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

1553. Complex problems in US–Jordan relations posed by announcement Arab Federation2 are made subject following preliminary country team assessment. Underlying most conclusions reached below is belied that US–free world interests dictate support of this western-orientated federation which, while obviously requiring time prove successful, eventually likely play important role in any future Arab grouping.

1. Political

  • A. Jordanian attitudes.
  • Despite initial enthusiasm Jordanian officialdom, full implications Jordan-Iraqi action not yet realized by most. Emotional appeal momentarily has brushed aside awareness of difficulties ahead in process implementation. Future sacrifices by vested interests only vaguely understood.
  • General Jordanian reactions still difficult define in precise terms. While reception favorable particularly on east bank, there remains sizeable frustrated elements on both banks incline reject federation as mere gimmick designed block “real” Arab unity through UAR. Much potential negativism tempered however by expectations of economic gain for Jordan with result that large portion population appears willing wait and watch developments. Public demonstrations of enthusiasm have been obviously lacking in spontaneity and conviction. But failure of announcement to elicit full popular acclaim does not detract from CT over-all evaluation that pressures against King and government, which received added strength through declaration UAR, have now subsided greatly. CT believes it safe assume that HKJ has passed at least temporarily from year-long “holding operation” into stage of greater stability. However, changes in martial law rule not expected until stability becomes more demonstrably permanent.
  • B. Initial implications for US.

Past record Arab states of rising above local considerations has not been such as to inspire faith in their ability produce more than paper results, e.g., Arab League and multilateral treaties. Jordan no exception to this record, but apparent increased local awareness of present international political circumstances provide basis for CT optimism that selfish interests can be subordinated to larger considerations of unity provided US lends full support to maintenance of momentum generated by federation announcement.

CT expects even during period preceding promulgation new constitution many pressures will be generated through painful process of relinquishment sovereignty. If unchecked these pressures could vitiate true effectiveness of federal authority by creation of supranational body incapable of directing national policies. Indications of such tendencies have been observed already in King Hussein, Rifai, army and others, although these attitudes are partially tied in with maintenance of bargaining position for Jordan.

It may be expected that schedule for initial steps implementing agreement will conform in general with that outlined by Rifai, reported Embtel 1507. Request for recognition therefore likely early May. But before this stage is reached CT believes that well-formulated political decisions by US will be necessary in order to provide needed impetus to federation. Perhaps certain appropriate indications of US plans prior to May could serve to check tendencies “have cake and eat it too”.

CT envisages basically uncompromising positions on some sovereignty issues which would seem require early formulation by US of policy most likely to enhance position federal authority even at expense wounding royal prides. By taking such action CT believes US can begin laying ground for its eventual disengagement from direct participation Jordanian politico-economic scene and still exert constructive influence on federation. However, premature attempts at such disengagement, in CT opinion, can spell only failure of Arab Federation.

2. Economic

A. General considerations.

Much of US support must continue to be provided in terms economic and military needs of area without undue emphasis being given at this time on potential capacity Iraq to assist Jordan.

Economic integration is likely to proceed slowly and any indications prospective losses in public or private sectors will tend retard implementation. Ministry of Finance and some businessmen already advocating go-slow attitude in view interests considered threatened by [Page 278] Iraqi competition. However, these interests not significant in total picture since with few exceptions Jordanians should eventually profit economically from federation.

Certain early developments must be expected if any progress to be made. Among these would be (1) abolition trade barriers and (2) free mobility capital and labor.

Governmental expenditures in Jordan will continue dependent US and other aid. British attitude development aid and HKJ debt repayment to UK likely to become less generous owing favorable Iraqi financial situation. Especially in view growing Jordanian suspicions British motives, effort should be made encourage full British recognition Jordan’s continued need for UK economic assistance in context latter’s support of federation.

B. US aid program.

In order bolster federal authority CT believes basic US aid relationships should be established soon as possible on centralized basis with new federal government. Since Jordanian officials still do not know how operations will be carried out or what will be completely unified it’s still too early to foresee best method of operation and organization. Some difficulties precluding current assessment are:

Extent to which Jordanian and Iraqi Governments will consolidate functions, e.g., Minister of Economy expecting consolidation and seeking immediate action before his authority curtailed; Minister of Agriculture expects no unification agricultural operations; Ministry of Health anticipates some sort federal advisory health service in future but expects no direct authority from federal government over his administration of health program for Jordan.

In order to produce successful transition in operation US aid program care must be taken to allay fear that Jordan will become economically neglected province of Baghdad’s empire.

3. Military

Jordanian army views federation project with studied caution but no lack of agreement in principle that higher joint staff headed by Iraqi general will be created. Belief is that under this command Iraqi and Jordanian armies will operate as separate forces and that details for complete integration will not be completed before 1960. At present Jordanians expect stipulation in agreement concerning previous international commitments will “protect” Jordan from association MAAG or BP whereas US aid to Jordan would continue be channeled through “Jordan” army.

Many Jordanian analyses of army unification suffer from close examination particularly since it is clear that problems of logistics and administration have received only casual study to date. Integration of [Page 279] Iraqi officers into Jordanian army must be done on larger scale than contemplated now using their greater experience and rank; schooling of officers must be standardized; budgeting and programming of funds will have to be maintained by central authority to be successful; promotions and pay rates must be standardized; and many prior international agreements so intimately affect army operations that Jordan will be required adhere to them in spite of present reservations.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 786.00/2–2458. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad, Jerusalem, Jidda, and London.
  2. On February 14, Iraq and Jordan announced the formation of an Arab Federation with King Faisal II of Iraq as Chief of State and King Hussein of Jordan as his Deputy. The announcement, which was signed by the two Kings at Amman after 2 days of meetings, indicated that each King would retain constitutional authority in his own kingdom, the federal capital would rotate between Baghdad and Amman every 6 months, a federal legislature would be established, but two regional councils would exist to deal with non-federal matters, and a constitution would be enacted within 3 months to implement the announced federation.