Pages from Michael Butler's Journal

TALES OF BAGHDAD

In the late 1950ís I was the CEO of Intrafi and Butler Overseas Corporation. My concentration at that time was the Middle East. We had a villa on the Bosporus, in Beyerlerbey overlooking Istanbul. I communicated to the office by boat.
Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey were particular areas of interest. We were a worldwide trading company and syndicate of like minded companies. I was particularly intrigued with the re-building of the Hejaz Railroad.

The destruction of the Hejaz RR had been the major target of Lawrence of Arabia during WW1. It was a principle subject of great import in the Moslem world. My interest in bringing it back was a great point of reference with all the Moslem countries. It put me very much on the Moslem side and in particular the good graces of Arabs.

In the spring of 1958 I went to Baghdad. There I was invited for dinner at the home of Nuri as Said. Nuri Pasha was the Prime Minister and de facto ruler of Iraq. At that dinner were sixteen men including King Faisal II, the cousin of my friend, Hussein of Jordan. It was a most pleasant evening and enjoyed by all. It had turned very cold and I did not have a topcoat. Nuri Pasha gave me a desert robe. He said the robe was given to him by King bin Saud and he could never wear it as there was over a foot difference in their heights. Great laughter all around. As I was leaving King Faisal asked me if I would stay with him at the palace upon my return in July. I accepted with pleasure.

I went on to Teheran where I was working with our associates in Iran. I was spending a lot of time with Princess Achraf, the twin sister of the Shah. After sometime I prepared to depart when the Shah asked me if I would like to go duck shooting on the Caspian. The royal train and the company of Kim Roosevelt (CIA) and Peter Sterling (his British counterpart) was a great temptation. Thus I cabled Faisal for permission to delay my return to Baghdad. This granted I proceeded North for the best duck shooting I have ever had. Two guns firing so often they were hot to handle.

While enjoying the caviar, yogurt and lettuce I lost, except one, every friend I had in Baghdad. The military entered the palace and machine-gunned every living soul. The Royals, guests, children, nannies, and pets were murdered. Nuri Pasha was found, castrated alive, his feet tied with barbed wire and dragged behind a jeep through the streets. His son was the sole survivor as he was in Beirut visiting his friend, the star belly dancer.

I would have been in the palace at that time. I have never wanted to return to Iraq.

 

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