157. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1

1394. Reference: Deptel 1784.2 In compliance Deptel 1784 informed Foreign Minister Rifai who immediately conveyed information to King Hussein. Latter delighted, instructed Rifai express his appreciation USG. Inquired as to when “detailed arrangement” might expect be completed.

I used visit Rifai as opportunity solicit HKJ views Egyptian-Syrian federation. Foreign Minister requested I come his home last night where our meetings less likely be interrupted. Following are highlights our conversation lasting over two hours:

King Hussein, deeply concerned, believes that while “real” federation Egyptian-Syrian unlikely some kind “paper unity” will be announced shortly which would put propaganda initiative for Arab unity in Nasser’s hands, make Jordan’s position precarious since even “paper federation” would have tremendous appeal throughout Arab world especially among west bank refugees.
Rifai basically differs with King in that he regards Egyptian-Syrian link-up as a possibility whereas King believes it immediate definite probability.
Following several conferences between King and Rifai latter convinced of imminent danger propaganda victory through paper federation required immediate action. At King’s direction Rifai prepared plan in effort counter Egyptian-Syrian federation move.
Plan drafted by Rifai which King accepted is based on revival treaties friendship and brotherhood between Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia which permit great latitude economic, military integration without surrendering any sovereignty as would be required in either federation or confederation. Rifai intends explain plan along following lines. Inasmuch as treaties have been in force more than ten years and already renewed for additional periods five-ten years plan cannot be called response to or in competition with the Egyptian-Syrian proposal but rather as the next logical step toward greater unity among Arab states sharing common borders. Furthermore since Egypt, Syria now under Soviet domination Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia as only logical remaining defenders holy places Mecca, Medina are faced choice either join opposing [Page 269] power bloc (Baghdad Pact) or seek common front among independent Arab states, continue work for Arab unity, provide only defense Arab world against further Israeli aggressions.
King instructed Rifai draft two identical letters—one addressed King Faisal, other Saud—in which plan would be outlined and a request made for a meeting of the three Kings (Hussein, Faisal, Saud) and their Prime Ministers/Foreign Ministers to be arranged within ten days after receipt of letters at which time a dramatic announcement of revival of the treaties and a long-range program designed to eventually lead to confederation would be made public.

Rifai in order maintain maximum security wrote draft letters by hand, reviewed them with King only few hours before our meeting. Hussein ordered them prepared final form, one to be carried personally by Court Minister Tuqan to Faisal, the other to be delivered to Saud by Rifai himself not later than January 28–29. In order show deference Saud, Rifai will inform him orally that Hussein and Faisal will meet at time and place his choosing but meeting in order be effective must take place before February 15 since latest HKJ intelligence estimates probable launching Egyptian-Syrian federation not later March 1.

Rifai said King instructed him review situation with me and asked I transmit information Washington with request USG give all possible assistance convince Faisal, Saud urgency immediate steps be taken establish common front Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia deny propaganda benefits certain to accrue both Nasser and Communists if announcement Egyptian-Syrian Federation made first.

Comment: In view time element Rifai’s plan to reaffirm Arab Friendship, Brotherhood Treaties would appear offer best opportunity quick agreement between Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia which essential if Egypt, Syria are to be beaten to punch same time afford us opportunity profess support idea Arab unity where such action accordance with will of governments and peoples involved. My opinion despite all security measures taken by HKJ news meeting three Kings likely be known Egyptians, Syrians. Therefore may have effect force their pace toward Federation which makes timing of both meetings and public announcement paramount to success undertaking. Even if E–S Federation proclaimed first, announcement reaffirmation of treaties and long range plans for ultimate confederation providing they make public shortly thereafter might serve blunt E–S propaganda spearhead that is [Page 270] almost certain to characterize plan as “me too” affair instigated at Baghdad Pact direction.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786.00/1–2758. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, and Jerusalem.
  2. Telegram 1784 to Amman, January 24, instructed the Embassy to inform King Hussein that the United States agreed in principle to make a limited number of late model jet fighters available to Jordan. (Ibid., 785.5622/1–2458; included in the microfiche supplement)
  3. On January 28, the Department sent a telegram to Amman, Baghdad, and Jidda instructing those posts to respond, if consulted concerning the proposal outlined in telegram 1394 from Amman, that the United States had for some time expressed the belief that closer collaboration between Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia “would be in their mutual interest and in that of ME and Free World.” The Department added, however, “we do not presume to offer substantive comment on Hussein’s specific proposal as this purely intra-Arab matter.” (Telegram 1805 to Amman, also sent as telegram 1941 to Baghdad, and telegram 1026 to Jidda, January 28; Department of State, Central Files, 786.00/1–2758; included in the microfiche supplement)