168. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State 1
2271. Prime Minister Rifai provided following information during dinner meeting last night:
- He confirmed number army officers ranging in rank from Cadet to Colonel have been arrested in connection plot assassinate King Hussein, Rifai, other pro-western officials. Rifai said investigation continues, possibility total number arrests may reach 40 or more. In answer my question if conspirators have previous record disloyalty he replied several lower rank known to have been on fringe 1957 attempt dethrone Hussein but never apprehended because government felt they lacked necessary leadership. I asked if conspirators had penetrated higher echelons army including General Staff. Rifai replied this possible but not yet definitely established. His opinion even if some general officers implicated this not important as if regimental commanders involved. So far investigation has produced no evidence field commanders above company grade officers implicated. Rifai expressed confidence government could deal effectively with situation but admitted Beni Khalid tribe which straddles Jordan/Syrian border now providing communication channel for conspirators with former Jordan military who fled to Syria last year. Rifai added this further evidence Nasser already conducting type subversive campaign against Jordan [Page 295] which prompted him to tell UNSYG Hammarskjold during his recent visit Amman2 that Jordan would not “act like lamb in the pen” to be eaten by wolf at time its own choosing. Once HKJ convinced UN either unwilling/unable resolve Lebanon situation it will launch counterattack against UAR on its own initiative.
- Re Lebanon, Rifai said both he and Hussein were extremely pessimistic lack forthright action UNSYG following his return New York. Rifai reiterated his concern which he said shared by Hussein unless UN or US/UK provided necessary police force seal Syrian-Lebanon border, Chamoun government doomed. Nasser will then emerge in eyes Arab world as victor, encourage malcontent Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia attempt overthrow present government with definite probability entire Middle East will be lost free world.
- Rifai said he wished inform me result his discussion UNSYG re subject AU dual representation in UN. He said Secretary General told him when matter first raised he had serious doubts its legality, requested UN legal staff make thorough study problem. On basis their report and in view position taken both Jordan/Iraq that neither one had lost its international status nor surrendered its international sovereignty to AU he was prepared accept their claim retention individual seats as valid. He advised Rifai write him letter setting forth in precise terms how individual states retain “full and continuing” responsibilities on international undertakings entered into prior union, at same time pointing out such obligation not binding on other AU partner. SYG said in his opinion this constituted proof neither state had abdicated its international status. I asked Rifai when he intended submit letter. He replied since SYG cautioned him it essential identical letters be submitted both Iraq/Jordan he proposed take matter up with Foreign Minister Tawfig Suwaidi when latter comes Amman this week. He added there are several other matters which he wishes discuss with Suwaidi.
- Hussein upset Prime Minister Nuri Said statement AU will assume control all foreign affairs including relations Israel/Baghdad Pact. Hussein has directed Rifai make clear Jordan will not tolerate either Nuri or Suwaidi acting their capacity AU officials to participate Baghdad Pact meeting.
I invited Rifai attention circular note sent Embassy Baghdad3 re assumption responsibility foreign affairs by AU as of July 1. Rifai explained this done in order AU qualify $29 million aid offered by US/UK without which AU officials could not be paid. We said actual implementation foreign affairs program will require considerable time since necessary foreign service has not yet been enacted. Therefore AU [Page 296] diplomatic appointments not possible. I inquired if he had further information on his brother’s (Abd-Al Munim) appointment Ambassador US. He replied his brother will return from London about July 24. In meantime Haikal will remain Washington while Iraqi Ambassador will return Baghdad. Rifai expects his brother will arrive Washington during first week August. He said this will enable him (RIFAI) keep Jordan needs, views before US officials much better than in past. I remarked that his brother would not be representing Jordan alone but AU whereupon Rifai launched into a long dissertation on just how he expected relations between US/Jordan be conducted. In essence both he and Hussein apparently are going to insist that all matters directly affecting Jordan are to be handled through whatever US representation located Amman with communication being addressed to AU Foreign Minister but actually delivered, processed through Khususy Khairy’s office as Minister State Foreign Affairs with Rifai making all but routine decisions.
Comment: Failure UNSYG visit produce “magic formula” at least authorize formation UN police force use Lebanon is heavy blow Jordan. I know from personal talks both Hussein/RIFAI convinced in absence outside police force time is on rebel side which can only result defeat for west with at least propaganda victory for Nasser. This almost certain be followed by stepped up subversive drive against Jordan/Iraq. Decision SYG accept “principle” dual representation AU has given considerable weight Rifai’s argument “we haven’t surrendered any sovereignty so US Government can continue do business with Jordan just as before.” I perceive unabated tendency Hussein/Rifai treat AU more as confederation than union which they can use as device on which unload cost defense establishment, at same time reserving maximum rights, prerogatives to local government.