that the following principles guarantee the realization of those aims:
1. Not to join the Turkish‑Iraqi Alliance or any other alliance.
2. To establish an Arab organization for mutual defence and economic cooperation based on the following principles:
a. To mutually undertake to ward off an aggression against any of the joining states
b. To set up one permanent, common Command with permanent headquarters which will supervise the training of the military forces put by each Arab state at the disposal of the command. It shall also deal with arming, organizing and distributing these forces in accordance with the common defence plan.
c. No state, member of this organization, shall enter any international military or political agreement without the consent of the other member of the organization.
d. To strengthen economic cooperation between the members of the organization in preparation for the realization of economic unity between them, the two parties undertake the following matters:
i. To establish an Arab bank which will issue Arab currency and to establish a technical committee to lay down the foundation of this project and prepare it for approval.
ii. To revise the present system of inter‑Arab commercial exchange which is in operation now with the intention of strengthening and fortifying this cooperation by exempting local produce and manufactured goods from customs duties or by reducing these duties to the lowest possible limit.
iii. To encourage the formation of companies representing common Arab shares and capital which will undertake vast agricultural and industrial projects and establish common air and naval transport, insurance activities, etc.
iv. To establish an Arab economic council to direct economic activity and supervise it.
3. To contact Arab governments in order to present the principles and foundations mentioned in this statement and to invite the Arab states to accept them and to meet in a conference which will lay down the texts with their details, to ratify them and execute them as soon as they ere sanctioned. This conference should be held during the month of March and it should include the Heads of Governments, Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Ministers of Defence and Finance, and the Chiefs of the General Staff of the Armies.
From reading the statement one can easily deduce that the talk about a military and economic alliance was being used as camouflage and propaganda to make setting for Articles 1 and 2 and paragraph C which were Iraq and Iraq's policy of joining the Baghdad Pact. Khalid al-Agm had hopes of becoming the next president of the Syrian republic with the help of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France, the Leftists and the Army. He paid a visit to Riyadh, Amman and Beirut. After a meeting which I had in Beirut with President Camille Shamoun and the Syrian nationalist Mikhail Ilian, it, was suggested that Khalid al‑'Azm should be invited by the Iraqi government to visit Iraq and that he should be, treated in a very friendly and hospitable manner. I conveyed the idea to Baghdad, and soon after that Khalid al‑'Azm did visit Baghdad. While there we had very frank talks about Iraq's policy of joining the Baghdad pact and we emphasized to him the fact that the Baghdad Pact served Iraqi and Arab security and did not in any way interfere with the Arab Mutual Defence Pact. There was no discussion of federation between us, but we talked at length about Syrio‑Iraqi cooperation. To my mind that visit had no concrete results, but it was useful as a counter‑measure to Egyptian and Saudi propaganda in Syria.
I met Khalid al‑'Azm on more than one occasion in Damascus and I found that he had no intention of letting Syria federate with any part of the Arab world. At one time he frankly told me that he would not make any move unless all the Arab states decided to move together. He said,
"The Arab states should move together at all and any cost."
I asked, "If one
Arab state does not want to move, should we all remain static?
Or, if the Arab states are heading for an abyss, should we all
follow? He answered in the affirmative. He believed
in closer cooperation between the Arab states and he sided with
the Arab state that provided him with political and material
support. Iraq was not the first in that category.
This, to my mind, represents a
true picture of Khalid al‑'Azm's Arab policy. It was reasonable
and realistic as far as it went, but it divided the Arab world
into two camps with Syria and Iraq on opposite sides, a
principle which I could not accept.
During the Asian‑African Conference in Bandung in April 1955, a meeting was held in the residence of Prime Minister Gamal 'Abdul Nasir which was attended by President Gamal and Salah Salem of Egypt, Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia, and Khalid al‑'Azm and Ahmad Shuqairi of Syria. This tri‑partite meeting was probably held to counteract the policy of joining the Baghdad Pact and to ward against any potential Syrio‑Iraqi federation. I was informed that they had agreed among themselves on the following plan for the three states, a plan which was never put into effect:
1. A permanent council of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs to coordinate foreign policy and unify diplomatic representation. Political treaties undertaken collectively.
2. A council of Ministers of Defence to plan for defence in times of war and peace with a unified Command whose headquarters should be in Damascus and would have under its command units from the armies of the three states. A common financial pool representing the ratio of 10% of the budget of each state to be spent for common defence.
3. An economic
council to unify the economic legislation and economic policy
for the member states. Removal of the customs barriers between
the states, considering these states as one common market with
free movement of money, persons and goods, and a unified
In February 1955 the Iraqi government received the following report from its Embassy in Damascus:
Confidential, personal and very urgent.
His Excellency the President of the Syrian
Republic (Hashim al‑Atasi) believes that the political situation
in Syria is very serious and should receive the greatest
attention from Iraq, for the friends of Iraq and Syria are
fighting not only the adversaries of Iraq among the Syrians, but
foreign powers hidden behind them. France, Saudi Arabia and
Egypt are exerting all their efforts and powers in order to draw
Syria to a line inimical to Iraq. Although the purpose of each
of these states is different and their policies are varied, they
all consciously or unconsciously work to serve the Communists of
Syria. There is nothing on the other side to face the
situation with a decisive action which could check these
currents. The parties and groups known as inimical to Iraq and
its politics, foremost of whom is Khalid al‑'Azm and his group,
and Akram al‑Haurani and his supporters, receive help from these
three states. Besides, the Communist party, due to its activity
and the help it receives, is increasing the number of its
supporters. On the other side, the members of the People's
Party, which fundamentally believes in the policy of Iraq and
federation with it, have been afflicted with a great deal of
despair and disgust in addition to the timidity which
characterizes them. They cannot, in their present condition,
undertake any active role while they see their colleagues,
members of the Nationalist Party; betray them at the most
The President of the Republic spoke to the
American Ambassador in his meeting yesterday and told him, “Your
allies and your money combat the genuine wish of the Syrian
people and combat your own interests. Your ally, France, with
the pillars she has in the Syrian army, and with the money which
she spends, cooperates with Saudi money and Egypt to push Syria
against the United States. ' He spoke to him about the
federation with Iraq and told him that 80% Syrians support the
federation with Iraq because it’s the only path for saving Syria
from the chaos into which it has fallen and from the danger
which will threaten it in the future. But the Syrian people
cannot express this will of theirs because or the collusion or
the forces of the army with the states opposing the idea or the
federation, and because the Americans, the British and the Turks
stand as onlookers if they do not also prevent federation under
Israeli pressure or for other purposes.”
When the American Ambassador asked the President of the Republic for material proof showing French interference, the President showed him a report from the Ambassador of Syria in Egypt in which he says, “The French Ambassador in Egypt told him, in a tone of warning, that France cannot stand with folded arms vis‑α‑vis the alignment of Syria with Iraq. It also resists Syria's entry into the Turkish‑Iraqi agreement (Baghdad Pact).”
The President of the Republic informed some of his intimates that he is considering resigning so as not to bear responsibility nor events which might happen to Syria in the future due to it’s moving towards Communism. Syria will declare its enmity to Iraq if elements inimical to Iraq's policy take over the government by the collusion of Khalid al‑'Azm, Akram al‑Haurani and the Chief of the General Staff of the Army to bring in a new government. The Nationalist Party is leaning toward them.
Those close to him told him that the
Constitutional provisions do not permit him now to relinquish
authority or to refrain from asking the man, nominated by the
majority of the Parliament, to form the Government. He may,
however, resign after forming a new Cabinet if it follows a
policy which he does not approve. The President of the Republic
believes that Iraq, for its on safety, for the future of the
Arab cause, and for the future of Syria, must exert its efforts
in order to avert the danger. There are two measures ‑‑ external
and internal. Externally, Iraq should urge its friends and
allies, Turkey, Britain and the United States to support its
plan for Syria and to support the confederation. Internally Iraq
should provide counter propaganda in Syria, for Syrian public
opinion is naive and they believe the falsehoods which are
repeated over and over by newspapers bought by the French,
Saudis and Egyptians. Reports presented to him from respective
departments emphasize that the Saudis alone have spent the
amount of one million dollars to cause noise about changing the
Cabinet and the deviation of Syria away from Iraq. This is
besides what other parties have spent in other quarters, for
they have bought the majority of the press, and they have bought
many officers, members of parliament and prominent political
personalities. He believes that the opportunity is open for Iraq
to work if Iraq combines its international efforts with some
propaganda which will cost nothing but a small ratio of what it
costs others. He is afraid that, if Iraq does not move to avert
the danger, other states, Turkey for example, may undertake some
decisive action. Turkey's Charge d'Affaires here has notified
the Prime Minister that his Government cannot stand with folded
arms if a Cabinet should come dominated by Akram Haurani and the
Leftists, for that would provide a danger to Turkey's life. The
President is afraid lest the Turkish Government take this as a
pretext to occupy al‑Jezira and Aleppo, and the President
believes that Iraq is more capable than any other to win Syria
to its side before the time has passed.
It was in the spring of 1955, at the
Bandung Conference, that I had a frank talk about Syria with
President Nasir of Egypt. During one of the recesses of the
Conference meetings President Nasir and I had a chat together
about Iraqi‑Egyptian relations. Iraq had already signed the
Baghdad Pact and a radio war had ensued between Egypt and Iraq.
After reaching an agreement that an end should be put to this
radio war, President Nasir told me, "Dr Jamali, hands off
I replied, "I think it is I who should tell you, hands off Syria. As for Iraq and Syria, there are no natural boundaries between them. The Euphrates unites them. Iraq's access to the Mediterranean is through Syria. Syria's economy complements Iraqis. It is natural that the two states should confederate. If they do not confederate they should develop close cooperation. If they do not actively cooperate they should at least be friendly toward each other. Anything less than that would lead to trouble in the area. That is why I beg you to stop the anti‑Iraq campaign in Syria if you have national Arab interests at heart." That was the last of our political talks, and I never had the opportunity of talking to President Nasir after Bandung.
On my return to Iraq the Syrian affair
was reviewed a few times at the royal palace. In the spring of
1955 a Syrian parliamentary delegation of prominent Syrians was
invited to Iraq on the occasion of Iraqis Development Week. It
was Iraq's intention to show our Syrian brethren some of the
achievements of the Development Board. They were also taken to
Habbaniyeh to see the former British airbase which had been
handed over to Iraq after the signing of the Baghdad Pact.
A meeting was held in the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs where Syrio‑Iraqi relations and cooperation were
discussed. Those present from the Syrian side included, Jihad
al‑Hawwash, Mohammed al‑æAish, Elias Nowfal, Majdeddin
al‑Jabiri, Salahuddin al‑Bitar, æAdnan al‑Atasi, Ihsan
al‑Jabiri, Faidhi al‑Atasi and Akram
al‑Haurani. From the Iraqi side those present
included, Prime Minister Nuri as‑Sa lid, and the following
former Prime Ministers: Tawfiq as‑Suwaidi, Saleh Jabr, Noureddin
Mahmoud, Mustapha al‑‘Omari, Arshad al‑‘Omari, Jamil al‑Madfa’i
and Fadhel Jamali. Two main topics of conversation were
discussed at length and various points of view considered. The
first topic was Arab relations to the West. Akram al‑Haurani
defended the idea of positive neutrality. He said, "Positive
neutrality does not permit alliance with the West." He asked
that the West should rectify the injustice they had dealt to the
Palestine Arabs, but he admitted that it would be better for the
Arabs to be armed from whatever source than to remain unarmed.
Elias Nowfal expressed his
disappointment with the West and said, "It is the unfairness of
Western policy that is making us lean to the East, and that is
way our cooperation with the West should be conditional."
Nuri Pasha, the Prime Minister,
was very frank and clear about Arab relations to the west. He
flatly rejected the idea of positive neutrality and maintained
that the Arabs had to choose either the Eastern camp or the
Western camp. "As far as Iraq is concerned we have chosen the
Western camp because our economic, political and defence
interests are with the West. Our oil goes to the west and we are
receiving military help from them."
I maintained that Iraq and the West
were in the same boat. Our efforts should be exerted to come to
an understanding with the West on the basis of mutual respect,
fairness, justice and cooperation. We must make the west see and
appreciate Arab rights and realize for its own interests, as
well as the interests of the Arab world, that all Arab rights
should be respected everywhere in the Arab world and in
Palestine in particular. I said t hat any political machinations
and pressures that undermine our good relations with the west
are not in the interests of the Arab world. "We have freed
ourselves from Western political domination. We must seek
western help and friendship in facing the dangers of Zionism and
The second topic discussed was inter‑Arab politics Akram al‑Haurani said that any idea of Arab unity required the freezing of the Baghdad Pact. He was vigourously told that the Baghdad Pact would never stand in the way of Iraq's strengthening its relationship with other Arab states. It was meant to be a shield protecting Iraq and hence protecting all the Arab world. It did not reduce Iraq's responsibility or interest in the affairs of the Arab world. On the contrary, Iraq would always use the Baghdad pact meetings to defend Arab rights to freedom and justice everywhere.
In that meeting Iraq's stand on inter‑Arab relations was summarized as follows:
1. Iraq will not encourage or force any Arab state to join the Baghdad Pact. Other Arab states may join if they choose to do so.
2. Iraq seeks to strengthen the Arab Collective Security and Military Cooperation Pact with the intention of restoring Arab rights to Palestine.
3. Iraq will always take a positive attitude towards unity and federation of the Arab states which should be entered freely and with good will.
Thus the Syrians got a very clear idea
of where Iraq stood in world affairs as well as in Arab affairs.
After an evening dinner given in honour
of the Syrian delegation in the Municipal Hall of Baghdad I
asked the well‑known Syrian politicians, Akram al‑Haurani and
Salhuddin al‑Bitar, to come to my house. Those two men
represented the Baath socialist Party at that time, abd,
although they had welcome Iraqi’s help in eliminating the
dictatorship of Shishakli from Syria, they were not enthusiastic
about Syrio‑Iraqi federation at this time. We had a lengthy
debate together which lasted until the early hours of the
morning. Salahuddin al‑Bitar's argument was that Syria could not
federate with Iraq while Iraq was being run by Nuri as‑Sa'id and
while British influence prevailed on him.
I argued that the question of Syrio‑Iraqi
federation should be dealt with irrespective of personalities
and passing political conditions. Iraq was no longer under
British domination as propaganda had made it out to be, and Nuri
as‑Sa'id was not always in the saddle in Iraqi politics, nor
would he last forever. "Besides, if you think that Iraq's
political situation is not healthy and not favourable to the
Arab cause, why don't you join and help improve its conditions?"
To this argument Akram al‑Haurani concurred, but I could see very well that anti‑Iraq propaganda, both from Arab sources and Communist‑Zionist sources had made a great impression on some so‑called Socialist Syrians. It was during the summer of 1955 that the Royal Palace took up the Syrian issue again since Syria was headed towards a presidential election, and Iraq was concerned that the President to be elected should be a friend of Iraq and one sympathetic to rapprochement. Tawfiq as‑Suwaidi and I were invited to go to Sirsank to meet with His Majesty the King and His Royal Highness the Prince Regent. We were asked to go to Lebanon to watch conditions in Syria and to try to encourage candidates friendly to us.
The candidate most favoured by Iraq was Rushdi al‑Kikhia, the head of the People's Party. Other candidates favoured by Iraq were Lutfi al‑Haffar and Sabri a1‑'Asali of the Nationalist Party. Three other candidates were Khalid as‑'Azm, a Syrian statesman who was pro‑Russian, Shukri al‑Quwatli, an Arab nationalist who was pro‑Saudi and pro‑Egypt, and Akram al‑Haurani, a Socialist. Quwatli had returned to Syria in the summer of 1955 in time for the elections.
The most popular and the strongest of the six possible candidates was Rushdi al‑Kikhia. He was a clean, respectable and scrupulous man. But Rushdi al‑Kikhia declined to nominate himself is spite of his being encouraged by many people. Iraq thus lost its favourite candidate. The reason for al‑Kikhia's reluctance to become a candidate was that he thought that the Syrian army had become addicted to politics and that he would not like to become a puppet president at the mercy of the army.
While in Lebanon I attended a meeting in Suq al‑Gharb in the house of Tawfiq as‑Suwaidi with Tawfiq himself, Jamil 'Abdul Wahab, the Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon, 'Abdul Jalil ar‑Rawi, the Iraqi Charge d'Affaires in Damascus and Colonel Salih Samarra'i, the Iraqi military Attache to Syria and Lebanon. We reviewed the Syrian situation and it was decided that 'Abdul Jalil ar‑Rawi should go to Damascus and arrange a meeting between me and Shawkat Shuqair, Chief of the General Staff of the Syrian army. The meeting should be held at night and should not be publicized. The meeting was arranged, and at night I went to Damascus in the official car of our Military Attache. The car was not stopped for inspection either for customs or passport. I reached Damascus at 10 o'clock at night and went from the Iraqi Embassy to the house of Natheer Fansa without letting anybody know about my arrival. There I met General Shawkat Shuqair and for two hours we talked over the political situation of Syria. I left Damascus after midnight and reached Souq al‑Gharb about 3 o'clock in the morning. Only three persons attended the discussions, Shuqair, Fansa and myself. Herewith I give the translation of some excerpts from the memorandum that I wrote after that meeting.
Shuqair complains of the worsening of the
political situation in Syria and the intense activity of foreign
ambassadors and their intervention in the internal affairs of
Syria. The interference of these ambassadors in Syrian affairs
reminds one of similar interference in the affairs of the
Ottoman Empire 'The Sick Man of Europe', before and after World
Syrian political parties wish to exploit the Syrian army and to
depend on it to cover their own weakness. He advised the army to
avoid political parties and he thought that the army itself
should be its own party.
He said that he wanted a respectable, stable
government for Syria, a government which would be friendly and
cooperative with Iraq. I said that Iraq's objective was that
Syria should have a stable, constitutional government which
would cooperate with Iraq and come to an understanding with the
Iraqi government to the extent the Syrians themselves might deem
desirable. 'We are ready to move with any Arab country to the
extent which that Arab country desires. We have no policy which
we want to impose on anybody.'
We discussed in detail the question of the Tripartite Pact between Syria, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and I told him that the Pact was futile and absurd.
'We all know that it won't work and that it will bring no benefit to anybody. We would not have cared about it were it not intended as an offence to Iraq and as a move to isolate Iraq from her Arab sisters.
He said, “Far be it from Syria that she should intend to offend Iraq!”
“But”, I said, “that is the motive of the Egyptians; and the Saudis, and the recent statement of King Ibn Sa'ua about isolating Iraq is a proof of what I say.”
He said that he regretted that statement.
I said, “No, on the contrary. I am happy for it because I prefer that facts should appear and their motive be known rather than hidden and covered.”
He tried to find a way out of this Tri‑partite impasse. I told him, “There is no way out except by the Arab states agreeing to amend the Covenant of the Arab League and the Mutual Defence Pact, or by Syria putting some conditions in the Tri‑partite Pact which would make their acceptance difficult for the Saudis and the Egyptians. I feel that this is what could happen and that they would relieve themselves of signing the Pact.”
He said that he wanted to come to an understanding with the United States, it being understood that he could not join the Turkish‑Iraqi Pact, for, even though he was convinced of its wisdom, for his own personal interest and public security he could not make this fact public, for the people do not like Britain and America. America should show its goodwill towards Syria. The oil companies should be more lenient and increase what they pay to Syria, and Ambassador Eric Johnston, special representative of President Eisenhower, should be called to be fair to the Arabs in the distribution of waters.
We discussed the Communist danger in Syria
and he affirmed that he had started combatting Communism. We
reviewed the Communist danger in the Syrian army and Foreign
Service. We discussed the Baath Party. He said the Party wanted
cooperation with Iraq. We also discussed his cooperation with
the People's Party. said that he was inclined to believe that
Nazim al Qudsi of the People's party would win the election. He
also said that there was small hope for Quwatli or 'Azm to
succeed. He said that he was going to arrange for a meeting with
Rushdi al‑Kikhia. He said that he greatly respected the
President of the Republic, Hashim al‑Atasi, but that he had no
confidence in his son 'Adnan.’ I asked, 'Why don't the two
parties, the People's Party and the Nationalist party, cooperate
with each other?' He said, 'The People's Party uses
intrigues and clever methods and they want their party alone to
rule although they don't have a majority in the Parliament.'
I learnt from him that the relations of France with
Syria and with Khalid al'Azm were strained and that France had
stopped providing them with arms, and that was why they wanted
arms from the United States. I repeated to him that Iraq
desired a stable, constitutional government for Syria, one
respected by the Syrian people, friendly to Iraq, and
considering Iraq as the first brother. He confirmed the
necessity that Iraq should occupy first place in relation to
Syria, and that Egypt and Saudi Arabia should in no way replace
Iraq, for Saudi Arabia could not replace Iraq militarily, and
Egypt could not replace Iraq economically.
I explained to him, 'Iraq is strong and is
getting stronger and richer. Any Syrian policy which does not
move in the line of fraternity with Iraq would be a mistaken
policy. Iraq believes in federation (ittihad), but that should
be attained by the wish of the people with complete liberty and
by constitutional methods. We harbour no specific plan and we
have no specific policy which we wish to impose on Syria. False
propaganda is being made against Iraq, namely, that Iraq wishes
to join Syria in order to disband its army and dominate it. I
know of no responsible Iraqi who would consider such a policy.
We want Syria to be an independent state, brotherly to Iraq. Any
cooperation, rapprochement, or federation must issue from the
will of the Syrians themselves and not from invitations from
Iraq, or intrigues, or coup d'etats. If the hearts are not
united, there is no good in any political unity.
He spoke about the mistakes of Iraqi politics in Syria during the last 10 years. I answered that the mistakes started with Syria at the hands of Quwatli who forgot what Iraq had done for Syria's independence and after that mutual mistakes began to follow one after the other.
We reviewed the policy of Syria, Iraq and Egypt in the Arab League and in the international field, and I proved to him that Iraq's policy had been realistic and stable. Experience had proved its validity. 'Our brethren in Cairo are not realistic. They lack experience in the international field.' He agreed that the Egyptians talk a lot but in practice are not realistic.
We separated with the hope of meeting again on another occasion, and I promised him that Iraq was ready to render any service for the good of Syria, and that I, personally, was ready to cooperate with the Syrians.
In conclusion, I find that the Chief of the General Staff has a new outlook towards Iraq and the United States. I do not know whether that is temporary or permanent. Anyway, we must profit from this new trend. As for the Presidency, so long as the army thinks that neither Quwatli nor 'Azm might succeed, I see no big difference among the rest, especially since Sabri al 'Asali, Nazim al‑Qudsi and Lutfi al‑Raffar all have good sentiments toward Iraq.
Dring the summer of 1955, while staying at Mont Vert Hotel in Broummana, I had lengthy discussions with several Syrian visitors.from both the Nationalist Party and the people's party one was Jalal as‑Sayyid,a very interesting serious nationalist who was a sincere unionist. He was a strong pillar of the Ba'ath Party. He came from Deir ez‑Zor, the part of Syria on the Euphrates adjacent to Iraq where the people are related by family and tribal ties to the northern part of Iraq. It has often been considered as a natural part of Iraq.
In Broummana I also had two lengthy meetings with the
ideologist of the Baath Party, Michel 'Aflaq, who summered in a
house just below my hotel. I called on him one evening and we
had a long talk about Arab and world affairs. I invited him the
next evening to have dinner with me and Dr Constantin Zuraiq. I
found Michel 'Aflaq to be a theoretician with very little
understanding of the realities of the Arab world. He did not
impress me much and I thought that he did not provide the type
of leadership which the Arab youth needed. He used slogans, some
of which were high‑sounding and noble in words but he had no
practical programme in deeds. Besides, his preaching of
secularism or laicism would rob the Arab nation of its soul and
its message to the world ‑‑ the message of faith in one God,
human brotherhood, justice and equality for all mankind. His
attitude toward Syrio‑Iraqi rapprochement was theoretical and
non‑realistic as well. 'Aflaq's later role in Syrio‑Iraq
politics confirmed my first impression. His recent ideological
message has been a call for a rapprochement between the Baath
Party and the Communist Party!
Another very interesting personality summering in Broulnmano was Colonel Ghassan al‑Jadid, an ardent member of the Syrian Nationalist Party who was later assassinated in Beirut by the Syrian army. I saw him a couple of times through arrangements made by the Iraqi Military Attache. Ghassan al‑Jadid, who was from the Alawite district of Syria, played a role in the downfall of Shishakli. He had to quit Syria after the assassination of 'Adnan al‑Malki by a member of the Syrian Nationalist Party. Ghassan al‑Jadid, a brilliant, courageous, vigourous army officer, was very enthusiastic for the Syrio‑Iraqi federation. He was ready to play any role which would lead to that objective. His Party believed in the unity of the Fertile Crescent ‑‑ Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine ‑‑ and that the people of these countries formed one nation which had its distinct characteristics, and which formed a part of the Arab world. They were not part of one Arab nation, for, to them, the Arabs are not one nation, but several nations. This ideological distinction made the Party seem heretical in the sight of the Arab nationalists who considered the people of the whole Arab world to be one nation.
The Syrian Nationalist Party had its Para‑military organization whose members were well disciplined, courageous and adventuresome. That is why the founder of the Party, Antun Sa'ada had a clash with the Lebanese government which led to a good deal of bloodshed. Sa'ada went to Syria where he was betrayed by Husni az‑Za'im who handed him over to the Lebanese government headed by the great Arab nationalist, Prime Minister Riyadh as‑Sulh. Ryadh had him tried and shot, Soon after, while visiting Jordan, Ryadh himself was shot dead by the Party.
I met several other members or the Syrian
Nationalist Party including George 'Abdul Messih, Asad
al‑Ashqar, Moneer Ba'alebeki, Adeeb Qaddura, and most important,
as far as I was concerned, my old friend and classmate, Sai'id
Taqiyiddin, a graduate of the American University of Beirut,
whose literary genius, charm and devotion I had always admired.
I was fully convinced of the sincerity or this group in their desire to achieve Syrio‑Iraqi rapprochement. I worked hard to convince them that their ideology needed revision as rar as the Arab world went. They later changed the name or their party from the Syrian Nationalist Party to the National Socialist Party. My contacts with this party, in spite of our ideological divergence, continued to be friendly and cooperative until the downfall of the Iraqi royal regime in 1958.
Shukri al‑Quwatli was carrying on his electoral campaign with Saudi money which was lavishly provided. A telegram from our Military Attache in Amman gave us an indication of what was happening. He stated:
propaganda activity on behalf of Quwatli and against unity
(Syrio‑Iraqi) has appeared recently from the Mufti (Haji
Ameen al‑Husaini) and from
the members of the Syrian Deuxieme Bureau (lntelligence) who are
still in Jordan. Behind all that is Saudi gold. All these
and the Press are anti‑Iraq.
the election I sent a message to Rushdi al‑Kikhia charging him
with a great historical responsibility for evading the duty of
leading the country in the path of our common ideals.
At the end of the summer of 1955 Shukri al‑Quwatli was elected President of Syria. I sent him a telegram of congratulations and best wishes. His answer to my telegram ran as follows: "I received with thanks and appreciation your fine congratulations and I reciprocate with you your good wishes for the Arab nation and the attainment of its goals in unity and strength."
With the coming of Quwatli a new chapter of
alienation from Iraq started. From then on Syrian politics began
to move in a direction away from Iraq and two new forces
prevailed in Syria. One was the growth of army influence in
Syrian politics, and the second was the growth of Communist and
Instead of turning to Iraq for help and
cooperation, Syrian politics, with strong Egyptian Arab
propaganda, turned towards Egypt. The BaÆath Socialist Party
grew in influence and importance and Akram al‑Haurani, its most
prominent politician became Head of the National Assembly and
'Afif al‑Bizri, a confirmed Communist, took over the army and
became Chief of the General Staff.
It may be interesting to add to this report the translation of a letter which I received from Natheer Fansa, a well‑known Syrian journalist and a brother‑in‑law of the first dictator of Syria, Husni as‑Za'im.
You have undoubtedly heard the latest news from Syria and to what extent it has gone to the Left, especially after the recent statements of Sayed Sabri al‑'Asali to the press in which he expressed the necessity of marching in company with the communist states and warning and threatening anyone who goes contrary to this trend. And I believe you may have read our strong reactions to his statement and our ridicule of his stand and his latest trend. But what is the use, dear Sir, while Syria has been overwhelmed by this sweeping Communist propaganda, especially after the Western stand on the question of the Suez Canal and on arming the Arabs?
I do not want to make long statements for the subject should leave the realm of words, but I want to repeat what I told your Excellency some days ago in the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut, namely, the disease is known and the remedy available...
The Minister of Defence is your friend. The Chief of the General Staff is on your side, and some great officers are still loyal to you. Then there are some great political men like Rushdi Kikhia, Michail Ilian, 'Adnan al‑Atasi, Faidhi al‑Atasi and His Excellency Hashim Beg (Ex‑President of the Syrian Republic) all are with you and their hearts bleed for the present situation and for the recent trend.
Dear Excellency, the danger is not limited to Syria alone. It is now more serious than you think and more difficult than you imagine. I am afraid lest this danger will approach you and I have exact information to confirm this... I am very much afraid, very much, dear Sir.
Conditions have reached a stage when it is not permissible at all that Iraq should take such a passive stand and I‑told‑you‑so attitude. You may be entitled and have the full right just to look on and laugh at us, but I repeat that the situation is serious and the condition is dangerous. 'Your friend is he who tells you the truth and not he who says Yes to you.' Some friends asked me to go to Baghdad to explain to you the seriousness of the situation, but I thought that I had better write to you before coming. If you are ready 'to listen' I am at your disposal.
Please, Sir, accept my sincerest respect.
During the 1956 assault of Israel, Britain and France on
Egypt, one of the first things the anti‑Iraq forces in Syria did
was to blow up the pumping stations of the Iraqi Petroleum
Company near Homs. The flow of oil from Iraq to the
Mediterranean was cut for several months. Iraq lost something
like 50 million pounds sterling of its revenue that
year. It was at this juncture that Nuri as‑Sa’id
began to feel how vital Syria was to Iraq and he began to think
about the matter seriously. It was then that he started to work
for the overthrow of the Syrian regime. I was at the United
Nations General Assembly in New York City when I heard about the
failure of a plot in Syria against the Syrian government. Nuri,
without my knowledge, had contacted Colonel Shishakli, who had
been overthrown by Iraq. Shishakli had come to Beirut and asked
for 30,000 Iraqi dinars, 10,000 of which he received in advance
from General Ghazi ad‑Daghistani. After having entered Syria
incognito and having studied the situation with his army
friends, Shishakli found that he was unable to arrange a coup
and left the Middle East definitively. The meetings
which had been held in Beirut between Shishakli and Daghistani
and some prominent Syrians included an agent who went and
reported to the Syrian government, and some prominent Syrians
had to suffer as a result. I must put on record here that I knew
nothing about that movement until the news became public.
After my return from the United States
Nuri told me all about the plot and said, "Thank God that it did
not succeed, for, had it succeeded, they might have considered
it as part of the Israeli, French, British
aggression." In the summer
of 1957 I was the guest of the Turkish government for a month.
During this period I was in touch with my Syrian brethren,
especially Mikhail Ilian, a prominent member of the Syrian
Nationalist Party who was living in Hilton Hotel, Istambul,
where I was staying. His Majesty the King of Iraq and his uncle
were summering on the King's private yacht in the Bosphorus. One
afternoon His Royal Highness Prince 'Abdul Ilah, Tawfiq
as‑Suwaidi, who was also a guest of the Turkish government, and
I were taking tea with Mikhail Ilian in his suite at the Hilton.
The issue of the Communist takeover of the Syrian army was
discussed with the possible repercussion of such a move on Iraq.
Tawfiq as‑Suwaidi suggested contacting the Turkish government
and seeking its advice on the situation.
A few days later I had a telephone call
from the Iraqi Ambassador, Nejib ar‑Rawi, asking me to attend,
before noon, at the Yeldiz Palace. H. M. the King, H. R. R.
Prince 'Abdul Ilah, H.E. the President of the Turkish Republic,
Jalal Bayyar, Premier 'Adnan Menderis, Tawfiq as‑Suwaidi, the
Iraqi Ambassador, some Turkish officials and I were there. We
discussed the situation and then had lunch together. It was
confirmed by the Turks that the Communist danger was growing in
Syria and that the danger would affect the whole area of the
Middle East. Mr Menderes suggested that both Iraq and Turkey
should approach the United States.
At that time Iraq had 'Ali Jawdat
al‑Ayoubi as Prime Minister. 'Ali Jawdat wished to get along
with the Syrian regime as it stood. He did not seem to be
concerned or worried about the Communist danger so he had
nothing to tell the United States. Turkey, on the other hand,
immediately contacted the United States, and within a few days
Mr Loy Henderson came to Istanbul to discuss the situation with
us. In the meeting Tawfiq as‑Suwaidi had left Istanbul.
A few days after his departure I was
called again to attend at Yeldiz Palace. This time Mr Loy
Henderson was present at the meeting. He confirmed the growth of
the Communist influence in Syria, but he said that the United
States did not wish to intervene and left the matter to the
states in the area. If the states in the area were involved in
any trouble, then America was bound to come to the aid of her
allies and the Sixth Fleet might be called upon. Turkey said,
"We do not wish to intervene in Syria. We leave it to Iraq. It
is an inter‑Arab problem, but, if Iraq is threatened and
involved, we are ready to help Iraq." The Iraqi government,
headed by Premier 'Ali Jawdat, saw no danger coming from
Communism in Syria.
Mr Henderson, in a private meeting with me, asked if Iraq was really going to move and do something about Syria. I answered frankly that, considering 'Ali Jawdat's present mood, I foresaw no such possibility. In Syria the Ba’ath Party and the Communists were competing for power, and the communists were successful in some municipal elections. That scared the Ba’ath and other Syrian nationalists. Some thought that the best way to save the situation would be to throw Syria into the lap of Nasir. The Syrian parliament, by an overwhelming majority, voted for the union with Egypt, and a Syrian delegation went to Cairo and offered Syria to Nasir unconditionally on a golden tray.
At that time I was in Ankara with Nuri
as‑Sa'id attending a Baghdad Pact meeting. I immediately wrote
an article for my daily newspaper, AI‑'Amal, which was appearing
in Baghdad. The article was entitled, "Defiance or Unity"
(Tahaddi Em Ittihad). That article aroused a storm of opposition
against me. How could Fadhel Jamali condemn Arab unity! In truth
I was not against Arab unity, but I was against the unnatural,
illogical step taken in uniting Syria with Egypt before Syrian
unity with Iraq. I would not have objected to Syrio‑Iraqi unity
with Egypt. Besides I do not believe in Egyptian domination over
any other Arab state. I believe in a federation based on
equality and brotherhood, but not in amalgamation.
My article raised a storm, and after that a political war ensued
between me and President Nasir. Addressing one of the greatest
rallies ever held in the Marja Square of Damascus, President
Nasir spoke to the masses telling them: "AI‑Jamali‑‑ and you all
know who al‑Jamali is ‑‑ al‑Jamali is an agent of imperialism
and his paper is financed by the imperialists." In
an article answering President Nasir I said, "I do not blame
H.E. the President for what he said about Jamali, for he may not
know him well enough personally, but I do blame his Egyptian and
Syrian aides who know Jamali's services to the cause of Arab
independence and freedom and who may not have told him the
truth. Besides, my paper was financed by a mere thousand dinars
put up half and half myself and my colleague, Dr 'Abdul Majeed
'Abbas, with no financial help from any outside source If the
imperialists should ever provide me with any money I would put
it on a silver tray and present it to H.E. President Nasir."
After the Syrian‑Egyptian union in
l958, Syria became a source of danger to the regimes of Arab
neighbours. Syrians were mobilized to penetrate Lebanon and
create a civil war inside Lebanon. The Syrians in the Deuxieme
Bureau, led by Colonel 'Abdul Hameed as‑Sarraj, were active in
Jordan and Iraq. Iraq had had two short‑lived Cabinets, one led
by 'Ali Jawdat al‑Ayoubi, and the other by 'Abdul Wahab Mirjan,
both of which were not alert to the struggle with the anti‑Iraq
forces in the Middle East.
After the Syrian‑Egyptian amalgamation, I was active in trying to convince the Palace of the urgent need for the Iraqi‑Jordanian federation. Once the principle was accepted, a new Iraqi Cabinet was formed under Nuri Pasha in 1958 in which I entered as Minister of Foreign Affairs. That Cabinet was to be a transitional one:‑
‑ to implement the Arab Union comprising Jordan and Iraq.
‑ to revise the Iraqi Constitution accordingly.
‑ to request the United States to furnish Iraq with 80 planes
‑through the Military Aid Plan. This item was never provided because of America procrastination
The fact remains that Syria was and is divided by many
political parties, provincial interests, and various stages of
culture as well as by varieties of religions and religious
sects. Although Syria presents the most vocal aspects of Arab
nationalism, it is so divided ideologically and politically that
its free democratic regime was badly abused and the parties
encouraged the army to enter politics. The army discovered that
playing politics pays. But successive coup d'etats and
assassinations deprived the country of some of its best army
officers, and, by engaging almost exclusively in politics, the
army neglected its technical advancement. Foreign powers found
ample opportunity to fish in the muddy waters of Syria. My
conversation with the Chief of the General Staff, Shuqair,
showed that many states were meddling in Syrian affairs. Saudi
Arabia had oil money flowing there. Egypt sent one of its most
active men, Mahmoud Riadh, as Ambassador. Israel had spies like
Eli Cohen. Turkey was ever alert to see what was happening to
Syria. Jordan wanted Syria to be a Hashemite state. Iraq worked
for a federation with Syria. France considered Syria as one of
its zones of influence. Britain was playing with some political
parties and groups. The Druzes are traditionally known to depend
on Britain. The United states had its Central Intelligence
Agency and its cultural and missionary work in Syria. The Soviet
Union had the Communist Party headed by Khalid Baqdash. The
prominent nationalist, Shukri al‑Quwatli, and the capitalist,
Khalid al‑' Azm were both invited to Moscow. Thus Syria was
divided from within and was never left in peace from without. In
my opinion Syria's highest interest would be best served by a
genuinely democratic nationalist government which would core for
and harmonize all its diverse elements and which would federate
with a nationalist democratic government in Iraq which
integrated all the elements of the Iraqi people. Both Syria and
Iraq represent a rich variety of human elements, but all these
elements should feel loyalty to the state and should have their
voice and interests represented in the state.
I worked hard and spent much time and
energy to promote Syrio‑Iraqi federation. I convinced my friend,
the Turkish Premier, 'Adnan Menderis, that Turkey should
withdraw its objection to such a federation. I worked hard with
the British and the American for the same objective. I had tea
with the French Ambassador in Beirut and tried to convince him
that such a federation would not undermine Lebanese
independence, and that unity would not harm the intersects of
French culture in the Middle East. I had a lengthy meeting with
the Maronite al‑Kataib Party in Lebanon assuring them that Iraq
would always respect Lebanese integrity. The only three powers
which Iraq could not overcome in Syria were Saudi Arabian
generosity, Egyptian propaganda and Israeli intrigues. Saudi
Arabian and Israeli influence in the United States both affected
the United States attitude on the question or Syrio‑Iraqi
federation. Nevertheless I was working hard to win American
acquiescence to Iraq's policy of Syrio‑Iraqi federation.
Of course the Soviet Union profited most from the condition of chaos and division. The Arab themselves and the Western powers, having no positive constructive policy for the Middle East, opened the way for Russia to easily exploit the situation. My approach to the Syrian problem was always guided by the following principles:
1. Support for the return to a constitutional system of government in Syria.
2. Readiness to move with Syria by constitutional means towards a confederation headed by H.M King Faisal II of Iraq.
3. Readiness to offer help to the Syrian government provided the request came from the legal representative body.
4. Readiness to respond to any request for help in case of internal disorder in Syria.
5. Desire that the Syrians themselves should govern Syria without any external interference.
6. Encouragement for non‑governmental, economic and personal contacts as well as enlightenment of the public on the principles of confederation through all mass media.
I must express my deep
respect and appreciation for the efforts and encouragement of
Crown Prince 'Abdul Ilah whose genuine faith in Syrio‑Iraqi
federation was an expression of honest national sentiment. It is
most unfair to accept the propaganda directed against him after
his death which said that he was working primarily to secure a
throne for himself in Syria. I have two proofs to support my
view that this insinuation was untrue. The first is that, in
discussions and arrangements with the Syrian leaders in 1955, it
was understood that King Faisal II of Iraq was to be the head of
the federation. That was Prince 'Abdul Ilah's own view. The
second was that, in 1955, when Tawfiq as‑Suwaidi and I met with
him in the presence of H. M. the King at Sarsang he bluntly told
us, "Tell the Syrians that, if the Iraqi throne stands in the
way of Syrio‑Iraqi unity, we are ready to leave the throne of
Iraq if that will serve Arab national interest." I think that
was an expression of readiness to sacrifice self‑interest for
national interest. A man who makes such a statement is not
working selfishly to get a throne for himself.
Until his death, my friend
and colleague, former Prime Minister of Iraq, Saleh Jabr worked
with faith and devotion for the Arab cause everywhere and
especially for the federation of Syria and Iraq. He never failed
to render all the encouragement, advice and help that I asked
for in my endeavour for Syrio‑Iraqi federation.
I wish also to put on
record my appreciation and esteem for Colonel Saleh Mahdi
as‑Samarra'i who was our military attache in Beirut and Damascus
until the downfall of the royal regime. He was also working with
faith and devotion for the national cause.
I should like to thank the
late Riyadh as‑Sulh, former Prime Minister of Lebanon, whose
help and guidance I shall never forget. He was a great Arab
nationalist who had Syrio‑Iraqi federation at heart. I well
remember that he arranged a meeting between Nazim al‑Qudsi and
me in Shtawra. He took me in his car from Beirut to Shtawra, a
point midway between Beirut and Damascus, while Nazim al‑Qudsi
came from Damascus. We talked about federating Iraq and Syria.
Nazim Beg was not interested in the union of Iraq and Syria
alone. He wanted all the Arab world to unite at one and the same
time. In other words, he held an all‑or‑nothing policy which
would result in nothing. My reaction was to cite a Persian
proverb which I had learnt at school. Sanga buzurg 'alamata
nazadanist. "To lift too big a stone is a sign (there will be)
no hitting." Riyadh was on my side and he worked hard to
convince Nazim Beg, but to no avail. This was only one example
of Riyadh as‑Sulh's genuine efforts.
President Camille Sham’un
of Lebanon is a true Arab nationalist and a sincere friend of
Iraq. He had Syrio‑Iraqi Federation close to his heart and he
rendered all the help and advice Lebanon could offer to the
cause. I often had meetings with him when we discussed the
question of Syrio‑Iraqi federation and reviewed the whole
situation. I benefited by listening to his comments and advice.
I have no words to express my gratitude for my friend and brother, Kamil Muruwa, for his devotion and enthusiasm for the cause of Arab unity. Kamil put his influential paper, Al‑Hayat, at the service of the sacred cause and exerted all the effort he could muster in studying the situation and reporting on developments. He went ahead with preparing and publishing a Monograph on Unity of which he distributed 10,000 copies in Syria. Another brother whose services and enthusiasm I must acknowledge is Professor Akram Zu'aiter whose eloquence and charming style in the speeches he gave and the articles he wrote for the national cause provided a big unifying force. Professor Sati' al‑Hasri, Kamil Muruwa and Akram Zu’aiter together wrote the Monograph on Unity.
In spite of everything I still think that Syrio-Iraqi federation is a living issue which will continue to be important. The federation of Syria and Iraq is a step in the path of an all-Arab federation-which remains to be achieved. Past mistake s should be avoided and obstacles, whether Arab or foreign, should be overcome. It is incumbent on those who have the destiny of the Arab nation in hand to carry the torch of unity and move forward. Syrio-Iraqi unity has to be realized soon if the Arab world is to fulfill its national aspirations.
The relations between Iraq and Lebanon have been educational,
economic and political at the same time. Lebanon is a great
centre of modern learning which provides a meeting place for
Western and Arab cultures.
Over fifty years ego, in 1921, when the Kingdom of Iraq was
established and King Faisal the First was enthroned, I was
among six students chosen by the Iraqi Ministry of Education
to study at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon. We
want by the sea route which took us via Basrah, Karachi,
Bombay, Aden and Suez to Haifa. From there we took the train
to Damascus and Beirut. The other members of the group were,
Mohammed Deshti, Khalil Feddoo, Hasan Jwad, Muhyiddin Yusuf
and Yusuf Zainal. The trip took us 39 days. Two years later
the desert route was opened, and people began to cross the
desert by automobile And bus, a journey which took some 24
hours. Today the trip by jet plane takes less than one hour.
In 1924 we suddenly and unexpectedly found that we had become
Lebanese citizens. This happened when Turkey and the Allies
signed the Lausanne Treaty, for it stated that all subjects of
the old Ottoman territories would become citizens of the
territory in which they were at the time of signing. This
provision of the Treaty made us Lebanese citizens. We had to
go through the process of re-establishing our Iraqi
citizenship based on the fact that we were in Lebanon on an
Iraqi government educational mission.
At the American University I majored in Education and minored
in Natural Sciences. In addition to my academic education, I
practised and lived inter-Arab unity. In the student society
of 'Urwat al-Wuthqa, Arab students met together -- Iraqis,
Syriens, Lebanese, Palestinians, Jordanians, Egyptians,
Sudanese -- and we all worked together for our national aims,
namely, the liberation and union of the Arab nation. Besides,
in the Brotherhood society, we learnt to practice tolerance in
inter-religious relationships. Muslims, Christians, Jews and
Druzes used to meet to learn to understand and respect each
other. Beirut was a great centre for education in Arab
nationalism And religious tolerance.
After the arrival of our group in Beirut the flow of students
from Iraq increased, from year to year. Hundreds of students
from Iraq, men and women, went to the American University of
Beirut for their university education or for a year or two as
a preparation for going to other universities-in the United
States. Very soon Iraqi graduates of the A. U. B. began to
occupy responsible positions in the various Ministries of the
After my graduation in 1927 I returned to Iraq and started
teaching at the Teacher Training College of Baghdad. In those
days Iraq needed teachers for its educational development, and
Beirut was an important center for recruiting teachers. Since
I often spent my summer vacations in Lebanon, I was Asked by
the Ministry of Education to take pert with the American
University in the selection and recruitment of teachers for
Iraq. The teachers were usually graduates of the A.U.B. and
included Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanians and Palestinians.
When crossing the desert became easy due to better mean of transportation, Iraqis began to spend the summer months in Lebanon where they could escape the heat of Baghdad and enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery of the mountains of Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea. Thus Iraqi-Lebanese educational and economic relations become well established over the years, and those of us who had been educated in Beirut felt quite at home in Lebanon. In 1929 I went to the United States for my post-graduate studies in Education. On my return in 1932 up until the end of l942, I occupied administrative posts in the Ministry of Education, progressing from Supervisor General to Director General of Education. One of my functions in Education was the recruitment of Lebanese teacher and the sending of Iraqi students to the American University of Beirut. The numbers continued to increase with the development of Iraq up till the Second World War. Beirut continues to be an important educational centre attracting students from all over the Middle East.
During World War II, I was transferred from the Ministry of Education to take up the post of Director General of Foreign Affairs. It was at this time that the Lebanese national leaders, side by side with the Syrian national leaders, began to struggle for the termination of the French Mandate and for the independence of Lebanon. In Beirut Iraq had an accomplished Consul General, Tahseen Qadri, of Syrian descent. He later became the Minister at the head of the Iraqi diplomatic mission to Syria and Lebanon. He was well known to the early Arab nationalist for he had been aide-de- camp to King Faisal I. He had the friendship of the Lebanese political leaders and he reported their views and problems faithfully. At the same time he had the cooperation and confidence of both General Edward Spears, the British representative, and Mr George Wadsworth, the American government's representative in Beirut. It was Iraqis role to plead for the termination of the French Mandate and for the recognition of Lebanon as an independent state.
When the Lebanese leaders, including Bishara al-Khuri, Riyadh as-Sulh, Camille Sham’un, Saleem Taqla, 'Abdul Hameed Karami, 'Adil 'Usayran and others, were arrested by the French I wrote a few strong article for the Iraqi press defending the cause of Lebanon. Being Director General of Foreign Affairs at the time I could not sign my own name to what I wrote and so I used a pen name. Fortunately the United Kingdom and the United States both stood by Lebanon and defence the cause of its independence. Iraq, then did its best to see to it that Lebanon and Syria were both invited to the United Nations Conference in San Francisco 1954.
At San Francisco the Iraqi delegation worked hand in hand with the four other Arab delegations, namely, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. I established Friendly relations with Lebanese delegates, Wadi’ Na'im, Josef Salem and ‘Abdullah al-Yafi. Dr Charles Malik, another member of the delegation was already an old friend and classmate of mine. We thus had fine team work in San Francisco.
I was on the Trusteeship Committee that drafted Article 78 of the United Nation Charter which put a legal end to the French Mandate over Syria and Lebanon and assured them of achieving political independence. The Article stated that "The Trusteeship system shall not apply to territories which have become Members of the United Nations, relationship among which shall be based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality."
Before the United Nations Conference in San Francisco, Lebanon had already taken part in the establishment of the League of the Arab States and from then on Iraq's cooperation with Lebanon on a new political dimension. The Iraqi delegation which I used to lead to the United Nations cooperated fully and harmoniously with the delegation of Lebanon. Our policies in the world body were very close although Iraq usually was more forward, sharp and direct in stating them.
In the autumn of 1946 the British government called for an Arab Conference in London. As Foreign Minister I led the Iraqi delegation to that Conference. It was there that I came to know Camille Sham’un for the first-time. He was the Lebanese Minister to Great Britain and he headed the Lebanese delegation to the Conference. I came to appreciate his fine qualities and his zeal in defending the Arab cause. Later on we worked together in the United Nations fighting against the partition of Palestine And the establishment of Israel. Camille Sham’un was brilliant speaker and a charming states man. Our friendship and cooperation continued when he became President of the Lebanese Republic.
Riyadh as-Sulh, a well-known Arab nationalist, who became the first Prime Minister of Lebanon, was a loyal friend to Iraq, and we could cooperate with him in all matters and situations arising in the Arab League. The Arab League was often divided about the way to handle the Palestine problem and about matters arising from differences in points or view where Iraq was on one side, and Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt on the other. Riyadh as-Sulh acted as an intermediary and harmonizer. Before going to the Arab League, we often had a preparatory meeting in Beirut which included representatives or Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Unfortunately my Syrian and Lebanese colleagues sometimes came to one decision in Beirut and then had to reverse it in the meeting in Cairo when they found Egypt or Saudi Arabia in determined opposition. Syria and Lebanon felt that the Arab League structure was not yet strong and homogeneous and that it was important to hold all the members together.
Riyadh's zeal and work for Syrio-Iraqi unity and inter-Arab harmony was genuine and memorable. I shall never forget his efforts in the last days of his life to bring me together with Nazim a1-Qudsi of Syria in Shtawra
(See Syria,129 ).
Side by side with Riyadh as-Sulh I should like to remember with appreciation the wise and respected Foreign Minister of Lebanon, Hameed Franjia, who played a constructive role in handling Lebanese relations with sister Arab states. Lebanon was deprived of a highly qualified man when he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and fell ill. In succeeding years at the United Nations I continued to cooperate with leaders of the Lebanese delegation –- Philip Taqla, Charles Helou, Fuad Ammun, and most of all, Dr Charles Malik. We usually consulted on all matters affecting our policies. We were united in defending the Arab cause, standing by the liberation movements in Asia and Africa, and following an anti-Communist line. This same policy was followed by Iraq and Lebanon in the Asian-African Conference in Bandung in 1955, where Dr Charles Malik was the embodiment of Lebanese policies and the Lebanese delegation was the closest one to the delegation of Iraq.
Lebanon, although a small Arab state, had a great advantage in
international affairs because of its Christian-Muslim
character and because it represented a meeting place for the
occident and orient, culturally and politically. In 1952 the
government of Pakistan proposed a summit meeting for the heads
of Muslim states. Teheran was suggested as the place of
meeting. I went to Karachi to discuss the matter with the
Governor-General, my friend Ghulam Mohammed. From Karachi I
flew straight to Beirut where I had a meeting with President
Bishara al-Khouri, a Maronite Christian and a broadminded,
wise statesman. I put before him the idea of the Islamic
summit conference and suggested that Lebanon should certainly
take part, for the presence of Lebanon would serve the cause
of Christian-Islamic brotherhood and mutual understanding.
Furthermore, the presence of Lebanon would ally any suspicious
or misunderstanding in the West towards the Islamic
conference. I emphasized the importance of Lebanon’s role as a
connecting link and a symbol of brotherhood between Islam and
Christianity. Sheikh Bishara listened very carefully and
responded very generously. Unfortunately the summit conference
was never realized -- not because of Lebanon, but mainly
because Egypt and Turkey for the moment showed no interest in
At the time of my Premiership, 1953-54, Beirut was the meeting
place of Syrian Arab nationalists who had sought refuge there
from the dictatorship of Shishakli. Since Shishakli's policy
was anti-Iraq in those days, we contacted the Syrian leaders
and helped them in their efforts to rid Syria of Shishakli. My
friend, ex-Premier Saleh Jabr, was requested to go to Lebanon
to achieve two purposes. The overt one was to study with the
Lebanese government the possibility of diverting the oil
pipeline which used to run from Kirkuk to Haifa to make it run
from Mafraq in Jordan to a port in Lebanon. At the same time
he was authorized to contact the Syrians and render them all
the help they needed.
I myself made occasional trips to Beirut and contacted
personalities there like Sheikh Ma’aruf Dawalibi, 'Adnan
al-Atasi, Salahuddin al-Bitar and Michel 'Aflaq, and others.
Besides, the Lebanese press, and especially Al-Hayat, owned by
my friend Kamil Muruwa, volunteered to serve the cause of
Syrio-Iraqi federation. President Sham’un was aware of Iraq's
intentions and policies with which he was quite sympathetic.
He often gave valuable advice.
One of the big obstacles to Syrio-Iraqi unity was the Lebanese
Christian fear of Muslim domination. That fear had some
historical roots from the Ottoman days and it was nurtured by
old French colonial policies. France used to consider herself
as the protector of the Christians of Lebanon.
Christian-Muslim feelings have been largely harmonized in
modern times and a sense of national unity and brotherhood
prevails today in Syria and Lebanon and religious tolerance
has become the order of the day, but there will always be some
residue of the past in the subconscious.
Fortunately, on account of Iraq's record of amity and
understanding of the Lebanese situation, the Christians of
Lebanon harboured confidence in her good intentions towards
Lebanon in the case of federation between Iraq and Syria. To
emphasize this fact and to assure my Christian brethren in
Lebanon that Iraq would always stand by them and appreciate
their point of view, I had a lengthy session at the
headquarters of Al-Kataib, the Maronite Christian Party and
Organization, with the leaders of the movement headed by
Sheikh Pierre al-Jumayyil. Accompanied by my friend, Muhsin
Saleem, a well-known lawyer, I also had an excellent session
with His Eminence the Maronite Patriarch Maoushi with whom I
had a very friendly and frank talk about Muslim-Christian
brotherhood and the need for checking the tide of materialism
and moral disintegration in modern times. Patriarch Maoushi is
a man of high standing in statesmanship and religious affairs.
He is one of those who see the value of Lebanese-Arab unity
and harmony. The important thing to the Christians of Lebanon
is to preserve the unity and identity of Lebanon and to see to
it that Lebanon is not swallowed by or amalgamated with its
Arab neighbours. This wish I was ready to support.