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Iraq 1900-1990

British Colonialism

1950 -1980

Born about 1937. First came into prominence when chosen by the Ba'ath Party leadership in 1959 to assassinate Kassem and wounded in the attempt. Provisional Secretary General of the thereafter Ba'ath Command after November 1963. Established himself progressively as leading Party theorist in the background, emerging into the limelight in 1969. Headed Iraqi delegation to Libya immediately after the Libyan revolution. Appointed Vice Chairman of the R.C.c, and deputy to the President November 1969, when he was also confirmed as Deputy Secretary General of the Iraqi Ba'ath. A presentable young man initially regarded as a Party extremist, but responsibility may mellow him. Nephew of Khairallah President Dalfah, the Muhafiz of Baghdad and thus related to of those Bakr by marriage, Connected, as a Tikriti, with many in the corridors of power" Biographic sketch of Saddam Hussein by British Embassy Baghdad, November 15, 1969 Source: Public Record Office, London, FCO 17/871

"He walked with me towards the door repeating in earnest terms his hope that Anglo/Iraqi relations would take a real turn for the better, and when I said my final piece (as reported in my telegram) about oil, he stood still for some time nodding his head with that peculiar air of concentration which, it had seemed to me throughout our talk, set him apart from most of his colleagues. Indeed, he struck me as a much more serious character than other Batathist leaders; and his engaging smile, when he deployed it, seemed part and parcel of his absorption with the subject in hand and not, as with so many of the others, a matter of superficial affability. I should judge him, young as he is, to be a formidable, single-minded and hard-headed member of the Batathist hierarchy, but one with whom, if only one could see more of him, it would be possible to do business It may have been an "act"; but if so, it was a skilful performance for someone with so little experience of the outside world" Telegram from British Embassy Baghdad to Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "Saddam Hussein," December 20, 1969 Source: Public Record Office, London, FCO 17/871 Page 4

"[Iraq is] suddenly projecting the image of a country that wants to play a very dynamic and accurate [sic] role in the Arab world. . . Hussein is a rather remarkable person. He's 38 years old and holds no government position. He's the Vice President of the Command Council, but he is running the show; and he's a very ruthless and recently, obviously — pragmatic, intelligent power. I think we're going to see Iraq playing more of a role in the area than it has for many years" Alfred L. Atherton, Jr Transcript, "Secretary's Principals and Regionals Staff Meeting," April 28, 1975 (Excerpt)Source: National Archives, RG 59, Department of State Records, Transcripts of Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger Staff Meetings, 1973-1977 page 3-4

"Hammadi: We read in the newspapers the United States was providing weapons to the Kurdish movement in the north of Iraq. Our attitude is not based on that; we have a reason to believe the US was not out of this. What is your view?

Kissinger: When we thought you were a Soviet satellite, we were not opposed to what Iran was doing in the Kurdish area. Now that Iran and you have resolved it, we have no reason to do any such thing, I can tell you we will engage in no such activity against Iraq's territorial integrity ,and are not.

Hammadi: This is a result of that agreement. That you think we are not satellites

Kissinger: We have a more sophisticated understanding now. We think you are a friend of the Soviet Union but you act on your own principles" Memorandum of Conversation, Henry Kissinger et al with Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Sa'dun Hammadi, December 17, 1975

"Both sides are mistaken. Washington's policy traces an even longer, more shrouded and fateful history. Forty years ago, the Central Intelligence Agency, under President John F. Kennedy, conducted its own regime change in Baghdad, carried out in collaboration with Saddam Hussein…

From 1958 to 1960, despite Kassem's harsh repression, the Eisenhower administration abided him as a counter to Washington's Arab nemesis of the era, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt -- much as Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush would aid Saddam Hussein in the 1980's against the common foe of Iran. By 1961, the Kassem regime had grown more assertive. Seeking new arms rivaling Israel's arsenal, threatening Western oil interests, resuming his country's old quarrel with Kuwait, talking openly of challenging the dominance of America in the Middle East -- all steps Saddam Hussein was to repeat in some form -- Kassem was regarded by Washington as a dangerous leader who must be removed. In 1963 Britain and Israel backed American intervention in Iraq…

In Cairo, Damascus, Tehran and Baghdad, American agents marshaled opponents of the Iraqi regime. Washington set up a base of operations in Kuwait, intercepting Iraqi communications and radioing orders to rebels. The United States armed Kurdish insurgents. The C.I.A.'s ''Health Alteration Committee,'' as it was tactfully called, sent Kassem a monogrammed, poisoned handkerchief, though the potentially lethal gift either failed to work or never reached its victim.

Then, on Feb. 8, 1963, the conspirators staged a coup in Baghdad. For a time the government held out, but eventually Kassem gave up, and after a swift trial was shot; his body was later shown on Baghdad television. Washington immediately befriended the successor regime. ''Almost certainly a gain for our side,'' Robert Komer, a National Security Council aide, wrote to Kennedy the day of the takeover…

According to the former Baathist leader Hani Fkaiki, among party members colluding with the C.I.A. in 1962 and 1963 was Saddam Hussein, then a 25-year-old who had fled to Cairo after taking part in a failed assassination of Kassem in 1958. According to Western scholars, as well as Iraqi refugees and a British human rights organization, the 1963 coup was accompanied by a bloodbath. Using lists of suspected Communists and other leftists provided by the C.I.A., the Baathists systematically murdered untold numbers of Iraq's educated elite -- killings in which Saddam Hussein himself is said to have participated. No one knows the exact toll, but accounts agree that the victims included hundreds of doctors, teachers, technicians, lawyers and other professionals as well as military and political figures. The United States also sent arms to the new regime, weapons later used against the same Kurdish insurgents the United States had backed against Kassem and then abandoned. Soon, Western corporations like Mobil, Bechtel and British Petroleum were doing business with Baghdad -- for American firms, their first major involvement in Iraq…

Serving on the staff of the National Security Council under Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in the late 1960's, I often heard C.I.A. officers -- including Archibald Roosevelt, grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and a ranking C.I.A. official for the Near East and Africa at the time -- speak openly about their close relations with the Iraqi Baathists.This history is known to many in the Middle East and Europe, though few Americans are acquainted with it, much less understand it. Yet these interventions help explain why United States policy is viewed with some cynicism abroad. George W. Bush is not the first American president to seek regime change in Iraq. Mr. Bush and his advisers are following a familiar pattern." A Tyrant 40 Years in the Making By Roger Morris March 14, 2003 NYT (Similar discussions in book) (Ex- National Security Council under Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in the late 1960's)

Abandoning the Kurds

The CIA had early information which suggested that our ally would abandon the ethnic group the minute he came to an agreement with his enemy over border disputes. Two months after initiating the project a CIA memo of 17 Oct., 1972 states: "|Our ally] has apparently used [another governments] Foreign Minister to pass word to [his enemy| that he would be willing to allow peace to prevail [in the area] if [his enemy] would publicly agree to abrogate [a previous treaty concerning their respective borders]." In addition, CIA memos and cables characterize our ally's views of the ethnic group as "a card to play" in his dispute with his neighbor. And, a CIA memo of 22 March, 1974 characterizes the ethnic group as "a uniquely useful tool for weakening [our ally's enemies] potential for international adventurism." The Pike Report, reprinted as "The Select Committee's Investigative Record," February 16, 1976 Page 666, 671

Iran-Iraq War 1980-88

Potential Green Light For Iraq From The US

"It was also interesting to confirm that President Carter gave the Iraqis a green light to launch the war against Iran through Fahd.” Talking Points, State Department, "Talking Points" [for Alexander Haig meeting with Ronald Reagan], Top Secret/Sensitive, circa April 1981

Arming, Funding, Training Iraq

"Mr. GONZALEZ. Mr. Speaker, last week I showed that this administration, President Bush's administration, deliberately and not inadvertently helped to arm Iraq by allowing United States technology to be shipped to the Iraqi military and to the Iraqi weapons factories. Throughout the course of the Bush administration, United States and foreign firms were granted export licenses to ship United States technology directly to Iraqi weapons facilities, despite ample evidence showing that these factories were producing weapons. I also showed how the President misled the Congress and the public about the role United States firms played in arming Iraq. Today I will show that the highest levels of the Bush administration, including the President himself, had specific knowledge of Iraq's military industrialization plans, and despite that knowledge, the President mandated the policy of coddling Saddam Hussein as spelled out in National Security Directive 26 (NSD-26) issued in October 1989. This policy was not changed until after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, by which time the Bush administration had sent Saddam Hussein billions of dollars in United States financial assistance, technology and useful military intelligence information." 138 Cong. Rec. (Bound) - July 27, 1992 Page 19437

"Former Reagan administration National Security Council staff member Howard Teicher says that after Ronald Reagan signed a national security decision directive calling for the U.S. to do whatever was necessary to prevent Iraq's defeat in the Iran-Iraq war, Director of Central Intelligence William Casey personally led efforts to ensure that Iraq had sufficient weapons, including cluster bombs, and that the U.S. provided Iraq with financial credits, intelligence, and strategic military advice. The CIA also provided Iraq, through third parties that included Israel and Egypt, with military hardware compatible with its Soviet-origin weaponry." Document 61: United States District Court (Florida: Southern District) Affidavit. "United States of America, Plaintiff, v. Carlos Cardoen [et al.]" [Charge that Teledyne Wah Chang Albany Illegally Provided a Proscribed Substance, Zirconium, to Cardoen Industries and to Iraq], January 31, 1995

"The Central Intelligence Agency has been secretly supplying Iraq with detailed intelligence, including data from sensitive U.S. satellite reconnaissance photography, to assist Iraqi bombing raids on Iran's oil terminals and power plants in the war between the two nations, according to informed sources." Cia Aiding Iraq In Gulf War Bob Woodward The Washington Post December 15th 1986

Knowledge And Selling Of Chemical Weapons

“confirming Iraqi use of chemical weapons. We also know that Iraq has acquired CW production primarily from Western firms, including possibly a U.S. foreign subsidiary” “Iraq Use of Chemical Weapons,” unclassified memo from Jonathan Howe to the secretary of state, November 1, 1983, National Security Archives,

"bilateral relations were sharply set back by our March 5 condemnation of Iraq for CW use, despite our repeated warnings that this issue would emerge sooner or later" Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984 Briefing Notes For Rumsfeld Meeting in Baghdad Document 48

"SUBJECT: UN Human Rights Commission: Item 12: Iranian Resolution On Use Of Chemical Weapons By Iraq

Dept: Endorses General Strategy Described Reftel, Para 3. Usdel (US Delegation). Should Work To Develop General Western Position In Support Of A Motion To Take "No Decision” On Iranian Draft Resolution On Use Of Chemical Weapons By Iraq. If Such A Motion Gets Reasonable And Broad Support And Sponsorship, Usdel Should Vote In Favor. Failing Western Support For “No Decision,” Usdel CONFIDENTIAL

"In Either Case, Usdel (US delegation) Should Make A Strong Explanation Of Vote Drawing Upon Dept Press Statement Of March & On Iraqi Use Of Chemical Weapons.. Usdel Should Underscore’ The Following Points:

The UN Human Rights Commission is an Inappropriate Forum For Matters Dealing With Chemical Weapons

Usg (US Government) Even Handedly Condemns The Prohibited Use Of ChemicaL Weapons Whenever It Occurs.

USG Deplores The Tragic Loss Of Life And Bloodshed In Both Iran And Iraq, Of Which The Carnage Caused By Chemical Weapons Is Only A Part." Department of State press briefing, March 19, 1984

"Col. Walter P. Lang, retired, the senior defense intelligence officer at the time, said he would not discuss classified information, but added that both D.I.A. and C.I.A. officials ''were desperate to make sure that Iraq did not lose'' to Iran.

''The use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern,'' he said. What Mr. Reagan's aides were concerned about, he said, was that Iran not break through to the Fao Peninsula and spread the Islamic revolution to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Colonel Lang asserted that the Defense Intelligence Agency ''would have never accepted the use of chemical weapons against civilians, but the use against military objectives was seen as inevitable in the Iraqi struggle for survival.'' Senior Reagan administration officials did nothing to interfere with the continuation of the program, a former participant in the program said… One officer said, ''They had gotten better and better'' and after a while chemical weapons ''were integrated into their fire plan for any large operation, and it became more and more obvious."

The Pentagon ''wasn't so horrified by Iraq's use of gas,'' said one veteran of the program. ''It was just another way of killing people -- whether with a bullet or phosgene, it didn't make any difference,'' he said." Patrick E. Tyler, "Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas," New York Times, August 18, 2002

"The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West. . . . The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale. . . . [D]uring the long occupation, American troops began encountering old chemical munitions in hidden caches and roadside bombs. Typically 155-millimeter artillery shells or 122-millimeter rockets, they were remnants of an arms program Iraq had rushed into production in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war. All had been manufactured before 1991, participants said. . . .

Participants in the chemical weapons discoveries said the United States suppressed knowledge of finds for multiple reasons, including that the government bristled at further acknowledgment it had been wrong. “They needed something to say that after Sept. 11 Saddam used chemical rounds,” Mr. Lampier said. “And all of this was from the pre-1991 era.” Others pointed to another embarrassment. In five of six incidents in which troops were wounded by chemical agents, the munitions appeared to have been designed in the United States, manufactured in Europe and filled in chemical agent production lines built in Iraq by Western companies." The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons BY C. J. CHIVERS October 14th 2014 NYT

"That leaves Washington with a modest military success but with no apparent progress on confining, let alone ending, the Gulf war. Further, the United States is increasingly embarrassed by Iraq, its ostensible partner. In March, for instance, the Iraqis killed as many as 5,000 people with chemical weapons. The United States condemned this atrocity -- not Iraq's first -- but, to keep the diplomatic focus on the broader war, prevented Iran from raising the chemical question as a special item of Security Council debate. Now, claim the Iranians, Iraq is employing chemicals again" The Gulf The Battle The War Washington Post April 20 1988

"This is a campaign of extermination aimed against an ancient ethnic group that wants only to keep its own language and customs in sarbasti - freedom. A classic example of genocide is under way, and the world does not give a damn." ESSAY; Stop the Iraqi Murder of the Kurds By William Safire Sept. 5, 1988 NYT

"Not just a whiff but the stench of genocide drifts from the Kurdish areas of Iraq and the green hills of Burundi, homeland of the Hutu tribe. Those who commit such acts should know the world watches, that sovereignty cannot legitimize genocide …Enough silence."Murder Within Sovereign Borders NYT Sept. 5, 1988

"But Redman said the United States has received no information to confirm Kurdish allegations of widespread Iraqi use of chemical weapons against the Kurds. "If they were to be true, of course we would strongly condemn the use of chemical weapons as we have in the past. The use of chemical weapons is deplorable. It's barbaric," Redman said. "There is no justification for its use." U.S. CONCERN IS EXPRESSED TO BAGHDADBy David B. Ottaway September 7, 1988 The Washington Post State Department spokesman Charles E. Redman

"The State Department spokesman, Charles E. Redman, said the United States was certain of Iraq's use of such weapons within its own borders. ''As a result of our evaluation of the situation, the United States Government is convinced that Iraq has used chemical weapons in its military campaign against Kurdish guerrillas,'' Mr. Redman said. ''Any use in this context is abhorrent and unjustifiable.'' No Details Are Given" U.S. ASSERTS IRAQ USED POISON GAS AGAINST THE KURDSBy Julie Johnson, Special To the New York Times Sept. 9, 1988

"QUESTION: Two quick questions. You were in the Reagan Administration and I'm curious as to why the Administration's response to Halabja was so weak. And on to the second one, do you have any thoughts as to what type of chemical weapon Saddam Hussein used here in 1988?

SECRETARY POWELL: At the time, Halabja was commented on by the Administration. And it was commented on both by the White House at that time, as well as by the State Department. Strongly condemned. And there was no effort on the part of the Reagan Administration at that time to either ignore it or not take note of it." Secretary Colin L. Powell, Halabja, Iraq, September 15, 2003, Press Release, U.S. Department of State

The Fighting

"The Iranian front lines tend to be scenes of chaos and dedication, with turbaned mullahs, rifles slung on their backs, rushing about on brightly colored motorcycles encouraging the troops. Religious slogans are posted everywhere, and sometimes reinforcements arrive cheerfully carrying their own coffins as a sign of their willingness to be ''martyred.''" Iraqis Stalled By A Tenacious Enemy NYT Feb 28 1986

Weapons To Iran

"No precise estimate of the volume of goods shipped could be made. But in interviews, Israeli and American intelligence officials acknowledged that weapons, spare parts and ammunition worth several billion dollars flowed to Iran each year during the early 1980's… "We were getting literally daily reports of Israeli sales to Iran," a former high-level Reagan Administration intelligence official said. "It was so routine I didn't think twice about it. It was pretty clear that all the key players knew." The Iran Pipeline: A Hidden Chapter/A special report.; U.S. Said to Have Allowed Israel to Sell Arms to Iran By Seymour M. Hersh Dec. 8, 1991

Business Interests

"Summary: Husayn Kahil, Saddak Hussein's son-in~ law and minister of industry, fulminated to Bechtel representatives september 10 about the senate's passage of the genocide bill. In lengthy diatribe, kahil denied charge of cw use and described senate action as part of zionist conspiracy to embarrass and underlined Iraq after its "victory" over Iran. BECHTEL representatives said that if economic sanctions contained in senate act are signed into law, Bechtel will turn to NON-U.S. suppliers of technology and continue to do business in Iraq. End summary. CONFIDENTIAL" Cable from U.S. embassy, Baghdad, to State Department, "Minister of Industry Blasts Senate Action," September 13, 1988 Document 11

"Our administration's review of the previous Iraq policy was not immune from domestic economic considerations. From its modest inception in the Reagan administration, the policy of extending grain credit guarantees to Iraq had expanded dramatically. The Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) was now extending more than $1 billion a year in credit guarantees to Iraq to buy American foodstuffs. By 1989, Iraq had become the ninth-largest purchaser of U.S. agricultural products. These programs were immensely popular on Capitol Hill and with farm state politicians… Had we attempted to isolate Iraq, we would have also isolated American businesses, particularly agricultural interests, from significant commercial opportunities. " The Politics of Diplomacy: Revolution, War, and Peace, 1989-1992 Page 263 James Baker (10th White House Chief of Staff and 67th United States Secretary of the Treasury under President Ronald Reagan and the 61st U.S. Secretary of State before returning as the 16th White House Chief of Staff under President George H. W. Bush)

"Judge Shoob criticized the Government's portrayal of Mr. Drogoul as the mastermind of the loans, while the bank's top executives in Rome were depicted as innocent victims. The judge wrote: "There are grave questions as to how the prosecutors made their decisions in this case -- both as to the nature of the charges and whom to prosecute."

He challenged the assertions by Federal prosecutors in Atlanta that they alone had made the key decisions in the case. "It is apparent that decisions were made at the top levels of the United States Justice Department, State Department, Agriculture Department and within the intelligence community to shape this case," Judge Shoob wrote, "and that information may have been withheld from local prosecutors seeking to investigate the case or used to steer the prosecution."

He noted that the Justice Department had canceled investigators' trips to Italy and Turkey, where they had intended to interview bank officials. Judge Shoob noted that the local prosecutor received "highly unusual and inappropriate telephone calls" from the White House Office of Legal Counsel, "indicating the potential embarrassment level of the case." The White House has said the calls were not intended to influence the prosecutors" U.S. IS CRITICIZED ON IRAQ LOAN CASE By Martin Tolchin Oct. 6, 1992 NYT

"Judge Shoob said he believed there was strong evidence of a far-ranging conspiracy involving the governments of the United States, Italy and Britain to aid Iraq. He said the only way to find out what really happened would be the appointment of an independent prosecutor. But with the Clinton Administration's view of the case, as expressed today, it seems unlikely that that would happen and probable that the case will soon simply come to a halt. Objections by Prosecutors. Judge Shoob backed up his sharp words, by refusing to sentence the five bankers to jail. They had pleaded guilty to various felony counts, but Judge Shoob said he would not sentence them to jail because the Government's contention that they defrauded the parent bank in Rome was incredible. Prosecutors objected, saying the bankers were largely responsible for the secret loans. But Judge Shoob characterized them as merely "pawns and bit players in a far more wide-ranging conspiracy."

…The case before Judge Shoob involves six former officials of the Atlanta branch of an Italian bank which financed nearly $5 billion in loans that Iraq used to buy arms. The prosecution of the Atlanta bankers is at the heart of accusations that the Bush Administration covertly armed Iraq then sought to cover up that policy after its army invaded Kuwait in August 1990… Judge Shoob has complained in the past that he was lied to by the intelligence agency and the Bush Administration." Judge Scoffs at Defense of Bush on Iraq By Neil A. Lewis Aug. 24, 1993 NYT

"Normal relations between the United States and Iraq would serve our longer-term interests and promote stability in both the Gulf and the Middle East. The United States Government should propose economic and political incentives for Iraq to moderate its behavior and to increase our influence with Iraq. At the same time, the Iraqi leadership must understand that any illegal use of chemical and/or biological weapons will lead to economic and political sanctions, for which we would seek the broadest possible support from our allies and friends. Any breach by Iraq of IAEA safeguards in its nuclear program will result in a similar response. Human rights considerations should continue to be an important element in our policy toward Iraq. In addition, Iraq should be urged to cease its meddling in external affairs, such as in Lebanon, and be encouraged to play a constructive role in negotiating a settlement with Iran and cooperating in the Middle East peace process. (5)

We should pursue, and seek to facilitate, opportunities for U.S. firms to participate in the reconstruction of the Iraqi economy, particularly in the energy area, where they do not conflict with our non-proliferation and other significant objectives. Also, as a means of developing access to and influence with the Iraqi defense establishment, the United States should consider sales of non-lethal forms of military assistance, é.g., training courses and medical exchanges, on a case by case basis." NSD 26 10/02/1989 U.S. Policy Toward the Persian Gulf (3 pages)


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