171. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1
79. Palace telephoned 10 a.m. this morning2 saying King Hussein/RIFAI wished see me immediately. Following are highlights meeting at which Bahjat Talhuni, Rais Diwan, Prime Minister Rifai present although King did most talking:
- Hussein asked I inform my Government he counting on US stand by Jordan as “our good and trusted friend.” Expressed hope we would demonstrate our friendship in every respect through public statements and actions.
- King said he believes fate has placed responsibility on him defend freedom Arab States. Under circumstances wherein King Faisal as head AU is incapacitated he (Hussein) intends assume authority as President AU acting under provisions constitution which establishes him as legal “chief of state” in absence Faisal. Proclamation to this effect made 2:30 local time.
- Prime Minister Rifai has been directed take charge all AU Foreign Affairs for temporary AU cabinet.
- In view crucial role petroleum products Jordan army has seized control all POL in country. Hussein asked that I urgently request my Government supply necessary tankers, emergency (army field type)[Page 300]pipelines permit importation via Aqaba. He stressed urgency situation adding it might be necessary inaugurate airlift insure sufficient supplies meet needs security forces.
King Hussein has assumed titular leadership Jordanian army which together such Iraqi units still loyal will constitute AU defense forces. Appointed General Habis Majali COS. [3 lines of source text not declassified]
[Numbered paragraph (6) (61/2 lines of source text) not declassified]
- Re intervention by UAR across Syrian-Iraqi border both Hussein/RIFAI said they would appeal UN but added had little faith action would be rapid enough deal with problem. Therefore were prepared invoke Article 5 UN Charter make appeal US/other friendly powers for direct military intervention. At this point Hussein/Talhuni/RIFAI engaged in spirited conversation in Arabic after which Hussein said “on advice my Prime Minister, in view serious situation AU I ask that USG give me assurances it prepared come to our side insure independence/integrity Jordan.” I replied I would convey request my Government soonest.
- Rifai commented in view situation Iraq likelihood considerable instability some time to come HKJ would have to review membership all AU Cabinet posts, proposed diplomatic assignments, designation army commanders, et cetera. He pointed out this would be necessary whether or not revolt put down. I asked what effect Iraqi revolt likely have on security situation within Jordan and whether Iraqi army coup connected Radi Abdullah case. King replied he received this morning personal pledge loyalty troop commanders; he confident no serious disturbances will take place. Army now on alert, maximum security measures already enforce. [21/2 lines of source text not declassified]
- Hussein expressed great concern Lebanon situation which he thinks may rapidly deteriorate as opposition takes cognizance events Iraq. [21/2 lines of source text not declassified]
King seems much more calm than either Rifai/Talhuni although he showed strain events last few days, climaxed by Iraqi coup. Prompt importation petroleum products particularly gasoline, kerosene, black oil (electric power station) most urgent requirement. Hussein decision take over control AU rather than withdraw behind geographic boundaries Jordan significant; although my opinion if Iraqi military goes over en bloc to rebels practical implementation his idea highly improbable. Despite fact British Embassy has put out official warning to British stay off streets I do not propose follow suit believing now is time demonstrate confidence Hussein/RIFAI government which would be undermined if word circulated Americans “taking cover”. I strongly recommend we meet Hussein’s request for emergency petroleum requirements as well as give him assurances we stand by his side [Page 301]should it appear Jordan independence in jeopardy. To do less would destroy our influence in the Middle East. Re our proposed withdrawal $7.5 million budgetary support HKJ I am convinced such action would have devastating effect present pro-western government which very likely would fall as result cut-back government projects being financed these funds we have already promised.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 787.00/7–1458. Top Secret; Niact; Limited Distribution. Received at 5:51 p.m. Repeated to Baghdad, London, Beirut, Cairo, and Damascus.↩
- Telegram 75 from Amman, July 14, reported that news of the coup d’etat in Baghdad that morning was widely known in Jordan by 10 a.m., and that land communications between Jordan and Iraq were cut. (Ibid.)↩