190. Telegram From the Embassy in Jordan to the Department of State1
169. Re Deptel 1592 not to all addressees. Conveyed content reftel Prime Minister Rifai who accompanied me palace, informed King Hussein.
RIFAI was furious when he learned [garble] dispatch troops [garble]3 launched into tirade accusing USG having failed fulfill its commitments. Contrasted our attitude with British who had “rushed to our side in moment of peril.” In response I reminded him rather forcefully of very substantial economic [garble—and?] military support already given Jordan totaling approximately $50 million and our pledge provide $25 million additional pay in full Jordan’s share AU budget. I pointed out heavy concentration US land/sea/air power in Lebanon other nearby countries effectively guaranteed Jordan from external attack. Seemed to me placing additional token force within country would therefore not appreciably increase its defensive capability. Rifai in fit of anger shouted “King and I are not concerned with outside aggression, it is the psychological effect of having only British troops in Jordan that we wish to offset.” I replied that if this were the case, why hadn’t the danger been perceived before the request was made for US/UK intervention.[Page 324]
[6 lines of source text not declassified] Rifai referred to our conversation noon July 164 at which time he assured me internal security situation well under control with army units strategically placed in/around refugee camps, officers doubtful loyalty under close surveillance. [13½ lines of source text not declassified] I told Rifai in view what he had already said I would appreciate frank answers following questions:
- Had arrival British troops materially changed internal security picture? He replied we intend use foreign troops keep things under control when Hussein reorganizes Jordan army into attack force marches into Iraq restore rightful government.
- How many US troops does Hussein expect, what role are they intended play maintenance internal security? Rifai indicated aside from performing occupation duty they would “take sting out of presence British troops in Jordan”.
- On basis preliminary public reaction had arrival British forces created any new problems for present regime? Rifai admitted latent hostility “mandate days" now emerging with considerable evidence many Jordanians fear once British get back they will never depart. This connection Rifai said American troops required otherwise Jordan Army could not be sent fight against Iraq leaving only British in Jordan since do so would invite charge from anti-government groups that Hussein/RIFAI trying “pick British chestnuts out of Iraq fire”.
- I said in other words if disorders broke out and American troops were stationed in Jordan there is a distinct possibility they might be called upon to shoot down Arab civilians. Rifai admitted this possible [11/2 lines of source text not declassified].
I ventured opinion this type duty not suitable combat troops expressed doubt my government would be willing use members its armed forces in any such home guard function. Rifai insisted American troops needed flavor foreign contingent although admitting difficult to justify their presence on anything but psychological basis. My meeting with King Hussein was similar that with Rifai except King was appreciative compliments paid him by USG. [41/2 lines of source text not declassified]
[211/2 lines of source text not declassified] It seems to me in light adverse reaction presence British troops USG should concentrate on humanitarian side in such activities as POL airlift, importation free flour, stock feed, wheat together financial/economic support HKJ insure better standard living particularly among Bedouins, thereby keeping to minimum potential sources discontent. I heartily endorse country team opinion sending US troops Jordan this time would impair US prestige limit influence. I have no doubt British will seek suck us into [Page 325]occupation but I am firmly convinced any such course would be less than productive in achievement US objectives not only Jordan but throughout Arab world.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 785.00/7–1858. Secret; Niact; Limited Distribution. Repeated to Baghdad, London, Paris, and USUN.↩
- A probable reconstruction of the affected portion of the telegram would read: “learned that the United States had declined to dispatch troops to Jordan as requested. He”.↩
- See Document 180.↩