ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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From 50 Years Ago: Which Way in Iraq?

Weekly Note from Volume XI, No 7, February 14, 1959.

Speculation about events in Iraq, and their significance, has been notoriously erratic, particularly in the West; and it is not surpris-ing that last week’s developments in Baghdad are now being interpreted as a quickening drift to Moscow. It is true, of course, that af-ter a good deal of debate, the Iraqi Govern-ment has at last yielded to the temptation of accepting aid from the Russians – at least in principle; and it is also true that the six ministers who have left the Kassim cabinet were pro-UAR and anti-Communist. But it is a mistake to read too much into these two developments. Judgment on the question of Soviet aid must be suspended till the issue moves further from the point of mere principle, and some-thing actual is offered or taken, and the terms on which the acceptance or offer takes place. Many countries, including our own, have by now proved that Russian aid need not be deadly to the recipient merely because it is Russian. A great many other considerations are involved; and on these it is too premature to say anything yet in the case of Iraq.

There is, next, the question of the six res-ignations to consider. Do they really mean the lessening of Arab influence in the Cabinet, and an increase in the influence of the ex-treme Left? At least two points argue against such an interpretation. One of the new in-coming Ministers is that of National Guidance; and he has opened his term with a pointed suspension of a Communist paper. Secondly, all the replacements of the six resigning min-isters come from the ranks of the moderate socialists who are led, it must be noted, by a man who is a passionately devoted to the cause of evolving a purely Iraqi form of nationalism at home and neutralism abroad. Also, if the object of the whole manoeuvre was in fact to please Moscow, how does one explain the sudden display of leniency by means of which the death sentence on Colonel Aref is being withdrawn?

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