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

596. Re Deptel 606 and USUN 7.2 Since today holiday called on Prime Minister Rifai his home, conveyed substance reference telegrams, following are his observations:

While deeply appreciative US high regard Hussein/his own courage, leadership this in itself cannot overcome very practical difficulties under which HKJ labors nor can it be considered adequate substitute tangible physical military support.
Although generally pleased outcome GA meeting particularly implied condemnation UAR subversive activities Rifai has little hope constructive action particularly since successful implementation GA resolution based on large extent on “UAR good faith” in which Rifai has little confidence.
Rifai disagrees with our position re strengthening Jordanian armed forces, contends anything short their massive expansion will not permit government deal effectively internal security situation without use foreign troops UN/others, a policy which is politically intolerable for independent/sovereign state.
Rifai opinion US Government unwillingness conclude mutual defense treaty with Jordan (he dismissed as excuse necessity congressional action) holds key our over-all approach Middle East problem. He said convinced certain arrangements have already been made between ourselves and British at Foreign Office level under which we have abdicated our short-lived position leadership Middle East, turned over implementation joint Anglo-American policy to British while we agree provide necessary funds. I asked him to explain this statement. He replied Jordan is a non-viable state, created originally by British in their own national interest. As such it can exist only so long subsidized or permitted federate other states, alternative is its dismemberment/absorption. US Government never had compelling military/economic reasons take on burden subsidizing Jordan, did so only under extreme pressure events result abortive Suez affair when British forced withdraw temporarily Middle East stage. British position quite different. Jordan their creation, feel have prior claim its use, achievement their national objectives Middle East which now requires Jordan be brought into line with its Arab neighbors. Under present circumstances Hashemite Jordan only Kingdom among modern sister Arab States. Saud can be dealt with as paramount Sheik along with Emirs of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, but Hussein is recognized King, creates embarrassment any attempt work out broad approach common problems other Arab states which are republics. Rifai conclusion British have decided Hussein must eventually go as price Jordan accommodation its surrounding neighbors who have economic noose securely fastened around its neck. New government would be republic orientated toward UAR/Iraq. Federation with Iraq along lines defunct AU possible if Hashemite monarchy overthrown, replaced by republic. However order accomplish foregoing essential Jordan be weakened militarily to point it no longer constitutes threat UAR neighbors. To this end British do not desire expansion Jordan Army, what they really want is dissolutioned 10, 000-man national guard further “weeding out” present army now at only 65 percent strength and creation two additional units which would be considerably less than total strength former national guard. Army would not be streamlined or equipped new weapons but rather be permitted deteriorate into glorified policy force capable bearing only small arms/light weapons. Rifai said information I had brought fitted perfectly into his already nearly completed picture of British return power Jordan, acceptance/endorsement this fact by US policy makers.

I expressed appreciation his views and reminded him extensive US military/economic aid which continued flow into Jordan. Rifai swept this aside saying “you have not given me a favorable reply to any major requests since before Iraqi revolt. Whatever is being done in Jordan now is result negotiations concluded months ago.” I replied that despite fact our response may not have been as specific or to the

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degree he might have wielded [wanted?] I hoped it was sufficiently reassuring to cause him continue his splendid fight against Communism in defense integrity/independence Jordan. He replied on contrary it had given him conclusive evidence that Jordan could not rely on US Government provide King/quantity military/financial (to support expanded armed forces) assistance with which present pro-western government could long remain in power. He was absolutely sure best course for him personally perhaps Jordan lay in change government, complete reorientation its foreign policy re sister Arab States. He intends:

Present formal resignation King Hussein take effect on/about September 15.
Issue formal request withdrawal British troops by September 30. This request would be made next week/ten days.
Inform UNSYG his (RIFAI) intention resign, suggest UNSYG might wish postpone implementation GA resolution until new government takes over.

In view his far-reaching decision I said I would appreciate opportunity see King Hussein (I have an audience with King tonight). As I was about leave I inquired of Rifai what he thought King Hussein’s reaction reference telegram likely be. He replied it will be just about what you have heard from me. I asked in event Hussein refuses accept Rifai’s resignation would he be willing continue on temporarily. He replied negative, said Amman too small place keep such secret long, opposition would seize opportunity press King immediate change in government.

Comment: Rifai reaction about what I had expected, significant he remained unusually calm throughout our two-hour meeting but gave appearance “beaten man”. Although he will undoubtedly pin blame on us for what he will term “letting him down” I believe overwhelming economic/internal/political problems likely cause his decision. There is of course always possibility he may reconsider or King may ask him to continue for limited period. I hope learn more about this aspect during my conversation King Hussein tonight.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 785.00/8–2258. Top Secret; Niact.
  2. Telegram 606 to Amman, August 21, instructed the Embassy to convey the substance of telegram 7 from USUN to Hussein and Rifai immediately. (Ibid., 785.5–MSP/8–2058) Telegram 7 is printed as Document 283.