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

211. Pass Defense. Re Deptel 2032 and Embtel 171.3 Conveyed orally substance Deptel Prime Minister Rifai whose reaction was nothing short [of] incredible.

He began by saying there must be some misunderstanding as HKJ had no intention become militarily involved Iraq. According Rifai note cited Embtel 171 was only pro forma compliance request Iraqi members AU Parliament now in Jordan who asked that King Hussein in his capacity head AU should make formal demand US on behalf Iraq under provisions Article 2 and 62 A of AU constitution which provides:

(1) All international obligations either partner existing time consummation union shall continue in force but not be binding on other partner; (2) Arab Union Foreign Ministry shall be contact point all foreign relations when Article 74 under which AU assumes responsibility conduct its foreign affairs comes into force July 1, 1958. Since Iraqi members AU now resident Jordan wish invoke provisions Eisenhower Doctrine as contained paragraphs 2 and 6 of joint Iraqi/USG communiqué August 6, 1957 and in view fact legitimate Government Iraq incapacitated they decided ask Hussein put on record their formal request USG provide Iraq assistance under Eisenhower Doctrine.

RIFAI emphasized that neither King Hussein nor himself ever had any intention call on USG support military intervention Iraq which they regard as unrealistic in view geography, military requirements, men/matériel.

I invited Rifai’s attention to both his and King’s remarks relative to use US/UK troops insure internal security Jordan when “reorganization Jordan army withdraw in order make attack on Iraq.” He responded by saying I must have been mistaken since His Majesty has no such intention. Rifai continued that HKJ request for US military assistance was for sole purpose maintenance Jordan integrity/independence. British troops are here for that purpose not for anything else. He then proceeded make eloquent appeal immediate dispatch 2500–3000 US troops to Jordan on oft-repeated grounds essential maintenance internal security, “take curse off return mandate British

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troops.” He dwelt at length on adverse effect presence British having on Jordanian public. Confided pamphlets demanding withdrawal British troops have already been distributed Amman, also manifest calling for general strike in protest “reoccupation Jordan by UK forces.” I again queried Rifai as to reason 6000 foreign troops needed keep order. His answer “we are not sure of army officers and the jails aren’t big enough to hold all those we suspect”. He said it would not be necessary for me to see Hussein personally since he (RIFAI) knew King’s position and could answer for him. Rifai said he wished to make clear that any US forces sent Jordan should be “combat seasoned veterans” who could command respect people and he wanted them placed where they could be seen by public deterrent any revolt.

In blunt terms I told Rifai Hussein’s action in using his recent press conference attended by nearly 100 foreign correspondents to blackmail US into sending troops Jordan would be less than productive.5 USG had proved on several occasions it true, tried friend Jordan and pledged military/economic assistance needed guarantee Jordan independence. We were determined continue this policy but would insist on implementing it by means which will insure its success but not at price destruction those institutions we pledged defend.

RIFAI agreed Hussein had been carried away emotionally by loss his cousin Faisal/members of his family which reflected in his press conference conduct. Furthermore because doubtful loyalty his own army his and Jordan’s survival might well depend on presence foreign troops. As he walked to door with me Rifai again asked I convey my government desire Hussein/himself US troops together air force unit be stationed Jordan for psychological reasons. He admitted under present circumstances wherein British troops are already in Jordan and Sixth Fleet together regional US air support alerted defend Jordan frontier at moment’s notice likelihood successful external attack or internal coup quite remote.

Comment: Because Rifai reaction diametrically opposed his own/Hussein’s previous position as stated to British Chargé Mason/myself I immediately consulted with him make certain we were in agreement on exactly what Hussein/RIFAI had said regard US/UK troops being stationed Jordan. British Ambassador Johnston who has just returned from London together Colonel Lawrie, British Military Attaché, and Mason were all in agreement HKJ position as understood by HMG was US/UK troops should be employed maintain internal security when Jordan army marched off put down revolt Iraq. There can be no doubt Hussein/RIFAI have executed 180 degree turnabout for reasons best

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known to themselves. [5½ lines of source text not declassified] Regardless reasons change all for best from US standpoint, strengthen our position no need US troops Jordan. I cannot emphasize too strongly my conviction any assignment US troops here would be less than productive, certain play directly into hands Communists/pro-Nasser elements who would turn on our troops in same manner they are waging campaign against British. It seems to me our best hope keep Jordan on our side lies in supplying badly needed commodities such as diesel oil, kerosene, gasoline, wheat, stock feed together financial/economic support its pro-western government. All of these will be felt in some degree by man in the street without whose support it will eventually be impossible build up Jordan into fortress sufficiently strong hold off Nasser attack until we can work out our Middle East policy objectives in light recent events Iraq/Lebanon.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 785.00/7–2158. Secret; Niact. Repeated to Ankara, Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Jidda, Karachi, London, Paris, Tehran, Tel Aviv, and Damascus. Received at 8:28 p.m. and passed to the Department of Defense at 11 p.m.
  2. Document 203.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 203.
  4. In telegram 196 from Amman, July 20, the Embassy reported that in a press conference on July 19, King Hussein had stated that he had asked for U.S. troops to be sent to Jordan, and he “expected them.” (Department of State, Central Files, 785.00/7–2058)