158. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1
1433. Prior receipt Department circular 7022 King Hussein summoned me palace for meeting with him and Foreign Minister Rifai which lasted over three hours. Hussein [1 line of source text not declassified]. Said it [United Arab Republic] posed serious threat not only Jordan, Lebanon but if permitted go unopposed to entire ME, indirectly free world as well. It was this conviction which prompted him write letters Faisal and Saud(Embassy telegram 1394).3 At this point he asked Foreign Minister Rifai fill me in on his recent mission Jidda.
Rifai said Saud deeply concerned creation UAR but unfortunately his official advisers do not share this view and on contrary inclined favor it. Under these circumstances he cannot openly condemn union and proposes adopt wait-and-see attitude new state. However, Rifai after considerable effort convinced HIM inherent danger E–S union posed for monarchies in general, Saudi Arabia particularly. Secured his agreement meet with Hussein discuss establishment organization [Page 271]other Arab states which would initially consist Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon. Saud insisted that Hussein’s proposal could only be successful providing Iraq withdrew from Baghdad Pact. Otherwise new organization would immediately be branded by Syrians, Egyptians as “tool of imperialists” and creation recent BP meeting Ankara. Due visit Moroccan Crown Prince Hassan Jidda, Saud unable meet Hussein this week as requested. Therefore agreed, meeting will take place Jordan–SA frontier within next two weeks. Rifai believes Saud likely make any Saudi adherence new Arab organization contingent on Iraqi withdrawal BP.
When Rifai had finished discussion Hussein proposal, Saud said he regretted necessity inform HKJ due precarious financial condition his country it would be impossible provide Jordan dinar 5 million ($15 million) promised Jordan next fiscal year. He suggested that US provide money to be transmitted via SA for political purposes. Saud hopeful he will be able renew payments following year. Hussein said this heavy blow and one which he felt could not be absorbed without serious danger to Jordan and stability his government. I offered no comment but directed conversation other subject inquiring progress Sulaiman Tuqan mission Baghdad. Hussein replied Faisal reaction quite favorable and as soon date fixed for his conference with Saud he will arrange meet Faisal. [61/2 lines of source text not declassified]
[4 paragraphs (81/2 lines of source text) not declassified]
Rifai volunteered opinion British would not object too strongly if Jordan liquidated providing this were price of working their way back into Egypt and by making full use of Nuri Said and his clique into Iraq and eventually other parts ME. He said HKJ had intelligence information indicating British are willing make considerable concessions Nasser in exchange more liberal Egyptian policy toward British interests. Rifai became quite excited and said in light creation UAR and serious threat it held for Jordan and King Hussein in particular HKJ must quickly assess its position and determine who her friends are. In an impassioned voice he said while British, US interests are mutually compatible in Europe they tend to fragment in ME where we seem to be in competition with one another. He therefore wished to know USG position in view Ambassador Johnston’s statements.
I replied that despite fact I had been informed by British Embassy officer of certain common conclusions reached at Ankara I had as yet received no specific directive other than the general policy that my government was favorably disposed to all efforts toward Arab unity providing they represented the will of the people and governments involved. I gave as my personal opinion that it would be most difficult for any country to publicly oppose UAR or to deny it recognition although the latter might be delayed pending outcome proposed plebiscite. I reminded both Hussein and Rifai that my government had [Page 272]demonstrated its friendship for Jordan in a most tangible way and as far as I knew had no intention alter its present policy which was based on a willingness work with our Arab friends wherever and whenever possible. I suggested that it would be helpful if Hussein could give me outline any specific plans create and Arab organization to counter the effect of the UAR.
[9 paragraphs (11/2 pages of source text) not declassified]
I expressed my appreciation to both Hussein, Rifai for information they had provided and said I would appreciate knowing what they envisioned as role to be played by the US in present situation.
At Hussein’s direction Rifai asked me transmit following request to US:
- Public support by USG for the new organization of Arab States as proposed by Hussein;
- USG not to oppose Iraqi withdrawal from BP and if possible persuade British adopt same attitude;
- USG make $60 million available in aid for all purposes of which $14 million would represent replacement Saudi aid not likely be forthcoming.
I immediately pointed out to both Hussein, Rifai that on the surface this seemed to represent a considerable upward revision in the amount of US aid and I felt would require considerable study Washington.
[1 paragraph (61/2 lines of source text) not declassified]
Embassy comment follows.4
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786.00/2–358. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, Jidda, and Beirut.↩
- Circular telegram 702, sent to the principal Middle East posts, London and Paris, February 1, reported Secretary Dulles’ remarks at the Ankara Baghdad Pact meeting concerning the announcement that day of the establishment of the UAR. Dulles spoke of the dangerous implications of the union of Egypt and Syria, and suggested that Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia develop a united position in response to the establishment of the UAR. (Ibid., 674.83/2–158)↩
- The Embassy’s comment followed in telegram 1436 from Amman, February 4. The thrust of the comment was that the Saudi response to Hussein’s proposal cast doubt over the prospect of a federation of the three Arab states, and Hussein’s suspicion of British motives indicated an increasing conviction that U.S.-British interest were incompatible in Jordan. The Embassy concluded that Jordanian anxieties were rooted in a fear that Jordan could not survive a “popular” call for Arab unity unless Hussein’s federation proposal was adopted. (Department of State, Central Files, 786.00/2–458; included in the microfiche supplement)↩