5. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, January 5, 19561


  • The Secretary
  • Sir Roger Makins
  • Mr. MacArthur
  • Mr. Merchant

During the course of a call on another subject this morning, Sir Roger told the Secretary that he would be interested in the information that Mr. Russell had given a member of his staff that the US was considering the use of an intermediary in the Arab-Israeli matter.2 The Secretary said that this was true and that such consideration was based on a hint which had come indirectly to us that the use of a covert intermediary might advance our purposes in Alpha. He went on to say that one or two men were under consideration for the assignment but that no one had yet been selected. He hoped to be able to inform Sir Roger of our choice in the near future. He added that the operation of course would be in the framework of our agreed Alpha policy.

Sir Roger seemed entirely satisfied, particularly in light of the information that it was intended that any such operation would be covert.

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The Secretary then inquired what the British were doing in Jordan. Sir Roger replied that he thought they were holding off. The King was steady and anxious to produce a spell of quiet.3

. . . . . . .

  1. Source: Department of State, S/SNEA Files: Lot 61 D 417, Alpha Volume 16. Top Secret; Alpha. Drafted by Merchant.
  2. See vol. XIV, footnote 3, p. 888.
  3. On December 6, General Sir Gerald Templer, Chief of the British Imperial General Staff, accompanied by Michael Rose of the British Foreign Office, arrived in Amman for discussions with King Hussein and Jordanian officials. The visit, which lasted until December 14, was motivated primarily by British desire to facilitate Jordan’s early adherence to the Baghdad Pact. On December 14, Prime Minister Said al-Mufti and four members of his cabinet resigned in protest over the British proposals. On December 14, Hussein asked Haza al-Majali, a proponent of the Baghdad Pact, to form a new government. Demonstrations against the new government and the Baghdad Pact broke out on December 18 in Amman, Jericho, and Hebron and forced al-Majali to resign on December 19. Hussein, in turn, issued a decree dissolving Parliament and calling for a general election within 4 months. The King also asked Ibrahim Hashim, President of the Senate, to form a caretaker government to rule until the new elections. On December 20, Hashim announced formation of a new cabinet, and the riots ceased.