170. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1
- A conspiracy exists in the army among group non-Beduin officers sympathetic to aims of Baath party of Jordan. Although aims of the conspiracy are reported as assassination of Hussein and creating pro-UAR Government, a number of conspirators appear primarily interested in more limited objectives, personal advancement. A cause of disaffection among these officers is precedence given Beduin elements by loyal but not brilliant CGS Habis Majali. Non-Beduins have looked chiefly to Major General Sadiq Ash-Shara for leadership. With Shara’s rustication to assignment in Baghdad, non-Beduin group has been left at least temporarily without a patron. Embassy has not yet received conclusive evidence Shara’s complicity plot overthrow monarchy.
- According to the military attaché, the army will remain loyal. CGSMajali is faithful to Hussein, has courage to take necessary steps insure royal control, and principal weapon in army, the first armored brigade, is controlled by Bani Sakhr tribe which strongly supports King. Dissident elements in army unlikely to strike as long as armor not under their control.
- In opinion [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] military attaché political direction of conspiracy comes from outside army and undoubtedly from UAR, probably through Colonel Serra in Syria. There does not yet appear to be organization in Jordan capable of carrying out a coup d’etat on its own and without foreign support and direction. Present regime’s policy of suppression opposition elements by arrest, curfew, censorship and other Draconian means has paid off to extent that opposition, including subversives, not yet able organize.
- In broader sense, however, situation is grave because Jordan more susceptible now than at any other time in past year to threat of internal disturbances brought on by UAR. Condition results from prolonged crisis in Lebanon which could easily produce sympathetic reaction in Jordan in form extremist nationalist demonstrations, mob disturbances. Psychological effect of possible defeat Chamoun discourages loyalists and, conversely, gives extremists opposition elements first opportunity take heart since April 1957.
- [51/2 lines of source text not declassified] Most salient character Hussein is physical courage, of which he has almost too much. With guidance shrewd heads, such as Rifai, Hussein likely persevere against opponents.
- HKJ should be urged proceed quickly with investigation of conspiracy releasing those against whom there is insufficient evidence and prosecuting guilty without delay. Also, HKJ should be encouraged reorganize intelligence and security services to insure that responsible officials outside palace have accurate and timely information on subversive activities. Provision of US economic aid on spot basis, such as drought alleviation through surplus wheat shipments, has important effect in minimizing threat to regime. Machinery must be created for [Page 299]rapid transmission aid to Jordan when necessary (A) to overcome economic crisis and (B) give needed support Jordan security force in terms its internal security function.
Beyond this, however, there is little immediate action US can take other than give moral support Hussein-RIFAI. Solution Lebanese (or better yet, Palestine) situation would have more benign effect than any action we could take inside Jordan.