On October 23, 1973, during the climactic period of the Yom Kippur War (between Egypt and Syria against Israel), the United Nations Security Council convened in New York to address the crisis. With representatives from over 20 countries present, the meeting led to some very heated exchanges between the outspoken Lebanon-born Saudi Ambassador Jamil Murad Baroody and his longtime adversary, Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah (Tekoah labelled him an anti-semite, Baroody responded that he should “shut up”).
At one point Baroody zeroed in on U.S. foreign policy, blasting the CIA for meddling, bribery and “terrorism”, rather than legitimate intelligence gathering. His case example was the 1953 coup in Iran, supplemented by stories of his interactions with the CIA’s Kermit Roosevelt, Jr., a major player in Mossadegh’s overthrow.
The Ambassador’s facts, however, were shaky. He incorrectly stated that Mossadegh “fled” Iran (this never happened), and that Roosevelt had negotiated with Dr. Mossadegh over oil. In reality, Roosevelt held no diplomatic post, negotiated with no one, and there is no evidence that he and Mossadegh ever even met.
Jamil Baroody (1905-1979) was not only the longest serving delegate to the UN, but one of its more colorful and explosive characters (as he once told a colleague, “A little spice never hurts a debate.”) In his animated, sometimes humorous presentations, he often referred to himself in third person.
Baroody’s passionate, renegade style earned him a reputation. George H.W. Bush said he was an “unguided missile”, while William F. Buckley once described him as a “protracted bore”. TIME magazine has referred to the Saudi Arabian Ambassador as “brooding”, “irrepressible”, “hot-tempered” and “bombastic”.
Sometimes things got physical. After speaking out of turn in a December 1971 UN session, Baroody threw a punch at Undersecretary for General Assembly Affairs Constantin Stavropoulos. And in 1973, he and Chilean Ambassador Raul Bazan got into a shoving match and had to be separated by UN Undersecretary Bradford Morse.
In a March 1966 profile, the Associated Press wrote:
“Hopping from committee to committee, expounding on issues that run the human spectrum, Baroody impishly confuses colleagues by swapping off points raised in totally unrelated debates.”
“Baroody is a mass of conflicting nationalities and interests. His family is half-Christian and half-Moslem; though he represents the most orthodox Moslem country in the world, he is a Christian. He can deliver anti-Western diatribes with as much vigor and vitriol as a 1950s Pravda editorial, yet he has an American wife and his four children received U.S. educations. A product of the American University in Beirut, Baroody has been a friend of King Feisal since their youth. He supervised the education abroad of the King’s seven sons, and is reputedly adviser on the royal investments in the U.S.”
United Nations Security Council — Oct. 23, 1973
We Arab people stand against the manipulation of outside forces. We are not imposing our will on others and we refuse that others should impose their will upon us, whether they be super-powers or any power for that matter. After all, we have occupied the area for centuries, from the Atlantic to the Gulf, the confines of Iran, and from Syria to the Sudan. We will survive all these conflicts, as we have done in the past, even before some of us were Arabized. Because Arabism is not something of blood or race. It is a culture, a way of life, a common interest and a common language. Above all, common interests.
And don’t think, United States, you can intimidate us, as you have done in our area. I am talking of the CIA role in Iran. I witnessed what happened. There was a gentleman who is the grandson of Theodore Roosevelt. His name is Mr. Kermit Roosevelt. When I met him at receptions I would say, “How are you, Mr. Roosevelt?” He was a member of the government of the United States. He always was sympathetic and receptive to certain remarks I made about this sad conflict between us and the Zionists. One day I said, “How are you doing?” He said, “I am no longer with the government.” I said, “Why? There is a tradition among the Roosevelts, not only your grandfather but President Franklin Roosevelt too, of service to the people of the United States.” He said, “Well, I took a job with one of the oil companies.” “Ah, they pay better.” “Yes,” he said, “they pay better.” After all, he is human, looking after his interests.
Then when Mossadegh came on the scene and I met Mossadegh, we found that Mr. Kermit Roosevelt was sent to Iran, and he began to negotiate for what was later known as the oil consortium. And all of a sudden Mr. Mossadegh fled from Iran. Later we heard that this oil man was a CIA man. We are not impressed by the CIA and the terrorism they use and the coups d’etat they resort to. I am talking about the CIA, Mr. Malik, not about the KGB. They won’t tell you anything, the KGB. The Americans like to write books after they leave the CIA. [Indeed, 6 years after Baroody’s statements, Kermit Roosevelt did write a book about his crimes, Countercoup.].
I was talking about Kermit Roosevelt who left the Government because perhaps they did not pay enough of a salary and joined the oil consortium and went to negotiate with Mr. Mossadegh, you remember, who nationalized the oil. He was the precursor of nationalization of resources in our area. Incidentally, I saw Mr. Kermit Roosevelt in Saudi Arabia at the airport. I said, “Why are you coming?” He said, “I am a public relations man.” I said, “Are you sure?” That is all I said.
Look at the budget of the CIA. It is legitimate for any intelligence agency to gather information from other states, states which they think might have hostile designs upon them. That was the classical role of intelligence agencies. What are the big intelligence agencies doing now but resorting to terrorism, coups d’etat, bribery. But now the CIA and other intelligence agencies will not succeed because they cannot subdue the peoples of the world who rise against them. By your CIA you have alienated many peoples of the world. So don’t try any mischief again.
You may buy some people here and there, but you will not succeed because you have alienated yourself—the Government of the United States from our people. We did not alienate ourselves, you alienated yourself from us.