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

132. Rome for McSweeney. McSweeney pass to CINCSOUTH. At 1900 hours local time King Hussein summoned British Charge Mason, myself to Palace where in presence Prime Minister Rifai he announced “in view critical situation facing Jordan as result Lebanese crisis, rebellion in Iraq and on basis information obtained from most reliable sources that UAR inspired coup d’etat scheduled take place within 24 hours, I have decided on advice Prime Minister and Commanding General Jordan Army to formally request that Governments US/UK in accordance with their pledges previously given and in order guarantee [Page 313] Jordan’s independence/integrity [3 lines of source text not declassified.]”2

When Hussein finished Rifai asked if Mason or I had any questions. I inquired whether decision request US/UK military intervention based on information I knew had been provided from American sources or was there other evidence impending uprising.

Mason interrupted to say that he had given King information from what HMG considered “most reliable source” indicating UAR agents had penetrated not only bank refugee camps but also considerable portion East Jordan, that they had responsive groups within security forces including Army who in all probability would not “fire on their brothers” once mob action began. Mason said his information fixed date of coup as July 16/17. Rifai added as result arrest important Communist leader yesterday HKJ had uncovered subversive network geared to Syrian and Iraqi apparatus which had definite plans attempt uprising using civilians as instigators, relying on emotional influence Iraqi revolt particularly among Palestinian refugees.

I asked whether or not HKJ intended use foreign troops as internal security force in which role they might be called on crush civil disorders result shooting Arab civilians. Hussein/RIFAI stated most emphatically “no” US/UK troops would only be used repel external aggression, back up security forces, prevent outside subversive elements from taking over country. [41/2 lines of source text not declassified]

I pointed out time factor made it unlikely US troops could be positioned Jordan for at least 24 hours even if all requirements their dispatch be expedited soonest. Hussein said “we need them now, can’t your Sixth Fleet fly them in as British propose to do from Cyprus?” I said my opinion we were intruding into military field, suggested Mason/myself could serve best by processing Hussein request to Washington/London as quickly as possible since that is where decision must be made. Hussein said he has summoned Parliament into night session in order advise them his decision. Expressed determination make Jordan “freedom fortress Middle East with help his trusted friends US/UK.”

Mason and I left together and I took opportunity get his reaction which was enthusiastic approval his opinion probably only such action can save Jordan from similar fate Iraqi.3

[Page 314]

Comment: Although I do not question some evidence probably uncovered by Jordanian police/intelligence my opinion information supplied by ourselves and British re Syrian inspired coup via west bank and refugees together complete lack any evidence existence sizeable loyal opposition to rebel government Iraq cought [caused?] both Hussein/RIFAI emotional, physical depression in which outside intervention appear as last chance save both themselves and Jordan from engulfment tidal wave Nasser brand Arab nationalism. In view possibility troops may not arrive in time prevent revolt Embassy taking all necessary precautions protect American lives/property but in quiet orderly way carefully avoiding any impression we expect any more trouble than general conditions this area would warrant.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 785.00/7–1658. Top Secret; Niact. Repeated to Ankara, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Jidda, Tehran, Tel Aviv, Damascus, Jerusalem, USUN, London, Paris, and Rome. Received at 6:14 p.m. and passed to Defense at 7:45 p.m.
  2. Prime Minister Rifai confirmed this oral request with a formal note presented to the Embassy on July 17. The text of the note was transmitted to the Department in airgram G–5 from Amman, July 17. (Ibid., 785.00/7–2858; included in the microfiche supplement)
  3. The Department responded at 9:13 p.m. on July 16: “Tell Hussein we are giving his request most urgent consideration in consultation with UK.” (Telegram 132 to Amman; Department of State, Central Files, 785.00/7–1658; included in the microfiche supplement)